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Fernando Sdrigotti

Shaftesbury Avenue

Red Army Faction



Fernando Sdrigotti was born in Argentina and lives in London. He is the editor-in-chief of Minor Literature[s] and a contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine and Número Cinq. His first book Tríptico was published in 2008. Shetlag, una novela acentuada, his latest book, was released in 2014 by Araña Editorial, Valencia. He has a forthcoming collection of short stories in English called Dysfunctional London Males.





                                                                                                                                                   To Brendan, for reasons better left unsaid


One morning during spring I saw Brendan walking down Shaftesbury Avenue with an Asian girl. I wasn't sure if it was him at first, because he was hiding behind a pair of aviators. It was just an impression: this is Brendan walking down Shaftesbury Avenue with an Asian girl. That much I knew or thought I knew, which is more or less the same. It’s always like that with Brendan, he’s more an impression than a real entity. To be fair it didn’t even matter if the guy was or wasn’t Brendan. Or if the girl was a girl or not.


I caught up with them, heard his voice, clocked his Scottish accent. He looked my way but I don't think he saw me. At least I’m sure he never recognised me. He was off his head and had fresh shaving marks all over the place: skull, face, even on his arms. The girl was pulling a suitcase and had really thick ankles and I’d never seen her before. Both were smartly dressed but looked dirty. I guess I looked dirty too but I can’t remember now.


I gave them about ten metres, let them walk ahead, and then followed close pretending to be playing with my mobile phone. They were arguing in Thai or Chinese or some other language I can’t understand and they zigzagged all the way up to the corner with Charing Cross. Once there they waited for the lights to change, crossed, and walked into the bank on the other side. I rushed across the traffic, to the corner with that All Bar One that’s always full of wankers and waited. I found it hard to stay still; I guess I was gurning too. 


I tried to remember the last time I’d seen Brendan and I recalled spotting him on the telly once, dressed as a pig during a demo, beating the shit out of a fat student with a mohawk, in November 2010. Then I remembered being drunk with Brendan, working behind a bar, drinking cider from a mug at noon on a Sunday, years ago, when we used to work the bars together. And then this time I’d seen him hitch-hiking near Bristol ––  I was pretty sure it was Brendan that time, although I didn’t stop to pick him up, probably because of the incident with the fat kid with the mohawk. I couldn't remember when I’d last seen him. Things were all mixed up in my head and Brendan keeps popping up in strange places.


A few minutes later, the girl walked out with the suitcase: she was on the phone, moving her hands a lot. Then Brendan came out too. He passed her an envelope that she stuffed in her purse and then went back inside while she kept talking on the phone, shaking her thin arms about fuckknows what. Until she hailed a black cab, jumped in, and disappeared towards Piccadilly Circus.


Five minutes passed until Brendan came out again. He looked left and right and then left and right, this time faster. He seemed distressed and I felt sorry for him so I got my phone and called his number. The phone rang a few times and I thought the girl would pick up, but then I saw Brendan taking his hand to his back pocket and then to his ear. He answered.


"Who's this?" he asked.

I didn't reply the first time.

“WHO’S THIS?" he asked again.

"You've just got fucked over, haven't you?" I said and hung up.


Cars between us, a couple of buses, tourists –– he seemed confused, moving his head in all directions. He never saw me; he never does. He went back into the bank and must have been confused and angry, poor Brendan. He didn't come out again, not for some five or ten minutes or an hour. So at some point, I guess, I just turned around and walked all the way home. And I haven’t seen Brendan ever since or at least I think I haven’t seen him. And if I did I don’t remember.



I wake up around 8:30am when I hear a noise. I go to the window and I see Stanley weeding my front garden. He's got a large gardening bag and is pulling the weed with gloves with his back to my window, whistling a tune. I find the situation irritating –– I feel violated, and I hate everyone today, particularly the English. I go to the door, still wearing my trunks, and open. He turns around. 

          "What are you doing?" I ask. 

          "Oh, sorry! Did I wake you up?"


          "Sorry... I got carried away... I hope you don't mind!" he says. 

          "I actually do," I say and I automatically regret it because he's my landlord after all. I try to smile.

          "I'm really sorry.” He looks mortified.

          "I mean… You shouldn't have to do this for me. I don't pay attention to the garden –– I don’t care about it. You’re too busy to do this, Stanley,” I say failing to sound nice. 

          "Oh, I don't mind!" he says. "I like doing it. It gives me something to do…”

          "Well, if you like it, then help yourself!" I say. "Thanks."

          "My pleasure," he says.         

          "I'll go back to bed." 

          "I'll be quiet," he says. He’s in a good mood.




I stay in bed, rolling from one side to the other, checking my Twitter feed, reading the election results on my phone, feeling impotent and dirty. I stayed up until 2am last night, hoping that the Exit Poll was wrong. But it turns out that the poll was right and that the people in this pathetic grey island voted us –– again –– all the way back to feudal times.


Reading the results won't change anything, so I move on to Buzzfeed and complete a questionnaire to find out what organisation I would belong to if I were a terrorist. I get the RAF, because I’m young, fashion-aware, and full of resentment towards my previous generation and the bourgeoisie –– an idealist who wants to change the world according to my own whims, who wouldn’t doubt resorting to violence to achieve my aims; I love these quizzes. I post my results on Facebook and I also post a funny status update about catching a Tory redhanded pulling weed from my garden and how we should never trust or a Tory, because first it's the garden and then the NHS. And I feel a bit better. I always feel a bit better after bitching on social media. 


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