Goodbye and Good………

Punching the air like a triumphant quarterback, I revelled in the emptiness of the unit and the cathartic moment. At last I was free, and the quivering front door appeared in the distance like an approaching star gate, but when I got near enough to touch it, all I could see was a massive grey portal towering above me at an impossible height. Devastated, I wondered why fate had dealt me such a cruel blow at such a late stage; until a spectral hand rested on my shoulder and made my soul jump through my throat:
“I need a cigarette now!” roared a familiar voice in my ear.
“Then I’m afraid you’re going to be bloody disappointed for once” I said.
“What! I need a cigarette now! Now! Now!” she yelled.
“Not now” I whispered.
“Now! Now! Now! Now!” she chanted, as I turned my back, and waited for providence.
“Now! Now! NOW! NOW! NOW!…… BANG!”
My head jerked around and I saw that the lady was no longer there. Instead, a huge effigy sparked and flashed, sending plumes of white fire into the air, filling the corridor with acrid smoke and thick soot. The door swung open and I fled.
Silently, I watched the flames licking the gable ends of the empty unit, the windows cracking and the walls going slowly black. Resisting the temptation to bring a toasting fork and loaf of bread, I contented myself with warming my hands on the inferno, singing one chorus of ‘Roasting Chestnuts on an Open Fire’, and walking past the nearby telephone box without delay. Richard and some of the other stragglers stood next to his customised bubble car with Roll Royce grill, looking like stunned survivors of a broken Chinese terracotta army, and decidedly ill. Saying nothing.
From then on it was easy. My magical powers were unstoppable, and as I strode through the frozen streets my imagination performed effortless miracles of reform and revision. The moon became full and bathed the town in friendly light, a warm breeze began to thaw winter’s grip, and curtains were opened revealing cheerful families with smiley faces. Children played without being cruel, adults waved without design, and dogs approached with wagging tails and no bite. I replaced every cheap and nasty concrete carbuncle with wonderfully restored period buildings, emptying Swiss bank accounts to pay for it. I removed all signs of graffiti by organising chain gangs of graffiti artists to lick the buildings clean, and I ensured that every scrap of litter was returned to the perpetrators, through their letterboxes.
All those who continued to fill the town with their pets’ dung, woke up to find the excreta occupying their living room carpets, and every criminal was automatically victim to the same crime themselves until they stopped. There was no more career unemployment with twenty-five year old men skate boarding all day, no more compensation for being stupid and falling over a matchstick, no more sick pay for professional hypochondriacs, and no benefits for those who only used their walking sticks when somebody was looking.
People stopped climbing over each other in their thirst for toys, they accepted they weren’t always right, they grew up and had a sense of history, tradition, nationhood and community. They gave up wearing baseball caps and living off their parents until they were 40, they stopped talking about things instead of doing them, and they promised to forget about money for at least ten minutes every day. They rediscovered the idea of God, thought about how feeble and short-lived human beings really were, and put arrogant sneers and smart suits into smart perspective. ‘Fat cats’ were put on crash diets, and golden handshakes for corporate failures were re-routed to state pensions for ordinary heroes. ‘The Age of the Ego’ was reviled, outlawed and forgotten.
Well, that was the long-term plan.


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