PRISSY had not intended to keep her promise to visit Matt O'Gridley at the homeless shelter, but now she thought it might impress Allan Plastic, who spends his time helping the less well-off. Accordingly, she donned her oldest SIHT-brand tracksuit, and headed for Bellend House.
* * *
Matt is obviously grateful to have someone to talk to. In fact, he is grateful that someone will actually listen to him. He tells Prissy all of his woes – how he was divorced, how his wife got the children and how he used up all his money on legal fees, in a fruitless attempt to get contact with his children.
Prissy is soon left regretting that she changed her mind.
Becoming quite agitated, Matt points at a plastic bag full of papers on his bed. "See that?" He asks, in a raised voice.
Prissy recognises the bag that Matt had been clutching when she met him in the street, although she hadn’t thought much of it at the time. "What is it?" She asks, not really wanting to know.
"That's all the court papers and solicitors' letters from my contact case." Says Matt, his voice rising still further.
"Oh." Says Prissy, trying to sound interested.
Undeterred, Matt carries on with his monologue. "Bloody solicitors." He says. "And the worst one of all is that leech who acted for my wife, Edgar Venal." The mention of that name causes his face to blush purple with rage.
Prissy recognises the name, but says nothing. She is thinking how she might make her exit. She looks around the room, and spies what looks suspiciously like a Batman outfit draped over a chair.
"That bastard made sure I wouldn't see my Kids!" Continues Matt. "Him and all the other family lawyers - they're all part of a conspiracy against fathers!" He shrieks.
Prissy finds herself sympathising with Matt's ex-wife. She starts to edge towards the door, but Matt closes her escape route.
"And the judges are all in it too!" Screams Matt. "And the social workers, and Cafcass and the whole f-ing lot of them! They're all child traffickers!"
For a moment, Prissy wants to disagree with what Matt is saying, but then thinks better of it.
"Secret courts, lawyers only in it for the money - the whole system is corrupt!" Yells Matt.
Someone bangs on the wall. A muffled voice tells Matt to keep the noise down.
Matt ignores the warning. "Bigots, the lot of them!" He screams. "Asset stripping families for financial gain. It makes me sick!"
Prissy realises that the man is obviously completely mad. She desperately wants to get away.
Her prayers are answered when there is a loud knock on the door, and a man enters the room. It is the shelter manager. "What's going on here?" He asks firmly.
"N-nothing." Stammers Matt, anxious not to be thrown out.
The manager looks at Prissy. He can see that she is distressed, and asks if she is all right. She considers making a complaint against Matt, but decides against it. She is just glad to leave.
As she does, she hears the manager talking to Matt. "I've had enough of you, with all your ranting. You're upsetting everyone else here. Any more trouble, and you're out!" He says.
Quite mad, thinks Prissy.