Albert learns that he feels far more comfortable in a Pack

terraced housing

Sometimes Albert covets other people’s houses.  All that space, somewhere to park, spare bedrooms.  An office even!  More than one toilet.  Then he remembers how he hates buildings surrounded by air.  Best to huddle together in a terrace, he reasons.  Far harder, that way, for predators to pick you off.

Martin stands by the window (fragment)


Martin stands at the window, looking out.  He lives on the eighteenth floor of the Terrance Messenger Tower.  And he stands at the window, looking out.

Martin hasn’t been out of the Terrance Messenger Tower for sixteen weeks.  He hasn’t been out the flat in fact.

‘What are you looking at, Martin?’ his mother asks him.

‘Nothing,’ Martin says.

This is untrue.  Today is a clear October morning and Martin can see as far as the reservoirs.  He can see over the warehouses and beyond the rows terraced housing. He can see the clouds reflected in the water beyond the fencing.  Funny, he thinks, how you can sometimes see the sky more clearly by looking down.

‘Don’t you keep looking out there,’ his mother says. ‘I’m going for my afternoon nap now. But don’t keep looking out there Martin. It’s not the best for anyone.’

Martin ignores her.  Because Martin likes looking out.  And he particularly likes looking down.  He likes to imagine himself falling.  Martin is not interested in the sensation of falling.  Martin is more interested in using the fall to set the record straight. Martin believes he would have plenty of time to clarify matters during his fall; plenty of time to explain that none of this was his responsibility.

His message would be quite direct.

‘It’s all my mother’s fault,’ he would shout during his descent.

Martin is of the view that everyone should feel extremely guilty about how they’ve let him down; about how they’ve allowed his mother to treat him so badly.  Or at least that’s how he feels when, like now, he’s in a really bad mood with his mother.

Other times, when he feels sorry for his mother and it seems as if it’s him and his mother against the rest of the world, he changes his tune. On those occasions he imagines shouting, ‘You’ve treated us both very badly.’

Either way, he’s confident he’ll have enough time to make everyone feel extremely guilty during his fall from the eighteenth floor of the Terrance Messenger Tower.

Martin likes the thought of being thought about and discussed after he’s dead. He understands that he will die when he hits the ground: he’s not stupid.  But he doesn’t completely understand that this means he probably won’t hear what people have to say about him.

‘That Martin,’ he will somehow hear them all say, ‘he was actually really great.  He was one of the best.  We were very wrong about Martin,’ they will add.

And sometimes, Martin thinks, they will also add, ‘And we were wrong about his mother as well.’

But not always.