They are knocking it down. They were going to regenerate it, using the shell of what was there before. But not now. The sale fell through. The land is more profitable as it is, empty. No doubt another block of flats will go up or a row of houses. It used to be the headmaster’s house. He remembers it from then. Dai Ball’s house, he calls it. I don’t know why he was called Dai Ball, he says. Everyone knew him as that, though it wasn’t his name.
I forgot to tell you, he says. You know our old window cleaners? Yes, I say. The ones with the red van. And then he says their names. Yes. Well, they’ve been done for insurance fraud. He can’t remember the particulars. It was in the local paper. They always print things from court cases. Local journalists attend or hang around outside afterwards, he tells me. I remember. He then tells me that one of the brothers is stated as already being in Swansea prison. He was the less reliable of the two, he says. And I am sorry. Sorry for them both. As I am for all those whose stories entered my day yesterday from the radio – the refugees in the burnt-out camp in Lesbos and the man with rent arrears in London awaiting possible eviction. And I think of others in need of a home.
I’ve finished the book and am touched by the similarities, the serendipity of what I read – the swans from my dream, her needlepoint and the quiet waiting. A small life and one that I recognise as mine.