We walk most of the way home, in stages, mostly owing to our incompetence in deciphering the actual effects of a bus strike. Halfway up Elgin Avenue, we’re surprised by a nervous, birdlike woman in glasses, crossing the road and leaving a black bin bag full of rubbish on the kerb. ‘It’s this rubbish,’ she says. ‘Someone keeps leaving bags of rubbish outside the front door. Do you live locally?’ At first I think she’s trying to get up some kind of local campaign against the rubbish. (‘er, yeah, further up the road, actually’) and then realise that she realises that she’s been caught in the act of transferring the rubbish from her own front doorstep to someone else’s.
‘There are these black [for one terrible moment we both think she’s going to say ‘people’] bins up the road you’re supposed to put them in,’ she says, but I’m not going up there at night.’ L looks at her and asks, ‘so you’re just going to leave that there, are you?’ ‘Well, what am I supposed to do?’ she asks, looking simultaneously embarrassed, arrogant and slightly resentful in the way that posh people in London often do, and we walk on, laughing.
Just over twenty fours hours later we’re in the Tandoori Centre, where a woman with similarly expensively-educated vowels is on a drunken loop, repeating questions to the very patient takeaway staff, asking them where they’re from. She says it’s nice that countries like India have their own beer. ‘Ten years I’ve been living here, just around the corner. Nearly ten years,’ she says again and again until she gets her takeway and leaves.