From his bicycle, the crop of daisies looked like litter that had blown across the open ground that runs down towards the reservoir. He wondered if this was because he was so accustomed to the rubbish on the market that his brain no longer recognised flowers. He slowed along the road, letting the other cyclists overtake. Most of them were commuters. He kept gazing at the daisies until he’d stared so much they turned into foam blown in off the sea. He did a diagonal across the road then squeezed sharp on his brakes so he could look through the gaps in the concrete fence at the geese and the water and the herons on the island in the middle. How far’s the sea from here? he asked himself. How far can foam blow before it disappears altogether?

By the time he rode home, he’d forgotten all about the daisies. Instead, he looked up at the clouds of midges rising from the tops of the trees like smoke from chimneys stacked above the long grey road. He looked out across the northern reservoir to the island in the middle where what his nephew would have called ‘winter trees’ were growing. They’re like pins in a pin cushion, he said, wishing the words would float away from his head on the hot Tottenham air. They reminded him of the trees he’d seen in Cabinda four years earlier. On that trip he’d written in his notebook: ‘The trees seem to be drowning in the high waters along the coastline offering a metaphor of death.’

When he got back home, he locked his bike in the shed beneath the hedge in the front garden then hurried upstairs to look for the notebook. When he found it, he fingered through the pages looking for the sentence. When he found that, he took a small pink rubber from his desk drawer and erased the words out of existence.