Car 6

Mrs Mary Wallis

Outward appearance

Well turned-out older black lady. Shawl with sequins in zig-zag patterns. Examines items from her bag: a clock, a wooden frame the size of a pocket calculator, something with a wooden handle and a long metal prong.

Inside information

Lives on Hercules Road Estate. Friend of Paule Wright's. Has invested some of her husband's redundancy money in a small antiques business. Returning from Camden Passage's Wednesday morning market.

The metal prong is a device for firing pills down horses' throats. The wooden frame is for storing playing cards. The train eases into Lambeth North; Mary puts away her acquisitions.

What she is doing or thinking

She sees Paule on the platform and calls. Paule freezes and almost walks on. She doesn't want to be seen. Has she got a boyfriend? "What you doing out this hour of the morning?" Mary teases and then instantly regrets it. Paule's had to be taking up cleaning again. Mary tries to change the subject to Charley, but that's a bit sensitive too since he's been fired.

Mary feels terrible, and gossips about neighbours. Outside on the street, she makes excuses, and darts off towards the Cypriot bakery. Oh Mary, love, you got to watch your mouth.

Then she thinks: I could have told her about my antiques. I could have asked her to join me. I need someone to help run my stall when I get it going. Still feeling remorseful, Mary turns and runs after her friend.

"Paule!" she calls. "Paule. I got an idea!"

Paule walks on, pretending not to hear.

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