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And Grace emerged from the fishmonger's bearing a fresh halibut wrapped in brown paper. "Hang on Flea", she said, releasing the fish with all the hurried rips and rustles of Christmas morning before testing its swing like a tennis racquet - and then using it to slap Flea's face resoundingly with that rapid left to right wrist movement of a billboard painter. A wicked grin now - offering no apology for metering out her violent slapstick reprimand. "Half your age", she said, hand on hip, "you've no business pinning the wings of youth in your trophy case", she told him with theatrical harshness, "false eyelashes don't sit well with false teeth on the nightstand". And Grace thought of David Bowie in 'The Hunger' - that sickening scene where he pulls the tiny dagger on a chain from his shirt-front and cuts the throat of the fresh-faced child playing her violin - sacrificing her youth just to delay a few years of his own accelerated vampire ageing. "No, don't think of it as ignoring each other then", Grace said, "but more testament to your mercy that you spared her" - the two of them stopping now to admire a Robin - shining, currant eyes fixed on them in fascination - almost tame in its tandem hops along the fence beside them - before taking flight to join its own kind in the treetops.

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