The bin lorry is stopping every ten yards, its loading mechanism making a noise like that long harmonica* note at the beginning of Rhapsody in Blue. It dawdles its way down the long road which starts with pebble-dashed maisonettes and the smell of weed at one end, and finishes with detached inter-war bungalows and the smell of seaweed fertiliser at the other.
Somewhere around the middle, a man is sitting in his front room ignoring the TV while he reads Russell Grant’s astrology page. Next-door, his neighbour is naked apart from a pair of spectacles while he concentrates on his Sony Playstation.
Out in the sticks, a goldfinch flies out from under my feet and the fake grass at the barn conversion is still too green. I pass an open window; a woman is having an angry telephone conversation: “Well, it says here that the short length is four-and-a-half centimetres. Well I’ve no idea what four-and-a-half centimetres is in inches!”
Cherry blossom, tulips, a rusty cement mixer, leylandii, pyracantha, ruthlessly pruned buddleia, and wooden telegraph poles; a woman in one of those cream, full-length puffer coats that make you like an enormous maggot is walking a big black greyhound.
*It's a harmonica on the version I had, Larry Adler, I think — which is what the bin lorry sounded like, not a clarinet.