Tea-cup Town

for the competition


1. ...

I live in the bottom of a tea-cup, the basin of an English town that is no more remarkable than any other English town. It has little flair, too much submissiveness, many characters but no character. It is a stencilled town convinced that it is something more than margins.

Front gardens are filled with bits and pieces of broken things that are perpetually leaving. Cardboard boxes, disconnected fridges, unfinished patios, wellingtons that have paused to collect the clouds. The crocuses have frostbite and the lawns are fraying at the edges like muddy carpet. As you follow the road, the houses get bigger and their front doors get shabbier. Paint peels like sunburnt skin and the road stains yellow. The old and the new mix obscenely; two girls, tied at the elbow, crack their feet on the sound of their sisters’ high heels slapping paving stones. Most people have got extensions that have left their house in two pieces, the bricks never seeming to meet. Gingham table cloths hang out to dry, a red double-decker teeters on a corner, biked teenagers slip through the net of the Friday sky. It’s a green-ish evening and the clouds are strung like DNA blots around the blurring sun. The light’s not strong enough to dry your bones but, when you look at it, the sun seems to have exceeded any outline. A slab of sky is golden.

The allotment is rows upon rows upon rows of bamboo canes, browned like apple cores. Chicken wire and faded Wendy houses slouch upon their soil trenches. It is a patchwork of mediocrity; the beige and the brown and the grey overtake the green. Tin cans stud the place like piercings on the body of an ex-punk; only dead things grow and the colours have been switched to mute.

There’s a market on Saturdays where strawberries will cost you the moon and where egg boxes are recycled until they drip in the rain.

My grandparents remember my town in its embyonic stages, my parents remember when it still was framed with local business, I remember it when Shakeaway was a fruit and vegetable store that sold palenta on Wednesdays. My town is locked in a cycle of self-improvement that it never seems to benefit from. It is infitely greyed and nothing more or less than ordinary. Boys in beanie hats pretend that they understand parkour and the haberdashery closes down. Each month, the window displays alter to no avail and the dust sinks a little closer to the pages we’re constantly trying to turn.

I live in the bottom of a tea-cup and I never stop trying to read insubstantial fortunes from the dregs I’ve left behind.

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