The Real Picture
It isn’t even my favourite Annette Fanning book, but still, whenever I walk past her house, I imagine it sitting on her doormat, impossible to reach through the letterbox.
It doesn’t look as though anyone has moved in since she left, but then she claimed the house belonged to her dad so I suppose it’ll stay that way until she returns. If she returns. He must be rich; why else would he leave prime property in East London standing empty? A four-storey Victorian terrace. The whole house. He could make a fortune.
She claimed her dad used to be a cabbie, knew London inside and out. Born within the sound of the Bow Bells: a proper Cockney. Bald head, black cab, loud opinions. She painted the picture so that everything slotted into place. Yes, he was a big man, looked like he might once have done a bit of ducking and diving in the ring under the arches. You know, the gym underneath Bethnal Green overground? I knew it. Walked past it on my way to the Tube. Did he wear a flat cap and race whippets? I asked once, joking. Yes, she said. How did you know?
What does he do now?
Let’s go up the West End tonight, she said, by way of an answer.
Not that I want to see someone else moving in, tramping over those dark wooden floorboards, dragging their cheap lives through her world. If I could have it my way, it would stay the same forever, a mausoleum behind ...
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