The truth is, I just want to scream very loudly, and sell all my worldly goods, and move to Agios Nikolaos. We got back very late last night. One delay was caused by people not being at their designated pick-up point when they were supposed to be, and the other by Lord knows what at the airport, so we finally got home just before midnight. The first thing M and I started doing independently of each other was to search for some of the dilapidated buildings we’d seen in AN to see if they were for sale and for how much. Of course, it’s all a bit of a pipe dream, because we can’t actually do anything about it until the children are all independent and we have some capital behind us. On the flight, I was sitting next to a large man who was man-spreading, and whom I had initially thought was at least as old as me, but on closer inspection, he was probably 20 years younger than me. Bad living doesn’t wear well. He and his wife proceeded to pour gin down their throats, which meant they woke me, in my aisle seat, when I was in deep sleep, because they needed the toilet. Don’t drink and fly, kids, it’s stupid.
We went to G’s caff one last time before we left AN, and he gave us a present to hang up in our living room, because “it gives good health and happiness.” Bless him. And Adonis Mikro took a picture of M, G, and me, which was very sweet. And now the swallows have gone, and now we’re back to winter, because that’s what it felt like last night when we got back to Norwich, and it was so cold, I expected there to be a frost on the ground. And this morning we found out that dear A had been washing her work shirt last night when the washing machine we inherited with the house (well, I suppose we bought with the house) gave up the ghost because the filter was clogged. M tried to get the filter out, nothing, and all the googles told us not to use brute force. So I went next door, and asked K if he knew anyone who knew anything about washing machines. He said “If you’re already resigned to buying a new machine, try brute force; I’ve done it in the past and it worked.” So I found my biggest set of pliers, used a bit/lot of brute force, and the filter allowed itself to be unscrewed. Partly our fault, because we’d forgotten, in the madness of the move, to even check the damn thing, mainly the fault of those who lived here before, because the damn thing was clogged with an assortment of things, including any number of matches, a small metal sword, a 5p piece, other bits of unidentifiable shrapnel, and years of fabric fluff. So we don’t need to buy a new machine, which is a relief.
I know I said I craved my keyboard, but actually, now that I’ve been back in front of it for a day (and I have tried to stick precisely to my contractual working hours today), I’m not so smitten. Writing blog posts into a text app whilst sitting on the beach and having chatter as background, not music, and the warmth around me, and then coping and pasting into the blog, seems a much more productive and gentle way of doing it than sitting in front of a desk and banging words out on what is essentially a glorified typewriter. And it’s taken some getting used to, using a full-size keyboard again. Just to close, I do have a favourite make and style of keyboard, it’s main weakness being that the letters rub off very very quickly (and it’s not cheap). About 6 weeks before our hols, I bought a pack of fluorescent yellow letters and symbols to stick on the keys, and finally stuck them on this morning (I’ve done this once before with another of the same keyboards to extend its life). It is quite helpful being able to see the letters of the keys you’re hitting.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 140
‘I’m not sure we can wait that long,’ Aggie says. ‘We don’t know how long the tranquillizer lasts.’
‘We can’t wake him up, though, can we. We don’t know how.’
‘Then let’s have a look what he’s got on him, and maybe we can just leave him here,’ Aggie says. ‘I don’t really want to take him back to your house.’
‘Nor me. Although I feel like he could do with a bit more punishment, like being laid naked on the beach.’
‘Is it really? For what they did to me?’
‘Fair point.’ Aggie starts looking through the man’s pockets. Other than the bunch of keys they saw before, he has an ID badge which says he’s Colin Smith. Aggie looks at it. ‘Probably a made-up name,’ she says. ‘So normal.’
‘People can have normal names,’ Lilibet says.
A smartphone. It asks for a password.
‘Any ideas,’ Aggie says.
‘With his name, maybe he didn’t change it.’
Aggie tries 1234. Nothing. ‘Maybe not as stupid and normal as we thought.’ She turns it over. ‘Ah, fingerprint recognition. He used his left hand to unlock the door. Must be his left index finger. She lifts the man’s finger to the sensor. The phone’s screen lights up. ‘There we go. That fingerprint stuff is not as fool-proof as people assume.’ She clicks on the contacts icon, types in Martin’s phone number from memory. A match. ‘There you go,’ she says, and shows it to Lilibet. ‘As if there was ever any doubt.
‘Vulcan?’ Lilibet says. ‘Why Vulcan?’
‘The Roman god of fire. Fire as a destructive and fertilising power. He went round inseminating virgins.’
‘Martin fancies himself as a bit of a ladies’ man then, does he?’
‘Unless this guy chose the name because he was taking the piss,’ Aggie says.
‘I can’t see that somehow. He probably demanded to be codenamed like that,’ Lilibet says.
‘I wonder why not Zeus,’ Aggie says. ‘Except for the fact Zeus isn’t Roman but Greek. Probably because Valentine sees himself as Zeus, I should think. It can’t all be Martin’s idea to infiltrate the Service and try to take over the world.’ She laughs.
‘What’s so funny?’
‘Taking over the world is just such an anachronistic baddie thing to try to do. I mean, it’s obviously what really bad people might try to do, but why can’t these idiots just let the world live in peace?’
‘That’s where you’re obviously not an anomaly, because we all want that.’
‘Is that why you were in the Army?’
‘Nothing else for a thick girl like me to do. Leave school without any decent qualifications, bum around for a while looking for work where no work is, and then think there’s nothing better to do.’
‘Nothing better to do than getting yourself killed?’
‘I don’t think anyone who joins up really thinks they’re going to get killed.’ Lilibet’s face turns serious. ‘Until their friends get killed.’
‘Is that what happened to you?’
‘A few times.’ The lines around her mouth are deep now. ‘I was with them when they died, and it wasn’t pretty.’
‘I realised it came with the territory. Even before they died, when we were killing people. Even if you can only see them through a telescopic sight, you can still see them die.’ She shrugs. ‘We all make some wrong choices at some point or another, don’t we?’
‘I think that’s all I’ve done,’ Aggie says. ‘Make the wrong choices.’