Sunday 31 January 2016

There's A Gale Blowing

There’s a gale blowing and the tattered and bleached remains of a flag of St George flaps 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 looks nervously at the straining beech trees that surround the playground, “There’s that many tree-huggers in this village, we’re not allowed to chop them down!” she shouts as a kestrel flies backwards over the school.

A squall rips 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 rounds the corner by the church. The driver continues 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 passes, 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.

On the estate, the man with the bad teeth and brown leather jacket tells me he’s on the sick and bored out of his fucking mind. He says he can’t really complain though because his neighbour is deaf and only has one leg.

I see 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.