I need to tell you that I am not the same as I used to be. I have a gift and this is why I have the attention of Her Majesty and Her Government. And I have Black Hole. And Star Wars.

People don’t know this about Black Hole but it is A.I. now. There are two of them to ride piggy-back and keep each other company for their real use, exploration of the universe. Programmed by Stephen XXX and patched by myself it is tuned to my voice pattern where ever I am and mine alone as guarantee of my safety.

I am a programmer you see and I work in a most exotic fashion.

In the meantime, I have strayed a little bit from my time scheduling of this story so I shall return now to September 2002 and the beginning of my Ph.D. after my assault/attempted murder when I got an e-mail from an old acquaintance from Wits who was new to Britain, Rosie Fiore.

She said she wanted to see me so I said “Come down to Bath cos I do not have a car.”

Now Rosie I had met at a party at the students union at Wits in ‘86. We met and made out by the pool. Strictly speaking this shouldn’t have happened as I should have been at home mourning yet another break-up with Sarah Raisin, a girl I had met in the canteen who I introduced to student union life and later stood for S.R.C. Rosie and I saw each other for about three weeks and then I went back to Sarah.

Campus life!

I was surprised to hear from Rosie but invited her down to Bath and showed her into my bedsit and made her a cup of tea. I had made it good practise ever since leaving South Africa in ‘89 to avoid white South Africans abroad. I remember her looking out of my second floor window at her black Ford Ka parked there in the street below illegally, asking me about money and then saying, rather oddly: “You are english really!”

It stood out in my mind, after the comment at the assault, but I could not ask. My tongue was locked and the moment gone.

We stayed in touch by e-mail for a while…

Back to my Ph.D., I was working in an office in the new extension to the mechanical engineering department on the ground floor facing out onto the parking lot with four other post-grad students an average of 16 years younger than me. It was the faculty’s pride and joy with card-locks and smoked blue glass everywhere. Biomimetics had hits own lab with a shower next door to it which I used instead of the poorly lit bath back home at the bedsit.

I found Vincent disagreeable as a person for there was something odd in the offhand things he said to me like he was revealing to me that he knew more about me than I though possible. Things that I was uncomfortable like details of my medical history and schoolfriends on the past shadows. So I asked for Adrian Bowyer, the only other option presented to me, while I puzzled it out. I asked Patrick Keogh the post-grad supervisor and he said yes.

This is when I started to have the bad dreams. I remember waking up one morning in the Spring with the words: “We’ve left you alone for four years!” and I felt spooked by the accuracy of the event with the treatment I had been receiving in the press by Steve Bell of the Guardian and other cartoonists. I searched my bedsit high and low for a source of the sound but could find no sign of a hidden speaker, just the normal bedclothes and radio.

And my laptop, my pride and joy at the time, expensive and good. I still have, carefully kept for its hard drive and record of my work which I lay on a wooden table I used as a desk under the window, tall and Georgian, leaky and damp too. It was white but the rest of the bedsit I had pained peach-orange and it suited my South African mood of repression. At only £46 a week it was a poverty trap of its own but it opened onto a quaint square of British Georgian chiq called Catherine Place.

I walked through St Margaret’s Passage, took a left on Brock Street to The Circus, a wide traffic circle where druids met under the huge plane trees in the centre surrounded by beautiful Georgian buildings that make perfect postcards, to walk down the hills of Gay Street and Milsom Street to the bus stop up to the campus.

Bath was like a film set in those days and there is a green ring on the map, I learned, considered the boundaries by the coppers of the C.B.D. which is denoted by camera’s and I later learned, microphones.

The bus would take me over the XXXX bridge along XXXX street and around two corners and up Bathwick Hill where all the retired sailors used to build their homes to the Bath University Claverton Down campus, home to 7 000 students and staff, a technical university without Arts nor Law and Medicine, concentrating predominantly on the sciences and engineering with a Management School too.

And a large new Sport Department with training for Olympic Athletes ongoing including bobsleigh, swimming and track and field. Numerous British stars trained there and Mike Catt the ex South African played for the City rugby club as well as Neal Back and other.

There is a playing field and I am the quarterback. Who is running?

* * * * * * * * * * *


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