It was one of those mornings that started badly.
Not just the wrong side of the bed, but seemingly the wrong room, the wrong day, the wrong universe.
It was as if cacophonous normality had risen up to trip me over, to send me tumbling into the day like a madwomen falling down some stairs.
I reached out for all of the things that usually brought comfort, but the duvet was icy to my touch, the view from the window was dismal, and the sound of traffic duelling drowned out any possibility of irrepressible birdsong.
It reminded me of another morning: a borrowed duvet in a sparse bedroom not my own. An empty kitchen, stocked only with dust, devoid of even the hope of a teabag. Sticky shelves and an expired wasp floating malevolently in some abandoned apple juice. I should not allow myself to dwell on that morning.
Over the cars locked in their custody battle for the road, I could see the municipal park, February was not her greatest ally. A few straggly primroses were locked in a cryogenic battle against the season convincing no-one they could win. A glance told me the rust had advanced further into the play area, overwhelming the feeble defence of the last remaining swing set. March would bring its avenging army of toddlers, and all their harassed parents would find was shell-shocked pigeons, and lawns littered with playground shrapnel.
I drew away from the window. I knew that staring into the bleak vista of the park beleaguered by budget cuts would only dampen my mood more. I laid down some food for the cat, who eyed me warily and waved her claws half-heartedly at my ankles. So much for creature comforts.
Even the kettle boiled slowly, but soon I was curled up in a battered armchair with a tea and vaguely stale croissant. I pulled a book out at random from the burgeoning shelves, needing escapism: smugglers and treasure, a mysterious lighthouse, or perhaps a fin de siècle love affair…