The Catholic church around the corner is dedicated to a Portuguese peasant girl whose visions of the Virgin Mary prompted the following declaration of her faith:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.
These words are addressed not only to God himself, nor are they simply an intercession on behalf of those who lack faith in him; the girl’s prayer is also a personal statement of her self-belief.
Our Father who art no more nor ever was.
They would say that, wouldn’t they? I mean the teenagers who’ve been hanging round The Stow, the post-war shopping precinct in Harlow, chalking up plentiful police reports of anti-social behaviour (month after month, and for so long the original cohort must have moved on and grown up by now).
Surely they would say something like this, if disposed to speak of the faith and the self-belief that’s been disposed of (behind their backs, without them knowing, despite them trying to appear all-knowing all the time).
Are you kidding? Is this a gang of juvenile Kierkegaards, struggling for belief in a God of Uncertainty. Nothing could be further from theological discourse than the killing of 40-year-old Polish factory worker, Arkadiusz ‘Arek’ Jozwik, who died in hospital two days after he went out for takeaway pizza….and took a blow to the head instead. The only Sorens are the ones who were arrested.
Or, maybe that’s how they vented it – their aggravated sense of loss, and hating themselves for failing to locate, locate, locate anything other than their own paltry existence.
Chunky chap, low centre of gravity – can’t have been a complete pushover. Four years in the meat factory since he came over from Poland, whereas you’re not sure you’d last four minutes before running a mile.
Was that what you couldn’t abide? Did you resent his mobility – his straying away from where he was born, getting on his bike like you don’t know how to? Or was it the way he was rooted to family – mother and brother already here, and the table football games with his beloved nephew?
Not that you would know exactly, but you could see he was anchored: rising and falling with the swell; riding on it, more resting than wrestling with every absurdity.
Of course this is conjecture. For all we know, Arek’s placid exterior might have been the product of his limited command of English; whereas in his own Polish tongue he may have been permanently lashing himself with existential fear and self-loathing.
But no more conjectural, I reckon, than the kids who killed him.