In the tombless gloom of bombed St Mary’s churchyard, between the Elephant and the looming shell of a dead hotel, he carefully unfolds a music stand, and uncases his trombone.
Have you ever noticed, he suddenly said, almost as if he knew her, that the studs fixing these tube-seat covers in place all look like the faces of startled bears?
Oblivious to lunchtime crowds, he strides towards Holborn Circus – sharp suit flashing in the Hatton Garden windows, mobile clenched tight – shouting: “You’re the one who told me you loved me…”
With hair gelled to spikes and skin still pink from blade and Lynx, the Sidcup boys in their crisp white Saturday shirts all look vaguely like friends of Frank Lampard.
As staff sweep up, a blue-haired Japanese girl sits in McDonald’s window, ear to mobile, lips unmoving, two dark wet smudges fixed through glass on somewhere that’s not Pentonville Road.
On a brisk Sunday morning a gentleman in a long velvet morning coat and top hat rides a tiny pink-painted bicycle through the gutter on Lower Clapton Road.
At Clapham North he pulls a knob of root ginger from his bag and, with eyes cast down, rubs its surface tenderly; perhaps, I think, it’s his lucky magic ginger.
Outside the Crown next morning, a wreath shaped like a giant emulsion brush stands propped against the recycling bin; as the breeze rises, wet white petals drip onto the pavement.
Beside the track at Richmond, a large stuffed bear slumps against the wall and stares at the gravel. “Mister Bear” says the aerosol scrawl, an arrow pointing at his head.
“Sorry, mate,” says the man on the footbridge, turning aside to let me cycle past. “Cheers,” I reply. He nods, tight-lipped, then continues urinating onto the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach.