The Fatted Calf

Free market capitalism has lifted 350 million people out of poverty since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The irreversible machinations of supply and demand have dragged us kicking and screaming into the light. It’s a light so fierce and bright that it burns. Only the rational and the brave can stand it. The fool and the coward retreat back into the shadows where it’s safe.

Dunn noticed an old man reading over his shoulder. He was the sort of duffer that had been getting in Dunn’s way all morning…

Having run a strong 10k around the common, Dunn was feeling the weight of history in his stomach. He marched at the head of an army; down the Champs Elysée, along the length of Becmead Avenue and right on the high street. The 1812 Overture carried Dunn and his Grand Armee as far as the dry goods aisle of Lidl. Here, he met with his Waterloo. Blood sugar dropping and a shower on his mind, Dunn was entirely unsurprised to find a cripple blocking the entire coffee display.

“Excuse me,” said Dunn. Barely bothering to articulate himself.

The cripple moved his motorised wheelchair slightly to the left, forward a touch and then back to the right. He wound up roughly where he’d started.

“I just want a can of coffee, mate” said Dunn using his stretched frame to reach over the cripple and retrieve a can of Maxwell House. He heard the engine of the chair buzzing but had turned and left before it began its awkward manoeuvres afresh.

At the till, a partially blind man prattled to his dog and Dunn wondered to himself whether they ran some sort of discount for the infirm on Monday afternoons. The blind man was ahead of Dunn in the queue but he still felt vaguely the frustration of the patrons waiting behind him.

The homogeneity of the welfare state serves only to fetter the vanguard.

This, Dunn noted down as a draft text on his phone. He revelled in the reclamation of the words vanguard and fetter. He imagined himself stealing them from the greasy lips of Karl Marx whilst the bloated parasite slept off another Camden bender.

“Scuse me, Sir! Scuse me!” the minute Asian cashier broke Dunn’s 1848 daydream and jerked him back to present day Streatham High Road.

“Hmmm?” Dunn enquired.

“Is fourteen-nine-eight” insisted the weary cashier, turning the till display to face him.

“Oh right, of course” Dunn held his bank card over the reader, paused for the bleep and proceeded to leisurely fill his backpack with groceries.

As he strolled out of the shop, his load borne with a modest ease, Dunn failed to notice the Asian cashier apologising to the blind man for the delay.

Once the shopping was unpacked and a light lunch taken, Dunn decided to work in the library for a few hours. He felt that he was beginning to achieve real clarity with his latest effort entitled, Capitalism: You’re Welcome.

Progress came steadily that afternoon. With ideas this self-evident it was less an exercise in writing, more an exercise in typing. Dunn had always typed slow but it mattered not. Let the mouth breathers clack away and let their nonsense fill the records of future historians. Historians who would no doubt be brought to the brink of self-immolation with each freshly unearthed Twitter account.

Slowly, Dunn’s pages filled with simple statements of fact, unburdened by sentiment, a true historic materialism. They filled, that is, until Dunn noticed an old man reading over his shoulder.

“What a loada bollocks…” said the Duffer. His diction held a measured venom.

“I beg your pardon!” replied Dunn in wounded indignation.

“The free market feeds on the human spirit…” spake the Duffer in an unerringly even tone.

“The only improvements it’s ever made to the living conditions of the poor are entirely incidental” the Duffer continued.

“Is that so! Well, incidental they may be but intentions are none of my concern. Facts, on the other hand, are.”

“You’d probably argue that the calf owes its healthy weight to the farmer?” asked the Duffer. His eyes were wandering to other computer screens around the room as if his insights might also be needed elsewhere.

“As a matter of fact, I would! The farmer has more to do with the well-being of the calf than any bleeding-heart animal rights activist ever will.” as he spoke he watched the Duffer slip a flat cap over his bald head and rise to leave. Dunn’s voice wavered slightly as he imagined he was now talking only to himself.

Just as he was about to return his attention to Capitalism: You’re Welcome, Dunn felt the breath of the Duffer warm the side of his face.

“The question you need to ask yourself, Son, is this; To what end is the calf being fatten?”

Concentration broken, Dunn decided to check his dating profile.

No new matches.

As he climbed the low sloping route home, Dunn pondered the lack of quality singles in his area…