While Nur Osman takes Xoriyo to find a toilet, Clara thinks back to the woman from Wakefield City of Sanctuary accosting her in the street. The way the she kept touching her thin wire glasses and her tight prim lips irritated Clara as much as the facts they spat appalled her: G4S ran the contract for Angel Lodge, providing accommodation, food, healthcare and – cold words – essential toiletries for two hundred people who could be staying there for up to twenty-one days.
G4S! G4S! It made Clara grind her teeth.
The woman had asked if Clara had any old warm clothes or new underwear she could donate. Yes, a couple of old pullovers and a coat. Underwear, no.
She asked if Clara was a knitter. Never a knitter.
If she was interested in joining a group that made hats, scarfs and mittens? No, definitely not mittens.
The woman plunged on, with a definite sneer Clara thought, I won’t ask if you’re interested in helping out at the children’s Thursday morning playgroup, or if you’ve any children’s books or soft toys, unused colouring books, crayons? Of course not.
Do you have time to volunteer?
The more volunteers we have the more sessions we can run during the week.
There is a women’s group on a Monday. No.
We share cultural things, dancing, music, singing. No dancing, singing, music.
Do you enjoy meeting and talking with new people socially? Do you speak another language – could you translate conversation? Socially?
It pops into Clara’s head that the empty shop she is staring at through the fountain, used to be called Constant Travel and she is thinking of Alison’s people-less christmas cards then she decides to invite Nur Osman and his family to dinner.