Half-a-dozen crows, definitely crows, pick at the very last remains of a dead squirrel in a squall that knocks me sideways on the bridge over the ring-road. Outside the closed-down brothel, a young woman wearing only a long T-shirt and heels is in a hushed discussion with a tall man in a big parka. 200 yards further along, the man with the tattooed neck stops suddenly, throws up all over the pavement, wipes his mouth and continues on his way. I catch his eye as I pass him. It’s 3.30pm.
Earlier, the weather was calmer; a big, feather-duvet cloud was slumped over the valley head but the sky directly above was blue and still. In the leaf litter at the bottom of Mrs Brook’s drive, a sparrowhawk was opening up a steaming kill and, in the field behind the road sign with the buddleja growing from it, a kestrel was hovering above the half blown away barn.