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9

A little circus came to town, a llama on a length of washing line, a conjuror, a clown. Erecting their diminutive Big Top, a gang of stringy striplings, vandalised from head to toe with amateur tattoos, put on a more enthralling performance than the one you had to pay to see. A needy huddle sniffed the air down-wind of their miasmic armpits. By the time they’d struck the tent and gone, even the local boys would be with child. A preacher with a sandwich board is not a match for hormones, and a teacher with a whippy stick can be put up with for a thrill. Petition the authorities. Complain to the police. Apply to join the golf club. But no Travellers, no Jews.

10

The time of reckoning – as which of any times is not? Wind turbines on the top of the escarpment, a dam across the beck. Imagine if we left the planet to its own mellifluous devices. The Year of the Bacillus, cockroach paradise! The undertaker, walking on the beach with his Jack Russell terriers, discovered the first shoal of yellow rubber ducks. The conifers above the cemetery were moulting, needles underfoot the perfect counterpane for monkey business. Honey appeared to come in jars, computer discs on trees. Whoever watched the breakers breaking understood the simple facts, reluctant though he may have been to face them. Apathy, with fingers crossed for luck.

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