Helen Simpson's first collection of short stories, Four Bare Legs in a Bed (1990) won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and a Somerset Maugham Award. In 1993 she was chosen as one of Granta's twenty Best of Young British Novelists. There followed Dear George (1995), and Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000), a collection of loosely linked stories about modern women and motherhood. She won the Hawthornden Prize in 2001 and was awarded the E.M.Forster Award in 2002 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest collection of stories, Constitutional (2005), is published in America under the title In the Driver's Seat. She lives in London.
Two shattered women and a bright-eyed child have just sat down at the window table in the café. Both women hope to talk, for their minds to meet; at the same time they are aware that the odds against this happening are about fifty to one. Still, they have decided to back that dark horse Intimacy, somewhere out there muffledly galloping. They order coffee, and toast for the boy who seizes a teaspoon and starts to bash away at the cracked ice marbling of the formica table.