Settled now. Back in Norwich, in a rougher part of town. I chat to the locals and the immigrants. The Kurds in the shops, the Indians in the corner shops and curry houses, the old boys and the Spanish waitress in the Duke of Wellington. Apart from the usual hooded English lads trying to look scary, people are friendly and talkative. At last I can speak. They still don’t seem to mind that I’m foreign, as long as I get the tone; and I’ve been starved for talk.
They tell me crime gossip. The boarded-up house next door to mine was a grow house. The shop beside that, also boarded up, was owned by a man who kept a teenage girl locked up. The Tamils running the corner shop were robbed by Eastern Europeans. A drunk woman drove down the road with a missing tyre, bumping into all the parked cars. The nail bar and Turkish barber are laundering fronts. The burger bar round the corner doesn’t sell burgers: Albanians walk in and out. They’re no fools, the locals, they know what goes on, they just have little way of changing it.
And I’m back in the best pub in the world, the White Lion. Where we still remember each other’s names and stories, and can catch up: a place like home.