Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Past the Beech Tree with the Polystyrene Takeaway Tray in its Lower Branches



Past the beech tree with the polystyrene takeaway tray in its lower branches and the bin liner flapping from its bare canopy. Past the new primary colours of the nursery school: ‘Be careful of Mia’s knee please Brandon’. Past the prefab school of dance and the rotten green Scout hut. Past the woman in black tassels who is standing still in the middle of the road, distracted by her phone. Past the big cardboard box, squashed and wedged between the lamppost and the wall. Past dead twigs in plastic pots, bent railings, leaded lights repaired with packing tape, the closed down pub with the dirty windows …
Left, down the cobbles and moss. Bare trees overhang green stone walls outside the 1980s vicarage. A blackbird is sounding the alarm and two stocky terriers are fighting by the overgrown chainlink tennis court. Dog owners shout. The fake bells of All Saints ring out from the P.A. in the church tower and the fat man in the Octavia empties his ashtray into the gutter.
There’s a man mending a caravan and shouting for Susan. 
The rag-and-bone man drives past the flats at high speed and rattles right by the house with the decorative concrete wall while the woman (maybe Susan?) in tight jeans and purple fleece looks on disapprovingly. 
The smell of the Aussie Burger grill is on the breeze outside Taste Buds takeaway—Is it the Aussie Burgers or is it weed? It might be a bit of both.

Drink cans and takeaway packaging have been impaled on the cast iron railings around the basketball court and, down behind the broken old concrete fence where there’s a big view across the valley, the man in the noisy JCB is Improving Yorkshire's Sewers.


At the bottom of the narrow stone steps, the tall thin man with the dew drop on his nose stands on a portion control sachet of ketchup and it sticks to his shoe. I say Good Morning as we pass and he ignores me. At the top of the steps, his discarded tab end is still burning out next to a big flob of gob.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A scrappy formation of 258 geese honk in the sky above topiary conifers



A scrappy formation of 258 geese honk in the sky above topiary conifers and slimy green millstone. 

At the building site, the foreman with the obvious wig says, “Ooh, my condoms have arrived” as he takes the large parcel from the postman. He looks around the Portakabin for the approval of his hi-vis colleagues but they are all too busy eating Pot Noodle. The postman smiles politely and leaves. Muttering to himself, he kicks a small hamster of sphagnum down the wooden steps in front of him.

Fieldfares flock in the field behind the cottage with the fake shutters that aren’t big enough for the windows. Leylandii hide the double-parked cars and block the winter sun. It’s warm. There are midges. The birds think it’s spring: wood pigeons, sparrows, starlings, a woodpecker, and the big flock of gulls circling above the tree line.

The moors are invisible in the mist and the men in their 60s at the clubhouse stand in groups of grey and navy with their hands in pockets, rocking on their heels. Their conversations about whether Chris or Darren should “look after the technical side when Geoff’s gone” are punctuated with the bleeping of Audi key fobs.

At the new-build fake-sandstone semis where the people carriers have Centre Parcs stickers on their windscreens and the gardens are still littered with firework casings, the builders are loading a heavy duty radio into a van, “Get yourself home, get your lunch and get your leg over and I’ll meet you back here this aft’”

Never Mind The Dog, Beware Of The Owner.

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.

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 with a 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 littering 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.