Saturday, 28 November 2015

Half-a-Dozen Crows, Definitely Crows, Pick at the Very Last Remains of a Dead Squirrel

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.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Starlings are Excitable and the Flats at Park Court still Smell of Piss

The starlings are excitable and the flats at Park Court still smell of piss. Outside, a man in jeans and a T-shirt is blowing smelly ginkgo leaves. He consolidates them into a neat pile, exposing again the small memorial stone dedicated to the dog named Mowgli and the fallen-over A-frame poster board advertising The Dana Ali Band’s next appearance at the Clothiers Arms.

There’s a man in a field shouting at livestock and the excitable starlings are ganging-up in the near-naked beech. Outside the big detached new-build with the statue of the bulldog by the front door, the man on the vintage motorcycle is talking to the man with Cuprinol down his top, “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it stays mild,” he says. I’m not so worried, says the Cuprinol man, “I’ve just had the van fixed and it’s running like a dree-am”.

The woman in the T-shirt with ‘Porn Star’ written across it winces as she walks. She leans on the wall of her porch while she kicks off her muddy trainers and leaves them on the step. In the street outside, a small group of full hi-viz men are gathered around a hole in the ground. They are leaning on their tools and chatting: “He got to the middle of the field, dropped his kegs, did a shit and just carried on walking...”

In the garden of the big house, there’s a man in an orange helmet with a perspex visor chopping down the leylandii. Outside, at the bus stop, the old woman with the belted herringbone coat and Marks & Spencer bag-for-life is complaining about this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, “When they showed the pictures, I thought, ‘I don’t know any of them!” then she adds, “It’s not worth going to the hairdresser’s when the weather is like this; I only went on Tuesday and it’s flat as a pancake already!”

There are old women in anoraks and gloves with small grey curly dogs that match their hairdos. They are on their way to the shop that sells dusty bottles of Mateus Rosé, Lion Bars, Bisto Gravy Granules, and Andrex Toilet Tissue. The excitable starlings compete with a car alarm and the farmer who is half-in and and half-out of his overalls, closes his eyes as he reaches for the latch on the blind side of the gate.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Storm Drains Are Overflowing

Storm drains are overflowing. An empty packet of Lambert & Butler and an energy drink can overtake me in the swollen run-off channel at the side of the road. 

In the big yellow cherry tree, Starlings make noises like excited children waiting for a coach trip.

A Jack Russell terrier escapes from the woman with the mid-calf length, floral print, pleated skirt and the summer wine perm, and chases the Land Rover as it reverses onto the driveway. “Stupid bloody dog!” says the woman, “it’s his boss that’s come back, that’s what’s done it!”

The flats with the absurdly pretentious name smell like a swimming pool today.

The man in the long overcoat is reading a book and drinking White Star cider inside the phone box. 

The man in the white 7.5 ton truck blows his horn at the man in the bright orange fleece jacket. 

The boy of about eight in the passenger seat of a Ford Focus shouts “You fat bastard!” to the fat man at the cash machine.

The teenage boy with lots of tattoos and no shirt in late October scowls and sticks out his tongue at the little girl in the back seat of the brand new Audi.

Two young girls are in conversation:
Girl on a pink Barbie bike with snot in her hair: I’m going to my nan’s and granddad’s and me dad’s tekkin’ me.
Slightly older girl with bed head and pyjamas at one in the afternoon: No you’re not cos he’s going scrap yard.

Two women are in conversation:
Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: You off up to t’church?
Slouching woman with cigarette: Not yet
Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: I thought you were off up now, I were getting stressed!

The woman with the yellow teeth who wears her anorak indoors is shouting at her children. She doesn’t get on with the man next door who sits chain smoking in his garden all day.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Backlit, paper-diorama-skyline autumn morning

Backlit, paper-diorama-skyline autumn morning: headlights, streetlights, a pile of bakers’ trays outside the corner shop, students taking photos of leaves.

On the bus, the man in front of me said that café culture is wasted on him because he doesn't drink tea or coffee. He went on to explain that he could never eat Weetabix without sugar.

At the supermarket, the woman with the piercings and leggings was complaining because the Festive Yard of Scrumptious Jaffa Cakes Christmas Pack she’d bought “is just a long box with some normal packets of Jaffa Cakes inside”.

I turned the radio on and a woman said she’d had to leave her son to get himself to university on his own because she'd had to go and visit her "energy master" in Bali. I turned it over and a man was singing “She maxed her credit cards and don’t got a job” to the tune of a Duran Duran song. I turned it off again.

The blind man with the green hi-vis coat and white stick was tip-tapping the high stone wall as he made his way from the bus stop towards the hospital. He nimbly rounded a couple of junction boxes and a litter bin before walking face first into the larger-than-life-sized white-stick-defying pedestal-mounted Clear Channel hoarding promoting SlimFast Slim-Taki™Noodles: DATE NIGHT FRIDAY Chop-chop.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Patreon support.

"Hello, I am Kevin Boniface and I’m an artist, writer and postman based in Huddersfield, UK and I write a blog called The Most Difficult Thing Ever. I have performed readings, made films, published books, and created gallery installations based on the The Most Difficult Thing Ever. Much of this activity has thus far been supported by my day job at the Royal Mail where I have worked for 18 years. This situation is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain but I am determined that the blog itself should be freely available and free from advertising; pledges through Patreon would therefore be greatly appreciated."

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The man two seats in front of me on the bus was wearing 1980s suit trousers

The man sitting two seats in front of me on the bus was wearing 1980s suit trousers, a beige anorak, and something that looked like it could have been bird shit in his hair. He was repeatedly slapping himself about the head and face. 
Behind me, the important-in-corduroy-man was begging to differ with the woman with the bag-for-life opposite, "It's not! It's gonna be another sodding Chinese! Why we need another sodding Chinese when there's already one at the bloody bottom I don't know!” he said. He went on to explain that he'd given up drinking but the woman looked sceptical.

The weather has turned over the last few weeks and they’re selling Christmas decorations at Sainsbury's and Morrison's and the dry cleaners on the ring-road is offering a “Seasonal Ugg Boot Cleaning Service”.

On the moor, acorn and oak-leaves litter the pavement next to the beagles’ kennels. There’s shattered green glass in the gutter. There are concrete lampposts (Concrete Utilities Ltd) and GPO manhole covers, and a pile of dead wood behind an ivy covered wall. There are ferns and holly, rose hips, barking dogs, and cawing crows in the top of the trees. The house with the half-dozen muddy turnips on the doorstep is being clad in pretend wood. 

At the bottom end of the estate, driveways are being resurfaced with that glue-on stuff that looks like the top of a crumble—quite tasty. There are plastic lawns too, and rusty super-minis, and Octavia Hackney carriages. There are new plastic drain-grates and concrete top-stones to replace the stolen originals.

At the top of the estate, where the big, detached houses are, there are leylandii, succulents, rockeries and Alpines, some big toadstools that weren’t there yesterday, a beech hedge, a big overhanging silver birch, ornamental lampposts, pretend mail boxes that are actually bird boxes, yellow grit bins, water butts, high maintenance borders, patios, Burglars Beware neighbourhood watch signs, fire hydrants, bird baths, sundials, and vibrant hi-vis moss in the grikes between the expensive driveway setts. There was a power cut and all the burglar alarms went off at once.

Monday, 21 September 2015

A heron flew over Dale Cottage

A heron flew over Dale Cottage where the last of the pink fuchsias were poking out from holes in the blanket of fallen leaves and a woodpecker was assaulting the peanut feeder. On the driveway, the man in the blue Vauxhall Zafira with the ladders on the roof was listening to some contemporary pop music at high volume. He rocked back and forth enthusiastically in the driver’s seat, mouthing the words with a screwed-up, cum face. 

In the best kept village that smells of 2-stroke chainsaw oil, where the houses are never, ever finished, the builders have moved on a generation. Out have gone those firms, traditionally named after their proprietor, whose contractors have broad Yorkshire accents, gold earrings and 80s hits on their heavy duty radios: Don’t You Want Me, Baby? And in have come the firms named after a single word synonym for ‘house’—E.g. Home, Abode, Dwelling, Base—whose contractors have tattoo sleeves, full-face beards, and 90s hits on their heavy duty radios: A Design For Life
At the big house in the woods, one of the modern, 90s builders was hoovering the pattern imprinted concrete driveway while another was spreading a smelly solvent sealer onto it with a yard brush.

At the house with the big view, the woman in a bathrobe was talking to her neighbour, the man in the lumberjack shirt who has retired to make chainsaw carvings of owls to sell at country art fairs. Her, as yet unreconstructed builder, was up a ladder carrying out some never-ending repairs while listening to a histrionic heavy rock guitar solo from about 1986: Livin’ on a Prayer“I had the pheasant and Richard had the grouse,” the woman explained, “It was really nicely cooked. Really nice. Lovely."

Friday, 4 September 2015

A cyclist with squeaky brakes and a pair of crutches strapped to his back passed me as I walked into work.

A cyclist with squeaky brakes and a pair of crutches strapped to his back passed me as I walked into work. 

Later, on the bus with some other men in high visibility clothing, the main topics of conversation were caravans, caravan based holidays, and the football transfer window.

I got off at the nursing home and followed the woman on the mobility scooter past the ivy-covered lamp-posts, the pink hydrangeas, the smeared dog shit and the sandwich packaging. I turned off along the terrace with no front gardens; a long row of tele’ backs and cable knots. 
I turned off again, into the terrace of contrasts; a stinking dog piss accreted yard of crisp packets, expanding foam, dandelions and empty milk cartons next door to an obsessive's mini Versaille with hover flies, succulents and fancy gravels.

The clock tower struck the hour and the running man with the dog jumped over the spilt grab bag of Maltesers; neat parallel rows of chocolate beads lined up in the grate of the storm drain.

Out from the tidy side street of bungalows, the old ladies began to flock with their hair set, their trouser suits pressed, their shoes gold and their shopping bags for life. They each rounded the corner into the main road and got a wet slap in the face from the big overhanging buddleja.

I carried on past the sheltered houses with their gladioli in planters, beige washing lines and hand written No Parking signs; past the back-to-backs where the dock leaves grow from the thick green snail-slime striated moss on the stone steps below the leaky guttering; past the fairy lights and decking, the cooking sauce jars and squashed slugs and blackberries; on up to the new estate with the fake bricked-up windows, the concrete lintels and architraves, the pretend leaded lights, the miniature gardens—where the box shrubs have already overstepped their boundaries—and the herringbone paving in the communal parking bays: A small Honda, a large Honda, an Astra and a Citroen C1… I cut across the sodden plastic lawn—laid directly over stone flags—to the big, gated Victorian, Atkinson Grimshaw mansions whose wide-as-a-street driveways are bordered with poplar, rhododendron, holly, begonia, topiary teddy bears, ferns and golden beech leaves on neatly trimmed lawns; the first fall of autumn. The only other person around was the happy old man with the walking frame.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Rookery

The Rookery, a short film I shot in Hebden Bridge between February and May this year, will be screened this Saturday. The film stars walkers, bikers, canal boaters, skaters, the woman in the pinny with the squirty cream under her arm, the man who is holding up a bottle of HP sauce, the man who is inside a burger bun, the woman with the purple fleece and matching hair, a box of organic pale ale, Coco and Dior, a crocodile of primary school children, Geoff, A brace of lilac waterproofs, permissive pathways, suggestive trees, a Peugeot 208, a pedigree Weimaraner, exposed purlins, a banoffee pie, the Emergency Gas Response man, an Everlast punch bag, and a psychic evening featuring psychometry…

Featuring a soundtrack by the excellent Jack Reid & the Black Whip:

Further details here: