My parents are in town this week – they arrive late and the next morning, Mum comes around for breakfast: tea just the way she likes it, toast, marmalade. She makes me laugh as we walk down the street, her arm crooked through mine and her head only up to my shoulder. We go to some exhibitions in museums out west and in the east and we sit next to each other in coffee shops: cups, cake, two forks.
I cook at home for them and drag the table into the middle of my bedroom floor, lighting a candle or two and leaving a window open so we can hear the rain outside. I trace and retrace my steps to the oven and the one ring hob. Dad pulls a frayed and faded peacock feather from his wallet. He kept from Delhi.
Nina over the Waterloo Bridge – I hug her tight, I’ve known her family for years. She’s wearing bright pink lipstick and stops in the street to put some on my face. There is a message on my phone from her brother when I get back to the studio.
Running for a train that we just catch. Sweeping up, grey and streaked with rain, washed out, in this sort-of northern city. His parents and his sister and Nathan around a table in the curry house, laughing a lot about something I’ve forgotten.
And the next afternoon, I shell broad beans in the garden from one plastic bowl into another. They make me think of my grandpa, soft and safe in their cotton tubes. I listen to the sounds of the kids next door: a bouncing football against the tarmac, off the garage door. Your mum comes to talk to me on the bench while you are inside somewhere. On a pavement with one of my best friends, sitting in the early morning and leaning our bodies against the other.
Back in London, there is a birthday party on a canal barge with fake moustaches and fizzy wine from plastic cups. Away from Camden Lock, the still water is cool green and silent.