Let’s face it. Self-editing is all very well, but depression knows no self-editing. I slept solidly but badly, if that makes sense, was at my desk here by 7:45 putting together some of the report I need to send to my board on Monday. Then a call from my sister and her German husband to talk about politics during the course of which conversation I woke up M with my loudly-spoken German. The political situation in the UK is too complex for a single simple conversation, and it’s become very obvious to me that our neighbours in Europe look upon the UK with a mix of incredulity and laughter. We are the sick country of Western Europe, a laughing stock. Then a quick breakfast, half of what I was planning, because I was now behind schedule, then my stretches, then my second espresso, and then on air with weary legs, weary head, weary everything. And then an explosion of WhatsApp chats which drove me to despair. This I can and must self-edit.
There is no self-editing depression, just to repeat myself. There’s a catalyst sometimes, although most of the time there isn’t. This time it’s this perception I have of making no progress with anything, of forever being stuck in this damn messy study, of each day being the same, of banging my head against the brick wall the obtuseness of those not interested in politics is, the obtuseness of those who don’t realise or even understand that the Tories have been taking them for a ride for the last 12 years (and for all the years they have been in power before that), the obtuse and self-degrading subservience of those people who really do believe that the current monarch, and the monarchy per se, has been serving the country for as long as it has existed. Sorry, folks, it just hasn’t been. It’s always taken, and it has never ever ever given. Even when monarchs still fought on a battlefield, they didn’t do it for the people, they did it for their own personal gain, except in those days with slightly more risk to personal safety.
And now I am back from having walked into town to meet up with M and I who went down there before I’d come off air. However harsh this sounds and is, there was not a single person I saw who was in the least aesthetically pleasing (actually there was one – a young woman with her dogs on the Heath who smiled at me before I’d manage to uncrumple my frown into a smile). So many people with no sense of real manners (not those rule-book manners made up by the Upper Class to differentiate themselves from the people, not those invented traditions that, if you fail them, will get you banished to the edges of this monarchdom), so many men walking on the inside of the pavements instead of on the edge of the pavement, so many people who really shouldn’t be the size they are (and I know my kids will tell me that I should have self-edited this bit), so many people without masks, without common sense, without anything to mark them out as anything other than sheeple. I am sick of it, so so sick of it. And you all know, you all do really know, deep down, who has made this country the way it is. And this has been going on for centuries.
Nowadays I am only happy with loud music and words around me.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 109
Although Aggie knows it’s risky, although she’s sure that whoever is controlling this robot wouldn’t be expecting to see more than the darkness of this belfry or grey and less grey shadows through its night vision, although she knows that the device inside this thing (because that’s what it is right now) could explode at any time, she grabs round the surprising curves of the shape and sinks her hand into the flesh of its belly, through the hardness of what must be a six-pack, notes the irony of doing this in a church, incising into a living body where the Roman soldier inserted his lance into the body of Jesus on the cross, feels the blood trickle, ever so slowly, down her fingers. She doesn’t hesitate once her fingers find what they’re looking for, rips the device out of the stiff body she’s holding in her left hand, that hand still clenching down on the pulse point, holding the slack body like a ventriloquist’s dummy, reasons that the device must have some sort of acid capsule in it to have caused that other robot in the restaurant to have collapsed in on itself the way it did, drops the device into one of her many pockets, wills the wound to close quickly and stop bleeding just like Anna’s did by the side of the road all those hours ago that seem like days, that feel like they belong to another era, another time, another place altogether. If the acid starts spilling out, so be it. She has to take this risk, get the body and the device back to Robert’s house, back to somewhere she can look at it without the pressure of action on her, without the need to think about the consequences. And then she will go back to Norwich, she will find what Cassandra wants her to find, she will bring this sorry story to some sort of ending, or at least this part of it.
Scotland crosses her mind, what Robert said, shipyards and flags and slogans and chaos and uproar and riots and streets full of fight, full of violence, and the echoes of words stolen from those flags, and the endless seeking for something better, for something more valid and valuable than this. And the boy’s face and the betrayal and the need to know more about him, the need to know more about herself, to understand her provenance, to understand who she is, to know, to be sure that se is something more than this, more than a weapon sharpened by the mentor which has chosen to blunt itself because she doesn’t want to be a killing machine, because she still has some semblance of conscience left, because what she wants is to be happy, to be able to smile without thinking about it, to be away from the succession of wars which have eroded humankind’s ability to believe in good.
Aggie inhales the perfume of the still unconscious shape, wonders why she’d surprised that this one might be a woman, asks herself how desperate these people must have been to have these control devices implanted, or how imprisoned they must have been to have had them put in without their consent, not of their own free will, but under some anaesthetic they’d been given under false pretences. Perhaps he’ll tell Aggie, this particular lost soldier, perhaps she’ll be back to her previous self.
It’s time. Aggie won’t let herself be distracted right now. She makes sure the wounds have sealed and healed, doesn’t let go of the pulse point, throws the unnamed woman over her shoulder, and climbs back out of the the belfry arch onto the ledge, looks all the way down to where she can see the lights of Robert’s house still shining up through the night. They look so homely, so safe, so comfortable and kind, although they are anything but. Speed now, she says to herself. Of the essence. She takes a deep breath, adjust her grip on the body over herself, looks one last time at those twinkling lights down there. And jumps.