At the start of the week, Al comes for tea and I dye her hair for her. She sits at my desk and I watch the reflection of her face in the mirror. It is therapeutic pulling through the strands to paint them blonde, the angle of her neck and shoulders. She puts a chunk of bleach in my hair at the base and we wait to see what happens.
When Sian and I walk to the coffee shop, Peter, the fruit and veg man, is back. He’s been away for two months on a cruise ship around Antigua, he tells me.
Jamie is smoking again and I sit out with him on the metal fire escape steps, eating a pear from a brown twist of paper bag. We watch the florists take armfuls of white flowers into the vans, and above us the sky is a rectangle of blue.
Meeting Dad for a quick drink – I’ve left my glasses somewhere but I recognise his walk. Cotton shirt, silk tie – he’s got something on tonight. Soft purple fig, the boy in the coffee shop who is always so friendly, the smell of hot tar as I cycle to work one morning.
I am at Somerset House for a meeting and the courtyard is a square field of flowers. In winter there is the ice rink, and in summer there are fountains – but now it is spring and there are twisted metal stems and ceramic petals and grass where there used to be stone. The light over London Bridge: hazy white, burning through. The radio said twenty degrees this morning and it is nice to walk over the river with no coat and bare arms.
Lauren and James on a rooftop, empty bottles of wine, fairy lights, smoke in my hair. Two men reading the Qur’an outside the mosque as I walk home one night.
I meet Mum and Rosie on Saturday morning – cycle to the centre, find them in the light rain and we duck inside for a coffee. It is so good to see them. There is an exhibition of a famous painter – hushed rooms and silent footsteps and coloured canvases on the walls. Afterwards I buy some postcards to send north to them. At lunch, we squeeze in a table meant for two and, over wine, talk about their lives and people and knowing who to marry.
There is a raincloud over the river when I meet Archer and, later, as we walk to the tube he points out a fox who trots behind us and suddenly slips left up a hidden street.