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By Josh Lanyon

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Babes was first in line to affirm autonomy and fidelity and freedom of information. Over and over, in public, Babes has declared how important it is to analyse what women do. Babes has always been an expert witness when it comes to assessing who failed and who succeeded. Ria takes no notice of what Babes says. Ria believes in ordinary life. In the piecemeal of the daily round, therefore, we do what everyone else does: we meet in restaurants, go to movies, swan in and out of pubs and clubs, sit in meetings, talk on the phone.

Annie and Sal were horrified. We all had fantasies, they counselled. It was good not to bottle things up. It was good to voice one’s pain and anger. But in the real world . . I didn’t mind their reaction. It was a new idea for them, and in any case they hadn’t spent as much time as I had contemplating Babes. They weren’t as aware that Babes’ demands and desires were bottomless. That since she couldn’t or wouldn’t put brakes on herself, someone else would have to do it for her. Spending time with Annie and Sal took some of the pressure off Sybil.

And because my memory is as volatile as anyone’s, I’m never quite sure whether I thought of it in a flash of rage, or whether it came in a sequence of clean and frozen sentences. I have the memory in both modes: sometimes the burn of hatred, other times the paragraphs of calculation. Babes is not a nice woman, by any standards. But I’m not a psychopath. I know well enough that being a first class bitch doesn’t, among sane people, incur the death penalty. According to convention, Babes doesn’t deserve to die.

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