Roof fruit: an expedition

We have been over a week in The Vapours, in the splendour of Holloway, and I decide it is time to explore the neighbourhood. Lulu is skittish at first, but I tempt her from the box room with a Flake in a glass of warm condensed milk. Before her thumbnails have dredged the remnants from her furrowed cheeks we are out on the street.

The scene which greets us is one of carnival devastation. Trees wave their roots at the sky. Wheelie bins sway from the garden railings. An upended yellow bollard has launched itself through the front glass of an Opel Mokka. As a traffic-calming measure, it could only be applauded. Every SUV should come with an obelisk aimed at the windscreen. It certainly exposes the local speed-ramps as a callow fraud.

Hearing someone carolling in a loud familiar voice, I was astonished to see Ms Horwin, my bulbous publishers’ shill, filling an open doorway not thirty yards from my own. In a teal parka and rainbow wellingtons, like a failed audition for Vincent Minnelli’s Nanook of the North, she was bellowing instructions to a brow-beaten man on a ladder.

The task in hand was the removal of a strayed bicycle wheel which had entangled its spokes with the prong of her satellite dish. Hardly the raising of the pyramids, but the Horwin found material in it for an imperative cascade of tutelage. I expected her peon to fling himself any moment from the topmost rung.

Casting her eyes to street-level at last, she took a step back.

“So,” I said, giving it some lip work. “It seems we are neighbours.” I smiled. Lulu did her best to follow suit. Even the Horwin hauled up, from who knows what Dantean depths, an answering rictus, and we shimmied on towards the faded glories of the former Islington Waste Transfer Centre on Ashburton Grove. Behind us, the bicycle wheel thumped once and clattered to a standstill. Another wonderful day in the neighbourhood.

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