Scarlett in Wellvale

Thursday 5 July 2012

I’m driving through Wellvale, past the shops, heading for the traffic-lights. Coming towards me in the opposite direction is a silver car — the same model as Scarlett’s, it seems to me. I wonder whether it is the same version as her car, and I glance at the registration-number: it is her car! I gasp at the implausibility of this encounter. In a trice she has gone past me. I don’t see who is in the car.
When I look in my mirror as I wait for the traffic-lights to change to green, there is no sign of Scarlett’s car. Perhaps it is in the line of cars parked alongside the shops.
There is some rain during the latter part of my journey to Peakville, though not as I drive through Wellvale.

Found on the roadway near the kerb, alongside the garden-gate of the Old Man’s house: a little carton of semi-skimmed milk with a little red straw. No doubt this was bought at the corner shop, and dropped by a child. (If there was an adult with the child, why wasn’t the milk taken home for disposal?) I open the carton at the top, and pour the contents down the drain. (Could I have risked drinking the milk? It was dated 10 July.) The straw falls down the drain also, by accident. Nearby, there are two Lucozade bottles which I take indoors, to wash them and put them into the recycling. Our recycling was collected today, so perhaps these bottles were dropped by the recyclers.
While I unpack, and deal with the carton and bottles, it is sunny much of the time.

At 11:12, the sun has gone in. A minute or so later, a blue 5-door Plum has parked half-way onto the pavement, to the right of Vinnie’s garden-gates. Then Scarlett’s car parks, over half-way on, not far above the upper entrance to the school. Soon I see a woman wearing a pale blue denim blouse and black trousers walk, with a purposeful gait, down to and beyond the upper entrance — she must be Scarlett. A silver Boxcar parks not far below the sapling, with its nose to the tail of Scarlett’s car.
When the driver of the Plum gets out, the cut and colour of her hair somewhat remind me of the Deceased Lady! The Plum has an 07 registration.
Then a silver Compass parks with its nose to the nose of Scarlett’s car. When Scarlett tries to drive away, she has difficulty because the Boxcar and Compass have parked too close. (The driver of the Boxcar, meanwhile, seems to be loading a child into her car.) Scarlett extricates herself from the space, drives a few yards, then for no apparent reason stops in the middle of the road, level with the Compass. (A car parked on the other side of the street has a door open, but there is plenty of clearance for traffic to get through.) She moves off again after 15 or 20 seconds. At George Street she turns left.
The Kulaks’ silver car is parked alongside the junction-box. I don’t see Max or Mabel or either of the children.

As the time for the afternoon school-run approaches, a black VW Touran parks beyond the sapling, and a royal blue Nissan hatchback parks uphill of the sapling. There would be room for a small car between the sapling and the tail of the Touran.
At 15:00, a dark-haired woman in a white vest with horizontal blue pinstripes and black trousers passes Vinnie’s house, heading towards the school. Inboard of her is a very small boy in a football shirt. They are not holding hands. When they return past Vinnie’s house a quarter of an hour later, the woman is holding the boy’s left hand in her right hand. Another woman is with them — both women are probably in their late 20s — but no other child. By this time, the blue Nissan has moved downhill to park not far above the upper entrance, and a grey or silver Renault Mégane has taken the Nissan’s place above the sapling.
A few minutes later, I see Mr & Mrs Wormwood’s estate car parked alongside the front lawn of the Old Man’s house. The car is partly on the pavement, and its tail is at the boundary between the Old Man’s property and the CJs’ property.
Four or five minutes after that, Scarlett’s car drives past the Old Man’s house. Small Boy is in the front passenger seat, wearing a short-sleeve white polo shirt — I think the front passenger window is open part-way. He casts a fleeting glance towards the Old Man’s house. I don’t glimpse anyone else in the car.
I imagine that when Scarlett arrived, she saw that some of her usual parking-spaces were occupied (by the Nissan and the Wormwoods’ car), and others (between a pale blue Renault and a silver MPV, or between Touran and sapling) appeared difficult to fit into. After her experience on the late morning school-run today, perhaps she wasn’t in the mood for squeezing into and out of tight spaces! And so she decided to park further away, beyond the CJs’ house.
Not long after 15:40, there is washing on the line in the back garden of the house beyond the GS family’s house: towels and socks and T-shirts and what may be a white sheet. Twenty minutes later, the silver MPV is still parked to the right of Vinnie’s garden-gates.

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