Saturday, 11 November 2017
As I exit the park gates, I hear a loud crunch. I look up to see a green fluorescent cyclist bounce off the side of an Octavia taxi and onto the road. He gets to his feet quickly and holds out his hands in a ‘What the fuck?’ gesture to driver behind the wheel. “I’ve got a light,” he shouts, switching the light on his helmet off and on again, “I’ve got a fluorescent jacket,” he says, tugging at the collar of his hi-vis, “How come you didn’t see me?” The taxi driver doesn’t respond.
I follow the two Polish men in anoraks and combat pants down Fitzwilliam Street. The shorter of them is swigging Polish lager as they walk. When they reach the bottom of the hill, he throws his can into the bin and they stand conversing loudly for a minute or so before heading off in opposite directions.
The short tubby man in his late fifties with the raglan cardigan and combover tells me he accidentally went to Whitby during the goth weekender. “By ‘eck, we saw some right sights!” he explains, shaking his head. “They were selling steam punk starter kits for twenty quid: a pair of goggles and a hat with a feather in it. I have to admit I was tempted, but I didn’t bother in the end.”
A five-bar gate has been installed on new wooden posts a couple of meters back from the original stone ones. I open it and make my way up the dirt road past the old stone buildings whose roofs are bright green with moss.
A jay flies out from Southernwood.
The man in the red North Face jacket flicks the bottom of his crisp bag with his middle finger before tipping his head back and upending the dregs into his open mouth.
The tall poplars behind the new estate are capped yellow with the last of the leaves that still cling to the very top of the canopy. There are pink, lace-up Hunter wellingtons, Union Jack themed soft furnishings and a man in a gilet in his late fifties. “There’s always something to do,” he tells me. “Last weekend I had to unblock the drain and this weekend, I had to build a shed. There’s always summat to do, in’t there? There’s always summit.”
Mr Briggs pulls up in his Suzuki Carry: “If you don’t see me tomorrow, hang on to my mail, will you? I’ve got a bloody funeral to go to.” And with that, he spins his wheels on the wet leaves in the gutter and speeds away towards Meltham — where it’s a right bugger to park, so he often tells me.
The bald man behind me on the bus says he doesn’t get why everyone is still bothered about iPhones: “I could understand it when they first came out and you could get an app that made a whipping sound or a noise like a fart; it was fun, but where do you go from there? I mean, what’s the point now?”