|Belmont Road's old council flats, now happily replaced|
They’re laying new gas mains in Belmont Road; murder if I want to drive down to the city, but walking I can race the immobilised cars. More than two months and my hair needs cutting.
I walk hard along adjacent thoroughfares - Dorchester, Stanbury, Chichester – then suddenly bethink myself: I’m an old man hurrying. What’s his problem, people will ask? If it’s his bladder he’s going the wrong way.
Past Tesco’s car-wash, a noisy, thrashing device frequently labelled Out Of Order. I’m not a patron; pay six quid and it rains. Hereford mud is reddish and stands out on a car’s flanks.
Beyond is Tesco itself, convenient but never surprising. No, I tell a lie. This year strawberries were superlative. And robust champagne at a tenner, identifiably from Rheims, not flat prosecco nor insipid cava. Now I’m into Belmont Road and my feet, softened by wearing trainers, start to ache slightly. I should be proud of this self-mortification but at my age you start to worry: am I overdoing things? The alliterative image of a pensioner prostrate on the pavement, other pensioners pondering and powerless.
The council flats on the right have been replaced with smart terraces and I’m glad the city can afford this. What I’m not glad about is the bookie’s shop next to the mini-market. Should the nominally poor be tempted?
This is the tedious bit, I can see half a mile ahead, under the old railway bridge, Beeching-ised in the sixties, now a grossly over-engineered footbridge. On the left the new Polish deli which I welcomed; until I picked out a chunk of smoked pork and found I couldn’t buy it. It carried no price.
Not far now to Body Beautiful, a salon I don’t usually admit to. For obvious reasons