Philby was surprised by the glossiness of prison. Before entering, he imagined it to be an untouched and dull place, purposely grim. But no, not at all, there was a sharp, reflective quality to the surfaces and a broadly positive atmosphere. It was full of vigour and fascination. He passed his valuables to a merry guard and marveled at the sheer cleanliness of the operation.
It’s an ambient scene, this world, so at ease. Giving up space to be here. Playing dead in the parks, on beaches, pointing at dots in the sky, a dallying sun. Goodness, look at us lolloping for a change!
Trey had a friend. People said she was going to die. Trey visited her friend after work and sat on a bean bag, consoling her with optimistic words and cups of tea. The cancer had a name similar to Trey’s maths teacher, Mr Hodgkins. The cancer came and went. Her friend recovered. Trey felt she had been misled.
We are in the South of France with our babies. Our babies cannot talk but find alternative ways to disrupt us. They scupper our plans, our fun, our lucidity. They are expert scupperers. I, for example, would like to sit by the pool and drink a beer. Ideally, I would do this alone, but equally I would not mind if one of our friends joined me. So long as there is an agreed embargo on baby talk. But I cannot sit by the pool and drink beer. Our babies will not let me.
My son makes strange sounds at night. I listen on the monitor. Quiet roars like a dozing dinosaur. And whilst it is true, there are dinosaurs on my son's bedsheets and curtains, I do not believe they are voluble or sleeping. I am curious though, do I make these sounds, does my wife? Do we, as a family, become prehistoric in our sleep?
Connie wasn’t good with faces: she was good with ears. The curve and swerve of a helix, the subtle bulge of a tragus, the delicate hang of a lobule. Connie never forgot an ear. It was unfortunate, in some ways, because it made Connie unusual: not everyone is interested in ears. On the whole, ears are not liked.
I'm coming with you, she said. In case it happens. You shouldn't worry or anything like that, a Doomsday child is never alone, remember. He flung his arms and fluttered his lips. He protested, of course he protested. She wouldn't be allowed, he was being interviewed, not her. She wore her driving glasses and the suit her mother tailored for her first interview after secretarial college; the day she discovered she was four months gone with Jason. Girls these days don't do what she did. They don’t give up. A doomsday day child is so rare. Of course she was going to the interview with him.