Scene: two people are sat drinking coffee on a park bench. There's a small dog on an extender lead sniffing nearby.
Fiaz: Oh man I needed coffee this morning.
Delia: No one makes a cup like Man In An Old Van. Just, try to stick to one a day. I had two last weekend and I swear I could see time slow down.
Fiaz: Ha ha. I could do with a bit of extra time. The twins are running me flat out.
Delia: It’ll get easier. How old are they now?
Fiaz: They’re three next birthday.
Delia: It’ll be easier when they turn twenty.
Fiaz: Oh, thanks for the encouraging words. How’s the search going to be a motivational speaker?
Delia: I can’t believe I keep getting overlooked. What with my tact and grace. No, once they get into the swing of things at nursery and later school, there’ll be less of a handful.
Fiaz: That’s good. How’s Rose? She started her A levels, yeah?
Delia: I think so. She’s, um, having a bit of a moment.
Fiaz: You two okay?
Delia: I hope so. It’s, no… I’m not okay. Sorry. I’ve not told anyone.
Fiaz: Hey, it’s okay. Hold on, I’ve got some wipes. Come on, no one cries alone with me. What’s up? That’s, if you want to talk about it
Delia: Thanks. I just feel so alone in this. I think Rose has been following some new influencers and they’ve got her on the turn.
Fiaz: How so?
Delia: Well, she has been protesting about the right to safety and her language… it’s… well, very unlike her.
Fiaz: Oh dear.
Delia: I know. I mean Ruth and I, we just can’t seem to reach her at all. Ruth, she said, she said that she thinks Rose might have Rapid Onset Intolerant Syndrome.
Fiaz: No, I thought that was just a myth put about by people to explain discrimination?
Delia: I think I read it on a blog where the author was trying to be funny, but as with some satire, it gets its own legs and then became a thing.
Fiaz: Are we talking about the spoof or the original?
Delia: Not sure I can comment on that for legal reasons.
Fiaz: Okay, but wouldn’t Rose’s feelings have been around for some time? As far as I know you don’t take a pill and switch over to the dark side. Don’t you have to be walking near that anyway?
Delia: I can’t say I saw that, but looking back, around a year or so, it started with some innocent talk about there only being two sexes, which, understandably Ruth put her straight on.
Fiaz: That’s biologists for you. Them and their evidenced based decision making and peer reviews, eh?
Delia: I know, right? The messy biology that we mostly ignore with simplistic rules because otherwise it’s all too complicated. Anyway, then it was predatory this, invasion that, in the summer, and now the bathrooms at home have been “genetically segregated”.
Fiaz: Nice air quotes. But, there’s only you, Ruth, Rose, and Charlotte in the house!
Delia: It’s awful as she’s asking her sister Charlotte to use the upstairs loo, or men’s room, as she’s calling it.
Fiaz: Oh man, that’s crook.
Delia: I know. Charlotte is being really kind about it and, well, I guess going at her girlfriend’s flat to just avoid the issue. I mean, she’s not been Charlie for eight years. She transitioned just after university and she’s really blossomed. She’s so much happier as she is now.
Fiaz: Is there anything I can do? I mean, well, are you getting help?
Delia: I’ve held off seeing any professional – I mean, in case they’re one of those ‘critical’ types and that’ll be a massive enabler. Ruth thinks it might be a phase.
Fiaz: I hope so. I know my cousin developed a bad case of antisemitism through exposure to passive bigotry last year.
Delia: He okay now?
Fiaz: Yeah, his mates where really worried about him and thankfully the new guy at the mosque was able to get through to him. Bless him, he’s so embarrassed by the whole thing now.
Delia: The scholar?
Fiaz: Ha ha. No, I bet he’s heard all that claptrap before. You know what it’s like, “if I had quid for each time someone said ‘George Soros space lasers’, I’d have retired twice over.”
Delia: Well, we’re clearly part of the oppressive deep state liberal mafia aren’t we…
Fiaz: Perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t run the world.
Delia: How come?
Fiaz: Well, we can’t have people being paid equally regardless of gender, race, or age. Next we’ll be listening to people and respecting our differences, yet seeing how much we have in common. No good will come of that.
Delia: True, true. So what should we do?
Fiaz: Honestly, I don’t know, Delia, I’m sorry. I tell you what though, how about a cake, two teas, and let’s take a stroll? Maybe something will come to us.
Delia: Just the tea for me. The only rapid onset I’m seeing is weight gain. That or the new tumbler has shrunk my smalls.