Off the 171, George unfolds his map, searching for Russell Square and the sanctuary of his bed & breakfast. Distracted, he is joined by a young girl in a branded t-shirt.
Eye-contact, a smile, a quick step and she is in, walking alongside him with promises of redemption if only he will give sixteen pence a day. She speaks quickly, everything just wow and fantastic, but oh those poor children with cancer.
‘I’m Esther by the way!’
Esther giggles, but it is not an endearing giggle. She launches into her pitch, trotting alongside George, who listens politely.
‘My wife buys the Daily Express every day,’ he says eventually. Esther looks confused. ‘I keep telling her not to, but she likes the crossword.’ The two of them stop walking. ‘Every day, that newspaper tells me of a new cataclysm. War, global warming, peak oil, cancer in chocolate biscuits, being stabbed at the bus stop, my worthless pension, the list goes on. And because I’m white, old and male, it is all my fault. I don’t understand why, but I accept it. Yet I don’t care, because, Esther, I have lost my son and that is also my own, stupid, fault.’