An attempt to co-ordinate and add a much-needed element of self-discipline to a writing project. It's called "The Passerby", and is set in the here and now. It's in diary format, partly because it serves the narrative's purpose, and partly because the page-a-day design may help me keep going. Doing it in public might help too, as will any ideas/comments/grumbles that people feel kind enough to chip in along the way...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 12: Monday 18th July

The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?”
Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the Righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

Most mornings there is one of those magazine sellers outside the book shop. The sort that wear badges and look up and down the street all the time. I think they’re looking up and down trying to guess who’s going to buy their magazines and who isn’t. There are two magazine sellers who work outside the shop. They are friends and take it in turns to be there, I think. One has mad hair and always looks like I do when I haven’t shaved for four or five days. He’s wasn’t there today. It was the other one.

He calls himself Jimbo. He says his name all the time. Other sellers that I’ve seen, like the ones near the train stations and the one by the Marks and Spenders where Alan gets his sandwiches from, all say the same thing. They say the name of the magazine over and over again, but really slowly and loudly. And sometimes people buy one and smile at them and sometimes they don’t and either they do a sort of sad shrug to say sorry or else they pretend like the seller’s not there. Jimbo just talks about himself all day out loud.

Get your Big Issue from Jimbo he says. Jimbo pretty much guarantees not to spend the money on clean needles or fresh string for Jimbo’s dog. Don’t be fooled by lesser merchants of this august publication, get your fix of tramp-friendly news and views right here at Jimbo’s Alfresco Emporium. Step right up ladies and gentlemen especially if your tetanus shots are up to date because Jimbo hardly ever bites a customer.

He talks like that all day every day when he’s there. He keeps going and only stops when someone buys a magazine. When that happens he kind of tap-dances on the spot and says Jimbo’s dancing with joy everyone Jimbo’s dancing for joy if you want to keep Jimbo dancing then keep on buying.

Jimbo likes it outside the bookshop and he talks about that too. Jimbo’s outside the bookshop ladies and gentlemen and Jimbo’s wares are cheaper than what’s on offer inside. If reading’s your drug then deal with Jimbo. All articles guaranteed uncut and pure. Jimbo turns around and around. He likes to check people on the way in and the way out of the book shop. Jimbo’s here to rid you of your liberal guilt and your change he says to people on the way out of the book shop. Jimbo can cleanse your soul and let you have something to line your hamster cage with all in one fell swoop.

Sometimes Mikey Mikey or China Dave the security men stand near the doors if they think Jimbo is getting too excited but mostly they leave him alone because Jimbo isn’t doing any harm and the customers in the shop like him because he is a character and also because Jimbo likes talking to them and they get made to look silly. Jimbo’s being glared at by The Man he says. Lookie lookie at the agents of oppression out to stifle free speech, fair trade and bad dancing and people usually laugh and Mikey Mikey or China Dave depending on who’s working that day go away and go back into the shop.

Mikey Mikey and China Dave don’t wear policey uniforms like normal security guards. They wear suits and look like business men, except they both have tried to hide going bald by shaving the rest of their hair off and they both have tattoos that sometimes peep out of their necks. And they both have little goatee beards and are massive like six feet four tall and big like boxers or World’s Strongest Man competitors and they like talking about the gym and if Jet Li or Bruce Lee would have won a fight with each other. They both know a lot about kung-fu movies and they do kung-fu and karate and things like that. Mikey Mikey is called that because one day he lost a bit of his radio and his name is Michael so the Saturday girls in the shop were laughing at him saying can’t you find your mikey, Mikey and he got red in the face and they all giggled and that was years ago before I started working at the book shop. China Dave is called that because he is Chinese and his name is Dave except he is the massivest Chinese man I have ever seen.

Oo the way into the bookshop I went over to Jimbo who had just arrived himself. We have a different entrance to the customers. Ours is round the side next to where the deliveries come in and I was going there when I saw Jimbo turn up with his bag full of magazines and I said morning Jimbo and Jimbo says Jimbo says good morning to you too. Can I have a magazine please Jimbo I asked and Jimbo looked at me and smiled and got a magazine out of his bag and started his dancing. Not even nine o-clock and Jimbo’s dancing everyone. Try to keep Jimbo dancing all day, folks and he gave me the magazine and I gave him the money except I gave him two pounds and said keep the change Jimbo and he said Jimbo’s been blessed everybody the sun is shining on righteous Jimbo and Jimbo says you have a good day young gent and don’t let The Man grind you down and I said no Jimbo I won’t and went to work.

My signed book talks about charity. It has a special word for it. Zakat. And even though the word zakat doesn’t mean the same kind of charity like buying Jimbo’s magazine it is the best that I could do this morning.

At least I’ve made a start.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 11: Sunday 17th July

Jesus said, “This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive, and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?”

Alan was grumbling and moaning and going on all Friday because of all the books we had to move from the stock rooms to the shop floor and the extra delivery that came because of the books selling fast and because the shop opened especially early and staying open especially late so that all the people could buy the new book and find out more about the boy wizard. Some of the boys and girls that were in the shop in the afternoon were dressed like wizards too and there was a party in the shop and the lady that writes the boy wizard books was there and she was smiling and writing her name in books for people and having her photograph taken for the newspapers and for the magazine that we have for staff to make us feel good about working for such a wonderful company.

The book lady had people with her to help her and carry things for her and to make phone calls on their mobile phones that sounded urgent and busy because the book lady was visiting loads of different bookshops and had to be on time so that she would not make the boys and girls and the shop managers sad.

I saw her. I saw her when she came out of the bookshop. I was looking through the glass in the double doors that say STAFF ONLY on them so I could see what was going on. She nearly knocked me off my tiptoes but I stepped back just in time.

She came through with Mister Dixon who looked like he couldn’t see me at all and she asked him a question and he pointed towards where the staff loos are.

It is one of my jobs to clean the staff loos. Even the loos for the women that work here. I have a sign that I put up on the door to tell them that a man is in there cleaning the loos so they do not come into the loo when I am there cleaning and emptying the bins and be surprised and upset. The only sign I have to put up with the mens loo is the don’t slip on the wet floor yellow cone thing I have to put outside the door after the floors have been mopped clean.
We all got a free copy of the book about the boy wizard as a present for all our hard work. I was thinking about it and it was in my mind.

So I went to my rucksack and moved my margarine tub which was nearly empty except for one yoghurt and went and got my book and moved as fast as I could in case she was just having a wee not a poo and would be finished quickly. Then I went back to the loos and Mister Dixon was not near and that made me glad. I could see him through the glass in the double doors and he was back in the shop looking like he was the man in charge, which is silly, because he is.

And the lady came out and I smiled at her and she smiled at me and said yes like it was a question.

And I asked her if she would please sign my book and she said yes and have you got a pen.

I always have a pen at work. It lives in my top pocket. We have blue tops with pockets in them and that is where my pen goes. It has the name of the shop on it.

And I held the book out for her and smiled and she looked at the book and back at me.
I smiled again, a bit wider.

She sort of smiled with her eyes and took the pen and the book and opened up to the inside front page and she asked my her name and I said Thomas and she said hello Thomas.

Then she wrote something in it and gave it back to me with another mouth smile and the same eye smile thing. Then she was gone and Mister Dixon’s shadow was in the window so I went straight back to my rucksack to put my book away.

That was when I saw it.

I opened the book to make sure. And I was right the first time. The free book we had been given about the boy wizard was still in my bag with my extra yoghurt.

This means two things.

I can’t put the book that I borrowed back now because it has been written in.

And I also don’t want to because I like the book even more now. It is my book now because it has my name in it.
To Thomas, it says, a seeker of the true magic. And though I can’t read the whole signature, I can make out a J and a K before the big squiggle of the last name.

And I think she’s right. I am.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 10: Saturday 16th July

Jesus said, “I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.”

They know me in the library and smile at me in that I know you and want to appear friendly but don’t want to talk to you right now way.

Except for Leo. Leo always talks to me. Leo is always in the library except when he has some money and except when they ask him to leave for being noisy or sicking himself or the one time he fell asleep and did a wee in his trousers.

Leo asks me if I am alright and about the marks on my face and why wasn’t I here last Saturday like I always am. Leo is right. I am always in the library on Saturday. I like to use the internet and it is free if you book a computer. I always book a computer and if I don’t remember someone else here does for me because there is always one here for me.

Leo does not like the internet because of what happened to his wife. She went on the internet and never came back. I say yes thank you I am fine but nothing else and he goes and gets all the papers they leave out for people to read so that no-one else gets them.

Leo is doing research in the papers. He has lots of ideas about what is really going on and sometimes he tells me about them. I don’t always agree with Leo but I don’t always tell him that because he might get shouty and get taken out of the library by the security guards again and not be my friend.

Sometimes I wonder what Leo’s name really is. The library people all call him that because of his hair and the shouting. I should ask him but it feels silly because I have been his friend for a long time and it seems silly that I don’t already know what it is or he might have said and I might not have remembered. So I don’t use names with Leo. And anyway, Leo is a nice name. I am a Leo because my birthday is in August so maybe we are the same a bit. I hope so.

Once, Leo hits the paper he is reading and the staff look up and look at him and at each other and then back to their work. Leo is talking to himself about the Middle East and about America and about everything that is wrong. He is a bit like Alan sometimes. Maybe that is one reason why he is my friend.

They used something called acetone peroxide which is an explosive that looks like sugar or salt. You can make it at home but you have to be careful because it is an explosive and also because it is difficult to make because you have to keep it cold otherwise it becomes unstable and might go off. When you make it you need a bath full of ice and you should keep it in a fridge after it has been made. You have be careful when you are near it because it might go off before you want it to because it doesn’t like being warmed up or being dropped.

I am thinking about the rucksack on the bus last week and what was inside it and the time and effort that went into making it and the care that must have gone into making it and finding the ingredients and then ever-so-gently carrying it into the city until just exactly when it was needed.

But I am confused because I have looked over and over in the book that I borrowed from work and the people and things in the book don’t sound the same as the young man on the bus. And he didn’t look like someone who wanted to hurt and kill people.

But he did. And I don’t know why.

Tomorrow I am going to spend the day finding out why. I am going to borrow some books from the library to help me, I think, but I will borrow them properly because I have a library card and it has my face on it and my name.

And I will write about it in my diary, and I will talk about Friday as well and what happened then.

The Passerby: Chapter 9: Friday 15th July

Jesus said, “Now the sower went out and took a handful of seeds, and scattered them. Some fell on the road; the birds took them and gathered them up. Others fell on the rock, did not take root in the soil and did not produce ears. And others fell on thorns; they choked the seed and worms ate them. And others fell on the good soil and it produced good fruit: it bore sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure.”

Note for file:

There is no entry for this date, apart from the quotation above, which appears to have been added subsequently.

Author: RJH 19/11/05

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 8: Thursday 14th July

And he said “The lion is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it back from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisherman found a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whosoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Alan said I looked a bit tired like I had panda eyes when I got to work this morning and I said that it was because I had been reading a book and he looked at me and said what book and I said a comic book which was true. Then he was bored with talking about it and went on to talk about work and a big delivery that was coming in today and how it was going to be a busy day. While he was talking I saw that he must have come in early because he had cleared a big space in the stores for something.

I put the kettle on for me and Alan. We have a sink next to where the kettle is and a microwave oven that we don’t use because we both eat cold food at lunch time. I don’t think I’ve ever even opened it and looked inside. It is probably smelly and splattery with old food like microwave ovens sometimes get. Microwave ovens are another thing that Alan doesn’t like. He says they are dangerous and will fry your brain if you stand near them too long like mobile phones do to people who use them all the time.

My head is full of the book.

It is a comic book like I said, but not a normal comic book with superheroes and vampires or with someone like Blade who is a superhero and a vampire at the same time. It was a serious book about real things, but done with cartoons and bubbles coming out of drawings with what the people in the drawings are saying or thinking.

In the bookshop and in the stores we have lots of these books about all different kinds of things and about different sorts of famous people like Stephen Hawking. I think we sell a lot of them to students and people who are interested in something but don’t want to read a full book about it like me.

I was fishing the teabag out of Alan’s tea when the delivery lorry came. Fishing teabags can be a bit tricky but I have got quite good at it. You catch the teabag on the inside of the mug with your teaspoon. Then you squeeze it against the wall of the mug and drag it up to the top of the water at the same time. Then you can lift it out of the mug and put it in the bin. Alan usually flicks the teabag across to the bin and sometimes he gets it in, but there are splashes on the wall and on the floor where he has missed. The splashes look like big squashed spiders.

Alright says a voice behind me and I turn around and it is one of the delivery van drivers that calls two or three times a week. He has a clipboard with him and he always likes to ask me to sign for the delivery. He always waits until Alan is close enough to hear before he asks, because he knows that it annoys Alan. And it always does. Alan always snatches the clipboard away which makes the pen that’s stuck to the clipboard with a bit of shoelace or string or something swings behind him. Then the driver winks at me and grins and goes to look to see where the pallet truck has been parked.

I can never remember the driver’s name, but I’ve known him for so long that it would make me look stupid if I asked him now, so usually I just call him mate or driver.

Alan swears when he looks at the paper on the clipboard. And again when he looks into the back of the van.

There are books everywhere. Everywhere because the van is full of pallets. It is a big van that can fit three full europallets in it. A europallet is eight hundred millimetres by twelve hundred millimetres in size. Europallets are always painted blue and Alan says they are expensive and valuable. He always takes care of any europallets that arrive. There are books everywhere because some of the shrinkwrapping has come off one of the pallets and books have spilled all over the floor of the van.

Alan is angry and the driver is smiling because he has gone to see if there is any hot water left in the kettle. Alan uses the telephone to ring the office upstairs.

Then Alan and I wait until someone from the office comes down. Alan stays angry all the time because work always annoys him especially when he knows that the extra work is caused by some other arsehole who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I’m not angry. Partly because I don’t get angry the same way Alan does, but mostly because of the book that’s in my head. I can hear the words that I’ve read bounce around in all directions inside my brain.

When Mister Dixon from the office came down he was angry too at the van. He went away again and came back with a camera and took pictures. Then he tried to be angry at the driver but the driver said all he did was drive the van mate not wrap the bloody things up mate so Mister Dixon went away again promising to shout at people on the telephone. He told us to do what we can but to put any ripped or spoiled book to one side and he would come back later.

So we did.

All of the books are the same today. They are all hardback books about a boy wizard. We sell lots of these books, but this is a new one. I’ve read one or two of them and I’ve seen the films that they made afterwards and I used to like them but the magic inside them is a different kind of magic to the magic in the book I’ve still got at home with me.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 7: Wednesday 13th July

Jesus said, “Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man who the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man”.

I didn’t unwrap the aluminium foil to take the book out. I meant to, I really did. But I didn’t.

I left it on the side next to the sink in my kitchen. I left it there while I wrote in my diary yesterday.

I left it there while I made my sandwiches for work last night. I had to use fresh aluminium foil.

I was thinking about how Alan would see that the foil was all straight and new so I got some fresh foil out of the box being very careful because the edge on the box is sharper than it looks even if they don’t have the metal strip on the outside of the box like they used to for cutting the foil with.

I got the fresh bit of foil out and scrunched it up into a ball and unscrunched it again so it was almost flat. But it didn’t look right. So I did it again and again until it looked right and you would have never known the difference.

Then I made my sandwiches. Three rounds, because I already knew that I was going to have room for them even if I hadn’t made that decision yet out loud.

I hate that feeling. The feeling that you know you’re going to do something that you shouldn’t, even when you haven’t already thought about it fully enough.

After I had put the margarine tub with my packed lunch in it back into the fridge to keep everything cool and fresh, I watched some telly and I didn’t think about the wrapped-up book next to the sink. I watched programmes about mending houses and buying houses and about bad policemen getting caught and there was still stuff on the news about last week which was interesting because it made the rest of the news real.

After the news I watched the weather and today was going to be a nice day. And it was in real life, which goes to show that they do get it right on the weather sometimes, not like what Alan says. Then I was hungry so I had to go back into the kitchen even though I didn’t really want to.

I was going to make something to eat as soon as I’d written in my diary last night, but when I want into the kitchen I forgot because of thinking about the aluminium foil and how it was shining at me.

The book in the foil was still there, all shiny like a big bar of chocolate. I tried not to look at it too much because it made me feel bad.

I had left the peanut butter out. So I got it quick and got a spoon from the drawer and went straight back to where I was sitting in front of the telly.

I finished the jar.

All day at work I was thinking about the book. Even Alan asked if I was alright today and I said yes and he said poor sod. Then he started talking about all different kinds of shock and delayed reactions and Gulf War syndrome and said if I wasn’t feeling right then I should tell someone like Janine my case worker. Janine comes to the bookshop every now and again to make sure that I’m alright. I haven’t thought about Janine for a few days. Not since I started writing. I said to Alan that I would. And I will if I need to. But then I asked Alan if he wanted a yoghurt and he laughed and said OK and asked me if I wanted to look at the paper and I said OK too.

There were pictures in the paper of some of the people that they think blew themselves up with their bombs. They are blurry pictures from CCTV cameras. Four of them, just ordinary with baseball caps and bags. They could be anybody. And in the paper there was all about their names and their families and their jobs and they were all ordinary too. They were all Nike and rucksacks and not too good at shaving. Like me. I try to shave every day, but I’m rubbish at it, but it’s better to shave for me than not shave because if I do grow a beard it is patchy and a bit ginger and I do not want a patchy ginger beard.

The paper talked about things that didn’t make much sense like religion to me. I know about religion but no about what the paper was talking about. The paper sounded a bit like Alan, except printed.

I think I was right to get the book. I need to start finding things out. My face and my hand are almost better already, but what I heard and what I saw were important and I need to find out how and why they are important. A man did that to himself and did that to others for a reason. It must be a good one.

I’m going to unwrap the book before bed.

I’m not scared.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 6: Tuesday 12th July

His disciples turned to him and said to him “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?” Jesus said, “Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered.”

Alan laughs at my packed lunch. He calls it a ‘pack-up’. He always wants to know about it. It’s like a little routine that we have every day in the morning.

I like that bit. I like routines.

I like getting up at the same time every day. My alarm clock goes off at six forty five every morning and I am always awake before it goes off, unless I’m not. I like the few minutes before the alarm goes off. I like being there in the quiet. Especially in the summer when it is light.

After the alarm goes off, I listen to the radio until after I’ve heard the seven o’clock news headlines. That’s about seventeen minutes. I always brush my teeth first. Then I have a shave. Then I have a shower. Then I get dressed for work. I do this even on my days off, but I don’t get dressed for work on not-work days, I get dressed for other things that I have different clothes for.

My packed lunch is in the fridge waiting for me. I always make it when I’m making my tea in the evenings.

There are always sandwiches. Mostly I make easy sandwiches like Sandwich Spread or peanut butter or Primula with ham in it or fish paste which is old-fashioned but shops still sell it and it is grey and nice.

I only use crunchy peanut butter because smooth peanut butter is wrong.

I make three rounds of sandwiches. That means six slices of bread. Alan and I had an argument about that once. He said that a round of sandwiches was a sandwich and I said no a round of sandwiches was two slices of bread with filling in it and it didn’t matter how many little sandwiches you cut the two slices of bread into, that was always a round. I know this is true because I read it in a story when I was little. The story had two boys and two girls and a dog and they stopped some bad people being bad and they ate sandwiches that a kind lady made for them and she gave them some milk too I think.

So I have three rounds of sandwiches in my packed lunch box. And I have some fruit because of five a day like I said and because it is good for your teeth. I like apples. I get those bags with eight apples in. Braeburns are the best because they sound Scottish. And crisps. Cheese and onion crisps. I should get the multipacks because they are cheaper and you get six or eight packets inside a bigger packet, but the packets are smaller than a proper packet like you get in the newsagents. So I get single packets even though it is more money because it is worth it.

There is a machine at work with crisps in it and chocolate bars and tubes of mints but it drops the crisps from the top of the inside of the machine when you put your money in and press the code and sometimes the crisps are broken. A23 is the code for cheese and onion. A24 is salt and vinegar. A25 changes. Sometimes it is roast chicken and sometimes it isn’t. They should put the crisps at the bottom of the machine, not the top, because they are delicate like bees wings, not lumpy like chocolate which is supposed to be broken up into bite-sized chunks anyway before you eat it.

Yoghurts. Three, but I don’t always eat all of them. I like the ones with the fold-over corners with different things in like cereal or chocolate or little balls of chewy sweets. Sometimes Alan asks for a yoghurt from me and says I can read his paper as a swap and I say OK.

Alan always buys a sandwich from a shop like Marks and Spencer every day and he always says how expensive it was and what the people in suits in front of him in the queue were like and they are always bad people. And he says about the selection of sandwiches and how it isn’t proper food. He likes to read the words about calories and fat content and about how bad the sandwich that he’s eating is for him especially with his blood pressure and how he will end up with diabetes and have to have injections every day.

I know that food you make is better than food you buy in shops even if food you buy in shops tastes nicer because of the things they put in it like salt and flavourings and monosodium glutamate and E numbers. That is why I make my packed lunch every night and put it in the old big margarine tub that I cleaned out ages ago and bring in my bag to work.

Alan talks about my aluminium foil. I wrap my three rounds of sandwiches in aluminium foil every day to keep them fresh and the bread nice and soft. And every day I fold the aluminium foil up again and use it the next day. This is to save the environment and to save money because we all have to play a part and not just throw away the plastic triangle sandwich boxes like Alan does. Every day Alan talks about me folding up the aluminium foil and putting it back inside the old margarine tub to use again.

Today I did a sort of bad thing, but not a really bad thing. I was thinking about The Word That Means God and then I thought I could look it up in a book and find out more about it. So I found a book in the stores. And I can’t read it at work because I have work to do and I can’t wait until the weekend when I can go to the library.

I have borrowed the book. I know it is kind of a bad thing, but not a really bad thing because I will bring it back in the morning after I have looked at it and learned about it.

I wrapped the book up in the aluminium foil and put it in my tub inside my bag and brought it home. The book is waiting for me. In a minute I will unwrap it so I can make my sandwiches for tomorrow. Then I will look at the book and see what it says. It is a paperback book. This means one thing.

Tomorrow I will only have space in the tub for two rounds of sandwiches for work.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 5: Monday 11th July

Jesus said, “Recognise what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain. For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest”.

I went back to work today. My hand seems OK and my face is alright but I didn’t sleep well so the dream with the good idea didn’t come like I thought it might.

The buses were packed because some of the tube lines are still closed because of Thursday but I think they are putting on extra buses or something. I was a little bit late but not much.

I work in a book shop. Well, not in the shop bit of the book shop but in the stock room bit. It is a big book shop, on five floors with two lifts, one for customers and one for staff like me. I help move things around, like books and sometimes toys and comics because we sell those too and I keep the floor clean and I keep the staff loos clean. Sometimes I think I would like to work in the shop and meet the customers but sometimes the customers are nasty and might upset me and there is a lot of counting in the job even though the tills are electronic and most people play with cards and their secret PINs (personal identification numbers) like mine which is 3765.

I work with Alan who has worked here for ever. Alan is my work friend. He lets me read his paper and tells me about his grandchildren who are four and eighteen months and I let him listen to my radio and we have our own kettle that we share.

Alan wants to know everything and I tell Alan everything except the Allah stuff because I know what Alan will say about that kind of thing. Alan shouts at the radio when the news is on sometimes and even shouts at the paper sometimes. He does not like them and thinks they should all be sent back or should be sacked or don’t deserve a hundred thousand pounds a week for kicking a bloody ball for Christ’s sake, though sometimes it is not easy to tell who the them are because it seems to change. Alan is nice and a family man through and through though and that is the main thing.

Alan is very interested in everything that happened and I tell him. Except I miss the bit out about The Word That Means God. It feels strange not to say about it because it is the point of the story but I don’t think than Alan will see it that way or will think that I’m stupid or something or that I love terrorists or the people that he called Pakis and worse names even than Pakis. Alan is my friend, like I said, but sometimes he is wrong about lots of about stuff and I don’t know how to say that he is wrong because he is my friend.

Alan has been reading the papers and watching the news on the telly all weekend and says he knows a lot about the Middle East and about the 9/11 (nine eleven attacks, which means the eleventh of September, because Americans put the day and month the wrong way round to what we do in England) and Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and about how it is all about oil and the Jews are just there in Israel to give the Americans excuses to be there to look like the goodies when really they’re the baddies.

I don’t think that Alan always has what he’s going to say worked out in his head before he says it because it is difficult to follow so I just sort of agree without agreeing too much.

He tells me about the things that I saw and what they mean and about how they probably used mobile phones to send text messages to set the bombs off and that was why all the phones went off in the city that day in case there were even more all programmed or planned to go off at the same time. And also it was done to make us scared because the government wants us to be scared of terrorists so we behave ourselves and do what the government says. And that’s one of the reasons the government lets all the asylum seekers into the country so it causes confusion gives us people not to trust and so we keep an eye on each other all the time.

And then he started talking about the government tracking us through mobile phones because of the way they work and how that means with a simple flick of a switch they can have maps showing where our mobile phones are and so where we are and where we’re going and who we’re talking to and what we’re texting about. And sometimes the government uses this information and sometimes it just keeps it in case it needs it in the future.

While he was talking I was opening boxes of new books and stacking them up on my trolley and I had the new book smell all around me. It is my favourite smell in the world apart from maybe fish and chips. And petrol.

My trolley needs more tape on the handles, but I keep forgetting to get some more tape for it, so there is just bare metal where my hands go and sometimes it is cold. That is nice now in the summer but I need to sort it out before the winter comes again.

Alan talked lots more all day. He says that they keep an eye on you in supermarkets too. Everything is done with computers in supermarkets like we do in the stock rooms and the shop here. Alan scans the labels on the packing slips into the computer here which tells the computer the books have been delivered and are in the shop. When a book is sold there is a scanner next to the till and that scanner tells the computer that the book isn’t in stock any more. Sometimes that tells the big computer in Head Office to send us some more books too. With supermarkets, the computer remembers everything you have bought and when you bought it, and if you pay with plastic then it knows who you are and they can use the CCTV (closed circuit television, or security cameras) to see you if they want to and they can look at what you buy and work out what you do in your spare time like if you’re an alcoholic because you buy lots of whisky or if you’re a bargain hunter because you only buy the stuff on BOGOF (buy one get one free) or the things in the big fridge that have been reduced and have the big orange stickers with the new price on, like sometimes sandwiches and yoghurts and always little bits and bobs of the ends of the big tubes of sliced meat that they have on the posh cheese and meat counter with the big bacon slicer.
There were lots of boxes to open today. Alan must have been really busy when I was away last week because there were all of Friday’s and most of Thursday’s deliveries to sort out as well as today’s but we got them all nearly done.