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The Rats’ Requiem

More Jam­ie

Neigh­bour intro­du­cing new movee Mr. Hand­slip into neigh­bour­hood:

On your oth­er side is Mrs. Egre­mont, a wid­ow. A very nice lady, Phil­ip­pa is mar­vel­lous, the chil­dren are OK, most of them.” with a quick­en­ing.
“How many got ?” startled.
“Four. Paul’s the old­est, he’s going in the Army when older. Not the sort of life I’d choose, but it’s a good thing we’re not all alike, isn’t it ? two girls, Yso­belle and Nancy, and… the young­est, James.” A stil­ted note mod­u­lated his enthu­si­asm, unnoted by the ques­tion­er.
“Any of them noisy ?”
“They won’t be any trouble at all.” Eagerly, “The girls are very pretty, and although they could be bois­ter­ous and cause dif­fi­culties, they don’t. The old­est lad is square strong affable, very decent young man.”
“And the young­er ?”

As I said Paul’s going into the Army, which I think such a waste.” Mr. Pigg was by way of being a paci­fist, which the two boys had always respec­ted with the great tol­er­ance of which they were both very proud. “He really could do any­thing, very bril­liant mind indeed.” respect­fully, “And unas­sum­ing with it. You always feel he’s work­ing out for­mulæ with a part of his mind while talk­ing eas­ily to one…”
“And the oth­er ?” Hand­slip enquired bluntly. Mr. Pigg nearly cringed.
“Um, Jam­ie. Well, he’s dif­fer­ent.”
“You mean, er, men­tally dis­turbed ?” with a faint shy­ness intrud­ing into the brusque­ness of the bald enquiry.
“Good God no ! And you’d bet­ter not ever hint of such a thing. I doubt if he’d care a rush,” bit­terly, “but any of the oth­ers, let alone his dear mama, would be very offen­ded if any­one con­sidered such a thing. No, he’s nor­mal enough, and bright enough, even if he doesn’t shine at school from all I hear.”
He sighed, Phil­ip­pa had con­fided at length enough times to weary him with the sub­ject; but hav­ing done badly him­self when young he was suf­fi­cently scep­tic­al to won­der if school­ing was as import­ant as it was cracked up to be. Con­versely he respec­ted bril­liance, and was anxious to get back to Paul’s men­tal prowess. In fact he had long decided nev­er to ini­ti­ate com­ment upon, or pro­long dis­cus­sion upon, James Egre­mont.

Well, what’s wrong with him ?” bluntly
Pigg looked around.
“Jam­ie,” pick­ing his words, “is not someone to annoy; or com­plain about; or piss off. Do not cri­ti­cise any of the fam­ily where he can hear you. He has a strong fam­ily feel­ing. I said the oth­ers are no trouble: one reas­on is that they… con­tin­ue, upon the lines he lays down. If any per­son con­fronts his feel­ings, or does some­thing he con­strues as unpleas­ant, things some­times hap­pen.” Del­ic­ately.
“You mean he’s one of these viol­ent youths ? Some kind of yob ?” won­der­ing what sort of brute was going to appear.
Pigg was shocked and amused. “He’s only 11 or 12 ! I for­get which; and weak with it. He’s as pretty as the girls in fact. I guess he’s bul­lied at school: but that’s there: in his patch, it’s dif­fer­ent. As say, an old-fashioned squire vis­it­ing Lon­don might be vul­ner­able in the great world, but mas­ter of his own domain; which was one reas­on they usu­ally pre­ferred to cul­tiv­ate their own gar­dens. With exper­i­ence he may be able to grow and handle parts of the great world. I hope not. Very cour­teous. They all are: but him the most. He’s the hid­den pat­ri­arch of a pat­ri­arch­al clan. They do what he dir­ects with only half know­ing the fact.”

You know we have an excel­lent Guy Fawkes Night and they all used to come. At least when it was the par­ents and the two older kids. Then the year before Mr. Egre­mont died that kid, he was very small, took again­st it  —  wasn’t scared by the bangs; some bloody non­sense about not lik­ing the Guy being burnt: he knew it was just a, a lay-figure, not real: but he still hated the idea. Now you or I would have left him at home with a baby-sitter, but they’ve nev­er come since. 

I can’t ima­gine how any­one would listen to a bloody tod­dler, Phil­ip­pa, well some­times I reckoned she was weak-minded or some­thing: I mean, yes well now, if he was my child, I’d prob­ably do pre­cisely what he said; life would be sim­pler that way, and he’s the sort of kid who would be right most of the time: but back then… he was so small. We thought well, she’s just lost a hus­band, that’s why not: but the next year they wouldn’t come. Asked her why not: ‘Jam­ie says it’s wrong to pre­tend to burn people, and you know, I think he’s right.’ Look, he… he wasn’t dom­in­ant back then, even in that weird fam­ily; he is now: back then he’d just argued at them. I’d have told him to take a run­ning jump; some fuck­ing small kid talk­ing back at me. Pity that because Chris­ti­an and Phil­ip­pa were always gen­er­ous about join­ing in vil­lage stuff.”

So does one have to show him one’s friendly ?” uneas­ily.
“What’s to prove ? Just be nice to him and don’t say any­thing to make his mother unhappy.”
“About him ?”
“No.” He laughed at the mis­take. “Not about him: about any­thing. What I meant was try nev­er to do aught that doesn’t con­duce to Philippa’s hap­pi­ness in life. Mrs. Hutchin­son, who is sep­ar­ated from her own hus­band, had a nervous break­down and moved away a year ago. She’d been snip­ing at Phil­ip­pa in the Mother’s Uni­on. Appar­ently someone pos­ted her phone num­ber as emer­gency coun­sel­lor for mar­it­al break­downs; a 24 Hour Plumb­ing con­sult­ant; and Police Liais­on Officer for the loc­al Police Author­ity, spe­cial­ising in all reports from con­cerned vic­tims for Follow-Up Action. I remem­ber that,” he con­tin­ued reflect­ively, “since it nev­er stopped after she denied the post in the loc­al rag, and the police, con­fused them­selves since half the time they’ve no idea what fur­ther idiocy the Home Office has shoved at them, not only didn’t deny any­thing, they even referred a few people to her. That was actu­ally the least annoy­ing thing that happened to her. Both boys have an unpleas­ant sense of humour. Unlike Paul he acts on it.”

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Marisa's Destruction Chart

 

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All Fiction Is Wish-Fulfilment

Sprawled on the car­pet, Jam­ie was nib­bling his lower lip in a thought­ful rap­ture.
Wot’cha doing ?” enquired Paul. Whil­st glad he was actu­ally doing some­thing, and not star­ing inwardly; the ever-active Paul mis­trus­ted the con­tem­plat­ive impulse: not­ing that Jam­ie, unusu­ally for him had been read­ing the Sunday lit­er­ary sup­ple­ments and scrib­bling away for the last hour. His pretty little brother had given up on oth­ers’ crit­ic­al the­ory when he was ten, not just on lit­er­at­ure.

Mak­ing a game..” Jam­ie mur­mured in soft dis­trac­tion; then shak­ing his plat­in­um head explained: “One cre­ates ten titles with synopsis-blurbs for well typ­ic­al mod­ern books  —  fiction’s gon­na be the easi­est ‘The crap we read now’ to be Trol­lopi­an…” not that Jam­ie had hardly read Trollope in his young life… “then lists ten adject­ives com­monly used in such heated minds as write blurbs to describe the prot­ag­on­ist; and ten adject­ives used to encap­su­late such rot. The oth­ers than have to match up the cor­rect two adject­ives to each book to win. Remem­ber: All fic­tion is wish-fulfilment. The skill of the author lies mostly in how they can dis­guise this truth. Mod­ern authors can barely even try; which is why their her­oes and heroines are all bril­liant, multi-skilled, sexy geni­uses.”

After a while he handed Paul his first list, “Knock your­self out.” he said cheer­fully.

 
I. Miss Jazzy Queen­ing it Down The Gap. — The adven­tures of a mixed race Black/Puerto Ric­an drag-artiste hust­ling in Times Square to fund his sex-change oper­a­tion.

II. The Potting-Shed in Autumn.  — In the garden of a country-house in 1935 an age­ing garden­er, once an Oxford gradu­ate, recalls how he came to the ruin of his dreams and his present status, and con­siders the tapestry of life rep­res­en­ted by the den­iz­ens of Mad­dingleigh Hall from the ser­vants’ quarter to the Osterley-Browns, the wealthy but cor­rupt fam­ily who now own the land.

III. The Gash of Time.  — A Scotswoman’s vig­or­ous fight for self-improvement again­st the oppos­i­tion of fam­ily, friends, chil­dren and all the men­folk she ever meets. Until at last she gains a doc­tor­ate in Coun­cil Stud­ies, makes the largest for­tune in Scot­tish his­tory as a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­wo­man, and finally becomes the first woman first min­ister of Scotland’s Par­lia­ment.

IV. The Seabirds of Yalta.  — Charlie Wern­er, troubled mav­er­ick of the SIS, has five days to stop Wal­ter Schellenburg’s most dar­ing plot of all: to assas­sin­ate the Big Three at their meet­ing in 1945. Facing the sin­ister ex-lawyer Ulrich von Kar­tof­feltopf, now SS Bri­gade­führ­er and con­fid­ante of Himmler, he has only the beau­ti­ful Laris­sa, once sec­ret­ary to Yagoda, only allowed to buy her life by ful­filling the most dan­ger­ous of all mis­sions, and Una, ‘The Lovely Valkyrie’, a Prus­si­an aris­to­crat play­ing a double game, and ‘Dutch’ O’Murphy, a tough wise-cracking US Master-Sergeant, eager and will­ing to pay off old scores. These four are pit­ted again­st Otto Skorzeny and an élite band of assas­sins formed from a com­pany of the sur­viv­ing para­chut­ists of Crete sworn to dark and mys­tic­al oaths which have to do with revenge on trait­ors respons­ible for the near débâcle and the ran­dom recov­ery of ancient objects of great occult power. Can they pro­tect the lead­ers of the Free World, or is there a trait­or in their own ranks ? How will they pair off into bed ? And in what order ?

V. The Bread-and-Butter Pud­ding Club.  — Polly, Gail, Rosie and Miri­am all want their men to settle down and take things ser­i­ously: they form a pact with the rest of the girls in the firm and it’s a side-splitting race to see who becomes preg­nant first.

VI. The End of the Pier.  — July 1914: The Twelve Joeys, a strug­gling party of Pier­rots and Pier­rets work the South Coast dur­ing the splen­did Sum­mer. What will Autumn bring ?

VII. Rid­ing A Rain­bow.  — Dainty vowed nev­er to be depend­ent on any­one after her par­ents split up; now a bril­liant suc­cess as the best mar­ket­ing exec­ut­ive in the tough world of pub­lish­ing ever, she wants a child. But at 26 she has to act fast. Who shall she choose as the father ? Josh, her live-in lov­er of three years, geni­us research sci­ent­ist, but irre­spons­ible and feck­less; Rudy, the sweet gentle impov­er­ished motor­cycle cour­i­er, only 19 but liv­ing in a com­mun­al squat in Brix­ton; or Simon, suave multi-millionaire busi­ness entre­pren­eur who will give her a life of per­fec­tion, but demand mar­riage as the price ? Dainty has to make the most dif­fi­cult decision of her life.

VIII. Dead of Day.  — A seri­al killer is mur­der­ing women, all of whom are young, clev­er and excess­ively attract­ive: can the J9 team, a crack police squad formed to foil these crimes  —  old­ish gaf­fer, young female second-in-command, black male, com­puter geni­us, black female, sev­er­al gays of either sex, ordin­ary plods with com­bat skills  —  work out why he uses these cri­ter­ia in time before he slays another six vic­tims ?

IX. The Holy Ball.  — Latvia in the early four­teenth cen­tury is a grim and dan­ger­ous place, ruled by the cruel Sword-Brethren. Some men fight in rebel­lion, oth­ers knuckle under: but all, ulti­mately are depressed. A group of their wives how­ever refuse to yield, and defy the imper­i­al­ist­ic oppress­ors and their hypo­crit­ic­al Church by invent­ing foot­ball. The infuri­ated rulers must strike back and des­troy the game and all memory of it, or it will spell the end of all their anti-democratic power. Inspir­ingly, after the mas­sacre one girl escapes and, abjur­ing all else, spends every moment of an immensely long and minutely detailed mediæval life trav­el­ling to every coun­try in Europe, Africa, and Asia to secretly spread the know­ledge of this inspir­ing game, with it’s prom­ise of ulti­mate lib­er­a­tion, among­st all dis­af­fected peas­ants.

X. Fresh Meat  — Hor­ror: an espe­cial group of Sûreté invest­ig­at­ors put togeth­er an alarm­ing col­lec­tion of facts. All over the globe, butchers return home to find their fam­il­ies gone: there are no clues, except the abduct­ors left sev­er­al hun­dred kilos of saus­ages sit­ting in each liv­ing room. Mar­vel as the author­it­ies take sev­er­al weeks before some­thing clicks and they call in what saus­ages remain for forensic exam­in­a­tion.

 
 
1. Feisty
2. Strong
3. Fiercely-independent
4. Fiercely-intelligent
5. Love­able
6. Tra­gic
7. Ador­able
8. Endur­ing
9. Bright
10. Tough-minded

a) life-enhancing
b) wise
c) gentle-fable
d) bril­liant
e) hil­ari­ous
f) astound­ing
g) amaz­ing
h) witty
i) assured
j) myth­ic

 
Paul read this in silence. “Some of your sod­ding pre­oc­cu­pa­tions are present;”
Jam­ie smirked.
I wouldn’t talk about ‘Lovely Valkyries’ much if I were you.” he con­tin­ued sourly.
Jam­ie bit him. At least he tried to. Cer­tain sub­jects were taboo.

 
Child Witch

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“Art Knows No Borders !”">Art Knows No Borders !”

Temporary ill-health precludes any capacity for thought greater than that which lesser beings need for the selection for their choice of president ( something which in any case is more decided on the grossest sentiment rather than pure reason, of course: otherwise the leading Democrat candidates might not have the appearance of sinister liars, and the leading Republicans --- as they were --- that of shifty dolts ), therefore a short mélange of diverse items stored in draft without any unifying theme....

Thoughts Too Deep For Words Dept.:

A comment recently dropped on a computing blog:

I think christina aggulara is like more of the new version of veronica lake.She is realy insanely beautiful and i myself are doing a biography of Veronica lake.

 

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake

 
Let Them Eat Cake:

Wedding Cake of the Gothic Crows

Crows Wedding Cake

 
Eng Lit:

A blog with an amusing satire, Hometown

 
Music:

From the wiki on Turbo-Folk, that relentless mystical musical experience which expresses the yearning for the ideal life as perceived by the ordinary man:

However, turbo-folk was equally popular amongst the South Slavic nations during the brutal wars of the 1990s, reflecting perhaps the common cultural sentiments of the warring sides. When a Muslim market seller in Sarajevo was asked why in the midst of a Serb shelling of the city he illegally sold CDs by turbo-folk superstar Ceca, a wife of the notorious Serbian warlord Arkan, he offered a laconic retort: "Art knows no borders!"

Two by Atomik Harmonik --- for frailer spirits, less is more is something particularly applicable to hearty polkas, but they go nuts on this in the Balkans.

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Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

 
Finally, to combat near delirium, amongst other discoveries of things unknown, I read up on Neodymium Magnets: which are very powerful for their size, and can disrupt floppy disks ( who the hell still uses floppy disks ? ), computer monitors, fingers, credit cards, and heart pacemakers. Jamie is conducting experiments with just one of these listed in unwitting conjunction with an elderly grouch of a neighbour.

 
Fallen Angel

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Makes My Life Worthwhile

The title of my desultory novel is, as is apparent, To Know, Know, Know Him, and is equally apparently, taken from the song here by the Teddy Bears, To Know Him Is To Love Him. Written by the engaging Phil Spector, the guitarist here on the original --- who went on to create the Wall of Sound and much more --- the title having been suggested by his father's gravestone. Although grievously abused by many in the music world, he always struck me as a straight-shooting kind of guy.

 

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To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do


I'll be good to him, I'll bring love to him
Everyone says there'll come a day when I'll walk alongside of him
Yes, just to know him is to love, love, love him
And I do

Why can't he see, how blind can he be
Someday he'll see that he was meant for me


To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do


Why can't he see, how blind can he be
Someday he'll see that he was meant for me

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile
To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him
And I do

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Blood Relative

Jam­ie stifled his yawns politely at pre­cisely three minute inter­vals dur­ing the com­puls­ory talk on blood dona­tion, his form-teacher did know that none of his fam­ily were favour­ers of this quaint prac­tice, since they had odd old-fashioned views not unlike Jehovah’s Wit­nesses on hygiene; to her relief Jam­ie did not raise these views in oppos­i­tion to the speaker’s ser­mon­ising, but actu­ally it might have been nicer if he had. Instead he obli­gingly recalled that: “one of my first cous­ins twice removed had his blood-group tat­tooed under his armpit. It must have hurt like b… awfully.” The speak­er beamed uncer­tainly, and, before vaguely drag­ging from some recess of memory in her dim little mind what this sig­ni­fied, remarked that this seemed rather excess­ively pruden­tial, but no doubt could have saved his life. His teach­er goggled palely as he replied sadly that no, he had stepped on a ‘S’ land-mine which had blown both legs off. The speak­er then remembered.
He, in his play­ing, gen­er­ally rather expec­ted his class­mates not to pick up all his ref­er­ences, which made some of it more of a game between he and whichever teach­er, the main enemy, usu­ally to his private appre­ci­ation mostly. But they did this, and added it as ammuni­tion for mak­ing his life hell, although as he expec­ted, none knew the dif­fer­ence between a first cous­in twice removed and a third cous­in: whil­st he could have claimed a diminu­tion on the grounds that as far as he knew  —  and his rel­at­ives in Ger­many may have been only as truth­ful as most there feel neces­sary in dis­cre­tion  —  it was Waf­fen rather than Toten­kopf, but to him that actu­ally wasn’t an excuse, they were all as poten­tially unpleas­ant bas­tards as any group of mur­der­ers. He couldn’t see why it was worse than being related to the oth­er untold mil­lions of trait­ors though: few people in these islands would not have had a dis­tant con­nec­tion to some scum who fought for or sup­por­ted par­lia­ment or Crom­well among the 6 mil­lion liv­ing then: and noth­ing could be as bad as that.

This large­m­inded­ness was occa­sion­ally irk­some for his fam­ily since this cheer­ful lack of reti­cence could fail to emphas­ize their abso­lute nor­mal­ity; as when dur­ing a garden party Jam­ie chat­ted ami­ably on not only two great-uncles who had fond memor­ies of Poland, one of their cous­ins who died in Crete, and someone who deser­ted in Greece to start a large fam­ily, but star­ted recall­ing that a more dis­tant rel­at­ive drowned as a frog­man in Ita­ly.

Shut up’ screamed his mother, who didn’t want people to think her entire blood rel­at­ives formed the bulk of the Ger­man Armed Forces dur­ing the last unpleas­ant­ness.

To be fair though, those who had, were gen­er­ous in their remin­is­cence to their klein­er eng­lischer Teufel whenev­er he was vis­it­ing in the Fath­er­land. He nev­er judged; and was politer than their own young­er gen­er­a­tion. Who judged a great deal.

 
Mrs. Bee­ston listened dis­fa­vour­ingly to the teacher’s embittered com­ment­ary in the common-room: “Per­son­ally, I always thought that little… that his blood would pois­on a rattle-snake.” was her com­ment. Lit­er­ally true, but this was the nearest she ever came to mak­ing a joke, one not so ano­dyne as to be accept­able at a party con­fer­ence, and they gazed approv­ing of her lev­ity.

***

fighting J

***

Any­way… I can’t con­ceive of allow­ing even a blood trans­fu­sion, let alone hav­ing the more repuls­ive intern­al parts of some ran­dom stranger inser­ted. Chacun a son goût, of course, but it seems to be more fit­ted for those without a high sense of per­son­al dainti­ness and those who prefer dis­hon­our over death. A recent post in the splen­didly named blog mediocracy  —  “‘mediocracy’ is a con­di­tion in which cul­ture is sub­or­din­ated to pseudo-egalitarian ideo­logy”  —  points out one aspect of this vam­pir­acy too little spoken about:

Do think about the fine print when you con­sider wheth­er to sign up/out/whatever to organ dona­tion.

How dead are organ donors?

Organs for trans­plant have to be taken from still-living bod­ies, bod­ies still per­fused by their nat­ur­ally beat­ing hearts, warm and so react­ive that muscle-paralysing drugs may have to be given to facil­it­ate the sur­gery.

Their own­ers will have been cer­ti­fied “dead” on the con­tro­ver­sial basis of bed­side brain-stem test­ing, a pro­ced­ure not suf­fi­ciently strin­gent to exclude some per­sist­ing brain-stem func­tion and which includes no test for what may be abund­ant life else­where in the brain.

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Juli Sorts Out A Few Odd Matters

A small crisis in the Housing Association deftly handled to several people's satisfaction...

 

Gothic Lolita

 

But it was around 11:20 when Russell drifted substantially over to Juli’s desk and coughed lightly to attract her attention as she slowly keyed in data to an Excel worksheet, and tried to remember which action to perform each time she wanted a result. He stood there plump and uneasy in a tannish brown tweed-effect suit, and canary-yellow waistcoat. Then once her attention was eased away from the spreadsheet, he chatted about this and that, polishing his round glasses. Lucy looked up alertly, ever willing to be of assistance.
Russell seemed upset about something, Lucy made him a mug of coffee, as he chatted with Juli about this. She refrained from offering Juli one, having received some haughty regardings of incredulity that made her blood run cold until she realised that Juli held the quite reasonable view that instant drinks were designed for pesticide; she had since given them up herself. Juli brought her own nicer stuff along and made it separately from other people. Just another small thing which endeared her to all.
“Yolanda ?” Juli enquired without much real interest, since other people’s love-lives held no fascination.
“Oh no, Juli: Yolanda’s been fine recently. It’s Happy Valley. One of the houses caught fire last night.”
Juli shuddered. “Wow. Was anybody... ?”
“Ooh no ! But the Tolands were cleared out of everything. And,” his voice broke with a greater self-pity, “they got the police to wake me up at 3:45. I dunno what they thought I could do. Anyway they put them in an hotel for the night, and now I’ve got to find an empty property.”
“Plenty of them about.” Juli answered, purposely obtuse, “Sometimes I reckon what with renovations and court orders, we sometimes have more vacant than occupied.”
“Thank you.” acidly, “No, well, I know what you mean; but that’s not the problem: I mean it’s the Tolandses.”
I don’t want them as neighbours, so you can understand people’s feelings.” Juli said reasonably.
“I know, if they moved in next to me, I’d move to Turkestan; but that doesn’t help here. I’ve got to shove them as far away from their previous place as possible, and next to people who’ve not heard of them, or are too weak to protest much.”
“Who...” started Lucy.
“A/ They are not going to leave that estate, they’ve got about 80 relations there; and anyway they would rather be there than in a Cathedral Close. B/ Everyone on the estate does know them. C/ They’re not going to lose face from the Collingwoods and Hartleys.”
He groaned. Juli was correct.
“Who... ?” Lucy began again, and was unheard in their ruminations. She had heard of none of these, and only knew a tiny bit of the background: she had early asked — the day she started work — where Happy Valley was.
Juli sniggered: “My name for the Robert Owen Housing Estate. It’s ex-Council, and has got a lot worse since it was privatised. Bloody wasteland of falling panels, pram-pushers in clam-diggers, a cheap supermarket whose manager wants armed mercenaries, and gangs of youths at night.”
“H’how nasty.”
“Oh the drugs help.” she contended optimistically. “Some­­thing’s gotta.”
“Anyway, don’t go there, not unless you’re with a camera-crew in a jeep.”
Instruction seemed a trifle authoritative, especially at so early in a relationship, but Lucy minded no more than she who directed, who basically ever unconsciously chose to command without the slimmest doubt as to her own authority.
She realised the name Juli had coined seemed to have gained universal currency, at least in the office. Especially if Russell, who doubled as Housing Manager for Robert Owen, used it.
Now Juli was proceeding. “Three in the morning. Then it wasn’t a chip-pan. The Hartleys ?”
“Andra, I think: they owe him for the coke franchise, according to the cops. And Evan, young Evan, got in a fist-fight with his nephew Damien, and said he could whistle for his money until they made two grand.”
“Smart lad.”
“Oh I think it was the drink talking,” Russell said tole­rantly, “His dad hit him with a spanner, and broke his little finger; spent ages on his mobile trying to apologise to Andra, the neighbours said, but he wouldn’t take his calls.”
“Andra’s a weird little cunt; but then it’s face again.” grossly misleading Lucy as to the fabulous Mr. Neill’s height. Unlike the popular conception of crime bosses, he was not 5 foot nothing in a hideous and hideously expensive suit, but 6’ 2”, and had allegedly been a paratrooper, and wore sports wear.
Russell looked slightly shocked, possibly at Juli’s lang­uage, but more likely at her plain speaking, because Andra was not a nice person, and for that reason people did not remind others, and least of all himself, of this fact.
“Still, I reckon he won’t want them out of the estate. This was a warning then.”
He looked sceptical: “Well, it was a very small blaze, considering; the Firemen arrived within a few minutes, but that might just have been providence. It won’t be structurally safe though for a bit, so we can’t put them back there. You don’t think he’ll do them over again ?”
“Nope, there’s still the franchise to work: and he won’t give it back to the Hartleys. Too much trouble.”
“Um, you’ve got a point.” reflectively, “Old Hartley’s clinically insane.”
“So was Margaret Thatcher, didn’t stop her. No, I was thinking of the fact none of them can get in a car without gunning it to 60, and that’s in built-up areas. Makes the police work easier. Tell you what: I’ll make a couple of calls to the estate, I may find out where they can go.”
He brightened. “Oh please, Juli. That’d be great.. Uum, to... ?”
“No doubt. On the other hand, I’d better be clear about this. It’ll be our lot picking up the insurance, right ?”

 
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Kid Angel

This being a framed print, with no sig­na­ture  —  it could be either a lim­ited edi­tion or cut from a Christ­mas card for all I can tell  —  there’s no attri­bu­tion possible…Still, it’s remark­ably like Jam­ie as an infant undoubtedly plan­ning revenge upon some unfor­tu­nate per­son or set of per­sons.

Angel Kid

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II: Addendum To The Last">Sentimental Value II: Addendum To The Last

A gift for Lucy...

Juliette played through the day Wagner, Elgar, Kalman, Lehar, Millöcher; and often Haydn. This was when engaged upon work which need not be disturbed; and was produced from an mp3 player: if alone loud with a speaker; if in company with an ear-phone soft enough that none could guess, unless one indicated that they either wanted to hear or would not mind. She never assumed this though and such request had to be made afresh each time: she was literally terrified of giving people an excuse to play music of their own choosing without reference to her or others: nothing, certainly not her possibly non-existent conscience, tortured her more than the babbling of the open radio or endless pop, which in the factory where she also worked, her original number of hours, whatever Jimmie’s belief as to her being invaluable, having been cut down meaning she had to get more work, squalid as it was, particularly as she was ineligible for various benefits, was mandatory. Some others did as she did, and whatever they forsakenly heard was equally kept to themselves and thus harmony prevailed. When utterly alone she sometimes played black metal, loud enough to arouse other tenants of Hoggward House while left to hold the fort during the lunchhour. Possibly because the break was the same for all firms no complaints came along.

However, Lucy’s arrival meant she was less and less alone on any such occasion. Their hours roughly coincided, with the same days off, and since their tastes in music did as well, once Lucy had been introduced to such lighter stuff — her upbringing having been limited to the stricter classics, apart from Sullivan, and some pop, her mother preferring only Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven with an occasional excursion into Tchaikovsky country; dad liking Welsh folk, G&S and Jim Reeves along with various guys called Chet or Hank as well — they had it together. Some time later they were alone on such a lunchtime and Juli had put on a cassette of German sea shanties, and was meditating giving Lucy a tiny square of gilt embroidery, blocked on wood or something, which she had picked up because it was interesting, and for all she could guess 17th century, although it had cost a couple of pounds she could scarcely spare: having shown it desultorily to Lucy she went a trifle deranged. Although it was only a slight sacrifice, Juli liked to make her tiny friend happy, but apart from her own feelings of loss, feared her tender sanity might jump over the edge. No doubt there was some reason for people enjoying sewing, but whatever it was it escaped Juli: Lucy had broken off abruptly seeing how Juli’s eyes glazed over as she explained the difference in berry and cobnut stitch. Anyone who could take things that seriously had to be a little loopy, even if this too was delightful.

17th century embroidered square

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Lucy Gets A Job

More from the Jamie book. A raven-headed little girl looks for work...

Pape Queen Mab

Cheerfully ruthless Queen Mab

The next thing after settling in and adjusting, not as easily as her mother, to life alone ( she was after all excessively chatty and found no scope among her neighbours, either shy, of an emphasised different age-group, or unsympathetic in a number of ways — although none hostile, other than the lawyers and a couple from an apartment on the floor below, and a few transients, a number of whom had devoted the artistic side of their natures to the pursuit of an early death from combining drink and drugs: everyone has a masterpiece within them ) she began to search for work. The local newspapers had plenty within their supplements and linages. Virtually none suitable, desirable, or possible.

Although at the optimum age for her next decade to obtain employment, after which it would be downhill unless severely specialised or possessed of rigorous on-going training, it appeared there were jobs where she was too young. There were jobs that advertised themselves as meeting the minimum wage as if that was a sparkling virtue: she couldn’t manage alone on that rate. There were expensive training-courses implying they were positions. There were Agencies with toilsome ill-paid jobs written with demented surprise at the fun and loot promised. There were jobs which demanded experience or qualifications: the possession of which would exclude most of the other jobs. Being just 17 and having some A-levels, she couldn’t be expected to have much more: on the other hand, she knew being pretty and personable was worth a vast deal more: so she was not despondent and kept her hopes up.

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Partout Où Nécessité Fait Loi

More Jam­ie:

A French cul­tur­al exchange vis­it to Jamie’s school:

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He Rode With Quantrill

Occasionally I write into a novel which will never be published, it regards a germanic lad called Jamie Egremont growing up in Oxfordshire; and, insofar as his limited sphere permits in a degenerate democratic society, he exemplifies the noble creed of Spengler:

The beast of prey is the highest form of active life. It represents a mode of living which requires the extreme degree of the necessity of fighting, conquering, annihilating, self-assertion. The human race ranks highly because it belongs to the class of beasts of prey. Therefore we find in man the tactics of life proper to a bold, cunning beast of prey. He lives engaged in aggression, killing, annihilation. He wants to be master in as much as he exists.


vendel warrior
Vendel Warrior - Osprey Books

My late visit to Calais reminded me of this bit

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