It’s the first clear blue day for weeks on the solid and dependable streets of semis: half brick, half pebbledash. Reliable men polish hatchbacks or further fine-tune already solid fixtures and fittings. King Charles spaniels bask on the backs of settees. There’s no dog shit, no litter. People stop me to talk about the weather. A woodpigeon calls against the gentle background thrum of the busy motorway tributary. Left, into a side street and a step up the aspirational ladder: double bay windows, dormers, steeply pitched roofs, 4x4s on the drives. There are sparrows in the neatly trimmed hedges and there are children in the schoolyard. An elderly woman waits for the Cairn terrier in the little red dog coat to shit under the hedge at the edge of the pavement, her walking stick decorated with souvenir badges. “What a lovely morning!” she says, before bending down to carefully package the mess.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the owner of the pornographic bookshop is unloading bulk bought dog food systems from a battered Transit van, his Yorkshire terrier tethered to the door handle. A noisy Subaru Impreza farts past at about 60mph with an acid green quad bike in noisy pursuit. Further down, opposite the house with the brass plaque on the front door that reads, ‘A friend in need is a pain in the arse’, a couple are huddled over a phone taking an online quiz at the bus stop next to the pile of energy drink cans. “What’s the day after Pancake Day?” asks the man. “Valentine's Day”, says the woman.