The end of the line
‘Do you like cats? Do you mind smoking? And, do you like a drink?...’
It did not feel real at first, to be below the soaring ceilings of the scorched-red British Library, surrounded by thousands of tourists gazing up amazed at towers of books encased in glass, and then suddenly to hear, piped into my headphones, the rhythmic sweet timbre of a West Cornish accent cutting through the din. News had passed around the village of Newlyn that a girl from ‘upcountry’ was seeking lodging, and a couple – Denise and Lofty, who live right by the harbour – had offered their spare room. Before this could happen, Denise had a couple of questions for me. A student at the table next to me was bashing furiously at his keyboard, so I turned up the volume on my phone to hear her better.
‘Could you repeat that?’
‘Do you like cats? Do you mind smoking? And, do you like a drink?’
Having replied yes, no, and then, very much, yes, it was settled. Denise, a fishmonger, and Lofty, a ship’s chandler, would be greeting their first lodger, a twenty-two-year-old Londoner with a distinctly Cornish name at Penzance station in a month’s time.