At the start of the week, Les – the man who is painting the building next door to work – gives me a green stone from the beach in Norfolk and a bunch of spring daffodils. They sit in a vase on my desk all week, bubbles of air caught on the stems, the glass gleaming.
Lunchtime in the sunshine square – water and people on their breaks, my legs over his, stones warm on the flats of my palms.
Working from home one day, writing for a client with a cup of coffee and the windows open. Emailing my best friend at work and later I will go to the post office to send letters to some friends and family in France, in Newcastle, up north. I can hear the kids coming back from school at half three, the slam of front doors and their voices raised.
Dinner at the girls’ house. I meet Lauren in the supermarket by chance and we walk the streets to her house together. Inside, it is warm and light; a pan is simmering and Fabs comes downstairs. Feet tucked up underneath each other on the sofa and talking about our days. A few streets away, I’ll walk beneath the balcony of some flats and hear the whick of a cigarette lighter from someone unseen above.
On the underground, three boys are on their way home from football practice and speak in sign language to each other. I think they’re saying something about the pretty girl on the platform and making the guy opposite me smile.
I’ve found a new run along the canal, past Victoria Park and along towards Haggerston. As I write this, I am going to run it tonight on my way home from work. This week there was evening sunshine slanting off the water, shadows under the bridge. On one section, I was sent off course and told to run on the road because a group were shooting a film, and a little further along there is police tape and divers dredging the water for that girl that’s gone missing. Next time, some kids from the estate cycle alongside me singing Eye of the Tiger, making me laugh and I talk to them for a bit until they become bored and swoop off back to their friends. Weeds, locks, barges, flotsam and jetsam caught in underwater rope. Sunday evening smoke, washing lines, dogs and flowerpots.
One night, Euan is down and we sit outside a bar in Soho talking about university and the north and our friends’ wedding last summer. The electric heat on skin, people threading by, the next table becoming our friends. The night slips into free shots from the owner, sticky fingers, drinks somewhere else, dancing, hands, hips and laughing with Fabs on the night bus home.
Saturday morning light coming through the slats in the shutters of his room. The sound of kids playing football outside, cherry blossom on the street and a weekend of early summer sunshine. The rows of Turkish shops are dark inside as we walk by, with flickering television screens and bodies lolling on sofas covered in hot plastic sheeting.
Night time at Katie’s around her kitchen table, talking about school and the familiar charm on her necklace.
On Sunday Mikey and I cycle together up Mare Street towards the fields. Groups of bodies flat on the grass, plastic pint glasses, a clock forward one hour and the shadows longer on the grass.