Richard Pierce


Day 139

I am very late today. Technology has conspired against me.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I stuck the past few days’ blogs into my journal. I went out into the garden in t-shirt and shorts and, remembering how there is a school of thought that says you’re more grounded if you stand on grass barefooted, I slipped off my shoes and stood on the dew-dampened lawn with my poor ill-treated feet exposed. It felt wonderful, and I had an urge to take off all my clothes and lie on the grass to ground my entire self, but I resisted that urge. I stood there, for a long while though, and watched the lightning start to drift up towards Norwich from the south. It never turned into thunder, which was a great disappointment.

The thoughts of groundedness probably also came from third session of therapy in this almost experimental third phase of therapy, therapy which started in 2018, I think, and the first course of which ran for over 40 weeks. I had started the conversation with my therapist yesterday saying that I thought perhaps I had been too hasty in approaching her again for further treatment, that I had externalised the possible mechanisms to addressing what I perceived as being a sliding into bad old habits, assumed that an external agency (her) would be more likely to be able to solve the issue whilst forgetting a) that there are no quick fixes, b) that mental health issues do not have simple solutions, and c) that perhaps all the answers this time round were (are) inside me already. We discussed this at length, and, although I feel in a much better place already than a month ago, decided that we’d have a few more sessions so that I might be able to explore in greater depth how to access these answers within myself, and to keep those pathways to my self open that allow me to reach those answers rather than forgetting them. What seems to elude me often, being so often impatient (and lazy) by nature, is that all things need practice – sport, mental health, writing, relationships. There is no such thing as a quick fix anywhere. Even reflex reaction such as catching the ball is honed by hours of practice.

So here I am, late afternoon, putting to one side everything that has gone before and reflecting on the day that’s been so far rather than entirely on the day before. This is in some ways a good thing. On the other hand, it leaves me chasing my tail insofar as I feel out of synch because the early morning day job hour first thing followed immediately by the writing is meant to kickstart not just my writing day but my day as a whole. And I haven’t been for my daily 2-miler yet either. Every day so far this week has seemed like a postponement.



‘This all doesn’t make sense to me,’ Aggie says. ‘Am I being stupid?’

‘Stupid how?’ Martin says, his pose slightly more relaxed, though he still has his old pistol in his hand.

‘Here’s why,’ she says. ‘Why would Valentine steal technology that’s been provided to you by his then masters in the first place? Why would Russia give you technology it has, only for Valentine to steal it back again?’

‘In which case it wouldn’t even be stealing, would it?’ Martin says.

‘You’re engaging in useless semantics again, Martin, old friend,’ Robert says. ‘Do give it a rest.’

‘You spoil all my fun,’ Martin says.

‘This doesn’t seem like a lot of fun to me,’ Aggie says. ‘We’re going round in circles and getting further away from what we want to know.’ She sighs. ‘And, to top it all, why would the Russians give you their technology in Poland and in a dead Russian who happened to be your handler and wife?’

‘I have no idea at all,’ Martin says. ‘All I can imagine is that they punished her for my defection, though a long time after the event, and that she’d been an experiment in this technology in the first place.’

‘Are you sure she was dead?’ Aggie says.

‘Stank to high heaven, I can tell you that,’ Martin says. ‘It wasn’t pleasant at all.’

‘Idiot,’ Robert says.

‘It may also be pertinent,’ Martin says, ignoring his friend, ‘That she had been an advisor to Boris Yeltsin after I left her, and that this might also not have done her any favours when Putin came into power.’

‘She was a busted flush, you mean?’ Zav says.

‘If that’s how you wish to put it,’ Martin says. ‘An old busted flush. She should have escaped while she could.’

‘You encouraged her to?’ Zav says.

‘Hell, no,’ Martin says. ‘I’d been married properly for a long time by then, and wouldn’t have wanted anyone to endanger this belief of my family and everyone else in me as a perfect Englishman.’

‘Might someone else have killed her, like someone not Russian?’ Anna says.

‘Like me, you mean?’ Martin says, digging his index finger into his chest.

Anna laughs. ‘No, actually. I meant someone else, someone Aggie and I vaguely remember, someone in whose interests it might have been to pass on duff technology, and at the same time cause a ruckus between Russia and England, and somehow to make sure that the technology went back to Russia, with interest in its further development fanned to boiling point because the English had stolen it in the first place?’

Martin raises an eyebrow. ‘A bit complicated, isn’t it?’

‘Give me a different scenario,’ Anna says. ‘You’re the successful businessman, or so you say. What better marketing ploy, to generate interest in a product by making it seem that everyone wants it and someone steals it, and then you decide it needs further improvement.’ She turns her head. ‘And the result is out there.’

‘And we have no way of knowing how many were made nor how many deployed,’ Martin says.

‘No,’ Anna says. ‘But what we do know is that the devices you got were inferior, because I had one of them inside me and it didn’t work. It may never have worked.’

‘You don’t know that,’ Aggie says. ‘Maybe it got switched off or just stopped working.’

‘It didn’t work,’ Anna says. ‘I’m sure of it. That’s why.’ And she pulls her top away from her shoulder so that everyone can see the scar. ‘That’s why you were supposed to kill me, because it wasn’t working.’

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