A beautiful week. On the first night, there is Dad. We meet down by the river after the evening rain. The afternoon sky had been purple and yellow and thick and when I step out of Temple – clanking green metal underground – the clouds had opened. The red hiss of buses and channels of grey water as I run over Waterloo Bridge, a newspaper folded over my head. At the top of the warehouse, we sit and eat, talking long with torn bread and slow, slow glasses of wine. His face is browner than before. It is dark without us realising: outside it is blue and through the glass we look across the water to the city. To the finance towers glowing red and white and to St Paul’s, white and ghostly. After the rain, the air is thin and clean and as we cross the water we look back at the red lights of O X O. Above, it is never quite black and I remember years ago in Northumberland, when Dad took Ruth and Al and I to the moors – telling us lie on the tarmac road and look up to the silver turning of the sky.

The five children who live across the road walk to school in a straggling line: their mother in front wearing the hijab and the kids behind swinging schoolbags and trailing hands along the railings. Cycling to work and feeling the sunshine on my legs – through the market and passing the stalls, the smell of coffee, saying hello to the fruit seller and the man who walks his dog every morning. There is always a gathered group of parents who have dropped their children at school and I can hear the shouts from the playground – the images of chalk dust and wire mesh and asphalt.

This week there is a sudden heat wave and the September sun in the lunchtime park is strong. From a brown paper bag, I eat a fig, purple and with its inside torn in seeds and membranes. The bounce of the sun on the brickwork. Outside work, the light falls in a prism through the glass and a rainbow falls on the steps.

One day I am on the way to a meeting and between the sound of drills and road works and roll of London buses, I bump into a friend of a friend. The black frames of her glasses, the curl of her hair. She is an artist and she rolls out a print on the street, thick brush strokes in turquoise, black, green and gold.

Over the weekend, the girls come to stay, lying in bed and giggling like school and planning for next year. We go south for a birthday – for the square yard, bare feet in the kitchen, lime, finger tips of gin, Sian’s feathered earrings and the burn of candlelight in the night.


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