Sunday, 19 March 2017

“I was thinking lily but that’s not a flower, is it?” says the drunk woman at 6am.



“I was thinking lily but that’s not a flower, is it?” says the drunk woman at 6am. 

The wind assists me up the hill and blows the blossom from the trees outside the house where a five litre plastic container of screen-wash has been placed in each corner of the small front garden.

I turn down the poorly maintained track with the big view across the valley and pass the wheelie bins and the terrace with more greenery in the guttering than in the paved over gardens. There are primulas on the verges under polythene trees where a flock of noisy goldfinches has been squabbling all week. I follow a black and white cat onto the estate of headless buddhas, tailless schnauzers, earless rabbits, faded anoraks and unfashionable bell-bottom jeans in indigo. A grey haired man in chinos places a four pack of Galahad Premium Lager and a bag of green potatoes on his neighbour's doorstep next to the faded plastic meerkats on a seesaw.

Along the valley side past the discarded Top Bottoms DVD and the junction box graffiti. Past the muslim man, trousers tucked into socks. Past the teenage boys in tracksuits tops, sharing a joint. It’s sunny now, 19°, but the woman with the tasseled gold scarf is still hiding under the hood of her heavy coat.

The police helicopter hovers overhead as two women at the bus stop discuss the sexual assault featured in the local paper. “You can’t risk anything now, can you?” the younger woman says, “I was thinking of walking into work now the weather’s getting better but I’m not risking it.”
“I usually walk in” says the older woman, “If they see me they’ll run a mile anyway.”

Mouldy windfall apples line the slippery stone steps to the back-to-backs. I walk head first into the hanging basket of dead twigs next to the front door with “fucking crack bitch” scrawled across it in marker pen. I curse and make my way back out to the Co-op where I sit in the car park eating peanuts while the man with the Father Christmas bag-for-life hugs a spaniel.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Police sirens and heavy sleet



Police sirens and heavy sleet.

I follow the drunk man with the old Sainsbury’s bag-for-life who is making use of the full width of the generous pavements. He wears a three-quarter length camouflage jacket, very skinny jeans, and an enormous pair of brothel creepers. He goes into the Co-op at the second attempt and buys a bag of salmon and potato dog food.

Down from the dumpster full of brand new trainers, at the terrarium bus stop where ivy thrives behind the perspex, the women with the toddlers in pushchairs are discussing a mutual neighbour: “That twat over the road”.

A series of tiny swastikas have been etched into the pink CND graffiti on the junction box at the corner of the street. Next to it, a skinny man in a hooded top and tracksuit is gesticulating angrily to the Royal Mail driver who is performing a three-point-turn in the road. The driver winds down his window, ‘What?’ he shouts, exasperated. 
“You could have fucking done that in one!” says the hoody man, grinning. 
The postman smiles, “Only if I’d gone onto the verge, I didn’t want to damage the grass.” 
“Fuck the grass!” says the hoody man.
They both laugh and the hoody man waves as the Royal Mail man drives away.

It starts to snow and I pass a man riding a self-balancing board down the other side of the road. He pushes a baby in a pushchair past the bathroom scales that have been left propped against the base of a lamppost. 

The snow gets heavier and an old Renault M├ęgane pulls into a driveway. Quite a fat woman gets out wearing fluffy slippers and a silk dressing gown with a dragon motif embroidered onto the back. She walks quickly to the house as large snowflakes settle on top of her luxuriant mahogany perm.

The Royal Mail man makes his way up the path to the house where Smokie’s greatest hit blasts from an open window.  A man in his sixties answers the door: unshaven, bare feet, casual jogging pants. “I’m surprised to see you today,” he says, “I didn't realise you delivered on Sundays.”
“I don’t,” says the postman, “It’s Monday.”
“Shit! Is it?” exclaims the man, “What time is it?”

Two women in matching purple anoraks (the one on the left also has purple hair) are out for a brisk stroll in the woods. The sun has come out highlighting the tyre tracks on Mucky Lane. Holly trees glisten and squirrels scramble among the snowdrops. The clouds clear and the wet road surface that winds through the glade of expensive detached new-builds becomes a mirror reflecting retro oriel windows, fake lead flashings and jaunty medieval-lite gables. ‘It’s like a magical wonderland’ says the woman without the purple hair.. 

A van passes. Written on its side in a neat sans-serif it says Making Tomorrow a Better Place.