Although it seemed unlikely, I did not immediately dismiss the possibility of a hit and run skip lorry. The witness reports were clear: they came to empty my skip, couldn’t manage it, smashed the street to smithereens and drove off.
I came home from town that evening, drove up the track in the dark and there was the one and only street light illuminating the line of houses where I live — a nice traditional old thing like a gas lamp — knocked halfway to the floor. It listed dangerously, having stopped just short of crashing through my front window or the one next door.
At any moment, perhaps it would complete its trajectory and electrocute either the next-door neighbours as they sat watching Coronation Street, or the spaniels sitting on the sofa waiting faithfully for me to come home. A Skanska lorry was already on the scene, and an engineer was assessing the situation. I drove up the track with my mouth open, thinking: ‘I don’t know how but I am going to get the blame for this.’
I had left a house full of builders that morning. After initially deciding to ask the skip company to come that day and remove the full skip, Stefano changed his mind just as I left and said he was going to rearrange it for the next day, Saturday, when I would be home. That made much more sense as the skip man always needs me to help by knocking on doors to get people to move their cars.
I went into town not worrying and, aside from the low-lying anxiety that is my constant companion, I didn’t particularly worry all day. When I returned at 7 p.m., I wasn’t worrying about anything other than what kebab I would order at Ali’s.
Until I reached the track to my house and saw the flashing lights of the emergency crew, the listing street lamp and, as I drew up outside, the churned-up grass and smashed utility markers.