Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Local Changes

Not too much has changed since we went away almost four years ago, but some of the more ancient locals seem to have moved on. I particularly miss the old chap who used to march briskly down to the local football club each afternoon and stagger back at closing time reeking of beer and smokes. Although it was probably one of his cast off fag ends that set our hedge on fire in 1987, I couldn't help liking him. At the most chaotic stage in some building works we had done, I remember him stopping by our letter box and staring for a long time at what was going on. He swayed slightly - he was on the return journey - as he took in the full horror. 'What you need now,' he announced eventually, gesturing at the rubble with a burning cigarette, 'is a magic wand.' Then, as if jerked by an unseen string, he set off again, hurtling back up the hill to wherever it was he lived. I guess we should probably blame 'lifestyle factors' for his disappearance.
The elderly man I always assumed was Libyan - because he looked quite a lot like Colonel Gaddafi, although minus the medals - also seems to be gone. He always wore a long white robe, carpet slippers and an embroidered pill-box hat. Although he seemed perfectly able to walk when he felt like it, he usually got about the suburb on a motorised scooter provided by the local health authority. He carried several walking sticks which he did not use for support but merely to gesture at pedestrians who got in his way as he roared along the pavement.
The two aged gay bricklayers who lived around the corner have also vanished. One evening sitting in their neighbour's garden we heard the smaller and younger of the two say to the older one, 'You don't love me. You've never loved me.' 'Oh shut up, of course I bloody love you,' the other one replied.

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