Sunday 27 October 2013
In the small hours, it is raining on and off.
At 08:27, on the landing of the Old Man’s house, dust-motes are slowly swirling in the sunshine.
Shortly before 10:15 I go for a walk. It is sunny. When I set foot on the pavement, I notice that the front number-plate of the GS family’s silver estate car is damaged at its offside end. I suppose this is the result of a parking scrape. Mrs JG’s father’s car is absent.
I pass number 31, whose front hedge is tall and is growing outwards above the pavement. The house looks neglected but is not a wreck.
Twenty yards or so uphill of the chapel, a little pale-green hatchback is parked. On the nearside of its tailgate is an ichthus-symbol with one stroke of the tail missing.
I pass the site of the cinema. It seems absurd that when we went to watch films there, the Old Man used to take us by car — it’s only ten minutes’ walk from his house. He always parked in pretty much the same spot in the car-park.
Further along, I look across the road to where some farm buildings used to stand. Very soon afterwards I dispense with my shades, as the sun has gone in.
I enter a path that leads into some woodland, and beyond that through a modern housing estate. (Until now, I didn’t know that the path existed, but I was dimly aware of the woodland and the housing estate.) I reflect that the present generation of children who live here could easily become just as attached to it as I am to the Acacia Estate. While I am walking through this estate, I never see a child out playing, nor any car on the move. The housing is probably in the same segment of the market as the Acacia Estate, but looks to be much less spacious. The houses don’t have garages alongside them, but I do see an area of old lock-up garages to my left, just as I enter the housing estate. These garages must pre-date the housing.
Eventually I reach the bottom of Pimento Path, ascend to the top, and turn right. At the car dealership, a black 3-door Oignon is for sale, a “low mileage” 06-registration, asking price £2595.
I turn right, into the street where Mr & Mrs Lee used to live, and I walk past their former house. Further on, I reach the crossroads. My first thought is to go straight on, but I see two teenage girls ahead of me who are heading in that direction, so I decide to turn right instead, and find out whether there is another entrance to the woodland. There isn’t, but I do come to some steps that I see lead down to the housing estate.
When I was young, I sometimes used to go for a walk in the evening, turn off William Street into William Avenue, and proceed to the far end of William Avenue — which brought me to these same steps. There were pre-fabs on William Avenue when I started using that route; then they were demolished, and the land was left derelict awaiting redevelopment. I can’t have set foot on these steps for about forty years. On the rare occasions when I have passed by in later years, the entrance to the steps has looked to be blocked off, or overgrown with vegetation.
I descend the steps, and approach a terrace of little houses further along, to my left. In front of one of the first of the houses, nose-in, is a black 3-door Oignon. I glance at the registration-number. It is Scarlett’s car. I walk on. (As the Oignon is in what appears to be one of the reserved spaces for the terrace of houses, I reckon Scarlett must live here, rather than just being a visitor. There is a black executive-type car nose uphill and roughly level with the Oignon, but there is no sign of Partner’s Okra.) At the bottom of the slope is the exit from the woodland — I passed through that exit earlier, on my way to Pimento Path. I continue until I reach the William Street end of William Avenue.
My route back to the Old Man’s house takes me along Maldis Street. “All is now clear,” I think to myself. And later I declaim to myself: “It all makes perfect sense!” — except that Scarlett’s house is nearer to Greenhouse Primary than to Acacia Primary. Is Greenhouse Primary oversubscribed, or is it not as good as it used to be?
Mrs JG’s father’s car has returned; it is parked nose uphill alongside the Old Man’s garden-gate and front side lawn. My walk has taken fifty minutes.
This afternoon, it occurs to me that the back gardens of those terraced houses must be small — no wonder Scarlett takes the boys to the park after school sometimes.
Another thing occurs to me this afternoon: I am dogged by serendipity.