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Remember, Omarcik,” his father’s ghost said in the dream, peering at his son over the sugared rim of his drink, just as he’d said when they were finally given permission to move into their flat in Manchester when Omar was six, just as he’d done every night that Omar had been sober enough to dream since. “We are ordinary English family now. When the world turns the wrong way round, ordinary is the best defense. Nobody bothers an ordinary Englishblokeman. Nobody makes a file on him, nobody asks him who his business is, nobody tells him come with me and don’t make a fuss. If anybody bothers you, you just be so ordinary, evet?”
Omar stuck hard to his father’s rules. Englishblokeman became a kind of untouchable superhero in his head, a man so normal, nothing abnormal could ever touch him.
And for a long time, nothing did. Faster than a well-ordered queue, more powerful than a muttered tut, able to walk right by police officers without being harassed. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the fragile illusion of invulnerability inherent in being just like everyone else. No—it’s Englishblokeman.