Limbless torsos in Speedos, a bare-breasted woman, children in litter disguise, and booklet giveaways in Morningside (Rousse)

I abandoned weeding a municipal planter on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh so that I could catch a 23 bus back into town and meet my mother on Colinton Road at 6:30pm, as previously agreed.

The bus was frustratingly slow. When at a standstill on Morningside Road, I admired the muscular torsos of limbless ex-servicemen dressed only in Speedos as they crossed the road to the swimming pool for their daily training session.

I disembarked at Holy Corner and, desperate for a cup of tea, tumbled into a new café opposite the bookshop. A group of men at the table by the door looked up at me greedily.

‘Phwoar!’ exclaimed one, his eyes fixed on my naked breasts.

I immediately tugged on my pink crocheted shawl to pull it tight over my top half, then scuttled back outside on to the street.

My mother wasn’t at our meeting place. Instead my sister S approached me with her niece G and G’s two little sisters.

All three children had the annoying habit of changing form. Today G was a tall pot of yoghourt, and the smaller girls a red and yellow plastic fuel can and an empty white cream carton. They liked to run into the road in their disguise. This was a dangerous sport when motorists took them for rubbish. Their other trick was to find imaginative hiding places. Before long we had lost sight of them as they scurried away to spend the rest of the afternoon in a litter bin.

Since my mother was nowhere to be seen, I walked up the road and called into the campus of Edinburgh Napier University. BR was delighted to see me there because he needed someone to take away a stack of surplus booklets. I was happy to pick up the poetry, but left the grammar texts on a counter in the school office.

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