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Annie was the first to become so uncomfortable with the ensuing silence that she broke it. “I was in a hurry to get to an interview. I ought to ring them.” There was another silence, and again she felt drawn to fill it: “It was only at a temping agency. I know they‟ll take me on any time. I don‟t suppose it matters if I miss it today.” “I knew you weren‟t going to work for Maggie,” Jeremy said. “But I‟ve written her a note. That‟s why I turned up this lane.” “Finding out what I‟m all about is actually what I‟m about,” Jeremy said. “I was leaving home. To find my own way in the world.” “On a bike?” Annie said. “I thought it would look good on my blog. I brought my laptop. In the suitcase on the


“I read you,” Harold nodded. “I don‟t have a lot of experience. I mean my Facebook profile starts off Education none. Work experience – none.‟

“Oh, come on,” Annie said. “I mean I‟ve never had a job, for money. And I‟ve never been to school or college or anything. I had a few nannies early on but I don‟t think any of them stayed very long. Then the money ran out and Maggie had to look after Grandfather more and more and I suspect she never got organised enough to think about school and I didn‟t want to be any bother for anyone so I just sort of got on with growing up and I don‟t think anyone from the authorities ever noticed, really. The Burnets have always had a bit of a knack for not being noticed, which I think is why we‟re still there at the Hall despite marauders over the borders and the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation and the Civil War and the Agricultural Revolution and the Industrial Revolution and all the rest of it.”

Annie tested herself by stirring the three mugs and squeezing out the tea bags between two teaspoons. She was getting steadier and could almost feel the adrenaline dissolving away. Jeremy was clearly still in full flow.

“I think I‟m quite sane and everything because I got all the attachment stuff from Maggie as soon as my Mother left. I did a website for a professor of early childhood so I know all about having the one person who is there for you whatever. But I still think I was a bit like a chick that gets imprinted on something inappropriate, like a research student‟s scarf, because although Maggie was always there, I‟ve never spent much time with people my own age, never had to fight my corner, never really sort of worked out what to expect from life, or what was expected from me, you know? My best friend is actually my great- grandfather, who taught me woodturning and then got me going on the web as a sort of co- conspirator, so I could get him into a virtual lap-dancing club, and I suppose I‟ve learned all sorts of things through doing people‟s websites, but it all comes in boxes and bullet points, if

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