Back in London and pushing off on my bike, cycling wet streets to work. The routine: lean my bike against the damp brickwork, unlocking the door, the way the key always sticks a little, electric heater on with an extra cardigan. There are rows of emails to answer and clients to catch up with.

But there is my godmother, Mary, sitting on the terrace above my studio, overlooking the river. The shape of the coffee cup, the printed colours on the cover of her book, the new cut of her hair. Later, we sit in the thin kitchen of my flat and talk about Crovie, and Edinburgh and families. One night we go to the theatre, shining light on the stage and us in the shuffled muffled darkness, excited seven year old girls in the toilets afterwards, singing the songs in the mirror. Mary notices helicopters in the sky, points them out and now I’ve been seeing them all week.

A quick cup of tea with a friend who has great news about her job, the scent of a girl’s perfume as I run past her, a lady ahead of me peeling a clementine and I catch the smell of the zest. Children jumping the cracks in the pavement, multi-coloured beads braided in their hair.

Thursday night with Phil, in a pub with mirrors on the ceiling that reflect the black and gold of drinkers beneath and Friday with the boys from Wire, boxed around a table with spilled people outside. The next night with Lauren, yellow wine held in scoops of glass and a stag do at the next table making us laugh.

The man with blood on his face calls me a slut standing in the queue for the supermarket cashier. I turn and walk away from his shaking hands, his assortment of odd purchases, the unexplained anger in his grey eyes.

There is a new place in Whitechapel, opened next to the gallery. The door is propped open, a jag of sunlight on the step, black and white hexagons on the floor and the green tiles shining like pistachios. I have a faint headache above my eyebrows from rushing around in the morning – but I am looking forward to seeing my friend. Next to me are two tourists talking in German – he is the father and she the daughter – they have some cakes and she divides them into two so they can share, pushing the rest towards him with the back of her fork. I listen to the rise and fall of their voices. One girl on the next table is opening presents from her friend and there is the sound of an ambulance siren outside. Sitting with Sian a while on a Sunday afternoon, the shape of our cups, some nice things on side plates, talking about a friend.

Night time and P has won the football, we are at his friends’ house for tea and watch the light falling pink then blue then black on the city to the east.


2 thoughts on “Week 18

  1. Godmother Mary calling. Did you hear on the radio that there was a security exercise (Olympics) in London around the time I was down? The book with the colours was the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and your writing reminds me of hers. Tight, precise, descriptive, sparse, fantastic. She, Jhumpa, won the Pulitzer Prize!

  2. Clare, I agree wholeheartedly with your godmother. Your writing style is DIVINE! You need to start writing a book (with a very brightly coloured front cover) so I can have a little bit of you on my bedside table to cheer me up every dark evening!

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