Jonathan Lee & Belinda McKeon Discuss the Bombing of the Grand Hotel and Broaching the Unimaginable

by Belinda McKeon

Jonathan Lee’s third novel High Dive, just published by Knopf, is a gutsy and compelling portrait– imagined, projected, but coming across, for all that, as utterly real– of the people at the center of a 1984 bombing by the Irish Republican Army. The blast targeted the Grand Hotel, Brighton, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the annual Conservative Party conference. Thatcher (commonly known as “the Lady”) escaped injury, but five people, including party members and their spouses, were killed, and many more were severely injured. Lee’s cast of characters includes the bomber, a young Belfast man calling himself Roy Walsh (a true pseudonym used in the bombing), as well as the hotel manager, a skittish middle-aged man nicknamed Moose, and his late-teenage daughter Freya, who has been working with him at the Grand since finishing school. Lee, whose first novel Who is Mr Satoshi? was nominated for the 2011 Desmond Elliot Prize, and who was shortlisted for the Encore Award for his second, Joy (2013), is originally from Surrey, in the South East of England, but has lived in Brooklyn for the past four years. A former editor at A Public Space, he is now senior editor at Catapult Books, and has published writing in Tin House, Granta, Narrative and elsewhere. Reviewing High Dive in the Washington Post earlier this month, Jon Michaud praised it as a “beautifully realized novel about the intertwining of loyalty, family, ambition and politics,” drawing attention to Lee’s “exquisitely rendered set-pieces.” As many of High Dive’s readers will do, Michaud found himself wondering about Lee’s characters after he had closed the book; the shattered section of the Grand Hotel has long since been rebuilt, but its story’s echo carries on. Jonathan Lee and I spoke by email.

Belinda McKeon: High Dive takes a real event, which had real consequences, and vividly imagines itself into (to borrow a phrase from your acknowledgements) “the gaps” in what is known– and can be known –about that event. In doing so, it causes imagined lives to become startlingly, almost painfully real to the reader. Of course, novelists take historical events as a (pardon the pun) springboard for their fictions all the time; in some ways, it’s no different to imagining a world “from scratch.” But your notion of “the gaps” and of, in fact (looking again at your phrasing), having to imagine yourself into them, fascinates me. Could you talk a little bit more about how this approach evolved?

Jonathan Lee: I think imagining ourselves into gaps in the known facts is what most writers do each day. We try to find a richness in what is absent, don’t you think? We try to use our imaginations to lean in and pull back the verifiable skin of things– the parts everyone, anyone, can see and think are true. All of which sounds very pretentious, I know, but I think it’s true– good writing is drawn to the spaces between people, and the spaces between the things they are saying or doing, and is looking always for the emotional truth. That’s just as true of memoir and biography. I’m not sure there’s any such thing as “non-fiction.” If you’re going to shape a story, and select the details to emphasize or elide, and choose the angle from which the reader sees events, then you’re in the territory of fictioneering, and maybe you ought to confess with those shameful words “A Novel” on your book-jacket…I’m only half-serious– there is of course a whole spectrum of non-fiction books– but when you read on page 80 of a memoir about a specific smile or glance across a room in 1967, that is a fiction– one made by the writer’s memory. Even Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, a work of monumental factual research begins– it’s in the first line, if I remember right– with the captain of a Yale swimming team standing by a pool, “still dripping after his laps”. That “still dripping” is fiction– an essential one that brings the long-gone moment alive.

BMcK: But you know, that idea of imagining yourself into the gaps becomes more interesting the more I think about it. It seems to me to get at something fundamental, and very tricky, in the act of writing and imagining. My interpretation of it is this: that it’s much less a matter of putting yourself in your characters’ shoes, than an attempt to prise the self — the thinking, seeing, writing self– into a place in which it can’t possibly have been (in 1984, for instance, you were a three-year-old in Surrey). But it’s also perhaps an attempt to create an alternative version of the writing self: a self in possession of this story. It’s a phrase which brings up so many questions about the writing process, about the frustrations of coming up against our own limitations as writers, and of pushing past them anyway. To imagine yourself into the gaps: what does that bring up for you now that the job is done?

JL: I guess the phrase “imagine myself into the gaps” is strange in the way it pushes forward that “myself.” But I think you’re right– we’re not talking about the ‘myself’ who pours cold milk onto cornflakes each morning and somehow manages to knock over all the little bottles in the shower. We’re talking about a writing self, the part of me that wants to witness. Most of the time I’m really tied up with the business of being me, and that myopia most of us share is very much a subject of High Dive, but when you or I are writing we’re moving into other bodies, I think. When Flannery O’Connor says “writing is a terrible experience during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay,” I think, beneath the obvious semi-comic reflection on writerly anxiety, she’s saying that we take on different teeth and we wear different hair when we write. We become a sort of dead man or dead woman walking in the gaps between things. We do that until, as you put it, “the job is done,” at which point I think, thank fuck that’s over, but also, God, I miss those people. I’m left at the end of writing a novel with just my milk and cornflakes and toppling shower bottles again– what is even in all these fucking bottles?– and uncomfortable questions, held in suspension during the actual writing, suddenly start to rush in. Questions like who owns a given story, and whether anyone can ever own a given story, and whether I had the right to write what I wrote. During the actual writing of High Dive, there was surprisingly little of that thinking and that doubt. I was just led every morning by my ethos of what the book should seek to do, and hoped I was right to trust that ethos.

BMcK: And what was that ethos?

That’s all it was. To look at the everydayness and not blink…

JL: That ethos was to stare very intently at the details of the daily lives of the characters, however small, and see what came of that. That’s all it was. To look at the everydayness and not blink, and not give in to the temptation to conform to certain narrative or structural conventions by looking for unity or neatness of heightened drama for the sake of heightened drama. The only place I allowed myself a little heightened drama, I think, was the first chapter.

BMcK: That’s the chapter, set in 1978, in which the eighteen-year-old Dan undergoes his initiation into the IRA. “Should he be asking more questions?” he worries. “Showing more initiative?” And he notes that the two older men who have brought him to this field over the border are talking amongst themselves, seeming to pay him no attention, “which had to be a good thing. In his days of reading the pulps he never hankered after flight or the ability to cling to buildings. Invisibility was the most precious of the superpowers.”

JL: I saw that section as being a place of momentum, a launching point, that might enable the rest of the book to take place in mid-air, which is where I wanted it to be, and where I think most of us are for most of our lives. I felt like my main responsibility as the writer of this book was to try and capture lived experience on the page– the kind of ordinary lived experience that does not find its way into the history books, but which might be exactly the precious thing that is lost in a bombing.

For a long while I had a Catherine O’Flynn book on my writing desk: What Was Lost. It’s a great book, but I had it there mostly for the title, as a question to remember to keep asking myself. I wanted High Dive to be human, that’s all. Hardly any disaster narratives are human, are they? They’re about forming archetypes– the draining away of human foible and difference– and categorization: perpetrator, witness, victim. It’s about who’s the hero and who’s the bad guy, which is exactly the kind of binary thinking that terror or prejudice might thrive within. The work of someone like Edgar Doctorow takes us inside history, inside human history, asking us to imagine ourselves into another self, and that has to be a beautiful thing — even when, or especially when, it’s uncomfortable. Doctorow’s best books actually make us better people, I think. Not through ramming simplistic moral lessons down our throats, not through pretending to have any answers, but purely in the way they make us travel into other skins and stretch our powers of relation to other people.

BMcK: Speaking of stretching our powers of relation: while much imagining was necessary with High Dive, you had to research this book also. That’s obvious from the details, not just of bomb-making and of the internecine tensions within a terrorist organization and in a Belfast community at the time, but of “smaller” things– the feel of this British tourist town in the early 1980s, the texture of what it would be like to be Freya, a young woman, at this time. Adam Johnson, talking about his North Korea novel The Orphan Master’s Son, said that the research involved caused him to change his thinking on narrative altogether– on the question of whether or how characters can be expected, within a narrative arc, to behave. Life in North Korea simply didn’t follow narrative rules. Did you find that what research you carried out caused your work in progress to shift in shape and in terms of its own narrative possibilities?

JL: I hadn’t heard that Adam Johnson observation before — that’s interesting. Certainly one thing I noticed when researching the bombing of the Grand Hotel in ’84 and the period around it was that, basically, nothing made sense. There were all these holes in the stories. There were all these versions not just of the bombing itself but of every aspect of every story relating to the bombing. Perhaps that’s why there hasn’t been a full non-fiction book about the bombing — you’d have to make nearly all of it up, or else you’d have to rely on the partial and presumably compromised accounts of one or two of the key players. What I found during research was that if someone testified that they saw a strange guest in the hotel bar at a given time, another would testify there was no-one strange in the bar that night, and a third person would say that in fact the hotel bar wasn’t even open at that time, and then a fourth person would say of the third or second person, “Hang on, you weren’t even at work that day. You were sick.” So in the writing I tried to capture some of the ways in which, in history, different fictions are competing to try to tell the same story, and trying and failing at coherence. That’s probably in my last novel, Joy, too — a kind of training ground for this one. In that novel, everyone in an office has a different account of what happened to a woman who worked there and who appears to have committed suicide. Hopefully uncertainty is there in the structure of High Dive — in the rotating close third person perspectives, the twists and somersaults, the washing forward and washing backward in time, the moving between Belfast and Brighton. I like that Robert Frost poem “The Silken Tent.” Whenever I got myself in a mess over structure, I read that poem and told myself, rather grandly, that the book had to be solid but also had to sway.

BMcK: I mentioned in my first question that High Dive is “about” a real event– with about very much in quotation marks there– which had real consequences. Although your story does not imagine itself forward to the consequences, one of its achievements is that those consequences powerfully loom over the narrative also. It’s as though in imagining the lead-up to the 1984 bombing of the Brighton Hotel by the IRA, as well as the night itself, you’ve created a sort of shadow-narrative of consequence, of the after-life (or not, as it may be) of these characters and their world. Tomorrow, there would be water creeping onto Brighton Beach, thinks one of your characters close to the end of the novel, and October 13th, 1984– and all the days which come after –are somehow written into the spaces between the lines detailing the days which do exist in the story. In creating a reality for our characters, do you think we inevitably create for them a future also? Or is that thinking about narrative possibility which is as ornate and dated than the balconies of the Grand Hotel (no offense, Grand Hotel)?

JL: That’s a thought, isn’t it? I like that we’re talking about thinking ourselves into spaces again…At one point I was going back and forth with Knopf about how much white space they’d allow me to keep between paragraph breaks and between sections of the novel. I just wanted double the normal white space in the section breaks, I think, and they were very patient, and the nice production people helped generate a little more space. I kept thinking in a slightly mad way that those white spaces were where the reader, after being bathed in this crazed accumulation of tiny detail that comprises the book, would finally be able to breathe and — best case scenario — exist within the architecture of the story. The novel as a hotel, you might be tempted to say.

The truth is, I don’t know if the characters have futures after the final page, but I do think the white space in any book provides the possibility of future. I think and hope Freya has an ongoing life, and we know the hotel does. It was built in 1864 by John Whichcord Jr.. It was exploded by the IRA in 1984. It was reopened in August of ’86, with Margaret Thatcher presiding over the ceremony, and Concorde flying low from the south in salute. Half the businessmen who stay there now would have no idea, were it not for a newspaper page framed and hung near the bathrooms downstairs, that a bombing had happened there at all. In the spring of 2012 I spent some time at The Grand, wandering around, talking to staff, being shown into the room Thatcher stayed in and nearly died in, walking down the corridor the bombers would have walked down, and the biggest thing I took away was this sense of forward motion in hotel life — for every departure, there’s a fresh arrival. There’s a hope in that if you look hard enough. The proliferation of strangers and their stories and the fact you’ll never know all those stories. Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project, which I think of as another assassination narrative, is a wonderful exploration of that idea.

BMcK: Going back to beginnings: how did the seed of this novel plant itself in your mind? What drew you to writing about this time in British and Irish history, and to the IRA campaign? How were the Troubles, or the threat of sectarian violence, present in your own life as a kid growing up in Britain?

JL: They weren’t present in any meaningful or tragic way. But one of the stronger memories I have of being a teenager in Britain were these moments where I was allowed to travel into central London on the train — I grew up in the suburbs — in pursuit of underage drinking. I’d be 14 or 15 and my parents would turn a blind eye to me taking my fake ID into London to celebrate a friend’s birthday in a bad bar or club. I think they were probably worried that I spent too much time at home drawing pictures of strange faces and they just wanted me out of the house. And the only thing that really panicked my parents about these trips I’d take to London at weekends was, I think, the idea I might end up on a night out in Soho — that particular part of London — because there had been so many bomb threats there. In ’92 there had been a particular IRA bomb that exploded in a pub in Covent Garden that had caused real damage. And for my parents’ generation it must have brought back memories of the 70s pub bomb attacks in Guildford and Birmingham and many towns and cities in England. I was visiting a London where there were no trash cans on the streets, and where everything felt like it was on high terrorist alert for much of the time.

“Unimaginable tragedy,” people say, but it’s not unimaginable. You could argue that we need very much to imagine it.

Much later, on July 7, 2005, when I was working as a trainee lawyer for a firm in London and a bus exploded a few hundred yards from my flat, not a single news item seemed to recall England’s history with the IRA. I thought back to my teenage years. The lack of connection people were making seemed really strange. The message was that England was under siege by terrorists for the first time in modern history. It was as if there had been this collective forgetting of the attacks by the IRA on English soil, and the attacks by the English and their loyalists on Irish soil, or as if we were saying “Oh, The Troubles were completely different, that was all a civilized white person war.” It stayed with me, that sense of erasure, the keenness people have to put events and perpetrators in little boxes and not to make links or seeking to make links. This idea that a white man who plants a bomb must have a completely different set of preoccupations to a Muslim man who plants a bomb. It was strange to me. Both types of perpetrator, in their own periods of history, have been reduced to the status of “animals” in the western press, which of course is a vocabulary that relieves us of any obligation to try and understand why they did what they did. “Unimaginable tragedy,” people say, but it’s not unimaginable. You could argue that we need very much to imagine it. And if someone doesn’t wish to imagine it, it’s very easy to simply not read the book. That’s the great thing about books. People, as we speak, are not reading them, everywhere…

BMcK: With a novel which deals in relatively recent history like this one, the afterlife of the story could also be said to be also unpredictable, because the narrative will inevitably be taken up and disputed or complicated by those who were involved or felt deeply affected by the actual event. I’ve worried about this with a sub-plot about the Troubles in a novel of my own recently. I wonder whether you had, while writing the novel, (or acquired after finishing it) a similar awareness, of picking up a thread which is for so many people still very much a live and painful wire?

But what perspective are we waiting for, exactly? Are we avoiding the subject because of our compassion for others, or because we don’t want to unsettle ourselves?

JL: Yes, I was very conscious of that– had similar worries to you –and I asked myself many times whether I was doing the right thing by writing this book. A lot of people have said to me, understandably, “Why couldn’t you have waited fifteen or twenty years to write this book — waited until the dust has settled?” And I don’t have a good answer to that. All I have in return is another question — the question of what value lies in allowing recent history to be the most invisible history of all? We tell ourselves it’s too early to gain a perspective on a bombing like this. We don’t learn about the Troubles in schools in England. But what perspective are we waiting for, exactly? Are we avoiding the subject because of our compassion for others, or because we don’t want to unsettle ourselves? I would rather write about important things I don’t fully understand than unimportant things I do fully understand. I can’t see the point of the latter. And I don’t see it as an altruistic or noble impulse on my part — it’s just that I can’t spend years writing about something unless I’m curious about it.

I know there are many people who disagree with my approach, and who are particularly offended by the idea of me having placed fictional characters in this story. The question, I suppose, is whether it would have been more appropriate to use, and therefore inevitably distort, real lives. Would that have been better? To put thoughts in the head of a real manager of The Grand? I don’t know. If someone is uncomfortable with both options– fiction told through invented characters, and fiction told through real ones –then the only conclusion is that writing fiction about a tragedy in 1984 is simply off-limits. I struggle to get behind that idea.

BMcK: To talk about characters more directly: Dan is an exceptionally well-realized character, and I think that’s the case because you don’t push too hard at the idea of his inner conflict over what he is doing; for the most part, we see, rather, the ways in which that inner conflict is shaping, and destroying, the things around Dan: his home life with his mother; their back garden, which becomes infected with knotweed; his relationship with his boss, Dawson; the way he orients himself towards women, including Freya and a stranger in a bar. In fact, Dawson and the other volunteers aside, many of Dan’s interactions in the novel are with women, women from whom he’s trying to hide himself in one way or another– from his mother and her suspicions just as much as from Freya, to whom he must lie in order to get access to the vital hotel room. Why do you think this is? What is it about this character, and his situation, that pushed him, in your creation of him, so much towards these blighted encounters with women? Of course the central event of the novel could be said to be a blighted encounter with a woman– or A Lady –too.

JL: Well, that’s a new one! I hadn’t thought about the book in terms of blighted encounters with women, but now you mention it I see how the novel might be structured around those encounters. There definitely seems to be this stuff in the book about men trying to win the adoration of women, to be accommodated by women, and since the history of England and Ireland in the 80s is a history of arrogant men making terrible mistakes on all sides, and one woman — Mrs. Thatcher — having to mimic these men and their mistakes in order to be taken seriously as a politician — well, it makes sense to me that somehow the book is also about men trying to impress women. That is something a lot of men are trying to do a lot of the time — myself included, sadly.

BMcK: Ah, you’re too hard on yourself.

JL: I only said it to impress you.

BMcK: But what of of poor Moose? He’s distressingly attuned to every detail, to every possible failure, not just as a neurotic hotel manager (there’s a comedy in that, a touch of the Fawlty almost– take it as a compliment) but as a single father, to Freya. His anxiety and its consequences comprise a sort of second pulse against the escalating tension of the novel’s larger, much more apparent narrative. Why do you think you imposed that fate upon him– the heart attack, the debilitation it brings about even before he is betrayed and perhaps emasculated in a much more devastating way? He’s a British man in his mid-forties at this time in British history. He’s the opposite of the stiff upper lip, too.

JL: I guess you’re right, his lip isn’t stiff, but in some ways he is pretty stoic. One thing about Moose is that his personal history, for most of his life, has followed the pattern of England’s public history. He grew up in this time of austerity, entered a period of seemingly limitless possibility, and then in his mid-twenties — the mid-1960s — he starts to drift into this period of isolation around the time when the British economy was failing and Charles de Gaulle was vetoing British attempts at membership of the EEC, so the country itself was isolated. At the end of that period of isolation, you might say Moose’s personal history finally starts finally to depart from the history of the country. We’re suddenly in the 1980s. Everyone, especially the guests at his hotel, seem to be bathed in crazed wealth and hurtling toward their dreams. He looks around and starts to come to terms with the list of things that are now impossible for him.

As for his failing health in the book, I don’t really feel like I imposed a fate on him. I know it sounds weird, but I just had these pains in my left arm one day when I was writing. Needless to say, it wasn’t a sign of an oncoming heart attack, it was just that I’d been sat in the same position, writing, for several hours. But I realized in that instant, or thought I did, that the pains were really his pains, that a kind of transference might have occurred — that he was trying to tell me he wasn’t well. Also: I thought of Moose sometimes as being this Tommy Cooper-like figure. He’s a performer. And of course Tommy Cooper, the British comedian and magician, died in 1984, on stage, midway through one of his performances, in front of millions of television viewers. The audience thought it was a joke, just as the audience for my novel mostly thinks Moose is a joke. The comedy in High Dive is essential, I like to hope, because again it connects to this question of what was lost. There is no laughter possible after the terror event. The world will become less rich, less nuanced, when we reach that page.

BMcK: Freya is wonderfully done, too– and rendered with great nuance. We see her preoccupations, the preoccupations of a young woman on the brink of adulthood, living in a small town and almost burdened by her own intelligence and her own possibilities (because she struggles with how to match them up to what life has given her, and to her immense feeling of responsibility towards her father). You depict the small things of her life, which are in fact not small things at all, with such intensity and care– her awkward and indeed hurtful friendships, her boredom in the hotel job, her love, which is so complicated by guilt and by her own unmet needs, for Moose. The unfolding of her relationship with Surfer John, a young colleague who is one long shrug and very clearly beneath her, is a gloomy aria to ordinary frustrations, ordinary anxieties (again, anxiety is so well depicted here) and fears. How did you decide on the balance between this telling– of Freya and her life –and the telling of Dan’s story, the darker, but no less confusing, vicissitudes and frustrations of what life has handed to this second young character?

JL: I didn’t really aim for a balance, or even desire it. But if there is some relationship between the Brighton and Belfast parts of the novel, other than the linking event of the bombing, I guess it’s in these little accidental mirrorings that happened during the writing and which seemed productive enough to keep. For example, the fact that Dan is dealing with a single parent, and Moose is too, and Freya is too … Those sorts of things crept in without me noticing, which seems implausible but is true. What’s that thing Joy Williams says about the writer becoming a husk? I like her idea that the writer is really the fool of any novel, the Tommy Cooper, so engaged in his disengagement, so self-conscious and eager to serve the greater thing, which is the performance — the writing. I guess you have to be dumb enough, as a writer, to stumble into things in the dark. Dumbness is a really underrated quality in a writer. My writing advice is: let’s be more dumb. And that’s probably why no-one’s ever invited me to teach on an MFA program …

BMcK: The novel’s epigraph comes from Milosz: how difficult it is to remain just one person/ for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, / and invisible guests come in and out at will. It inevitably calls to mind the very idea of a hotel, a place through which people who are strangers to one another, who, if they glimpse one another at all, will imagine and misattribute lives and qualities for and to one another, and yet who will have impacts both minuscule and profound on the quality of one another’s experience in that place…in other words, a kind of novel. I don’t have any question per se on this subject, but I suppose I’d like to hear about why you were drawn towards this epigraph, and what it means for you. Epigraphs in general fascinate me as a novelist. What are we trying, or what do we hope, to do with them? Do we want them to set the tone, to validate us, to back us up? They’re important to me– but I sometimes wonder why. Is it a kind of name-dropping? A blurb from the dead?

JL: “A blurb from the dead” — that’s great. A few years ago, Andrew Tutt wrote an essay for The Millions in which he talked about epigraphs as “throat-clearing,” and I think what you say is also true — they’re a way of showing off a bit. I was hesitant to use a Milosz quote because I kept coming across other books that used Milosz quotes. But it felt so perfect. Of course, the “invisible guests” stuff has an obvious relevance to what happens in the hotel, but more interesting to me was the bit about how difficult it is to remain just one person, for we’re always open, even when we pretend to be closed. That idea struck me as beautiful and true and in a novel that broaches the subject of distance in all its forms, and the extent to which we will compromise our privacy for any public cause, it seemed relevant. The idea also that we’re different people at different times of our lives — that Philip Finch becomes “The Finch” at school, and then “Moose” during his diving days, and then “Phil” during his marriage, and then is defined by a badge on his lapel that anonymizes him as Deputy General Manager — and that the performance of these different selves gets exhausting, just as it costs an IRA man something great, one assumes or hopes, to walk into a hotel pretending to be someone else. I think my favorite epigraph in recent literature is from Joshua Ferris’ To Rise Again At A Decent Hour. It’s from Job 39:25 and the entire quote is “Ha, ha.” Laughter in the dark.

BMcK: You’re a novelist in exile, as those of us who happen to be living in a place other than the place in which we were born are so often– overdramatically –described. How does being “away,” if that’s how you think of it, make a difference to your writing? Or does it matter? Do you think you are preoccupied in any way, as a writer, with ideas of home and belonging? You’ve just written a whole novel, after all, set in a doomed hotel.

And writers, after all, are meant to be outsiders, don’t you think? Dumb lurkers looking into those gaps we keep talking about.

JL: All this talk of doomed hotels makes me want to go away and read Kevin Barry’s great short story “Fjord of Killary” again … I don’t feel I deserve the title of novelist in exile, but I know what you mean, and I guess it’s curious that I was struggling to make this novel work while living in the UK. Once I moved to New York in the summer of 2012, the book began very slowly to come together. There is some sense in which I might have needed to be away in order to permit my imagination to do the work. If I was still living in London, an hour’s train ride from Brighton, I think I might have just kept going back to the Grand Hotel, trying to accumulate more details, to do more and more research, witness more and more moments. And there comes a point when you have to be faithful to the moments you intuit instead of the moments you’re physically present for. There’s something useful, perhaps — when you’re writing a novel about not belonging, or about different types of borders, or the longing to feel safe in your own limited space — in being away from home. I agree with you totally on that. James Wood wrote an essay a while ago in the LRB about living in New York but thinking often of England, and I related to almost every line of that piece. A sense of dissociation can be useful when you’re writing a novel about disassociation. And writers, after all, are meant to be outsiders, don’t you think? Dumb lurkers looking into those gaps we keep talking about.

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