I’m sitting at a pavement table outside Lorenzo’s, and a bus drives past, a big red bendy one with dusty adverts down its side. It snakes down a busy road, Route 35 to Clapham, its occupants sweltering in a tight, airless cocoon. It’s another humid day in London, and I’m working on another cold pint, and a packet of Lucky Strikes.

“Did you know we share a scar,” she says, “on the forehead, smack in the middle.”

I look up at the waitress through a smoky haze of Tunisian Dawn, a big brass hookah-pipe bubbling away at Table 1. The manager sits with old friends, each with sweaty brows, and he laughs keenly at a crappy move in a Backgammon game, two litres of cheap wine and a portion of Tantuni on the side.

“Was it from a door,” she asks, “it looks pretty deep?”

“No, It was from a horse actually, a stallion.”

She giggles.

“But you don’t look like a cowboy,” her smile growing wider at the sides.

“I got it when I worked at the Circus.”

She giggles even louder now, her eyes becoming small slits as she laughs. We chat about life, and she introduces herself, Rachel Kadinsky, born in Lisbon, half Polish, half Turkish, resident of Washington State, here on a study visa.

“I think you should be a cowboy,” she says.

“And why not a clown, with a big red nose,” I ask, smiling at the thought of it.

“Cowboys are better looking than clowns.”

I settle for another beer, and we smile all night, my confidence booming in a life of uncertainty.

I scribble her name,
over and over again,
in my notebook.