A thin blue line unravels through the back streets, broadens, becomes a gushing force, a flood, across the hunting fields where gelders and nailers worked, land then acquired by the Queen’s Messenger Thomas Beake, by the old houses intended for tradesmen and lower middle-class occupation, whereat the Venetian painter Antonio Canaletto lodged in a room of cabinet maker Mr Richard Wiggan’s, and, more precisely, towards the very building that architect J Dixon Butler, in an approximation of the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, erected for the Metropolitan Police in 1909–10, which is due to be reincarnated as luxury flats.
They say we have no solutions; that we are in disarray, confused, guileless; we have no plan; we are so loose a collective as to be redundant.
But what a cockeyed view that is: of course, we are all those things. We have been pulled this way and that, confused past our wits, futures beaten away, our aspirations mocked, torn apart and isolated.
Of course we have no solutions. We are not paid to find them. Our wages pay for others to do that. It is they that turn from responsibility, not us. We can only protest, remain, shout, hope.
When I asked for a glass
Of wine and you
Brought back two
Or when you went
To town to window shop
And came back with bags of
I call it mission creep.
Things got out of
Hand – you say –
It wasn’t my intention.
But you knew all along.
It’s the same
And maybe so.
I make the leap
To the streets
Are always mentioned.
First with a higher police
Then with little
Soon unmarked officers and
And now come
Archeologists discovered signs of large buildings here, perhaps a temple. Remnants of weapons were also found, including traces of what might have been poisons. Certainly battles were fought here. A small camp seems to have existed, with broken pots, pans and temporary shelters found all across the hillside near where a river once flowed. We can only guess what calamity wiped out all of those who lived in those times, and at the extent of the destruction, but, what we do know, is that it was the end of an era – of an empire – and of the start of another.
It is high summer and through the oldest of urban gardens crawls the caterpillar. Which way will it turn today? It approaches a crowd of city kids, tucking into falafel and hummus. It watches them a while: a mixed, raggle-taggle bunch with hungry eyes, holding their lunch proudly, guardedly, as if it were civilisation itself that they cradled. Soon, the shouts go up, eyes are widened – wild – and the caterpillar’s monstrous shadow looms. Had they not heard the warning rattle? Had no one followed those caterpillar tracks? Flags wave. The caterpillar groans that tragic, murderous sound and the gunfire begins.
Horses, statuesque and all in line. Black coats, chestnut and white. Lush manes and tails. Snorting horses standing tall. A sight to behold. A historical site. Black riders, yellow vests, black helmets. Fluorescent yellow. A bright flash across a grey street, the muddle of a crowded square, seen from a helicopter, a camera on a crane. A horse’s slow walk forward. Then the rest, following: fifteen. The horses trotting, horses at a canter, into the street, the public throng. Horses at a canter, the crowd divided, falling and crushed. A black and yellow blade to the heart of a hope.
The man in the costume hire shop frowned at her.
It’s got to be the right one, she said.
But witches are all similar.
I’m sorry. I can’t guarantee it.
* * *
There were thousands of people along the road.
Have a can, said Matty.
Yeah we can. It’s a special occasion.
I’m dressed as a lion; how can I be serious?
Riot shields, guns, armoured cars and horses. If it wasn’t the Wicked Witch Of the West then there was no point dressing up. A man punched the sky. She felt like she might cry.