‘Where is the sign-board?’
‘Which sign-board?’ Peirene looks at me with big, round, innocent eyes.
‘The one the Liberal Democrats fastened to the gatepost in our front garden yesterday.’
‘I didn’t see anything out there. You must have dreamt it.’ The Nymph blushes. She’s never been a good liar.
‘Peirene! You’ve taken it down, haven’t you?’
‘Well… I didn’t think we really needed it.’ She averts my eyes.
I shake my head. ‘You know that I’ve joined the Liberal Democrats. They are the only reasonable party left in this country. And I will vote for them in the General Election on the 8th of June.’
‘I agree. But-’ The Nymph now looks me straight into the eyes. ‘But our political opinions are our private matters. After all, we are running a business. We are trying to sell books and don’t want to alienate any customers.’
‘The business we are running is not any old business. We deal in stories and the imagination. We are part of the industry that shapes people’s ideas and dreams. A huge responsibility. And I think it is therefore our duty to be clear when something causes harm. And Brexit causes harm. Not just for the economy and the social landscape, but also our minds. Closing borders, retreating to one’s island, cutting off the rest of the world has never led to good. And the only party that has been anti-Brexit from the beginning are the Liberal Democrats.’
For a moment, Peirene is silent. ‘You are right.’ She nods. ‘For once,’ she adds quickly.
‘So where is the sign-board?’ I’m keen to put it back up.
‘I…I,’ The Nymph stutters. ‘I burnt it in the woodburner. It was so cold last night so I made a little fire.’
I sigh. ‘I guess you have to call the Lib Dem office and ask for a new board then.’ Peirene hangs her head, about to leave the room, when I suddenly have an idea. ‘And since you now owe me,’ a little wicked smile plays around the corners of my mouth, ‘you will help me putting Lib Dem flyers through letterboxes tonight.’
An expression of horror flashes across Peirene’s face. ‘But I’m scared of dogs. And some bark when you put leaflets through the letterbox.’
I shrug my shoulders. ‘Occupational hazard.’
By the time I go to bed, Peirene is back in my good books. She has sorted the sign-board and has distributed leaflets for two hours. Although, she did take a couple of hours off work in the afternoon in order to buy herself extra thick gloves that she wore as a precaution in case a dog tried to nip her hand through the letter box. Luckily the dogs in our neighbourhood proved themselves pro-Europe and behaved themselves beautifully.
By Meike Ziervogel
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 8 May 2017.
The views expressed in Meike Ziervogel’s blog are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the European Literature Network.