‘Pigeons flutter, leaves rustle, Alfa Romeo has a new comeback plan’

A journey through the familiar sights, sounds and stories of the everyday

Richard Porter opinion

Fingers of sunlight creep across the fields, sliding over hedges and climbing up walls. A blackbird sings, a dog barks, the cat gets shooed off the duvet. 

Alarms sound. Phones chirp. The early train clack-clacks out of the station. That warm security blanket smell of toast permeates the house. Butter is spread, milk is spilt, the minister for something or other purrs superciliously from the television. The kettle boils. 

The school tie is found, the front door keys are lost, a thousand front doors close on the words, ‘DON’T SLAM THE…’ 

Work shoes click and school shoes scuff across a million miles of pavement. Pigeons flutter, leaves rustle, Alfa Romeo has a new comeback plan. 

> ‘For a last drive before a total ban on internal combustion, which car would I choose?’

Noisy knots of pre-teens board the bus as one excitable ball. Car doors slam, starter motors turn, that ubiquitous tune tumbles from the speakers. Drilling. Always someone drilling. 

The van hoots, the cab driver swears, the man on the pavement exhales a cloud of vape. A lady florist smiles at a passer-by. 

In the cafes and coffee shops the machines that grind the beans and drip-drip the liquids run fast and hot. Laptops plugged in, accounts checked, posts liked. The drink is to go, the pastry is to eat in. Do you have a loyalty card? 

Office lights flicker on, monitors power up, Jaguar has a new marketing campaign designed to attract a younger audience.

Machines are turned on. Gossip is shared. Last night’s mistakes are reviewed. Log in, log on. Lift doors close and lift doors open. The robots keep working. The minute hand of the conference-room clock in stasis as the meeting grinds on. 

The parents meet at the soft play. The plumber says the parts will take two weeks. The kid at the back isn’t listening. Planes land, boats dock, tractors trudge across the fields. Rain falls. Clouds part. Red kites cruise above the motorway. 

The police helicopter overhead. On social media, people asking why the police helicopter is overhead. The clock chimes. The lunch is served. The train is late. Could this be Ferrari’s season? 

Sandwiches at desks. Cigarettes by fire exits. Problems with the Zoom call. A familiar riff drifts on the wind. Mangy pigeons, busy bees, wasps bother the yoga mummies. An unexpected item in the bagging area. 

Traffic lights change, bus brakes squeal, the Big Issue lady isn’t in her normal spot. Your package has been left with a neighbour. 

Bins are emptied out. Forms are filled in. A broken tricycle in a skip. A baby cries, a grandfather dies, Maserati has ambitious plans to increase sales.

Someone falls in love. Someone falls out of it. Someone’s moved the phone charger again. 

Messages are sent. Pictures are taken. The wind turbines turn. A tear trickles down her cheek. 

The old bank’s become a juice bar. 

The bell rings. Pre-teen feet stampede through the playgrounds. Keys in doors, bags on floors, homework gets ignored. The kettle boils. 

The ball’s gone over the fence again. A wistful face at the window, a lone pony in the meadow, they’re putting flats where the petrol station used to be. 

The warm, tangy smell of a pub in the afternoon. The fund manager is stuffed. The child goes hungry. Would you like fries with that? 

Packed trains, hot and sweet from body heat. Empty church halls, dry like the rust on the tea urn. Glasses chink like the weights at the gym. The kids don’t care, a woman cuts hair, the AMG One will be ready soon. 

Bedtime stories. Cocaine Tories. Oh go on then, just one more. 

The moon slides like a seraph from behind grey cloud. In the distance, an owl. Torch light coming across the fields. Lorry drivers bedding in for the night. Security guards staring at phones. The kettle boils. 

Footsteps behind her. A final chord, the audience applause, the predictable thrill of an encore. Doomed first dates, failed flirtations, hotels on the company card. A fox has got in the bins again. Lager lads, doner kebabs, you are being connected to your driver. Doors are locked. Shelves are stocked. In the trees by the old railway, bats. Teslas will be fully self-driving within a year.

This column was first featured in evo issue 299.

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