Our Beautiful Barricade
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
I leant the guitar against the wall in a petty act of protest that went utterly unnoticed. “There's bound to be a break in the blockade somewhere. I mean they can't be patrolling it all, all of the time. Can they?”
“You wanna bet? It’s being guarded by Romans, Ancient Britons, Angles, Vikings, Normans, Roundheads, Cavaliers, the Home Guard and Brexiteers.”
“Yeah, but most of them are just ghosts, and I ain’t scared of no ghost!”
At least that cracked a half smile. “Them three students that tried to break out were hung as deserters, you know. Stripped, beat up and hung. Savage!”
I didn't answer but took another gulp of wine. In the initial kick-off we'd built an indestructible barricade from alley gates, skips, B&Q spoils, shopping trolleys, smart TVs, old settees, aquariums and public statues, reinforced by our CVs and memos, the books we loved, our bank statements, our usernames and passwords, suddenly invalid speeding fines and our P45s, and we decorated the whole thing with fairy-lights, traffic cones, glitter, our children’s favourite toys and anything else we could think of the get the job done - to keep us all free, to keep us all in and remind us we’re all the same. It was a monument to the best and the worst within each of us, all our nuggets of wisdom and our follies, an encircling ring of collective belief and incredulity. Oh, it was a beautiful and terrible thing to behold. When we began burning effigies with papier-mâché heads of politicians and public figures anyone could see it had gotten out of hand, but it was already too late, the fervour had spread like a virus. Dear God, the time that's been wasted! And to be honest you can't fault people for feeling frustrated and wanting to grasp a future with their own hands, but so much of the anger’s been misdirected. And now, with the promise of our Unicorn Tomorrows crumbling like a sandcastle in the tide there’s the rooting out of anyone who cursed the dream in the first place. If it wasn’t for dissenters we’d be living our best lives. They’re to blame for the whole mess and the sickness that came.
“You know Lou,” I said, “it’s only a matter of time before they come for me.”
“Why would they come for you?”
“I’ve upset a lot of people. It just takes someone I've pissed off to give my name to the inner circle.”
“There ain't no inner circle. It’s all factions. No one's properly in charge. And there must be some sort of an organised resistance going on.”
Near the river where smoke plumes still billowed, something exploded. The bedroom was drowned in a flash, then the deep boom, shaking the double glazing, rattling our brains in our skulls, ears ringing. The blast left a sticky darkness in its wake.
“What the fuck?” she muttered, sitting up and resting her head against the wall.
Written by BOB BEAGRIE
Artwork by DAVID FRANKUM