The Tablet of Bliss

But then he went further. He declared that Britain was a ‘fascist state,’ that reparations had to be paid to every country ever colonised, and to every one of its ethnic minority citizens, starting with the Muslims who’d been raided or searched. And then he went on a tour of ‘the free world’; Cuba, Libya, North Vietnam, then any country that would have him, exhorting the people to stand up and throw the whipmasters aside.

‘I just knew what to say, K−. I would open my mouth and everything felt… right.’

But by then the nation hated him, more than any other public figure since Hitler, probably. His picture was on the front pages every day, but it was never with out-and-out vitriol: it was always ridicule, painting him as insane, a laughing stock. Comedians would devote entire sets to him; every broadsheet turned into Private Eye; he was a satirist’s, and a psychiatrist’s, dream.

‘Well, it did hurt, K−. If you thought someone was mentally ill, would you laugh at them? Would you? But that was all anyone did, and it was all so cruel, like the way kids are cruel. I can still hear that laughter sometimes. That’s why I’m glad it’s silent in here. The walls are thick.

‘And then Victoria left. That was the hardest.’

I pour us both a little wine.

Again, to her credit, she insisted, near screamed from the rooftops, that she would always love him. She constantly referred to him ‘her David,’ but she said it was breaking her heart to see him like this. That was all. In any case, I don’t think he had any need of her.
He was going to another level .

The day before the Olympics began, David Beckham announced that if all Anglo-American forces did not withdraw from Iraq in the next 24 hours, then he would kill himself in public. No-one knew where he was anymore. All we knew was that in twenty-four hours time, David Robert Joseph Beckham’s life would end.

So we waited.

I thought he’d do it at the opening ceremony, but Malini said he wouldn’t go near it. Once he appeared, the world would simply turn its cameras off and − in any case − he didn’t need television. He could do it anywhere, and show it live on the internet. In any case, she said, it was obvious where he was hiding. She tossed me the car keys.

We drove there together, that warehouse in Leytonstone with the glass ceiling. And Malini was quite correct. Dressed in a black Judo suit, David Beckham was sitting on the floor staring into a laptop. Even from across the room we could smell him. There wasn’t any water up there.

As we walked towards him, he told us it was too late. He had already swallowed the poison. An estimated 1.5 billion people were going to watch him froth and choke his way to death. The camera − he gestured at the wall − was already on.

But Malini started running at him.

In response, Beckham did a delicate little chasse, like side-stepping a tackle, but my wife − so thin, after her treatment, but still so alive − stopped, pivoted like a gymnast, and after reaching into her jacket, stabbed David Beckham in his eye.

He pulls off his sunglasses. The right socket is bare; it looks smooth, like snakeskin.

‘I suppose that’s when it all ended,’ he says. ‘But I remember everything, though not in the warehouse, not so well. When I think of the whole thing, it feels like a movie I wasn’t really concentrating on. It’s funny.’

‘But look: you have to know… you have to know why I’m here.’
He doesn’t reply. Just refills his mug and looks at the floor.
Those famous feet may soon be dribbling my head around the room. But this is what I came for.

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5 Responses to “The Tablet of Bliss”

  1. October 13, 2008 at 11:43 pm, smith3000 said:

    I might have to read this again a couple of times before I really get my head round it ..

    But even if I don’t know exactly what you’re saying, I like the way y0u say it:

    “Like wool against my skin, the air is damp and smells of beer.”

    And it’s certainly a new perspective on the divine David.

  2. October 16, 2008 at 12:42 am, Martin Cooper said:

    What a great story, very muscular and witty, each progression inventive and surprising. A real pleasure to read, it made me laugh out loud a couple of times, and it’s good to read something that feels subversive, but not obvious.

    The minature in the eye is a beautiful image, and a suitable encouragement for art to affect the wider world. Perfectly judged.

  3. October 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm, Judy Kendall said:

    Best thing you’ve written yet?

  4. October 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm, Rachel said:

    Very gritty and crazy. Story moved quickly.

  5. November 28, 2008 at 1:41 pm, Yvonne said:

    Story draws you in like a magician, humourous, innovative, full of smoke mystery and crazy mirrors. loved it


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