The sun is shining today – and although I will burn faster than an albino in a furnace I’m braving the outdoors on a morning break at work.
I’m sitting on a little orange brick wall, leaning my arm on a fibreglass salt bin that’s cracked and weathered after years of being outside.
The faded yellow of the bin sympathetically blends with the brown rusty fastenings of its lid, which is slowly making its way to the ground due to a broken hinge languidly hanging on its left hand side. I can just about see its gritty contents from where I sit through the gap this creates at the top.
The smooth surface of the bin has the texture of a beach pebble and is oddly pleasing to the touch. Having already bathed in the sun for hours before I arrived it is radiating gentle warmth beneath my arm.
Behind me is a field of sheep, and in the trees separating them from me (usually lashed with rain and wind in the UK climate) birds are singing as they sway gently in the breeze on the branches.
Nearby I can hear the generators and a hum of machinery that feeds the building in which I work.
Unlike my own lawn the grass here has a regulation length, and never grows above it. It’s learned to comply after many many years of regular maintenance. Similarly when leaves fall they are quickly moved and disposed of by a man with an iPod and a leaf blower.
I used to work nights as well, and have stood and sat here in a variety of weather at all times of the day. I’ve seen this little part of the world in dense fog, covered in snow, iced over, soaking wet and blisteringly hot in the summer.
This spot has also been where I’ve stood talking to friends while we smoked, drank coffee, shared frustrations and triumphs – bemoaned our lives or relationships and celebrated births and marriages. We’ve also supported each other in times of loss.
One colleague who passed some years ago even practiced his golf swing out here in the middle of the night under the watchful eye of security cameras, hooking the occasional cheeky golf ball over the fence, much to the mirth of those watching.
People have left this campus for happier reasons too. They’ve headed off to take other jobs many times through the brown windowed door in front of me, and occasionally I’ll get texts or mails from them telling me how life is and how their family and careers have grown.
A lot of people have gone lately and as I sit quietly typing this in the sun I’m reminded of them and what they meant to me when we worked together in the office.
They were almost all friends, and people I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet from all ages, backgrounds, faiths and walks of life. Nomatter where they came from we all shared jokes and hot drinks.
One of the plus sides is that my various departed team members are in some cases leaving to work with each other yet again in different locations, so hopefully they won’t have to completely start over.
They won’t get to stand here with me any more though.
The uninitiated might say with a brief glance that this industrial little brick wall by a car park on a concreted patch of land, next to a security fence topped with barbed wire is ugly.
If I didn’t work here I might agree, but it seems that beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder.
I love that a little orange brick wall and a salt bin on the right day and in the right moment can bring all these memories of people back to me, which currently are warming me almost as much as the sun.
Which is actually frikking burning me. I have the skin of Nosferatu.
Dammit. I’m going back inside.