Picture credit – Hannah Tobin.
Another tale from The Strangled Ferret
The Referendum – The result
It was a typical Friday night in The Strangled Ferret. All the usual suspects were either present or on their way. The difference today was the date – 24th June 2016.
‘Two pints of Old Mouldy please Ben’ called George from his place by the fire that was now just a sad mound of ashes in the iron basket. His mate Jack had just walked in, late as usual.
‘Did you get caught in the traffic from Long Shorting again? asked Ben from behind the bar as he pulled on the old manual pump handle to fill the two mugs. It was warm cask ale, ‘none of this gas that settles out on top as a head that I can charge for,’ he thought gloomily.
‘No, it was Fred Giles getting his friesians back to his 5 acre after milking, right mess they left on the road. I can see the neighbourhood watch committee from that new housing estate kicking up a fuss about that. I hope they realise that lots of muck spreaders will be going through the estate soon as Fred clears out his silos and gets the fields ready for the spring flush. Just you sit there George, I’ll bring the drinks over, don’t trouble yourself to move,’ called Jack across the room.
‘OK then’, said George, impervious to sarcasm, as always.
Jack walked slowly over to their usual table, carefully balancing the two brimming pints. Ben didn’t dare to try to get any short measures past any of the eagle-eyed drinkers.
‘Cheers George,’ said Jack. ‘Have you heard the referendum result?’
‘Not yet, I’ve only just got back from the farm, I’ve been fencing all day.’
‘Where’s your sword then?’
‘The Brexiteers won. Who did you vote for?’ queried Jack, not expecting an answer. George was notoriously secretive – especially about his financial affairs.
‘I read through the arguments in the papers this last week and I thought both of them were very good so I voted for both of them.’
‘What are you talking about’? queried Jack incredulously.
‘I put a cross in each box. You see, that way, we can half come out of the EU and then negotiate our way back in again so getting a better deal. That’s what David Cameron should have done.’ explained George. The regulars started nodding, it was getting late, at this hour even George was starting to make sense.
‘Don’t you remember that we decided that there would be no politics talked about in here until the dust had settled on this referendum thing.’ called Ben from behind the bar, where he was busily slicing lemons, very thinly.
‘What do we talk about then?’ asked David from the post office stores. ‘How about football and how our glorious team got beaten by a team managed by a part time dentist.’
There was a gust of laughter followed by a silence as they all gloomily pondered the seriousness of the national situation. Who was there who would make a good England manager? David Cameron will soon be free, would he be any good? Could we put forward a petition to vote on a rerun of the game? What if Iceland started to play cricket? So many important questions to debate.
The door was suddenly flung open and in limped Lame Faulks. He addressed a startled Ben who nearly cut himself with his fine lemon slicing knife.
‘Sorry I’m late but I ran out of fuel on the M4. I meant to stop at a service area but couldn’t think of its name – I must have had a momentary lapse of Membury.’
‘I have an announcement to make, please turn the music off for a moment,’ said Lame as he stood, back to the bar, facing the room and took what he thought looked like a statesmanlike stance with his hands clutching his lapels. In truth he looked more like a speech day headmaster at some minor public school.
‘I intend to stand for prime minister,’ he declaimed. There were cheers and someone started clapping. Everyone thought he was having a laugh.
‘I am serious. I have consulted with my colleagues in the house and they convinced me that I was the man for the job. I have therefore, reluctantly agreed and put my name forward. I know that a great deal of work needs to be done and we must all put our shoulders to the wheel and help get the great ship of state back on track.’ he said, thoroughly mixing, then stirring his metaphors for good measure. ‘“Cometh the hour, cometh the man. My destiny beckons” as Winston once said.’
‘He’s got more chance of winning the Eurovision song contest and the devil will take up ice skating before he gets that job.’ said George, sotto voce. He should have whispered but Lame pretended not to hear him and asked Ben to serve him with his usual pint.
‘I have a question for you, Prime Minister,’ said George, waving his arm in the air.
‘Well, I’ll try and answer any question you may have of course, but I am not Prime Minister yet so please call me Lame as usual.’ said Lame modestly. ‘What is your question?’
‘If we have voted to leave the EU, as Jack here has just told me, does it mean I will have to leave the NFU as well? I’ve been with them for more than 50 years. Did you campaign for this result and what would you do in Government. Would you support the farmers?’
‘Yes, I know where my roots lie so I will always support the farmers, such as yourself. I will never resile from that. Furthermore, I can assure you that you are completely free to stay with the National Farmer’s Union – for another 50 years if you wish. Yes, I did campaign for Brexit and as for what I would do as prime minister – I will set out my policies in a major speech next week. And, by the way, you can still go to the Bethesda Chapel on a Sunday.’
Lame had clearly been practicing the politician’s art of talking a lot without saying much.
‘I have to ask you about the cow in the room, Lame. Why did you suddenly decide to put the knife into your colleague’s back and now take his place as a candidate for prime minister?’
There was silence in the bar, only George would have had the nerve to ask the question to which everyone wanted to know the answer. They were all agog as they waited with baited breath – probably from the cheese and onion crisps – for an answer.
‘I decided to stand because, in my heart, I think I am the best man for the job. Anyway, didn’t Shakespeare once say,” A greater love hath no man than that he lay down his friend for his life?”
There was another, unusual, silence in the bar.
‘Surely being prime minister will be very stressful for you Lame,’ asked Jack
‘Well yes, but I plan to do more exercise so that should help, I’ve taken up Feng Shui to help keep me fit. Don’t call me Lame by the way – my real name is Horace.’
‘What will you do if you don’t get the job?’ asked Ben, he had finished slicing the lemons now.
‘I’ll just have to try again next time there is an opportunity.’
‘I don’t think so,’ said George. ‘Didn’t someone once say, “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t take up sky diving.”
‘You could always apply for the job of England’s football team manager.’ suggested Ben.
‘I think young Dave’s first in line for that job,’ said Horace, gloomily.
This is the second of a series of stories that will be listed on the page called, ‘Tales from the Strangled Ferret.’
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