I was on the bus heading for my Auntie Ethel’s. It was raining. Not that sort of manly, tropical rain with a bit of punch but the usual feeble, omnipresent drizzle. The kind that gets you thoroughly soaked, clouding your hopes and dreams in a clammy blanket of Mancunian reality. The windows inside streamed with perspiration, and children were using them as an impromptu chalkboard.
I was not looking forward to the short but tedious walk from the bus stop to my auntie’s semi. I knew what awaited me. The same as every Tuesday afternoon. Battenburg cake. White bread and butter, already curling at the edges. Anaemic boiled ham sliced too thin. That damned pie with the hard-boiled egg in the middle.
I plodded the few hundred metres to the green, flaking door, nostrils anticipating the familiar odour. What greeted them was altogether more surprising.
The house was on fire.