The hands point to 11:24; they have done so for as long as anyone can remember. The insipid structure is a fitting monument to a town that time forgot. Dreary concrete structures flank the tower on either side, the sea of grey interrupted only by the shop fronts below. Bargain food stores, charity shops and bakeries dominate the square. The stench of rejection is subtle, yet reverberates around this barren amphitheatre like a mocking stain.
Nobody is in a rush yet everyone seems impatient.
A man staggers from boozer to bookmaker, it’s hard to determine his age but the burst vessels in his nose suggest the alcohol has taken its toll. His path is blocked by a shouting youth “Deano, Deano”. “what” snarls Deano from across the road. “Get over ere dick head”. “Shut up will yu, I am doin, jus need to pick up some cigs innit”. “fer’ fuck’sake, urry up then”.
Outside the off-license a teenage pram-pusher pauses to tie another bag to her burdened chariot. She wears the uniform of her compatriots, pink joggers and brown furry boots. An elderly couple share disapproving glances on a nearby bench.
Behind them the market is empty. It is not open on Thursdays. The folded tables add to the sense of desolation in this town, where aspiration packed up and went home a long time ago. Not surprisingly the local Weatherspoon’s is doing a good trade. Several drinkers huddle in the doorway puffing on roll-ups. One of them flicks the remains at a passing pigeon.
Pigeons, like pubescent parents and pensioners are everywhere, subsequently the place is literally full of shit. On the pavements, the roofs and down the side of the buses it is everywhere. Glum faces peer through the stained perspex on the 612 thankful that this is not their stop.
A row of people shuffle onboard clutching their passes and the bus departs, revealing behind it a behemoth of a woman occupying the doorframe of Home Bargains. A real leviathan, 30 stone at least. She has wings the pigeons would envy, puffed up purple ankles that bulge from her shoes like raw black pudding and bright red cheeks that almost meet in the middle.
A pair of Dumpling-like children wobble out behind her like tweedle dee and tweedle dum. Chocolate in hand they are , chocolate “Get a bloody move on you two” she roars