‘Throw those curtains wide….one day like this’ll see me right,’ sing Elbow on my headphones now. Maybe those fools were in the clutches of a mid-life crisis, or perhaps they really believed what they were singing. Is there anyone out in the real world who has that level of optimism? And I don’t mean the schizoid weirdness Donald Trump lays on us like a piss-stained blanket. Does anyone really believe in seizing the day any more?
The mean-spirited weather has pulled back the curtain here, though. The sky is clear and blue and the jetliners cruise towards Manchester airport high up and noiselessly. There was possibly a glimmer of hope for the day until I stood waiting at the village bus stop in my sheepskin coat and old jeans. There is a special sign on the heads of all bus travellers. We are the poor, the mentally ill, or the aged. We travel second class all the way to somewhere appalling: shopping centers, town bus stations, housing estates, intersections, train stations. NO bus stop outside the mansions high on the hillside between my village and the local town. Not much call for one up there. Proof in point.
Across from the bus stop, past the queuing traffic and the smug eyes of the drivers watching me in the breeze and the diesel fumes, a beauty salon vomited out a customer. She let her piggy trotters carry her out to where she’d double parked her Range Rover with it’s private plate, and stroked her hair in the rear view mirror. Vast piggy face caked in thick make-up, framed by clouds of fake blonde hair. Fired up the engine, pulled out into the traffic and up the hill towards the big houses. Another weeks toenail growth axl-ground off, teeth whitened, fingernails painted pale pink. She was ready for the auspices of a weekend in the cosy eiderdown of wealth. It had been a long time since she’d snouted around in the mud like the rest of us, looking for acorns or the best part of a hidden corpse – never make enemies with a pig farmer. A pig can consume a human body, and the only recognisable trace shitted out are the teeth. Even the bones get chewed up and digested. Think about that next time you have the need for a discrete disposal of something that used to be alive.
The bus was filled with pre-opening-time drunks heading into town for the first morning thaw-out drinks. Red faces, tapping hands, shakes, sore heads, bad moods. I got off one stop before town so I could walk over the old bridge and see the river. Someone had written ‘Help’ on the wall.
In the supermarket the manager leered at women coming in, eyes following the asses of every female in a tight skirt. Quick few second blasts of sexual tension ramping up and up throughout the day. The customers tipped ready meals and cheap booze into wire baskets and served themselves at the auto-tills. And nobody was smiling.
Humans on the pavement outside, jostling and hating and barely conscious – mackerel in a shoal swimming to the spawning grounds. No sharks in sight, just the broken guy in the sheepskin coat wondering what it’s all about. Elbow may have opened their curtain, but they didn’t see the same view.