The Things People Say To Themselves
It’s got the lot. Double tasteful. Well choice.
It’s on top of the North Downs, overlooking the Weald to the South.
It started life as an upturned skip but now it’s a house to its only resident: Geoff.
It has all the mod cons – even running water: it drips down the walls.
“I doubt it has much commercial value, though,” says Geoff to you. “It’s nice here during Summer but come Winter, and it’s colder than a witch’s tit.”
Every morning he likes to say a prayer and sing an aria or two. Then he likes to walk the mile or so into town because that walk makes him feel as though an adventure is about to begin.
His skip is in the centre of a small patch of privately owned woodland. It’s no more than half an acre, if that, and Geoff refuses to sell it to the Borough Council who, in turn, refuse to accept his home and its address: Skip Manor, Geoff’s Woods, Overlooking the M2.
He’s grown a vegetable plot and a flower border from wild plants. At the bottom of his garden path he’s erected a mail box and he checks it regularly to see if he’s had any post. Which, of course, you know too full well he hasn’t. Inside his skip he has partitioned the space into a living room at the front and his bedroom at the back. There’s an old armchair for comfort and a dairy crate for a table, a pile of blankets for warmth and rust holes in the roof and walls for light.
Down the bottom of the hill a nature trail starts winding its way through the woods and up toward Geoff’s land where it has to circuit around because he won’t sell. The council have thoughtfully put a chicken wire fence around Geoff’s property to keep people away from trespassing. A path has been trodden around the fence so that walkers can watch the exhibit check his mail, tend his garden and hang out the washing. Children have built a rope swing nearby and they often exchange verbals with Geoff.
Some people will stop and talk to him and if they’re polite or if he’s not too busy, he’ll engage in pleasant chat. Some of them congratulate him on not selling to the council, others try to stay upwind from his smell and others keep their distance. Geoff tries to keep the garden in order.
Then each morning he comes out and checks to see if there is any post and each morning there isn’t.
It changes when a lady friend moves in. She’s older than Geoff and no one knows how they met or where she comes from.
“She’s the best thing that’s happened to me. She’s tamed me,” he tells you.
Five weeks later the skip is gone and the wire fence comes down and the nature trail dribbles across what used to be the garden with its optimistic mail box.
Geoff and his lady friend move into an old council house he manages to buy from the money he gets from selling the land.
“We’re planning a family, you see. I didn’t think that was anywhere to bring up a kiddy,” he tells you over the garden fence. In his hand he holds the bills, junk and flyers posted by Royal Mail.