Emerging from our brick tenement just after the sun has risen, I turn the corner in time to see the last pink clouds fading above the dense woodland called Putney Heath, and wish I’d been about just a few moments sooner to see the show ... but then, for the first time in my six years in London, a little bat flutters from the woods and zig-zags over my head, veering around the flats and disappearing high up beyond a big oak tree. Sadly, my eyes are no longer keen enough to see whether his fangs are still dripping with the blood of a B-movie starlet.
The 170 bus to Victoria via Clapham Junction fills up with quiet people, some of whom are up far too early, but many, having worked a long night in the big neurological hospital, far too late. In Wandsworth we are joined by a glamorous Jamaican woman, dressed with such urban sophistication as you might hope to see in Paris, who immediately begins to preach to us of Jesus’ love, laying special emphasis on the need to live well in the here and now, and to make others feel loved because, she says, “We won’t be coming Back !” I’ve seen her a couple of times before on these local buses, always smart, always lovely, her energy flooding the space, even to the place where i cower in the back row. Over the years, her phrasing and body language have become more “theatrically professional” and I wish there was a way to politely encourage her, whilst respectfully preserving my own timid scepticism.
I collect the dog from the old brick terrace. We meander along amongst the parked cars, she stopping constantly to sniff every gate and lamp post, and searching the gutters for last night's chicken bones, and when we eventually turn the corner at the far end of the street on our way to the Common, we look west where a vast white rain cloud is rising quickly amidst trailing streaks of vapour and rain, supported on one side by half a rainbow, the whole spectacle imposing itself in fluent contrast to the dumb jagged dark rows of indigo slate roofs and burnt orange chimbley pots, like a beautiful preacher intimidating a crowd.