A tall hill of turquoise, gendered cooing and guffawing, chainmail crop tops, and dance-fights with mops, performed to the sound of nineties nostalgia: Lizzy Shakespeare and Michelle Madsen, together known as Bait Theatre, effectively wield experimental drama to tear through the fanciful tropes of traditional fairy-tale femininity.
by Rob Harding
I stay hidden while Adil opens up again, rates the police on their app, and sends them packing. Once that’s done, Adil’s daughter nods to me. ‘You’re welcome.’ She says. ‘Now, if you don’t mind?’
I stammer my thanks and head out the front again. Adil nods to me and lets me duck under a shutter, and back out onto the street.
There’s no sign of the police, or the hijacked DeepGrey workers, or anything particular. A Community Security bot has rolled into place at the far end of the street, but if I don’t go near it it won’t ID me and do the digital equivalent of the staring-eyed pod person screech. I’ve long since resigned to having to work around the damn things, and these days I only vaguely keep track of the forum posters who fight a constant arms race with their glassy-eyed developers out in San Francisco or Vientiane, or wherever the fuck has the most reliably gullible investors this week.
by Zoe Harding
The woman on the street is making those noises as the shouting starts again, the raw-throat all-out hate that only hysterical men can shriek. I barely recognise what they’re saying.
The woman coughs and sobs again, and I hear a fleshy impact, like the sound of a shoe hitting a stomach.
And then there’s the wail of a siren, right around the corner, and the burglar-alarm scream of an LRAD blots out all other sound. A huge armoured police car with tires as tall as I am comes grinding down the street, a pair of armed officers walking alongside it. The turret on top is swinging to bring a grenade launcher to bear against the fight. Hopefully they won’t fire it. I like this jacket, and the stink of chemical riot dispersant is designed with a half-life of about fifty years.
by Hannah Rose
Outside Selfridges on Oxford street at 5am Boxing Day morning, a queue had already formed. The sales could not start soon enough for some shoppers. At the same time, Aleksander’s father was waking his son up. He handed him a pile of thermal underwear and a hard hat and told him to get ready so they could go and ‘explore’ the site.
“Can I really see where you are working, dad!?”
“Of course, but you will have to stay in the cabin for a while as I have some large girders to move with the crane. If you stay in there you can watch out of the window. Bring your tablet and learn some English words while you wait, ok?”
by Hannah Rose
Later that night after Aleksander and his father had eaten too much food and watched a few films, and when Aleksander was asleep on the sofa, his father switched on the tablet and opened his emails. One was from his boss, the ops manager, and had an attachment. Do I need to read this now? He thought. Better to know what that tool has to say now, than worry about it all night. The email read:
by Hannah Rose
“What do you mean you sacked my team?” Aleksander’s father said to his boss, the operations manager late on Christmas Eve when he finally called him back. “It’s the day before Christmas and we were already behind schedule.”
“Look, mate,” the ops manager said. “the pound has taken a nosedive since Brexit, and your lot were asking for double their hourly rate, and expecting a Christmas bonus.”
“ ‘Your lot’” Aleksander’s father chastised.
The ops manager didn’t hear him.
“I’ve got the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi on my back threatening to pull the whole thing and leave a bunch of half built hotels in Battersea and a whole company of British workers made redundant if I don’t balance the books and get this thing sorted. I did you a favour by keeping you on. I had to let them go and get things level again. Otherwise there might have been a mutiny—sabotage—and how would that look for you, eh?”
‘You did me a favour’ Aleksander’s father silently repeated, bitterly.
“And what about my lot who have no money to send home this month?” He asked.
“Look, mate, we have to look after our own in this post Brexit world of ours. If you get the main building looking relatively ship shape by January 1st and the Sheikh is happy then I will consider bringing the Poles back for phase 2 of the project.”
“But why at Christmas?!” Aleksander’s father was desperate.
“Well it isn’t Christmas for the bloody Sheikh, is it?—he’s an Arab!”
by Hannah Rose
The PM placed the Impact Assessment on Effects on Building Site Managers carefully down in front of her, crossed her arms and looked to her cabinet. “This Christmas,” she said, “you all have homework to do.” I’d like you to read this Impact Assessment, inside out, and all the others, by the 1st January 2018.”
“Every single one ma’am?” The minister for education said, timidly.
“Every single one,” She replied. “And don’t call me ma’am. I’m not the queen—or Margaret Thatcher, God rest her soul.”