Sweet Jenga, poultice for a bruised heart

I burst back into the living room with distracting gusto. At least it was designed to distract, but I may as well have been invisible. Danny and Alan were perched at either end of the sofa, suppressing tears and laughter with equal lack of skill. To avert conflict, I disclosed the mysterious events at Horwin Towers, and my unsuccessful efforts to unravel them.

“Call the police,” Alan says. Apart from a brief hiatus at the height of the Miners’ Strike, Alan has always gloried in constabulary company. Deciding that his motives were tainted with that vague suburban impurity which never quite coagulates into action, I was inclined to dismiss his suggestion. He persisted. I turned on the radio to drown his querulous murmur and found, to my horror, that the backlash to my current cultural prominence was in full effect. One of those Southern voices with a 25-letter alphabet was discussing today’s cover piece in Uncut. This is a classic prince-free Hamlet, quoting three men who made me a sandwich and a nurse I helped off a bus, but our r-averse pop Derrida accepts it as gospel. Between his simpered in-breaths I hear the rustle of polytechnic tweed.

“Morrissey says he has enough material for two albums,” he attempts. (I have restored the consonants.) “Do you know what else has enough material for two albums? Morrissey’s last five albums.”

I cut short the laughter of sycophants and turn to Alan.

“The police?” I say, as airily as I can.

“Your neighbours deny the boy’s existence. You have seen him in their house. Ergo they have an intruder.” Alan says ergo routinely, and QED when particularly feisty. Thankfully this is rare.

I praised his stratagem.

“But is it a stratagem?” he countered. “For all we know, it is true. The youth may even now be cracking eggs in their faces and unstringing a tennis racket.” Alan’s idea of a rampage may be arcane, but his ruse seems feasible. Resolving to put it into action at the next sighting of my willowy nemesis, I unbox a sustainable white ash Jenga. To my mind it is a minor entry in Ms Scott’s canon, lacking the epic sweep of her collaborative work on the Great Western Railway Game, but my choice was rewarded with a smile from Danny. He likes it when the blocks fall down.

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