"Would you like to be artist in residence under the Westway?" he said, so I got used to the sound of the A40 in the rain.

I'm in army fatigues searching among the street people for a man without a telephone. Egbert, the St Lucian Rasta, my most reliable and loquacious model. I find him holding court outside a cafe on Portobello Road, all cheekbones and diminutive elegance.

Egbert kisses my hand fervently and calls me empress. I feel like one.

His friend Kili turns up.

"Wie geht es Ihnen?" says Egbert.
"Es geht mir gut."
"Heil Hitler."
"Sieg Heil."

Egbert gets up to go. He whispers in my ear: "Her name is Doreen. She is short and chunky with bow legs. She is a wonderful cook. She's cooking me fish. One love."