Saturday, October 24

The shower dial

When I moved into a new flat in January this year, I didn't just have to adjust to a new room, a new locality, a new supermarket, a new flatmate. I had to adjust to a new shower temperature.

The personal discipline of a computer science student who was also in the army reserves was something I could learn from. He'd already been in the flat four months, and the shower dial was kept at lukewarm. I knew it had stayed that way for a while because limescale had formed around its position. That first morning, standing under what felt to me like an icy torrent, my hand automatically stretched towards the dial to twist it hotwards. Then I hesitated. I could stand under a hot, comforting shower for a long time. I could sleep in every day. I could eat chocolate for dinner. I could skip lectures. I could smoke. I could quit running. The world was my oyster.

And I did end up doing some of those things. But I never turned that dial.

Friday, October 9

September, sun sets

The beginning of the sun’s descent. I am wearing a red raincoat and listening to Sufjan. The road is quiet.

Further on down the road the farmhouse chimney pots sit in front of the sun. 

It is an old house, quite pretty. One hundred years ago it would’ve stood alone in fields. Now it stands in what has become a strange mini rural industrial estate; part of a field is a car park, and there’s a man made reservoir and metallic outbuildings. Fields are home to rapeseed and other crops, and at one end an industrial sized water sprinkler which looks like an old airplane. There are no horses or cows anymore. 

Welcome to suburbia: the fields which this road cuts through are the town’s best stab at countryside. 

Cars speed down this road. A lot of them transport bobbing grey heads left into the garden centre where I used to work; walking back and forth in my polyester uniform, selling turf rolls over the phone, smiling thinly at flirtatious old men. In August blackberries line the road and in September, now, the chestnut trees at the north edge of the fields rust over.

Back through the far side of the fields along a track: once overgrown it is now a straight, gravelled path, not a blade of grass to be seen. Not a blackberry to be seen. 

Another manmade lake has been installed in front of rugby H’s at the training ground. World cup players currently train here but all I see this evening is a gaggle of teenage boys. 

Sky paling, and then intensifying in colour. 

Through the cemetery: no morbid hush here but a boy and two girls on bikes, circling and laughing round the gravestones. That end-of-summer, long-shadowed, conkers-and-schoolbag feeling still strong though I’m no longer a child. 

Along the lane, the aroma of fifty dinners cooking simultaneously, fifty televisions on, fifty curtains, fifty lamps. Roast potatoes I think. All food smells so heady outdoors.

Deep blues and oranges now. 

Light slipping through the air like sand. 

A boy in a red sweater wheels past on a bike.