Daniel Sands has left London for Sunderland. A relationship has imploded due to selfishness but he hopes things can be different while he licks his wounds. When things don't quite work out at home, he takes solace with childhood friends Phil and Emily but how much hospitality can friends show?
A policeman patrolled the city centre with his female colleague. They walked past benches spattered with McDonalds shake and Special Brew residue. A woman dropped her shopping bags outside of Mothercare and shouted “Travis, if you dae that again I'll kick your f____n’ head in!” at her seven-year old.
“What are you smilin' at, Phil?” Lesley asked.
“It's just a nice day,” he answered, looking up at the sky above the flat shop roofs. “And one o' me mates is movin' back up from London.”
First Emily, now Dan. His social circle was increasing, with good friends pulled back by family ties. Pigeons always come back. It's part of their nature. It's why Sunderland has so many of the bloody things; them and the seagulls. Even the human detritus goes to prison and comes back.
The screen glowed. Chocolate was what Emily told herself she needed. No. No tea, either; save it as a reward for getting through this page. The Spanish was a bloody mess, Emily thought. It must have been one of the bricklayers who wrote the progress report but if she submitted the document to Wesson in a form of English that was devoid of grammar he'd berate her and be a prick about money, which she needed more than ever.
Having her own place was important. Though she'd moved back to be near her Dad, it was impossible for them to live together. She'd become to accustomed to her independence and even to selfishness in a way. She knew it was unreasonable to be pacing around the house at one o'clock in the morning thinking about the best way to translate a certain phrase from buggered Spanish into perfect English but she couldn't bear to hear him shout from the bedroom “For goodness sake, go to bed!” Being told that “You'll get nae work done at all if you sit about the house in your pyjamas all day,” was about the most irritating thing anyone can say to a translator with period pains and impending deadlines. Her father managed to say it three times a week.
After a month she decided it was for the best if she moved out. “It's not far. It's only round the corner.”
“If it's not far, why do you have to move out?” he asked her.
“Because I can't do my own thing here. If you need uz, phone uz. I'll be round every day anyway. But sometimes I need to be up n' about at two in the mornin'. It's what I'm used to.”