Saturday, 28 November 2015
Half-a-dozen crows, definitely crows, pick at the very last remains of a dead squirrel in a squall that knocks me sideways on the bridge over the ring-road. Outside the closed-down brothel, a young woman wearing only a long T-shirt and heels is in hushed discussion with a tall man in a big parka. 200 yards further along, the man with the tattooed neck stops suddenly, throws up all over the pavement, wipes his mouth and continues on his way. I catch his eye as I pass him. It’s 3.30pm.
Earlier, the weather was calmer; a big, feather-duvet cloud was slumped over the valley-head but the sky directly above was blue and still. In the leaf litter at the bottom of Mrs Brook’s drive a sparrowhawk was opening up a steaming kill and, in the field behind the road sign with the buddleja growing from it, a kestrel was hovering above the half blown-away barn.
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Sunday, 22 November 2015
The starlings are excitable and the flats at Park Court still smell of piss. Outside, a man in jeans and a T-shirt is blowing smelly ginkgo leaves. He consolidates them into a neat pile, exposing again the small memorial stone dedicated to the dog named Mowgli and the fallen-over A-frame poster board advertising The Dana Ali Band’s next appearance at the Clothiers Arms.
There’s a man in a field shouting at livestock and the excitable starlings are ganging-up in the near-naked beech. Outside the big detached new-build with the statue of the bulldog by the front door, the man on the vintage motorcycle is talking to the man with Cuprinol down his top, “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it stays mild,” he says. I’m not so worried, says the Cuprinol man, “I’ve just had the van fixed and it’s running like a dream”.
The woman in the T-shirt with Porn Star written across it winces as she walks. She leans on the wall of her porch while she kicks off her muddy trainers and leaves them on the step. In the street outside, a small group of full hi-vis men are gathered around a hole in the ground. They are leaning on their tools and chatting: “He got to the middle of the field, dropped his kegs, did a shit and just carried on walking...”
In the garden of the big house, there’s a man in an orange helmet with a perspex visor chopping down the leylandii. Outside, at the bus stop, the old woman with the belted herringbone coat and Marks & Spencer bag-for-life is complaining about this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. “When they showed the pictures, I thought, ‘I don’t know any of them!” then she adds, “It’s not worth going to the hairdresser’s when the weather is like this; I only went on Tuesday and it’s flat as a pancake already!”
There are old women in anoraks and gloves with small grey curly dogs that match their hairdos. They are on their way to the shop that sells dusty bottles of Mateus Rosé, Lion Bars, Bisto Gravy Granules, and Andrex Toilet Tissue. The excitable starlings compete with a car alarm and the farmer who is half-in and and half-out of his overalls, closes his eyes as he reaches for the latch on the blind side of the gate.
Sunday, 1 November 2015
Storm drains are overflowing. An empty packet of Lambert & Butler and an energy drink can overtake me in the swollen run-off channel at the side of the road.
In the big yellow cherry tree, Starlings make noises like excited children waiting for a coach trip.
A Jack Russell terrier escapes from the woman with the mid-calf length floral print pleated skirt and the summer wine perm, and chases the Land Rover as it reverses onto the driveway. “Stupid bloody dog!” says the woman, “it’s his boss that’s come back, that’s what’s done it!”
The flats with the absurdly pretentious name smell like a swimming pool today.
The man in the long overcoat is reading a book and drinking White Star cider inside the phone box.
The man in the white 7.5 ton truck blows his horn at the man in the bright orange fleece jacket.
The boy of about eight in the passenger seat of a Ford Focus shouts “You fat bastard!” to the fat man at the cash machine.
The teenage boy with lots of tattoos and no shirt in late October scowls and sticks out his tongue at the little girl in the back seat of the brand new Audi.
Two young girls are in conversation.
Girl on a pink Barbie bike with snot in her hair: I’m going to my nan’s and granddad’s and me dad’s tekkin’ me.
Slightly older girl with bed head and pyjamas at one in the afternoon: No you’re not cos he’s going scrap yard.
Two women are in conversation.
Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: You off up to t’church?
Slouching woman with cigarette: Not yet
Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: I thought you were off up now, I were getting stressed!
The woman with the yellow teeth who wears her anorak indoors is shouting at her children. She doesn’t get on with the man next door who sits chain smoking in his garden all day.