Richard Pierce


Day 130

When I started this, I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to write each day, and to hope it wouldn’t become boring or banal. Maybe it is both already.

The wind and rain come and my back complains. Is it psychosomatic? I can’t recall thinking this morning, oh, it’s raining and windy so my back is going to complain again. I can’t remember anything other than feeling so comfortable in bed at 5:30 that I decided to turn off the alarm which was set for 6, and decide to stay in bed until M’s alarm went at 7. And then came straight out here after my teaspoon of honey and my glass of water and started working. It’s now two and a half hours later, and I need to push on.

Last night, I made a note in one of my journals – always chasing things, always behind. What would it be like to have all day and every day to create? Would it make my stuff any better, any more successful? There is no answer to that, because it’s a hypothetical question unless I win the Lottery that I never play.

It’s not news that we live in a world of untruths. Putin is just the latest in a long line of public liars. My despair is at the pain these liars inflict, and at the fact their lies are believed. What makes us politically aware that are politically aware? I was wondering that the other day, thinking back to the sheltered right-wing upbringing my parents gave me – how did I escape from that and become the left-leaning man I am? Perhaps it goes in cycles, and future generations of my family will swing back the other way. I hope not. I did have a political mentor at university who joked, the last time I saw him about 6 years ago that I was now further to the left than he was. And I had thought him a firebrand when we first met, and thought he’d be one forever. Funny old life.

We plough our ways through the days and try to find something with which we can change the world. We don’t always find that something. But tomorrow is another day.



‘You old men and your supposed riddles,’ Marit says. ‘It gets a bit tired. We’re not illiterate just because we can’t follow your in jokes, and your faux philosophy.’

‘Marit,’ Robert says, an edge in his voice.

‘Oh, come on, Dad,’ she says. ‘We’re all grown-ups, aren’t we?’

‘Indeed,’ Martin says. ‘You’re absolutely right.’ He leans back in his chair, crosses his arms, makes himself comfortable. ‘Robert and I meet here every day, usually for lunch. We’ve known each other for a very long time. I’m older than he is, of course, and by far the wiser man.’ He laughs to himself. ‘I suppose that was an in joke, was it?’

Marit shakes her head. Aggie stifles a grin.

‘He’s wiser than me, really,’ Martin says. ‘By far. He’s the holy man compared to my unholiness. Isn’t that right?’

‘Hm?’ Robert says, the menu in his hand. ‘Whatever you say, old boy.’ He puts the menu down. ‘Shall we get on and eat? You can tell the rest of the story over dinner. I’m starving.’

‘So much for the holy man being an ascetic,’ Martin says.

‘I like simple pleasures,’ Robert says. ‘Good food, good wine, good company.’

‘Very well,’ Martin says. ‘I’ll have my usual. And you good people, just choose whatever you want. Starter, main dessert. YOu never know what tomorrow might bring.’

‘I’m going back to Norwich,’ Aggie says.

‘What?’ Zav says. ‘You’ve only just got here.’

‘I have my instructions,’ she says.

‘What about us?’ Anna says.

‘Stay here with Robert and the others,’ Aggie says. ‘You’re all safe here.’

‘I’m not letting you go back on your own,’ Anna says.

‘Nor me,’ Zav says.

Aggie smiles. ‘No ulterior motive there at all,’ she says.

No response.

‘That’s what we call a conversation stopper,’ Martin says.

‘I’m good at those,’ Aggie says.

They order their food. The waiter disappears off with scribbled notes on a pad that seems to have seen better days.

‘We won’t have to wait for long,’ Martin says. ‘They’re very good. All fresh stuff, too.’

‘So did the two of you meet for lunch today?’ Aggie says.

‘Of course,’ Robert says. ‘It wouldn’t do to deviate from the tradition.’

‘That’s what it’s all about, is it?’ Marit says. ‘Tradition?’

‘And information,’ Martin says. ‘We like to keep each other informed.’

‘But you wouldn’t have known at lunch time that we were coming,’ Katharina says.

Robert shrugs. ‘I phoned him earlier.’ He fiddles with his napkin. ‘And Cassie said yesterday she wouldn’t be surprised if Marit showed up with a bunch of her friends in tow.’

Marit’s mouth opens and shuts.

Martin chuckles. ‘Oh, yes. The mysterious Cassie. A very attractive young woman. My wife invariably gets jealous when I tell her I’m meeting Robert and Cassie.’

‘That’s because she knows your past better than you remember it,’ Robert says.

‘Perhaps,’ Martin says. ‘Maybe it’s because I’m so boring that she needs to invent some excitement for me.’

‘For us both, I think,’ Richard says. ‘After all, we’re old men, past all our adventures.’

‘So what adventures have you had together,’ Aggie says. ‘You didn’t finish telling us.’ She has a vision of finally finding the mentor again.

‘If we told you, we’d have to kill you,’ Martin says.

‘That’s disappointing,’ Aggie says. ‘Then let me guess.’ She pauses while a gang of waiters puts down seven identical plates of wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce on toasted brioche. ‘Thank you,’ she says, and smiles the widest smile her mechanics allow her to. She cuts off a piece of brioche, forks mushroom and sauce onto it, chews. The flavours invade her mouth. ‘Dear God, that’s wonderful.’

‘Yes, it is,’ Robert says, his mouth full. ‘And it’s my second helping today.’

Aggie puts down her fork, wipes her mouth delicately, and speaks quietly. ‘My guess is you’re a Russian defector of old, and that you were called Mikhail when you were a young man. Correct?’

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