Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book Three 'Ghosts of the Past - Chapter Two - The Conservative Candidate for Warden of Wessex

Whilst I am away in Turkey for a fortnight sunning my pale form beneath azure skies I thought you might like to read another chapter from the forthcoming book three.

The Tory Representative for Warden of Wessex

The gathering of power brokers, the makers and shapers of Albion’s Conservative party members sat in resplendent luxury. The location was London’s famed restaurant Rules which has stood, in splendid reserve, in Convent Gardens these many years. In a well appointed, large private room the elite of the parties’ greats waited for the arrival of Rupert Snatch-Kiss, their prospective candidate of choice in the forthcoming regional elections. Baroness Formara Frontbottom sat plump and cushioned like a well basted dumpling floating on a seasoned stew, she was idly chatting with Sir Hubert Humpalot who was garnished in a prim suit of deepest blue, pristine white shirt with a matching blue, spotted, neck tie; he looked every bit the Tory lynchpin which of course he was. Silent on sofa of plush burgundy leather, slight of frame with hawkish features, sitting like some peeled, sautéed vegetable was Regus Nasaltwist, the Tory chief whip whose tongue had been known to flay the ears off of the keenest of back benchers. His eyes flitted from one of his erstwhile colleagues to another, furtive glances that assessed, assimilated and analysed the gathered hoi poly of Tory wealth.

A trio of neatly trimmed, well preserved relics, all ex-Wardens of Wessex, stood engaged in the hubble, bubble, the froth and boil of their conversation like sprouts in a saucepan, heads bobbing in nodded agreements, grins polished and presented at the appropriate time. The three, sipping their amontillado Sherry’s, were oblivious to anyone else apart from themselves. One of the group, a balding grey beard whose goatee gave him a rakish air, was holding court while the other two, a short man with an obvious wig attached to his head in a precarious fashion, laughed along while his stout friend, rummaging around in his trouser pocket for lose change or shifting genitallia, followed suit. These robust gentlemen were the proud predecessors to the current Whig Warden and they, like their comrades, were keen to see the long standing tradition of having a Tory as Warden re-established. Holden Fast, the one with the goatee, had held office during the glory days of the nineties while the other two, Benjamin. D. Over and Dryden Nobrot had, between them, run the region throughout the eighties. All three despised the current incumbent, Lucinda Head, who, not only a Whig but also a modern day suffragette, was fond of baiting the opposition with her constant jibes of male Tory ineptitude.

To one side of the room a table lay dressed in a plain white cloth that draped from its edges with a refined, pristine air. Upon its top were presented a single ships decanter filled with port, another, half emptied now but of a similar historical vintage, stood the amontillado glistening in the light. There was also a jug of water, a bottle of unopened malt some thirty years old and a series of white sandwich plates covered in an assortment of varied nibbles. Behind the table a painting hung in pride of place, a portrait of The Queen painted by Egon Upperhill in the year of her majesty’s coronation, nineteen fifty three. The Queen looked both beautiful and unbelievably young but with a practised composure. To the side of the portrait a large floor to ceiling bookcase revealed its distinguished volumes: Shakespeare, Voltaire, Tolstoy, Dickens, Camus, Wordsworth, Mallory, Greene and a selection of autobiographies by distinguished Tory leaders: Arthur Wellesley – The Duke of Wellington, Benjamin Disraeli, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Arthur Balfour, Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and the current Tory leader Kenneth Clarke.
The books stood with a composed elegance, testaments to the craft and ingenuity of human endeavours in all their myriad ways.

Away from the book shelf, in a discrete alcove, another painting hung; a sombre, imposing portrait of Robert Banks Jenkinson who served as Tory Prime Minister from eighteen twelve until eighteen twenty seven, a staggering fifteen years as the countries leader. The man so many male Tories hoped to emulate. Slightly below the portrait a candle stick burned. Held fast by an antique candlestick holder an orange flame danced casting odd shapes and shadows over the imposing features of histories longest serving prime minister.

Sir Hubert Humpalot, a sanguine gentleman with a softly spoken voice and a hard as iron resolve listened attentively as Baroness Formara Frontbottom vented her spleen on the ills of modern society which, in the good ladies opinion, was all to do with the woolly headed nonsense espoused by the foul Whigs.

“If I have to listen one more time to yet another speech from That Idiot on how we all need to adopt a cerebral, caring attitude with regard to immigration, I think I will either shoot the man myself or, if not, then leave this country altogether. I appreciate that having émigrés join Albion society benefits us all but not if it is without control. We simply cannot allow just anyone to enter these shores. They should all want to be here, to be a part of English society, to embrace our culture, speak our language, and commit to being English. Do you know that hordes of Chinese make daily pleas for sanctuary? I hold nothing against the Chinese or any race for that matter but we are only a small set of islands with a limited amount of space. There simply isn’t room enough for all who cry sanctuary to take up residence here. I have every sympathy for those poor souls who are desperate to leave the foul totalitarian state of Imperial China but surely we don’t have to let each and everyone of them live here do we?”

The mention of The Man was a reference to the current Prime Minister and leader of the Whigs, Andrew Flair, a social liberal by heart but one whose sheer exuberance and toothy smile grated on every Tories soul like sandpaper dragged across a molar. This liberality however, was his political weakness and one exploited by every Conservative at every given opportunity and especially by Kenneth Clarke who attacked, with rapier thrusts the volume of Chinese asylum seekers now resident in Albion. Not that the opposition leader didn’t feel sympathy for the refugees who ran in fear from the tyrant dictatorship but, as he said, ‘for fear of looking the pragmatist while forever seeking to be seen as a knight in glossy armour, the right honourable gentleman is guilty of allowing every Tom, Dick or Harry to settle here carte blanche. Due consideration should be taken not only for the refugees who turn to us for help but also to the residents of these islands who have to make room for them. Albion is but one country in a globe filled with countries each of who are able to assist and give shelter to the supplicant sanctuary seekers. I enjoin the right honourable gentleman not to open our doors to any such individual but to engage our neighbours to take their share.’

There was a round of tumultuous applause from the opposition benches accompanied by one or two ‘here, here’s’. The government bench rose in a clamour of disapproving hisses and boos which was followed by, once the rambunctious noise abated, a robust rebuff from the PM.

‘Is it not a part of this nations proud history to welcome those who seek not only refuge, not only asylum but also a place to call home? Should we be so singularly callous and cold hearted with those who desire to live here, thereby benefiting this nations dwindling finances, to refuse them entry. I find it not at all inconceivable that the right honourable gentleman has ice for blood and a heart of pure mathematics for he certainly has questionable morals. Isn’t it time he looked for viable solutions for his ailing party, for a set of principled arguments to add to his blank, negligently empty and vacuous manifesto?’

The ways of politics are forever a vaudeville as played out by actors who clamour the passing glare of wavering popular opinion. They use the fears and phobias of the common man to best enhance their aims and objectives. Andrew Flair has no better morals than Kenneth Clarke, his political persuasions are not diametrically opposed to those held by the leader of the opposition but, as with all things that involve human beings, the ego, closely followed by pride, is an overwhelming factor and plagues even the mightiest of political brains.

As Sir Hubert Humpalot engaged Baroness Formara Frontbottom in frank conversation the door to the room silently opened revealing Miles Winkletip, rising star in the Tory firmament, standing to one side to allow access for Rupert Snatch-Kiss, industrialist and target of the Conservative parties affections, to pass through into the room.

Winkletip was a celery stick of a man with a strewn mass of roughage for hair, criminally long, tapered fingers with a nose that flew down his face to crash into his equally sharp chin.

“Have you ever been to Rules before Rupert?”

“I have dined here many times but I have never had the privilege of visiting the private function rooms before.”

“They are quite magnificent you know. This one was donated to us by Henry Fitzwaggle, the eighteenth Earl of Mercia. He left it to us in his will. Splendid fellow, used to shoot trespassers on his land with his great grandfathers blunderbuss; portly soul, Henry Fitzwaggle that is and not his dear old great grandfather, used to sit over there in that leather chair sucking on a meerschaum. Wonderful character. You don’t see many like that any more.”

all words and art are copyright © of C.J. Duffy.

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