Running Errands

Walk the streets – see, hear + feel the fear of imminent collapse in wasted spaces – decrepit places almost hidden – attitudes seesawin from brusque overconfidence to complacent shrugs of discontentment. Out of hand, sleight of hand, insurance scams, heads buried in the sand. Walk the streets + smell achievement + failure. They’re sayin that the majority’s middlin – discardin spent latte cups + Greggs’ paper bags 4 others to dispose of ecologically. Walls go up – some come down – flashy statements left empty – the hard surfaces littered slick with dirt. Walkin on the outside of insula bubbles with thick exteriors – impenetrable fences erected in cold metal – ice forms on the pavements. Slip between their gaps man – yrs + the governments – forget about walkin – get in a car – a barrier between u + the world that surrounds u. Stay @ home + draw the curtains + put on the telly. Hit the town + party til u keel over. Put on a show + show yr might  - smile + say art can make it right. Livin in boxes some warmer than others. Balance on the edges of success – switch off the radio + complain about the price of vegetables in ASDA. Wade thru the queues waitin 4 taxis. Push thru the people waitin @ the pharmacy – folk argue with the lasses behind the counter – want their drugs now + not tomorrow. Avoid the rowin couple who goad each other with swear words + gesticulations – walk away from their stingin verbiage that penetrates like needles. The grey skies promise more rain + the gusts force grit into tender crevices. Wrap up warm in layers of fleece, viscose + polyester – put a distance between cold reality + non-slip surfaces. Walk the streets + see, hear + feel whatever u want to – find the bright the interestin + systems of feelin that are satisfyin. Curiosity is a key to keepin occupied – concentrate on the itch beneath the veneer. Delve into hidden territories – rummage thru carboots – other people’s memories fit for discardin. There’s nothin mundane – traces + pathways, tributaries + veins, other things that encroach + lead us away from the hoardins, the walls + fences. On the radio they talk about another double-dip recession – the fifty per cent chance of the collapse of the Euro. Outside cars pass as normal – the lorries back into Aldi – shelves fill with mince pies + Stollen. On Market Street people queue up @ the cashpoints – a lass flings her coat @ a lad and carries on caterwaulin. The Post Office on Newton Street has closed-down + the Christmas stalls @ St Anne’s are wind torn + tattered – the Gluwein goes down well + the pubs are raucous. The police raid cash + carry warehouses – lookin 4 counterfeit handbags, trainers + Dolce Gabbana – the rag traders are up in arms but no one is listenin. The shoppers with bulgin bags dream of a white Christmas. Walk off frustrations + save petrol. Move thru other lives + times til the light fades + the city becomes all black + white tinged with neon. Stompin on + dreamin of security – pullin yr hood up + keepin yr peripheral sight clear.  The backstreets are all shadows + the main roads chocker.  The Christmas lights over Oldham Street swing in the storm + hail bounces on the pavin. Over the ring road there’s just 1 lass treadin quickly + dashin cross junctions. Past the Marble Arch which looks invitin, past car lots, boarded up buildins + the ugly slab of Collyhurst Police Station. Over the railway + on to the 3 high-rises – towerblocks of lit up windows + Santas flashin + reindeer twinklin. Up on third floor thru the misty glass of the kitchen door u can see his dark profile – his arms raised carryin a saucepan. In the lobby there’s a stink of decayin household waste + cheap air fresheners – in the stairwell hot smells of meat pies + burnt bacon. Unlock the door with a janglin + inhale sandalwood + steamy soup in the makin. Coldness in fingers disperses, stresses in muscles relax, the flashin echoes of headlights + dashin people fadin. The telly comes on – the food is eaten – the news is switched off with a press of a button. You’re secure in his arms under duvets – the rhythm of night traffic swishin thru slush lulls + sleep eventually comes.

Ann Matthews