From the top floor of my uncle's five-story townhouse opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum, I could see the sparkling traffic lights on Cromwell Road far below. It was there that I did my evening reading. Not all of it was academic work. I enjoyed, amongst other things, the works of Hergé, creator of the Tintin character. I had most of his books. A girlfriend gave me a Tintin keyring. I even wore on occasion a Tintin sweater that had been bought for me from the Tintin store in Covent Garden.
Around the top edge of the townhouses ran a narrow embankment enclosing a channel for rain water. It was possible to climb out of the windows on to this wall, and, if you wanted, walk completely around the rooftops of the square, stopping to peer in each window. Our next door neighbour's daughter, a lithe 15-year old blonde at the Royal School in Hampstead, crawled out on to this narrow walkway and one evening appeared at my window on hands and knees looking for a smoke and conversation.
On the top floor of my uncle's house we would lie together, with the windows open, having a cigarette or two and some cocktails, listening to CDs, talking and leafing through the Tintin books.