Day-trip to Cathedral City

Saturday 24 March 2012

I drive to Cathedral City and spend the afternoon at the house of Mr & Mrs AR, with Dr & Dr LA, and Mrs SG and her partner Mr NT. Mr & Mrs VM are scheduled to join us, but have to cancel. Mrs VM’s mother, who is aged 88, is unwell — she may not have long to live.
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The final daffodils

Thursday 22 March 2012

I cut six daffodils for myself, and six for Mrs CJ which I present to her at her front door. “The final daffodils,” I comment. Mrs CJ has only just got up, having felt unwell overnight.
I tell Mrs CJ about the plastic jug. “Bless him,” she says, with reference to the Old Man.
At the filling-station, unleaded petrol is 142.9p per litre.

[Original posting 22 March 2013]

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Fire risk

Wednesday 21 March 2012

In the pantry, I find a plastic jug with a pattern of concentric circles on its distorted base. In the jug there is a thin film of dust. The Old Man must have used the jug to heat some water on one of the rings of the electric cooker.

[Original posting 21 March 2013]

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Mr Moody

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Before lunch, there is a knock on the front door. The caller is Mr Moody, whose firm is renewing the rendering at Mr & Mrs Kingdom’s house. Speaking in a heavy Peakville accent, he suggests that some of the windows of the Old Man’s house could do with replacing, and offers to undertake the work. “We do all the windows round here,” he informs me. He claims to have replaced some of the windows in Mr & Mrs CJ’s house, and to have fitted the burglar alarm — which until now I have forgotten about — on the front of the Old Man’s house.
“I’ll bear you in mind,” I tell him.
In the garage I find a full box of the big tiles that cover the walls of the bathroom.

[Original posting 20 March 2013]

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Below expectations

Monday 19 March 2012

When I am getting ready to leave for Peakville, I hear a sound like someone shaving. (That sound has been familiar to me since my childhood, because the Old Man used to shave with a safety razor.) It turns out that Mrs Nearneighbour is making the sound, by scraping the frost from the windows of her newish MPV.
There are still a dozen daffodils in bloom when I arrive at the Old Man’s house.
Bert’s is closed. There is a printed notice affixed to the shutters, but I don’t stop to read it, I drive on to the new fish-and-chip shop run by the man who lives at number 35. (Mr & Mrs CJ told me about it when I had dinner at their house on 26 November 2011.) Two young Asian men are behind the counter, and I am the only customer. The “large” portion of chips is enormous, but the quality of the chips is not impressive and they are not all that warm. The haddock, freshly cooked for me, is quite good.

[Original posting 19 March 2013]

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Drawerful of cutlery

Monday 12 March 2012

At school-run time this morning, the mother of Small Boy and Tiny Boy parks her silver hatchback outside the Old Man’s house, partly on the pavement and near the boundary with Mr & Mrs CJ’s property. I don’t see her arrive, nor do I see the boys, but when she returns from the school she has in her arms a small child who is dressed in patterned red, so is presumably a girl. She straps the child into the child-seat at the nearside rear of the passenger compartment, and then drives off. She performs a U-turn, and drives away past the school.
I take home to Suburbia Somnolenta a drawerful of cutlery, a metal bowl, a big plastic sieve, and another dozen of the daffodils.
At the filling-station not far past Salty Sally’s, unleaded petrol is 140.9p per litre. I didn’t pay that much when I filled up on Saturday 10 March.

[Original posting 12 March 2013]

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On a glorious day

Sunday 11 March 2012

At 08:20, from my bedroom window, I see a dark-haired young woman in a pink dressing-gown walk out of the back door of number 32, and go to hang out some washing on her washing-line. I don’t have a view of her doing that, because number 32 has a very large shed that shares a roof with the garage at the rear of the Goldsteins’ house — but I can see the washing-line quivering. While the young woman is outdoors, I see her partner (wearing street clothes) emerge from the same door, disappear to somewhere or other, and then return indoors.
At the front corner of the Goldsteins’ house, the heap of scrap wood is still there; at Mrs AD’s mother’s house, the big plant-pot has been righted again.
After lunch, for the first time in 2012, I mow the lawns — all four of them. Mr CJ has, for a while already, been busy in his back garden.
I pick a dozen of the daffodils and take them to Mrs CJ. We have a chat on the doorstep; I decline her offer to come in, explaining that I am too sweaty from having mowed the lawns. She tells me that Mr CJ has been suffering with bronchitis.
On my previous visit to Peakville, I didn’t visit Mr & Mrs CJ: first I heard someone coughing next door (that was Mrs CJ, she now tells me); then I heard the grandsons; and finally I saw Mrs CJ’s washing on the line — but it started to rain, and I was expecting her to dash out and bring the washing in as soon as the rain stopped. The rain didn’t stop, and the washing stayed out — Mrs CJ now tells me that it is her policy to leave the washing out if it starts raining.

[Original posting 11 March 2013]

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Jewish custom

Saturday 10 March 2012

There are about three dozen daffodils in bloom when I arrive at the Old Man’s house.

At Bert’s, the blue car is back in its usual position. Both men and Short Woman are on duty.
There are three or four customers ahead of me. The one at the head of the queue is a woman about five foot tall, with a London accent. She is almost certainly Jewish. (The Old Man had Jewish neighbours, in the form of the Goldsteins and Mr & Mrs RW, but where he lived is not considered to be a Jewish area.) She discusses details of her order with Short Woman, and concludes: “He’ll like that.” — presumably referring to a member of her family. When she leaves the shop, with her purchases in a plastic carrier bag, she walks off in the direction from which I have come.
The customer ahead of me is a man. He has two small orders, and wants to pay for each of them separately, with two five-pound notes. He calls Short Woman by name — so I learn that she has the English version of the name of Mr & Mrs NA’s daughter.

[Original posting 10 March 2013]

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Start ’em young

Tuesday 28 February 2012

While I am loading up the car, prior to driving back to Suburbia Somnolenta, the morning school-run begins. The silver hatchback is parked outside number 35 again, a little further along. I didn’t see the mother of the two boys arrive, but I see her get back into the car and drive off. There is no sign of Tiny Boy, so perhaps he is old enough to attend pre-school.

[Original posting 28 February 2013]

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The afternoon school-run

Monday 27 February 2012

The cars that have parked near the Old Man’s house during the afternoon school-run have almost all gone by 15:15. One of the cars that remain is parked halfway onto the pavement outside number 35, near the boundary with the house next door which is Vinnie’s house. The car is a little silver hatchback. Its driver is a slim woman in her late 20s or early 30s, whose hair is of a probably-unnatural dark brown. With her on the pavement she has Small Boy and Tiny Boy; the latter seems too young for school — perhaps two years old, perhaps three. Pointing imperiously (which makes me burst out laughing), the woman directs Small Boy — who is hesitating — through the nearside rear door-opening and presumably into a child-seat at the offside. Then she directs Tiny Boy to follow his brother into the rear of the car. She herself leans in, and straps Tiny Boy into his child-seat.

[Original posting 27 February 2013]

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