'They like it if you're marvellous for your age. If you can't be that, they want you down Plaistow Crematorium, not hanging about here, taking up bus seats.'
So says Bernie Gibbs, living on her memories on the seventh floor of an East End high-rise. Her diet is mainly chocolate bars and she yearns for action, or at least for the re-opening of the old Imperial Dance Hall, where she used to have good times. One of her ex-husbands, Jimmy Dwyer, turns up from nowhere with a greyhound that needs a temporary home, then disappears again. Seeing Jimmy revives memories of the War, when Birdie and her friends did their bit. She still does her bit today, though the world around her doesn't make much sense.
When the Fruit Bowl Estate boils over in the scorching summer of '95, Birdie gets all the action she can handle.
Laurie Graham is a former Daily Telegraph columnist and contributing editor of She magazine. The author of several acclaimed novels, most recently The Grand Duchess of Nowhere and The Night in Question (2015), Laurie lives in Dublin. Visit her website at www.lauriegraham.com