At the beginning of the month – blue but breezy and cold – I take part in a run, out of Bath and towards the hills. A train on the track besides us sounds its horn and the runners raise their arms in thanks. People at the side of the road shout my name; the night before Phil drew the letters on with thick marker and when I’d got up in the morning, Alice had sewn glitzy sequins over the top.
Lewis and the sunlight and the Suspension Bridge alongside, “hot air balloons…!” we exclaim when he tells us how it’s built. Max, the baby, kicks his legs strong against the table top.
Stepping out of the door at a quarter to eight, loving that this is the new shape, the new clock face of my life. The street is white with cold and my feet slap on the pavement as I run for the # 4
I’m thinking as I swim, how this city can fuck about with you – make you wait half an hour for a bus, make tall bankers in black push you backwards down stairs – but then how you can turn a corner, just out of work maybe and ready for the evening ahead, and there’s something in the light that makes it okay. Katie still uses the same shampoo, fills the swimming pool showers with the smell of our old flat. A friend sends me some words he’s written from Arran, though I don’t know where he is now.
Walking home from the pool, I see the television on in someone’s house: silent images and close-up shots of cake. Food has become our weeknight porn.
A night out in Clerkenwell with the Dundee girls and boys – we’re all the same but with the smart unofficial uniforms of our jobs. The colour of Emma’s lipstick is crimson and Keri’s hair is longer still. I walk home afterwards because the bus terminates at Highbury roundabout – and I think about how when we’re out, we’ve all still got half-eyes on bank balances and overdrafts. At the rise of the hill, there is a kitchen with the window open, a room full of people in thick rimmed spectacles. The tarpaulin on someone’s roof extension flaps taught like a sail.
And then I’m back in Dundee, doing a talk for a charity and on the way north. The coffee places and the bars and the street names bringing chapters of memories back to me, and outside the old flat where we lived – Fabs and Lauren, Andrew, Claire and me – I stand for a while looking up. Someone else’s stuff is hung in the window but it’ll always be ours. It’s snowing as Phil and I walk along the Tay, driving freezing ice into our fingers and faces, the waves of the water sloshing high up to the walkway, pushing us inside to indoor places.
The clocks go forward and soon there’ll be more to come.