A Hard Rain and Other Stories

Yesterday’s rain did not feel safe. Huddled under a bus stop shelter with a crowd of people, those on the outside getting drenched in torrents of water sloshing off umbrellas driving in on us with the wind. The river of water in the gutter easily a yard wide, rushing fast – anyone trying to cross it sinking footsoakingly ankle deep – and on the verge of breaking banks out of the road and across the pavement. These sorts of storms are new. The first time I can recall one is within the last ten years, getting soaked through on the two minute walk to the bus stop, watching the  volume of water rushing down the street like a waterfall and reflecting that our safe suburban streets were capable of being dangerous. We are at 1.1C above pre-industrial levels hoping to keep to now more than 1.5C if we are lucky – and actually heading for 3-4C without fast and drastic action. A sign of the times is that I was able to discuss this with a fellow huddler. Of course, what we are facing here is mild compared to the cyclones that have hit Mozambique – but the rain in our faces should help us wake up.

In the back alley behind our row of flats I have recently discovered a number of unattractive discarded things. The human turd – which sounds like a singularly unattractive superhero with powers I’ll leave to your imagination*- which is the latest of these – stood out  because it had been carefully done on top of a discarded table top – instead of on the ground where it might more easily rot in – and garnished with a piece of toilet paper: so it looked like a piece of performance art – a statement its creator was keen to make and for others to see. I resisted the temptation to photograph it and submit it to the Turner Prize.

*I worked once with with a rather scatalogical child who made up a superhero called “Pooperman”.

Another piece of accidental sculpture in the form of a once elegant Jaguar sports car, parked up and left to decay in the front drive of a quiet, winding hillside road overlooking Wembley. All four fat tyres deflated, long body streaking with livid green algae: like a metaphor for a lost youth that the owner can’t bring himself to give up.

On the way to the shops I walk past a neighbour. He’s the sort of bloke who wears his tin poppy all year round and once complimented me on picking up litter along our street… without joining in.  Making moue and pulling his hand across in a waist high throat cutting gesture he says “politics.” An enormous freight – and threat – in a single word and gesture. A dangerous sign.

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