We went to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and on the way in I saw a sign that my favorite patisserie had opened a cafe there. I gasped, bringing the buggy to a stop and making the four-year-old stumble slightly. My six-year-old said: "What is it?" I said: "It's Mummy's favorite cafe darling...We can get hot chocolates. And cake. We can have cake." He looked at me, accusingly. He said: "Are you crying? Mummy, you must love coffee a lot if you cry about it." I pushed the buggy forward. I said: "Mummy's not crying. Mummy is just very pleased."
The whole day went very well till the loud crash. That evening, I was in the kitchen of the house we had borrowed from friends while they were on holiday. My gay best boyfriend had come round for supper to keep me company. I started to make tea and the boys chose just that moment to decide to play with the large silver exercise ball in the basement TV room. They could have rolled it gently between them but that would have been no fun at all.
Luckily when they broke the large dressing table mirror balanced on the cast iron stove, my gay best boyfriend was still with me. He took over cooking tea while I swept up the shards of etched glass and glittering dust that littered the carpetted floor. I said to him: "The baby had already pushed over one of the speaker's for the stereo and broken the front off it. I think she may have peeled off and eaten some of the pink gel hearts on one of the bedroom windows. There is also a suspiciously straight bit in a metal slinky which I don't think was there before. But apart from that, it was all going so well. What am I going to tell them now?" He said: "They've got children. I'm sure they'll understand." I picked out a fragment of glass from the ball of my index finger and watched the tiny globe of blood rise to the surface. I said: "They've got teenagers, not children. They might have forgotten." What really worried me was the fact I thought the husband might have been left it by a dear departed ancient relative. I thought: "He'll have said: 'There's only one thing I want from the house - her mirror. Maybe one day, I'll look into it and see her little wrinkled face smile back at me'." I did not sleep well that night. My friends rang the next morning from South Africa. I said: "I'm so sorry. I'm afraid we broke your mirror in the basement." I explained the how's and why's to the wife. I said: "We're just on our way out to get you another mirror." I said: "It wasn't 'Granny's' mirror was it? He wasn't left it in a will was he?" My friend said: "Don't worry. We got it from a skip."
Since they said they did not want another mirror, I thought I would get them a photograph of London as a thank you for letting us use the house. My husband took the children to a playground and I had an hour to myself in Greenwich market. In retrospect, maybe I should not have been allowed out on my own. Maybe I should just have kept busy. On my own, I wandered into a photographic gallery and felt myself seized again by London in all its black and white beauty. The exile home again; I stood before my past. Each view opening up a wound in my soul: Big Ben spiking the sky, a rainy embankment with a solitary woman, a riverscape at night - the Eye, Parliament, the bridges and pontoon, the magnificence of a city sky. My soul trembled to see London within my grasp again. I thought: "I can buy a photograph. I can buy two. Or I can move back." I bought a photograph. Two. I thought: "Are these photographs enough? I don't think I should feel this way."