Welcome to Chapter Seven in the unique serialisation of There There My Dear, the critically acclaimed and widely-discussed new novel that has caught the attention of political eyes and ears. If you’ve missed events so far, don’t worry, it’s not too late to catch up. Follow this link to revisit Chapter One!
There There My Dear
It took Harold Connor several long moments to stand up fully. His lower back ached and no matter how hard he tried, he could only move at a slow pace. He was not in pain as such, but he felt every movement along his spine and rued the fact that his sufferance was due to nothing other than old age. Once upright he sighed loudly then leant on his spade and looked around at his handiwork.
His earlier career had made him a wealthy man and, despite times of loneliness, genuinely he had started to enjoy indulging himself. His wife had not made it to retirement age and much of his mourning had made him realise that life was very short.
The timeless peace of gazing at the shrubs and flowers in front of him was cut short by the ringing of his mobile phone. He checked the display and smiled.
‘Dylan, good morning. How are you today?’
‘Dad, I can’t tell you. I am giddy with – I don’t know – delight? Relief? I don’t know what it is, but it is making me giddy. Anyway, how are you?’
The father and son went on with their honest and heart- felt pleasantries, catching up just like normal family members. There was an easy flow to the way they spoke with one another, and Harold openly expressed the pride he felt that his son had become Prime Minister.
The significance of this event – the son of a former Prime Minister becoming Prime Minister – was not lost on either man. It was only the third time in history that such an event had occurred. Their conversation boarded on banter at times with Harold teasing his son and alluding to untold secrets within the governmental system. Dylan could not tell the difference between the teasing and the truth, and Harold enjoyed the traces of uncertainty in his son’s voice.
And then Harold’s voice hardened when he asked ‘Have you had the visit yet?’
‘Visit? Do you mean with the Queen? I’ve already been to the palace…’
‘No, not the Queen. You will already have gone through the beautiful pageantry of that little scenario.’ Harold paused and then added, ‘Being a coalition leader, you may find that you are advised on things that…well, let’s just say that you are likely to have to keep a few secrets from your Deputy. I can’t imagine that both of you will be visited.’
‘You are talking in riddles, Dad. What on earth do you mean?’ Dylan spoke with a hollow voice. Did Harold notice a trace of disbelief, or was it fear?
‘Look, Dylan, I can’t go into any detail here. Not at all. But you will meet somebody soon who will give you quite a bit to think about. This man will be…he will have an unnatural presence. Just listen to what he says and if he tells you to keep it all to yourself, make sure that you do. OK?’
The conversation tailed off and the two men said their goodbyes. Harold had been wandering aimlessly through the garden while on the phone to his son. Now at the side of his house, he turned and made his way to the rear of the building so he could look at the garden and relish his own handiwork.
For a few moments he deliberated whether Joseph Bartrum, Dylan’s Deputy, would ever be included in the furtive conversations that would soon ensue. He then dismissed the idea, deciding that it was completely unlikely.
Drinking in the splendid vista, he smiled at the prospect of the conflict that would certainly lie ahead between his son and the Deputy Prime Minister. Remembering his days as Premier, he thought of all the delicate and sensitive information that he could never reveal to the Opposition parties or to the media. He was reminded of the frustration he felt when he could not simply state that his administration could not deliver on certain manifesto promises because the expected budget was already aligned to top secret domestic and international operations.
Back when he was in charge the country had been enjoying a sustained period of economic growth and the prospect of near-on sovereign bankruptcy was never a consideration. But even then the country’s capacity to fulfil key services to the public, paid for by public funds, was marginal. He estimated that more than half his time was dedicated to brokering international commercial deals that promised economic growth for Great Britain by means of incentivising foreign investment and private sector growth. The concept was simple – overseas monies would result in greater tax revenue so that crucial defence and security commitments could be met. He could not recall the amount of money that had been spent on nurturing international trade. All he remembered was that it ran to billions of pounds and the expectation was that it was money well spent. Had it not been for loose accounting regulations the plan would have worked. But with international corporations’ head offices sited overseas, it was relatively simple to wipe out profits generated in the United Kingdom so to avoid paying any amount of corporation tax to the British Government. All it needed was a few invoices from the head offices, charging the British-based operations a fortune for management and consultation services, and the result was that all profits flowed out of the country leaving no tax income for Britain.
When Harold started to focus on the reasons why he had to leave office – the accusations of misleading the public, of not having a genuine domestic economic policy and of refusing to justify a number of key spending decisions – he deliberately dismissed the thought trail and turned his attention back to his garden. His beautiful garden.
To Be Continued…
Thank you for joining me on this fictional(?) journey of politics, lies, deception and Reality TV. If you’re enjoying it, then please let me know; I’d love to read your comments below. You can also get in touch with me via my Contact Form at the bottom of the Home Page , or through my Facebook Page. I’d love to hear from you and you will always get a personal reply from me. Unless you work for the British Security Services, in which case I am absentis ausus est mortuus!
Chapter Eight to be published next week.
Very best wishes,
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