Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hate & War

“I feared an English Civil War at a pedestrian crossing this morning,” said Amy Marshall over the fence to her best friend and next door neighbour, Carol Greaves. “I saw the potential of what could all happen here, happen right there in front of me. This Asian kid with baby eyes approached the pedestrian crossing on my left with me having just dropped Peter off at Somerfields. I became stationary in due course like you should, having watched all around me, alert all of all other activities, anticipating events on the road as well as off the road and not just reacting to them. Anticipating the road ahead, like you’re taught. Well, this Asian kid looked at me with sweet happy eyes, like he was humbled that I’d stopped at the pedestrian crossing. This both pleased and distressed me. How he was so pleased, that he should ever question my good road sense of duty and care. The smile got bigger and then he gave me a thumbs up. Without looking the other way he also gave the thumbs up to the silver Mercedes facing me diagonally on the other side – that had been forced to stop because I had stopped and allowed him, the small boy, to cross the road. I then looked diagonally and saw the man in the silver Mercedes as he narrowed his eyes. He was not happy that he had stopped. He then looked diagonally back at me. A look of blame.  Directed at me, diagonally. A respectably well dressed man in an expensive car, a man who in the higher plains of success, that some of us not so well of, often place our trust. We place our trust; that although we are not doing as well as we would like, the mark of success in the hard work of others and the maturity that should come with a better way of life, allows us all to find comfort that society can work and how those in higher plains will do their duty to ensure that all that is good will be upheld at all times. For this society of ours works, on all levels. Those below placing trust in those above. This has always been my way of thinking. That our society works on all levels and how we all play our part in variable measures. Well, this was a man who I felt should have known better when he stared at me with those dagger eyes, and silent lips that hid an unseen tongue that cursed me. He then screwed up his face so the creased lines on his forehead formed a word. I could not work out what the word was at first. It was just pipelines rising on a forehead. But then it came. It might as well have been illuminated. HATE. HATE, it screamed. He then dropped his sorry guard and openly cursed both me and the boy with a startling telling expression. He used other words this time. Four letter words that I refuse to repeat. It made me sick. All of him and what he had shown in a matter of seconds. That expression, those words that I saw him mouth, told me about how a civil war here would be no different than what happened back then in Yugoslavia; communities fallen and divided and the terror shared by all the many good people who died or wish they had died so the memories of war would not haunt them by day or night for ever more. There is so much at stake in England if the lid ever blows clean off. But what I do know is this. How St George would surely not have been impressed if he had been sat in my passenger seat. I would like to think that he would have gone over and had a word with the man in the Mercedes; like I wish I had been brave enough to have done at the time.”

An extract from Nothing Poetic a collection of short fiction and poems by Joe England

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