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.


2 thoughts on “Week 11

  1. I’ve never known any one else who can be so economical with words and yet paint such vivid pictures that carry you through streets and textures and feelings. Lovely.

  2. Pingback: leaving « birdwingwords

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