â€śHeâ€™s asked me to sing in a proto-punk band,â€ť said the man in the suit on the phone in the sun on Piccadilly. â€śI donâ€™t even know what that means.â€ť
The whiteboard at Southgate station says services are normal on all lines except the Central; on the Central, it says, they are good.
â€śIâ€™ve heard thereâ€™s a new park here, where is it?â€ť demanded the man in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park information centre in the middle of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
â€śDid you know they found a mammoth under there?â€ť She nodded across at the derelict Drummond Street entrance to Euston station I was trying to photograph. â€śA dead one, obviously.â€ť
â€śDo I look like someone who needs a sorbet-maker?â€ť he dolefully asks the bleary-eyed flotsam piled up on the N3â€™s stairs as birthday gifts are passed between strangers for appraisal.
St Paulâ€™s Cathedral gleams, Southwark Bridge looms, and a middle-aged man â€“ grey suit, substantial build â€“ unsteadily dribbles a small purple balloon with silver ribbons down the empty, moonlit, riverside walkway.
At Hampstead Heath station, Christmas bells are ringing â€“ thin silver wind chimes, strung between the London planes. Lights appear from the west. Gusts, a chill, ghosts.
Again he thuds into Percy Ingleâ€™s window; she sighs, scoops him up, tosses him back into Lewisham High Street, and tidies the London cheesecakes; tiny pigeon footsteps dent coconut strands.
As the one oâ€™clock mums race their prams round Wandsworth Park, she suddenly falters, breathless, and â€“ staring down at Archieâ€™s gurgling face â€“ thinks bleakly of sports days to come.
On the 17:10 to Crayford, she suddenly remembers Stockholm, and how heâ€™d smiled when asking her name; and how sheâ€™d said â€śMadeleineâ€ť, because sheâ€™d known heâ€™d never know it wasnâ€™t.