A while ago I wrote a few stories with titles based on Brexit: ‘Take Back Control’ was one, about a young malcontent who joins an incel movement; ‘No Hard Border’ was another. This is the third of those stories.
She’d first noticed it when opening the curtains: a black Ford sitting at a stubborn angle as though it had screeched to a halt, no driver in sight – and more puzzlingly, facing the wrong way. You couldn’t miss the No Entry signs at the top, but it wasn’t only the signs: it was deliberately difficult to enter the street from this end. You’d have to go right across the verge and bump up the kerb – and why would anyone bother to do that? A car chase, perhaps? Her imagination ran on.
At lunchtime the car was still there. Problem was, it was blocking their drive and that would mean trouble. A lot of trouble, most likely for her.
She went outside to take a closer look. The car was an Escort, one of the newer models with a dark interior, tinted windows at the back. There were no signs of life. Surreptitously, looking up and down the street, she tried a handle; the car was definitely locked. She walked all the way round as if looking for clues but found nothing. Only, at the back it had a bumper-sticker: in bold black letters on a Union Jack background it said LEAVE MEANS LEAVE. Anna felt suddenly faint; she rushed indoors and locked the door.
It wasn’t as if no-one had warned her – and she had tried but it was so hard. It was like coming off heroin. The bruises fade but the craving continues, the knowledge in the bone. He does this because he loves you. He loves you so much – that’s why it hurts so much. Love hurts.
How many excuses had she made? Walked into a door, fell down the stairs, hit my head on the cooker – so many excuses to explain away the bruises. Then once folk had started to guess, she made excuses for him instead. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s always so sorry, he always makes it up to me, he doesn’t mean it, not really. She hated herself for going back every single time. How could she be so weak? But she knew fine well (sometimes her mother’s Scots surfaced) that decisions were made in the bone. The head said one thing but the bones spoke a different language.
I’ve never really watched Pointless apart from a few stray minutes at the end while waiting for Casualty to finally make an appearance. but unlike with Strictly we leave the volume on so I’ve got an idea of what it’s all about. It’s kind of the reverse of Blankety-Blank (if you remember that horror) where you were rewarded for thinking in cliches; as I understand it, Pointless encourages you to think outside the herd mentality and come up with a correct answer which few people would get. So that’s at least a worthwhile element, and Alexander Armstrong is a personable presenter (I think of him as this generation’s Graeme Garden – both lanky, both comedians, both ex-doctors.) But! it is not Pointless per se to which I invite you to turn your minds today but Points of View, the BBC’s right-to-reply programme which may be the longest-running on TV apart from The Sky at Night*. Now here’s a genuinely pointless programme: I gave it a go yesterday just wondering if it would’ve changed from the old Barry Took days; alas, it had not. One particularly silly comment complained about the plastic dividers in Only Connect separating the contestants, saying she didn’t want to be reminded of C19 when she watched TV. Perhaps she’d prefer the contestants to come down with the virus instead. The programme is basically a series of boos and hurrahs: I could use words like bland and moronic but instead I’ll point you (ahem!) in the direction of this Not the Nine o’clock News parody:
Compare and contrast with Radio 4’s Feedback, a thoughtful, incisive and intelligent programme.
* it isn’t: it started in 1961.
Now, when you were at school, did you ever do this when playing a game: cross your fingers and shout something like vainlits? It could be vainlights or fainlights, but it turns out both OH and I, who grew up in different parts of the country, were familiar with this expression. It means you can’t be ‘got’, so if you’re playing tig or something you’re immune from being touched. I’ll have to find out where it comes from. Coincidentally, crossing your fingers and shouting vainlits! is also President Trump’s latest advice on how to avoid the coronavirus.
This wikipedia article cites The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren where the term is listed as fainites. I think OH has the book somewhere… I’ll keep you posted.