Chapter One

People say we look alike. Scott and Jes Barron. We’re the same height - six foot in our heels (mine are blue Campers from Covent Garden; his are brown Clarks from Mr. Shoe in Morden).
“You look like brothers,” they say, pleased with themselves.
“We are,” I say.
“Thanks,” says Jes.
It’s the chin. Kirk rather than Michael Douglas. “Bum chin,” they called us at school, me first then him. Jes got the slightly better features - a stronger jaw, a straighter more elegant nose, thinner eyebrows and those deep brown eyes, set in gently curved, brooding sockets. I have grey-blue eyes and my brown hair is starting to ascend each side of my forehead but both my grandfathers remained shaggy until the day they died so I should be okay. Jes’ hair is darker. Sometimes people think he’s Italian. They always think I’m English.
My brother was Jeremy on his birth certificate, but Jes from the moment he arrived home and mum cooed into his cot,
“Jessy, Jes …”
At the time, ‘Jes’ seemed a strange, foreign name. Now it seems, well ... very now. Scott, in contrast, seems, well ... very then.

I was named after my mother’s nationality rather than the chubby engineer from Star Trek, after her nostalgia for a childhood roaming the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh. Apparently I was a Celtic retort to my father’s Anglo-Saxon surname. I’ve never liked the name Barron, with its elitist or desolate connotations.
I liked it even less after our father left us, when I was seven and Jes was two. At the time, I asked mum if I could start using her maiden name, Henderson, at school. She smiled thinly, patted my head and said;
“Please don’t make a fuss now Scott,”
in her strictest Scottish tone.
Unlike my mother, I have an accent as English as afternoon tea. On the rare occasions I’ve been abroad, salesmen hawking carpets, pottery or snow-storm Virgin Marys have always shouted
before any other nationality.
I’m 31, Jes is 26. But he’s a fatter than me. He looks a little like Elvis, during the peanut butter and banana years.
I stand on the scales in my small north London bathroom. The needle stops quivering at eleven stone nine pounds. That’s 163 pounds if you’re American, or about 73 kilos if you’re anyone else. I’ve been down to eleven two (156 pounds, 70 kilos), but that was after a nasty bout of diarrhoea.
In contrast, Jes weighs sixteen stone. I know this because he told me a couple of weeks ago. He rested his hands on his paunch, and said happily;
“Sixteen stone. And I’ve only been married a year.”