The results were in, and the village of Charity erupted in euphoria at the idea that the United Kingdom were finally able to cut the rope around their neck which the European Union had foisted upon them.
Well, at least 185 of the 385 people in Charity voted to Remain, but to Mayor Beard this was a mere triviality. The majority – slight though it may have been – had voted Brexit, and Brexit it should be.
But the government couldn’t be trusted, and they backpedalled. Theresa May went from the iron lady to the spineless gimp quicker than Beard could organise the Brexit celebrations, and what was worse, even Corbyn looked as though he was edging the Tories out with the popular vote.
A hung parliament led to the threat of slow, drawn out negotiations. Europe weren’t backing down – they had no need too – and Mayor Beard had finally decided it was time to take a stand.
“We need to close the borders!” he bellowed at the town hall meeting, thumping the table unnecessarily. “Out means out, no means no, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
“All very interesting but we’re hardly an autonomous society,” said Hartley-Smith. Hartley-Smith owned the largest estate in the village, packed a brace of shotguns (all legal) and believed that England went down the hatch as soon as serfdom was repealed. “We can’t close up the borders and stick our fingers in our ears, man!”
“And why not.” Beard banged the table, waking up Marjory who ran the Charity Women’s Institute. She was eighty-four and prone to a snooze. “We have money. We have an industry.”
“I don’t think making jam and teas cosies is an industry, Mister Beard,” said Marjory. “We’re hardly likely to fight the deficit on those ground.”
“Charity holds some of the richest people in the United Kingdom!” thundered Beard. “Collectively we have enough money to keep our heads above water for decades! I say, ‘May has let us down’. I say, ‘let’s grab the bull by the horns and show the country just what Brexit is all about’. Fine – if the Conservative party wish to slave under the iron boot of Brussels then let them! But this Beard is not for turning! Who’s with me?!”
Marjory was asleep again, and Hartley-Smith would vote for anything as long as he could splatter a few foxes over the countryside, so with a two thirds majority the council of Charity passed the motion – they would become independent and pull out of the EU.
A press release was put together by Wardon Grimly. An ex-Daily Mail writer, he was bumped to the Charity Gazette after he got drunk and kidnapped the editor’s Bugatti, driving it into a bus load of nuns and ending up as a front-page spectacle. He only made matters worse by slapping his manhood onto the dock and offering the judge to ‘consider his previous, i.e. – the amount of blart who’d had a good chow on THIS chodpiece’ before laughing hysterically and passing out in his own vomit. He would have been canned for a good, but there were rumours Grimly held compromising photographs of senior society figures in all manner of sexually deviant liaisons – including farmyard machinery – and he was lumped with a hefty payoff, a slap on the wrist, and the editorship of The Charity Gazette as a sop to keep him out of the way.
‘IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!’ roared the headline.
‘For too long the barmy Brussels bureaucrats have held this country to ransom. With May running scared and the loony Lefties in the Tory party unwilling to pull up the drawbridge, it’s up to Charity Mayor, Douglas Beard, to strike a blow for Britain.
‘”We can’t let the will of the people be crushed,” says Beard. “It’s time to reclaim our sovereignty back!”
Local bonkers Labourite, Cressida Lump, had other ideas. “He’s f*****g mad!” she screamed into this reporter’s face, wearing a T-shirt calling for sharia law. “He’s f*****g well b****d, c*****g insane, the d***less w**k biscuit!” Cressida, 44, is unmarried, and known to be a woman.’
In a radical plan to shore up the independence of Charity, Mayor Beard has elected to:
• BUILD A WALL AROUND THE VILLAGE
• FORCE ALL FOREIGNERS AND IMMIGRANTS TO CARRY IDENTITY CARDS
• OPEN FREE TRADE WITH THE NEIGHBOURING VILLAGE OF SCROTE
We believe, at the Gazette, that this will build a stronger, brighter future for all the residents of Charity, and fully back Mayor Beard on his crusade’.
Mayor Beard acted quickly with the local constable, Hardly Crawford, to set up check points on all roads leading into the village. There were four of them, and Hardly knew a couple of law-and-order ne’er do wells with solid Brexit values. Yes, they had, on occasion, be known to strut around the village in brown shirts and been overheard extolling the virtues of National Socialism, but they had their own firearms and an in-built detector for anyone of a foreign-sounding bent, and so could be trusted to make sure ‘the wrong type’ didn’t gain access to Charity.
Within the first few hours they’d stopped a group of visiting French war veterans and a coach-load of Spanish toddlers. There had been the threat of the toddlers overwhelming the border force, but a couple of barrels of buckshot in the side of the coach and the popping of a few balloons soon convinced the Spaniards to holiday somewhere else, although one of the brave border boys did suffer a hefty punch in the testicles from one particularly handy four-year-old.
Which left the problem with the wall. They could build it – how hard could a wall be? But how high should it be, and who should they get to build it?
The solution presented itself when Yanis Kuchma, a resident of Greek and Ukrainian heritage, complained to the village council about the lurch to the right by Beard.
“We could get Yanis to build it,” said Hartley-Smith. “He’s a foreign type, AND he’s unemployed.”
“He’s retired,” said Marjory.
“Well, that’s unemployed, isn’t it!” said Hartley-Smith.
“But you’re unemployed too,” said Marjory.
“Yes, but I’m British!”
“We’re English, here,” muttered Beard. “I don’t mind the Scots and the Welsh and the Irish, as long as they understand that they’ll have to follow whatever rules and regulations we impose on them. That, after all, is democracy.”
“YOU’RE ALL FACKIN’ MAD!”
The words echoed around the village hall as Joseph Lenin stood at the entrance. That wasn’t his real name, which was Joseph Wotherington Starkly Gimble The Third, but Joseph had been educated in the rights and wrongs of society by a lovely young woman with enormous talents at Eton and had decided, upon graduation, that he would change his name to the father of communism and fight for the working man. Finding a working man he could stand to spend more than ten minutes with was another thing entirely, but his heart was in the right place, even if his wallet wasn’t when it was time to get a round in.
“Please, Joseph, let’s drop the cockney accent,” sighed Beard.
“Not a chance, cor blimey!” hollered Joseph. “We as wot lives in this village here REFUTE your claim to cut us off from the EU. And the rest of the UK, come to think of it. You may outnumber us, BEARD, but only by a small majority, apples and stairs.”
“This is a private meeting and you are not invited!” yelled Hartley-Smith. “We have important matters of state to discuss, and you are merely smelly. Now get lost, before I set the dogs on you!”
The dogs, a small brace of chihuahuas, yapped around his feet, eager for a nip at Joseph’s ankles.
“Aye oop, you’ll nay take ower liberty, ya prize wazzock,” warned Joseph, shaking a warning finger at them. “By my right as a working man of the t’field, me and ma kin will see you defeated, by eck!”
“Is that Northern?” asked Hartley-Smith to Beard. Beard shrugged.
“LIBERTY OR DEATH!” yelled Joseph, and then stormed out, closing the door gently behind him. He was angry, but he still had manners.
The news started to trickle through the Charity grapevine when the Gazette hit the door mats the next day. Considering just under half of the town – those that voted – had opted to remain in the EU, the consternation was quite subdued.
Charity was a village unused to protest. The nearest it got as a collective was when a supermarket had threatened to open an Megastore a few miles away, until one of the local historians (which numbered in the hundreds in a town like Charity) pointed out that King Arthur had once taken a dump in the area the supermarket was proposing to build on, and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table had probably carried out their ablutions in the surrounding fields, so basically the whole area should be sectioned off as a historical site of interest. This was ably helped by the erection of phalanx of signs saying, ‘King Arthur Shit Here’ and ‘Lancelot Dropped a His Caks In This Field’, and the supermarket soon lost interest and moved their plans for world domination to a poorer area of the country.
Although the news was slow to travel, the response was even slower. The majority of the population of Charity were pushing retirement age and, although a libertarian value was mainly predominant in the village, the Conservative numbers just nudged the odds in Beard’s favour. Besides, there was a canasta tournament going on, and the Charity charity ball to organise, which this year, rather embarrassingly, was in aid of refugees. There had been some in-fighting in the Charity charity commission about which part of the world they should be raising money for, as there were a number of frightful hot spots scattered all over the globe and a lot of the refugees had some appalling conditions to put up with, so after a lot of indecision from the Charity charity commission they had decided to put it to a vote later on. Now the point seemed mute.
Of course, no one really took Beard’s proposals seriously until the news hit the pub.
“That bloody Beard’s getting too hairy for his own good,” said Jackson Lancaster, who had a thing about facial hair. Jackson had lived in Charity since he was a nipper, and could claim the title as the second oldest resident (Marjory claimed the first). Unlike Marjory, Jackson had toiled in the fields as a child, and then claimed his own fortune through various shady antiques deals once he discovered he could flog any old tat as a genuine 18th century Georgian foot scraper, as long as he tried not to laugh. “We don’t want to close the borders. I sell ‘alf of my shite to the foreigns!”
“Aye,” nodded Cooper, the barman. “You mean ‘gullible foreigns’?”
“The point is, ‘ee can’t close the borders when. One, we ain’t got no borders, and two, ‘ee’s a twat.”
“He’s the mayor, Jackie boy,” said Cooper. “He can do what he bloody well likes, can’t he? We elected the sorry bastard into office, and now we have to pay for it.”
“Well, I bloody dun’t,” said Jackson, slamming his ale on the table. He turned to face the pub, which was crowded for a Friday afternoon. There were a lot of wrinkly faces hidden in the shadows; a lot of the old timers had come out. They were mainly a sorry looking lot – borderline alcoholics and retirees coasting on a hefty pension or a trust fund – but they could be relied on to get indiscriminately angry if the polemic was fiery enough. “I says I didn’t vote for that baastard to close them foreigns out! I says, we’re a progressive village! We won’t have Beard and his brown-shirted shits tellin’ us wot we can bluddy well do, will we!?”
There were a fair few rumblings, punctuated by the odd bout of flatulence. Jackson could tell they were riled up.
“Let’s go and storm that bluddy village ‘all and show that Beardy twat who’s in bluddy charge!”
A few burps this time. He was definitely getting to them.
The door to the pub burst open, and Joseph Lenin stood in front of them, framed by a corona of sunlight, the rays dancing off the edge of his specs.
“I hear you, old man,” said Joseph with and upward tilt of his chin. “Let me get on the dog and phone, by eck, and we’ll have a revolution here that will shake the world to it’s very foundations!”
Jackson nodded. Smiled. Sipped his pint.
“Let me ‘ave a wazz first and we’ll get started!”
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