It was bin day and the low sun cast long, regular stripes of wheelie-bin shadow across the road as I drove into the village. I parked up and walked across the luxurious carpet of vivid green moss to Village Food & Wine—pet bedding and dried 'dog-food systems’ on display underneath a tatty awning. Inside the shop, the counter was littered with the presentation gift boxes first inspected and then dismissed by the thin, middle-aged woman in the three-quarter length anorak with the muddy hem. “No, they’ve all got chocolate in; she’ll not eat chocolate”, she said. The proprietress, a thin middle-aged woman in a torn body-warmer and jeans bent down behind the counter again, vocalising a strange involuntary exhalation as she stretched to the very back of the bottom shelf of the cabinet. “How about this?” she said, righting herself and then setting down a plastic gift box containing a small wine glass and an even smaller bottle of pinot grigio.
“What is it?” said the customer, cleaning a stripe through the greasy dust that coated it with her thumb and wiping the residue on her bulging pocket.
“It’s wine” explained the proprietress.
“Is it dry?”
“Yes, I think so”
“I don’t really do wine, what’s it like?”
“Apparently it’s very nice, it’s what everyone has now.”
“I’m not sure, I don’t really do wine”
“No, me neither, it makes me drunk.”
Suddenly, it clouded over and the rain started. A squall flipped up the horse shit in the road, flapping it about briefly before unsticking it from the asphalt and blowing it loose down towards the old vicarage where even the stone cat that I always mistake for a swan (the tail being the neck and head) had blown over.
Later, back in town at the corner shop, the proprietor was sat on a stool behind the counter watching the small TV set balanced on top of the display of crisps. “Drug dealing”, he muttered under his breath, then he looked up at me and said, “Drug dealing. Is that all they’ve got to do in London?”
On my way home, I called at the supermarket for some milk and a packet of Mini Chedders. Without looking up, the till woman scanned my stuff and said "£1.60". As I went through my change she stood up, leant forward and shouted down the line of checkout staff, "DOES ANYBODY NEED A WEE?" I put a £2 coin in her hand. Her colleagues all looked up, shaking their heads in unison. "RIGHT!" she said, "I'M GONNA BAIL OUT AFTER THIS ONE" and she nodded briefly in my direction. "Thank you" I said, but she'd gone.