Car 1

Miss Flora McCardie

Outward appearance

Looks like an athletic boy with bags under his eyes, pale skin, reddish hair. In fact, a 50 year old woman in sensible clothes.

Inside information

Works for Christian Aid on Lower Marsh Street. The happiest period of her life was spent in Gabon with an American evangelical mission. Heartbroken when she learned that its charismatic leader was siphoning off funds. Returned to the UK middle-aged and at a loss.

Is currently mourning the loss of her good friend, Lavender. Lavender was 75 years old, and produced vowel sounds that have disappeared everywhere else. Lavender was a friend of Flora's guardian, and saw Flora through childhood and adolescence, giving her the nickname Poppet.

Lavender died old, cold, alone. Flora has begun to see a kind of tribe; a chain of steadfast, upright, noble, unloved women.

What she is doing or thinking

She thinks of Lavender as she reads what the girl next to her writes. Poor Lavender, with her faith in decency, progress. Here is an apparently intelligent young woman writing in such a tidy, careful hand such terrible things. I'm worthless, it seems to say, you're worthless, here, eat this.

The girl gets up, and in the the thickness of her body Flora sees part of the chain. Then the girl pushes Flora's nose, and insults her. Flora tuts and tosses her head, then remembers that she gets out here too.

On the platform Flora reaches forward and stops the girl and demands: "Why did you do that to me?" The girl's face is blank for a moment.

Then they begin to speak.

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