Ebenezer Votnow was feeling smug. In his mind, he had every reason to be smug. It was the 19TH September 2014 and Ebenezer was a lifelong supporter of the Labour movement. Despite building a successful company that he had created from nothing since his arrival from Eastern Europe all those years ago. Ebenezer had always been loyal to the party of the masses. He was very proud of that fact. Ebenezer was also very, very proud of his children. His oldest son worked for one of the leading High Street Banks, His daughter was a Senior Charge Nurse in the NHS – the NHS, founded by his beloved Labour Party all those years ago. While he was very proud of both, it was the achievement of his youngest that brought a particularly warm glow to Ebenezer, Yes his youngest was just about to complete his Masters Degree at Oxford. Not bad for the son of an impoverished refugee from Eastern Europe was it. Less than six hours earlier he had returned from the Referendum Count and he was still giddy, still drunk from the celebrating that had followed the victory for his Better Together followers. The Union was safe. ‘God Bless The Queen’ he murmoured to himself. Now surely with the blight of separation vanquished his country would return to normal. 2015 would see Labour, his beloved Labour, returned to power at last and the promises made by his leader Ed would come to pass. Great Britain would become not only Great once more but Socially Just as well……..Good God he must have had too much too drink. He was feeling so tired now. Tired but still deliriously happy. But oh so tired
The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. The moaning and groaning that emanated from the wraith chiiled poor Ebenezer to the bone. He tried to run but found that his feet remained fastened to the ground as if stuck by glue. It wasn’t the sight of a wizened, shrivelled, death like figure pouring out words of gloom and despair that scared Ebenezer. God No. He was used to such sights having witnessed Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling close up. It wasn’t the shrieking and moaning emanating from the apparition either that filled him with fear. Not after being up close and personal to Johann Lamont and Margaret Curran in full saliva dribbling flow. He just couldn’t explain why the words “Oh Ebenezer what have you done”? should fill him with such icy dread.
The apparition was getting closer and Ebenezer could now just about discern some features.It was shrouded in a dirty grey garment, the type once worn by the criminals of Dickensian times A garment that concealed its face and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. A hand, seeking help from someone, anyone.
“Wow,” Ebenezer muttered to himself. Then with great difficulty uttered the words. “Explain yourself sir. What do you mean by what have I done?”
The Phantom suddenly stopped, still a good few yards from the stricken, paralyzed Ebenezer, Suddenly, with a flick of his fingers, he magically allowed a mammoth TV screen to appear as if from nowhere. With another flick, the screen came to life. An image of a newsreader appeared. “Good evening and welcome to BBC News” the figure intoned. “Tonight’s Headlines. Today our glorious Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he was scrapping further development on the new Internal Security Agency he had initiated only six months earlier. The system based on the US Homeland Security model was widely perceived to develop as a rival to MI5 and MI6. No reason was given as to the reason for the cancellation but sources close to our beloved demagogue dismissed the persistent ill-founded rumours that the scrapping of the ‘ British Information Gathering And Security Service’ was due to the acronym being used to describe our glorious saviour”
“Wait a minute that can’t be right” cried a disbelieving Ebenezer.
“Yeah you’re spot on ” responded the figure. “Wrong time, wrong place. I can’t work out these newfangled gadgets at all.”
“No”, protested Ebenezer. “I mean Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. That wasn’t supposed to happen. We were assured, promised even, that Ed Miliband would be the Prime Minister if Scotland voted NO.”
“Oh he should have been” countered the figure. “Trouble was, the right wing press and TV channels just carried right on doing to the Labour Party what they’d been doing to the YES Scotland movement. Denied them the oxygen of publicity, ridiculed their leader at every opportunity, fed you repeated images of Labour failures and Tory successes. Pressed the fear button at every opportunity. Very effective it was too. Six months later the Conservative Government that the media were clamouring for won the day. Good God that shocked us up here in the Twilight Zone I can tell you – and you got Boris. Richly deserved if you ask me.
“But that’s just not fair”, bleated Ebenezer.
With a speed not seen since Gideon Osborne’s attempt to flee from Bernard Ponsonby, the wraith-like figure flew towards the hapless Ebenezer, pulling up short only feet from the cowering man. “Not fair, Not fair”, it bellowed. “So it was perfectly legitimate for your beloved Better Together to carry out these tactics but when the shoe was put on the other foot, you squealed like banshees. Gave us real banshees the pip so it did”.
With an effort, the Phantom forced itself to be calm. Taking a deep breath, it continued. “My God you mortals in B8 are so dumb and easily duped”, it sighed.
“B8?” Ebenezer questioned meekly
The apparition took a deep breath. “Yes B8″, it repeated. B is the country’s initial, so B for Britain, 8 is the position said nation holds in the Astral League Democracy Table for countries beginning with that initial. At the moment your country is tied for eighth place with Bahrain just behind Burkina Faso. Now if you’d kindly desist from interrupting me, we’d get through this lesson a lot quicker.”
With another snap of his fingers, the screen flickered briefly then came to life again. This time showing images of a mass demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square. The voice of the earlier newsreader could be heard over the images. “Left wing activist and probable terrorist Christina Votnow became the first casualty of the crazed militant attempts to derail our esteemed Governments’ efforts to transform a crumbling, decaying NHS into a modern, state of the art, efficient, privately run organisation fit for purpose in the 21st century. The fanatic was accidentally struck in the head by a rubber bullet fired by one of our heroic foot soldiers in a legitimate attempt to hold back the bloodthirsty mob.”
“Noooooh”, Ebenezer cried out in despair. “That can’t be right. My lovely Christina is one of the sweetest, gentlest people you could meet. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a nurse for God’s sake”.
For a brief moment, the Phantom’s body language seemed to soften in pity. “Oh Ebenezer, you poor deluded fool”, it sighed. “Don’t you realize yet that the kindest, loveliest people can be transformed by the sight of the willful destruction of something they hold dear. Your Christina saw what was happening to her beloved NHS. She put up with it and put up with it until she couldn’t put up with it any more. Then she, like so many others, decided to do the ‘right’ thing. What you see is the result”.
By this time Ebenezer was weeping silently, head in his hands.
Remorselessly though the Phantom carried on. This time, with a wave of his hand, the image on the screen faded to blackness, only to spring to life almost instantaneously. Ebenezer cringed inside as he heard the sombre voice of the same newsreader. He found himself, as if compelled by some sinister force to raise his eyes to the screen. This time the image was of a Union Jack bedecked coffin being reverently removed from the innards of a military transport aircraft to the accompanying air of ‘The Last Post’. This time it was a disembodied voice that intoned over the broadcast. “Today our beloved nation is united in sadness as another of our heroic servicemen embarks on his final journey. Today the body of Michael Votnow returns from the conflict in Syraq. Yet another brave soul who made the greatest sacrifice to save our peace loving country from the evils of tyranny….”
“Hah”, explained Ebenezer, relief flooding through him. “Now I know this is all nonsense. Michael is my youngest son. He’s just about to finish his degree at Oxford. He’s going to be a Research Scientist for God’s Sake. There’s no way on earth he’d join the Army. My God you almost had me fooled”.
The spirit said nothing, just looked at him sadly for a brief moment before nodding his head. Yet again the screen flickered, died then came to life. Once again the damned oily voice of that bloody newsreader could be heard. “Today, our beloved Prime Minister and Saviour, Boris Johnson provided the news so many people were praying for. From today forward, all able bodied men and women will be required by conscription, to carry out one years National Service. Mr Johnson also informed the nation that all conscripts will be paid the new adjusted minimum wage of £5 per hour for……”
“STOP PLEASE”, implored Ebenezer. “For the sake of my sanity, no more I beseech you”.
“Very Well”, the Phantom agreed and, with a snap of his fingers the dreaded TV vanished, much to Ebenezer’s profound relief.”I have just one more tale to tell.”
Ebenezer groaned aloud as the iciness that surrounded him grew even icier.
“It concerns your eldest, Stefan. I’m afraid”, the Ghost of Christmas Future continued in a voice filled with unbearable sadness. “For years Stefan did very well in his career at the bank. Very well indeed I have to say. That was until ‘Crash Two’ in 2017. At first your Stefan was one of the lucky ones. The bank relocated him to a Call Centre where he had to field call after call from furious customers, worried sick yet again about their savings and investments. Unfortunately though he was also targeted by his superiors to sell them Home and Life Insurance on each call. A case of trying to rip-off the ripped-off I’m afraid. Poor Stefan’s heart wasn’t in it. He tried his best but continually failed to reach his quota so he was unceremoniously given the heave-ho.”
“Oh No. Poor Stefan”, moaned Ebenezer. “But at least he’s still alive. Thank Goodness.”
The Ghost favoured him with an icy stare that, for some strange reason, reminded Ebenezer of the glares Gordon Brown used to give folk when they questioned his record as Chancellor and Prime Minister. He said nothing for a full minute then carried on. “For a short time, Stefan managed to keep himself and his wife and kids afloat until his savings ran out. Then he was forced to sign on for the new ‘Poverty Allowance’. He found himself being dragged from pillar to post, made to jump through so many hoops he felt like a circus performer. His allowance took so long to be processed that he was forced to beg for food for his wife and children at the Neighbourhood Food Bank…”
“But he could have come to me for help”, interrupted Ebenezer.
“Guess he was too proud or stubborn or both”, the apparition responded. “Anyway, to cut this long story short..Next he knew he was sanctioned for being five minutes late for his appointment with the ‘Governors’. Oh how he begged and pleaded until, in despair, he pushed the official in the chest. Sadly though, the man fell backward and smashed his head. Died instantly poor chap. Next thing you know Stefan is in court charged with murder. His name – Stefan Votenow didn’t help either. Oh how the media lapped that one up. ‘Illegal immigrant charged with the brutal murder of poor British man who was only doing his job. For the first time in nearly fifty years, the Scottish people witnessed the sight of the black cloth being placed on the judges head…”
“NO..”, Ebenezer cried “that can’t be right. The Scottish Government would never impose the death penalty. The Scottish People would never permit it. It would never get through the Scottish Parliament…It would…..”
“Hah”, scoffed the Ghost..”No they wouldn’t. Unfortunately though, they didn’t have a say. Under pressure from the media yet again, Westminster removed all agreed powers from Scotland. The restoration of the death penalty was the first law they passed following the reclamation. Then the fun really started. You had the Power Companies jostling with the Drug Companies all vying for Electric Chair or Lethal Injection. All rather unseemly I have to say. We even had one Drug Company offering a ‘Kill Ten Get One Free’ Package.
At this moment, the Ghost of Christmas Future took two steps toward the stricken Ebenezer. Then, with a flourish, he whipped away the dirty grey shroud, revealing a blackened face, engorged tongue protruding and the remnants of a fraying noose wrapped ever so tightly around the throat. “Yes Daddy, you’re right”, it sighed sadly. “As usual they chose the cheapest option”.
WHAT A RIDICULOUS FAR FETCHED PIECE OF NONSENSE. COULDN’T POSSIBLY HAPPEN IN A CIVILIZED MODERN SOCIETY??
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