Much older, and sort of Roman Catholic. What's that lamp? Why's it behind a gate? What's this stuff about Toc-H? That must be the Toc-H lamp, I suppose. My Nan used to say "As dim as a Toc-H lamp." She used to say it about Uncle Lionel. "He's as dim as a Toc-H lamp." Nanny and Grandad's house was always a dim house. A close house. Pipe-smoke, cigarette-smoke. Heavy curtains and London dirt on all the windows. Peter the Minah bird hopping around in his cage. "Give him the top off your egg, duck. He likes the top off an egg." A green parrot in another corner, clambering slowly up the bars, with its beak and black tongue. "Mind out for her beak, duck. She'll split your finger right down." A dog under the table; a cat behind the telly in the front room. No bathroom. Outside lav. Four adults squashed in together. Dark furniture. A smell of old roast dinners, and paraffin from the shop. Ting! Someone coming in. Through the coloured glass in the front door, you could see the silhouette of a customer. "Shop, Floss!" Aunty Floss used to get up and go out. "What can I get you, duck?"

Toc-H. Mum told me once what a Toc-H lamp was, but I can't remember. We were on our way to Nanny and Grandad's, driving there. Those grimy streets. That dog-food factory smelling like Twiglets. "Dogs Love Vims!" What were Vims? Some kind of biscuit? I never saw them in a shop. I never saw the name anywhere, except on the hoarding outside that factory. They can't have loved them all that much. Or maybe they loved them too much, maybe they loved them so much they ate them before they left the factory. Perhaps they came and ate them in the middle of the night, by the glow of Toc-H lamps, and that's why the factory went out of business.

There's something about that lamp stuck behind that metal gate. Symbolic. Secret-society. Like Freemasonry or something.

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