Thursday 19 July 2012
At 13:34 a small brown cat slowly crosses the road, from the Efords’ drive towards the tree. The 12-registration Ultra is absent.
At 14:05 an electric blue 12-registration Zero is parked with its nose just below the sapling, three-quarters on. A man and a woman, both about 30, are standing to the nearside of the car, and the nearside rear door is open. The man, who is facing in the direction of the school, has his phone to his left ear. Several minutes later he is still on the phone, the offside rear door of the car is open, and the man is standing on the roadway, gazing in. The woman, dressed in a white blouse, has a shopping-bag dangling from her left shoulder; the bag is two shades of pink — light and dark. Her demeanour suggests she is feeling concerned about something. A couple of minutes later, at 14:16 or so, she has a baby (not previously on view) cradled against her left shoulder.
Two minutes later, all the doors of the car are closed, and the people are nowhere to be seen.
At 14:33 there is a silver car below the Zero, about half-way onto the pavement. Is this car the 12-registration Ultra?
The 02-registration black Umbria passes the Old Man’s house at 14:40, and parks alongside number 33.
For several minutes a young man, wearing a quilted short-sleeve jacket with bright green cuffs to the sleeves, is crouching to the right of Vinnie’s garden-gates, facing the Trimots’ house. He seems to be fiddling with a mobile phone or some other electronic device. His trousers are off-white, his trainers are black with three white diagonal stripes. At 14:45 or so he stands up and puts the device — it must be a phone — to his left ear. A minute later the Pigeon Lad passes him on the inside, dangling a very full white plastic carrier-bag of shopping from his right hand. It looks as though some fairly big cans are at the bottom of the bag. Two minutes after that, I see that Mrs Port’s silver Ultra is parked at the kerb alongside the Ports’ house; the car’s nose is pointing away from the school. A silver Ford MPV now parks to the rear of Mrs Port’s Ultra.
At 14:54 or so, the woman seen earlier at the electric blue Zero descends the sloping driveway of number 35, cradling the baby against her shoulder, and crosses to the Zero. There is no sign of the man. Two minutes later the Zero departs.
Esmé descends the far pavement, towards the school.
Scarlett’s car passes the Old Man’s house just after 15:00. Some of the places where Scarlett usually parks are already occupied — for instance there is a blue 53-registration Escargot immediately to the right of Vinnie’s garden-gates, at the kerb; and a red BMW 3-series is parked alongside the sapling, just a little way onto the pavement. So it is predictable that Scarlett parks alongside number 35, bumping up the high kerb to do so. When she has gone round the tail of the car to the nearside rear, she opens the door, and unfastens Tiny Boy’s seat-belt. He half-leaps half-slides out. Tiny Boy is wearing medium-blue denims and a grey longsleeve pullover with what looks like a herringbone pattern on the front. Above the V-neck of the pullover, there are hints of white and red. They set off for the school, and reach the far pavement probably just downhill of the school-house garden path, and beyond the tail of the red BMW. Scarlett is holding Tiny Boy’s right hand in her left hand. They descend the far pavement with Tiny Boy still at Scarlett’s left, but I’m not sure whether they are still holding hands.
As often when people are heading towards the middle entrance, it seems as though they have gone a little way beyond it, and then they enter. I don’t see them on the walkway.
The next I see of them is at 15:06 or so, when they on the pavement, with Scarlett inboard, Small Boy in the middle, and Tiny Boy outboard. As they ascend alongside the school, I see that Scarlett is carrying in one hand a large sheet of artwork — larger than the sheets of paper she was carrying in the late morning school-run, or just less folded? It has some splashes of colour about it. I’m not sure whether the boys are carrying anything. They are all now level with the school-house; I don’t see them cross the road.
Small Boy approaches the car from the nearside front, whereas Scarlett and Tiny Boy are at the offside. Small Boy, whose black anorak is probably fastened up, opens the nearside front door and gets in unaided. Tiny Boy gets in at the offside rear — strange, when he got out of the nearside rear some minutes earlier. The offside rear stays open for a good while, with Scarlett in attendance. I don’t see what happens to the artwork.
At 15:08 all the doors of the car have been closed. Scarlett reverses a little from the tree, bumps down the kerb — the brake lights, as they often do, stay on for a few moments after she is fully on the roadway. She reaches George Street, and after a short delay with her brake-lights on, she turns left at 15:09.
Just after 15:30 Mrs GS is on her back garden, with her phone to her left ear. She is wearing a sleeveless black top, and loose black trousers. She is as fat as ever. I haven’t seen her, other than in her car, for a long time. Miss GS is also on the garden a few minutes later, wearing a pink hoodie of thin, slightly shiny material.
At 16:52 the 12-registration silver Ultra is still there. Five minutes later a 12-registration black Citroën MPV, which has briefly been parked beyond the tail of the Ultra, departs; it performs a U-turn, and at George Street it turns right. In the nearside rear, I glimpse a girl wearing a white blouse.
Just before 17:00 Mrs Pavane crosses from the middle entrance to her grey Escargot which is parked on other side of the road. She is wearing a pink short-sleeve blouse. She is carrying various items, which she puts into the boot. Then she gets behind the wheel. At George Street she turns right.
At 17:07 two people get into a 57-registration black Zero which has briefly been parked beyond the tail of the 12-registration Ultra. They are a woman in a red top or cardigan, and a girl perhaps seven years old wearing a pink-and-white gingham dress. The Zero performs a U-turn and turns right at George Street.
At 18:09 the 12-registration silver Ultra drives past the Old Man’s house.