The black liner of the wire litter bin outside the Costcutter had blown inside-out in the wind and was flapping about inflated like a smaller, less cocksure, banana and ketchup-stained version of the promotional ‘air-dancers’ they used to have outside the Fiat garage when it was a Peugeot one.
A delivery van pulled up and the driver got out. While he was unloading fruit and veg’ he explained how he’d earlier mistaken his own reflection in his misaligned nearside wing mirror for another person and, in the resulting confusion had almost hit a wall.
The KIA saloon with the office chair and the postcard display rack strapped to its roof drove past—just as it had the day-before-yesterday.
When the old man who was cleaning his immaculate 12-year-old Ford Mondeo initially engaged me in conversation I’d assumed he was just being friendly to a stranger, but when he asked me a technical question about the tactics employed by the Huddersfield Giants in their last game, I wondered whether he had mistaken me for somebody else. Not being much of a fan of rugby league, I confessed I had no idea what he was talking about. At first, the man looked confused but then he smiled, got up from where he’d been crouching to polish the chrome of his vintage AA radiator grill badge, and persisted with the subject—presumably assuming I was just amusing myself by teasing him. I reasserted my ignorance on the matter and voiced my suspicion that I wasn’t who he thought I was. Once more, the man briefly looked confused, nervously wrapping his duster around his hand, but again he smiled and continued on the subject. As he seemed so convinced I was somebody I wasn’t, I began to doubt myself; perhaps we had met before and I’d forgotten. Maybe he’d brought up the Huddersfield Giants in conversation on that occasion too and I’d somehow given him the impression that I had some interest and knowledge on the subject—It could easily happen during the course of small talk in a queue or on a bus. I decided to go with this scenario and explained that while I do like to keep an eye on the Giants’ results (an outright lie) I don’t consider myself to be much of an expert and have no worthwhile opinion on their tactics. At this, the man smiled, raised his hands to his eyes like blinkers and said conspiratorially, “I know! It’s all claret and gold with some people, isn’t it?”
At this point, we were interrupted by the two builders who were sitting side-by-side on some scaffolding while they chiselled render from the house next door. They had begun singing R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly at the tops of their voices. The old man looked up and shouted over, “Give it a rest now lads!” but it had no effect.
Further down the road I got talking to the woman with the low maintenance hairstyle and the perhaps inadvisable vest-top-with-no-bra. She was telling me about the house she used to live in when she was younger.
“Where was that?” I asked.
She waved an enormous arm in the vague direction of half of Huddersfield and said, “You know, number twenty-three do-dah.”
On, and up past the quarry, the airfield, the firework factory and the caravan park to the cul-de-sac of neat 1960s bungalows where the sound of Woman’s Hour was leaking from open kitchen windows and the air smelled of freshly cut leylandii. There was talk of chimineas: “Good grief, how many of these are we having?”
Round the corner at the doctors’ surgery, which was empty apart from an elderly woman and an elderly man who were staring impassively at different walls at either end of the waiting room while Lessons in Love by Level 42 played through the discreetly mounted speakers at quite a high volume.