Ash sits at a table in the beer garden of a pub called The Twa Corbies. He’s not bought a thing from them, not even a half, and so he sits there in the warm wind, with his paperback and takeaway hot chips, feeling pleasantly wicked. It’s two o’clock or so. Ash is watching two surfers head down the ramp into the water. The tide is going out, he thinks, as the two heroes of his novel are plunged into danger. Two seagulls are eyeing off his chips. The surfers are pointing at two other surfers who are already riding two small waves. A couple of Ash’s chips have fallen on the grass by his two feet, and the two seagulls swoop over to capture them. It’s all too much for Ash, the weight of all these signs and portents. He dashes into the pub where he buys two pints to see him through the rest of his paperback and maybe into the next one, because he never travels without two books.


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