A cheap gimmick?

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter One – order now on Kindle

Many months later Ed stood at the edge of a cliff. Behind him, an eight-foot plaque was being unloaded out of a white van. He could not bear to turn around. He fancied he would rather skid down the rocks and dive into the sea and swim away from it, and everyone, and this blasted election. He heard the slab thunk against the car park floor.

Ed looked out to sea where dull-grey mounds reared and drained, and washed into the miserable clouds and the blue-grey asphalt that crumbled beneath his polished shoes. His police-blue trousers rattled against his legs and, from a distance, his flowing tie made him look as if he were straining at god’s leash.

The fold of activists, dragged up from the nearby town, huddled together against the wind and beheld the Stele as it was raised by a system of pulleys and levers. The elections were less than a week away, and everywhere he travelled he seemed to end up in the same tea-stained, dog-bitten, out-of-town motorway rest area speaking to a feeble-minded cross-section of the party faithful.

One of his team crossed the asphalt and sidled up to him.

‘Just got off the phone with London,’ said the advisor. He had a soft American accent.

‘Sturgeon’s left another message saying for you to please return her calls. Eddy’s secretary says no need to hurry back, he and Yvette are having family time tonight.’

‘Again?’ Eddy had been spending an awful lot of time with his family recently. From under the cliff swept the wind, drowning their exchange.

‘Look, are you quite sure about this?’

‘I’m positive; says he needs to spend time with the family and kids.’

‘No, I mean the stone. Is it really such a good idea? Isn’t this a bit of a… gimmick? A bit, well, cheap?’

‘Not for seven thousand,’ said the advisor.

Ed turned and saw the sorry little crowd gathered with hope around the semi-erect monument. He rubbed his thumb along the screw-top of the jar in his pocket and his thumb sung out in pain. He felt reduced, thinned. He was in deep now. Walking gravely over to the propped monolith, he donned a castor oil smile. He greeted the camera operator and his congealed colleagues and the workmen who stood apart from the proceedings, and rattled off his speech.

***

In the first four months of 2015 more than fifty-five thousand human beings crossed over the borders of Southern Europe.

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter One – order now on Kindle

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