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Andrew’s wife had berated him constantly until he finally gave in. She had been addicted to watching Escape to the Country type programmes and was like a dog with a bone about the idea. Country dreams … Country nightmare more like, Andrew thought. The trouble with quiet rural locations was just that. Too quiet, too little entertainment. So the locals made their own entertainment by keeping their noses in everybody else’s business. A short distance from Lavenham was the ancient town of Long Melford, which had the longest street of antique shops in England.

High heels and haughty couture. But the wardrobes in the small rooms he visited above the staircases of Soho contained no such expensive items. And so Andrew had bought his own, at considerable expense. He kept the clothes in a small locked suitcase in a locked cupboard in his windowless office, which used to be a storeroom, at the back of the pub, behind the kitchen. And he would take them with him when he made one of his ‘essential’ business trips to London. His wife, Marjorie, was a large, tall, blonde woman who would have fitted into one of his outfits as easily as the proverbial camel would have fitted through the eye of a needle.

But this aching seemed more than just that. The pain was eating into his bone marrow and not just his joints. He looked down at his hands, thin but swollen, the knuckles like small deformed walnuts on his twig-like fingers. He rubbed one hand over the other again as he looked at the moon and winced. ‘Geoffrey, what are you doing out here? ’ He turned round, startled to see his wife standing in the doorway to their kitchen. She was just a few years younger than him, but she looked younger than that, even though her hair was pure white and the concerned expression that she wore on her face had settled into permanent lines from familiar usage.

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