Aye, well, I’m sitting having a smoke before rushing out to the doctors, the chemists, the world, and I’m trying to remember the poem I half wrote in my head, about the baby in his father’s arms, slung horiztonally, facing outwards, into the oncoming traffic, and how I could see the headlights reflected in the child’s eyes, but it all fell down too quickly with the line ‘the smell from a million take-aways’. Doesn’t take much to puncture a balloon or a fragile piece.
This elipsis, too flat to be a vicious circle, too one dimensional to be a sphere of experience, is the typical shape of war these days. I was reading the paper, the story of a woman and her children, mercilessly bullied by their neighbours, to such an extent that the mother, after thirteen years, took her learning disabled daughter and set fire to the car they were both sitting in. People were genuinely surprised, because suprise denotes ignorance and ignorance innocence. It’s no defence really, not in the eyes of the law, or morally, no defence at all. It happens she shrugs, they shrug, the whole world shrugs, as if a personal mini massage has been executed on a grand scale. If we all shrug at the same time will the earth shift in its orbit?
And as autumn draws in, scattering itself on the ground, we face another winter of discontent. But imagine for a moment that those leaves are people, each one a casuality of nature versus nurture. One pile is the shape of Africa, another resembles Brazil, yet another … and another … and another wait to be sucked into the oblivion of a street sweeping machine. All tidy now. All gone. No more. And the baby in his father’s arms knows that it’s finished ’til the next time, when the same platitudes will be served on the same plates and we’ll swallow it all down as if, somehow, this idea of peace is digestible.