This Terrible War

Everyone will be back in the house by Christmas - we’ll be together on Christmas morning. The Government, bless their little cotton socks, realize the distress that will be caused by a shortage of Christmas decorations, since the tinsel factory was commandeered to aid in the manufacture of wartime munitions. Will have been caused, rather. Seventy-five factories in the North Midlands alone, building tinsel, baubles, and those droopy sacs of shimmering metallic plastic, booblike - and all directed to manufacture armaments for this terrible war. Tinsel nerve agents, bauble-bombs, droopy sacs of shimmering metallic poison, booblike. Are there reserves? Probably. A cache of over-supply outside Derby, a box or two lying around in an ownerless lock-up in Stanford. There won’t be many of us left by Christmas, and we’ll make do. 

Making do is part of the fun of it. When this is all over, this terrible war, we’ll make do just for fun - we’ll have become addicted to scarcity, unable to function in conditions of plenitude. We - you and I - will have become those people who tell stories about our shared suffering, the first time we ever meet. “What was it like for you?” Though we haven’t met yet, and we may never, we know we will have this in common for the rest of our unnatural, Christ-denying lives. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a piano like to bang out tunes on it, and rouse ourselves to comfort: “My Old Man’s Cthulhu,” “You’ll Smoke the Whole Packet and Like It, Boy,” and “My Girl Came On the NHS.” The pianos are out of tune but we rattle them and bounce our bodies against them. We lob the toddlers at ‘em, that usually does the trick, and it teaches ‘em something about the world of hard knocks. Your grandmother plays songs of Welsh life, singing in a language nobody else can remember. Your children eyeball her and your youngest licks his lips. Your grandmother plays slowly, behind the beat, as though withholding each chord until you’ve degraded yourself by asking for it. She’s a tough old cunt, if truth be told - gritty and slow and cruel. Once she learned that music produces expectations in people who hear it, she understood how useful it could be if she were ever called upon to torture the enemy.

A distinction should be made between torturing in the anticipation of effecting a conversion, confession, or disclosure (on the one hand) and torturing for its own sake, to produce suffering in elegant ways (on the other). No context for either, not during this terrible war - well, we don’t have much call for it around here. We’re slow, and set in our ways - a couple of ripe English chestnuts. We’ll get cooked on the same fire, you mark my words.

What is war, in the end, but an interminable and unlimited ethical obligation that one bears solely as an individual? It’s a rum do and no mistakin’, guv’nor. The greater jihad is the jihad of one’s own soul. War‘s just a word, really, just a name we give to the condition that derives from the responsibility as soon as one sees it - it sounds scary, but there it is. Interminable and unlimited ethical obligation (check and check), borne as an individual (check), socialism without the social aspect (check). I’m doing my part! We’re all chipping in to make Easter shawls to send to Our Boys - boys love shawls, especially those made by girls, or rather by exactly ONE (1) girl per shawl, one shawl per Boy. Girls, breathe on your shawls, rub them into your nose until the snot leaks, spit on them, tuck a corner into your pussy, then spritz them with orange blossom water and airdrop them to your Boy, wheresoever he may be. Boys like smells, too - they will be so happy to know you care.

Everyone’s chipping in - there’s something almost inspiring about it, like we’re all the elves in Father Christmas’s grotto. Busting busying busying to get everything ready for Christmas Day, to make the toys, to feed the reindeer tra la la! Each in a little elvish outfit, white and green rings around our tights. I make a wooden spinnaker for Tommy. My neighbour makes a wooden pan for Nobby. Our neighbour makes a wooden lark for Duddy. Their neighbour makes a wooden pouch for Slobby. All the good wooden goods we shall have when this is all over, this terrible war. They shall bring them back to us, Our Boys, and we shall see what use a wooden pan is then. If any at all. 

A special episode of Doctor Who with the woman Doctor broadcast at midnight, unexpectedly, like a Rihanna album launch. This time it was just her explaining the rules of bloody cricket to that gormless Brexit granddad who wheezes his way through his adventures before saying something like “hm not sure, Doc, seems ripe to me!” He brings the same energy to the cricket splaining. You want to slap him - once, unapologetically - around the chops, the kind of slap that turns his head to the side, dislodging spit and even teeth. Maybe you’ll get to when this is all over, this terrible war. But the Doctor addresses the camera directly, saying: “I know you’re afraid. I know you’re sick of this. I know sometimes it seems like nothing you ever do will ever be normal again. I know you didn’t really have a birthday this year - I know that matters to you, too, you spineless reptile. I wish I could promise you things will get better. I could promise you - I could lie, and don’t you respect me more for refusing to lie? Not to make this about me. Anyway, you don’t get a lie, not today. You get something even more beautiful.  You get the knowledge, the sure and certain knowledge, that by being unfazed and clear-eyed - simply by being prepared - you are doing your part to help the most vulnerable among us.”

The “most vulnerable among us”? A politician phrase, surely? But do go off, Doc.

Am I the Brexit granddad? The thought sits there, like an unexploded land mine.

When this war is over I will open my legs to every boy in town, every Tommy and Johnny and Squabby and Dimbo to come home - we’ll fling confetti in the sky, and won’t there be glinting eyes to go with the clotted cream sandwiches and thick squash? Each can come and take a few pumps, girlie in their arms if need be, smiling and waving to the camera all the while. It won’t take much. I’ll break the top off ‘em like cracking open a snatch of ginger beer, foamy head dribbling down the side. Cheering crowd, a local brass band playing the oom-pah-pah. Friendly red-faced copper twirling his truncheon round as careless as you like, whistling his songs of authority, even he can come can squeeze his short fat cock into me, knock me out like lead and shoot his dirty water right up there. Even the scamps - tearaway thief munchkins - get a scratch at the old scratch-card (rub three out identical you win up to £10,000). When this terrible war is over I will choke on the round little noblets of all our brave boys, and smile that devilish, whore-breathed smile with your hands on my belly. You won’t believe your luck, what I’ll do for you with my body, when I get out of here, when you get home from this war — this terrible, terrible war.