Leave Means Leave Episode 5

‘Hello.’ Odd how light and pleasant his voice could sound, how free of menace. No wonder everyone thought he was so lovely. Michelle wasn’t fooled though; she stood her ground and folded her arms.

Anna said nothing.

‘I thought I’d find you here.’ Still pleasant, two friends passing the time of day. A couple went by on with their dog, didn’t even glance over.

For the life of her she couldn’t speak. She stood rooted to the pavement, willing one of the staff to come out of the shelter. She went to reach for her phone and he took a step nearer.

‘Don’t come any closer.’ She found her voice and Michelle took her arm in solidarity.

‘Or what?’ He was still smiling pleasantly but the menace was creeping into his voice.

‘I’m going to phone someone,’ she warned.

‘I really wouldn’t.’ He took another step forward, pulling out a cricket bat from behind and holding it in both hands, like a batsman readying to take a swing. Waiting for a full toss.

Now or never. She screamed at the top of her voice and ran out into the road, causing a car to stand on the brakes – then she ran back, grabbed Michelle’s arm and charged past him to the shelter, hammering on the door as if her life depended on it.

Susan came, took in the situation and quickly ushered her inside, saying to him calmly, ‘I’m calling the police. Right now.’

‘Well done girl!’ Michelle was full of admiration but all Anna could do was collapse into a chair, her breath going like a steam train. ‘Is he gone?’ She could barely get the words out.

Susan was scanning the CCTV. ‘He’s getting into his car.’

‘He could just wait round the corner.’

‘You need to be careful when you go out. And take an alarm.’

‘I can’t believe he found me.’

‘You’d be amazed, we’ve had guys from all over, from Scotland, Cornwall, we even had one fly over from Spain. They come to get their property back.’

Anna stared.

‘That’s what they think of us, you know ?’ Michelle laughed mirthlessly. ‘We’re their property, like a bike what’s been stolen. They come to get us back.’

Anna started laughing, she hardly knew why and they ended up falling about like idiots, all three of them in the office. But the decision was made now, in the chambers of her heart, in the corpuscles of her blood, in the silent cells of the bone. There was no going back.

Leave means leave. End of story. And the beginning of a whole new story, the story of Anna.

Are You Paying Attention? Then I’ll Repeat

One of the most annoying features of current TV is that it assumes a lack of attention. Almost every series begins with a recap (‘last time…’) – and don’t even get me started on the routine spoilers (next time…) which have me lunging for the remote and shouting at the screen. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next time! I’ll watch it next time! Why would you spoil it for me? But programme makers seem to assume that without these constant recaps and titbits we won’t have the concentration to watch anything. To be fair there are occasions when in a long-running series like Casualty, you might need bringing up to speed on an old story but in other cases they are particularly annoying: a series such as the fly-on-the-wall Ambulance, for example, has at least five minutes of exposition before this week’s episode actually begins.

But whilst I expect a bit of catch-up at the beginning of a programme, I don’t expect repetition in the middle – and the recent documentary about Harold Shipman was a serial offender in this regard. Fascinating though it was, The Shipman Files was a shapeless miniseries with three episodes covering material that could have been done in two, and zipping back and forth for no discernible reason. This made it a frustrating watch, the more so since the subject is an important one. How was a trusted family doctor able to get away with what was basically mass murder? Harold Shipman had his own private concentration camp; he murdered people in their own bedrooms as well as on hospital wards, and like Jimmy Savile he got away with it. A shame, then, that the documentary should be so shapeless and repetitive. I also think there should be a moratorium on calling things ‘a very British’ or ‘a very English’ whatever – what does that even mean?

I think we should be told.

Kirk out