Sunday, 9 July 2017

Out in the sticks a tiny vole dives for cover in the wall of the converted barn, maniacal starlings yell incoherently from the guttering...



Out in the sticks a tiny vole dives for cover in the wall of the converted barn, maniacal starlings yell incoherently from the guttering, and the builders’ site radio blasts I Don’t Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats around the new estate. It is, of course, Monday and it’s very warm.

A large moth is caught mid flight by a pied wagtail who smashes it against the asphalt of the Rooneys’ driveway. The moth escapes briefly but is chased down again, stamped on and repeatedly pecked. Again it limps free, half flying and half bouncing across the Rooneys’ lawn. The wagtail moves in a third time and the moth is finally dispatched. It’s a big meal and the bird struggles to swallow it before flittering off somewhere amongst the Rooneys’ statues of racoons pushing wheelbarrows and playing guitars.

Mr Barrow has moved from the big house to one of the cottages a few doors down. The delivery man asks the woman in the bucket hat who is bent over weeding the verge of the pretty lane, “Has Mr Barrow moved to this one?”
“Yes,” says the woman.
“I wasn’t sure.”
“It’s definitely that one,” says the woman waving her trowel at the Range Rover on the drive, “I was over there this morning and I saw his vegetables.”

A Bullfinch circles my head, I duck and the woman with the thick plastic rimmed glasses in the big picture window laughs at me over the top of her computer monitor.

In the village, the old woman in the taupe anorak outside the doctor's surgery isn't riding a vintage Raleigh Chopper incredibly slowly along the pavement, she's pushing one of those walking frames with wheels on. The people on the bench had obscured my view.

An idling diesel engine.
The amplified telephone bell from the office of the cardboard box factory.
Distant power tools.
Crows, starlings and sparrows.
Distant traffic from the main road.
The Labrador’s bark echoing around the new builds.
A distant police siren.
The reversing alarm of a wagon in the yard of the cardboard box factory.
An aeroplane rumbling overhead.
The bleating of sheep and lambs.
The sound of flowing water draining under the manhole cover.

Addy’s Picnic Hamper van signals its arrival at the cardboard box factory gates with loud Greensleeves chimes. A forklift driver abandons his truck and runs across the yard to be the first in the queue. Seconds later there’s a squeaking of doors and about a dozen men in overalls file out reaching into pockets and sorting change.

I knock at the door of the old manor house.
“Come in ladies!” says a voice from inside.
I open the door a crack and shout, “It’s the postman!”
“Come on in girls!” says the voice again
“It’s the postman!” I shout again.
“Ooo, soup for lunch, how lovely!” says the voice.
“It’s the postman,” I say walking in with the mail.
“Oh look, it’s the postman,” says the smart old man in the damask armchair.

At the house on the ridge of the valley side, the man with the wire rimmed glasses, grey sweatshirt, and jeans is making use of the pejorative overtones of the word ‘titivate’ as he describes his neighbour’s new L.E.D outdoor lighting display.

Back in town, the thin woman with one leg of her grey tracksuit tucked into a turquoise sock asks whether I’m a postman. I say I am.
“I love postmen”, she says.
“That’s great”. I say
“Yeah, they always take my letters to Portugal,” she explains.
A thin man in filthy baggy jeans and enormous dirty white trainers walks down Newsome Road with his head in his hands. He must be able to see through a crack in his fingers because he keeps going like this for about fifty yards.

At the post office, an elderly woman is holding up the queue while she explains to the cashier at length her frustration at having been held up in the queue.