Wednesday 27 February 2013
At about 07:25 the minibus is parked alongside the Thornboroughs’ house. I load the clock and the miniature analogue TV into the boot of my car, in preparation for a trip to the recycling centre. The weather is dull but dry.
At a little after 07:52, Mrs Wheeler’s grey Bonsai is parked three-quarters onto the pavement alongside number 35. Mrs Wheeler lifts her tiny daughter Maud, who is dressed in red, into the nearside rear of the car. Mrs Wheeler has short dark hair, and she looks to be about forty years old. When the Bonsai reaches George Street, it turns right.
Mrs Pavane’s car arrives at the usual time, but — most unusually — it drives past the Old Man’s house. Then it parks alongside numbers 33 and 31. Mrs Pavane, in a dark (probably brown) coat or anorak, walks to the middle entrance of the school.
At 08:31 the crowd that has gathered outside the middle entrance is let in. I see people passing along the walkway.
The Kulaks’ car parks alongside number 35, and then a white Ultra parks this side of it. The driver of the Ultra is woman with a platinum-blonde ponytail.
The Kulaks’ car has gone, and Scarlett parks approximately where it and Mrs Wheeler’s Bonsai were parked. A silver Peugeot pauses for a long while at Vinnie’s garden-gates. I notice that the car has a serious scrape along the nearside sill, from below the middle of the fpd rearwards. A woman gets out of the fpd, and the car departs up Acacia Grove. A few minutes later, Esmé’s Pantech, which has driven past the school, also heads up Acacia Grove.
Scarlett gives Tiny Boy the standard shove between the shoulder-blades, to propel him across the road. He toddles across (twice, his gait momentariy becomes slightly halting) and descends to the Efords’ drive. As Scarlett and Small Boy cross towards him, he stands facing them and he waves to them — not in a childish or affected way — with his right hand and arm. There is a smile on his face.
The three of them set off for the school together; but soon the boys are running while Scarlett is walking.
I go to the recycling centre, and then to TeraGroce.
There were fleeting glimmers of brightness towards the end of the early morning school-run, and a few minutes before 11:00 there are further glimmers. I notice that the patch of grass where the sapling used to be is now muddy. Cars must have driven over it; is there any grass left? The roadway where Small Boy stumbled yesterday afternoon may not have any potholes, but it is rough and cracked.
Mrs Fern’s Ultra approaches from the direction of George Street, and drives past the Old Man’s house. A few minutes later it returns, and parks this side of the black Ultra which is alongside number 35.
Max Kulak has parked alongside the middle of the Old Man’s front lawn. I see him return to the car with Master Kulak, and drive off up Acacia Grove.
Mrs Fern, dressed in a red anorak, returns to her car with her son Freddie. He is a tiny tot who appears to be about one year old, and is wearing brown trousers. She puts him into the car via the nrd, manhandling him at an angle with her hand at his perineum. He seems content when held against her right front, and he doesn’t seem to object to being manhandled.
It is sunny at lunchtime, when I go to Sandbank Shoals.
Shortly after 12:30, Mrs Oldgreen’s car, which I haven’t seen previously this visit, turns in the roadway near the Old Man’s house, and departs towards George Street where it turns right.
A silver-grey Mégane is parked a foot or so below the sapling-patch. The driver is a woman aged about 40, standing with her back to the nrd. A woman about ten years younger is standing further inboard on the pavement, at the boundary of the school-house garden, with a push-chair. They have been talking for five or ten minutes. Now the driver shields her eyes from the sun. At 12:56 both women are still there, but the sun is not as bright, so the driver does not need to shield her eyes. The folded hood of the push-chair (and the backrest also?) is blood-red; the child in the push-chair is wrapped in a blanket with a horizontally-ribbed pattern, orange-and-white, and is wearing a woolly hat that is probably grey. The child rocks its head and shoulders from side to side, and its mother pays it some attention: she pulls the blanket up over the child’s shoulders, puts the push-chair hood up, and sets off. Then after a few paces she stops briefly for final words with the other woman, who is wearing a greenish-brown coat and is rather overweight. (Altogether, the conversation must have lasted twenty minutes.) The woman with the push-chair sets off again, ascending the far pavement, and the driver of the Mégane goes round the nose of the car to reach the driver’s door. At George Street, the Mégane turns right.
It is a sunny afternoon, but when I am briefly outdoors just after 14:00, there is a cold wind.
Not long after the start of the afternoon school-run, the Wormwoods’ car has parked alongside the Efords’ house. Mr Wormwood has the tailgate open, and he has taken items out of the load-area and has put them onto the roadway. A few minutes later, he has put everything back into the load-area, and now closes the tailgate.
Scarlett parks alongside Vinnie’s garden-gates and short hedge. The offside of her car is bathed in gentle sunshine. Tiny Boy seems about to dash across the road — Scarlett grabs him by the arm or the shoulder, and guides him back to the kerb. The silver Peugeot is parked beyond Scarlett’s car, with only its nearside front wheel on the pavement. (The Peugeot arrived one minute before Scarlett did.) Scarlett and Tiny Boy set off for the school, but stop alongside the Peugeot. Tiny Boy is clearly fascinated by the scrape on the nearside sill of the Peugeot. Scarlett explains something to him, no doubt saying that the scrape is the result of an accident. Scarlett speaks to the driver of the Peugeot, through the nearside front window. Then Scarlett and Tiny Boy set off again, but although Scarlett crosses the road, Tiny Boy returns — at a brisk trot — to the Peugeot and gets in via the fpd. He has difficulty operating the door-handle, and so perhaps the driver unfastens the door from the inside; then Tiny Boy opens the door quite wide at his second attempt, tugging with his whole body. (That door must be heavier than the doors of Scarlett’s car.) He is still holding the handle, leaning a long way back, and his head rocks first back then forward as the door comes to a stop. He gets into the car, and after a few seconds the door is closed.
Scarlett returns with two boys: Small Boy and another boy of similar size. Tiny Boy gets out of the Peugeot, and Small Boy briefly sits on the front passenger seat — trying it for size and comfort, perhaps. He gets out, and the other boy gets in. The Peugeot reverses off the pavement and departs in the direction of George Street, shortly before Scarlett departs. However, before that, I see Scarlett and Tiny Boy standing at the nrd of their car — he is in front left profile. She gives the top of his head two little strokes, together. What occasions this? It could be that Tiny Boy has made some remark along the lines of: “You don’t scrape your car, mummy.” (A year ago, he seemed very young; now he is half-way through what is probably his Reception year.)
Scarlett drives off past the Old Man’s house, not long before 15:14.
Two hours later, the upper storey and most of the roof of the school are bathed in diffused sunlight from the setting sun.