Things are slowly drying out in the first real sun of the year. Snowdrops and crocuses are appearing on the verges. The big woman in a dirty pink onesie on the bench at the side of the main road inhales from her cigarette with her eyes closed. She adjusts her posture, unfurling like an enormous pink, fleecy rose, stretching out her arms across the back rest. She tilts her head back to absorb the warmth of the sun on her face and exhales a long thin wisp of white smoke vertically up and over Lockwood Taxis.
Across the road, an old man in synthetic fibres rustles past the upturned pushchair. The sun has yet to coax him from his tightly secured drawstring hood, despite its low glare turning his Reactolite lenses black, opaque. His vision must be impaired because he almost bumped into the woman in the grey hooded top, black tracksuit pants and enormous pink fluffy slippers as she came out of the off-licence.
The estate is a spiky forest of broken saplings, TV aerials, and satellite dishes where the last of the puddles reflect lowered hatchbacks and the dogs bark all day long. Somebody has drawn a half-arsed cock-and-balls motif in biro on the postman’s pouch box.
Half-a-dozen scruffy men on pit bikes systematically doorstep the residents:
“Alright, love? Just wondering if you’ve owt for scrap? Okay love… Sorry darling… Right love…”
A knackered white Transit follows in their wake, pausing outside the house with the bright blue plastic hanging baskets either side of the moulded Ionic columns in filthy, chipped UPVC. One of the pit bike men has discovered an old car tyre on the drive. He opens the Transit’s back doors and chucks it in.
Out on Hangingstone Road, a couple of workmen appear to be dismantling the CCTV gantry that sometimes gets mail addressed to it.* A long crocodile of primary school children march by. One of the teachers is standing with her feet either side of a large pile of dog shit on the pavement and is physically guiding the two-by-two children around it:
“No, Thomas. I am not standing in it, I am standing next to it!
*On two occasions now I have come across mail addressed to: The CCTV Camera, Hangingstone Road, Huddersfield.