7.52am

Red mesh fencing lines the length of the street; cars are banking up at the top, drivers hooting. They can’t all pass each other at the same time. There’s a Water Works van in the way, says a bloke in white overalls with gold dust down the front. The pavements are narrower now, too: a woman who looks hungover and addicted hangs back with her pushchair (allowing two teenagers to pass in front of her) nattering over one shoulder to a friend behind her, who also has a pushchair. An OAP buggy (which they rent out cheap from the Parking Permit Shop) is ploughing on, full speed. The terrier in the basket sniffs at the air, while beneath him (between the owner’s ageing feet, which are cacooned in nylon slippers) his nephew is humping his brother. A small child gasps and cries, Mummy! Doggy!, and stops to stroke the wire-haired creatures. The child chooses the one at its height, the one closest, which is the one being humped by its nephew. The child strokes the dog on its head and its back, fingers inches away from the humping nephew, which the OAP on board can’t see because he can’t bend his neck that far any more, but the mother can see and she is alarmed and shouts and pulls at the child’s hand which slides from the head of the humped dog. The mother sighs, relieved perhaps, or embarrassed by sex. The OAP is still trying to work out where to park so he can dismount and enter the small shop. Now, the cars begin to pass, and a middle finger flashes from a window at the Water Works van. A woman tugs at a child’s hand coated in a shine of snot, suddenly feeling guilty because of her memories of her life seven years ago. She sees short skirts, long legs, lacquered nails and men. She can imagine hating her child, and is appalled by what she thinks must be the jealous emotion. The humping dog, she thinks, Oh God that humping dog. At least it still has desire.

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