It is the hour of scampering.
I wave my pass at the magic square and with a swish, the door slides back and I'm released at last. I was beginning to think the day would never end, the way the hamster wheel just kept spinning with me inside going nowhere fast.
The sky is half steel-grey, half sunny blue. The grey is growing though and I'll be lucky to make it home unwet.
This business park is not particularly attractive at the best of times but now, with the light going, it looks more drab and uninspired than ever. If a giant had spilled all the grey pieces of his Lego and kicked them into two lines, it would look something like this. The hedges are neatly trimmed and just the right kind of ground-covering shrubs have been set out, but it all so soulless. Across the road, where vacant lots await more giant Lego, nature is still doing her thing and it's easier on the eye.
The wind keeps hurrying up to me, breathlessly telling me to get a move on and get home before the rain comes, before hurrying away again on important business.
I turn right onto a stony footpath that will get me home a bit quicker. I love this part: the path runs through some trees (willows, I think from their drooping branches) which stand beside an overgrown stream. It's even darker here as, even though not all their leaves are out yet, the trees form a kind of green shady tunnel.
This is where, if it were anywhere, the doorway into another dimension would be. I often imagine that one morning or evening I'll hurry through it and suddenly step into another place. I might be met by the bared teeth of a snowstorm or end up baking to death in a searing-hot desert. Maybe I'd drop with a splash into the wide green ocean with no land in sight in any direction but with a white sail on the horizon for hope. Then again, I could find somewhere that's almost exactly like here, in which case it may have already happened. That would explain the anxious feeling I sometimes get where I'm sure I'm not where I'm supposed to be – or maybe I'm just paranoid.
There's a sturdy wooden bridge over the stream where it turns to the right and crosses the path. The trolls moved out ages ago – there just weren't any Billy Goats Gruff around here. Rumour has it they moved into investment banking and, well, you know how that goes.
Up the hill, over the railway line, though the gap in the high wooden fence and suddenly I've popped out into the middle of a neat little housing estate. The path runs alongside a kids' play area where a tyre swing hangs limp and unswung in the gathering gloom.
The wind's back again to hurry me up, as if pulling my hair and then running off will help. A crow laughs at this from somewhere up on one of the chimneys. I don't know what he's got to laugh at, seeing as he's evidently too stupid to get in out of the rain.
I like this estate. There are several cats living here and over time we have become nodding acquaintances. The cats are not in evidence today though. Hopefully they are creamfully mattsitting somewhere warm and dry.
I'm past the estate now and on the road home.
It is literally all downhill from here. I pass my old school. To think I've landed up living just down the road from it and less than a mile from the house in which I was born, small world indeed. There's a sign on the fence:
I'm sure that all the anti-vandals around here must be quaking in their boots. It amuses me that this beautifully-worded sign is on the fence of my old school, it's a wunder I kan reed or rite.
I can see my house now, but the blue has been swallowed completely by the grey and the air has turned humid and heavy – muggy, as we say around here. Even the wind has gone now. Having done its best, it has left me to my fate.
I'm moving faster now: school gates, parked cars, roadworks (hello, they're new), more cars, a quick dash across the road...
Finally my key turns in the lock and I push open the front door just as the first fat drops begin to fall.