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Cold winter morning.
Reading Walser on a bench curled with ivy.
Steam rises from a cup of lemon and ginger tea.
My hands tremble, numb fingers move across the page.
In the hedge next to the shed, the magpie has quit her nest,
Ousted by the cloying smell of the piss of drunks rising from the back alley.  Now only sparrows loiter above the smokeless chimneys of Flea Town.  As toilets flush, doors slam and old women vacuum, I raise my cup to drink.  Vapour clouds my glasses.  On page fifty three, Jacob Von Gunten hands a sheaf of paper to his principal.  On it is written an account of his life.  My concentration is suddenly broken by non fictional laughter.  I crane my neck to see two Polish girls pegging underwear to a washing line in the next yard.  I watch them moving, lythe, blonde and slim hipped, oblivious to their English neighbour, shivering in cap and overcoat, reading a novel by a starving Swiss writer from the safety of a garden bench.