This miserable city sits several miles north and several miles south of several cities worse.
is Joan, widowed, 53, already and recently, 5.30am because she couldn't
sleep again, opens her Hunslet door to her Hunslet wind, places her
milkless bottles on her repetative step, steps from her Garfield slipper
onto her council drive, evaporating, the bite doesn't hurt any more,
blind, numb, deaf, dumb. "Good morning!" he says, she hears, he is too
nice or he is too thick to be ironic, she waves, and, for the first time
since, she smiles.
He is Gary, call centre advisor, 39, moves
from the vandalised bus-stop to the petrified bus, squashed, sodden,
smiling because his neighbour smiled. Seven til five for seven years for
seventeen grand, senseless, sensible, suited, if shirt, tie, trousers
and walking boots is a suit, smart. Good, the girl is here again,
good. Last time he said next time he will ask, now this time is next
time and she is here, she is beautiful, he is smart, suited, scented,
smiling, handsome in his heyday, yesterday, yesteryear, "yes" she says.
But only in his head.
She is Alice, 26, hot in her heels and
running, to work, not away from him, but that's an added bonus, why does
that man stare her way every day, smiles stupidly, old, ugly,
odourless, harmless, hopefully. Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip,
inevitable, agony, wait, painless, alone, embarassed, agony, the masses
pass, ignore, she has become an obstacle, objectionable, a man stops, he
smiles, not stupidly, he holds her hand, he helps her stand, she thanks
the man and runs off on her heels, in love.
He is John,
shop-floor stander but little do they know, in retail, stylishly-suited,
seemingly effortless, 30, too old for this, trying too hard. That
stupid woman was bound to fall for heels for ice for him, for he has
seen this all before, force-fed-fucking, fucking animal, vegetable,
mineral water is too much for this wage, council pop, counting seconds,
to see her, to sleep with her, not any more, yesterday he would be hot
on her heels, not any more; to be with her.
She is Sam,
formidable for so young, 30, sits at her sanitised city desk,
stares from her high head to her low applicant. Is this me or is this my
act? Poised, preened, power. Pathetic. Concentrate, focus, tonight is
handsome but today is now. She knows he wants to marry her but he's a
shop-floor stander, she knows she wants to marry him but a Hyde Park
house is not a home... concentrate. When she is with him her hair falls.
is Patricia, wound tight but is it any wonder? Half her age, half
frowning, half a world away. Her hair was too tight and her
highness said no. She doesn't even want this job but that doesn't
matter. A milkman can't keep a family and 26 is too old to still be at
home anyway. Shaking but she'll be alright. A free five o'clock bus is
no way to leave an interview. She composes, a nice man smiles and lets
her sit down, she compliments his shoes for such weather. She should set
her daughter up with this one instead of her friends son.
Richard, nervous and arrogant, a strange combination. 28 and past it,
except he hasn't got started, a catch, so why does he need mums to set
up a date? Accidently celibate, over-compensating, underwhelming. Rings
on the comedy doorbell on the Morley door and rubs his deceptively
weak hands. The wind is too strong for a pound umbrella and the rain
beats his pointlessly prepared hair. "Good evening" says her dad. He
He is Pat, 60 and sound, thirty years in a dying
trade, alive. 5am is an early start when you haven't slept. Because he
can tell she's in love with someone else again because he's in love with
someone else. At least it's not the limp-handshaker. The Hunslet wind
bites, fresh, beautiful. Whistling, he removes the milkless bottles from
the repetative step. Smiling, he places full, perfect bottles on the
repetative step. Everything is correct.
And so it goes, day by
day, inside and out, together, happy, safe in the knowledge that this
miserable city sits several miles north and several miles south of
several cities worse.