by Simon Evans
“Has the paper arrived Darling?” called Robert Thistle from the open doorway of the second floor bathroom. His freshly scrubbed skin blushed red after a piping hot shower; he wore a soft, coral bath towel around his waist.
“I’ll just check.”
Brenda Thistle shuffled from the drawing room to the front door hallway in her dressing gown and slippers. And lo! There was the newspaper, like a faithful pet, freshly delivered, spilling plastic wrapped magazines and numerous pieces of variable quality paper offering various variable quality exclusive deals to the lucky readers from its centre pages.
Brenda bent down and omitted a slight gasp as she scooped the sundry paper items up and tucked them under her arm and wandered her way through to the breakfast room.
The table had been laid for breakfast. Brenda sat in her usual seat and unfurled the mass of folded paper from the fluffy under arm of her John Lewis dressing gown.
As Robert entered the room, also bedecked and resplendent in his dressing gown, Brenda was removing the top of a freshly boiled egg.
“Oh listen to this, Darling” said Brenda, as she plunged the cafetiere down in a delicious slow movement.
Robert raised an eyebrow to show he was listening as he took in the front page of the Sports section.
“’Speed Camera reign of oppression’, ‘instruments of government power are bringing in millions’” Brenda shook her head sadly and exhaled as the silver teaspoon tinkled in her cup of fresh coffee.
“It’s unbelievable how this government fleeces us isn’t it, Darling?”
“Hmmnn, yes.” Said Robert as he read about the latest gossip and rumour coming out of the Premier football league and munched on warm, buttery toast.
“Oh, Darling, there’s a thing here about the ‘rising squalor in Britain’. Listen to this, Darling ‘A slum landlord is set to become the first in Britain to be given an ASBO banning him from renting out properties – after allowing tenants to live in “Dickensian squalor”.’ Dear me, what a country we live in.”
Barnstaple the cat padded into the breakfast room – paws silent on the luxurious deep pile carpet. He stretched magnificently and leapt on to Brenda’s lap.
“Get down, Barnstaple,” said Brenda, and gently pushed the fluffy feline back from where he came. Barnstaple rolled in a sun patch and grinned, as only cats can.
“Oh!” exclaimed Brenda, with a mouthful of soft boiled egg.
“Oh! Oh Robert!”
“Hmmnn?” said Robert’s raised eyebrow.
“Listen to this Darling. ‘Immigrants from less developed countries to Britain are growing in number and could contribute to the emergence of some infectious diseases. Infectious diseases cause more than 13 million deaths a year and represent the leading cause of mortality in less developed countries, many of them located in tropical and subtropical areas. A study conducted by the University of West Hereford concludes that cases of such diseases in Britain could rise as a result of increased immigration.’ Oh Robert. How awful. It’s like we’re being invaded and doing absolutely nothing about it. It makes me shiver that these people just flood across our borders infected with all sorts and just pour in unchecked, willy nilly. Oh it’s so frightening.”
Robert nodded absent-mindedly and gazed out of the bay window at the verdant garden as he sliced a pear. Blue tits were frolicking happily in the bird bath beneath the weeping willow, which swayed lazily in the morning breeze.
“Oh here we go.” Said Brenda, within nine seconds of turning the page.
“Oh, well that’s just wonderful. Robert you must listen to this. ‘Overcrowded Britain – 5% of people and 2½% of households live in overcrowded conditions, both proportions being somewhat higher than a decade ago.’”
Brenda folded the paper down slightly so that she could see her husband.
“We are running out of room on this island, Darling. We simply don’t have room to allow all and sundry to just wander over here and set up camp. Britain has no room, Darling. At this rate we’ll be scrabbling for land and toppling into the sea. Britain isn’t designed to cope with this influx. We’ll be living cheek by jowl next and queuing for hours for our bread. You just watch. It’s frightening.”
Brenda shook her head in despair as she munched on a mouthful of Dorset Cereals.
As she wistfully plinked a rustic brown sugar lump into her second cup of coffee she couldn’t decide what to be more afraid of – being spied on by speed cameras, Dickensian squalor, foreign diseases or a lack of space in which to live.
“I tell you this Robert – at this rate I’ll be afraid to leave the house.”
Robert barely nodded as he scrutinized a picture of Kim Kardashian’s bottom which was emblazoned on the front of the entertainment section.
“We’re living in a modern day dystopia” concluded Brenda, as she dabbed at some toast crumbs on the table cloth.
Barnstaple stretched happily in his sleep. Robert yawned contentedly, blissfully unaware of the blob of marmalade on his chin. The blue tits continued to splash in the bird bath under the weeping willow in the garden of the thatched cottage. A mile away in the nearest village the paperboy delivered the last of his papers and cycled towards home.
“Right, let’s get a move on” said Brenda. “We need to be at the golf club by eleven.”