to visit someone in a nursing home yesterday had an opportunity to observe Sunday afternoon in summer in suburbia at close hand.
I am not impressed.
At the end of our street there were two people having an argument. They are husband and wife and it was a very public argument in the front garden. I moved on quickly.
The next little street was quiet enough but there was a very strong smell of incense of all things. I have no idea where it was coming from. Nobody in the street would be foolish enough to be smoking pot and trying to cover it with the smell of incense...there is a senior member of the police force living in one of the houses and he is a rabid anti-drugs man. But, why else the incense? Ugh - that strong it was vile.
Around two corners and I came on someone mowing their lawn. I expected I would find someone doing that. There is always someone willing to disturb the peace on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I pedalled on only to be met by even more noise and a cloud of concrete dust. Someone was cutting concrete slabs.
I coughed and spluttered past that and came upon three men lashing a double bed mattress and a ladder to a trailer.
"Of course he does most of his work at night," one of them was saying in some of the purest old-fashioned BBC tones I have heard in years. I wonder who does most of his work at night - and what he does. I wonder which public school in England the speaker attended.
I avoid glass deliberately scattered across the roadway. I wait for a taxi to back out of a driveway. (He is supposed to give way to me but I never trust taxi drivers to do that...or anyone else unless they indicate they have seen me.)
The playground on the corner is empty. This is Sunday. It is a fine warm day (23'C) but there is not a child in sight. Why use a playground if you can use a computer screen?
I wait for traffic at the t-junction near the railway line and get acknowledged by two people I know by sight.
Over the railway line and around the corner - that bit is downhill, no pedalling needed. I go on and give way to a smart new sports car. Then it is push the button at the pedestrian crossing. I still take a childish delight in stopping the traffic with just one fingertip.
I pedal up the hill to the nursing home. The traffic is heavy. There must be an event somewhere that I know nothing about. Car horns blare. There is a squeal of brakes and another of tires but nobody hits anyone else - this time.
I will pedal home again too. I will have some exercise in the sun and the "fresh" air.
The nursing home is quiet. The small car park is almost empty. Two of the dementia patients have been put out into the sun. They smile uncertainly at me. One is the old man who seems to like the wind chimes that hung there.
Inside it is very quiet. There is a television turned low somewhere. The person I have come to see is asleep. It does not surprise me. Her younger cousin is, as always, there. She is reading the paper. We chat quietly for a bit. It is really for her I come now. She needs the support.
Eventually I leave. Most of the journey back is a gentle slope up or a whizz down the hill. It is different from the journey there.
But, there are still no children around. I want to see children. I want to be reminded of young life.
What bothers me is the almost certainty that nobody will be using the playground as I do the return journey...and they should be in this weather.
Perhaps that is why when, stopping for a moment at the shopping centre, I did not mind as much as I might when nearly knocked over by two boys running where they should not have been running.
Their mother told them off and made them apologise before heading into the bakery. When I returned to the pedals a little later there was a bag from the bakery in it. Inside there was an apple and walnut bun - with icing on top. The Senior Cat and I had it for our tea. I'll have to remember to thank her when I see her - and I would actually like to hug the boys.