Friday 18 January

It is a chilblain-inducing ten days since I’ve had hot water at the flat having decided I would be a fool to continue risking the devilish sparks emanating from the immersion heater whenever I approached, rubber-booted, brandishing a crucifix and draped in my lucky bearskin, to switch it on. I am fortunate that Charlton of Chorlton (or is it the other way round?) is able to recommend an electro-magician, although his sorcery isn’t available until next Friday. In the meantime I boil cauldrons upon the stove and sneak into work early to use the communal soot-scraping facilities. While the water is perfectly piping, heated as it is by the sock laundrette on Crinkle Street, the cream-tiled, industrial sized bathrooms provide an echo chamber of intrigue, even when one is singing songs as innocent as the rude version of ‘Daisy, Daisy’ (a message yesterday via carrier incidentally – she leaves on the 27th and would like to catch up beforehand. However, inspecting the poor bird’s bloodshot eyes and tired wings leads me to suspect that this was a ‘generic’ message sent to many friends). Anyway, on finishing my ditty, having suspended the last note for over a minute, I hear Scarface Jones and Shifty McQuiggins’ bath-based conversation halt abruptly, their last words, ‘so we shake upon it,’ ricocheting off the walls before nestling amongst the socks, clean or dirty?

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