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"I feel like toast and eggs now," Cristiano said, watching the pigeon nibble at Kaká's knuckle.

"I would like to see Buckingham Palace," said Kaká. "Do you suppose there is a café around there, where we could restore your breakfast to you?"

"I'm sure the Queen will know, I'll just pull out my cellphone and ask her," Cristiano said.


"Good joke," Kaká said. "By the way, I heard that she invited the Arsenal team to tea. Your club must have felt unjustly overlooked. My sympathies."

"…why?" Cristiano asked.

"Although I have been told it's not always a good thing to be too closely connected with politics," Kaká said, the picture of subtlety.

"Er," said Cristiano. "Not that it hasn't been fun," he said. He paused. A pigeon fluttered discomfitingly close to his hair.

He said, "I don't know you. You don't know me."

He said, "Are you trying to make Shevchenko jealous?"

Kaká blinked. "I am sure he has seen Buckingham Palace before."

They drove up to Buckingham Palace in a sudden downpour.

A man in a suit, who had been eyeing Cristiano with barely concealed suspicion, now came up to them.

"Yurs, yurs," he said, "yurs, Ted, it is him, for certain. I'm closing. I'm there. I'm going in. All right then. All right. Pip pip."

He beamed up at them. "Excuse me, sir, terribly sorry. We didn't recognise you earlier. We're surprised and honoured, of course. Very honoured."

"Hello," Kaká said carefully. "How are you doing?"

"And the thing is, we were wondering how you'd feel – Her Majesty is otherwise engaged at present, but a couple of Her Royal Highnesses have been visiting – most delighted, of course, to have you join them for tea and cakes. All very spontaneous, naturally."

Kaká turned to Cristiano and said in Portuguese, "Surely they will also have toast and eggs."

There wasn't a peep out of the tabloids the next day, after all. (He noticed Kaká take aside Prince Charles, who had wandered in by mistake and seemed not to know who Cristiano was.) They were driven down after tea to the British Museum, where Kaká made a large donation and took pictures with the security guards. The rain poured down the hood of Cristiano's raincoat as he craned his neck up to look, later, at Big Ben, which turned out to be fairly big, after all.