I am, Gentle Reader, appearing, strictly incognito, on the mean streets of E5 and I am Serious. Yes, I am grim as death. I am Chimmie Teenager and yet again, I have been called to action. Others, kind people, genuine but Feckless, as well as psychotic karaoke fantasists, sleepwalk in ignorance, while once more Destiny calls me to its lonely path.
Imagine the sweep of the camera's eye as it moves down from on high, slowly past the debris littered roofs of decayed Victorian gin palaces and brothels, now, allegedly, the home of the New Media and neighbourhood housing action area one-stop-shops. It is moving no faster than a row boat coasting into the last 10 feet to shore. On it goes though, silently down, down on a slow inexorable zoom over the great mass of humanity, past the liquorless ruin of a once teeming road house. You hear the murmur of a thousand conversations, of people saying "Yeah. I'll be home in five minutes" to their cellphones. On it goes. Down into the crowd: there is a story that it must Pick Out.
Pick Out? I hope I am not too conspicuous. It would be desperate if I were besieged by paparazzi, when I am embarking on a surveillance mission.
Every nerve in my body is taut. Life is All Pain and yet I have never felt so alive. My state of enlivened consciousness is such that I become aware, from the very corner of my eye, of the next player in our drama. Tall, easy, his ironically patrician walk takes him into the centre of my vision. It is Anthony Sebastian Jones and he's looking good. White suit, white shirt, white tie, white shoes, white frames on his sunglasses. He slows down to linger by a shop window in front of me. Someone not four feet away from him, writhing in corduroys, has become part of the picture. Wringhim, yes Wringhim, and Jones are standing as near as spit, pretending to be studying the contents of a shop window. This is obviously a rendezvous. And the shop? Appliances Direct.
What is going on? What in the Hell is going on? The whole world is filling up with madmen and as usual it's left up to me to sort it out. I've got to risk it. I've got to get nearer. Jones has gone inside. I knew it. I knew it.
I cross over the road and hang back by the crash barrier. Wringhim won't see me, his head jerking leftwards. He picks up a can and throws it in that direction. I can profit from such distractions. Hidden on the pavement, there is a squarish plate inscribed "CATV". OK I'm getting somewhere now. That's what's written on that thing in Appliances Direct, not twenty feet away, (or at least if you look at them upside down). Just in there, The Awful Head, possibly the manifestation of some fiendish intelligence, bringing messages of terror from afar.
Some minutes pass. Jones emerges studying an A4 sheet of paper. He folds it conclusively, taps it on his wrist and grins as he passes Wringhim, and, putting it inside his jacket, strides away.
That's it. Go off to some bus stop somewhere and freak someone else out. What if that paper contains orders? What if it it's all planned and co-ordinated?
I consider following him. No. He is not my Mission. I retreat back across the road like a seasoned professional. Someone else comes out of the shop. Black Moustache. He looks to right and left. Dead shifty. Then he shoots off into the crowd.
Right. Collars up. Chimmie moves off in hot pursuit, leaving Wringhim for another day. Watch me
now. I move past a pub that has become a bar with a stupid name
and a clientele which has read one book by Iain Banks, and
.........I've lost him.
"They're ready, Sir."
Outside, I move down Mare Street and am surprised at how many
times I see "CATV" on the pavement. I find myself
wondering if I can follow these like a trail.
Fate has put my mission back on course. With infinite care I draw myself back behind an enormous fridge-freezer and get ready to listen for all I'm worth. But the talking has stopped. In fact it's almost as if the world has stopped and the whole universe has spun down the plughole of ultimate silence. What's going on? With the same infinite care I move to the edge of the cabinet to sneak a glimpse.
"Hallo Monty!" screams Back Moustache, while making as if to shake out an invisible umbrella.
The jig is up. I set my bonnet square and withdraw with the kind of dignity that only a man of my calibre can produce in the circumstances.
Chimmie needs something to settle his nerves: all over this country, or the world there are cabals of second-hand electrical goods salesmen huddling in corners, up to no good, maybe all part of a single network and linked by a series of tunnels, only identifiable by the inscription "CATV" (or rather strange symbols that appear to spell this if turned Upside Down).
I fear that some cosmic imbalance is causing a huge number of deranged people to emerge, Agents of Chaos, pursuing some campaign of disinformation and intimidation, controlled and orchestrated by, Well, What? I just can't accept that this is being masterminded by a bunch of secondhand refrigerator salesmen.
My feet have taken me near a rather fine old Victorian pub, shabby and unloved but happily not "improved" or taken over by "All Bar One". No I haven't forgotten what you did to the Pied Bull in Liverpool Road, you bastards.
As I said Chimmie needs something to settle his nerves. I feel a requirement for the customary Laphroaig and Irn Bru coming on. Unfortunately the selection of single malts is very poor And (!) No Irn Bru. I decide to settle for a bottle of Becks.
This beer originates in Bremen, Germany once part of the demesnes of the Elector of Hanover, that miserable carpetbagging shit who held what was not his to accept, the crown to the Kingdoms of those who trace their line to Kenneth and Fergus, poncing around the European stage like some Tory candidate sliding from selection committee to selection committee on a trail of KY jelly.
However, this is not going to stop me from drinking it. This beer is brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Laws, not that this will matter to the so-called lager louts who are representing British interests abroad.
It's quite good actually.
Unfortunately, this law also contains a clause forbidding transsexuals from holding Public Office, and as such, I will have to say that, broadly speaking, I will not be able to support it. I cannot accept that I am not to be allowed to appoint a Man or Woman of ability to be my First Minister just because of some minor medical detail.
I have a further concern. I have this nagging doubt, that will not go away, that bottles of Becks purchased in off-licences in Hackey have a taste inferior to ones purchased elsewhere. What if they are Counterfeits, filled with some adulterated mixture being prepared in the cellars of Appliances Direct and decanted into bottles with facsimile labels by half-human creatures who wipe their arses on their overalls? What if they contain some mind-altering substance that makes you....... into one of them?
Fortunately, this one tastes OK. In spite of all that has gone
on, I relax and say to myself: