Monday, 10 October 2011


Several muscly men from Claire's entourage help her to move house. I deal with some light stuff. Two disco balls, peacock feathers, her grandmother's musical sewing table, white Cupid wings and a retired fan-dancer's fans, folded in their long narrow box. As Claire lifts the lid they ripple expectantly.

We carry her gear down the concrete staircase of a condemned block of flats, puddled by a leaking washing machine. Shortly after the flat door is locked behind her, someone breaks in to steal the copper piping.

Claire. Writing tender or in-your-face poetry, scanning my bookshelves for Rochester, studying prosthetic and film make-up at university (amphibious humans; guillotined French aristocrats in exquisitely authentic wigs); strong, maternal, fearless; lacing her breakfast coffee with milk, honey and brandy; whipping up her prom dress at my birthday party on a South Kensington veranda to display her tattoos.

Claire is the star of a suburban weekend life-drawing house party. We all have to cross a busy road to get to the pub. Claire sticks out her bosoms to halt the traffic in both directions and like ducklings we cross safely in her wake. 'Now I know what it felt like to follow Moses,' says Rebecca.

Claire phones her grandmother in Blackpool to reassure her after the riots in London: 'I'm in the countryside and we've been sitting in the garden.' (Claire was posing outdoors while the rest of us scurried inside to fetch stoles and cardigans for ourselves.)

A conscientious hostess, I chivy the giant homing bath-spider into a plastic jug and chuck it out of the window. 'Can they fly?' says Claire.

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