Lunch at Maxard’s
I parked the car behind Leicester Square and wondered again why I bothered to keep it up. It would be as cheap, and far more convenient, to rely on taxis. Just habit, I recognized, buying the parking tickets. It was colder here, with an edged wind blowing round the bases of the unlovely, thrusting tenements. From the other side of the street it wafted the smell of fish and chips, stewed in rank fat. In the street a crowd was patiently gathering round a man selling packets with pound notes in them. As we walked past I heard the penetrating croon of his sales talk.
‘Who’ll buy this ’un, then? This little packet, all sealed, you’ve seen me seal it. Who’ll buy this ’un? Half a crown … ’
We turned the corner into Gerrard Street.
Howard was waiting for us when we reached Maxard’s. He took my arm with the queer, fierce, affectionate impulsiveness he sometimes permitted himself.
‘I’m starving, Tenn. Hello, Livia. Joining the breadline?’
She looked round at the squalid intersection of Gerrard and Wardour Street, and smiled pleasantly at him.
‘No. Just coming off my beat.’