Mrs Chung Mae
Tiny, rumpled Chinese lady in khaki anorak, tartan lining inside the hood trimmed with green fur. Lenin style cap, black jeans over the top of her trainers. Carries various cheap plastic bags. Pink objects with yellow feathers are pressed up against their sides.
Granny imported from Hong Kong. Worked for years in the kitchen of a Lisle Street restaurant. Got too old for the hours and the physical demands. Now runs a stall at the Elephant selling party novelties. The season for novelties has just past.
What she is doing or thinking
Her bones ache, she will be cold, but it's better than sitting behind a till in a steamy shop. The family keep trying to pull her back inside. They don't understand: she likes being on her own, with the little money she gets. Everything else in her life is work and duty.
A strange woman is singing. Suddenly people are dancing; out comes a puppet. Mae doesn't understand. The man next to her offers her a glass of whisky. At first Mae is suspicious. Is it poison?
It is a party. Why else does she have party favours? She takes out a whistle and blows it. It unwraps its pink and feathery length, squeals, and people applaud. "How much?" asks the whisky man. Mae understands that. Two more people buy them, and blow them, warbling.
The train stops at Lambeth North. Mae hesitates as they all tumble out, having so much fun. Just before the doors close, the strange old lady pushes Mae out. The party continues.
Car 7 map