Last month, I found myself wondering if it could ever be right to take a life, to end what appeared to be thousands of lives. It was after my annual reunion with two old college friends, at a newly opened hipster pie bar on the roof of a fashionable Dalston venue-cum-live-space, Pie In The Sky.
Danni had betrayed her Marxist roots to become a one-woman libertarian think tank, The College of Controversy; her counter-intuitive pronouncements are much in demand on late-night newspaper front-page analysis shows, thirsty for the illusion of balance; she ‘comes round’ to Jacob Rees-Mogg; she accuses a golden retriever bitch, that fostered an orphaned badger, of ‘virtue signalling’.
In the ’80s, Anna used to front an anarcho-feminist punk band, but last year, in a sleeveless summer dress, she collected an OBE for her work in public waste management, her now-shaven armpits reluctantly fragrant. “You’ve heard of the Monster Fatberg, the massive glob of grease and fat in the Whitechapel sewers?” she asked.
Lit by Anna’s flickering lamp light, we saw the fatberg, its stench gagging us, its white mass glistening
“Yes,” said Danni, “but I’m coming round to it. The Fatberg tells us nature won’t be corralled politely by civil engineers, and forces us to confront the filth that goes hand in hand with…”
“Danni,” Anna interrupted, “this is no time to provide off-the-peg contrariness to order. I need you both to see something.”
Ashen-faced, Anna took us by taxi to the corner of Castle Baynard Street and White Lion Hill, where the old city of London slides into the Thames in the shadow of St Paul’s, and where she, in her public health capacity, has a key to both the sewers and a subterranean store of wellingtons and waterproofs. “Take these,” she said, handing out clothes pegs, sick bags and nosegays.