OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 42
The stakes they play for in politics are paper and money. The chips they play with are your life.
Dawn described the sun’s descent in a pink western sky, over a deserted world at the foot of a remote hill. “There was nothing much there – a church and a railway bridge. Steve turned off the radio. Everything was open, no fences; no sound but the birds and crickets. What I remember most is the greenery surrounding that church, St Margaret’s church. It was like nature pumped all its sap into that one spot. Not just trees and shrubs but cowslips, brambles, nettles: everything fit to burst. We strolled round the graveyard and the church, which must have been built back near Norman times.”
She paused, aware her past had superimposed itself over a Basildon retail park. “Listen we were young, OK? There was nobody around, it was getting dark, and Steve started whispering what he was going to do to me. I loved all that.”
Three faces etched with concentration. “So, look Yesh, there’s no polite way of putting this.” She stared boldly at her companions. “Sid, Mahatma, no offence meant but Steve gave me a seeing to I’ll never forget. We went at each other like savages, doors open to let in the breeze.”
As she told of Steve “staying hard” through three ejaculations, Gandhi recalled early marriage years, and the unremittent nature of sexual desire, which a part of him wanted desperately to overcome, even as a teenager. “Were you worried about being seen?” he asked, sunlight bouncing from his bifocals.
“Steve reckoned we’d hear any cars coming, or see the lights. I was more worried about a local farmer strolling past, but we got so far in I stopped caring.”
“Three lovings,” said Jesus, whistling softly. “Lordy, lordy.”
“He had weeks of it stored up,” said Dawn, sipping her water. “His parents made us self-conscious about doing it in the house. But the really odd thing, as I lay on the back seat enjoying those ‘lovings’, was the stuff going through my head.”
Buddha thought of Ian Dury’s lyrics to ‘Billericay Dickie’, envisaging the quiet Essex lane, and possible testimony from ‘Joyce and Vicky’. It was a wholesome story, a positive offset to human suffering. Jesus, for his part, mulled that desire disappears only when experience has accumulated.
Dawn shifted to get more comfortable. “I was howling with pleasure, crying to the night, yet I remember something else. It was like I could hear fields whispering all the way down to the Thames, as the creeks got wider and the mud got thicker. Part of me felt there were Viking longboats creeping quietly down the river. Or other invaders from further back. And two words kept repeating inside my head.”
Gandhi took a guess. “Universal joy.”
“No. Primeval ooze. I never used words like that. What’s ‘primeval ooze’ when it’s at home?”
Jesus asked another question. “With Steve and yourself, do your body shapes differ?”
“Well course they bloody differ! He’s a bloke, and I’m not!”
“Prurience aside, gender aside, relate those shapes.”
“He’s long and thin, I’m shorter, curvier.” She watched Jesus envision it, and quietly acknowledge something. “And there was something else, which was so weird.” She had their full attention. “No trains went past. We were next to the Fenchurch Street line. We rocked that car getting on for two hours, on and off, but not a single train crossed that bridge.”
Jesus showed no surprise. “When a man and a woman truly combine, in the presence of the spirit of God, they move beyond time,” he said. Dawn found a bin for their wrappers before they set off. They passed a series of lay-bys, and another garden centre, digesting her story.
Jesus recalled Mary Magdalene’s teachings. Beyond the duality of hills and valleys, beyond the two of sex, lay an entrance. To the one of the Kingdom. The great secret, given to his disciples, was to join male and female energy within oneself. The feeling of orgasm was then as an inner energy that peaked and left a light that grew brighter. Unless a human attained that inner unity – free, perfect and independent – misery and joy forever battled one another.
To his left, Dawn was pointing to giant capital letters set back on a hill. BASILDON. An Essex version of the well-known HOLLYWOOD sign. Descending to the Fortune of War roundabout, she enquired why Jesus had asked about Pound Lane. “You asked of our plan in London – and I saw parallels,” came the reply.
She thought briefly. “I get it Yesh,” she smiled. “We had a good feeling, and we followed it, nothing mapped out.”
“And beauty was the result. The beauty of the union, and the impossible loveliness of your first child, Genevieve.”
Well of course he knew, he was Jesus. No drivers looked up, though, while filling their cars at an Esso garage adjoining the road. It hit Dawn that every gallon pumped lined the pockets of banks and traders. The sky had clouded. She said: “I find myself expecting big, grand stuff to happen today, on your second coming. Have to remind myself that everything begins small.”
They passed the turn for Dunton, the research centre for Ford Motor Company. Dawn’s legs and back ached. At the Wax n Shine Brentwood valeting centre, they rested on a grassy knoll, where her pained calves and sacroiliac received Gandhi’s skills. He said their journey was nearly half complete, working her lower leg muscles with bony fingers. Buddha’s hands sorted her shoulders. Jesus massaged her scalp. Every touch revived her.
Dawn kept asking questions. “Are they pulling up the ladders in London?” she enquired, breaking out into laughter at three uncomprehending faces. “It’s something Steve says. Imagine an ark for humans, people scrambling up the sides to escape the rising tides. At some stage the skipper knows enough’s enough, and they pull up the ladders. The people below left defenceless and stranded. Is that what London’s become, with its mental property prices and its silly bonuses? An ark for the rich, floating out of reach for ordinary people?”
It was unknowable. Sid mentioned instead that a Brentwood Buddhist branch had opened a community centre in one of Essex’s highest places. “Sea levels will rise. The centre is seen as a safe haven in that eventuality.” She stood up, leading them west, wishing for straighter answers. Buddha observed Timmermans Nursery float by on their left, reinforcing his idea that Essex dwellers must love their gardens.
“Here’s another question,” said Dawn, tying her fleece around her waist, as the sun re-emerged. “How come we’ve been kidded that certain people can ‘own’ water? How come it’s not available, everywhere, maybe in return for a very small fee each month? Instead, taps run, toilets flush, shareholders make money, and poor people struggle to pay or go further into debt. That’s a ladder being pulled up. If I’d ever got hold of that Maggie Thatcher I’d have torn a strip off her. She started all this privatisation crap.”
Each word pierced Maggie’s soul as she listened in. Dawn thought aloud again. “About 19 out of every 20 people you meet have been conditioned, over decades, to accept these things as ‘normal’ or ‘just the way things are’. People were bribed and programmed to swallow privatisation. Now you see them slowly accepting that they have next to no freedom or privacy; that their homes can be drilled under without permission; that machines will take their jobs; and it’s OK for the rich to get richer. Nobody can make me go along with any of that.”
Dawn asked whether any of them had seen a film called ‘Never Let Me Go’, about a group of clones created for their body parts. “Their role was…what’s that word? Yeah, to acquiesce, to acquiesce in their own exploitation.”
On their right loomed the A127’s ‘Halfway House’, a formerly well-known pub landmark. It had devolved into an anonymous-looking travel lodge. Seeing more signs for Brentwood, Gandhi announced that some historians believed this was where England’s ‘peasants revolt’ began in 1381, linked to non-payment of the Poll Tax.
Dawn talked about her life. “I wasn’t interested in school. Never wanted to be anything anyone suggested: secretary, teacher, shop assistant, or whatever. I preferred being me. But I loved kids, and worked as an assistant in pre-school nurseries. Sold ice cream after that. Had my own van, earned enough in the summers to get through the winters. Dad always backed me, mum wasn’t so keen, reckoned I should try and ‘get on’. There were always plenty of blokes chasing me, but none had any imagination. Then I met Steve, who told me straight off he wanted to be a professional gambler. ‘Rather a free man than a well-paid slave’, he used to say. He was as nutty as a fruitcake. Didn’t fit in anywhere. I loved that in him, and his kindness. We’ve brought up the kids together, juggling jobs. My last one was in a call centre, before the windscreens called.”
Two green, red and white Eddie Stobart lorries rattled past together, like motorised twins. “Here’s my answer to it all,” said Dawn. She began reciting well-known verse.
“Rise like lions after slumber, in unfathomable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew, that in sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.”
Gandhi joined in the last couple of lines, written in 1819 by Percy Shelley, after the British army attacked English workers during a peaceful demonstration for the reform of Parliament. “That’s the only poem I know. Come on Mahatma,” said Dawn, “you rescued India from the British ruling class. What can we do?”
“Above all, sweep away the completely rigged financial system,” said Gandhi. “Sovereigns would then print their own money, as much as is needed for everything. No more stinting, shivering or starving. No more housebound disabled people in Basildon or anywhere else.”
“More big-sounding ideas”. She wiped her brow. “What did Southchurch Park teach you?”
“The jury is still out – external forces disrupted the experiment,” said the little Indian.
They were traversing the road’s most rural section. Dawn passed her water bottle around, relating Steve’s idea that every human on the planet should receive an unconditional basic income. “If everyone feels financially secure, then human creativity speeds up, and further transforms the planet, he reckons.” She let out a sneeze. Sid whipped out a paper handkerchief.
“Thanks very much darling.”
Buddha had listened keenly. “Steve’s system would edge this planet into a higher dimension, maybe even the fifth realm,” he said. He returned to his unspoken observations, witnessing that another often-overlooked plant, the bugle, was almost ready to flower in the hedgerows. Its pale green, purplish leaves were pretty, paving the way for a purplish-blue flower that would emerge at the end of April, providing good nectar for humanity’s six legged friends.
They neared a farm, big barns looming. Dawn said many of their friends had half-killed themselves to rise through the City’s ranks. “People we know now own barns like these as second or even third homes.”
“While many have no homes,” said Gandhi.
“It’s more difficult now to talk to some of them,” said Dawn. “They seem to look at everything they see, even essential services, as fodder for bloody investors and shareholders. No consideration for those at the bottom. Like I say, the ladders are being pulled up.”
Buddha estimated she had led 7,235 past lives, learning most essential lessons. They had reached the M25. As with several previous interchanges, they had to walk up to a roundabout. Jesus beheld the traffic streaming below. Dawn was astute, he saw, in seeking a simple, comprehensible solution to Britain’s woes.
A sign announced they were in Havering. Dawn had walked over 18 miles, without preparation, in about five and a half hours. The group stopped. Comforting hands soothed her again. Jesus looked at the veiled sun, announced it was not yet noon. Unable to resist another McVities Gold Bar, she reached in her pouch, starting to frown, then smile, before exploding into a belly laugh. “You rascal Yesh, you bloody rascal,” she roared. She freed the pouch from her waist and tipped it out, tears of joy welling. She counted out two squeegees, sixteen Gold Bars and a full water bottle. The high five with Jesus stayed long in her memory.
Munching, she asked Yesh what he thought of the church. “Might as well ask while I’ve got you. Does it do any good?”
“Organise a religion and the spirit dies,” he replied, gazing up at a flight of swallows migrating northwards. “Dawn, understand that any religion should be directed only to remembering the void inside of you. When you attain that clarity, self-knowledge flows from your clear mind. When you transform, the world starts changing.”
He told her about the Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945 among a collection of books called the Nag Hammadi Library, a name taken from a nearby town in Upper Egypt. He told her the teachings in this gospel went against all vested interests, and invalidated many given truths. “These were my best teachings. Find the interpretation of those words within, and you shall not taste of death.”
He told her of the Fifth Saying: “If you pray, you will be condemned. And if you give alms, you will do evil to your spirits.” They moved off again. Signs pointed to Upminster and Cranham.
“So, you’re saying going to church is misguided?” She was puzzled.
“I am not against prayer, fasting and giving. I am against false faces. Without the ritual, without donations, how would churches exist? I say live through your being, not your acts. Acts have made the Vatican rich beyond comprehension. Yet each incumbent in the Holy Seat refuses to use that power to reform humanity.”
Jesus paused. Dawn saw his eyes dim. “Remember, always, that Jorge Bergoglio declared that he was “protecting” children in his church from rape by criminalising its reporting. Remember always the Papal Knighthood awarded to James Savile. Imagine God’s rage. The real is found in the depths of your being. Let not intermediaries corrupt.”
Gandhi listened with reverence. Sid was deriving profound enjoyment from everything. A road just crossed bore the name Wingletye Lane. Had Billericay Dickie paid a visit? They were entering the city’s furthest outskirts. Greenery giving way to houses, motels, petrol stations. Dawn could see a major landmark, a roundabout and flyover where the A12 from Chelmsford and East Anglia joined the Arterial.
“Gallows Corner”, she announced, pointing ahead. Gandhi wondered who had hung there.
George took the call at 11.45. The morning had been taken up with eviscerating the Southchurch Park story. Within half a minute, a range of camera angles showed him the southern pavement of the long road’s mid-sections.
He ordered two small drones into the Essex air. It gave mobile vision, and a more aggressive option. Arterial Road drivers saw an Arabian-looking six foot male walking with three dwarves. Sid had maintained strong concentration to sustain the visual warp, which halved their heights to any observer at ground level. But cameras far above the ground were beaming accurate images to George, who immediately sent the stream to Rome. “Signor, it is your jurisdiction, your call,” said Vito’s icy voice. “But our Jesuit friends can only rewrite so much history.”
A return of Jesus was about the only factor the clans’ super-computer could not calculate. George nonetheless felt comfortable. Pondering on what treasures might sit in the tall Arab’s pineal gland, he suspected the group was running an optical alteration programme. There was time to shape a strategy; also the ability to kill the four in seconds. As the group passed without event through Romford’s northern suburbs, he congratulated himself that the disclosure of drone strike victims had dropped quietly from a Senate bill in Washington, after Frank had applied pressure.
He wondered at the woman’s identity. Face recognition technology indicated she lived in a Southend council house, and washed cars for a living. There had to be more. Teams were working on it. Over the next two hours, as the walkers made their way along the Eastern Avenue, he appraised the stakes.
His intrigue nagged. What did the swarthy freak propose? George knew the habits and proclivities of the populace thoroughly. They were every bit as battered by financial and other worries as had long been planned. What sway could Christ’s passion hold over debt-ridden 21st century Britain? His sense was that the ripples of this visit would be innocuous at best. If not, they had enough subtle and unsubtle weaponry to dispatch the four to Kingdom Come.
And that would be that. Game over. Wars in the Middle East and mainly contrived terrorist shocks would pave the way for more draconian laws; while less employment would be the grim reality as automation accelerated. Global trade deals would be implemented, overriding pesky sovereign laws. If necessary, a virus could be mobilised, introducing medical martial law to strengthen the clans’ control. Always more war, to maintain the human sacrifices. Probably a focus on attacking countries with state-run central banks or where Islamic finance thrived. Eventually, down the line, a two-tier population: slaves packed together in high rise buildings, and large swathes of land freed up for the clans to recreate and grow their crops. Already their technology was light years ahead of the contraptions used by the masses. He wanted his various descendants to travel the universe. To live forever, if the technology allowed.
In bed, George was once asked how the clans had engineered such an unapparent power structure. “By barraging the populace with fear, and capping the collective imagination,” he whispered. Tweaking the woman’s nipple, sensing the mark 6 Cialis could muster one last spurt, he explained that the events of 9/11 had proved beyond doubt the effectiveness of trauma-based mind control. “Education supports this, by engendering population-wide compliance. On a more general level, the biggest fear is created by the money system itself, which can never allow enough resources to circulate. Hidden in plain sight, it is our biggest lever.”
Out on the A127, Buddha tweaked the visual shield around his friends to take into account the higher buildings they were passing. From The Place, God and Maggie looked on. “This is this”, said God. “Shit or bust. Money or truth.”
Bob had not spoken for three minutes. Six cats waited, occasionally licking themselves. He was giving his feline friend Pastille’s comment his complete attention. “I’ve been here for thousands of years, and still don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “Is there any point to all this? And why is God so uptight?” Pastille was a simple soul.
The Creator’s nervousness had the whole Place in jitters. Groups of angels were meeting, huddling, whispering.
Bob concentrated. “She wants to stop a dishonourable way of living across Earth, wants it so hard, even while she insists on Free Will. On top of that, Jesus is making it up as he goes along. That just reminds God that this is completely out of her control.”