Sunday, 27 March 2011

On Suspecting That The World May Be More Three-Dimensional Than Was Previously Thought.

"So," I say, when Max finally wakes up this morning. "Lots and lots of love, eh? Or, rather, L - U - V."

"What?" he says. "I've no idea what you're talking about."

"This," I say, as I put his leaving card into his hand. "Hardly what you'd expect someone who's just a colleague to write, is it?"

Max doesn't even pause for thought, even though he still looks half-asleep. He's already decided how to play this one.

"Honestly, Molly," he says. "Bambi - I mean, Gemma - is just being friendly, that's all."

"Yes," I say. "And black is white, and the earth is flat."

Max glares at me, and then stays silent for the rest of the day, though I try not to admit that I've noticed. He's only trying to make me feel that I've over-reacted, and if I don't watch out, I'll start feeling guilty, or seeing shades of grey all over the place.

Displacement activity's urgently required, so I phone Greg for a chat. It's the best I can do at such short notice.

"How was the march, then?" I say. "Did you behave yourself?"

"Yes, I did - and it was really good," he says. "Apart from those bloody so-called anarchists and the negative coverage on the TV. Oh, and Ed, of course."

"Ah," I say. "I did wonder what you'd make of his speech."

Greg sighs heavily before he replies, which doesn't bode well at all.

"Ed is awful," he says. "We all left at 3:00pm when he started to speak. I'm glad we did, since I found out the rest of what he said."

Honestly, what hope has Ed got if Greg can't handle listening to a word he says? It just doesn't bear thinking about. We've got a General Election to win - sometime in the next four years.

"Didn't you say Max is always moaning about how the Party only cares about the public sector?" says Greg.

"Yes," I say. "The Party and the unions. Max says we're all completely out of touch with anyone who doesn't work for the state, or isn't on benefits."

"Hmm," says Greg, "Sometimes I think he could be right."

The drawn-out pause that follows this remark only serves to remind me how many constituents seem to share Max's views - and who claim that people only engage in vocal opposition to cuts that affect them directly, and don't give a damn about anyone else. Whatever happened to ideology, and taking a wider view of what's best for society?

Now I'm starting to sound like Dad, which is very unnerving, to say the least. He's always saying that democracy is government by the most vocal minority  - which is depressing enough in itself, but isn't half as bad as what Greg asks next:

"You read that article about the People's Policy Forum in The Economist, Mol?"

"No," I say. "Since when do you read that?"

Honestly, what is happening to everyone I know? You just can't tell who is harbouring right wing views these days. Apart from Nick Clegg, of course.

"I don't," says Greg. "Usually - but Carlotta's just emailed me the link. Hang on, I'll send it on to you."

"No need," I say, opening my in-box and scrolling through the spam. "It looks like she's already copied me in."

"Read it, then - and concentrate. It says we need to face up to unpleasant facts. I'll call you in five minutes, to give you time to take it all in."

Greg's so bossy sometimes - whereas I am far too compliant for my own good. Or for my comfortable view of the world.

I read as fast as I can, shudder a bit, and then grab my mobile and go outside for a cigarette. I may even decide to smoke two in a row.

"Hello again, Mol," says Greg, when he rings back. "Still believe the earth is flat?"

"No," I say. "Nor am I convinced that black is white, or even grey. Unfortunately for Max and a certain semi-literate faun."

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