Sunday 19 May 2019

6am: the gutter is lined with flattened plastic bottles and someone is blowing their nose loudly on Fitzwilliam street.

6am: the gutter is lined with flattened plastic bottles and someone is blowing their nose loudly on Fitzwilliam street.

It’s a busy morning at the office and the pressure builds into a cacophony of infectious ticks, inflections, call and response catchprases and chants the origins of which have long since been forgotten: the name of a local chemical supplier is repeated over and over again in a fake cockney accent. The opening lines of the song Born Free are sung in the style of Matt Monro at an absurdly high volume. There’s a background of constant bickering punctuated with a mock shock “You can’t say that!” and somebody shouts “Do I look Stupid? to which everyone responds “Yes!” Then there’s the whistly “Oh yes!” In the style of a 1970s Deryck Guyler with ill fitting false teeth. At the height of the melee someone rattles a teaspoon inside an enamel mug to sound like an alpine cow bell and elicits Ski Sunday cries of “Hup hup hup hup!” And finally there are the loud self-mocking boasts “I used to work in the printing trade!” or “I once had trials at Oldham Athletic!” and the enthusiastic group response of “Failure!”

At the house with the stone hedgehogs on the doorstep, where the man sometimes hoovers his pattern imprinted concrete driveway, a crow takes off from the lawn with half a slice of bread in its beak. Next door, the goldfinches are twittering in the trees and the woman in the bathrobe is pleased with her parcel.

The woman in a vest top, gardening gloves and plaster cast on her leg is tipping garden waste over a wall while listening to Where the Streets Have No Name by U2 at high volume.

It’s quiet round here: cycling gear on the washing lines, vintage cars under the canvas covers, hedgerows under the ivy, woodpigeons in the cypress trees, pizza ovens in the gardens. People under wide brimmed hats flutter their union jacks on three consecutive TVs.

The sun comes out and a cloud of aphids appears, too many to avoid. They’re up my nose and in my ears. There are dozens of green specks on my light blue shirt. 

A man on his side is trimming the underneath bit of his privet, he breaks off briefly to say hello and to comment on “all these bloody greenflies”. His Nissan Leaf is plugged in for a charge under the drapes of the flowering wysteria and a couple of swallows chatter on the phone cables above.

Later, on the estate, an old Renault Scenic passes at speed with the windows down and the music up. As it passes one of the houses in the cul-de-sac its horn sounds abruptly and a flustered looking woman with a cigarette in her mouth and a phone under her chin comes running out of the front door in very tight leggings. She wrestles with the bolt of the definitely homemade double gates as the Scenic speeds up the road to turn around. She’s just about bounced the gates open and removed a stray toddler to safety when the Scenic returns and is hastily reversed into the muddy driveway by a man with an old fashioned moustache and apparently little regard for others.

“Get here now! Get here now! Get here now! Get here now! Get here now! Get here now! Get here now!” screams the large woman to the young boy who is running down the street. He rounds the corner and disappears from view and she goes into the house and shuts the door.

At the student halls of residence with the Brexit Party posters in the window, two young men with neck beards are drinking energy drinks on the grass surrounded by Nerf gun darts.