I like Thursdays because it’s wheelie bin day, and I look at them on the way to the shop, standing in wobbly rows in the hot dust and doing basically nothing. But that’s wrong.
Nothing works so hard as the wheelie bin. When I pass them, all the way to work, they’re in little groups mulling over a whole week’s story. And exhausted really. Some are skewed and crooked with broken feet and sagging bellies and some are split from chin to knee.
Sometimes, in our road, they are not straight. They are shoulders to the road and backs hunched.
I see the green bins and yellow bins leaning into each other, exchanging gaseous news about what their families are going through, mouths slightly ajar, unable to close on the morning’s breakfast. Some are rattling and chewing in the breeze and dropping careless milk cartons, and with odd things like camping chair legs protruding like a chicken bones through plastic lips.
Through Woodchester, there’s two without lids, the clasps protruding from necks, and one is bandaged heavily around the gut with silver tape. Some wear beards of food and greenery.
Some foam at the mouth. Some have fallen in the wind and are still lying broadside in the gravel when I drive back home. Some have been towed back to their seats. Some get hosed out and have to cough up that last bit of egg carton. Imagine not having them.
She came into the shop, but he stayed outside with the pram and the shopping and all their morning stuff. She stood in the doorway and looked out at him, and he looked in at her.
‘Are you coming in?’
He continued looking through the door, comfortable, leaning on the pram, ‘I don’t know. I might go get a bun. A cream one. Shall I?’ He stood with one foot resting on top of the other one, cars cross stitching the air on the road behind him.
‘Maybe.’ She had begun to browse from the doorway, her eyes running up and down the shelves. Their child lay in the pram gazing outward. I could see its dark eyes moving, listening, and not blinking.
‘Ok, I’ll get a London bun.’
‘Mmmm.’ She let the door close and they parted, tranquil.
Today there are three ladies here, all of them dressed to withstand the wind of early spring and all of them carrying stout bags for incidental shopping. One lady stoops over the biographies but her friends urge her into the back room. I can hear them. They have found a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and they are urging her to read it, read it, read it. But she won’t have it. She won’t read that! And she returns to biographies and she is frowning. Her friends are wheezing, hilarious, they are knocking books over and shrieking as quietly as possible about Fifty Shades of Grey. Then they come back to the counter and they all leave together, frowning and quiet, the hilarity clamped down but still escaping and floating around all of them as they leave grimly though the door and out into the early spring afternoon.
It is the school holidays again and outside the shop this morning there is a car laden with camping gear and with two small bikes attached to the back. There are children waiting there, one is lying across the back seat with his feet out of the car door, the parents are at the bakery.
They have been instructed to stay put. But the smaller sibling, a little girl, has her face pressed to the window of the shop and is saying Thea Stilton, Thea Stilton, Thea, Thea Thea, I just love you so much… in a sing song voice…until her brother tells her to leave it and get back into the car.
So she does, and she gently closes the door on his foot as she passes to the other side. He twists around and looks at her in amazement, he might yell out but then suddenly the parents are back and there are sausage rolls and juice and buns and the father going back because he forgot the tomato sauce.