The Dying Dream

by Eric Scarboro

Most, well all of the country knew what had happened to Twin Jennie, as she became known. I was away on the protest that week so I was right out of touch, but believe me I certainly know now.

I’m telling this in instalments and I hope to finish it all, obviously, but time is against me. I have the kind of deadline that arrives when you least expect it and gives no hope of extension. It’s arrived and even so, it’s a rough estimate. Not making much sense? I have to watch for that they say. It shows that it’s time to wrap things up.

So. This was Campaign Against the Arms Traders in London and I was there as a representative of Stop The Arms Race. It’s a full-on two weeks of protests, stunts, lock-ons, climb-ons, chain-ups and then Art Fairs, dances, drinking and fun. This year I stayed for the fun.

In the middle of all this, of course, you all heard about Twin Jennie. How she was out with the neighbourhood kids when she became separated from them and was never seen again. I mean never seen alive again. Massive police investigation, no arrests. No leads even. Apart from the parents I felt most sorry for Tommy. Eight years old and the loveliest kid you’ll ever meet, they say, and the oldest, most responsible of the gang. Too much responsibility for a boy that age and now he’ll have a hell of a time getting over what happened. So I feel for him. I didn’t really think it would affect Twin Johnnie so much, when I heard about it. He was young, nowhere near it when it happened and likely to recover. With what I know now, I’m not so sure anymore. Twin Johnnie and Tommy have a lot of growing up to do and a lot of what’s in my head now is in theirs. Worse now that the dream has gone. Maybe, one day they’ll read this and realise that at least what happened to Twin Jennie didn’t happen to any more kids after her.

Anyhow, I was back from the protest and found that the usual recovery period, which gets slightly longer each two years, was stretching from days into weeks. The hard floors, sleeping bags, strangers’ beds and cells do nothing for my back, and I’m in my sixties of course. Anyone else raises this and my standard reply is ‘It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.’ Well, maybe for the first time it’s the years and the mileage.

I took early retirement from the catering world. Don’t laugh. You think that flour, dough, fat, butter, eggs and fruit weighs nothing? In boxes, crates and sacks? The last twenty-three years I’d felt a decline in my once amazing physical attributes. And three years in, the job had been going really well, until I married Siobahn. Lord let me correct that before she reads it. She had been going out with Mick, the boss, for a while, vindictive little shit she called him once it was all over. Anyway following the works party, where we ‘hooked up’ as the kids no longer say, we became ‘an item’ as even my dad stopped saying forty years ago. He didn’t take it well. The boss I mean. And being my boss, made my life hell when Siobahn and I got married. Until suddenly, he changed. We even started having lunch together, boss and deputy, in his office each day. Boy he liked his mashed potatoes. Conversation wasn’t sparkling but hey, I got that at home.  

Boy I can ramble for England. So, I’m back home and run down. Three weeks on and I needed to see Dr Simpson about it. Six weeks on from that and I had my diagnosis. Holy fucking shit.

Had I not put off the medical so I could plan for the trip away maybe I would have … no, no point even thinking that way. What’s done is done and isn’t the story anyhow. What did I say about not making sense? Didn’t I ask that someone jog me if I start to ramble? Start again tomorrow, I need to rest.

A bobby came to the protest. That’s a copper to you. Along with a couple of hundred colleagues. They bus them in from outside London so that the Met isn’t under strength for the weeks of the Arms Fair. But then the Twin Jennie thing happened and bobbies were being shuttled from site to site. So he’d been there from day