Politics

‘Oh politics!’ exclaimed Dan as if that was the end of the matter.

‘But I was stopped in the street. A huge furry thing thrust in my face. Polly paused. ‘It was embarrassing.’

Dan looked marginally more interested. ‘Did you say anything?’

‘That’s what I’m trying to tell you! It was humiliating. Like failing an exam. I’d had quite a good day up to then. Jack actually asked my opinion. I answered him.’

‘It’s no good talking to you.’ Dan returned to the sports section.

‘Of course I didn’t say anything. How could I say anything when I don’t know anything. You tell me that often enough. Do you want a drink?’

‘I’ll get it.’ Dan sprang to his feet.

With a glass in his hand he was more sociable. Polly stared at him over the kitchenette bar. How handsome he was! She had almost forgotten about the reporter.

‘What did he ask you?’

‘Who?’

‘The reporter. TV was it?’

‘Him.’ Polly smiled. ‘I don’t know why I cared. I’ve never got the point of politics. I just felt stupid at the time. There were people queuing to give their opinions. Do you think I should go on twitter, Dan?’

‘You still haven’t told me what he asked you.’

Polly came and sat on the arm of Dan’s chair. She stroked his hair lovingly. ‘I don’t know. It was about this election thing, who I wanted to win. If I went on twitter, I might want to know more.’

‘Opinions and knowledge are not the same thing. You know a lot about household utilities.’ Dan put down his drink and slid his hand under Polly’s skirt.’

Polly pretended not to notice. ‘That’s because I’m paid to know. If I went on twitter, I might become more involved.’

‘Involvement, is that what you want.’ Dan, hand moving under the skirt, watched the flush rise on Polly’s face. ‘I’d say you were pretty involved right now.’

                                  *    *    *    *                                                

‘Quick! Quick!’ Put on the news.’

Mo was through the door and across the room while his mother was still scrabbling for the control. She watched lovingly his supple boy’s figure bent over the set.

‘You’ve been watching that jewellery programme again and now we’ve probably missed it.’

What’s that?’ asked Mo’s mother. ‘Do you want your dinner?’

‘Mum!’ Mo was exasperated. ‘I’m on television. I was interviewed on my way back from school and, owing to your silly love of golden bracelets, we’ve probably… Oh! Here it is! Mo jumped backwards and landed in a crouch staring intently at the screen. ‘Yes. Yes. That is him. And there is that silly woman who gaped like a fish and didn’t say a word.’ It seemed he was talking to himself.

‘What is all this?’ asked his mother in the tone of someone repeating a much-used sentence.

‘I was interviewed,’ said Mo, without taking his eyes from the screen, ‘for my opinion on the best candidate in the election.’

‘Now I understand. Nor am I surprised. You speak so clearly. You understand so much. Your father will be very proud but not surprised either. You are a London boy.’

‘Please Mum - shhh!’

Mo’s mother’s idea of silence was very active, including sighs of satisfaction, little chirrups of encouragement and occasional indrawn breaths as she contemplated afresh the wonder of her youngest son.

Meanwhile, Mo concentrated on those being interviewed, murmuring now and again comments to himself such as, ‘Yes, he is an intelligent man, although I don’t agree’ or Mrs. Sharpston would say this women has no power of rational thought.’

Suddenly he leant forward and snapped off the television.

‘What. What?’ asked his mother, taken by surprise.

‘The programme is finished. Where is the control? Why am I always looking for it?’

‘I didn’t see you. Were we too late?’

‘I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.’ Mo came to his mother and smiled. ‘Maybe they didn’t want a schoolboy. No vote. No voice.’

‘Yes. I expect that was it. Would you like your dinner now?’

‘On the dot. I’m starving.’ Mo watched as his mother went to the door, then called after her. ‘It was very exciting, though. I might become a politician.’

Nodding happily, Mo’s mother continued into the kitchen.

                                *    *    *    *  

‘I’m not here really.’ Andrew dumped his ministerial briefcase and tore off his jacket.

‘I wasn’t expecting you. Not today.’ Melanie zapped off the television. ‘Not till very late.’

‘I needed a breather. Five minutes.’ Andrew lay full length on the sofa. ‘Blissful!” He sat up again. ‘You wouldn’t make me a coffee, would you, darling.’

‘Will you have time to drink it?’

‘The car’s outside. I like drinking in cars. Makes the driver take care.’

‘How many have you had?’

‘Drivers?’

‘Coffees.’

‘Oh, shut up.’

‘Sorry. I love you. You’re amazing. The people love you.’

Andrew shut his eyes. Melanie went to the coffee machine. As it started she spoke again. ‘Well, most of them.’

‘What?’ murmured Andrew, eyes closed.

‘I was watching the early evening news. It included what they used to call a Vox Pop, I always liked that. Vox Populis, voice of the people. You never hear that phrase much any more.’

Andrew opened his eyes and sat up. ‘You hear the voice of the people all right. Mark spends more time tweeting than he does listening to what I have to say.’

‘Surely Mark’s job is to tweet what you have to say. Then other twitterering twits tweet, then…’

‘This is supposed to be a break, Mel. Is my coffee ready?’

‘Sorry.’ Melanie brought over a small cup and Andrew drank half the contents in a gulp.

‘So what did the Vox Pop have to say? Should I be worried?’

Melanie sat down beside him. ‘Of course not. Your cleverest admirer was a boy of about fourteen wearing his school blazer. He said you had the brains of a scientist and the brawn of a boxer.’

‘Phew. I must get Mark to tweet it at once.’

‘He only got a moment at the beginning. Then there were the usual men talking about themselves. Didn’t like you. Didn’t like anybody. And a woman who couldn’t get a word out. I’m sure she was your fan but…’

Melanie stopped to take the coffee cup and helped her husband into his jacket. He picked up his briefcase.

‘I like appealing to the young. Our future.’

‘Quite.’ Melanie kissed him on the cheek. ‘That’s what politics is all about, isn’t it, the future.’

Andrew paused at the door. ‘Pity there’s not more time to think of it. What did that boy say again?’