Friday, 13 January 2017

It’s dark in the park because they’ve turned out the lights to save some money.



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.

Back in town, the Sports Direct assistant idly plays with his knob while he waits for the young girl to try on some trainers.

Monday, 26 December 2016

2016 Highlights



2016 Highlights.

Red-top news, McDonalds bags, biros and notebooks.
Being deaf and only having one leg.
Steadying yourself on the bin for a few seconds.
Disappearing in a swirling cloud of evaporating dog piss.
Silk flowers in Costa coffee mugs.
Talking to the roofer who's never had a cashcard in his life, mate.
Purple anoraks.
Chamoising your Skoda Yeti in your Crocs.
Eating a pot of Muller Rice inside a ‘Bang Tidy’ Vauxhall Astra.
Playing on your Playstation in the nude.
Finding some suede loafers in your hyacinth bed.
Statues of Buddha, cigarette butts and stolen top stones.
Standing in the street in your bath robe sipping from a pint glass.
Running across the piss soaked carpet in the yard.
Hoiking your sweatpants out of your arse crack.
Drinking much more wine.
Displaying your Worker Wagg Beef & Veg Worker Complete dog food on some fake grass underneath a broken awning.
Mistaking a discarded Ramones T-shirt for a dead badger.
Broken drones.
Remembering Brian London, The Blackpool Rock.
Calling noisy teenagers ‘Dickheads’ under your breath.
Wearing shorts and shades to walk your tousled grey hairpiece terrier.
Checking out the Bailey Pageant Bretagne at the caravan showroom.
Decorating the ‘PRIVATE’ carpark with Brexit bunting.
Emptying the bins wearing a cheesecloth blouse and enormous fluffy cat-shaped slippers.
Carrying an aubergine and a tin of sardines to your BMW.
Throwing a half-eaten pasty from the window of your Audi S4.
Securing the lamppost inspection cover with gaffer tape.
Buying plastic topiary to match the colour of your wheelie bin.
Not being able to believe how comfortable your trousers are.
Stardrops, stewing steak and cheap tobacco at 11.30am.
Devoting swathes of hard-standing to the display of miniature plastic fauna.
Idly clasping the handle of your vacuum cleaner while you watch Bargain Hunt.
Not having a pay rise for nine years.
Knee-high pavement weeds.
Going to Cape Verde for a couple of weeks because you’re sick of this country.
Having a quick sniff of the nib of the marker pen before replacing the lid.
Upsetting the potted orchids in the miniature galvanised buckets.
Finishing work early so you can go and buy your girlfriend a watch for a hundred pounds.
Engaging in a loud debate about lorne sausage.
Contorting your face in unadulterated rage.
Waving your arms at the woman in the Fiesta.
Seven empty White Star cider cans and a plastic bag of dog shit.
Jogging in your suit trousers.
Slipping on a patch of rock salt.
Putting your foot through the slimy and rotten noughties decking.
Fried eggs, chips, beans and milky tea in the ‘Bistro’ with Margaret.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

5.30am: it’s windy and the fallen leaves are following me down the street



5.30am: it’s windy and fallen leaves are following me down the street. The man who wears head-to-toe waterproofs whatever the weather is twenty yards in front of me on the other side of the road. He makes to cross over to my side but when he sees me he dithers briefly and turns back. He then runs the hundred yards to the traffic lights at the bottom and turns right into town.
I slip on a patch of rock salt on Victoria Street where Alan Titchmarsh’s noughties decking is slimy and rotten and the woman with the NHS lanyard is smoking on her doorstep. Margaret is in the ‘Bistro’ with her coat on eating fried eggs, chips, beans, and milky tea. 
The woman at the bus stop says that the sport of boxing is ‘a work of art’.

Out in the sticks it starts to rain heavily and the last of the autumn leaves line the gutters yellow. At one of the big houses on the ridge, I can see two photographs through the glass front door; an informal group shot of men wearing chinos, and the front end of a 1980s Porsche 924 taken from a low angle.
At the manor house golf club, the food smells like 1970s school dinners and the sign in the car park says Residence Parking [sic]. There’s a dead shrew on the drive under the enormous poplars.
Up in the village there’s a Jaguar parked on every street corner and the air is fresh apart from the occasional whiff of a wood burning stove. Beech hedges rustle their parchment leaves in the wind and the starlings are swanee whistling in the tops of the trees. I stop to talk to the man who is building the septic tank. He tells me he used to be a line engineer for the National Grid. I ask him how they get the cables across ravines and valleys and he says they usually use fishing line and a bow and arrow but on one occasion he used a model aeroplane. Four mud spattered men with half-a-dozen spaniels pass us, they are followed by a quad bike with 3 dozen dead pheasants slung across the back.
Back in town, the old man in the beige anorak and matching polyester slacks with frayed hems has taken exception to the music coming from the Skoda Octavia Estate. “Turn your music down!” he growls aggressively. The Skoda man blows cigarette smoke out of the window and ignores him and the old man skulks away with his heavy bags for life (one from the Co-op and one from Sainsbury’s).

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

5.40 am: It’s raining steadily and the reflection of the the traffic lights in the road surface reaches a full hundred yards to my feet



5.40 a.m.: It’s raining steadily and the reflection of the traffic lights in the road surface reaches the full hundred yards to my feet. Mostly all I can hear is the rustle of waterproofs, the rain on my hood and the the burble of the run-off channel in the gutter. Occasionally a car tears past in a belligerent hiss of spray.

Later, on the estate of 60s-built semis, the solar panels on the new lampposts are covered with an inch-and-a-half of settled snow and the starlings are whistling in the tops of the yellow trees. The roofer says he’s going to finish work early so he can go and buy his girlfriend a watch for a hundred pounds and the woman in the leggings and military parka says her fox terrier is much better in hisself, thank you.
Leonard Cohen has died and the junction box by the flats has started humming loudly. 
The sun comes out lighting up the green baize pavement and I knock off my hat on an inconspicuous washing line for the second time. Rows of plastic clothes pegs in faded primaries highlight the next three low slung lines and I avoid them by bowing gracefully like Kate Middleton in the 1902 State Landau. At the entrance to the flats, two men in their fifties are engaged in a loud debate about lorne sausage. ‘It shouldn’t be called sausage at all because it's square and sausages are round. It’s more like a square burger’ insists the one with the bit of arse crack showing. The one without the bit of arse crack showing counters; ‘If it’s sausage meat, it’s sausage. End. Of.’ 
Donald Trump is president elect of the U.S.A.
On the estate where the old ladies in purple anoraks still call me ‘love’, the air is thick with the fug of Stardrops, stewing steak and cheap tobacco. They gather to inspect the last sweet pea flowers of the year.
I pass the boy who once tried to sell me a pebble for a pound. He’s too old for that stuff now. 
I call in at the newsagent’s for some crisps but the shelves are completely bare apart from a few tabloid newspapers. The proprietor sits behind the till wearing a scarf and hat.
A taxi pulls up outside the house whose steps are littered with sodden Capri Sun cartons, nail polish bottles, chocolate coins, smashed crockery, a baby monitor, sherbet straws, empty portion control packs of tomato ketchup, a pair of nail scissors, and a bent and twisted purple glittery stars-on-a-spring ornament—like a deely-bopper for your windowsill. The taxi driver blows his horn to notify the occupants of his arrival but the driver of an oncoming Fiesta thinks it’s directed at him and gestures aggressively, contorting his face in unadulterated rage.
Big fat flies gather on white UPVC to garner the last vestige of residual heat.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

There’s a chill in the air. There are starlings.



There’s a chill in the air. There are starlings. There’s standing traffic because a bus has got stuck and the driver is wearing sunglasses and waving his arms at a woman in a Fiesta. She’s stuck too and there’s a navy blue sock in the gutter.

I walk past the dog-eared Vote Remain posters in the window of the railway book shop and take the desire line across the verge. The vivid yellow carpet of fallen leaves under the now thin canopy of the cherry tree is accented with black; seven empty White Star cider cans and a plastic bag of dog shit. 
I cross the road. The clothing bank is propped up on bricks, there’s a new chipboard fence and the kerb stones have been messily daubed with white paint: No Parking Please. Schoolgirls are stealing schoolboys’ hats for fun and the man who jogs in his suit trousers overtakes me in the road, his grey shirt completely buttoned—including the cuffs.
I slalom around on wheelie bin pavements. At number fifty-six the bin has a brass effect '5' and '6' bolted to it, next door the ’58’ has been applied with lackadaisical Tippex and outside number sixty there’s no wheelie bin at all, just a small five litre brushed steel pedal bin with no number.
A single rubberised reddy-brown glove with off-white cuffing lies in the gutter. This is by far the most commonly discarded style of glove in the Huddersfield area*. I once saw one fall from the back of a builder's truck as it rounded a corner which perhaps explains the phenomenon.
Further up the hill, the soot-black terraces give way to pebble-dash inter-war semis with neatly trimmed privet. There’s a pile of interior doors in a ginnel and a cricket ball sized ball of hoover fluff on a lawn but no more White Star cans. A strong easterly breeze is blowing now and the leaves on the pavement are getting deep. There are parked cars on the right, ivy encroaching from the left and overhanging trees above.
Higher up again and the uniformity of another Victorian terrace is broken with a UPVC porch, a satellite TV dish, or a clump of Pampas grass. Opposite this, behind the collapsed dry stone wall there’s an area of literal edgeland: rough tussock grass, arthritic nettles, fireweed, brambles, a broken pallet, a graffiti daubed electricity substation, the remains of a galvanised security palisade and a sheer millstone drop to the valley bottom.
* Huddersfield Glovewatch 2002

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Greenhead Park, 6.30 a.m: The glowing disembodied head...



Greenhead Park, 6.30 a.m: The glowing disembodied head of the man staring into his phone floats towards me in the dark. We pass each other and I recognise him as the early adopter hipster man who shaved off his beard and twirly moustache about five years ago.
Out in the sticks, 11 a.m: The wind rushes through trees with a dry autumn hiss, each gust followed by a shower of beech nuts onto asphalt or the clatter of an acorn onto a car bonnet. There’s fruit from a cherry laurel too and birch seeds, conkers and moulted feathers all litter the pavement.
The brand new Stanley safety boot that appeared on the doorstep of No.9 on Monday morning has today migrated up the road to No.3 via No.7 yesterday.
The man in the old anorak at the house on the moor is going to Cape Verde for a couple of weeks. He says he’s sick of this country because it’s too depressing. All the gold that he painted his mail box with in honour of the Olympic Games four years ago has worn off and it’s back to its old rusty red.
On past the dangerously weathered drystone wall and the big handwritten sign on the garage door: 
GOT you 
ON CAMERA 
BASTARDS
ALL VALUBLES
GONE TO SAFETY
SO
piss OFF
XXXXX
SHoT GUN
BEHIND DOOR
In the yard of the old farmhouse, next to the magpie cage traps, a cat and three kittens are eating a dead rabbit.

There are wasps in the ivy at the house of the woman with the plasters on her forehead.
Back in town at the 1970s Beauty Board and carpet offices, there are black brief cases for the boys and gaily coloured desk tidies for the girls. A flat backed woman in a cardigan with tissues up her sleeve shuffles about saying ‘Thanks, love’ and the man with the rolled up sleeves writes on the spine of a box file in marker pen—he stands the file on a shelf next to half-a-dozen or so others and has a quick sniff of the pen nib before replacing the lid.
On the aspirational estate of barely detached new builds where nobody is ever at home, there are pansies in the borders and cans of Car Plan Tyre Silk on the doorstep. I set off a chain of barking guard dogs. As one jumps down from a lounge window as I pass, so another at the house next door jumps up, upsetting the potted orchids in miniature galvanised buckets and the resin statues of kissing lovers whose entwined bodies make the shape of a love heart.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Morley Arts Festival, Wednesday 5th October.



I'll be reading from Recorded Delivery and The Most Difficult Thing Ever at Morley Arts Festival, this Wednesday evening, 5th October.

Doors 7:30pm
Start 8:00pm 
Writer, artist and Huddersfield postman Kevin Boniface reads from his Yorkshire Festival commissioned project, Recorded Delivery
Between February and June this year Kevin Boniface took to the road to produce a series of audio and video shorts. The result is a unique snapshot of contemporary Yorkshire where One Direction perfume for under a tenner is not to be sniffed at, where the man on the bus confides he could never eat Weetabix without sugar and where there is an underlying murmur of people in tight shorts commenting on the warm weather to one another.

Tickets: eventbrite.co.uk

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter



A gale sluices the first fallen leaves along the gutter and the man with the screwed up face who is jogging into the wind barely overtakes me. Brake lights cast the gates of the park red and a cyclist pulls over to adjust his gaiters. 
In town, the rough sleeping couple have moved from their usual pitch in the doorway of the pawnbrokers to the more sheltered entrance of the strip club.
In the suburbs, a wood pigeon perches on top of the new LED street light and the tired chubby woman at the show home says ‘Hello’ with long, roadkill flat vowels, rising and falling in inflection either side of the ‘L’. 
I say good morning to the man with the silver earrings, unzipped gilet, grey goatee and rat-tail but he doesn’t reply.
I struggle to read the dull screen of my PDA and the security man at the factory gates asks me whether it was made in China. “I’ve no idea” I say.
“Nothing they make works. They’re rubbish!”
I point out that most of the manufacturing at his factory has famously been transferred to China over the last ten years. He looks sheepish, thinks for a moment and then says “All I’m saying is I’ve got a 1963 Massey Ferguson tractor and It still goes like new and it’s British made.”
On the TV monitor in the pro-shop at the golf club, a muscular American man with American hair and American teeth is playing golf in the sunshine with palm trees behind him and a heavy rock guitar soundtrack. He looks up at the camera to say he can’t believe how comfortable his trousers are. Meanwhile, the door to the shop opens and a short fat bald man with a grey moustache rustles in wearing a waterproof jacket and ill-judged shorts. He takes off the jacket, hangs it over the telly and wipes the rain off his glasses with a handkerchief.
It’s 11.30am and the smell of stewing meat pervades the estate of retired 1970s Britain. The narrow paths are cluttered with architectural features in UPVC. There are gates to open every couple of yards and redundant miniature porches that I have to walk backwards out of because there’s no room to turn around. There are unnecessary steps leading to raised beds of marigolds, box topiary, begonia, and there are swathes of hard-standing devoted solely to the display of miniature plastic fauna.
Two men are talking in the street. One wears his Hawaiian shirt untucked with the top two buttons undone, the other has brylcreem hair, heavy black plastic rimmed glasses, and a purple nylon shirt tucked in to grey polyester slacks. They are discussing their experiences of electrocardiography; “It makes your arm twitch, doesn’t it?”
Inside the house, a woman in a dinner-lady tabard sits watching Bargain Hunt with her right hand clasped idly around the handle of a vacuum cleaner.
Swallows gather eagerly on phone lines.

Monday, 15 August 2016

6:30 a.m. Light Drizzle



6:30 a.m. Light drizzle: The man in the pink T-shirt and distressed denim jeans blows his nose noisily while the jogger who is circumnavigating the pond in the park scatters frightened ducklings from their roost under the overhang of the edging stones.
Mr Bateman has a new no.9 on his front door. Unusually, he has decided not to remove the old brass one and has opted instead to fasten a new, slightly smaller (brass effect) plastic one directly over the top of it. From a distance the resulting collage is completely illegible.
The individual barcode stickers on each of the stone setts laid at the barn conversion a couple of years ago have finally worn away leaving dark rectangular stains where they once were.
The concierge with the Polyveldt shoes and black polo shirt says he hasn’t had a pay rise in 9 years. “I’m going to jack it in and have a couple of months in Goa” he says. “Champion!” exclaims the man in the grey flannels and Oxford shirt from deep inside his rose garden.
I round a corner into the back alley of the terrace. Two tanned men are kissing on a doorstep. Upon seeing me, the older of them says, “I’m his grandad, by the way” and the younger man—gold earrings and dressing gown—doubles over, laughing. “We’re not that way inclined,” reiterates the older man, irritated, “and if you are, then I sympathise!”
A few doors down, an angry woman in a sari brandishes a yard brush at her neighbour:
“Keep your fucking children under fucking control!” she screams, “Fucking leave me a-fucking-lone!”
A black cat wearing a cobweb cowl watches on from behind the wheelie bins.
The weeds between the flags on the narrow pavements are knee high in some of the back streets; mainly long grasses and ragwort. I graze my knuckles on a concrete lamp post as I squeeze past the man with the slicked back nicotine hair. He falls backwards into a hedge but rebounds upright again to continue on his way.
The man who wears the all-year-round head-to-toe waterproofs comes out of the bottom of Grasmere Road, turns left towards the park, turns round and runs back again. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since March 23rd 2012.
Later, at the shattered old farm on the moor, the middle-aged Flora Poste who has moved in at one of the cottages is tending her hanging baskets. Since she arrived a few months ago the decrepit doors and aching window frames have been painted a fashionable eau de nil and there are crushed cloves in the yard. Her influence has yet to reach the main house; there is dog sick on the doorstep and a badly written note in the porch window: Leave parcels In the WOODSHED.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

30°C: The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now



30°C

The ragwort in the back of Mr Brooke’s Transit pick-up is a couple of feet tall now and the dead badger in the road isn’t a dead badger, it’s a Ramones T-shirt.
The fishmonger drops the pan from his scales onto the floor with a loud clang, “Throwing the tackle around!” he says as he bends to pick it up. The postman walks in and drops a bundle of mail onto the counter, “Don’t you get fed up of delivering rubbish?” the fishmonger asks. 
On the estate on the moor where juvenile starlings are hanging with the hen pheasant, the smell of warm porches is oddly comforting. There are fake lawns, stone turtles, small colourful plastic huskies and a skip with a broken drone in it.
At the high altitude newsagent’s shop, the proprietor says he doesn’t get away much. The last holiday he had was a long weekend to Amsterdam. He says he didn’t really enjoy it because the lads he went with ate too much ‘cake’ and spent the whole time asleep.
At the big house in the shadow of the wind turbine, a man in a country check shirt, khaki shorts, deck shoes and white socks is reading print news and sipping Pimm's under an awning. Two care workers arrive in an old black Fiesta, unhitch the gate and make their way into the back garden trailing bin liners.
On the council estate of men in shorts and women in anoraks, there are cherries on the pavement and wood pigeons flapping in the laylandii. Two men in their 70s are talking across a privet, “It’s like when Muhammad Ali came over here and fought Brian London, the Blackpool Rock…”
A ten-year-old people carrier loaded up with bulk bought dog-food-systems pulls up outside the flats with the rusty grab handles by the front doors. Grandparents play swing-ball with grandchildren and the ice cream van plays Oranges and Lemons for everybody.
Two teenage boys in an old Vauxhall Corsa—windows down, no shirts—are blowing the car horn in time to the music on the radio and the man in the striped apron who is tending his vegetable garden mutters ‘Dickheads’ under his breath.
The dock leaves are getting big, daisies are coming through, hydrangeas are starting to flower. There is clover in the grass and sunbaked slugs on the sticky asphalt.
On the new estate of reconstructed stone semis and developer planted lavender, bald men in their 60 and 70s wear shorts and shades to walk their tousled grey hairpiece terriers.
At the caravan showroom where everything is black and white, black or white coffee is on draft. Black and white flags flutter in the paddock and black and white staff lean on things authoritatively. A large tattooed man in union-jack shorts and mirror shades is checking out the Bailey Pageant Bretagne while a man in khaki shorts, striped canvas belt and an Oxford shirt is having a look at the Hymer Exsis which is parked up by the striking yellow daisy bushes. A slim, tanned man in his early 30s, with big 1980s hair, earings, tight short shorts, espadrilles and a black and white body-hugging shirt with WANG written across the back makes his way between the plastic tub of thirsty pansies and the run-over florets of broccoli into the shop. He strikes up a conversation with the shop manager in an unusually deep voice “… All right, mate. I’ll see you later then, pal”.