The shop was stocked with strange fruit stored in plastic bowls. In a dark corner, behind sacks of rice and flour, a glass cubicle had been installed for some kind of alternative business. The window reflected the shimmering shape of a church. The actuality of the church had been blackened by air pollution.
A pair of wrought iron gates were padlocked in case there was a sudden mania for church-going. There were parking spaces behind the gates, and almost completely faded white-lettering painted on the tar signified that one space was reserved for the vicar, the other for the organist.
Somehow, it was difficult to envision cars battling to find spaces in the yard – even if the gates were ever unlocked.
Meanwhile, the 99p shops always have a full congregation: worshippers of imported bargains filing down every aisle.
An old, sepia photograph of the same street gathers dust on a mantelpiece. One or two people strolling in old-time clothes. A dray horse pulling a cartload of beer barrels.
At the top of the street, a strange domed building like a stone igloo that serves no obvious purpose. It doesn't have a window or door.
People hurry by as if this mystery, like so many others, isn't there.
Some file into the tiled entrance of the underground. No-one notices that the man behind the ticket counter has a marbled eye through which he sees everything.