Monday, 26 December 2016

2016 Highlights



2016 Highlights.

Red-top news, McDonalds bags, biros and notebooks.
Being deaf and only having one leg.
Steadying yourself on the bin for a few seconds.
Disappearing in a swirling cloud of evaporating dog piss.
Silk flowers in Costa coffee mugs.
Talking to the roofer who's never had a cashcard in his life, mate.
Purple anoraks.
Chamoising your Skoda Yeti in your Crocs.
Eating a pot of Muller Rice inside a ‘bang tidy’ Vauxhall Astra.
Playing on your Playstation in the nude.
Finding some suede loafers in your hyacinth bed.
Statues of Buddha, cigarette butts and stolen top stones.
Standing in the street in your bath robe sipping from a pint glass.
Running across the piss soaked carpet in the yard.
Hoiking your sweatpants out of your arse crack.
Drinking much more wine.
Displaying your Worker Wagg Beef & Veg Worker Complete dog food on some fake grass underneath a broken awning.
Mistaking a discarded Ramones T-shirt for a dead badger.
Broken drones.
Remembering Brian London, The Blackpool Rock.
Calling noisy teenagers ‘Dickheads’ under your breath.
Wearing shorts and shades to walk your tousled grey hairpiece terrier.
Checking out the Bailey Pageant Bretagne at the caravan showroom.
Decorating the ‘PRIVATE’ carpark with Brexit bunting.
Emptying the bins wearing a cheesecloth blouse and enormous fluffy cat-shaped slippers.
Carrying an aubergine and a tin of sardines to your BMW.
Throwing a half-eaten pasty from the window of your Audi S4.
Securing the lamppost inspection cover with gaffer tape.
Buying plastic topiary to match the colour of your wheelie bin.
Not being able to believe how comfortable your trousers are.
Stardrops, stewing steak and cheap tobacco at 11.30am.
Devoting swathes of hard-standing to the display of miniature plastic fauna.
Idly clasping the handle of your vacuum cleaner while you watch Bargain Hunt.
Not having a pay rise for nine years.
Knee-high pavement weeds.
Going to Cape Verde for a couple of weeks because you’re sick of this country.
Having a quick sniff of the nib of the marker pen before replacing the lid.
Upsetting the potted orchids in the miniature galvanised buckets.
Finishing work early so you can go and buy your girlfriend a watch for a hundred pounds.
Engaging in a loud debate about lorne sausage.
Contorting your face in unadulterated rage.
Waving your arms at the woman in the Fiesta.
Seven empty White Star cider cans and a plastic bag of dog shit.
Jogging in your suit trousers.
Slipping on a patch of rock salt.
Putting your foot through the slimy and rotten noughties decking.
Fried eggs, chips, beans and milky tea in the ‘Bistro’ with Margaret.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

5.30am: it’s windy and the fallen leaves are following me down the street



5.30am: it’s windy and fallen leaves are following me down the street. The man who wears head-to-toe waterproofs whatever the weather is twenty yards in front of me on the other side of the road. He makes to cross over to my side but when he sees me he dithers briefly and turns back. He then runs the hundred yards to the traffic lights at the bottom and turns right into town.
I slip on a patch of rock salt on Victoria Street where Alan Titchmarsh’s noughties decking is slimy and rotten and the woman with the NHS lanyard is smoking on her doorstep. Margaret is in the ‘Bistro’ with her coat on eating fried eggs, chips, beans, and milky tea. 
The woman at the bus stop says that the sport of boxing is ‘a work of art’.

Out in the sticks it starts to rain heavily and the last of the autumn leaves line the gutters yellow. At one of the big houses on the ridge, I can see two photographs through the glass front door; an informal group shot of men wearing chinos, and the front end of a 1980s Porsche 924 taken from a low angle.
At the manor house golf club, the food smells like 1970s school dinners and the sign in the car park says Residence Parking [sic]. There’s a dead shrew on the drive under the enormous poplars.
Up in the village there’s a Jaguar parked on every street corner and the air is fresh apart from the occasional whiff of a wood burning stove. Beech hedges rustle their parchment leaves in the wind and the starlings are swanee whistling in the tops of the trees. I stop to talk to the man who is building the septic tank. He tells me he used to be a line engineer for the National Grid. I ask him how they get the cables across ravines and valleys and he says they usually use fishing line and a bow and arrow but on one occasion he used a model aeroplane. Four mud spattered men with half-a-dozen spaniels pass us, they are followed by a quad bike with 3 dozen dead pheasants slung across the back.
Back in town, the old man in the beige anorak and matching polyester slacks with frayed hems has taken exception to the music coming from the Skoda Octavia Estate. “Turn your music down!” he growls aggressively. The Skoda man blows cigarette smoke out of the window and ignores him and the old man skulks away with his heavy bags for life (one from the Co-op and one from Sainsbury’s).

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

5.40 am: It’s raining steadily and the reflection of the the traffic lights in the road surface reaches a full hundred yards to my feet



5.40 a.m.: It’s raining steadily and the reflection of the traffic lights in the road surface reaches the full hundred yards to my feet. Mostly all I can hear is the rustle of waterproofs, the rain on my hood and the the burble of the run-off channel in the gutter. Occasionally a car tears past in a belligerent hiss of spray.

Later, on the estate of 60s-built semis, the solar panels on the new lampposts are covered with an inch-and-a-half of settled snow and the starlings are whistling in the tops of the yellow trees. The roofer says he’s going to finish work early so he can go and buy his girlfriend a watch for a hundred pounds and the woman in the leggings and military parka says her fox terrier is much better in hisself, thank you.
Leonard Cohen has died and the junction box by the flats has started humming loudly. 
The sun comes out lighting up the green baize pavement and I knock off my hat on an inconspicuous washing line for the second time. Rows of plastic clothes pegs in faded primaries highlight the next three low slung lines and I avoid them by bowing gracefully like Kate Middleton in the 1902 State Landau. At the entrance to the flats, two men in their fifties are engaged in a loud debate about lorne sausage. ‘It shouldn’t be called sausage at all because it's square and sausages are round. It’s more like a square burger’ insists the one with the bit of arse crack showing. The one without the bit of arse crack showing counters; ‘If it’s sausage meat, it’s sausage. End. Of.’ 
Donald Trump is president elect of the U.S.A.
On the estate where the old ladies in purple anoraks still call me ‘love’, the air is thick with the fug of Stardrops, stewing steak and cheap tobacco. They gather to inspect the last sweet pea flowers of the year.
I pass the boy who once tried to sell me a pebble for a pound. He’s too old for that stuff now. 
I call in at the newsagent’s for some crisps but the shelves are completely bare apart from a few tabloid newspapers. The proprietor sits behind the till wearing a scarf and hat.
A taxi pulls up outside the house whose steps are littered with sodden Capri Sun cartons, nail polish bottles, chocolate coins, smashed crockery, a baby monitor, sherbet straws, empty portion control packs of tomato ketchup, a pair of nail scissors, and a bent and twisted purple glittery stars-on-a-spring ornament—like a deely-bopper for your windowsill. The taxi driver blows his horn to notify the occupants of his arrival but the driver of an oncoming Fiesta thinks it’s directed at him and gestures aggressively, contorting his face in unadulterated rage.
Big fat flies gather on white UPVC to garner the last vestige of residual heat.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

There’s a chill in the air. There are starlings.



There’s a chill in the air. There are starlings. There’s standing traffic because a bus has got stuck and the driver is wearing sunglasses and waving his arms at a woman in a Fiesta. She’s stuck too and there’s a navy blue sock in the gutter.

I walk past the dog-eared Vote Remain posters in the window of the railway book shop and take the desire line across the verge. The vivid yellow carpet of fallen leaves under the now thin canopy of the cherry tree is accented with black; seven empty White Star cider cans and a plastic bag of dog shit. 
I cross the road. The clothing bank is propped up on bricks, there’s a new chipboard fence and the kerb stones have been messily daubed with white paint: No Parking Please. Schoolgirls are stealing schoolboys’ hats for fun and the man who jogs in his suit trousers overtakes me in the road, his grey shirt completely buttoned—including the cuffs.
I slalom around on wheelie bin pavements. At number 56 the bin has a brass effect '5' and '6' bolted to it, next door the ’58’ has been applied with lackadaisical Tippex and outside number sixty there’s no wheelie bin at all, just a small five litre brushed steel pedal bin with no number.
A single rubberised reddy-brown glove with off-white cuffing lies in the gutter. This is by far the most commonly discarded style of glove in the Huddersfield area*. I once saw one fall from the back of a builder's truck as it rounded a corner which perhaps explains the phenomenon.
Further up the hill, the soot-black terraces give way to pebble-dash inter-war semis with neatly trimmed privet. There’s a pile of interior doors in a ginnel and a cricket ball sized ball of hoover fluff on a lawn but no more White Star cans. A strong easterly breeze is blowing now and the leaves on the pavement are getting deep. There are parked cars on the right, ivy encroaching from the left and overhanging trees above.
Higher up again and the uniformity of another Victorian terrace is broken with a UPVC porch, a satellite TV dish, or a clump of Pampas grass. Opposite this, behind the collapsed dry stone wall there’s an area of literal edgeland: rough tussock grass, arthritic nettles, fireweed, brambles, a broken pallet, a graffiti daubed electricity substation, the remains of a galvanised security palisade and a sheer millstone drop to the valley bottom.
* Huddersfield Glovewatch 2002

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Greenhead Park, 6.30 a.m: The glowing disembodied head...



Greenhead Park, 6.30 a.m: The glowing disembodied head of the man staring into his phone floats towards me in the dark. We pass each other and I recognise him as the early adopter hipster man who shaved off his beard and twirly moustache about five years ago.
Out in the sticks, 11 a.m: The wind rushes through trees with a dry autumn hiss, each gust followed by a shower of beech nuts onto asphalt or the clatter of an acorn onto a car bonnet. There’s fruit from a cherry laurel too and birch seeds, conkers and moulted feathers all littering the pavement.
The brand new Stanley safety boot that appeared on the doorstep of No.9 on Monday morning has today migrated up the road to No.3 via No.7 yesterday.
The man in the old anorak at the house on the moor is going to Cape Verde for a couple of weeks. He says he’s sick of this country because it’s too depressing. All the gold that he painted his mail box with in honour of the Olympic Games four years ago has worn off and it’s back to its old rusty red.
On past the dangerously weathered drystone wall and the big handwritten sign on the garage door: 
GOT you 
ON CAMERA 
BASTARDS
ALL VALUBLES
GONE TO SAFETY
SO
piss OFF
XXXXX
SHoT GUN
BEHIND DOOR
In the yard of the old farmhouse, next to the magpie cage traps, a cat and three kittens are eating a dead rabbit.

There are wasps in the ivy at the house of the woman with the plasters on her forehead.
Back in town at the 1970s Beauty Board and carpet offices, there are black brief cases for the boys and gaily coloured desk tidies for the girls. A flat backed woman in a cardigan with tissues up her sleeve shuffles about saying ‘Thanks, love’ and the man with the rolled up sleeves writes on the spine of a box file in marker pen—he stands the file on a shelf next to half-a-dozen or so others and has a quick sniff of the pen nib before replacing the lid.
On the aspirational estate of barely detached new builds where nobody is ever at home, there are pansies in the borders and cans of Car Plan Tyre Silk on the doorstep. I set off a chain of barking guard dogs. As one jumps down from a lounge window as I pass, so another at the house next door jumps up, upsetting the potted orchids in miniature galvanised buckets and the resin statues of kissing lovers whose entwined bodies make the shape of a love heart.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Morley Arts Festival, Wednesday 5th October.



I'll be reading from Recorded Delivery and The Most Difficult Thing Ever at Morley Arts Festival, this Wednesday evening, 5th October.

Doors 7:30pm
Start 8:00pm 
Writer, artist and Huddersfield postman Kevin Boniface reads from his Yorkshire Festival commissioned project, Recorded Delivery
Between February and June this year Kevin Boniface took to the road to produce a series of audio and video shorts. The result is a unique snapshot of contemporary Yorkshire where One Direction perfume for under a tenner is not to be sniffed at, where the man on the bus confides he could never eat Weetabix without sugar and where there is an underlying murmur of people in tight shorts commenting on the warm weather to one another.

Tickets: eventbrite.co.uk

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter



A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter and the man with the screwed up face who is jogging into the wind barely overtakes me. Brake lights cast the gates of the park red and a cyclist pulls over to adjust his gaiters. 
In town, the rough sleeping couple have moved from their usual pitch in the doorway of the pawnbrokers to the more sheltered entrance of the strip club.
In the suburbs, a wood pigeon perches on top of the new LED street light and the tired chubby woman at the show home says ‘Hello’ with long, roadkill flat vowels, rising and falling in inflection either side of the ‘L’. 
I say good morning to the man with the silver earrings, unzipped gilet, grey goatee and rat-tail but he doesn’t reply.
I struggle to read the dull screen of my PDA and the security man at the factory gates asks me whether it was made in China. “I’ve no idea” I say.
“Nothing they make works. They’re rubbish!”
I point out that most of the manufacturing at his factory has famously been transferred to China over the last ten years. He looks sheepish, thinks for a moment and then says “All I’m saying is I’ve got a 1963 Massey Ferguson tractor and It still goes like new and it’s British made.”
On the TV monitor in the pro-shop at the golf club, a muscular American man with American hair and American teeth is playing golf in the sunshine with palm trees behind him and a heavy rock guitar soundtrack. He looks up at the camera to say he can’t believe how comfortable his trousers are. Meanwhile, the door to the shop opens and a short fat bald man with a grey moustache rustles in wearing a waterproof jacket and ill-judged shorts. He takes off the jacket, hangs it over the telly and wipes the rain off his glasses with a handkerchief.
It’s 11.30am and the smell of stewing meat pervades the estate of retired 1970s Britain. The narrow paths are cluttered with architectural features in UPVC. There are gates to open every couple of yards and redundant miniature porches that I have to walk backwards out of because there’s no room to turn around. There are unnecessary steps leading to raised beds of marigolds, box topiary, begonia, and there are swathes of hard-standing devoted solely to the display of miniature plastic fauna.
Two men are talking in the street. One wears his Hawaiian shirt untucked with the top two buttons undone, the other has brylcreem hair, heavy black plastic rimmed glasses, and a purple nylon shirt tucked in to grey polyester slacks. They are discussing their experiences of electrocardiography; “It makes your arm twitch, doesn’t it?”
Inside the house, a woman in a dinner-lady tabard sits watching Bargain Hunt with her right hand clasped idly around the handle of a vacuum cleaner.
Swallows gather eagerly on phone lines.

Monday, 15 August 2016

6:30 a.m. Light Drizzle



6:30 a.m. Light drizzle: The man in the pink T-shirt and distressed denim jeans blows his nose noisily while the jogger who is circumnavigating the pond in the park scatters frightened ducklings from their roost under the overhang of the edging stones.

Mr Bateman has a new no.9 on his front door. Unusually, he has decided not to remove the old brass one and has opted instead to fasten a new, slightly smaller (brass effect) plastic one directly over the top of it. From a distance the resulting collage is completely illegible.
The individual barcode stickers on each of the stone setts laid at the barn conversion a couple of years ago have finally worn away leaving dark rectangular stains where they once were.
The concierge with the Polyveldt shoes and black polo shirt says he hasn’t had a pay rise in 9 years. “I’m going to jack it in and have a couple of months in Goa” he says. “Champion!” exclaims the man in the grey flannels and Oxford shirt from deep inside his rose garden.
I round a corner into the back alley of the terrace. Two tanned men are kissing on a doorstep. Upon seeing me, the older of them says, “I’m his grandad, by the way” and the younger man—gold earrings and dressing gown—doubles over, laughing. “We’re not that way inclined,” reiterates the older man, irritated, “and if you are, then I sympathise!”
A few doors down, an angry woman in a sari brandishes a yard brush at her neighbour:
“Keep your fucking children under fucking control!” she screams, “Fucking leave me a-fucking-lone!”
A black cat wearing a cobweb cowl watches on from behind the wheelie bins.
The weeds between the flags on the narrow pavements are knee high in some of the back streets; mainly long grasses and ragwort. I graze my knuckles on a concrete lamp post as I squeeze past the man with the slicked back nicotine hair. He falls backwards into a hedge but rebounds upright again to continue on his way.
The man who wears the all-year-round head-to-toe waterproofs comes out of the bottom of Grasmere Road, turns left towards the park, turns round and runs back again. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since March 23rd 2012.
Later, at the shattered old farm on the moor, the middle-aged Flora Poste who has moved in at one of the cottages is tending her hanging baskets. Since she arrived a few months ago the decrepit doors and aching window frames have been painted a fashionable eau de nil and there are crushed cloves in the yard. Her influence has yet to reach the main house; there is dog sick on the doorstep and a badly written note in the porch window: Leave parcels In the WOODSHED.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

30°C: The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now



30°C

The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now and the dead badger in the road isn’t a dead badger, it’s a Ramones T-shirt.
The fishmonger drops the pan from his scales onto the floor with a loud clang, “Throwing the tackle around!” he says as he bends to pick it up. The postman walks in and drops a bundle of mail onto the counter, “Don’t you get fed up of delivering rubbish?” the fishmonger asks. 
On the estate on the moor where juvenile starlings are hanging with the hen pheasant, the smell of warm porches is oddly comforting. There are fake lawns, stone turtles, small colourful plastic huskies and a skip with a broken drone in it.
At the high altitude newsagent’s shop, the proprietor says he doesn’t get away much. The last holiday he had was a long weekend to Amsterdam. He says he didn’t really enjoy it because the lads he went with ate too much ‘cake’ and spent the whole time asleep.
At the big house in the shadow of the wind turbine, a man in a country check shirt, khaki shorts, deck shoes and white socks is reading print news and sipping Pimm's under an awning. Two care workers arrive in an old black Fiesta, unhitch the gate and make their way into the back garden trailing bin liners.
On the council estate of men in shorts and women in anoraks, there are cherries on the pavement and wood pigeons flapping in the laylandii. Two men in their 70s are talking across a privet, “It’s like when Muhammad Ali came over here and fought Brian London, the Blackpool Rock…”
A ten-year-old people carrier loaded up with bulk bought dog-food-systems pulls up outside the flats with the rusty grab handles by the front doors. Grandparents play swing-ball with grandchildren and the ice cream van plays Oranges and Lemons for everybody.
Two teenage boys in an old Vauxhall Corsa—windows down, no shirts—are blowing the car horn in time to the music on the radio and the man in the striped apron who is tending his vegetable garden mutters ‘Dickheads!’ under his breath.
The dock leaves are getting big, daisies are coming through, hydrangeas are starting to flower. There is clover in the grass and sunbaked slugs on the sticky asphalt.
On the new estate of reconstructed stone semis and developer planted lavender, bald men in their 60 and 70s wear shorts and shades to walk their tousled grey hairpiece terriers.
At the caravan showroom where everything is black and white, black or white coffee is on draft. Black and white flags flutter in the paddock and black and white staff lean on things authoritatively. A large tattooed man in union-jack shorts and mirror shades is checking out the Bailey Pageant Bretagne while a man in khaki shorts, striped canvas belt and an Oxford shirt is having a look at the Hymer Exsis which is parked up by the striking yellow daisy bushes. A slim, tanned man in his early 30s, with big 1980s hair, earings, tight short shorts, espadrilles and a black and white body-hugging shirt with WANG written across the back makes his way between the plastic tub of thirsty pansies and the run-over florets of broccoli into the shop. He strikes up a conversation with the shop manager in an unusually deep voice “… All right, mate. I’ll see you later then, pal”.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Brexit bunting that decorates the No-Unauthorised-Vehicles car park is tangled and twisted



The Brexit bunting that decorates the No-Unauthorised-Vehicles car park is tangled and twisted, the few bits of it that remain free to flap, do so with vigour. At the house opposite, the woman in the cheesecloth blouse, enormous fluffy cat-shaped slippers and carrier bag full of soiled kitty litter is being followed down her garden path by an actual cat. 
It’s warm, bright and blustery. The man in his late 20s in the flat cap and florid trousers is carrying an aubergine and a tin of sardines to his BMW.
The driver of the Audi S4 throws a half eaten pasty out of the window, almost hitting the woman who is walking past the Top Spot snooker club in knee length boots and fleece jacket with wolf pictures on it.
I continue on past the sign that says Achieve Your Ambition Car Wash Open. Past the sparrow pecking at the base of the lamppost with gaffer tape wrapped around it to keep the inspection cover shut. Past the soon to be closed down museum that we all visited as kids—they have a stuffed waxwing from 1970.
The wheelie-bins on the new estate are the same shade of green as the fake plastic topiary in the gardens.
In the rubber scented car showroom, half-a-dozen grey haired customers in anoraks and shorts are sitting by the water cooler watching a wall-mounted television; a grey haired man with swollen legs is being wired up to a heart monitor on the hospital channel.
On, into the village. It’s quiet apart from the blackbirds, the jackdaws and the occasional thrum of a 4x4. There are pansies, pelargoniums, No Cold Callers, Our Glorious Dead, goldfinches, martens, Sunday painters, misanthropic cows, and Slow Children Playing.
Later, back in town, a man comments that I have good legs for kickboxing.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Recorded Delivery Events



The vanity of blue tits.
Cutting your own hair without a mirror. 
Shouting “Raymond!”
Wearing two pairs of glasses at the same time.
A man whose name is Ken.
Nicola’s boobs.
Some light drizzle.
Arthritic nettles.
Not really doing wine.
Vigorously chamoising a Mondeo.
Having a nice sit down.
A bag for life.
Drinking Fanta and wearing sunglasses at the vintage tea-room.
Being Mr Grumpy today.
Ignoring the TV.
Pansies in pots, a defibrillator, and a needle bin.
Pink heather, pyracantha, honeysuckle, flowering current, daffodils and grit bins.
Discussing house prices with the owner of a Yorkshire terrier.
Acknowledging one another with a small wave.
Juicy Mango Avon Man.
A chaffinch on a branch and a man on a Muddy Fox.
Get Your Rush On T-shirts and spandex pants.
Chickens, a phrenology bust, and breakfast on the pavement.
Audi country.
The man with the tattooed shins and a banana.
A quarter-full bottle of Lambrini.
Talk of chimineas.
An old Volvo full of kids.
Wearing the cardboard tube from the middle of a toilet roll.


This Sunday evening I'll be reading from the Yorkshire Festival commissioned project Recorded Delivery at Holmfirth Arts Festival. It will also be the first chance to see Edward Cotterill's accompanying film (clip above). Edward came with me around West Yorkshire and a bit of North Yorkshire while I went on at him for ages and sometimes carried his tripod. 


Here's a link to the Holmfirth event: Holmfirth Arts Festival 

I'll be doing the same again at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival on Monday June 27th. Here's a link to that: Hebden Bridge Arts Festival

Edward's film and a series of prints from the project can also be seen at Grassington Arts Festival: Grassington Arts Festival

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Most Difficult Thing Ever is now available through the Pariah Press online shop



The print / CD version of The Most Difficult Thing Ever is now available through the Pariah Press online shop. 

Here: Pariah Press

Saturday, 28 May 2016

RECORDED DELIVERY

Things have been a bit quiet on here recently because I've been distracted by Recorded Delivery, a Yorkshire Festival commissioned project I'm involved with. This new project has a lot in common with The Most Difficult Thing Ever, the main difference being its extension over a wider area than solely Huddersfield. Material will be available to stream in audio and video forms via QR codes on the streets or via the Recorded Delivery blog. You can also stay in touch with Recorded Delivery events via its Facebook page or, probably less reliably, via my Twitter account. 

Anyway, here's a sample:

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Chorlton Arts Festival 2016: The Most Difficult Thing Ever




















I'll be reading from The Most Difficult Thing Ever at the Marble Beerhouse in Chorlton, Manchester, this Wednesday evening (May 25th) as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. 

Here's a link: www.chorltonartsfestival.com

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

I Follow the Minibus Taxi with Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die Written above the Back Window



I follow the minibus taxi with Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die written above the back window. We pass dandelions, bluebells, flowering current, rogue tulips, and some jackdaws pecking at a new calf. On and up into Audi country.
“Has anything changed since your last visit?” asks the dentist’s receptionist. “I’m drinking much more wine” says the woman in the quilted jacket.

Outside the shop with the display of Worker Wagg Beef & Veg Worker Complete dog food on the fake grass underneath the broken awning, the rain has left a long pink stripe of cherry blossom along the gutter at the edge of the road.

The sun has barely been out an hour and the men in their 60s and 70s are out too, flocking to the shop in shorts and sandals for print news.

The primary coloured lycra cyclist sets off from his garage on the new estate of concrete stone houses with plastic wooden doors. Past the pansies in pots, the developer’s ‘architectural’ cordyline, the not-yet-hedges of laylandii, the baby wisteria, the nursery birch and willow and the fake plastic balls of box hedge that hang inexplicably from brackets next to front doors. Past the vaping Tesco delivery man. Past the Co-op delivery woman. Past the Audi, the Audi, the Audi, the Audi, and the Nissan X-Trail for when it snows. Past the builders’ vans in rows seeing to the plastic doric architraves. Past the yellow millstone in the bed of polished spar. Past the blue slate chippings, the galvanised pots of lavender, the hosepipes, the solar powered garden lights and the detached garages that are too small for cars. Past the For Sale Boards: A Collection of Yorkshire’s Finest Properties. Past the Parcel Force man with the tattoo sleeves. Past the enormous blooming cherries left from when they lined the road to the old mill. And on, out into the hills.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Bin Lorry is Stopping Every Ten Yards



The bin lorry is stopping every ten yards. Its loading mechanism makes a noise like that long note at the beginning of Rhapsody in Blue. It dawdles its way down the long road which starts with pebble-dashed maisonettes and the smell of weed at one end, and finishes with detached inter-war bungalows and the smell of seaweed fertiliser at the other. 
Somewhere around the middle, a man is sitting in his front room ignoring the TV while he reads Russell Grant’s astrology page. Next-door, his neighbour is naked apart from a pair of spectacles, playing with his Playstation.

Out in the sticks, a goldfinch flies out from under my feet and the fake grass at the barn conversion is still too green. I pass an open window; a woman is having an angry telephone conversation: “Well, it says here that the short length is four-and-a-half centimetres. Well I’ve no idea what four-and-a-half centimetres is in inches!

Cherry blossom, tulips, a rusty cement mixer, leylandii, pyracantha, ruthlessly pruned buddleia, and wooden telegraph poles; a woman in one of those cream, full-length puffer coats that makes her look like an enormous maggot is walking a big black greyhound.

The pub is taking bookings for New Years Eve (‘food will be served between 7-10pm’). Tonight they are serving tapas between 6-9pm and there’s a wet pair of suede loafers in the hyacinth bed.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Stone Buddhas, Buckets of Cig Butts, Missing Top Stones.



Stone Buddhas. Buckets of cig' butts. Missing top stones. 

The woman with the Brexit tote bag walks past the shop advertising ‘Kids £4’.
Litter traps behind broken gates: energy drink cans and takeaway-styrene.
Down from where the big stuffed Tweetie-Pie has been lynched from a fall-pipe, the young man holding a toddler is talking to the middle-aged woman in the bathrobe. She is sipping from a pint glass.
A bag-for-life in the gutter, cat shit in the ginnel, a torn office chair and a sodden carpet in the miry garden.
Outside the house with the weed smoke wisping from the open window, a woman screams “PACK IT IN!” to the children in the back of the new Freelander.
“Fuck off! What the fuck?” shouts the man when I deliver his post. The door opens and he runs across the piss soaked carpet in the yard and up the ginnel shouting after me, “What are you fucking doing! If the dog catches you in the garden, she’ll bite you, innit!” He stops next to a slimy piece of roughly sawn timber and says in a more composed voice, “You need to rest it behind this bit of wood in the alleyway, innit. If the dog catches you, it’s gonna bite you, innit.”
Down from the witch’s house with the hedge full of empty plastic bottles, I follow three men from the engineering shop on their way to the bakery. In identical overalls and of a similar build, the only thing that distinguishes them from one another is their differing stages of male pattern baldness.
The old man in the hi-vis vest is walking with both his arms outstretched, a bag-for-life full of groceries in each hand.
Two sporty young men walk down Forest Lane, one wears a Nike sports bag on his back, the other, grey-marl sweatpants which he repeatedly hoiks from his arse crack. I follow in the wake of their loud, expletive-ridden conversation and their pungent weed smoke before they turn off into the student halls of residence.
The lights are out in the shop and there’s hardly any stock now, but it’s still open.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The recent spell of fine weather has brought other people onto the streets



The recent spell of fine weather has brought other people onto the streets over which the elderly women in purple anoraks have held sole dominion in recent months.

A dozen motorbikes pass a middle-aged cyclist-in-lycra cyclist as he rides through the village. He rolls his eyes and shouts to me above the noise; “Hell’s angels are out!”

A middle-aged man in Crocs is hard at work chamoising the Skoda Yeti on the driveway of the semi-detached new-build. The sun glints off of the plastic chrome while he whistles along to Bad Moon Rising on the car’s stereo.

The man sitting in the driver’s seat of the parked-up Vauxhall Astra with the custom paint job, body kit, blacked-out windows, and ‘Bang Tidy’ sticker in the back is eating a pot of Muller Rice.

Earlier, on the estate, I tried to deliver a parcel but was intercepted by a short middle-aged man with a grey side-parting and a three-quarter length beige anorak. 
“You can leave it with me if she’s not in. She’s rarely at home; she’s a very active woman for a blind lady”
I thanked the man and handed over the parcel.
“Could you pop me a note through — just to let her know I’ve got it?” said the man.
“I can,” I said, “but how will she read it if she’s blind?”
The man smiled wisely; “Sense of touch,” he said. Then he tapped his eye with his forefinger and explained; “When these pack up, the others pick up.”
“Oh” I said.
In the next street, a small Asian girl with a snotty nose asked me where I was going next.
“Over that way”, I said, waving my arm up the street.
“Pakistan?” asked the girl.

On the track down to the house where the men from Kudos Doors (Commercial and Domestic Door Systems) are working, I saw a green woodpecker.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A couple of events:

A Bird Spotter's Guide to Yorkshire















DECAPOD - AirSpace Gallery 10th Birthday
I am showing two short films, A Bird Spotter's Guide to Yorkshire and A Seasonal Guide to Yorkshire at the excellent Airspace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent between March 4th to April 2nd, 2016.
More information: www.airspacegallery.org

Huddersfield Literature Festival 2016 
I am reading from The Most Difficult Thing Ever at Café Society in Huddersfield on March 9th.
More information: www.litfest.org.uk

The sun is out.



The sun is out. Jackdaws peck at something in the road and an ambulance drifts by slowly as I follow the old woman with the done-up-to-the-top parka, pink floral leggings and four pack of Special Brew out of the newsagent’s. She almost loses her balance and has to steady herself on the bin for a few seconds.

Weed
Air freshener

As they walk into the early sun, both the man in the lumberjack shirt and the golden retriever he is walking, are haloed by its glare. The dog stops to piss on a holly bush and the resulting cloud of water vapour rises to combine with the mist of their breath, swirling around them until they almost disappear from view.

Dogshit

I disturb a small swarm of the first-flies-of-the-year, in the ivy by the house of the man who is wearing a football kit and no shoes.

Chemist shop interior

There is orange lichen on the ridge tiles and vivid green moss on the pavements. I side-step a young girl in wheelie-shoes and a grown-up’s sweat shirt empty arms flapping.

Cigarette smoke

There’s a man chopping timber in the woods with an axe: bobble hat and a pair of those reddy-brown rubberised gloves with the unbleached ribbing. And now the students are going past on the double-decker from the halls of residence that used to be the mental hospital where I was terrified by the patients while delivering harvest festival bounty on behalf of my primary school — I remember a marrow, some tins of sweetcorn and a skinny old woman  with dribble down her chin who shouted and swore and pulled at my sleeve.


Newsprint
Washing powder

The geese make that noise they make. I can still hear them all the way down at the house with the windowsill of silk flowers in Costa coffee mugs.

Weed

There’s a woodpecker on the avenue of Victorian mansions. Plastic fascia boards creak in the sun. Crocuses. People can’t agree whether it’s warm or cold. The woman in the camel hair coat who's waiting for a taxi with three children says, “Ooh, in’t it warm” but just round the corner, the window cleaner with the woolly hat and the scarf wrapped around his face says, “By ‘eck, it’s cold”.

Bins
Wholemeal bread



There’s a woman speaking Urdu very loudly on speaker-phone at the bus stop. The other half-dozen people in the queue are finding it amusing, catching one another’s eyes and laughing behind their hands.

Boiler flue vapour

I pass the house with the tiny cluttered garden: childrens’ ride-on toys in faded plastic, dogshit and a fallen over gravestone:
 
Mum
Gran
Sadly Missed

Perming solution

The roofer with the skinny jeans and Harrington jacket says he’s never had a cash card in his life, mate.

Washing powder

The house that was built on the field where I used to race my BMX has a poster in the window: SAY NO to greenfield development. SAVE OUR GREENBELT.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

There Was A Gale Blowing


There was a gale blowing and the tattered and bleached remains of a flag of St George flapped furiously from the miniature manor house dovecote with the model Morris Traveller parked out front.
The woman with the bin liner wrapped around the aerial of her Citroen C3 looked nervously at the straining beech trees surrounding the playground, “There’s that many tree-huggers in this village, we’re not allowed to chop them down!” she shouted, as a kestrel flew backwards over the school.

A squall ripped at the surface of the flooded potholes sending miniature tsunamis flashing the full length of the street and flipping open the bonnet of the big black BMW as it rounded the corner by the church. The driver was confused and continued on his way for several seconds before stopping in the middle of the road to clamber out in his suit and pointy shoes to slam it shut again.

Eventually, the storm passed, leaving a clear blue sky dotted with glinting aircraft. 
The high-end plumbers' vans and the Mitsubishi pickups cast long shadows across the road, passenger seats and dashboards littered with red-top news, McDonalds bags, biros and notebooks.

Later, on the estate, the man who looks a bit like Dennis Waterman with the tombstone teeth and brown blouson leather jacket told me he’s on the sick and bored out of his fucking mind. He said he can’t really complain though because his neighbour is deaf and only has one leg.

I saw a nuthatch on the bird table at the famous modernist house, a pair of yellowhammers in the long grass at the side of the farm track, and a brace of pheasants hanging from the door handle of Mr Gaunt’s in the village.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Stepping Around the Shit Streaked Toilet Paper



Stepping around the shit streaked toilet paper that trails from drain at the bottom of the hill, I make my way up the flotsam strewn pavement into the village: Cooper’s of Stortford, Capri Sun, an empty pack-of-three Oral-B toothbrushes, a snapped off cricket bat, some Walker’s salt & vinegar, a KFC box, a Cadbury’s selection box, floating polystyrene, festive wrapping, an overflowing wheelie bin, half a dozen leaky black bin-liners, a bent roller-skate, and a big Porsche 4x4. The woman in the twin-set says she’d report the rubbish but she 'can’t do whatsit-ing’ and she mimes typing on a keyboard.

There are pine needles on everybody’s doorsteps.

The old man with HATE and HATE tattooed on his knuckles is complaining; his new glasses are crap and he can’t see to sign his name.

The ladders slide from the roof of the Land Rover Discovery and clatter onto the road. The driver begins lashing them back into place in the heavy rain.

Mr Briggs pulls up next to the still half-flowering blue hydrangea. He winds down the window of his Bedford Rascal and points to the house opposite. He shouts above the noise of the rain and his idling engine, “They’re funny buggers them; you never see ‘em!” He drives away again after conceding that “He’s ok, but she’s a funny bugger; I’ve never seen her!”

The Jackdaws are cawing, and the proprietor of the shop that sells mainly marrowfat peas; salmon paste; toilet paper; and dusty bottles of Paul Masson is sitting in the dark. I open the door and he gets up from behind the counter to put the lights on.

Back outside, the small woman in the big coat at the bus stop thumbs her phone. “David Bowie’s dead” she says.