The waiting is worst. He can feel the tension beneath his fingernails, his throat parched, dry with dust. There are maybe twenty of them loitering, shuffling off the attention of security, trying not to look as if they are eyeing the trucks and trains.
Night is soon.
Some of the jostling is for distraction. Four guys run as a decoy. There are only seconds to spare. Sprinting, leaping, hiding in one swift, planned move – executed to enter the tunnel. The trick is to keep clinging; the trick is to not fall; the trick is to not run out of breath.
It is boat season and migrating humans attempt more perilous journeys across the Mediterranean. Europe is a dream but not always a destiny. Paper-sketched holding centres are a plan for refugees: some sand-blown pop-ups in north Africa and the Middle East – not a solution, just a siesta for peace. News from the front line is of a colossal catastrophe. Humanitarianism becomes hubris in the mouths of the powerful. Razor-wire fences don’t stop the desperate. Riot police have bulldozed camps in Calais. There is nowhere to go. In London, I hear the sound of duelling koras seeking harmony in the night.
The bear wandered far and wide until it came to the hut of an old woman, which was raised off the ground by a single chicken claw. The old woman hit the bear about its head then bade it sleep. The next day an eagle descended and the bear tore it apart. The old woman told the bear to bring her the water of death and the water of life. With the water of death she brought the eagle’s body back together and with the water of life she made it breathe again. There is no moral in this story.
“If in doubt… leave it out. That’s what they say. They mean, if in doubt… abandon. Resist. Take your leave. Disengage. Only fight the battles you can win. History only remembers a winner. These are the maxims of success. It’s a money, time, success thing – a ratio of sorts. If there was a policy of abandonment, rather than a policy of struggle, then the electorate would not see the party as struggling. A small success is better than a great failure. There’s nothing immoral about being modest. So let us abandon health, education, welfare, Europe, as we intended abandoning Liverpool.”