Wednesday 2 July

I never get bored of running my feet all over my dirty old Princess Street; a large part of this attraction – somewhat perversely – I put down to her being claimed by so many, even if the deposits left upon her (multifariously thrown up by this journal) suggest she is loved by a relative few. I like the blend of nationalities – encouraged by its hotels, embodied by Chinatown; the nocturnal shift that sees the maritime boys and girls take over the streets or try to make a Rio of the Rochdale canal. Miss Jordan tells me I’m getting soft in my old age but should I find myself growing weary of strangers, I have faith in my bewitching wayfare to summon at short notice a friend from a past life. So happens today when Jemima, on her way home from shopping, spots me tramping towards the Eurodeli and jumps off a Latvian-pulled Omnibus to persuade me for a pint instead. Now treading on the very toes of our Princess, just before she becomes Cross Street, we head into the Watership, down near the scaffolding that we all hope hides our new town hall and square (the pièce de résistance of which, we are told, is to be a hot air balloon in the shape of Saint Nicholas). Beginning her career long ago as my gaoler, Jemima happily reveals her latest promotion (from suspiciously feminine PC to Sergeant ‘What you looking at?’) and I take advantage of her good mood to ask a favour: how does one discover on which roads the nocturnal Byron Badger strolls, the frequency with which he looks over his shoulder, and which of his friends are likely to come a-bounding from the shadows?

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