Chapter 4 You say gorilla and I say guerilla

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Chapter 4 You say gorilla and I say guerilla

'So it's war,' said Christopher a few days later in the Queen of Scots. 'Only we don't have any generals, or big guns, or any equipment for that matter.'

He had mulled over the situation after leaving the Holiday Inn. PLIF - his group of friends - their cosy evenings in the Queen of Scots - Steve Paxman's vaguely threatening manner and proposal to involve the local council in something they had no right to get involved in - and he had decided to make a stand. It wasn't like him to dig his heels in, but he felt responsible for the whole thing, and wanted to do what was best for Pitkirtly. In any case, he knew this was the one area of his life where he had any chance of exerting any control; his rôle in the community anchored him, in effect, to the kind of reality he wanted to live in. If he lost that, he would be adrift in an open boat.

'A guerilla campaign,' said Amaryllis, who had listened intently. This close attention in itself unnerved Christopher, since Amaryllis's intentness seemed to him more aggressive than many other people's active hostility. 'We'll have to fight a guerilla campaign. That's what local activists do when they have no power and very few resources.'

'Yes, I think some of us know that already,' said Jock, who before he retired had attempted to teach history to a bunch of ungrateful teenagers who were only interested in themselves. Christopher had often heard him ranting on in this vein, sometimes for hours on end.

'Gorillas? Those big black hairy things they keep in the zoo?' said the alleged youth worker Darren, perfectly illustrating the point Jock had made on numerous occasions about education being wasted on the young.

Jock gave him a quick rundown on the history and logistics of guerilla warfare, while the rest of them talked among themselves about the allotment situation, among other pressing local issues. Mrs Stevenson was particularly vocal on the topic of organic gardeners and their general pickiness and intolerance. They had given up trying to explain it all to her. Amaryllis showed a polite interest and enquired about getting an allotment, but was quickly left with the impression that it was impossible unless your parents had been particularly far-sighted and had put your name down for it well before your birth.

Once Christopher called the meeting to order, after a fashion, they talked a bit more about the guerilla campaign.

'You're not just using the term in a loose populist sense, meaning a guerilla marketing campaign, are you?' said Young Dave. 'Only I'm not that keen on marketing myself.'

'Nobody's asking you to market yourself!' said Big Dave scathingly. 'You wouldn't get many takers, that's for sure!'

'It's got nothing to do with marketing,' said Amaryllis. 'Well - only in the sense that we need to sell people on our own ideas before the Council come along and present their ideas wrapped up with red tape.'

'What are our own ideas then?' said Jock McLean, ever the stirrer.

'We don't need to bother about that yet,' said Amaryllis airily. 'They can't be worse than the ones the faceless apparatchiks at the Council come up with.'

Christopher noticed how she relished the phrase - it lent a gleeful air to the whole sentence, like a lovely sunrise spreading light and warmth across the earth. He paused for a moment, rewound his thoughts and wondered when he had started to think like a revivalist preacher. He just hoped the tendency hadn't come out in his speech too, without him noticing.

Amaryllis had discarded a couple of layers of clothing as she became more and more relaxed in the company of PLIF. She was leaning forward slightly to emphasise what she was saying. The sight of her chest in a tight-fitting top seemed almost too much for some of their number. Jock McLean was leaning forward too, and Big Dave, standing over them all as he often did, apparently to emphasise further how much bigger he was than any of them, had bent so far towards her that he almost fell over. Steadying himself he noticed Christopher looking at him, and said gruffly,

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