The snow on the tops was striped with icy 4x4 tracks. It was laid thick and muffled both the early wood-pigeon call and the shouts from the high school football match; hi-vis vests and a hi-vis ball.
The man with the dewdrop on his nose was polishing his Jaguar XJ. He lives in a park-home on the moor. He has one of those old ‘ding-dong’ door bells (black plastic box with a solid, reliable button that looks like a sun-bleached Trebor Refresher) that are more usually found on the big houses, like those with the heated driveways further down the valley. The man told me his neighbours have fallen out with him.
“They’re jealous since I got the Jag'”, he said, “Them over your left shoulder… Don’t look!” he said, not taking his eyes off mine, “They’ll know we’re talking about them. They complain every time I step out of the house. And them over my left shoulder, they rang the council because I took my dog out without a lead!”
I glanced down at the floor and kicked a chipping of the decorative spar back behind the concrete rope-edging in an attempt to look nonchalant in front of the neighbours, and he continued,
“I don’t know why we can’t all just get on, I bet we sound like a load of school kids don’t we? But we’re all pensioners!”
Later, In the garden of the man who hadn’t put his teeth in yet, I saw a ring-necked parakeet in the cherry tree.
In the garden opposite, a large and rowdy flock of black-headed gulls was squabbling over something on the lawn. The man without his teeth said they’d frightened him when he’d first come outside,
“It’s like that Alfred Hitchcock film.” he said, “You know the one I mean?”
“The Birds?” I said
“Aye, that’s the one. Let’s just hope Michael’s not lying dead behind that hedge.”