This must be the boy! The one she’s heard about: the boy they say is raised by the animals. They call him feral and free, that he is liberated to wander around the land. He speaks to the snakes, the bears… the tiger that terrorises them. But why does he choose these animals over his own kind?
I was in an optimistic mood, encouraging a writer friend to go for larger opportunities. I turned to her and pressed, "But don't you want your work to be more out there, more present in the culture?" She thought for a moment, then asked, "What culture?" Good question.
Margate is a thirsty place. Its switchblade tide draws back so far that by the time it turns the shore is parched. Rude epithets, scrawled in chalk, line its coastal paths. Lustful and wayward, this town is wild. With a steady drip of London transplants fleeing the city’s rapacious capitalist appetite, it’s gentrifying fast. Yet Margate’s wildness persists.
She’d felt it all day. She didn’t need Gráinne Heaney – Roach? O’Malley? Whatever she was now – to make the word flesh. The diagnostic of her condition: notions. Tis far from big exhibitions and toyboys she was reared. One part charlatan, one part succubus. She hated to be crying because of Gráinne. That wagon was only happy when everyone else was miserable. But God, she was embarrassed.
The fatberg could only materialise now. We have co-existed with masses of raw sewage since humans first stacked mud bricks, but the fatberg is uniquely modern, comprising a conglomeration of used condoms and tampons, wet wipes, disposable nappies, and septic sharps suspended in a concretion of cloying fat.
Every morning, as my ancient machine grunted into action, my reaction to that hourglass was the same: with each of its rotations, a sense of unease ratcheted up a notch or bloomed new petals or did whatever anxiety does with its horrible metaphors. The pinch-waisted graphic popped up in the centre of my desktop, cartwheeling, and with it, that same sick feeling.