Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Twelve Minutes

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.

But still.

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.

Twelve minutes.

I'm home.


  1. What a wonderful post. I love they way you describe the wind and I feel as if I'm walking with you through the green willow tunnel. I would love to visit England. My daughter regularly visits England for work and she brings back the most wonderful photos of the English villages and countryside... all those streams and bridges and old buildings and the "green".

  2. hahaa!.. Having lived in England for (far too many years) this piece describes it to a tee! I don't know how many numb grey lego centres of business exsist over there, but you can get to one fairly easily. I love the sign, I wonder why the warning though.. does the paint give off noxious fumes if touched??.. cheers for sharing a nicely written and entertaining piece of moment..

  3. Lovely post. I could see and feel the elements of your twelve homeward minutes and that also provoked olefactory reminiscences of the damp, green smells of the English countryside.

  4. Just dropping in to let you know I have just recieved a creative blogger award and have chosen this blog to be one of the ones I pass it on to. Come on round and collect, if you like... no worries if you don't participate in the awards thing though. cheers!

  5. Thanks, everyone for the kind words - you're making me raise my writing game and it's doing me a power of good.

    Englnad still has some nice spaces left in it but these are always under pressure from developers of one sort or another.

    I think the credit crunch has slowed down the spillage of giant Lego of late, thankfully. Slowed, but not stopped.

    @Watercats - thanks for the award - I'll mosey over.

  6. Funny - could have sworn i'd put a comment on here.

    Exactly how does one go about being an anti-vandal? Presumably writing your tag with a bucket of hot soapy water?

    Lovely description of your journey xx

  7. i put an award on my blog for you if you'd like to collect it

  8. I have to confess the "hour of scampering" phrase was nicked from a Babylon-5 novel I read nearly 20 years ago - one of those "damn, I wish I'd thought of that" phrases.

  9. Very nice, and I loved the sign, that was funny. Do you write professionally for anything besides this blog or whatnot? You should.

  10. @Adorably Dead - Thanks! I don't write professionally as such: the nearest I get is writing technical documentation for computer systems (yawn!) and the odd item for our moribund company newsletter. I have submitted stories a few times to magazines but always been rejected so far :-(


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