It’s a terrible world!
Martin’s robe was not ready when he came in from school. There had been a minor disaster with the weekly wash – the wind had blown the line down – and although it hadn’t really been dirty she had put it through the machine again: she knew he liked to have things clean. She overwhelmed his demurrals on that point while she served him his high tea. This was some sort of fish, pre-cooked, frozen and bread-crumbed in Grimsby. It had a vaguely fishy taste, and was stamped in the shape of a fish, a miniature plaice. Mrs Johnson thought of herself, with some pride, as a good plain cook.
She brought the robe up to his room, freshly ironed, half an hour later. She had had the television set on while she ironed, and was full of the news.
‘There’s been more riots again,’ she told him, ‘and in Glasgow they set fire to a big store, and there’s dozens burnt alive. And some sort of bomb let off outside Parliament. Isn’t it a terrible world? You’d wonder how they do things like that, wouldn’t you, young as they are?’ She gave him the robe. ‘Will it be all right now, then?’
‘It’s fine, thank you.’
‘If there were more like you, Mr Weston – the quiet ones. But that’s the way it is. Self, self, self, and let the weak go to the wall. They had a bit of the Prime Minister on, appealing to their better natures. It’s not much good appealing. I’ve not kept you late for your meeting, have I?’