Car 3

Mr Thomas West

Outward appearance

Short, pale young man in corduroys. Red hair, red jacket under a blue overcoat. Soft brown shoes. Going over papers covered with children's handwriting. Suddenly he stops.

Inside information

A teacher at Lower Marsh primary on Baylis Road. At 24, the youngest in the school.

Tom became a primary school teacher for two reasons. First, he was good at taking care of his younger brothers after his father disappeared. Second, he wants a girlfriend and primary schools are full of women teachers. He is already on his second potential wife.

What he is doing or thinking

Coming to terms with the sudden return of his father. Dad showed up at Thomas's Mum's new address with no explanation of where he had been for 14 years.

Thomas's father had always been odd. He would bring strangers home for supper and put them up. The lawn was never mown; grass grew high around the front door steps. But he sewed wildflower seed, poppies and foxgloves.

He was constantly tearing up floorboards and pipes and then losing interest. Woodworm became an obsession. He took the roof off the house in winter, wrapped it in plastic, and then deserted his family. Effectively a ruin, the house was sold at half price, and they moved into a flat over an Italian restaurant by the Hangar Lane Gyratory System.

Thomas has always feared that he was like his father in any way. He can't be: he notices children and loves them, and he is charming to women. But last night he saw his father: small, red, round, determined, like himself.

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