Tuesday, July 01, 2003

From Warren Ellis' Wonderful 'Die Puny Humans'...

To Be In England, In The Summertime

Even in summer, the English sky's the colour of a dead body left out in the cold. Grey light, grey buildings, grey people, grey lives.

The expensive new car on the corner was supposed to be silver, but it's just grey. The man in the grey suit writhes against the grey fabric of the driver's seat and pounds the wheel with little grey fists. Human fingers lay between his feet, leaking over the little grey plastic mat under the pedals. He starts to cry, lips twisting back from little grey teeth with fingermeat stuck between them.

There's a girl who's almost beautiful, standing by the roadsign watching, wreathed in grey cigarette smoke. She leaves cheap lipstick on the filter, watches the man in the car with dead eyes. When she inclines her head to get a better look, her chin disappears and she looks like a child's painting. Her kid's about three feet away, eating dogshit.

The girl's mother is in the pub, taking a call on a stolen mobile phone. No, this is 'is mum. I took 'is mobile off 'im. No, I ain't seen 'im in three month, since 'e came round my 'ouse with that bitch. I punched 'er in the face and 'it 'im with a frying pan, and they don't come round no more. You got DVD players? I'll 'ave eight. I said I'll 'ave fukkin eight. You come round with 'em.

The bloke with the DVD players needs the money. His car was stolen and the police won't give it back, because it was found with a junkie driving it and a crack pipe and soiled baby clothes in the back seat. It's material evidence in the mimed "fight" against the thousand crack addicts in town, forcing Yale locks and kicking out cat doors in the search for goods to feed two-hundred-pound-a-day habits. Everyone says they should be in hospital, but everyone knows they're safer on the street, because the hospital is rotting in its foundations. The plasterboard the new wing was put up with is festering on its hinges, and disease breeds in the wall cavities. The nurses ruthlessly jerk off the old men in the cancer wards to make them sleep through the night, and palm bottles of Vicodin on the way out the door in the morning. A little soma-holiday for people who reasonably expected to be working in medicine and helping people.

Blank stares at the ground as they walk home down blank streets, past the mothers doing the school run in the grey morning light. Remembering how they used to walk to school with their friends, laughing and joking and inventing whole new ways to look at their bright little worlds. Despising themselves and everything around them for being afraid to let their children walk anywhere alone. Any one of these people could be a paedophile, a child killer, some kind of sex monster that will steal their baby off the streets and do something unimaginable to them. She remembers walking home from school through the woods, making magic out of strange tree stumps and odd rocks and ancient clearings, dark copses and paths never taken, and wants to cry, because her child will never have that in this grey world she stupidly birthed them into.

These are all true stories.

To be in England, in the summertime.

-- Warren Ellis

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