Saturday, 18 April 2015

It’s one of those dry, still days.



A still day: petrol, cigarette smoke, lawnmowers, paper litter, traffic noises from a quarter-mile away, daisies, dandelions and daffodils, a peacock butterfly on white UPVC …

Out on the estate that hasn’t changed for forty years, the old couple are having a small tiff about which bag to put all those jam jars in while a sparrowhawk disembowels a small rodent on the ridge of their dormer bungalow.


Rockeries, cracked-flag driveways, scuffed casey footballs, bikes on their sides, tiny weed-bound ponds, bird feeders, overweight builders with broad accents, 8’x8’ lawns, cotoneasters, hebes, leylandii, a willow or a silver birch in the corner—planted by the developer in the seventies—low double-skinned fake-sandstone walls infilled with soil and alpines, brutal pruning, and a David Brown tractor spreading muck on the field behind.


There are lots of large women in their fifties and sixties with grown-out grey bobs, Reactolite glasses, floral shirts—sometimes open with a pastel vest-top underneath—and knee-length shorts, also in pastel. They sit sipping gin and slim' outside the pub waiting for “probably the best fish supper in town.” 


The chickens in the field full of mangold wurzels are excited, they sound as though they are singing Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance. I hear lapwings, buzzards, and the nearly naked man walking the Border terrier who is singing at the top of his voice.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

At the Back of the Bus:




At the Back of the Bus.
Woman in three-quarter length quilted anorak: You should have seen us roller skating the other night!
Other woman in three-quarter length quilted anorak: You weren’t kaylied as you were going round, were you? 
Woman in three-quarter length quilted anorak: Aye, the drunker we got, the braver we got.

Crisp shadows, blue sky, a starting of blossom with the shreds of newspaper in the trees, a weathered, grey wooden fence with the greenest cotoneaster leaking through the cracks, the second bullfinch in a week on Newsome Road South, rotten gates that fall apart in your hand, a moulded ‘stone’ tortoise with a solar panel shell and a night-light face, massive cars parked too close together, a woven willow reindeer which is still kicking around from Christmas…

Mr Briggs pulled over in his Suzuki Carry, he took his pipe out of his mouth and pinned it between the ball of his thumb and the steering wheel while he leant across and shouted to me through the window: 
“I’m off to t’bins; I’ve got a load of bloody rubbish in!”
That’s all. Then he went.

I saw Mr Booth outside the newsagent’s. He told me again about the time he went to see The Rolling Stones in 1980:

“Mick Jagger was from me to where that Renault’s parked... Margaret was on my shoulders... The car broke down on the way home...”