Friday 24 May 2013
Not long before 08:20 Zara drives past the Old Man’s house and parks one-third onto the pavement alongside the school-house path.
A quarter of an hour later, Partner has parked alongside Vinnie’s short hedge, about twelve inches to the right of the garden-gates. When he gets out of the driver’s door, he is carrying Tiny Boy on his back. I think he is holding Tiny Boy’s arms. Tiny Boy is smiling, open-mouthed. Partner walks round the tail of the car, and as he reaches the kerb he lowers Tiny Boy to the ground.
The three of them set off from the car, but Partner stops almost as soon as he starts, opens one of the nearside doors of the car, and takes out Small Boy’s book-bag which he hands to Small Boy who has had to turn round clockwise and take a few steps back to the fpd of the car. Small Boy’s attitude to having forgotten his book-bag seems to be: “It’s just one of those things.”
By the time they have reached the far pavement, there is a third boy with them, and Partner is again carrying the book-bag. They all descend to the middle entrance.
Twice during this school-run, I see blossom flying through the air.
I go shopping at AltGroce, returning to the Old Man’s house at about 11:00.
In the late morning school-run, Mrs Fern’s car parks by the left-hand side and middle of the Old Man’s front lawn. The driving-seat and the fps are both occupied — the person in the fps has a double-handled open-top bag.
Partner parks nose uphill, with the tail of his car alongside the junction-box. The car’s front wipers have been left in mid-stroke on the windscreen, the offside one at a 45-degree angle. When Partner gets out of the car he does not, despite the rain, have an umbrella or a hat. He walks downhill to the school, at a steady pace, his posture the one that he normally adopts.
A young woman ascends past Vinnie’s house. In front of her, at waist level, she is carrying a tray with perhaps a dozen little green potted plants.
When Partner and Tiny Boy return to the car, Partner is just in the lead. He is carrying some A4 papers, one of which may be artwork, in his left hand. He lets Tiny Boy into the car via the driver’s door, then gets in himself.
Al and his son ascend past the car, holding hands. The boy is outboard; he is wearing his usual blue anorak, and the mysterious round hat. He looks a bit bemused, as he often does; but he looks pleased to be going home.
At lunchtime, I go to Sandbank Shoals for fish and chips. Bossy Woman and Young Girl are behind the counter; Young Girl serves me. Big Man and another man (with a local accent, and dressed in street clothes) are in the kitchen. About ten packages wrapped in white paper are heaped up on top of the drainers. A woman is sitting on the window-seat — perhaps she is waiting for all of her order to be completed.
There is no sign of the Wormwoods’ car at Sandbanks.
My fish turns out to be a long, tapering piece, coated in batter that is thin, but crisp and tasty. Young Girl has given me a good portion both of fish and of chips.
My return from Sandbank Shoals today must be the first time I’ve driven past what used to be Bert’s fish-and-chip shop, and not taken a glance at it.
Shortly before 14:20, the sun is shining. The big pothole alongside the first pillar of the CJs’ fence is almost full of water; yesterday afternoon, after the rain, it was probably two-thirds full.
Twenty minutes later, after an overcast period, the sun is trying to break through again.
Not long before 15:10 — two minutes after the Wormwoods have departed — Partner drives past the middle entrance of the school, and on past the Old Man’s house. A couple of minutes later, he descends past Vinnie’s long hedge, carrying a child at his right front. The child is cocooned in a medium-grey anorak with the hood up. I can’t see the child’s face, or even its head, but I can see Partner’s face — he looks to be in good spirits. When passing by Vinnie’s garden-gates, he adjusts the hood of the child’s anorak. (Is the child Tiny Boy? Every time I see Tiny Boy being carried, I wonder whether this will turn out to have been the last time.) Having crossed at a half-run to the far pavement, Partner tugs the child’s hood down, then back up again — twice in quick succession, while walking downhill. Clearly he is having fun. He carries the child down to the lower entrance of the school.
This school-run has an end-of-term feeling to it, although of course today is the last day before the half-term holiday.
Several minutes later, Partner returns with two little blond boys of much the same size, who are in an exuberant mood. One of these boys turns out to be the son of the woman who is the driver of the silver Stetech parked to the right of Vinnie’s garden-gates; the other boy is Tiny Boy — wearing a dark anorak, not a medium-grey anorak. Small Boy is also with them. Partner looks relaxed and contented; he exchanges a few words, in passing, with the driver of the Stetech. As he ascends past Vinnie’s long hedge, he is two or three paces ahead of Small Boy, who is a couple of child-size paces ahead of Tiny Boy. Partner and the boys — all walking at a steady pace — return to his car, which is parked alongside number 18.
At 15:23 Mrs Oldgreen’s car is parked two-thirds onto the pavement, with its nearside rear alongside the junction-box.
There is a dry end to the day, with some blue sky over the Banlieue, but with lots of dark-grey clouds overhead.
At about 20:15 Mrs Kingdom and her daughter and son cross the street towards their house. Mrs Kingdom is at the right, dressed in dark-pink trousers and a long-sleeve brown top. Miss Kingdom, who is dressed in a red cardigan and has a short dark ponytail, is at the left. Master Kingdom, who is wearing a blue pullover and has blond hair, is in the middle. Probably they have been to the corner shop.
Shortly before 21:15 the moon is rising above number 35, at the level of the chimney-stack.