This story was inspired by the following Word Prompts:
Word of the Day: Sensitivity
Today’s things are: snowman, family, caring
A Political Affair
William Wilberforce Dudley-Walsh was the member of Parliament for the constituency of East Redborough and Shorwell. It consisted of the eastern half of a former seaside resort and several miles of unspoilt coastline and a few scattered farms. He was a Conservative member and he was thankful that he represented a fairly typical Conservative seat. He was always returned with a safe majority and as such did very little actual work at all. He may have been given the middle name of one of Britain’s greatest political campaigners who successfully managed to get Parliament to pass the abolition of slavery act, but he wasn’t at all made from the same material. It had been quite a useful boon when trying to find a seat, people liked the reference.
He liked to cultivate the impression that he was a caring family man. That always went down well with his voters, but actually he had all the sensitivity of a statue. His Nickname in parliament was ‘The Snowman’ because he had a cold and distant attitude to most things. His wife, who he ensured accompanied him to every social function, actually lead an independent life in London and their children, three boys, were all safely installed in boarding school only to descend upon him in time for summer when again he could parade them around at summer fete’s and tell everyone how proud he was of them.
Little did he know that things were about to change. The sword of Damocles in this case, as is so often the case with politicians, came in the form of the Boundary commission. The Boundary Commission was an independent body set up to review all the constituencies to ensure they remained roughly the same size. Obviously, people moved around, some people moved into cities to get work whereas some move to rural areas for a quieter life and so consistencies often found they had too many or not enough people in them. In this case, it couldn’t have been worse news for Mr Dudley-Walsh. The Commission had decided to take Shorwell away from him and put it into his neighbours North Barsetshire constituency. He would then take on the whole of Redborough, which would include the less affluent areas on the western and northern suburbs, including a council estate. He would lose all his farming area, which were staunchly Conservative and gain areas that he had a snowball in hells chance of getting to vote for him. Instantly he had gone from representing what was a safe seat to now being classed as a marginal. What was worse was the Labour candidate he was now up against, the former M.P for West Redborough, was a young, dynamic, shining light in his party. His simple life was over, he had to pull out all his guns in order to keep his seat.
When he discovered this terrible news, he had been in his flat, just a short walk from Parliament. His wife was at their large home in an area that was now not even in his constituency. He telephoned her to break the news. She wasn’t best pleased, to say the least. He explained that his constituents would expect their MP to live in the seat and so they would have to move. He explained that he would need her help to fight off his opponent and they would have to engage in a lot more publicity events together. Her response was not what he had hoped for. She told him she wanted a divorce.
He telephoned his political agent, who ran things back at base, to tell him the news.
“Yes, is that you Geoffrey? William here. Look I have got the most terrible news. The Boundary Commission have….” There was a buzz of sound from the other end of the phone.
“Oh! You’ve heard, have you? Well to add to that Marjorie wants a Divorce now. Talk about one bad news following another.”
The buzzing continued down the phone.
“Oh, if you insist, I haven’t any major votes coming up, I’ll come down to the Constituency tomorrow then.”
Summoned to the Agents office, was a phrase that would send a shiver down the spine of most M.P’s. They cultivated a pleasant, pally relationship with their agents but really, they were a bit like a gun pointed at your head ready to pull the trigger if you did anything wrong.
The meeting with his agent did not go as expected either.
“Look Old Chap, the feeling in the party is that if we don’t want to lost this new seat we need a younger candidate, someone with a bit more get up and go. You’ve had a good run, twenty years, we think it’s time you took a back seat and let a younger man take the helm. It’s for the good of the party.” Geoffrey MacLean delivered the blow like a frenzied axe murderer in full flow.
William Dudley-Walsh sat in the chair and tried to take it all in. They want me to resign, they want a younger man to take my seat. Even as all this was spinning around in his head, a mobile phone went off, the tune was Queen’s ‘Another one bites the dust’. How cruelly ironic.
Geoffrey MacLean said “Excuse me William” and answered the phone turning away sideways.
The voice at the other end sounded like his wife.
“Is he there with you now? Look Geoff I think you should tell him now. Get it over with in one go. Go on.”
“I don’t think we should Old girl. Not now, you can tell him later.”
“Oh, I see, leaving it for me to tell him, typical man!” the person hung up the phone.
Geoffrey turned to him, looking slightly abashed, which wasn’t like him at all.
“Erm, William, there’s something that I should tell you. It’s not about business, it’s a personal matter, I’m afraid.”
“No, that’s Ok. I think I’ve got the message thank you.”
William Dudley-Walsh walked out of the office which was not far from the town pier. He always liked a walk down the pier, back in the old days of his youth. He used to take Marjorie down to the bowling alley on the end of it.
Walking down the pier, he looked over the side and saw the shallow water lapping against the old wooden pillars. The salty sea air was bracing, just like the old advert for Skegness.
The water at the very end of the pier was much deeper. The currents were stronger here too.
He didn’t really plan it or think it through, but he decided to do something that many people had told him to do in his long political career.
He took a long walk off a short pier.
The splash wasn’t that great. It never even made the evening news.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 25/July/2018