I met my imaginary friend, Hamid al Hakim, in London when I was 13. The year was 1976: the bicentennial. That’s many years before I would make it to London in reality.
The day I am pretending to have met Hamid, I had escaped from my parents’ supervision to roam Bloomsbury, happier and happier as night fell. I found my dear imaginary friend in a cul de sac, standing with his chin tipped up, all alone. He stared at the lane of dappled sky above, where the small clouds moved like living beings. Hamid was wearing a sheik outfit, complete with head-dress, and holding a large silver tray of baclava.
Coquettishly arrayed under cellophane, the cakes were pretty in a way I then thought French. Hamid’s robe was short enough to show his neat socks. The shoes were loafers, and visibly expensive – Hamid used to buy everything from Harrod’s, even groceries, in those days, to save bother.
When he saw me, Hamid smiled wolfishly. Then we were friends forevermore.