I am writing for one of my favourite clients at the start of the week, a charity I love working with, climbing up flights of stairs to visit the hospital archives. On each floor, a window gives a view of fire escapes and drainpipes. The stairs spiral around the central lift shaft: a shuddering square of metal and mesh. In the archives there are rows of books and papers, the smell of dust in the back of my throat, my neck and eyelashes. The scent makes me think of my grandpa and the Record Society where I used to play at empty typewrites writing invisible letters in parched indigo ink. And then my mind wanders to the library with Mum: reaching my chin onto the desk and envying the metal thud of the stamp, the drawers of alphabetised surnames.
A homeless man next to me cradles a coffee cup in his knees and pours a repetitive stream of penny coins from one hand to the other.
A bookshop out west with a best friend. Our university tutor has published her fourth novel and inside the yellow windows are clusters of people and Kirsty’s daughters – one with her hair cropped short and the younger who weaves between bodies looking for her errant friends. Fabs and I touch covers and pages then go for dinner to eat and talk. She helps me think of words for this writing, teasing me. we went for dinner, we saw the stars and drunk wine. And as I reach my front door around eleven – I remember looking at the turning numbers on my watch – a young man falls into step with me. Tonight, he tells me, it is a festival and everyone is going to the mosque.
Cycling along the river to work with the smell of lavender from somewhere. Over the river there is a new exhibition at the Tate and a skinny blonde kid takes a photograph self-consciously.
When I come back from a run, I stretch outside the house with my palms flat to feel the warmth in the paving slabs. Tonight there will be a light show and at Sam and Rose’s we sit two by two by one and one. I like looking down from their balcony at the interesting lines of the carpark, the tops of heads that trace routes across the road.
One afternoon I write by the canal with a strong and bitter coffee, trying to piece together some words for myself.
Sunshine silver lined along Fashion Street: a road where it all seemed to begin. I was fourteen here and on a work placement, overcome with this city. I still drink around the corner and it’s here you lost my bike light and walked my way when I thought you were going for the tube. Bright lights turning black spots in my eyes.
That night I’ll meet Sian and we’ll go up creaking staircases to drink from slim glasses of pale liquid. Later, Lauren and I will dance and in a crowded courtyard, I’ll hold her hand.
The next afternoon, is Euan, his familiar shape leaning against a wall but for the moment I am swimming in the lido with the falling rain fading the surface. I like pushing off underwater to feel the cool glide of the tiles and watch drops touch the water, strike and blend.