More from the Notebook

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At Walthamstow Central a red balloon is blowing and bobbing along the electric rails, trailing a ribbon, driven on the hot wind of the underground, disappearing into the tunnel at the end of the station. The wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London. In Hyde Park Court the white mansions are turned around, backs to the road, the grand facades hidden away, looking out over private parks. These days, everyone comes in through the tradesmen’s entrance, the limousines waiting in the street. The sky is cool and blue. Ahead, a four-car convoy pulls around the corner out of the Mews – a Bentley, two Rollers and a Range Rover, bulging, black-windowed, silent. On the corner of Connaught Square a huddle of armed police, bulky with body-armour, are shuffling their feet, shifting the weight of guns and belts and pouches, rolling their shoulders. One of them half-turns to watch me as I cross the road, murmuring into his throat-mike.
The doorman was letting someone out as I arrived: a girl, pale, red-haired. She gave me a quick smile as we passed; the doorman nodded at me.
“You’re expected,” he said.

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