Richard Pierce

Life, Sport

Day 167

It must be quite warm. I’m not wearing any jumpers at all today, although that might change when I go for my walk later. I’ve also closed the blind of the study (which is something I hate doing) so that the temp doesn’t rise too much more in here – it’s 28C in here right now, a testament to the great insulation. I am still, as I have been for the past thirty years, wracking my brain to invent a device that will just soak up any excess summer  heat in rooms and save it for the winter – and no, I’m not talking batteries or photovoltaic cells or anything like that. I have this vision of finding a material that can be made into a small cube not connected to anything that sits in the middle of a room (or somewhere) and which just absorbs excess heat when days are warm, and then you can touch touch the cube on a cold day (week or months or years later) and it releases the warmth you need. Just imagine what that would do for worldwide energy consumption. And it would need to be cheap and environmentally friendly to make. I’ll let my brain keep working on that one. Maybe someone has already made one and just not told the world about it because they want to make lots of money out of it. That’s not my primary goal with the thought. Anyway…

I had intended to write this first thing, especially as we got up early as A had to be on the 6:51 train this morning to go up to Manchester for the Harry Styles concert she has a ticket for. And she was working the Elton John gig at Carrow Road till late yesterday. But I got distracted. I’d got the first pre-record in the can at 10pm last night, so I started the second one this morning. I had thought I’d find it difficult to treat it like a live show, but, as I said to M last night while I was playing a long track, even pre-recording makes me hyper. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s yet another thing that confirms to me what I’ve thought for a long time – I’m just a natural broadcaster. Now for a huge national audience…

That’s two paras that have finished with ellipses. Seeing as the dictionary definition says ellipses are either a sudden leap from one topic to another or marks indicating a pause, I’m obviously applying them correctly. I must admit to loving to use them in dialogue, too. And talking of writing, at lunch-time I ended up loading my e-reader with lots of e-books that weren’t free – and quite a few that were. I hope that sees me through two weeks on hols.

Just distracted by a whatsapp with A. I didn’t realise the Styles gig was at the Old Trafford cricket ground. I realised that I was there almost to the day 43 years ago to watch England beat New Zealand by 9 runs in the World Cup. I just looked at the online score card – there were some great great players on both sides in that game. I was only 18 then. And that’s a good place to stop for today.

 

AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 121

‘You bastard,’ Aggie says, squeezes down on Martin’s throat again. ‘You’ve betrayed Robert.’

‘What’s it … what’s it to you?’ He stares at her as she lifts her arm a little again, the red mist fading from her eyes. ‘You’re just a pawn in this game anyway. Jumped-up chambermaid. Valentine’s probably had his way…’

Aggie hits him, hits him so hard he loses consciousness for a moment. She breathes deeply to control her rage. It’s not a rage about countries, not about betraying one flag or another, not about this stupid game they play of being spies and sharing secrets they shouldn’t share, not even rage about a man making himself rich on the misfortune of other. It’s the pure white heat of anger of seeing a man she has come to respect in the space of a few hours betrayed, a man whom she feels sorry for, a man whom, she has to admit, she has come to admire despite his obvious weaknesses, and because of the slow disease that’s invading his body that he’s told no-one about. It’s rage about emotional abuse, about exploitation, about the telling of lies when friends aren’t meant to lie to each other. Friends put their hands in the flame for each other. Friends give up their lives for each other. She looks at the haggard face below her and asks herself why she didn’t realise this straightaway – the lack of concern Martin showed when that poor guy melted in the restaurant, the lack of shock at being shot at, Martin’s desperate attempt at making sure Lilibet was punished for something that he, he, initiated, he planned. And now she doesn’t know what to do. Does Martin have a transmitter in him? He can’t have. He’d never degrade himself to being a mere foot soldier. He’d never agree to being monitored and followed. He’d never do anything from a position of weakness. He’d always have the upper hand.

She slaps him again, softly this time, until his eyes snap open. ‘Still on the ground, old man,’ she snarls, and flashes a huge smile at him. ‘Still under my control.’ She lowers her face so that his stubble almost grazes her perfectly smooth skin. ‘You’ll pay for this one way or the other.’ She has her knife in her hand now, the lightening movement too fast for him even to have perceived, and she starts to draw lines on his forehead with its fine blade, more precise than a scalpel, starts to carve letters into his old parchment skin, letters that will forever mark him out for the Cain he is.

He’s frightened now, tries to move out of the way of the blade, but she’s gripping him too tightly with her legs, with her free arm, for him to get away.

‘Who’s Valentine’s grandmother?’ she says, and the thought ravages her mind that it must have been the mentor.

‘My late and great first wife.’ His words are bullets. ‘The exemplar. The first wearer of the primitive device. The missing link. The dead Russian.’

‘You killed her!’

‘She killed herself.’ These words are  just throwaway lines. ‘She was going to tip off Robert that I was doing more than just giving useless information to my countrymen.’

‘Why?’

‘Because she never cared for the mother country. She did everything under duress. More interested in Western makeup and clothes and men than in victory for the Soviet Union.’

‘Says the man living in the lap of luxury with his English wife.’

‘I sacrificed myself.’ He spits the words out, and more dribble runs down his cheeks.

‘Enough now,’ Aggie says, and pushes her fingers down over his pressure point, a rageless gesture to stop him talking, to stop him moving. She picks him up, flips the car boot open, and drops him into it, slams it shut again.

‘What now?’ Lilibet squeaks.

‘I don’t know,’ Aggie says. ‘I need a moment to think.’ She grabs the key out of the ignition, and stares out across the featureless ocean. ‘Can you hold your breath for a long time?’

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