Seeing the grey abbreviated bodies of military aircraft at the edge of a field, I remember at once the dismantled flies in the corner of the playground. I would sneak back when the committee had gone, to see if the engines had stopped and to inspect the exhausted machinery. I didn’t dare touch, but when I held my finger close I could feel the molecules of air still stirring faintly with warmth. As for the wings, who knows what happened to them? The provocative wings! Like scandalous scraps of film they were excised, and taken as trophies or lost to the wind.

Sent to Coventry

The official notice of exile was written on a page torn from a maths book. I folded it neatly into my blazer pocket. There were simultaneous equations on the other side. For the first few days it was hard to remember: remnants of speech would spill from my mouth, and were walked underfoot by the crowd. I took out the paper when no one was looking. I licked my lips and licked them till they bled. I stared at the equations, but they weren’t part of it.

‘Wicksteed of Kettering’

Back at the playground, the committee arrived on bikes. First the necessary evictions, then they seized the swings. They began throwing them over the top of the frame and catching them. They worked in silence, throwing and catching, throwing and catching. The metal chains grew shorter, they juddered and bunched into knots, and soon the swings were cancelled. How clean and spacious the frame was now! They stood and smoked, flicking ash into the pits of dust where feet had scuffed the summer grass. Then they took their bikes and left. I crawled out of the hedge and stood underneath, looking up at the red plastic seats, and I noticed that each one was stamped with the revolutionary slogan:

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