Of course, I am overjoyed that the Tories lost in Tiverton and Wakefield. Electoral pacts at the local level work. But the Tories still have a dictatorial overall majority of well over 70 seats and are trying to impose what to all intents and purposes is martial law. There is still a long way to go to get them out of power, and even when they are out of power, it will take at least a decade or two to repair the damage they have done to this country economically, physically, and reputationally. And while I support the rail strikes, and however much it pains me to say this, the unions benightedly supported Brexit, and by doing so supported the Tories in one of their main goals. I just hope that the strikes indicate a reversal of that insular and self-destructive view. Immigration threatens neither jobs nor economy nor the sovereignty the UK always had when it was part of the EU.
Enough politics. Just mark they underpin me always, even when I don’t explicitly write about them.
For now, I am
The old men stand in the bay.
They are only ankle-deep in the water,
But they stand there all afternoon,
Gesticulating at the new places
That have grown up around them,
At where the old village used to be.
They talk of their youth, and the
Early mornings out on the boats,
The girls they used to laugh with
Who became their wives; of the
New economy, and the fish place
There on the headland that their
Grandsons now catch fish for
In early morning boats.
Their skin has been beaten brown
By the unending summers across
All these years, by the heat and
Effort they spent on building up
Something that still just resembles
The old. The buses are a momentary
Inconvenience, the streets as
Narrow as ever, and they laugh at the
Drivers swearing as they reverse.
The sun has gone behind the hill now,
The one that overlooks where the
Village began and grew, and the old
Men cross their arms, let the water
Caress their feet, stiil the same water,
Still the same bay with the Church Of
Cats just over the other side, and their
Eyes light up when their wives call
Them for food, like they always did.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 129
Aggie laughs. ‘Is that what you think?’ And while she laughs, in that split second of real levity, shw wonders if she should tell him how close she came to giving up that pact with herself, how close to losing that sacred secret place somewhere inside her, that heart of her human machine, how close to strangling his evil life out of him, and delivering what soul he has (and she’s not sure he has a soul) to a hell of his own making. She laughs into his face, her mouth wide open, her breath fiery with hate, an avenging dragon, come from the old times that most people think are myth and fantasy, a beast full of fury, and forever invanquishable. Her spittle lands on his face, invisble acid that drains his face of any colour it might still have, draws red lines down his cheeks, burns into him, hurts him. And as quickly as her laughter started it ends, and her breath returns to its shallow normality, and her massive right hand caresses his blood and spittle-flecked white hair, so gentle he almost leans into her. ‘That’s enough,’ she says. ‘We need to go.’ And as her touch fades, Martin does lean towards her, like he craves more of that caress, that unexpected care. ‘Do with him as you will,’ she says to Robert. ‘Oh, one last thing.’ Her hand dives into Martin’s jacket and pulls out a mobile phone. ‘I almost forgot.’ as she touches its keypad it lights up. ‘I thought so. Too arrogant to even password it.’ Her fingers dance of the screen. ‘And secure.’ She raises an eyebrow. ‘And your number.’ She coughs, lowers her voice a couple of octaves, and in a perfect imitation of Martin’s voice says ‘How very splendid, old chap.’ She claps Robert on the shoulder. ‘I’ll call you.’
Lilibet follows her out of the room. In the hall, she stops. ‘What do you think Robert will do?’
‘He knows what my plan is now,’ Aggie whispers. ‘Bait. Did you see Martin look at me when I did his voice?’ She puts her arm round Lilibet. ‘But first we need to get you home.’
Lilibet goes first this time, checks the surroundings carefully, back into soldier mode.
Aggie watches her, smiles to herself at how the woman’s litheness seems to have returned, how she seems to thrive in this sudden dangerous reality, not the scared timid creature she was when they’d got her out of Valentine’s control.
They jump into the car. Aggie fires it up, checks the electric meter and the petrol gauge. ‘Should be enough to get us there. And I’ve got plenty of cash if it’s not.’
‘How do you know everything you do?’ Lilibet says.
‘I don’t know. It’s just there.’ For some reason, despite everything that’s happened, the murder her companion unwittingly committed, despite the fact that she hardly know her, Aggie trusts her. The impossibility of the situation doesn’t make her uncertain. If anything, it makes her more certain. She takes a hand off the steering wheel, rummages in her coat pocket, and hands Lilibet one of the small handguns. ‘So you can properly ride shotgun.’
‘After what I did?’ Lilibet shivers as she takes the gun, and her voice trembles.
‘After what Valentine did,’ Aggie says, and dares not look at her.