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, who is naked apart from a pair of glasses, is 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 to be mistaken for the real thing. 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!”
There’s 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 the wearer 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.