Serial Novel “The Sorrows” - November 4

I can’t believe you’ve put a deposit down on a new Bentley Continental GT.

Yes, I know you’ve already pictured you and Sandra motoring through the countryside, surging forward as the 6-litre 12-cylinder engine roars. But have you considered the climate activists? It’s a red rag to a bull. It’s ludicrous.

It’s a coupe and it’s larger and more powerful than most SUVs. The most powerful road-going Bentley ever built, as you point out. Activists will be flinging dead rabbits and roadkill at you as you speed past.

And no, I don’t think you’re making any concessions by choosing Verdant green as the exterior colour. It doesn’t exactly help your green credentials. Unless you’re going for irony. I guess I should be happy that at least you didn’t choose the incredibly garish Apple green. Can I suggest Barnato green? It’s toned down from Verdant green and named after one of the original Bentley Boys, Woolf Barnato. Who’s father killed himself when Barnato was just two years old and left him the family fortune. Why marry rich when you can be born rich?

Of course I can picture you arriving at your country estate, rolling to a stop near the former stables. With the conservatory finally repaired is everything now to your satisfaction at Owling Manor? Organic market garden beds planted for the season? Ten-foot security walls and gates and security cameras all in place?

Lechdale is a lovely piece of the world. A bucolic wonderland with it’s landscape of honey-hued stone houses, gentle slopes and trickling streams. All those lakes and marshes and reedbeds. Dragonflies and grey herons and great crested grebes. Did you know all those hundreds of lakes are man-made? Nature reserves created from disused gravel extraction pits.

It’s been raining again in Melbourne and I’ve been stuck in this hotel room for days. Thankfully my luggage arrived before I did so I have all my clothes. I only packed one book, my favourite. A first edition that I couldn’t possibly read again. All the other books are in two shipping containers somewhere on the high seas, hopefully having an adventure. My library of over seven thousand titles on media and literature. All bound for my new home in the Australian bush.

Have I visited my new home? Not yet. I’ve hardly left this room let alone the city. I’ve been meaning to visit a Tesla showroom to buy a new car. Don’t laugh. It’s a lot more accessible than your Bentley. And my son would kill me if I buy a car that uses fossil fuels.

Because I’ve been researching Tesla cars online, I’ve been pursued by car ads and promos across every media I touch or glance at. There are a lot of car commercials here in Australia. Every brand, high and low. Every commercial is exactly the same. A sleek car sliding over winding mountain roads, smug driver at the steering wheel, tyres pressing into the turn and accelerating forward.

They all carry a disclaimer in small white type in the closing frames that says ‘Overseas model shown’. Yesterday I saw one commercial with the disclaimer ‘Pre-production overseas model shown’. We’re asked to buy what doesn’t yet exist.

It’s odd to realise none of the British car brands are actually British anymore. London Taxis are owned by a Chinese company. As are MG, Austin and Lotus. Jaguar, Daimler, Rover and Land Rover are owned by an Indian company. Rolls-Royce, Triumph and Mini are owned by German companies. Bentley too.

Major energy, rail and postal services in the UK are run by German companies where the German government is either a majority shareholder or the only shareholder. Somehow after losing two world wars Germany has triumphed. Without spilling another drop of blood. Miraculous really.

Meanwhile the Bank of England has warned Britain is facing a two-year recession, the longest on record. Cue high interest rates and high borrowing costs. ‘Challenging’ was the word chosen by the Bank of England governor. Quite the understatement.

These ills are the results of deep, systemic problems. No party or politician is showing any meaningful interest or concern in addressing, challenging or rectifying these issues.

The economy is burdened by a forty billion pound black hole in public finances and parlous global economic conditions. The burden will shift even further onto the backs of ordinary people rather than the wealthy. The inequality will widen even more.

A sixty-six-year-old pensioner who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis after battling cancer and coping with the suicide of his only son is told his government benefits will be cut in half. He only has thirty-six pounds in his bank account. He doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to live.

He tells his neighbours he’d been in the army and served in Northern Ireland. He has a Help for Heroes card attached to his front door. He blames migrants and politicians for the demise of the country, for everything wrong in his life.

He tweets that it’s coming, get ready, you have been warned. An hour later he drives a rented car one-hundred-and-twenty miles from his flat in High Wycombe to Dover where he hurls three petrol bombs into the packed migrant detention centre before killing himself.

Perhaps you should add a few more feet to your security walls.

Are you and Sandra keeping your place in Kensington?


Thank you for reading this chapter of “The Sorrows”, an experimental serial novel about the end of the world written in real-time by Stefano Boscutti. Subscribe now to receive new chapters for free via email.

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