‘I’d noticed them

because they were so pale. It was in the pub. And because you couldn’t help but hear them, so animated and loud – especially him – as if they wanted us to hear them. They were so disenchanted, so disillusioned; I wanted to go over to their table and ask them to tone it down. I felt awful. Everything was like this and like that; everything was bad or wrong. That was what he said: Everything is bad and what isn’t bad is wrong. I’ve been trying to figure out what he might have meant. All last night I couldn’t get to sleep thinking about it. What isn’t bad is wrong. It’s a beautiful pub from the outside, imposing is the word that first came to mind but I think I mean a little bit intimidating. Perhaps that’s why they were having that conversation. Perhaps that’s why she was talking about ham. Ham and Rwanda, I think she said. I couldn’t quite get everything. They were just that bit too far away to follow clearly everything they were saying. I had thought of offering them a fag. But they didn’t smoke. Which struck me as odd because the only people sitting outside were smokers. Why sit outside on an evening if you don’t smoke? It’s so cold. But they were so wound up, it would have suited them, smoking. People like that must have to smoke just to get through life, just to survive each day. They talked about the men who were blown up in the Nimrod crash. He got so angry. My God, he got angry. I even felt a bit intimidated. His anger. He was quoting some woman from the BBC who’d said it was about cutbacks and savings. It sounded like maybe he worked for the BBC because he kept talking about how it was like that at work. I heard him say something about a fixer who was killed in the Middle East somewhere – was it Iraq or Iran, I can’t remember now – because the BBC had cut back on flak jackets. He was drinking a spirit. Probably whisky. He looked bad, really bad. Like he was a bit gone in the head. I couldn’t help but listen to them, and I wanted to just watch them all the time but C kept telling me not to stare. They’re gonna get pissed off with you soon, he kept saying. But I think they liked me watching them. They liked the audience. What else would be the point of talking so loud? Or talking at all for that matter? What’d be the point? It’s not as if it makes any difference is it.’

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