The earthly remains of last year’s geraniums, seen through early-morning condensation.


Less tax, more tax, lower salaries, higher salaries, lower temperatures, more regulation, less regulation, less government, more government, no government. And don’t forget the whales.

Disparate demands as thousands march purposefully towards Hyde Park, in the first of many G20 demos.

Public inconvenience

With a waft of eau de toilette, she’s back.

Her blouse has a profusion of elaborate frills that frame her very generous bosom. As she sits down, she demurely smooths her too-shiny pinstripe skirt over her knees, but it rides back up again.

Outside the train window, green fields race past.

In the seat opposite, her colleague is leafing through the public-sector jobs supplement in The Guardian. He scarcely registers her return.

“You know,” she says, “every time I use one of those toilets, I have a flashback.”

Now she’s got his interest. And mine.

“Oh yes?” he says. “What happened?”

“Well,” she purrs, leaning forward conspiratorially as her skirt rides up a little further. “I’d never used one before. You know how the door slides back? Well in I went, and pressed the Close button. Then I saw another button that said Lock. It was pinging, so I assumed it was locked. So I sat down and got on with the business.”

Oh my God, I’m thinking.

“Oh my God!” says her colleague. His fingers tighten around The Guardian, and he uncrosses his legs. Then crosses them again.

“Yes,” she says. “So anyway, I’m doing the business, and suddenly the door starts sliding open. And there’s this guy. He makes to walk in, freezes, then splutters an apology and retreats. And he presses Close again. Just as well he does, because I can’t reach it from where I’m sitting.”

Her colleague looks horrified. His hand slowly rises to, then covers, his mouth in mute horror.

But she looks like she’s enjoying it. She’s got a wicked little curl of the lips at the side of her mouth.

“Now you know those things,” she continues. “They can’t change direction halfway. The door has to completely open before it begins the return journey.”

Now my hand rises to my mouth.

“And by then,” she says, “a couple of other people were outside. It seemed to take an eternity.”

“Oh dear God,” says her colleague. He’s gnawing his knuckle now.

“So anyway,” she sighs wistfully, “now I always double-check before I do the business. But I still have flashbacks.”

She rearranges her frills, smooths her skirt down once more and looks out the window.

The fields continue to race by.