By Steven Moss
As we high-tailed our way out of the flats, my wife Veronica suggested a bungalow in the more retiring part of town. I pressed the address into the sat-nav as she drove.
Once we’d unpacked comfortably into our new conditions, we discovered ourselves half the average age. I bought beige slacks, wore a knitted diamond jumper while my wife complimented her outfits with a headscarf and sunglasses. We’d enough to rest between the sun-kissed, hedge-lined drives for a year or so, so we got busy being neighbourly.
Veronica started shopping with a couple of ladies from down near the Green and told me Mr. Jackson at Number 72 was lonely, so I called on him the next day to ask if he fancied a pint of mild.
Turned out Mr. Jackson was glad of the company, and in the weeks after, our days sparked with entertaining roll-ups and stories from a life lived full. Our gang quickly turned eight strong with all of the men from the cul-de-sac involved, and our days passed deep in past glories, with enjoyment the aim each afternoon.
While I busied myself socialising and organising a betting syndicate for the boys, my wife Veronica kept herself occupied helping the wives with their ailments.
“Kettle’s on,” she’d say, rattling her bag. “These’ll soon take the edge off.” The ladies’ afternoons, too, were soaked in laughter while they swapped tales over an assortment of craft gins and prescription opiates: the romances they’d missed, the paths they’d taken before choice became such an accessible thing for the next generation of girls.
In those heady times we felt the highs; our syndicate landed sizable wins, and Veronica sourced stronger, gentler pills. We started a silver-surfer club for the broader minded. Though, as the seasons edged on, we began to suffer the lows and by Christmas, hairline cracks evident in Autumn had fully matured.
Unkempt gardens, overflowing bins, otherwise attentive families stopped visiting, our neighbours left their curtains drawn later each day, sometimes not opening them or even getting dressed at all, bailiffs came looking for unpaid bills. Dot slipped on the stairs and stayed where she fell for a week; Mr. Jackson went to sleep in the bath.
It was time to cut the strings. We left this new life at daybreak, fell onto the nearest ring road and kept going, the sun relentless and us shielding our eyes at difficult junctions.
Looking for what’s next.