Filth by Natalia Spencer

The Lawnmower arrived to preside at Angle Island’s fiscal review.

The conference room door opened and a white haired woman pushed a trolley full of pots of Columbian coffee across the room.

‘Your brioche will be served in ten minutes’ she hoarsely announced before shuffling away.

‘Somebody please open a window, that woman’s smell is unbearable,’ a cabinet member said.

The Lawnmower waited for the coffee scramble to subside and, clasping a thick file in his pudgy hands, said

‘First on the agenda is the elderly and infirm.’

‘I see you intend to axe the heating allowance, bus passes, and raise the retirement age to eighty.’ said a junior minister.

‘Yes,’ replied the Lawnmower ‘thus enabling a saving of over twenty-one billion per year.’

‘That sounds impressive, but the problem here,’ responded the junior minister ‘is there aren’t enough jobs for the elderly as it is.’

‘That is also the case with most of the population. Cuts must be made regardless of demographics.’

‘Granted,’ said the young minister ‘but if you take away the bus passes it will impact on the senior population’s health. Think about it, lack of exercise, increased isolation and higher incidences of depression.’

The old woman returned with a snack trolley, laden with fresh fruit, pastries and a tureen of kedgeree and left.

‘As I was about to say’ the Lawnmower answered ‘I am well aware of the implications but the cost of anti-depressants is much less overall than the ever increasing financial outlay for luxury items.’

‘Heating is a luxury? Winter temperatures for the past five years have averaged

-15°C. And the mortality rate has increased year on year amongst the old.’

‘What do you suggest I do, make funds available for solar panels? What is wrong with extra cardigans, pullovers and similar apparel? And if they die, due to their lack of provision for their old-age or own ignorance, one less elderly or sick person equates to savings across all sectors.’

Someone coughed and then asked ‘Excuse me Sir. But what is this sub section headed: Employment of unsustainable life curtailment strategy. Surely not?’

The Lawnmower fixed his gazed on his Minister for Work and Pensions.

‘Where do you think the retextured protein, available to those on the lowest of incomes, is derived from? Like I said—an appropriate prescription for anti-depressants is far more conducive to cost effectiveness than supporting eighty-year-olds from the same socio economic bracket for a decade or so.’

Nobody spoke.

The only sound heard through the open window was birdsong.

And then the mewling of a new-born.

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