Dept 17


“This is good, seriously,” I lied. My lie was saying it was good. It wasn’t good, it was really boring.

“It’s really boring,” said Firelighter.

“Just because it’s not the Bake Off, doesn’t mean it’s boring,” I said, but that wasn’t me being misogynistic. I don’t think cooking is all a woman is good for. I actually like the Bake Off as much as women do. I was as surprised as anybody that Lottie got sent home last night because, let’s be honest, Laura totally fucked that ice-cream cake. But then Lottie did put baked beans in her quiche and I fucking hate baked beans. I’d have sent her home there and then. I can’t believe some people like them. Prue and Paul hate them too. “I hate baked beans,” I said.

“I like them,” said Subsonic and I screwed up my face and turned back to the TV on the wall of the big room. Absolutely nothing had changed. For hours. Biden seemed to possibly be winning but who fucking knew? It was so boring. The news person was trying to make it exciting while at the same time going on about how a result might take days and go to court. I guess that would make people even angrier so, in that respect, it was kinda good.

“I don’t mind them on a baked potato, covered in cheese,” said Firelighter.

“Nygh,” I said. I looked over at Tan. Tanned Surfer. He’s originally from Portugal where, it would seem from his confused silence, baked beans aren’t a staple. I turned back to the TV. Had any of those numbers changed? The blue and red ones? I didn’t know, or really care, it was good it was close but yeah, we probably didn’t need to come in early. I hoped somebody would suggest making a drink. I wasn’t going to because the sink is manky.

“I thought this was America?” said Subsonic, pointing at the TV and I stopped thinking about coffee. The TV was saying Biden had won Hawaii.

“Dunno what that’s about,” I said.

“Should we have voted?” asked Firelighter.

“Nah!” I said, with my face screwed up a bit, but actually I wasn’t 100% sure. “They must have just got Hawaii’s opinion or something. Maybe they ask islands around America. We…we’re… we’re not near America. We’re definitely not in it.”

“We’re not in the UK, we’re not in America, where are we then?” asked Firelighter.

“Google it,” I said. She looked at her phone on the table but didn’t pick it up. We go through this shit every time we try and set the region for the Freesat box. Google says we’re not in the UK. I think. But we are in Great Britain. But not in the British Isles, despite being a British isle. It’s fucked really. “We’re definitely not in America.”

“So why we watch this?” asked Tan and I rolled my eyes and sighed loudly. I thought about going through it again but I really couldn’t be bothered. It’s so obvious.

It’s selfish but to us it didn’t matter if Biden or Trump won. Putting aside their policies we just wanted a civil war to break out. I say we but I mean I, because I have to do all the thinking in this place. America burning would be good for us. And then, hopefully, it would spread to the UK. And then, hopefully, spread to Jersey. Because what do you need in a civil war? You need super heroes. The Brexit shit had sort of fizzled out. Then Covid. Covid! Global pandemic. That sounded like something you could use us for but nothing had really changed, apart from people had started washing their hands.

We’re in a funny advert on the Government’s Covid page. We’re the Hand Stand Band. Dressed up as rappers. It’s funny.

Hand (wash ’em both) Stand (stand two metres away from people not in your group of six if they’re from another household unless they’re from an amber zone or lower, in which case it’s one and a half metres.) Band (use bands to attach a mask to your face). It’s clever. I’m not in the video but I helped direct it.

“Okay!” announced Tan, slapping his thighs. The sound of the slap stopped me thinking about the video. I realized I’d been smiling. I don’t think anybody noticed. “Who wants-“

“Me!” I said.

“To make me coffee!” he pronounced coffee ‘cawfy’, the wanker, and then he shouted, “ahh!” while pointing at me. The other two hooted and lent over to give Tan a high five and so grumbling I went to the little kitchen. I didn’t wash their cups. I just made the drinks in their dirty cups. It’s their own filth. Worst thing is Firelighter has tea and I hate that faff. Putting a tea bag in. Taking a tea bag out. Putting the tea bag in the bin which is covered in drips of tea. Why haven’t they invented instant tea yet?

Afterwards we watched two episodes of A Place in the Sun. They never buy anywhere, the people on it. It’s always left up in the air.

Mid afternoon and the news was back on but they were no closer to a result. I was thinking about telling them to go home. We could have done some training but it was a bit cold and we’d been in since 8. Then Subsonic produced a carrier bag and the way the bag spread out when it put in down made it obvious to even a simpleton that it contained chestnuts. The mood of the room changed instantly.

I. Fucking. Love. Chestnuts. Everybody does. Lottie should have put chestnuts in her quiche.

I put my coat on and we went out to the field at the back. There’s a bench and a table. I split the shells with my mutli-tool. Just made a split because that’s what you do and handed them to Sub who wrapped them, about ten at a time, in foil. He put the foil package into Firelighter’s cupped hands and she ignited. It was really nice, just standing around the fire on a crisp autumn afternoon, roasting the chestnuts that Sub had picked directly off a tree. I’d like to see a drone do that, I thought about saying. But a drone probably could. It wouldn’t then bring them into work, though.

Tan put one of his foreign cigarettes in his mouth a lent forward and lit it from Firelighter’s shoulder and even the stench from that smelled alright. Things weren’t too bad, really. The World was okay for now. It was good to take this time before shit got too crazy.