Imagine you are Grandma, just after Zoe’s second visit. Zoe has confided in you about her meetings with Daz and the desire to run away.
At the age of one hundred and four you would think I would be allowed to live out peacefully my last remaining days, but thankfully that is not the case. I may be old but I am still very mentally alert. I live in a senior citizen’s apartment in Silverdale, but I used to live in a place called Rawhampton. It was a wonderful city, full of people, big stores , cars and very bright ‘a million lights’. Now it is a different place unrecognisable to what it used to be. ‘Derelict houses, some burnt out. Cracks in the road with weeds poking through….all smashed up.’
I had to leave Rawhampton when the government divided us up in suburbs and cities. The basis is of where you went was determined by money or lack of it. The people who live in the suburbs are self contained, affluent , with everything we could wish for. City people have no life. They just exist and some don’t manage to do that. I’m sure I would have not lived to this age if I had stayed in Rawhampton.
Let me tell you about my great granddaughter, Zoe. She visits regularly and we have a wonderful relationship despite the generation gaps ! She feels close to me and we talk about any subject and she knows I will not patronise her, I will give her my honest opinion. Unfortunately, Zoe’s dad is like the majority in Silverdale, they have their stock automatic response to many of life’s questions. He feels I am a bad influence on Zoe and he has expressed this to Zoe referring to me as ‘ an old lady her savvy’s out to lunch.’
It was Zoe’s trust in me that made her come to me when she fell in love for the first time. Unfortunately her love was for a boy from across the social and economic divide, he was a ‘chippy.’ It brought back memories of my first love, Gordon Payne. I had advised her to wait to see what happens. Within days of this Zoe was in trouble at school. Her inattentiveness in a History lesson had resulted in her being given lines. She had to write out part of the Franchise Bill of 2004. After writing this out forty-five times she had scrawled BRAINWASHING across the bottom of her last page ! I secretly felt proud that Zoe had inherited my rebellious spirit. She had understood brainwashing from me , as I had explained that half what was on t.v. and in the papers is brainwashing. If things are repeated often enough then people come to accept it as the truth. Zoe’s dad is ‘the most brainwashed person ‘ I had ever met.
The next visit was expected as things had been moving at an alarming rate. Her parents were selling everything and moving to Peacehaven, about one hundred miles away. They had asked me to go with them but I was staying here in Silverdale. Zoe had been told of this at the last moment. Zoe was not happy when she came into the apartment. I knew her parents were in the wrong, not telling Zoe, who was growing up and should not have been treated like a small child. I felt sure that she’d make new friends and settle down and told her so. Her request to stay with me had to be turned down, for one , her parents would not agree to it, secondly I only had one bedroom and lastly at my age it was more than enough to look after myself. Zoe, I’m sure, felt that I had behaved as others would have done and I had given her an automatic response, and I felt as if I had betrayed her.
The bombshell then dropped. Zoe had seen Daz twice since I last saw her, once here in Silverdale and once in Rawhampton. The realisation of what she was doing did not seem to affect Zoe. I stressed how dangerous it was not only for her and Daz but for all the family. If the ‘DS’ knew of this they would all be expelled from Silverdale to live lives like Chippies. Zoe replied that she knew what the consequences would be as it was happening to her best friend Tabby and her parents. ‘The Wentworths leave tomorrow.’ When Zoe continued that it was because they belonged to FAIR I nearly let the cat out of the bag. I fell silent. I could not betray my true feelings. It was obvious that Zoe’s family was leaving Silverdale because of Zoe’s association with the Wentworths, and people might think they were the same. They would be kicked out too if it was believed they were sympathisers of FAIR. After I collected together my thoughts I told Zoe that the sensible option was to go Peacehaven. I felt that Zoe staying could jeopardise the future of FAIR, which stood for Fraternal Alliance for Integration through Reunification. When I think about our conversation Zoe had used the word fair several times but , of course, in a different context.
I had founded FAIR ,which suggest protection and a sense of justice, for the battle against prejudice and inequality can not be won by brute force. After I considered myself too old , Mr. Wentworth took over. Being exposed as FAIR members means neither money nor position, him being so wealthy , can protect them from the public rejection and so they are being kicked out of Silverdale for ever. For a short time my courage and strebgth that has sustained me through years of secret resistance to an oppressive regime seemed to diminish.
Mr. James, an enlightened man , who recognised the wrongness of prejudice , is also a member of FAIR and he kept me up to date after Zoe ran away to go to Rawhampton to be with Daz. I wrote a letter to her and had Mr. James deliver it to her. I had empathy for Daz and Zoe . I realised that their resilience suggested that their relationship was more than a teenage crush but, their actions were putting lives in danger. The solution was for Zoe to take Daz and his mother to the Wentworths . I might never see Zoe again and so I finished the letter with
‘We are members one of another.
hoping that in time Zoe would understand this. My last memory was that Zoe had eaten my letter so no one would find it, thus protecting me from harm. I was so very proud that in Zoe I saw myself , again !