The twilight zone

PUBLISHED: 12:55 24 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:56 15 June 2010

THE sun seemed to hang precariously low in the sky as it radiated orange-tinted hues of deep yellow across the street scene.

THE sun seemed to hang precariously low in the sky as it radiated orange-tinted hues of deep yellow across the street scene.The road appeared bleached grey and the shop fronts a kind of green, like old transparent strips of plastic low income families with black and white televisions once used to give their bland screens a hint of colour. There was a definite '70s feel to the early evening, and I'm not sure why.Maybe, because it was in the '70s that I last really looked at New Street - and that was during the Great Blizzard.Massive drifts of snow were piled high and, through the grey bleakness of a heavy flurry, everything took on a slightly different appearance.I remember feeling mind-numbingly cold in New Street, nine-tenths of the way from Whitebridges to the former Lazy Landlord (now The Railway). For some inexplicable reason, my parents decided to take in the spectacle by trekking to the pub!Now, 30 years later, I was kicking my heels in New Street. A 'pre-meeting' notice was posted on the door to the council chamber and I was temporarily at a loose end.As a lapsed non-smoker, the obvious time killer was to puff on a cigarette. The best place for this, I thought, was not up the alleyway, in Chapel Street, but at the front of the council offices, a rare entry and exit point for councillors on meeting nights. I feared being spotted by a particular councillor. (He made a generous donation to the British Heart Foundation on the account that I managed to live nine weeks without placing a fag in my mouth.)So, it was with a heavy heart that I plonked myself down on the council steps and lit up.Like a drifter bedazzled by the bright lights of a big city, I watched the world go by.I saw a middle-aged man, hobbling on crutches, struggle up the road and back down again. He seemed disorientated.A man with tattoos and a big hole in one of his ears walked by, carrying bags of shopping. His hair was sort of spiky and the ragged lines on his face seemed to indicate a hard life. I tried to guess what he had in his carrier bags by observing the bulging shapes that stretched the plastic. Momentarily, he looked back at me - with a hint of suspicion written in his expression.Every individual has a story to tell and I wondered what stories these men concealed as they anonymously went about their business in Honiton.My gaze, time and again, fell on the shop fronts opposite me: posters in the window of Northams Accountants and the video shop. Who says advertising doesn't pay?Vehicles, which were far and few between, seemed to slow as they approached, as if their drivers were surprised to spot a grown woman sat on concrete steps. Their attentions were more out of mild shock than concern. Of that, I was convinced.Honiton at dusk seemed a different place than in the day. 'Everything is weird,' I said to myself. 'It's like something out of The Twilight Zone.'But, then, I took a closer look - at myself - and realised I was the weirdest thing in the street!I was in the process of forcing an extinguished cancer stick back into its packet, with some urgency, when normality returned. A councillor appeared from the direction of King Street, as if by magic, and I was up on my feet and back on 'duty'.Why was there a pre-meeting?


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