1 November 1983

Turia’s room is at the end of an aquamarine-tiled corridor in a mansion in Holland Park, built for a department-store millionaire before the First War and now used as a halfway house for mental patients. She is one of their house mothers.

‘I love my lunatics,’ she says.

The ‘lunatics’ are away for the weekend. We are alone in the house. Her room is small, painted a faded yellow. There is a table crowded with violets in little pots in front of a window that looks out over the garden, and around the table a pile of old plastic bags filled with biscuits and letters, cosmetics and old bills. Her dressing table is strewn with eyeliner, mascara, cleansers, creams, face powder and talcum. On the bedside table, a large radio from Boots, some tapes of the Bulgarian tenor Boris Christof and some devotional books by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as a large colour photograph of him with full beard and sacerdotal robes.

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