Today, for instance, I was forced, by Hodmandod Minor's grumblings, to leave my research and go to Tesco. I plugged in my ipod as consolation and consequently felt detached from everything around me and maybe it was because of this that my sense of smell seemed heightened. Each rack of shelves seemed to have its own piquancy: the flowers by the door, the fruit and vegetables around the corner, and then the smell of fabrics where the clothes were stashed on racks. I am sure I could have shut my eyes and listed the fibres in front of me: the teased-out bolls of plants, the cocoons of worms, the extrusions of petrochemicals. Then, after that, it seemed to me I could smell hardware: metal, pottery, plastic, but all of this was soon overpowered as I approached the bread and then the meats and the fish.
But there was another smell too, underneath all the rest like the rumbling of a large-bellied drum you barely hear and yet know is there; it was as if something had died and had been secreted away. It was pervasive and seemed to billow up from my ankles; a decaying, rotting smell, seeping into my memory.
Then tonight, at dusk, I went out to post a letter with Hodmandod Senior, and a blackbird was sitting on a chimney pot singing a chorus for the coming of night: strident, loud, giving each note a fierce deliberation. And then , at the corner of our road, was something that has always been there, but I hadn't really noticed before: a telegraph pole, its wires radiating out, each one black and perfect like the spokes of an unfinished spider's web. For a few minutes we stopped and looked at it, noting the way the steps begin half way up the pole. It is a defence against the casual climber and the wilfully bored - like the way the leaves of a holly bush go from smooth to sharp.