The door handle feels chilly, cool. Behind the door, in the living-room, is a pink couch. A waft of cloying warmth and stale smoke hits me as I push open the door. I have just come from the front door, which leads to the corridor outside. A newspaper headline reads 'Metro Strikes'. I look around the room and notice the lampshade. It too is pink What is remarkable is that the couch, the lampshade and the wallpaper match each other It was not intentional. I found the couch, was given the lampshade and the wallpaper was on when I moved in. Pink wouldn't have been my choice, although it's supposed to soothe the insane. The lampshade reminds me of a friend who gave me it before his marriage broke up. It must have been his wife's choice.
I can hear vehicles from the Felling bypass as a low continuous rumble.
Through the dirty windows I can see as far as the water tower at Cleadon. It is dull. I am on the third floor. At eye level are maisonettes and blasted trees. Below is a grassy area and footpaths. A dog, a child and an old man are heading in different directions.
Someone comes into the room and goes over to the window and makes a comment: 'The leaves are a good colour'. I notice that the person is holding a black holdall. I reply: "There aren't many leaves left'.
I can see the cars. I say: 'Do you know there's fire engines, police cars and ambulances round here every weekend?'
'It's the kids,' he replies.
'Yes, but they were round here very early this morning,' I say. 'I wouldn't have thought they would have called them out that early.'
'They might have done.'
' What are you up to today, then?' he asks.
I back onto a chair. 'I don't know.'
'Do you fancy going for a walk?'
'No.' I sit down in the chair. 'My foot's still bad.'
An ice cream van plays like a clown with no audience.
'The weather forecast says it's going to rain.'
'Is it cold out there.'
'No, it's quite mild.'
'Still,' I say, 'I've got a lot to do.'
'I think I'll go and see Pritam,' says he. 'Can I give him a ring?'
'Yes,' I say. He is always using my phone since his got cut off.
He rings Pritam. 'Er, hi, Pritam, are you in?'
How irritating, I think. He always says that.
'Okay, I'll see you in half an hour.' He replaces the handset.
I shuffle a bunch of papers on the floor around my feet and wonder where to start. What needs to be done first? I should clean the bath and sink as well, and vacuum the floor.
' I' ll see you later,' he says, picking up the bag.
'Okay. Shut the door.'
I look out of the window again. It does look like it might rain. The ice cream van is still playing 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. Pigeons land on the ledge with a sloppy thud. I hate Sundays.
You're at the bottom!