1145 11.45 CLARA

11.45 CLARA

When Clara wants a cigarette she walks up out of Burgage Square, through the car park between the back of Quest and the huge red brick wall of Switalskis out onto Westgate, where she turns right.

This morning her head does a little time dance – all the closed nightclubs and the TV Sports Bar are still banks, hotels, department stores and the street is full of people who have come for more than just to wait for a bus, and traffic is slow nose to tail looking for parking spaces rather than going straight through somewhere else.

She knows that if this was so, rather than being an early retiree exploring her new northern home town, she would still be catching the train everyday to Vauxhall Cross and sifting the translations others had combed from Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu.

By the time she reaches the corner by the Theatre Royal and Unity Hall she has caught up with her no-longer-a-smoker self, so instead of walking to the shop at the Station, she turns right between The Art House and the Family Justice Court and waits at the top of the steps to meet her family. Clara checks her diary, practices their names.