On my daily morning fitness and shopping run down to Sainsburys – a good route that I can manage without stopping because its downhill all the way – I pass through a labyrinth of alleyways on the Springfield estate that zig zag down the hill like a mountain terrace.
There is usually a small pile of discarded beer tins and cigarette packets cluttering up along the fences – the suburban detritus of bored youth or demoralised old age – but this morning, rising above all that and neatly duct taped in a line along one of the creosoted fences were three tulips in full bloom. Having been there overnight they were bowing their bright red heads in an elegant silent swoon, like imprisoned princesses awaiting their fate – or a random art installation with no cultural agenda.
It must have been a significant act for someone for them to buy that number of tulips – or, more menacingly, cut them from someone’s garden – bring them to that spot and tape them up in a line – carefully equidistant – just there. An odd place for a romantic gesture; or a shrine; or a ritual: or a warning.
Down at Wembley Asda – the stadium looming in the near distance like a newly arrived space craft – there are people collecting money. It’s not very clear what for. One elderly woman – who looks like she is begging because she has no charity sign, but is turned out too smartly and has far too posh a voice has made herself up all over in lime green face paint, so she looks like a very thin version of Fungus the Bogeyman wearing a shimmery raincoat. As she approaches, a small child riding in a supermarket trolley cowers in terror, her safe world suddenly threatened.