Today, I am paralysed by reality. … Self-censors … Being a parent is the most painful state of all … Self-censors … Our children remain our children, and we don’t stop loving them. … Self-censors … Parenting is so difficult for those who care about their children. Sometimes people, including our children, kid us that we are good parents even when we pick over the wreckage of their lives. Let me leave it there. But it needed to be said. All that I can add is that we can work to rebuild that wreckage. Quite how is another question.
Let me be clear about one thing – I’m talking about mental health issues. They affect us all. Parents, children, friends, anyone. And government funding of mental health care is appalling. And, today of all days, it’s important to say that the conduct of the politicians currently in power, not just the policies they implement, not just the abject failure of them to adequately fund the NHS, but also their public behaviour, is directly detrimental to the mental health of millions of people in the UK. Imagine someone with fragile mental health who is malleable to circumstance, and who sees those in the great offices of state drinking, lying, sexually abusing, bullying, behaving as if the “small” people don’t matter, treating the people’s money as their own, giving bungs to their friends, abusing the unwritten constitution etc etc. This inevitably has disastrous direct consequences for people with poor mental health. And to see today Boris Johnson resign, and not resign (because he didn’t use the word and has not formally tendered his resignation to the Queen), and to see him claim that he had done so many things he manifestly has not done (like beat covid-19, introduce the best vaccination programme, get Brexit done – a charlatan’s claim if there ever was one -, make people’s lives easier, reduce the tax burden, properly address the cost of living crisis), must fill people with poor mental health, who want nothing more than to live in a good country, despair.
And let’s just be even clearer – we are living our way through a massive constitutional crisis. After his “resignation” speech, Johnson walked straight back into 10 Downing Street and into a meeting of his newly-appointed Cabinet. There is nothing to stop him putting into place new laws and legislation without parliamentary scrutiny, nothing to stop him declaring himself a PM for life. It may breach the unwritten constitution, but because it’s not written, it’s easy to break. This is what happened when he unlawfully prorogued Parliament. He will try to hide behind the parliamentary recess, which is in less than two weeks, and work his way back to new power. Do not be complacent. Do not celebrate his fall, because he hasn’t fallen yet. Even if the news reports that he has.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 141
‘You’re wrong,’ Lilibet says.
‘I didn’t mean you.’ Aggie looks up at her. ‘You will never be a wrong choice, never a regret.’
Lilibet smiles. ‘Thank you.’
‘Everything else is, though. At least until I know what’s real and what’s not.’
‘We’ll put it together. We will. That’s a promise.’
”Perhaps a promise?’ Lilibet says.
‘No, I believe the promise. I mean perhaps we will.’ Aggie turns the bunch of keys over in her hand, scratches her head, wishes she hadn’t coloured her hair. She feels not herself. But then when did she ever. ‘There’s a key on here that doesn’t fit in with the rest.’ She slides her fingers down one key with a black rubber covering around the top. ‘A car key.’
‘What are you thinking?’
‘Maybe it has a GPS.’
‘Maybe the phone has.’
Aggie scrolls through the phone. ‘A Maps application, but no history.’
‘What are you thinking?’ Lilibet says.
‘We’re trying to find out where they implanted that thing. So maybe he drove you in his car. And if it has a GPS, it may well have a record of it.’
‘Let’s go then.’
‘We need to deal with him first.’
‘What do you suggest?’
‘I think we tie him up and throw him in the back seat of the Vampire. Gag him as well. Let’s see if he can be found.’
‘Why didn’t Martin call him when you caught me?’
‘Perhaps he didn’t know exactly where you were from. You didn’t say anything until it was too late for him to effectively do anything about it. And he knew I wouldn’t sleep throughout that drive to Filey, so he couldn’t call round and ask which robot had gone missing, and from where.’
‘That makes sense,’ Lilibet says. ‘Come on then, before he does wake up.’
Aggie rummages in her pockets, pulls out some rope.
‘Is there anything you don’t have in there?’
‘Probably not,’ Aggie says, smiles. ‘Actually, I don’t have any boiled sweets in there.’
‘I know.’ Aggie ties up the man, rips off a loose part of his boiler suit and gags him with it, puts him over her shoulder, climbs up the ladder, and drops him into the back seat of the plane so that he can’t be seen from the outside. ‘I’d still love to fly this thing.’ She looks at it longingly while she presses the cockpit cover closed. ‘I’m sure he won’t suffocate. These things were never entirely draught-proof, and they won’t have got any better with age.’
‘Maybe next time you can fly it.’
Aggie grins. ‘That would be great. Now let’s find the car.’ She tosses the bunch of keys up in the air from her right hand and catches it with her left. ‘And don’t let me forget to lock up this place on the way out.’
The door clangs closed behind them. Lilibet looks at Aggie with surprise and concern.
‘Ach,’ Aggie says. ‘I don’t care anymore. Let them come whoever you are.’
‘Maybe you’re getting tired.’
‘Tired of these wild goose chases. And the monster keeps himself hidden.’
‘Maybe he’s in Moscow, like you said.’
‘I hope not. And if he is, maybe I’ll have to come back sooner rather than later to get the plane.’
‘Only if I can come with you.’
‘Too dangerous.’ Aggie keeps clicking one of the buttons on the key. No sound anywhere.
They keep walking towards the main gate. Even when they’re just about by the gate, there’s nothing that sounds like a car being unlocked.
‘That’s really weird,’ Lilibet says.
‘It is. Unless he walked a long way. And I can’t imagine he did. He probably works here. That would make it easier all round.’
‘There are houses just across the way,’ Lilibet says. ‘Maybe he lives locally as well.’
Aggie stops. ‘I’m being stupid.’ She looks at Lilibet. ‘If he works here, why would they even take you off site to put the damn thing in place. Didn’t you say something about one of the sheds being closed to the public all the time?’
Lilibet slaps her forehead. ‘Of course.’
‘We need to find it. I think that’s where we need to look.’