As promised, here’s the little piece I wrote based on Dad’s inspiration, which forms the first line. If you’d like to leave your own suggestion, head over to the post entitled “Inspiration” from 18th September and leave a comment. I’ll see what I can do.
This one’s a bit of fun, but I’m actually pretty proud of it. Without meaning to big myself up, it reminds me a bit of Alan Bennet’s “Talking Heads” monologues. That’s something to aspire to anyway. In the meantime, I offer it up to you and welcome your comments and critiques, good and bad. To Canadian readers, I apologise for the very British nature of the story!
Some elected people in government wear chains of office, the rest of them should probably be taken out of office and put in chains. I went to see my local MP this afternoon. I thought it was time I spoke to him again, as it had been at least a week since my last letter, so I arrived at his surgery early doors and found myself third in the queue.
The two people in front of me were timewasters. There was one lady – I say lady, the three children she had with her all had different skin tones, so lady’s a bit of a stretch – there was one woman, who clutched a fat handbag on her knee and told the assistant she was here about her benefits. If you’d kept your legs closed, dear, and you might not have had to worry about benefits so much. I didn’t say it. I thought she might clout me with that handbag, and the oldest brat was a boy. He looked like he’d bite me, and I didn’t want to catch anything. The other person was clearly a crank. He had a briefcase with initials stamped on the top and he kept picking at something invisible on his jacket. I sat on the far side of the room in case he tried to strike up a conversation.
When it was finally my turn, the assistant led me down the corridor and into his office. No name on the door – I suppose it saves the bother of changing it when he gets voted out. The whole place is a cheap little office like you’d expect in a one-man doctor’s practice. Not that you get those anymore. Great big health centres where you never see the same chap twice, that’s the way these days.
He shook my hand and waved me into a chair.
“What can I do you for?” Big smile. Painted on his face. He’d obviously taken a bit of a pounding from the multi-racial benefits brood and the crackpot already. At least I was here about something important.
“I have written to you several times about lagopus lagopus scotica.” He raised an eyebrow and I realised just how far back I’d have to start. He had entirely forgotten our previous meeting in August, and all my letters. “The Red Grouse.”
“Are they endangered?” He clearly hadn’t even read them, or the articles I enclosed.
“Then what’s the problem?”
“They are the great British bird. The only bird entirely native to the British Isles. They were introduced into Belgium, but they died out. That’s how British they are. This bird is the very essence of Britain.”
“Insular and xenophobic?” He laughed at his own joke, then abruptly stopped and straightened his tie.
“I have written, asking you to raise it in Parliament.”
“I’m sorry, Mr …” He looked at his computer screen, then shot me a weak grin when it didn’t save him. “I’m sorry, Sir, I’m not certain what you’re asking me to raise.”
“The Red Grouse should be the national bird of Britain. The Yanks have got the Bald Eagle, the Belgians – having failed to foster the Red Grouse – have settled for the Kestrel. Even the damn Frenchies have got their ridiculous Rooster. What have we got?”
“Err… I can’t say I’m…”
“Nothing. Nothing at all. That is why this is so important.”
“Indeed. Did you say you’ve sent me a letter?”
He stood up. “Then I will make it a priority to hunt it out. It must have got stuck in my in-tray somewhere.” He held out his hand, clearly trying to end the interview.
“I hope to hear from you very shortly,” I said. It is important to end any meeting on one’s own terms.
As I walked out past the little waiting area, I passed the next visitor. The leaflets gave her away: some timewaster about the plans to close the library.