Shoot to kill. Sounds like the debut single of some dreadful band full of pasty tattooed teens. Or a questionable cocktail. Or maybe Vice magazine’s idea of a fashion label.

Now it’s an imperative in London, where the already claustrophobic atmosphere of the Tube has assumed a far more oppressive demeanour. After mourning the dead, you now have to fear for the residents and visitors. My whole family, as it turns out.

Mum and Dad are heading there shortly to visit my sister, who’s lived there for years. Having gone from cadet at Cleo to London barrister, she’s a Shire legend. Not for one moment has she relinquished her heels, nor will she.

She’s Superwoman, possessed of attendant superpowers, among which is the ability to withstand the city’s expense and brighten the general pallor.

She also has given birth to Wonder Baby, my first niece, as well as a new one who could very well turn out to be like a female Jack-Jack from TheIncredibles. Their doting father, my sister’s long-term partner, is Iranian. My nieces have taken his surname. It sickens me that this is now a concern.

So, who’s the threat? How is it determined? Name on a passport? Physical appearance? An inappropriately large backpack? My parents are inarguably white, but what if Mum acts suspiciously in Harvey Nichols? Honestly, sometimes, walking behind her in a department store is like being on some sort of Special Manoeuvres training exercise.

Mum worked for eons in Grace Bros selling appliances. As a result, she has an air of authority and the benefit of distance to make the most of an experience I personally find confronting. Like a guided missile, she can find any unnecessary purchase you care to make, no matter how vast the space, weaving through racks and judiciously appraising the merchandise.

It’s just this sort of suspiciously knowledgeable behaviour that those cameras positioned everywhere might pick up (she also often carries bags large enough for your garden-variety explosive device). And then what if Dad, who has the amazing ability to smell bullshit and subterfuge, steps into a confrontation and causes a good old-fashioned Belfast pub fight?

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