Elsewhere, Julian shook a sieve. He was shirtless. It was a warm evening and he the central heating on. It had been on since Winter. In his sieve hills of flour crumbled. Purer hills grew, by layers and landslides.

Joe and Lisa walked. They walked along the curb – and one of them sometimes off it – from time to time glancing consciously at the other’s face. Then the moon came into view and mediated between them. They relaxed. They addressed themselves to the moon. Oh moon! So like a chef! And so useful to Lisa and Joe. When they arrived at Lisa’s, Joe hugged her. They hugged and they thought about things that were pretty obvious to both of them, like that one has just impulsively hugged the other and that here they were under the spry candy of the moon hugging at a gate and it was nice.

Elisha saw, “For example, feminist attempts to isolate a common experience of maternity feel the mountains tremble, did you hear the oceans roar.” Elisha stretched and rose from her desk. Her notes basked in lamplight something garish. Elisha highlighted every word Elisha read in one of three colours. It was “[her] way of working.”

Brenda struggled on her eiderdown. What if an animal, and its net, were evenly-muscled? Then we would have the measure of Brenda on her eiderdown.

She was not asleep. She only allowed herself to think of him for one hour an evening.

But put it this way, she had already been walking the pot-bellied daschund of his favours for some time without knowing it.

All her doubts converged on her wart. He hated her, she disgusted him! Nothing focuses a teenage woman’s vast insecurity quite like pubic fungus.

Chinwag’s collar was a dumb noose. He could relieve the chafe with a certain ponderous nod, as though passing under a low beam. His mouth was dry. Chinwag knew his neck was not really irritated by his collar, but by a nervous tic. If he varied his tic frequently, maybe no one would pick up on it. He would try and transfer it to a compulsive fist. Chinwag clenched and unclenched his right hand. He watched Chinwag. “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?”

Corntrough tested his body and spirit. He sat nude on the edge of his bed. By, ahem, pure thought he hardened and by, amen, pure thoughts softened himself once more. The rule was he could not touch it. He had done it for half an hour, hard, soft, hard, soft, hard, soft and now he was hard again. He’d do it for that again.

Miffed, joyous, spirit-walking: barnacles don’t share.

Julian’s Morris dancing clothes lay on the kitchen table, intricate patchwork, neatly folded. He drank cider from a pint glass. There was a thumb of flour on it. “G’day mate, I’m from Australia,” he said. “I’m from Austraylyia. What iz op, mon, I am from Jamacia.” Corntrough was damp with sweat. There would be buffer zones of prayer at either end of the fantasies, and complicated hybrids at the boundary between prayer and fantasy. Sex is always a boundary circumstance. In terms of sexual phantasy, Elisha’s practice was more easy-going and sustainable. She tended towards abstinence lobbying, the US import which let one speak in public venues about fucking, often about children fucking, and then in private, plan further such speaking. Elisha turned up the music and did star jumps until the end of the track. It was Elisha’s way of taking a break. Perhaps it upset the bald man next door but he poured sausage fat into their communal sink. She could smell his sizzling them even now. Lottie moved a ladybird. A girl of grave kindnesses, Elisha, with the rare condition of a frowning skull. She wouldn’t be surprised if he was lowering whole strings of cooked sausages into the drain, all the while listening nervously into the rapture of Delirious? for the faltering of her star thuds, the sc-rape of her door. Twisting on his fat neck while the sausages’ fat necks twisted down into the darkness. Brenda peered defiantly into her closet as she still always did each night at this moment. Lottie switched off the overhead light at the moment Lemon switched on the bedside lamp. Elisha chose neon green. Corntough thought, “He felt her warm, wet mouth close around his member.” Chinwag cracked his knuckles. Julian pulled apart an egg with his thumbs. Why are you even reading this crap? You could put it down right now. The Cam flowed and the Thames flowed. And Lisa stood in her hallway and hugged herself. Plenty of things are left unfinished. It’s not too late. Pestilence tensed. And Joe walked down the road and hugged himself. You could be at a surprisingly accurate re-creation of the golden years of Motown for example and either because you are swept up in it or because you are explicitly encouraged to so do by Marvin Gaye you could lay down your Kate Atkinson novel, and perhaps you might leave it there, or one of the other patrons might crawl under the rows of seats and rob you of it. Either way you might decide not to source another copy. That might be it. I do my best. Julian poured batter. Lottie dreamt you stopped reading now. That’s how serious I am. She dreamt it and purred and champed. My hatred for you is pretty astonishing. You, Mike, and you, Carlton, and you, Bradley, and you, Justin, and you, Jefferson, and you, Samantha, and by increments, by deductions from the earliest, by mutation of the earliest, all you readers, gobbling, snuffling, tailoring, testing, clogging reality with your attributes.