2008 - The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

2008 - The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

Author:Chris Cleave
Format: epub


Serious times began on a grey, ominous day in London. I wasn’t looking for serious. If I’m honest, I suppose I was looking for a bit of the other. Charlie was nearly two years old and I was emerging from the introverted, chrysalid stage of early motherhood. I fitted back into my favourite skirts. I felt like showing off my wings.

I’d decided to spend a day in the field. The idea was to remind my editorial girls that it was possible to write a feature article all on one’s own. I hoped that by inspiring the staff to indulge in a little reportage, my commissioning budget would be spared. It was simply a question, I had told the office airily, of applying one’s pithy remarks sequentially to paper rather than scrawling them individually on sample boxes.

Really, I just wanted my staff to be happy. At their age I’d been fresh out of my journalism degree and intoxicated with the job. Exposing corruption, brandishing truth. How well it had suited me, that absolute licence to march up to evildoers and demand who, what, where, when, and whyt But now, standing in the lobby of the Home Office building in Marsham Street, waiting for a ten o’clock interview, I realised I wasn’t looking forward to it. Perhaps at twenty, one is naturally curious about life but at thirty, simply suspicious of anyone who still has one. I clutched my brand-new notepad and Dictaphone in the hope that some of their youthful predis-illusionment would rub off on me.

I was angry with Andrew. I couldn’t focus. I didn’t even look the part of a reporter—my spiral notepad was virginal white. While I waited, I besmirched it with notes from a fictitious interview. Through the lobby of the Home Office building, the public sector shuffled past in its scuffed shoes, balancing its morning coffee on cardboard carry trays. The women bulged out of M&S trouser suits, wattles wobbling and bangles clacking. The men seemed limp and hypoxic—half garrotted by their ties. Everyone stooped, or scuttled, or nervously ticked. They carried themselves like weather presenters preparing to lower expectations for the bank-holiday weekend.

I tried to concentrate on the article I wanted to write. An optimistic piece was what I needed; something bright and positive. Something absolutely unlike anything Andrew would write in his Times column, in other words. Andrew and I had been arguing. His copy was getting gloomier and gloomier. I think he had truly started to believe that Britain was sinking into the sea. Crime was spreading, schools were failing, immigration was creeping and public morals were slipping. It seemed as if everything was seeping and sprawling and oozing, and I hated it. Now that Charlie was almost two I suppose I was looking into the future my child would have to inhabit, and realising that bitching about it might possibly not be the most constructive strategy. Why do you always have to be so bloody negative? I asked Andrew. If the country really


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