5 a.m.: It’s windy. Dry leaves follow the man with the diamanté lettering on the back of his black hooded sweatshirt as he passes me on a pushbike with large rear mounted panniers. An empty Evian bottle follows me as I walk down Fitzwilliam Street in the cigarette slipstream of the woman in the fur lined parka.
Later, in the village, the wind has subsided and a light aircraft buzzes steadily overhead. The gale has left the gutters deep in blackspot leaves and beech nuts. Above, the Jackdaws are squabbling over the louvers of the belfry.
A fly flies into my ear.
Outside the old post office, an immaculate metallic orange and chrome Ford Ranger blows past the abandoned sun-bleached Mitsubishi Charisma with the gaffer tape brake lights and the load space crammed with Christmas decorations and bags of garden compost. Sparrows explode from a holly bush. “Max! No!” says the publican to the black and white cat who has just walked across his freshly mopped floor.
The man in the green hi-vis coat is delivering flyers to the estate of detached, stone built bungalows and neat hedges. He’s talking loudly into his phone: “I’ve done my back in” he says. “I’m on morphine,” and then, after several false starts, he explains how he came by his injury, “I picked an ‘ammer hup”. I see the hi-vis man again, twenty minutes later. He’s still delivering flyers but now he’s put his phone away and is singing loudly instead. His seemingly improvised song takes for its subject a bald man from Whitby who goes to preposterous lengths to polish and shine his head. The man breaks off from singing when he sees me and shouts across the street “I’ve done my back in!”
The weather turns again. Blustery wind, overcast skies, drizzle and springy rough tussock grass; the nights are drawing in says the builder in the black hooded top who is mixing cement with his flies undone.