Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. Onwards. _nwards. O_wards. On_ards. Onw_rds. Onwa_ds. Onwar_s. Onward_. *nwards. O*wards. On*ards. Onw*rds. Onwa*ds. Onwar*s. Onward*. **wards. O**ards. On**rds. Onw**ds. Onwar**. ***ards. O***rds. On***ds. Onw***s. Onwa***. ****rds. O****ds. On****s. Onw****. *****ds. O*****s. On*****. ******s. O******. *******. _******. *_*****. **_****. ***_***. ****_**. *****_*. ******_. __*****. *__****. **__***. ***__**. ****__*. *****__. ___****. *___***. **___**. ***___*. ****___. ____***. *____**. **____*. ***____. _____**. *_____*. **_____. ______*. O______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______. _______.
I do feel unhappy, yes, although it shouldn’t be unexpected.
Maybe the darker mornings. And television, maybe.
Hell, and it’s not even over yet, there’s next week. Tis the season.
Well they’re setting us back years. The general polemic across all of them just appals me. I don’t know what’s to be done.
Don’t start me. It’s not opting out. I’m a full participating citizen. I couldn’t escape them if I wanted to. And I do want to.
I haven’t done for years. Is it any wonder? You’ve seen them. They’re all the same.
I can’t get into it, said Alex, shaking his head, turning his palms upward. The conversation is one that is built around a vocabulary linked inextricably to a standardised and, yes, populist argument put forward by the ruling classes. It doesn’t matter which side you take in the argument, the fact that you’re using their words is always used against you to prove you’ve accepted their terms, accepted the proposal, the game. You’re midwife to the delivery of your own subjugation. But let me ask you a question: do you think silence is really just silence? Or something else?
A clear blue sky and two planes crossing it, one after the other, perhaps too close, turning southerly.
As is often, here, at this time, there is talk of politics. Governments this, ministers that, history and security, links to conspiracies.
An older man and a younger man are looking skyward, standing, waiting. One holds a phone, the other a book. Concrete under their feet; jackets zipped, hands gloved; scarves.
“One things leads to another: that’s world events.”
They stand silently, as if alone, fixed upon the planes and their trajectories; one following the other, hoping they are not too close.
Exercise No. 1:
Image: A fairytale castle.
Words: This castle does not exist.
Image: A townscape.
Words: The city is at risk.
Image: A man in a hat.
Words: This picture is believed to have been taken in the past few weeks.
Image: A man in a different hat.
Image: A toy helicopter.
Words: A WMD believed to be owned by Person X.
Image: An explosion.
Words: These images have not been verified.
Image: Two men in suits shaking hands.
Words: Success or failure.
Image: Not all images can be shown.
Words: Words are spoken through an interpretor.
The queue of kids had grown, their excitable faces turning into expressions of anguish as they waited. At a signal, each stepped forward and was met by a guardian who would inspect the child’s pockets and remove any money, sweets or small toys. Puzzle or colouring books were not permitted. Other banned items included art, musical and sports equipment, dictionaries, encyclopaedias or other reference materials. The guardians then provided each child with one workbook which had to be completed within a given time-slot. Late finishers and those requesting extra tuition received a punitive fine. ‘Know-it-alls’ were also to be discouraged.
Pat turned the key in the gloom and the old cupboard door opened. Shining a light, he gasped. Inside, boxes were piled high. A year calendar hung on the back of the door with days circled. Files were stacked and labelled meticulously. Civil Partnerships and Church, ‘Trouble’ Families, Euroscepticism and the Public, Standards and Sleaze: the topics ranged widely. The old cupboard was much deeper than Pat had expected – or hoped – and there was something strange about it too. The cardboard files were crisply rigid, the boxes bright and unsagged. Where was the dust? The calendar was from this year.
We always went running in fog, early mornings at six, six thirty, at just that time of year when the fields become obscured by the weight of water in the air, so heavy it clung to your face in the pallid light and ran down it like tears, dripping from your nose and chin, and the wet grass licked your shins like a sopping tongue and the birds whispered that it was beyond dawn, their sound so close in the thick low sky, as if perched on your shoulder, but with nothing to be told about who won, who lost.
It came to me in a dream – woke me from my sleep – a unifying image, an idea that could take the insurgencies and economics, deaths and party politics, hopes for the future and legacies of the past, the festivals and hangovers, culture high and low, the academics and judges, phone hackers and strikers, pensioners and medics, the bankers and IT gurus, the heat of North Africa, heat of the Middle East, the singular sweltering heat of one day in a British summer, and wrap it up in a word, a phrase, a vision. It was a vision of a deluge.
Old: We’ve never had any problems previously.
Young: Oh you’ve had problems?
Old: We’ve not done.
Young: You’ve not done anything?
Old: It’s not happened before.
Young: No, if that’s the case then something needs to be done.
Old: You want to do something?
Young: What could we do?
Old: If we are okay…
Young: You think you are okay?
Old: Are we not?
Young: No, we are not.
Old: Is this new?
Young: I don’t know. Has it happened before?
Old: I hadn’t noticed.
Young: But if you didn’t notice…
Old: I wouldn’t know.
Young: No you wouldn’t know.