From an upstairs window I could see my sister S and her partner C standing on the front step of their house with a couple of black ferrets in their arms. “They would be great to photograph!”, I thought, so I collected my camera, ran downstairs, and crossed the road.
My sister lived in a beautiful late eighteenth century on Bowesfield Lane in Stockton-on-Tees. In a Georgian city such as Bath or the Edinburgh New Town, it would have been worth a fortune. However, in a town on Teesside, it was not.
It was years since I had crossed the threshold of my sister’s house. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was no longer an untidy hoarder: all the beautiful features of the house were clearly visible, such as the hand-painted frieze in the entrance porch. She showed me through to her tidy kitchen, and the utility room extension that was not quite finished, yet neatly organised.
Then we stepped out into the garden. Oh dear! It was terribly overgrown and it was very difficult to navigate a way through the undergrowth to the back wall where C was holding the ferrets. The peace was also disturbed by reggae music pounding from a ghetto blaster.
Then a beefy, tattooed neighbour from the street behind my sister’s garden jumped over the wall to join us. I couldn’t work out whether he was looking for drugs or a fight. He didn’t give the impression that he was there to be photographed with the ferrets.