Author of The Dividing Lines and Bad Things to Good People
Extract from The Dividing Lines
The first thing to catch his eye as he emerges into the street is the giant ferris wheel of the London Eye. He’s never been on it, or even taken his kids up there to view the city from its great height. Vertigo is never a good cure for drunkenness, but the thought it might be harmful spurs him on. As long as it’s destructive, he’s up for anything now. Is there anything more gratifying than the comfort of self-pity?
He thinks about Caroline Tyrell, and how he would do it all again if she was to come to him now, in his intoxicated state. A Spanish teen walking in front of him with a rucksack and a thick woolly jumper reminds him of her. Unlike her classmates, she doesn’t have the pseudo-Lesbian mullet haircut, and Richard must be at least five inches taller than her. Though she can’t be older than sixteen, the way she has her designer sunglasses perched on top of her head gives her an opulent grace.
So he can’t deny it, then? Judge, jury and executioner would be right to string him up. I’d fuck her, he concedes, imagining he’s on the stand. Paedophile, unconscious anti-Semite, adulterer, betrayer of the working class – it’s not an edifying list of charges. And what does he have in his defence? Latin-speaker, first from Oxford, economist, former PPS to the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – nobody will give him a medal for these things.
Richard stops for a moment, letting the Spanish girl and her friends walk on. He needs to get his act together to face his fellow MPs, his staff, the security guards, the unknown people in the lift at Portcullis House.
The pleasant late summer air seeps into his lungs as he takes a deep breath. His eyes close for a good couple of seconds before he steps forward into the road without looking. Not long now until he’s back in the office.
‘Watch out!’ screams a horrified, high pitched voice behind him.