If only I was a fish…


I love reading and writing, and I instinctively prefer reading non-fiction — from delving into the history of different cultures to getting under the skin of people’s journeys across the world to recipes! All of my blogs are non-fiction too. At the same time, I love learning creative ways to do things, to stretch my imagination, so I’ve been on a creative writing course at London Met and this is my first attempt at the start of a fictional story based on visual dialogue

Something looked fishy as Petra, as she peered through the window of her beloved lorry Piotr. She had only turned off the roundabout at Catford to get onto the A2 and there was already a traffic jam full of other lorries, like sardines being piled into a tin. Thankfully, she had her eye on the wheel, otherwise it could have been more like lorries falling over like dominoes.

She checked her mobile, only a notification that the UK and the EU were arguing about fish. She started reminiscing about last year’s “reveillon” at the pitstop in Menton where she hadn’t able to cross the border due to France closing it to avoid any more migrants coming in from Italy, and had tried a “plateau de fruits de mer”, filled with silky sea urchins and milky oysters.

As she saw the road signs for Dover, it made her think that at least the fish in the Channel was free to wander around the seas as it pleased before getting swallowed up by a fishing boat, the asylum seekers that had fled war barefoot, ended up either drowning in a makeshift dinghy or captured by the Royal Navy before ending up in a detention centre.

Beep beep! A herd of lorries behind her were honking their horns as the traffic lights went green. In this economy which politicians barely understood, “just in time” meant having to travel round the clock without so much as a comfort break to get fresh produce Martini-style anytime, anywhere anyhow. Which is why people were complaining that the garden of England was starting to smell less of apples and more of a pub urinal.

If the government couldn’t understand how the economy worked, then the general public even less so, wanting to have their meat and two veg cheap, while neither wanting to work in English farms nor wanting to be in the EU which enabled quick and easy transport of food and supplies. The UK might have to wait for vaccines to get through the red tape of border control once it left the EU, but it could always console itself of having over-vaccinated and chlorinated chickens from the US instead.

Petra moved through the green light onto the roundabout, but the lorries were still stacked up so she couldn’t move off it. Meanwhile different beeps this time from locals wanting to get to the supermarket to get a frozen turkey as they had planned to be at their second homes in the Cotswolds but now couldn’t travel anymore. The irony wasn’t lost on Petra who had just delivered turkeys from Poland to supermarkets. At least the British could still hunt their own grouse whatever the pandemic.

And another beep, but a different tone this time, added to all the other horns honking, but this time it was her mobile. Gustav, a German lorry driver she had met in Calais during a French strike rung her from Dover. “They’ve just closed the border, the French won’t let anyone in from the UK”. A month before Brexit, the French were Brexitting the British at their own game. No fresh fruit and veg coming in from mainland Europe for the UK and no Christmas for all the lorry drivers who come from around the continent to deliver food. If only Petra was a fish…



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Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese