I walked off in the direction of Primrose Hill. Ignoring my mother’s maxim that only whores smoked outdoors, I took out my cigarettes. Ever since I took up the habit, I have loved smoking more than anything. Smoking is a veil. I adore every aspect of it: the tapping with a gloved finger of the cigarette from the packet; the metallic rasp of the lighter; the pungent whiff of Ronsonol; the first deep inhalation and the blue plume of exhaled smoke; the minor obscenity of lipstick on the filter; the snug pleasure of just holding the thing between index and middle finger. I love to watch women smoke. A woman smoking is never lonely; she is solitary. She is sensual, worldly. Men do not know how to smoke. For men, smoking is a utilitarian business, like using the lavatory or getting on a bus. It is always incidental to another activity, never a thing in itself. I had not seen Tom (or whatever his name was) smoking. I imagined he opted for those thing Russian cigarettes, or perhaps for a pipe, as certain young men do in order to cultivate an intellectual air. But Tom had no need for such fripperies. What was the word he had used? Serendipitous. It had slipped off his tongue as thought it had been lurking there, awaiting the moment to pounce. And then, as he pronounced the last syllable, he had glanced directly into my eyes. It was like the clash of a tiny cymbal. Had that been serendipity too? Or did the very fact that he had used this word suggest that the opposite was true: that he had been lying in wait for me, armed with mellifluous, seductive words. What woman could resist serendipity?