A cyclist with squeaky brakes and a pair of crutches strapped to his back passed me as I walked into work.
Later, on the bus with some other men in high visibility clothing, the main topics of conversation were caravans, caravan based holidays, and the football transfer window.
I got off at the nursing home and followed the woman on the mobility scooter past the ivy-covered lamp-posts, the pink hydrangeas, the smeared dog shit and the sandwich packaging. I turned off along the terrace with no front gardens; a long row of tele’ backs and cable knots.
I turned off again; a stinking dog piss accreted yard of crisp packets, expanding foam, dandelions and empty milk cartons next door to an obsessive mini Versaille of hover flies, succulents and fancy gravels.
The clock tower struck the hour and the running man with the dog jumped over the spilt grab bag of Maltesers. Neat parallel rows of chocolate beads lined up in the grate of the storm drain.
Out from the tidy side street of bungalows, the ladies began to flock with their hair set, their trouser suits pressed, their shoes gold and their shopping bags for life. They each rounded the corner into the main road and got a wet slap in the face from the big overhanging buddleja.
I carried on past the sheltered houses with their gladioli in planters, beige washing lines and hand written No Parking signs. On, past the back-to-backs where the dock leaves grow from the thick green snail-slime striated moss on the stone steps below the leaky guttering. Past the fairy lights and decking, the cooking sauce jars, squashed slugs and blackberries. On up to the new estate with the fake bricked-up windows, the concrete lintels and architraves, the pretend leaded lights, the miniature gardens (where the box shrubs have already overstepped their boundaries) and the herringbone paving in the communal parking bays: A small Honda, a large Honda, an Astra a Citroen C1… I cut across the sodden plastic lawn (laid directly over stone flags) to the big, gated Victorian, Atkinson Grimshaw mansions whose wide-as-a-street driveways are bordered with poplar, rhododendron, holly, begonia, topiary teddy bears, ferns and golden beech leaves on neatly trimmed lawns; the first fall of autumn. The only other person around was the happy old man with the walking frame.