6am in the park: water vapour hangs in a mist above the pond, a blackbird sings in the flowering hawthorne, azaleas and primulas bloom around the feet of the Boar war infantryman and the fat pigeon pecks at the plastic portion control packaging underneath the bench.
A flustered looking man on a tiny moped pulls over to ask me directions to Buxton. I tell him to head for the hills and keep on going for three or four hours. He looks a bit blank and then asks where the nearest petrol station is.
I follow the door-to-door salesmen as they “luvvie" and “matey” their way along the row of red brick inter-war semis. Twenty years ago, number 43 had a wooden lean-to conservatory in chicken-house green which was filled with beautiful red geraniums. Now, the old wooden structure has gone, replaced with a new one in battleship-grey double-glazed UPVC. Inside, the geraniums have gone too, instead there is now a rowing machine and a treadmill.
At the garage: I’m in the queue next to the row of light boxes displaying faded upside-down pictures of sandwiches. In front of me is the short fat man with the Hiace monster truck parked outside. He’s wearing a Stetson hat and talking to the young man with the geometrically precise beard behind the counter, “It says on the thing on the thing that you have to buy a minimum of 50p’s worth of air”. “Oh”, says the young man. “Well, don’t you think that’s a rip off; a quid for some air?” “I don’t know," says the young man.
Hawthorne, cow parsley, lilac, horse chestnut, laburnum, broom, rotary washing lines, and plastic bottles glinting in the gutter. There are three people at the bus stop, an elderly couple in beige with accents of pale green and lavender and a young man in black with accents of white.
The man on his phone at the Co-op describes the wrapping paper he has chosen, “grey with circles and stuff all over it”.
The man in the gilet who is sitting behind me on the bus shouts into his phone, “I’m gonna get off here, gunna go Bar Maroc and I’m gonna stuff my big fat white face with fucking pizza”.
Sitting in gridlock on the M62 I watch the men in pool sliders and ankle tags argue loudly with the bald men in Adidas who are stopping them from using the hard shoulder, "Don't call the police, I'm on remand!"