BY JELLO DOWNEY JNR
CHAPTER ONE - THE COCKNEY REJECTS REViSiTED
All I want to do is tell you about a moment. There is a moment.
We are in the shade of a sycamore tree and I am looking up and through it's leaves and into the sun. Algy is lying quietly on the grass, perusing through the new Raoul Vaneigem in the original French. And devising a thesis for an Object Orientated Methodology approach to political structure. He is adamant that Business Entity Relationship Charts and Function Modelling can manoeuvre us all smoothly into a brave new world. I don't know. But I admire the little propellerhead, in a funny way. He has something to Take Seriously. "You can bet the man at the top takes it damn seriously," he points out, "That's how he got there." And he's right. And Algy'll be at the top one day. Algy will get what he wants. Algy will be Up There - telling us his heart is still Down Here.
"Algy, you need a girlfriend," I uncork some wine. "When I've graduated," he sighs."You're only half serious," he adds. And, when it comes to ambition, the kid is spot on.
I digress. There is a moment. By the lake, our dear sister Zoe is brushing at the sky on her latest impressionist painting. And there is an unreproducable moment when the sun just catches her hair and she turns her head and waves to me. And I smile because it's silly. Why wave? It's silly and I know I've just watched something very perfect and very simple and very true happen. And that this is the sort of day I'll wish I could relive, years from now.
Zoe's paintings. "Don't look it's not finished yet!" she pushes us away and we laugh and she snarls. They get kookier all the time and Father is certain to have another spasm. "That sort of rough pederasty-for-the-eyes may be very funny round the fleshpots of Paris," he will, no doubt, announce, "But there's no need to bring it back over here."
Over here. Father's from pieds-noirs Ulster Unionist stock and he's still up half the night cursing Thatcher for the Anglo-Irish agreement. When her mummy was yelling No. And her daddy had told her to go.
"I'm genuinely pleased that you want to help the underpups of this world, dearest" he pulls off Zoe's 'No Logo' badge and smooths her hair, "But I'm not going to stand about and watch you become one." I fear he is quite doomed to live in a Fictional British world. Not like "that fop puke" Neil Hannon. Father's Letters From A Missing Britain were Stanley Spencer and The Day Of The Triffids and Brazil and Holidays In The Sun and the Hitchhikers Guide and the KLF and the Modern Review-the-big-foldy-out-one-not-the-one-with-Tag-watches-adverts. Adverts are just Spam Spam Spam.
Suddenly, this easy scene is roused by a few exclamatory toots as Marco's charabanc carouses over the ridge. Algy and I watch him stride out and across the greenery, somewhat flushed and with his tie slightly askew, an arm round a young man who looks like a cross between all four Cockney Rejects and Danger UXB. "Been down Oxford Street for Mayday. Absolute riot going on. Found this one kicking several shades of shit out of a Starbucks till. Quite the enfant sauvage. We grabbed a bunch of cobalt blue Gap macs and split before the dicks could even blink." He throws us a Mac each.
"Yes." I say, " We caught the highlights on Algy's Watchman." 'This One' glowers at us. His eyes are like a couple of pure contempt pens scoring away in silent capitals - "It's alright for you lot .. you cunts" though he doesn't appear to speak a word himself. Stands there poised for action. For the ruck. The ruck of mistrust.
"Here," I raise myself, half fearing that the chant of Jimmy Blacksmith will spoil everything. I offer a drink, "Do join us. Fresh mussels and limes. Harvested by an honest hand. No multi national conglomerate has been near them. Elderberry wine? Mother made it herself."
But This One's face remains buckled in contempt. His effect on Algy is profound. I've never seen him so nervous. "Tell me then, Mr er Guevara, how would you advise me to vote in the forthcoming election? What is the word from the kids on the er street?"
But This One has disappeared. He's wandering down to the lake. Now stands six paces behind Zoe watching her paint. She ushers him round and he flops across the bank scratching his neck and, pleased by the happenstance of it all, she begins to sketch him in.
Algy snorts at this over his Function Modelling,"Not as wild as he makes out. Little eyes lit up at the idea of hanging in the Serpentine for a couple of months, didn't they? Anyway, I abhor pictures with people. They're so gushing. It's quite unnecessary."
"Algy don't," I begin. But he's off on one. Marco rolls his eyes as Algy springs up and marches heavily down to the lake.
"I mean it - give us your words of wisdom, Brutus." Zoe steps up. "Algy, be a pet and fetch me some wine would you?"
This One has swung to his feet, and I suddenly wonder if Algy realises that he is staring into the loosest fucking cannon in Christendom. "Give me some advice," Algy prods him with a finger.
"Well," This One's voice is surprisingly soft. "If someone breaks your nose - snort it back and spit it out. Don't blow. Half your brain will collapse."
"HA!" Algy turns to us, "Don't blow! Thus spake Zar-"
But Algy cannot finish. This One punches him in the stomach, wheels him round by his arm and spins him five yards over the lake like a skipping stone, underscored by an almighty "WAAAANNKKKKKKAAAA."
And there is another moment. When Marco and I run to the waters edge, and Zoe plunges in to save Algy and This One, after kicking Zoe's painting into the stratosphere, bursts out crying and Marco hugs him and I run for Gap macs and put two round Algy as he emerges like a soaked rat and then he starts crying and Zoe starts laughing and Algy storms off back to the car determined to get something to clobbler This One with but we know he'll just curl up on the back seat and curse.