It’s dark in the park because they’ve turned out the lights to save some money. There’s a noisy owl in the wooded bit and the man with the little round glasses says he’s fucking freezing.
The sun comes up and makes long shadows, blue sky with short pink vapour trails and a neat thaw line down the middle of the road.
It’s 1° and the frost is still hard when I pass the man in the T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops who is struggling to fit a baby seat into an old Ford Focus. Across the street a thin woman is forcing cardboard packaging into her overflowing bin, “Fuck me!” she says to the teenage girls who are listening to speaker-phone hip-hop on the wall, “When are they gonna come and empty the chuffin’ bins, man?”
Down by the No Fly Tipping sign someone has fly-tipped a broken wheelie bin.
At the bottom of the hill between the two derelict fridges, two boys of about eight or nine are playing kerby while another boy throws small stones at them. They pause briefly when the angry old man in the polyester parka poises a tin can across the street. He climbs into a black Skoda Fabia and drives away at high speed and the boys carry on with their game.
Next to the end terrace with NOTE PRIVT PlS DON’T THROW RUBISH HERE painted on its gable end in foot high lettering there are three sodden old settees, two armchairs, a stained king-sized mattress, a wardrobe door, four split open bin liners of children’s clothes in a puddle, a small pile of rubble, a large cardboard box, a bit of an old tent, an empty Pepsi can, an empty Persil box and some snapped off bits of rotten timber.
On the side street of semis, a tall thin man in a black fleece and beenie is trying to look nonchalant while his dog pisses on his next door neighbour’s gate post. He glances casually through the front window to check he hasn’t been spotted. On the other side of the road, outside the house with the plastic-terracotta doorstep plant pots of couch grass and Haribo wrappers, the woman in her 60s is being patient with her Yorkshire terrier as it shits on the pavement. She stands over it anxiously, little black plastic bag ready in her hand. Further along, there’s a pride of journalists with woollen overcoats and long lenses blocking the road outside the house of the man who was shot dead by the police yesterday.