Amanda Nicol Different Stories

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Hastings Independent Press Review – Dead Pets Society

Cover of Dead Pets Society by Amanda Nicol - Detail of image by Roland JarvisA big thank you to Tim Barton of Blue Green Earth, @BOOKBUSTER and Hastings Independent Press for this review of one of my ‘Roland Jarvis editions’. More about Roland and his work here.

Ecological crisis is a dour subject. It takes a lot to make a novel with this as one of its main themes enjoyable. Still less, ‘fun’. But Hastings-based Amanda Nicol achieves this in Dead Pets Society. Even direct personal grief is handled with humour, and it is such grief that leads the protagonist to conceive of the Society of the title.

 

 

 

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Dead Pets Society

Image of the front cover of the novel 'Deaad Pet's Society by Amanda Nicol)On any other day I might have cursed and said, ‘Typical,’ but when Pat and I turn up at the Fishermen’s and find it closed I’m relieved. It was a stupid idea anyway, borne of the madness of grief and I don’t want to get involved. With anyone. Unless they’re living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean or anywhere separated from here by a good few thousand miles.

 

 

 

 

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Offsetters

Cover image of dog on beach, Dead Pets Society by Amanda NicolThere’s a storm tonight. Wild weather, all over the place like a mad-angry drunk. I can hear the roar of the sea, the wind chucking rain hard against my window, the gulls crying for their young as they’re sucked from rooftops and chimney pots, tumbling through the air into the paths of boy racers’ souped-up Fiestas, the open mouths of foxes. It’s bin night too. Birds, badgers and foxes will be foraging, rubbish strewn everywhere – tea bags and tampons, condoms and fag ends, chicken bones and till receipts, nappies and banana skins. Chicks fed the crusts of sandwiches in cellophane, guts strangled by the polythene spew.

 

 

I’m wide awake listening, thinking about Chris. About the message from Lizzy, his girlfriend apparently, though this is news to me. She just wondered if I’d heard from him. She’s sorry to bother me. She found my number on a piece of paper in his room. I rang his mobile; left a mum-like ‘Hi darling, how are you?’ message. His phone was off, but that’s normal. He’s probably just trying to shake off this Lizzy person. That’s what you do, isn’t it? I get up and go to my computer to email him.

My inbox is filled with the usual.  Enjoy looking and feeling rich! Three inches guaranteed… Do you know your real age? Earn 1-3k a day! Having a baby? Consider umbilical blood banking… Bigger, firmer breasts! More credit today. View photos of singles in your area Congratulations! You have won $…!! Overcome alcoholism today. I am Beautiful Russian girl who love to make you happy… Impress with fake Rolex today. Get the body you deserve! From people called Jefferson GreatBig1, Carter S. Camp or Geneva Bliss. Junk mail: a study in the exploitation of today’s neuroses. The ten most common mistakes women make with men. Only ten? I don’t even bother to open the various green newsletters I once so earnestly subscribed to. Haven’t done for ages. It never feels like news. Just more gloomy warnings about some predictable corporate greenwash.

Hi Chris,

Left a message on your phone earlier. How’s things, darling? I’m fine, awake with the storm and the birds. Spoke to your Dad earlier. Think the new baby’s keeping them up all night! Don’t worry – I’m fine about it. Happy for them all, honest!

I delete the last line. Chris knows me better than that. I don’t mention Lizzy.

How’s the course going? I’d love to hear all about it.

Mum x

I press send and go back to bed. I imagine Rory pacing up and down, trying to soothe his new son. Rory, ever capable, unfazed, everything in hand, everything under control. Jane will be crying, red-faced and blotchy, saying she didn’t know it would be like this, and that she is so tired. Is it all my fault? No. I’m not responsible for Jane’s hormonal demands, her body clock’s time bomb. But for Rory’s ensnarement by them, perhaps. Do you get someone pregnant out of revenge?

The first thing I do on waking is check my email. Nothing from Chris. There’s another message on my mobile.

‘Hi, Mrs Walker, It’s Lizzy again. I wondered if you’d got hold of Chris yet? And …’ she pauses, ‘could you text me your email address… Hope to hear from you soon.’

What the hell was this about? I ring her. Now her phone is off.

‘Hello Lizzy, it’s Claire Walker here; I got your message … why my email address? I’m afraid I’d rather talk if that’s OK. But please do ring, anytime.’

I make some coffee, and check my email throughout the morning, getting up again and again from my drawing board. I can’t settle to work. It’s a local job I’ve picked up, for peanuts, not like London money, but it’s OK. A children’s story about a scarecrow, about his landscape changing around him and how he laughs at all the animals rushing around too busy to notice, where once he envied them their scurrying about, burying nuts here and there. Scarecrow as eco-sage, that sort of thing, there’s a lot of it about, recruiting kids for the new religion, sending them up our dirty chimneys. I don’t think it’s a great book but it will sell locally, and gives me a reason, as if I needed one, to spend hours wandering around the fields. The phone rings and I jump.

‘Chr… Oh Rory, hi. No, I haven’t, some girl … that’s right, you too? The college? Why? No. It’s definitely not necessary … he’d kill us! Anyway, it’s not term time. The police? What for? God’s sake Rory – he’s just gone AWOL for a few days…’

Rory exhales loudly. ‘Sorry, Claire. I’m very tired.’

‘I know.’

Oh Rory, you poor man. I reheat some coffee, and go out into the back garden. The buddleia’s honey scent hangs heavy in the sodden morning, the garden shocked into stillness after the storm’s offensive. The evening primrose is covered with dying blooms, slimy, some demolished by snails, no sign of the humming bird hawk moth so far this summer. No hose pipe ban this year, just this relentless skin-scouring wind and yet more flood warnings. ‘Global warming, Bring it on!’ That’s what they say down the pub. The good news is that the frogs proliferate enthusiastically so it’s not all bad. One woman’s systematic trashing of a perfectly good family – good news for Sussex amphibian life. Every cloud…

I try Chris’s mobile again, but I don’t leave a message this time. I find myself wishing that Lizzy Whoever-she-is would ring back. I feel blown about, restless. The wind has picked up, and the bamboo outside the window bends back and forth, flick then an arc, calligraphy come to life. I eat some bread and cheese, put my work away, and go out for a walk.

I head for the beach. The sea’s still high. A fishing boat bucks over the waves, perhaps catching the bass that come in to feed when the seabed has been ravaged, churning up a bonanza. The weather’s kept most folk at home, but still there are a few cars in the car park. People inside them eating fish and chips, eyes fixed on the sea and sky as if it’s Saturday night at the drive-in. One leans over to the back seat, opens the door and lets a dog jump out, watches it bounding over the shingle, ears flapping like flags. An old Victorian sewage pipe, at a discreet distance from the bath chairs and Punch and Judy, lies rusting and dripping, big enough to crawl into. They say a dog disappeared up it once, floppy ears never to be seen again.

I look up at the mass of cliff face, over the chunk of earth, down to the bedrock and the basalt revealed like root under lost gum, across at the valley carved out by the melt water of the ice age, 10,000 years back. From seven hundred million years of heavy asteroid and comet bombardment to grains of plastic on every single shore of a battered blue planet. And that’s without the stuff you can see, the shitty nappies, fishing wire, broken glass, beer cans and enough plastic to make you weep. Could all this ever be assimilated, digested, grown over, forgotten – just another geological memory? If only I could see it all as it once was, a long time ago, with no evidence of us, virgin, pristine. I’ve just been reading about augmented reality apps. Soon it will be possible to see the world as you would wish to see it, without the scars of disasters, or the detritus of industry. A virtual clean-up, bringing perpetual sunshine to our rainy days.

I make my way down the path, ignoring the sign that says I shouldn’t, clamber over the huge boulders where they’ve fallen, and get down to the beach. The tide’s still going out, the sea is grey-green, the sky is trying to clear away clouds, it darkens, lightens, darkens, lightens, huge clouds cast shadows on the sea making lagoons, reefs, depths, shallows. I pick my way over the rock pools, encrusted with tiny mussels. I stop to peer into one, a purple fringed microcosm and think of Chris as a child, how he loved rock pools and the times we spent on this coast as a family, the thrill of finding a hermit crab, or a starfish. I walk on. There’s something white on a couple of yards away. It’s a corpse. For a minute I think I’ve found an albatross. Spearhead blue-grey diver’s beak, pinky-yellow head fading to snow-white plumage on a snake-like neck, I reach down and extend a black tipped wing. It seems intact, no visible sign of damage, nothing mechanical. Sinister then, something on the inside. Poison, plastic, our fault as usual, it must be. I head home to look it up.

The bird book tells me it’s a gannet. Like a hopeless addict I google ‘dead gannet.’ ‘OBSTRUCTION AND STARVATION ASSOCIATED WITH PLASTIC INGESTION IN A NORTHERN GANNET MORUS BASSANUS AND A GREATER SHEARWATER PUFFINUS GRAVIS’ I ring Alan. He’ll know about gannets. He knows about birds, fish, plants and by now, quite a bit about me. New friendships are strange. People that don’t know the old you. But it’s the same for him too. He’s driving so he can’t talk. He says that juveniles can die at sea in bad storms. It could be that. I hear a ping from my computer. An email. Not spam, not from Chris, but from Rory. Forwarded from someone called Elizabeth Johnson.

Claire,

I gave Lizzy my email address because she asked for it. She’s sent me these links. Ring me.

http://environmentalgraffiti.co./offbeat-news/top4-environmental-extremistgroup/742

http://www.vhemt.org/death.htm#grimreaper

http://www.offsetters.eu/php

Read sample 2


 

 

 © Amanda Nicol 2016

 

On any other day I might have cursed and said, ‘Typical,’ but when Pat and I turn up at the Fishermen’s and find it closed I’m relieved. It was a stupid idea anyway, borne of the madness of grief and I don’t want to get involved. With anyone. Unless they’re living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean or anywhere separated from here by a good few thousand miles.

‘What shall we do now?’ says Pat, putting her hood up as the rain started again.

‘Let’s just forget it. Do you want to go for a drink?’ Pat looks disappointed, saying she’d brought along her photo album and everything. She was upset when I told her about Zorba, but not as knocked out by the coincidence of it all like I am.

‘Things happen in threes’, she said, sagely. When I said that Zorba made four all she said was, ‘But what if other people turn up?’

I can’t actually see that happening, but just to please her I say, ‘OK, I’ll ring her. I can’t get a signal here. Wait and I’ll go up the road.’

I wonder whether just to pretend to call, would I get away with it? I can feel Pat’s eyes on me as I walk away. She’s a canny one that Pat. Three yards on and she calls me back.

‘Mike, there’s a light on – I think she’s coming to open up.’ Damn. I turn back, pretending to look pleased.

‘Hi Kath, are you sure this is OK?’ Pat follows me in. ‘This is Pat.’

Kathy is all red-eyed and blotchy. I put down my stupid folder of silly hand-outs and just stand there like an idiot. She turns to Pat. ‘Did you hear about my dog?

‘Yes love, I’m so sorry. I know how you feel.’

‘Do you? Really? Did your dog bite a fucking DFL’s kid did he? … Oh I’m sorry love, what did you say your name was? Pat. Pat, I’m sorry. I’m just a bit … the bloody kid grabbed his tail you know? Zorb just flew round and nearly bit his fucking hand off. I didn’t even see it, one minute he was out walking with Kip, next minute the dog handlers were here and then Zorb really did lose it, so did I, and Kip, and the bloody woman was screaming blue murder and ambulance came and took the kid up to the hospital and they took Zorb away. Kip went with them… She starts sobbing again.

‘Have you got anything to drink?’ Is all I can think of to say.

‘Yeah – over there,’ she points to the far end of the counter, ‘Underneath.’ I look over at Pat to see if she is OK, or shocked or offended or anything. But she is calm and is helping Kathy into a chair, patting her shoulder and saying ‘There, there,’ and words to that effect.

I get three glasses and pour out three large Metaxas. Kath downs hers, lays her head on her arms on the table and her shoulders start shake with sobs. Just then there’s a thundering down the stairs and Kippers appears in track suit bottoms falling off his hips and a denim shirt hanging undone. Jesus, he is unbelievably sexy. I make a concerted effort not to look at him.

‘What the fuck are you two doing here. Get lost!’

‘No you get lost!’ Kath is on her feet again. ‘Go on! Piss off! You usually do you anyway! You didn’t fucking care about him anyway! He was mine! I fed him, I looked after him, all you ever did was spoil him, then disappear off somewhere!’ I have to say that I felt the drama was for our benefit, in part at least. And very impressive it was too.

Pat and I exchange glances. Kip disappears back up the stairs.

‘I think maybe we should go Kath…’

‘NO! You’re staying! Both of you, here, sit down!’ She sweeps the sauce bottle and the vinegar in its little glass decanter and the salt and dusty pepper up to the wall with some force and motions for us to sit. We lower ourselves obediently into our chairs. She then goes and gets an ashtray and the bottle of brandy and comes back. Now Kippers clumps back down the stairs with his boots and jacket on and he storms past us and slams the door shut.

‘And don’t fucking bother coming back!’ Kath shouts after him, then bursts into tears again as the tinkling of the bell on the rattling door falls silent. Only to tinkle again, open, and a head peer round.

‘Have I come to the right place?’ says Iris.

I suppose it was inevitable that it’s Kath’s evening, even though we do get to look at Pat’s photos of Eric in various stages of development. I want her to slow down so that I can see the ones of her and her late husband, but she skims over them and gets back to Eric a.s.a.p. I get the feeling that Iris disapproves of Kath, but then that seems to be the vibe she gives out. Pat listens to Kath, sipping her Metaxas politely, nodding, and saying ‘Aw!’ and ‘Oh God!’ and ‘It’s so awful, poor you!’ but with an abiding faraway look in her eyes as she speaks and nods, doing what years of training in talking to the back of someone’s head does, cutting in at the right moments like a member of the orchestra who knows the score backwards.

I get the feeling that despite what I took to be her disapproval, Iris is getting what I got from the ‘I miss my dog’ Google – i.e., that ‘at least my dog lived out his (sort of) natural life and THAT didn’t happen’ thing. See, it could have been worse. See, I am lucky. And what an absolute cow I am for comforting myself thus. She doesn’t say much about herself or Napoleon. Not that she has much chance.

‘I loved that bastard dog you know? It’s mad isn’t it – only yesterday there he was as usual! Just sitting there watching me, like when I chuck stuff out on the roof for Gully. He was a bully, but it wasn’t his fault. He was a present from Kip…’ She takes another gulp of brandy. ‘You know his name is really Cyprus don’t you? His family and mine, we go right back… Used to play together as kids. Up the cliffs … the caves. He’d scare me shitless telling me stories of the ghosts of pirates and smugglers and climbing up to get eggs from the gulls nests to take home to my mum. We stay up there for hours you know? And then he’d… well …’ Iris Pat and I exchange glances. We could be on the verge of receiving a little too much information. She sloshes more brandy into her glass. ‘Hours we’d be up there and he’d make up stories and poems and stuff… Can’t climb up there now. Wire everywhere. To stop rocks falling onto the day trippers!’ This makes her laugh. We all join in politely. ‘Yeah, I remember little Zorb, so tiny, he was too young, you know? It’s all changed round here now. Mum used to feed all the men straight off the boats. Now it’s the DFLs, Sunday papers under their arms asking for fancy coffees and do you have Earl Grey?’ she says, in a posh voice. Iris and Pat nod knowingly. I just sit there thinking Bar Italia versus Nescaff with milk and three large ones. It’s called progress isn’t it?

‘Oh, by the way, I brought some stuff you might find interesting.’ I said, embarrassed, like I was getting paid for some sort of workshop without being in the tiniest bit qualified, and gave everyone a couple of sheets with the Byron poem and the stuff about Thibault the lobster and the some stuff from the pet grief book and then Pat said she was getting tired.

‘Let’s have a toast,’ Kath tipped the last of the brandy into the four glasses. I was being good because I’d told Pat I’d give her a lift home if she came, but one more sip wouldn’t do any harm.

‘To Zorba, Harry… What was your dog called again love?’

‘Eric,’ said Pat, annoyed.

‘In no particular order,’ Kath was swaying now, ‘…as they say on the X factor … To Zorba, Harry, Eric and Napoleon, who did more for us than any bastard man ever did.’ Iris’s brows were knitted together but Pat seemed happy enough with that. ‘Zorba, Harry, Eric and Napoleon!’ We raised our glasses and Pat, really getting into the spirit raised hers a second time, ‘And to Dead Pets Society!’

‘Dead Pets Society!’

Iris and Pat chat away in the back seat about the recent enlargement of the supermarket. Fascinating. I want to know how long they’ve lived here and how they ever came to be here, all that sort of stuff but I don’t want to interrupt their flow. I hear them arranging to go for a walk together as they were both really missing their walks. Thanks for asking me guys! Nice. Soon we’re at Iris’s flat.

‘Thank you dear,’ she said, grasping my hand through the car window with her peculiarly firm grip, ‘I wasn’t going to come, but I’m so glad I did.’

‘That’s great Iris, thank you!’ I say, quite surprised. Kath’s behaviour had been rather strong, to say the least. I drop Pat at her place and feel quite overwhelmed with relief. So much so that I head back down to Rock Road like a boy racer, after all, my car is pathetic enough. I do this sometimes, or I have done, since Harry died. Turn up the music, put my foot down, do some damage to my exhaust on the speed humps, screech into the empty car park, yank the handbrake for all its worth and spin into a handbrake turn to die for, feeling my fingers and toes buzz with the adrenalin hit as I jolt to a halt. Yee-hah!

Oh dear. Looks like I’ve annoyed someone. A shadowy figure looms up from the beach, I can’t hear him because of my music but he’s gesticulating like he’s shouting. Time to go-o… Oh fuck – it’s bloody Kippers! He sprints over and before I can get back in gear he slams down on the bonnet and yanks my door open.

‘What the fuck do you lot think you’re doing! This isn’t a fucking…’ Then he sees my face, is visibly shocked, shakes his head and yells, ‘YOU AGAIN?! Jesus! What is it with you? I try to say something but before I can think of anything he says, ‘Why don’t you just piss off back to London and leave us alone! Just fuck off, go on!’ With that he actually kicks the side of my car and starts to storm off. Enough already! I jump out of the car, run after him and grab his sleeve. He spins round to face me.

‘Look mate, I don’t know what your problem is, I don’t know you and you know nothing about me. OK? So you fuck off, all right?!’ Next thing he shakes me off and sprints back to my car, gets in the driver’s seat and turns the key and starts revving the car like a lunatic. I might not love my car but I certainly can’t afford for it to blow a gasket or whatever it might do, so I charge round the other side and get in the passenger seat and try to I don’t know what, scream at him to stop, but the next thing I know we’re doing some sort of mad Top Gear circuit round the car park, he’s laughing his head off.

‘Looking for thrills are you!’ he hollers. I yell at him to stop. So he stops. So suddenly that I’m thrown forward, then back again as off he goes, stop, start, back, front, round, round, stop, back, front, off again and the only way I can describe the feeling is how a parasite might feel, clinging on to a car sized speed-balling bee still determined to do its where’s-the-pollen dance. Christ. I’m going to die any minute now. He’s right, I interfered, I poked my nose in where it wasn’t wanted and now I am to die for my folly. HARRY! HELP ME! MUMMY’S IN TROUBLE! He’s still laughing his head off, but me going quiet does seem to register, and he stops.

‘GET OUT OF MY CAR YOU FUCKING CRAZY BASTARD!’ I scream at the top of my voice, but just in case he doesn’t, I’ve already decided that he’s welcome to the damn thing and I get out. My legs are like jelly and I steady myself against the nearest bin and bend over, because there’s a strong possibility that I’m going to puke. Thankfully, I don’t. He’s got the nerve to come over and ask if I’m OK.

‘Oh yeah, I’m fine, great, never better. Next time I feel like going to Alton Towers I’ll just call you instead!’ I’ve no idea where that came from, but all I can say is that sometimes my dear old muse obliges right on cue.

‘What?’ he says. Such is a writer’s life. Pearls, swine an’ all that. And then I see that he is wiping tears from his eyes. Oh for pity’s sake! I’m starting to get just a little bit weary of everyone’s feminine side. Mine especially, as I now get the sad female urge to comfort him. Which I resist.

‘I need a fucking drink,’ is all I say.

Ever the gentleman, he gets back in the car and lines it up in a parking place, then, knock me down with a feather, goes over to the pay and display, gets a ticket, comes back and tells me I’ve got till 10in the morning.

‘I’ve got resident’s parking you know … I only have to move it…’ He locks the car and chucks me the keys, taking the piss with a mock posh, ‘I’ve got resident’s parking you know!’ followed by a vaguely menacing but, it has to be said, compelling, ‘But you’re coming with me now, aren’t ya darling?’

‘No I’m not!’ I say, trotting along behind him.

I breathe in the oily garage smell of the low tarry shed. Black with bitumen, hung with nets and rope, an engine commandeers the middle attached to winch attached to a rope that stretches right down to his boat, pulled up on the shingle. There’s a stove in the corner and half a bicycle, fishing gear and God knows what else. He pours a huge amount of whiskey into a filthy looking mug. I neck it in one, and he gives me more. Why the hell is he being nice to me now? I fumble in my pocket for my tobacco, and make a cigarette.

‘Got a light?’ He rummages in a box, then gives me a light from the huge flame of an old Zippo, illuminating his swarthy pirate-like face and for a minute I’m back at the London Dungeon, only now with some real live fear.

‘Want one?’ I ask. He shakes his head. ‘Bad for you.’

‘Really? I had no idea.’

He looks at me sideways with what I think might be a tiny smile-like expression and puts the kettle on.

‘So you’re a writer are you?’ He says, spooning something into a teapot. I shrug my shoulders petulantly. He puts what seems to be an envelope of loose tea back into some sort of silken purse. This surprises me. The whiskey seems to have been just for me. I immediately decide that he must infuse weed thus. He sees me looking.

‘It’s a shepherd’s tea, from Greece, good for the immune system.’

‘Wow.’ Which I also say when I’m stuck. It stands for Words Out (the) Window. I just sit there for a while waiting for my heart rate to fall, while my hastily rolled fag goes out. He chucks me the Zippo. ‘Sorry if I scared you,’ he says.

‘Make a habit of that sort of thing do you?’ I ask.

‘No. But today… Zorba…’ he takes a very deep breath.

‘I’m really sorry about your dog.’

He nods. ‘Do you?’

‘Do I what?’

‘Make a habit of that sort of thing?’

‘No. Well, sometimes, just lately…’

‘Bit of a petrol head are you?’

‘God no! I just … oh I don’t know. Look, I’m not like that.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like some sort of mindless Herbert I suppose.’

He laughs. ‘What are you like then?’

I look at him. ‘I don’t know.’

‘How old are you?’

‘I’m 43. What is this, some sort of interrogation? How old are you?’

‘Old enough to know what I’m like.’

‘Well you tell me then. What are you like?’

‘No. It’s not for you to know. It’s for me to know.’

‘So why the hell did you ask me what I was like?’

‘What I wanted to know was if you knew what you were like?’

‘Well this is a good game isn’t it? Shall we change the subject?’

‘OK.’ He strained his tea into a mug through a large sieve.

‘So what do you do? I look around again. I guess you’re a fisherman, but…’

‘D’you wanna hear a poem?’ He says, interrupting me.

No fucking way José! is what I want to say, but what I do say is, ‘OK.’ He opens a drawer and takes out a folder, rifles through its contents and pulls out a couple of sheets of lined A4. ‘It’s called Old Rock Road,’ he says. Whatever, is what I’m inclined to quip, but I don’t. He begins:

My name is Cyprus Roper

They call me the ancient Greek

After Dad who turned up here one day

When his boat had sprung a leak

As tanned as an oak-smoked herring

And handsome as they come

She put ’im up for a couple of nights

She was like that, my old mum

So that’s why she called me Cyprus

To remind her of my dad

Cos that’s where she said he came from

He wasn’t just some local lad

But at school they called me Kippers

Thought that was what it said

When they asked me who me Dad was

I told them he was dead

They said that they smelled fish on me

Cos I was a fisherman’s kid

But I never even met my dad

And I never met no one who did

But I tasted the sea in my nose and my mouth

In the snot and the tears as they fell

And I swore that one day I’d find him

Sit him down and make him tell

Why he came here in the first place

Sailing in right out of the blue

Ma said he told tales of far and of wide

There weren’t nothing that he never knew

That one day he met Neptune

That salty old God of the Sea

That Zeus had had him to dinner

Aphrodite had had him for tea

So I’m sitting here on the beach one day

With bum fluff all over me face

I don’t want to leave poor mum on her own

But I’m starting to feel out of place

Like a bird feels the need to fly southwards

To answer some age old request

I’m off I’m going I’m leaving I said

I’m getting too big for my nest

He stopped, shuffled his papers and looked over at me, with an inscrutable expression on his face.

‘Go on – that’s brilliant!’

‘You reckon?’

‘Yeah, really. Is that it?’

‘Nah, but I can’t find the rest of it…’ He rummages in the drawer again. I peer over and see that it’s full of loose leaves covered in hand written text.

‘Wow.’

He says to give him a minute and he might find the rest. I make another cigarette and sit there, trying to memorise all the tools and ropes and oil cans and crates and floats and bits of net and God know what, wondering how I can get this place into the book. It’s just so damn authentic… As a DFL the closest Claire would come to this is in the Fishermen’s museum. Unless Alan… No. It just isn’t necessary to try to weave every interesting or unlikely thing or person into your damn book. I tried that with Neil the electrician but I decided that at the end of the day Claire just isn’t as likely to end up hanging out with a workman as me. She’s just not like me in that way. But I was knocked out when he told me that he’d just finished an Open University degree in astro-physics. I asked him if he could explain quantum theory and he tried his best. Told me this little rhyme that helped his kids;

Why won’t you just behave? said the particle to the wave

Because I’m happy simply flowing to wherever it is I’m going

Must you always be making a point? or was it Tell me, what exactly is your point?

Can’t remember now. Something like that. He said reckoned he had a sort of enlightenment when it dawned on him that we’re all part and parcel of a vast sea of psychospiritual energy and that God is the transcendental totality of existence and that he believed in the possibility of unity consciousness as part of the next stage of human evolution and that the internet was going to play a large part in that. Anyway, he gave me the names of a few books to readand who’d have thought that the need to have a few more sockets near my desk would have sent me off on that particular tangent. I got deep into non-locality and the holographic universe for a while, but I can’t say that seeing myself as just an interference pattern has helped much with the day to day as yet, other than making it seem even crazier.

Kippers scrunches up a few sheets and chucks them across the room.

‘Dunno what I did with it. I’ll dig it out sometime. Kath said you’re a writer.’

‘I try.’ I don’t feel like talking about it.

I don’t remember much else, other than finishing the whiskey and feeling as if I could well be in love with another mad bastard and that I had to try to avoid doing anything foolish with this person, bearing in mind Kath, the caff, Dead Pets Society and everything. But I do recall agreeing to go out on a boat with him very soon.

I wake up with a head like thunder and lightning with a serious dose of land sickness thrown in. I piece together the previous night, then with a horrible jolt remember the car. Fuck, it’s 5 to 10. Luckily enough, I’m still in my clothes and the keys are in my pockets so I grab my sunglasses to guard against the lancing glare of a dull grey sky, stumble down my alley and head for the car park. There’s a something on the windscreen, oh please, not a bloody ticket, I’m only five minutes… but it’s a piece of paper. On it is scrawled, ‘YOU DRINK TOO MUCH LADY!’

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Amanda Nicol @amandanicol11
@Sadiq_bahrooz Thank you for sharing your story. I am ashamed of Europe. You deserve every good thing. Good luck ... be safe ♡

- November 16, 2017

Amanda Nicol @amandanicol11
RT @Sadiq_bahrooz: The world is so huge and there space for everyone. #Exodus our journey continues started on BBC Two #Exodus #KEOfilms #B…

- November 16, 2017

Amanda Nicol @amandanicol11
RT @iwradiolucy: "We came here with hope" #Exodus should be made compulsory tv viewing across Europe

- November 16, 2017

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