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you know what I mean -- there‟s not a lot of the joining-up stuff that you sort of need if you‟re going to make sense of what it‟s all about, really, if you know what I mean.” “Phew,” said Annie. “Take a breath. I think we‟re experiencing a bit of delayed shock

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    after the accident.” “Collision,” Bill said. “Right, I collided with a hedgerow and Jeremy collided with a ditch.” Harold took away the dead tea bags. “Looks to me like you collided with the future,


“I think I crashed out of my life,” Bill said. “Just like I said.” As if on cue, rain came down again like the crash of a cymbal, followed by organised pounding on the roof like a parade of tin drums. Jeremy dashed out to get his suitcase and rescue his computer, and Annie to get her purse and phone. When they got back, their hot breath, the moisture on their clothes and steam from their tea formed a thick curtain of condensation on the windows.

“It‟s cosy in here,” Annie said. “I could stay all day.” “Be my guest, make this your nest,” Harold said. He gave her a tour, showing her how the beds folded out, where the little fridge was, and where his stash of books, magazines, and CD‟s were kept. He produced a packet of digestive biscuits, put on more reggae, said that all three of them should make themselves at home, and then slipped out in the rain to attend to his “personal business”.

Jeremy wanted to check that his laptop was okay after the tumble, and show the others how it could run off the cigarette lighter on the dashboard.

Annie called the temping agency and said she‟d be back in touch when she found out if her car was going to be all right. Then she called her breakdown recovery company and learned that because of flash flooding in the region they couldn‟t say exactly when they would get to her, especially since based on the information she had given, she did not appear to be at personal risk.

Bill borrowed Annie‟s phone to call the council and they heard him tell someone that he had broken down and didn‟t know how long it would take to be repaired. When he‟d finished, he sat back, and sounding like a Radio Covinshire newsreader hauled out of a long retirement to keep the show going while the living crew recovered from something dire and infectious, said aloud:

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