Beneath, the water is blue and I feel the muscles stretch in the backs of my legs. There is the after-school swim class and the taste of chlorine in my hair, kids lining up along the edge in little boy trunks, shivering, sagging material. Back at ceramics class and there are just four of us, the cold pushing around the edges of the door, the radio on.

I speak to Han on Monday night, laugh at her made-up words. We are both on our way out and try to plan getting all six of us girls together at Christmas.

I meet my Dad for a coffee one morning – we’re in an odd café in the depths of a conference centre with hatches and tray stackers along one side, plastic cartons of milk on the tables, woodchip wallpaper. I’m thinking that London has made me different, used to sleek chains or trendy independent houses. Why bother where I am when my father is here? the familiar shape of his shoulders, the heavy weight of his winter coat when I hang it on the back of the chair.

An application day to study something new – and I walk back across Waterloo Bridge with some new and lovely girls. We’re laughing with relief and Annie points out the light on St Paul’s so that my eyes instantly flick to these monuments laid out like a photograph all around us. There is a gap in my scarf where the cold gets in.

And I’m sat in a coffee shop waiting for Lori to arrive after work, feeling the man next to me turn the pages of his newspaper, the sound of his teaspoon against the saucer, her arms around my neck.

Sunday morning and breakfast with my girls; we went out for Fabs’s birthday and we have make-up still in our eyelashes still and we’re talking about last night. On the train home, I watch the river come closer, a man in the park raking the leaves and think about what Sian wrote recently – all our thoughts, every day, played out on the tube lines, bus routes, slips of pavement.


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