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In the kitchen, she washed the rubber gloves she’d used to pluck slugs and snails from vegetation. Slug slime ought to be patented. It was so indestructible it must have an industrial application. Some transferred itself to the tap. Then there was a re-run of her battle with the gumboots as she wriggled out of the gloves. At last she was free to write in the night’s scores, together with the date on the back of her old mountaineering calendar, stuck to the fridge.

A successful night and a good distraction from today’s debacle.

Once summoned, the memory slid around her shoulders like a boa of leopard slugs.

If only those idiots hadn’t demolished the car park.

She’d gone to Camberwell Junction in search of vacuum cleaner bags and was forced to join other motorists looking for somewhere else to park. Suddenly her rear vision mirror was lit by red and blue flashing lights. ‘Poor police,’ she thought as she pulled over. ‘Fancy having to hurry through this chaos.’ To her surprise, the police did not streak off in pursuit of justice, but drove into the kerb ahead of her.

A tall infant in uniform strode to her door and with a curt gesture, ordered her to wind down her window.

How can I help you? Louisa said.

Do you realise what a traffic hazard you are, travelling at that speed?

I can’t have been speeding, I was looking for a parking spot.

You were holding up traffic.

But I just explained...

It might be time you handed in your licence.

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