Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 160

“I’ve been a bit worried about you – you seem so preoccupied with all the shite.” Thus reads the second line from an email I got yesterday from my lovely friend A. Read this to yourself with a NorthEast accent, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from smiling. It certainly made me smile. Often it’s reassuring to hear others are thinking about you. And A’s email finished with a paragraph musing on time and her own situation that was pure poetry (and that I won’t quote here, because it’s too precious and because she will turn it into a complete poem if she stops putting her writing persona to one side and starts scribbling again. Go read her marvellous novel, A Place For Connie, and then email her and ask her nicely to write more stuff. I’d like her to write more, because she’s good at it. But like most good writers she doesn’t acknowledge that she is. I did tell her not to worry about me. Her life is full enough as it is.

Therapy yesterday was interesting again. Despite my depression last week, I felt in a good place yesterday, and realised that perhaps the depression had seemed so extreme because I’d been in such a good place before it, too. My therapist asked me if there was anything in particular that I thought might have caused this latest episode, and I told her, just as I wrote last week, that I couldn’t think of a catalyst, that I’d been wracking my brain to see if there had been one, and had come up with a blank. Except for the the feeling that time was slipping beyond my grasp. And I’m kind of dealing with that in my head now.

The roar of fighter planes has restarted here. We have normalised war. I have said this before, but it bears repeating. At least, some might say, the noise comes from “friendly” planes. But for how long will they be friendly? Who’s to say that Johnson, or any right-wing enemy of mine, won’t turn one of those planes on me? And I’ve not descended into paranoia – I am just very aware that the machinations of state can very easily boil over into personal and secretive vendettas against private individuals. Therein lies the essence of tyranny. The tyranny we live in right now, despite Johnson’s extremely narrow victory in the vote of no confidence earlier this week. Pick these things apart, and you’ll see he has normalised the Ukraine war so much to use it as a convenient lever in his quest for personal survival in his position as Prime Minister, an office whose dignity and integrity he has besmirched as much as Trump did that of President of the USA. Politicians of this type thrive on wars and will never stop them. Personal glory is all that matters to them. And never forget that those two men, regardless of whether or not they are in office, will always be a clear and present danger to freedom and democracy. Plus any number of other dictators, tyrants and manipulators, with Putin top of that list, and from what I see not in danger of leaving office for some time to come, despite all the speculation about his physical and mental health.

Another day when I thought I would run out of words before I started. I’ve not written a poem in an age. I was going to turn that lovely daughter/father interaction I wrote about the other day into a poem, but it didn’t happen. Maybe it will.



Martin shakes his head. ‘Stop being so damn soft, for God’s sake.’ He points at the control device. ‘Why hasn’t this exploded yet? Whoever controls it must have noticed by now it’s not connected any more.’

‘What … what is it?’ Lilibet says.

‘It was inside you,’ Aggie says. ‘That’s where your three weeks have gone. Controlled by someone else.’

‘Impossible,’ Lilibet says.

‘Unfortunately not,’ Martin says. ‘Whoever you are, whatever you are, that is what was making you do what you did.’ He scratches his chin, grey stubble now showing, and making him look older than he is. ‘We have two major issues right now. One – there may be others still out there right now, just waiting to attack again. Two – we need to take that thing apart before it does leak acid all over Robert’s kitchen table.’

Aggie snorts. ‘Why you two old men lost control of all this in the first place is beyond me. You pretend to be so organised, so in control, but it’s your ineffectiveness that let this happen in the first place. You lost control of the devices, you lost control of Valentine, you just let it all slip away. And now we have this mess.’

‘There’s no use pointing the finger right now,’ Zav says. ‘They may be useless, but that’s by the by.’

Robert says nothing, stares glumly at the floor, blinks slowly, his cheeks red.

Lilibet follows the conversation, mouth open, eyes flicking from one to the other. Her mouth is a hard straight line now. She says nothing, takes a shy sip of her coffee, puts the cup on the table, runs her hands along her thighs, still in their black combat trousers.

‘Fine,’ Aggie says. ‘I’ll make this device the priority then, shall I?’ She turns to Lilibet. ‘Just bear with me. We’ll get you back up to Montrose when it’s light.’

‘Stop making promises you may not be able to keep,’ Martin says.

‘I don’t make promises I can’t keep,’ Aggie says. ‘That’s your area.’ She gets up, ignores Martin, ignores them all. ‘Do you have any fire tongs?’ She shakes her head. ‘Forget it.’ She picks up the small black box, goes across to the sink, lowers the box into the white porcelain, rummages in her pocket for what looks like a Swiss Army knife. She bites her bottom lip as she turns the box over and round and over again. ‘Hm.’ She grabs a for out of the draining rack to hold the box still, puts the tip of the knife into a small groove she’s seen, twists it gently until she hears the soft click of it coming apart. ‘They won’t have installed a recording device in here,’ she says, mainly to herself. ‘They’ll have done that the other end if they did it at all. Maybe not, so that there’s no incriminating evidence. Just eyes and ears and no brain.’ She takes a step back. ‘Why’s there no anti-tampering mechanism? A trap?’

‘Maybe they just never expected anyone to be able to retrieve the box,’ Zav says, next to her now. ‘So there was no need.’

‘We didn’t have anything like that on ours,’ Robert says, staying on the opposite side of the room, near Lilibet, supporting himself on the oak Welsh dresser. ‘Never even thought of the possibility. It wasn’t meant to be something that self-destructed or destroyed whoever was wearing it.’

‘And you tell me I’m being too kind.’ Aggie still doesn’t look at him.

‘Stop being so angry,’ Zav whispers to her. ‘It’s a waste of energy.’

Aggie shakes her head. ‘I know, but I can’t stop it. Such carelessness.’

‘Different times.’

‘Death is the same whatever time we’re in.’

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