In the garden of Grays Court waiting for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It’s a posh place, dating back to the 11th century, but with friendly staff and fine coffee and the garden is a refuge from ghosts and reality.
Skinny girls in skimpy designer clothes were flitting between the tables and shrubs while a tall woman with a mustache and camera tried to capture what remained of them.
‘D’you mind if I sit here?’ one of the wraiths asked me. ‘I’m not in use at the moment.’
‘Please,’ I said. She pulled at the chair and when it didn’t move she sat on the edge and gave me what passed for a pout.
‘I’m strong,’ she said. ‘Just not in my arms.’
Long, fine, fair hair with thin streaks of red and green; tall with knobbly elbows and ankles; translucent skin, bulging eyes, long nails with airbrush glitter; surreal make-up including a beauty-spot and a tiny treble-clef on her neck. Not an ounce of fat anywhere. No breasts, buttocks or thighs. No cheeks.
‘What’s happening?’ I asked.
‘We’re shooting new dresses,’ she said. ‘It’s for a catalogue.’ She fixed me with surprisingly pretty eyes, almond-shaped, green. ‘You on holiday?’
‘No.’ I shook my head. ‘Waiting for breakfast.’
Her eyes slid away to the surface of the table, then up into the sky. ‘Jesus,’ she said. ‘Breakfast.’ She found my eyes again and gave me an ironic smile. ‘What you having?’
I told her and she was silent, picturing it. She said: ‘When it arrives I’ll probably split. Or I might steal it.’
Two girls in different coloured but identical Charleston dresses and feather boas tripped down the steps from the building and tottered over to us. ‘Jules has got a man,’ the one in blue said. The other, in red, made a face with her eyes and tilted her head over to the right. Her tassels flashed in the sunlight.
‘Feck off, Liz’ Jules said. ‘We’re only talking.’
They hustled on past, making a bee-line for the photographer and, ultimately, fame and fortune.
‘Ignore them,’ she said. ‘They’re ignorant.’
‘You got a boyfriend,’ I asked.
She shook her head from side to side. She smiled, catching at a memory. ‘I used to have a brown one,’ she said.