Thursday 7 February 2013
At 06:40, a waning crescent moon hangs low over the Banlieue.
It is 08:25 when I see that Mr Fern’s black Honda saloon has parked, seemingly not near the kerb, by the right-hand side of the Old Man’s front lawn. Five minutes or so after that, Mr Fern crosses the road towards the Trimots’ drive, with Fifi at his right hand. She is wearing a purple anorak, and earmuffs that I think are orange. Mr Fern returns to his car a few minutes later. His hair is short and dark.
When I go shopping at AltGroce, I notice that Mrs Pavane’s car is parked alongside the JGs’ house.
As Bert’s fish-and-chip shop is now defunct, for lunch I go to a fish-and-chip shop that until recently I was only vaguely aware existed. It is called Sandbank Shoals. I park in a side-road and walk to the shop.
A woman with a strong local accent is behind the counter. In the kitchen further back, a a man is cooking, and there is another man in a room at the left-hand rear of the premises. There are about four people ahead of me in the queue. The two immediately ahead of me are a woman in her late 20s, slightly overweight, and her three-year-old daughter.
My bill is £4.25: £2.95 for the fish, £1.30 for the chips. As I leave, I observe the food hygiene certificate on the wall.
I catch up the woman and her daughter after we’ve all reached the far side of the little park. They turn right, as I do.
When I reach the front door of the Old Man’s house, Mr CJ is arriving at the front door of his house, wearing his long, dark, up-market winter coat. We wave, and say hello.
Compared with the fish and chips from the last shop that I tried, the food is less oily, and hotter. Also, the batter is crisper. These fish and chips are probably better than those from Bert’s when Junior did the cooking, but are not quite as good as when Bert did the cooking.
Shortly before 14:00, Mrs Pavane reaches her car. She is wearing her red anorak, and she is eating a sandwich or sausage-roll. She sits in the car for a few minutes.
When Small Boy is ascending the far pavement during the afternoon school-run, he is in the lead, walking with the long-striding gait that he sometimes affects; Tiny Boy is toddle-running. Scarlett is with another blonde somewhat similar to her, downhill of the boys. Small Boy is carrying his book-bag with his left hand, and is swinging it back and forth a little. Tiny Boy looks happy, as does Scarlett whose posture is erect as she strides confidently up the pavement. She is alone, but is still smiling, as she passes out of sight. Small Boy looks more determined and relieved than happy.
It is not until about 15:40 that Mrs Oldgreen arrives for the school-run. There are still quite a few cars present. She parks at the kerb alongside the Efords’ house. Mrs Oldgreen isn’t wearing a hat. She walks quite briskly along the offside of the car, and continues towards the school.
Ten minutes later, I go to visit cousin Naomi. I return shortly after 17:00.