Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 234

At ten to midnight last night, I finally punched holes in all the printouts of this blog and put them into the lever arch folder M got for me a few weeks ago. I gave up cutting it up and sticking it in my journal months ago because it was taking up too much space and made handwriting into the journal a perilous activity (well, there’s perilous and then there’s just inconvenient, but you get my drift). and I was doing it because, once again, I’d gone to bed on a Sunday night, been almost asleep when something or other set my mind racing, and I was wide awake again. Part of me thinks that perhaps this is because late on a Sunday is my only real alone time, or maybe it’s the time when my mind gathers itself for the week ahead and all the to do lists in the world start dancing around in my head. The other thing last night was that fully-formed Greek words were swirling around my brain, even if I didn’t know what some of them meant (and some of them I did know the meaning of). Earlier in the day, M had laughed when I spoke some Greek, because I was talking it in a Norwegian accent. I am the Tower of Babylon. Mixing metaphors again.

I started this at 07:45, thinking I’d get it done before I started work. No such luck. It’s now gone 13:00, and I have a few seconds to type what I’m just typing.

Just as I was thinking of unretiring myself from cricket because the lads were one person short and all out for 24 on Saturday, my back has decided to play up (a message from the gods?), adding to the discomfort in my feet. Old age is a bummer, I tell you. And why do I sound so damn upbeat? I’m meant to be a miserable writer type; mad poet in the garret etc etc. The truth of course is that I am most of the time. Ask M. She has to live with me (well, she doesn’t, but she does).

The day has migrated further towards evening now, past my official day job end time. Most of the afternoon I’ve been in calls and zooms, all interesting, and all chatty, because when you deal with death and misery as part of your day job every day, it’s important to have chat, and to be open and honest, because, seriously, otherwise it just wouldn’t work.

Last thing – I’ve had so many compliments about yesterday’s poem. Thank you, all of those who’ve messaged me. It’s good to know my words do matter.



The cellar is empty as Aggie unlocks the door and lets herself back into the space. The files have all been tidied back onto their shelves. Aggie opens the box nearest to her, and pulls out the top report, closes the box again. She takes the steps up to the kitchen two at a time, towards the smell of something good. Someone’s had the time to think of cooking. Her stomach rumbles, and she rubs her face with her free hand. She must look a state, but she doesn’t really care. That’s the problem with not needing to sleep; it leaves her in a constant state of feeling like she should feel and look exhausted, in a constant state of wondering about wear and tear. She hears their voices, some tones of levity there, and pushes open the kitchen door. They’re all sitting round the table, tucking in to what looks like spaghetti with a beef sauce.

‘You found the freezer then,’ Aggie says.

‘Yes, I did,’ Lilibet says and gets up. ‘You’re well supplied.’

‘Constantly in siege readiness,’ Aggie says, and smiles slowly. ‘You know how it is.’ She shrugs.

‘Sit down,’ Lilibet says. ‘Help yourself. I made it.’ She gazes at Aggie. ‘I hope you like it.’

‘How could I not if you made it?’

‘We did help,’ Marit says.

‘Putting out the plates,’ Katharina says. ‘Felt a bit spare, truth be told.’

Aggie hangs her coat over the back of the chair, ignores the bullet hole in the floor from Zav’s visit, fills her plate, tucks in without saying any more. She sees Lilibet watching her, and stops. ‘God, it’s amazing. Where did you learn to cook like that?’

‘Needs must and all that,’ Lilibet says.

‘This is better than needs must,’ Aggie says. ‘You should have a restaurant.’ The plastic wallet is burning a hole in her coat behind her, but she doesn’t say anything, doesn’t want to break the lightened mood.

‘I need money for that,’ Lilibet says. ‘And it’s not exactly a great time for hospitality right now, is it?’

‘Killjoy.’ Aggie refills her plate

‘Realist.’ Lilibet laughs.

‘Perhaps when this is all over. The killing. Valentine. The pandemic.’

‘So what did you find?’ Katharina says.

‘Not much,’ Aggie says. She doesn’t want to give anything away, wants to talk to Lilibet on her own first, before she tells the other two what she has to do. Wonders if Norway has a Secret Service, too, if that’s where Katharina learned what she showed in the bedroom earlier. She feels crowded again. ‘The tunnel’s ancient, one exit a Pull’s Ferry, one in the cathedral, and one at the castle.’

‘It took you a long time to find that out,’ Marit says.

‘I didn’t just follow the tunnel. I thought there might be something in it, not just at the end of it,’ Aggie says.

‘It ends at the castle then, does it?’ Katharina says.

‘Looks like it,’ Aggie says, her mouth full. ‘It was getting on a bit when I got there, so I didn’t actually go into the castle. That’s for another day.’

‘The cathedral’s still there, then?’ Lilibet says, grinning.

Aggie looks out of the kitchen window. The lights have gone out, and the cathedral has disappeared into the dark. ‘It was when I was there,’ she says. ‘But now I can’t be sure.’

‘You’re weird,’ Marit says.

‘Marit!’ Katharina looks at her crossly.

‘Well, it’s true. Just because the lights have gone out, doesn’t mean the cathedral’s gone.’

‘Bertrand Russell did once say that you can never be sure something’s there if you can’t see it or touch it,’ Lilibet says.

Aggie raises an eyebrow. You’ve read Russell?’

‘Hasn’t everyone?’ Lilibet says, and starts clearing up the table. ‘We need to make a plan for tomorrow.’

‘Let’s think about that in the morning. I’m tired,’ Aggie says, and looks at Lilibet willing her to understand that she’s had enough company for now and wants, needs, the two of them to be alone.

‘I get the message,’ Katharina says, and smiles. ‘Come on, girl, let’s leave these two to have a talk.’

‘I’m not a child,’ Marit says, sullen again. ‘I do know when I’m not wanted.’

‘I don’t think it has anything to do with that, my dear,’ Katharina says, and gets up. ‘IT’s got something to do with respecting other people’s privacy.

‘Oh. Sorry.’ Maybe Marit is learning.

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