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I was breakfasting in my apartment this morning, when I heard a sort of motorized yelp from out in the street: the sound of my brother’s sports car abruptly decelerating. I looked down from the window and saw the bottle-green car – as shiny as packaging, the brightest thing in the street. A blonde girl sat in the passenger seat, smoking a joint. I fled to the kitchen to fill the kettle – my brother takes very thick, very sweet tea – but when he crashed through the front door, he merely reported “I need to use your bog, man.” He was in there for ten minutes. The tea had cooled by the time he emerged and he just looked absently at it, before grabbing at a jacket from the coat rack and putting it on. He had only been wearing a t-shirt and there was still frost outside. He opened the front door, but then turned back again.

“You’re working a lot at the moment?”

“Very much so. Mostly agency work…. at the canteen, and at the biscuit factory…”

“I think I’ll need to raise your allowance to… £250 a month? To deal with… inflation?” He looked uncertain. I presume that he had heard the word on the radio, but did not entirely understand what it meant.

“You know, I am extremely grateful for what you are doing…”

But he had gone.

I wandered around the flat. I suddenly wanted to get into an argument with Polly, and nag her until she cried. But she was out, probably at the shops.

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