Standing on a corner, you peer into the crowd marching past; chanting and yelling, smiling and looking around, glad to be part of it, of this event. Dogs and bicycles. Children in strollers. Trumpets and banners: Who's guilty now? Give us back our holiday pay. No return to the 1800s. No police state.

Polly turns towards you, 'Exciting, huh?'

You nod. You had never been anywhere like this before. You could never have guessed that your day would be like this.

'There they are!' Polly grabs your arm and pulls you through the crowd. She looks back at Ned, still staring into the distance. 'Come on,' she doubles back and grabs his hand. Drags you both through the melee.

'Pol. Ned. Cool turnout, hey?' A girl in a jugglers outfit leaps out in front of you. 'Hi.' She looks you up and down.

'Sylvie. This is Jess' cousin.' Polly raises her eyebrows as she introduces you.

'No shit.' Sylvie looks you up and down. You feel uncomfortable.


'See Jess didn't tell anyone anything - not even family.'

'Typical,' Sylvie smirks and looks around, 'So Ned, coping with the daylight?'

'Fuck off.' Ned slouches, hands in pockets, glances at Polly. 'Wanna go get a drink?'

'Jeez, you are hopeless.' She shakes her head, 'You know I have to go to work in a minute.'

Ned glances at you, 'You wanna come?'

'Go at your own risk!' Polly laughs, 'You could always go back to the house. I'll be back in a couple of hours.'

'So what's it to be, oh cousin of Jess,' Sylvie juggles coloured balls right in front of your face, semi-mesmerising you, 'The pub with the evil Ned or back to the house of hell?'

Philippa J Burne 1996