6am: it’s quiet in the street apart from the man in the black tracksuit who is singing an indefinable song quite loudly outside Ali Barber’s barber shop.
10am: In town the old woman in the open-toed sandals is waiting to cross the road outside the supermarket with her Inca inspired bag-for-life. Next to her is a younger man in a pink shirt and a red, yellow, green and black striped Rasta cap. They cross the road together and make their way round the pile of rubble that was, until last week, the old university sports hall. They pass a soberly dressed man at the bus stop—shiny black shoes, grey suit trousers, pale pink shirt—who is drinking a can of extra strength lager.
11.30am: In the suburbs the tarmac is melting. The sun is out, the hydrangeas are out, the big men in shorts and flip-flops are out. A swarm of bees has taken up residence in a crack in the wall of the contract weaver’s shed and the man in the leather gauntlets says ‘All right, mate?’ to me outside the shop that sells mainly tinned peas, jars of tuna paste, and extra-strength cider. My old school teacher has moved house and the new owner has paved over the garden and replaced the big old gloss-black hardwood door and leaded lights with white UPVC. There has been a proliferation of CND graffiti around here recently.
12.30pm: The knackered old boat that I sometimes park up behind for cover while I have a quick brew, is gone. I ask the man who is pouring some readymix where it is. He says I've just missed it, ”some blokes have been to tow it away”. Around the corner onto the main road, I see it, stationary and listing badly, one of the wheels has fallen off the trailer.
3pm: The man in front of me in the queue asks for an e-cigarette charger. The proprietor ducks behind the counter, rummages around and comes back up with a USB phone charger.
‘No’ says the man, ‘It’s for my e-cigarettes’.
The proprietor disappears into a storeroom and returns with a large plastic box. He sits it on the counter and pulls out three or four different USB phone chargers.
‘No’ says the man, ‘It’s for my e-cigarettes—you know, a three pin plug for the mains with a bit that you screw onto the cigarette at the other end.’
The proprietor rummages through the box again and pulls out another USB phone charger.
‘I tell you what’ says the man ‘Give me 20 Chesterfield Lights’.
The proprietor rolls up the shutter to the tobacco cabinet, takes out a packet of 20 JPS and puts them on the counter with all the phone cables.
‘No’ says the man, ’20 Chesterfield Lights. There, bottom left.’
The proprietor replaces the packet of JPS and returns with a packet of JPS Blue.
‘No’ says the man, ‘I tell you what, Give me 20 Rothmans Superkings, right in the middle there.’
The proprietor replaces the JPS Blue, takes out the Rothmans and hands them over.
‘Thank you’ says the man.
‘Thank you’ says the man.