I don’t always see the difference between children and adults. Rather, I don’t see adults, only children. Children everywhere, shopping with pushchairs, snoring in suits on morning trains, smoking outside bars of an evening: children all. I see them now with tinsel and antlers on their heads, Santa hats, stressing about the last days at work, meeting up with family, squeezing in their end-of-term office drinks with suitcases and bags of gift-wrapped presents, rushing round the supermarkets, loading up their cars with their own children. No one gets much beyond childhood. But some have the chance to live for longer.
And so what if they thought she had nothing to offer and nothing to say? If they thought she had no place in the modern world, then what? She would ride it out, keep going, fix herself on being there, again, always. What would they know about independent thought? They dieted on whatever fodder they were thrown, gorged themselves and got fat. And if it was said she was a figure of repression, then it was just a spiteful cry of envy, heard only from a miserable few. She thought of the flags that had lined the Mall, yawned, smiled.
1. Dress up and jive dance at the Clore ballroom.
2. Watch carol singers on a giant screen in Paternoster Square.
3. Take the kids to My Brother the Robot at the Roundhouse.
4. Shop for last-minute gifts at a ‘German’ market on the South Bank.
5. Donate blood at Leytonstone Methodist Church.
6. Hear Atila, King of Crooners at the Park Plaza Hotel.
7. Enjoy a Victorian Christmas with traditional mince pies at the Charles Dickens Museum.
8. Check your numbers for the Euro Millions draw (top prize £62,469,261).
9. Watch Christmas Eve dawn on Walford.
10. Breathe. Sleep.
A barn owl crosses the fields, just here, every morning at seven o’ clock, at this time of year. And sometimes a deer jumps out from the hedgerow. Church towers can be seen every mile or so, through the bare trees, on towards the horizon and the cold, cold sea. We are on our way somewhere, between here and there, between last year and next, burying our heads in congregations and congratulations. But we laugh and sing while the real news continues. We daren’t look. News at this time of year is always a tragedy. The rutted earth is frozen.
He lit a cigarette, pressed up against the wall, sheltering from the freezing air. The cigarette would warm him. Taxis and buses clattered along the street, which was still wet from the rain. There were voices and laughter from inside the pub. It was packed. Always was at this time of year. So tiring. So much food and drinking.
Aeroplane lights crossed the starless sky. Where were they flying to? In the future no one would fly any more. And no one would eat or drink. People were scared. They talked fearfully as if it all, soon, had to end.