View Full Version : Victory Tastes like Indian Pale Ale (a few swear words)

May 18th, 2014, 10:38 PM
Victory Tastes like IPA

Steven Cluff grasped the brass doorknob between the thumb and fingers of his right hand and rotated. The doorknob moved loosely at first, but presented resistance after about three quarters of a turn. With a shallow grunt and shove from the balding forty- something, the door gave in. It opened with such an unexpected weightlessness that the newly elected MP for Uxminster on Fei stumbled over the threshold of the Strangers bar for the first time in his career as an elected representative.

Reflexively seeking to escape the embarrassment, but with no feasible way out, Steven found a brief respite looking to the floor.

-Shit, probably no one saw, even if they did, who'd have a camera ready? It'll be fine, I just can't imagine what they'd say back at the office if they saw that...

First, Steven regrouped mentally.

-You won- now show these bastards you're a winner.

Next came the physical recovery. Composing himself, the politician dragged a rucked jacket sleeve back to wrist level. Content his outfit contributed to the victorious aura that the a freshly elected MP must radiate in the face of his peers, Steven allowed his eyes to move from away the safety of Terra Ferma.

Panning across the room his focus was drawn a nearby table, from around which two senior gentlemen, each sporting a pale blue tie, were gazing back with expressions that bridged the gap between perplexion and disdain. From the men's inward lean it was evident that they'd been talking, but the newcomer's clumsy ingress had interrupted whatever secrets of policy or party that'd been tabled. As confusion dissipated one of the blue ties glanced at a beer stained newspaper on their table. He gestured at the front-page article, then turned and gently expressed two words to his companion. Their lips both curled into smiles, neither of which contained a trace of warmth.

Steven had seen the newspaper earlier that day. It had the reputation of a chip shop tabloid and its readership were either not interested in politics, or were amused anthropologists of the common man. The cover headline read:


Six photos below depicted his self alongside a handful of fellow party members. When he'd first seen that picture earlier in the day pride had welled up inside; seeing it again Steven relived remnants of that feeling.

-We've fucking done it, broken in! Did what the Greens, and the Loonies and the Racists couldn't in decades! The public agree with 'US,' they've chosen 'US' to make a change!

He refocussed. The men at the table had already returned to their conversation; the novelty of his presence had run its course. Briefly Steven was taken aback, then their snub set the feeling of pride ablaze..

-Doesn't matter what you do. We've arrived... the people aren't asking for YOU any-more, they're fed up of being told what to do by a conceited political class. Stuck up pricks, filthy looks and games won't stop us.

His mind racing a twenty-five year old habit guided Steven's actions; he drifted across the room finding himself in front of a highly starched bartender.


Steven sipped his pint reluctantly, it was an IPA. It had to be an IPA because the party leader had phoned each of the winning candidates within minutes of the vote count issuing very clear instructions that all public appearances over the next month were to be considered as set pieces, demonstrating British Values in a clear but unobtrusive way to. There was a desire to create a 'dialogue' on Britishness in the public sphere which the party could take the lead on. Responsible consumption of British Ale was amongst these values, so much so that there was a set list of drinks that Steven could and couldn't consume stored on the party Intranet.

He didn't really enjoy ale though; he'd always preferred lager, it was safer, simpler, no one was ever accused of being stuffy, pretentious or gay over a pint of lager. Unfortunately, in his opinion, British lagers simply didn't compete with those from the continent. This opinion was not conducive to his current political aspirations though so he'd chosen to try an Indian Pale Ale from the bar. Concealing a wince at a taste he thought was similar to soapy water, Steven escaped his discomfort by contemplating the immediate future.

The first thing we need to do is get these photos in the press, appear in select committees, show the public that we're serious about policy. Then when its clear we can play the game, but on THEIR side. Then we'll start to peel off some of the more forward thinking conservatives. Let those fossils back there be complacent, before long we'll have their friends, their mandate and their future- and- unlike them, something to offer, WE'RE the future the people ave been asking for since Blair went out of fashion. Now we just have to give the public what they want.

The feeling of righteousness, purpose and place triggered a torrent of dopamine. Briefly the articulation of thought ceased, replaced by a haze of power and peacefulness. As conscious thinking resumed Steven felt the weight of another observer bearing down from his left.

Turning his head the MP's gaze was met by the scowl of a wrinkle-less, and be-spectacled man. The disapproving stranger allowed his gaze to bore silently for a time before engaging.

' So -this what its come to? Hah... I knew it was bad but... They're letting in YOUR...lot...'

-Ah one of last night's losers, well mate they've seen through YOUR LOT now,... he's only young though... I'd be fucked off if I got to grips with the greasy pole and then they turned it upside down...

'-look friend, I'm, sorry to see what happened to you and yours, but I'm here because the people of this country wanted...'

The youthful man sighed and shook his head gently before replying.

'You don't understand why you're hear.'

-Look son, don't start with me now.

'-they're sick of being told what to do by people who don't even live in this country, is why I'm here.'

'Do you think they really are?

The young man's eyes rolled.

' Do you think the Union has ever told any of them to do a thing? Do you think the Commission or the Parliament actually pass those laws about straight bananas, or the ontological nature of chocolate that threaten to shatter their precious way of life? When was the last time you saw a straight banana? They actually have square melons in Japan you know, but we certainly aren't organised enough to get them over here. What chance do you think we have of straight bananas then?

.... and, actually this is one of my favourites, do you really think any of the Romanians, which your party leader enjoys pontificating about so frequently, that actually want to be here have been waiting for the Union to pass a law saying OK Romanians you can come in now?'

Steven and every other Parliamentary candidate of the Independence party had been prepared, at length, for these attacks by the party communication officer. Pre-planned patterns of thoughts lead the next exchange;

Why do these people insist on assuming we're the same as those racists before? Sticking up for British rights doesn't make us hate foreigners.

'They've got plenty of legal workers as well; here to take advantage of our prosperity... and we don't blame or resent honest foreign workers wanting jobs, BUT, we've been elected to secure those positions that the British recovery has created for the British jobless, that's not racist- its common sense.'

The younger man smiled a -knowingly bored- smile and inhaled slowly before retorting.

'There's gold mines in Romania and... I don't know whether you've been to Halifax or Wakefield lately? -they aren't really building gated communities or erecting super hotels in the North. Now, what we do have is a Financial sector in the City of London, which, well, isn't bustling to accommodate migrant workers from central Europe... skilled Anglo Saxons from America and Australia maybe, but your friends... don't seem to worry about them so much.... There is no tide of Romanian workers threatening to drown the British working man,'

A tight coil welled up in Steven's throat, a need to express 'something' but, struggle as he might, the words didn't form into any of the neat rows the Independence party’s spin doctors had drilled into his mind. He was blank and could only return a frustrated half grimace.

The challenger continued:

'In practice the Union does very little outside of negotiating trade tariffs. Its the intention to do more that makes it closest thing the press have to a real life Soap Opera. The Union talks about policies and the papers report what they like about them; they can say what they want because there's no, direct impact on any one... any one individual's life... they inflate policy initiatives, characters and scandals - but with no one person impacted who'd ever be bothered to try and disprove the myths?

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story as they say. It seems like talking about a supra natural oppressor sells more tabloids than analysing real legislation or exposing run of the mill corruption. A good narrative needs a villain you know, something that can be seen and struggled against.

-and you? Where do you fit in? You and your friends are the audience members so deluded that you've built a political party dedicated to attacking this phantom, and now, the political and economic situation is so desperate, the impotence of the people to choose decisive leaders or see any consequence to their actions so clear, they need their scapegoat more than ever. You and your friends are just another part of the show; you're the political equivalent of those people who attack actors in the street because they can't separate the reality from a villain played on screen.... You know the sort of person that you read about in those magazines with names like 'More' or 'Shine.' Who even buys those things? -People want to watch your delusion playing out here in parliament- like a freak show- to make themselves feel better.'

Steven snapped.

'I- I've a duty to my constituents, I've won an election-this party... has made history- and I won't be told-' his shout was cut in half.

'-you will be told though- What do you think's going to happen when your leadership calls a three line whip? Do you think the six of you can pass policy? Your whip might as well be called a flagellant.

You were never meant to pass policy- they elected six of you. You're here because the people's situation is so bleak outside of the precious few in London, that all they could do was scream at their leader's -at us- in catharsis. You and your friends are the spittle that flecked from their desperate scream staining the velvet of Black Rod's cloak. Enjoy your fifteen minutes, let the rest of us get on with the business of trying to steer through this mess. We'll wash you off in five years.'

The spectacled man sighed once more, threw a final broadside of an expression and paced away drink in hand.


Watching the young career politician sink into the crowds at the bar, it struck him. Steven understood his anger was real and justified but the true cause was hidden amongst the people, the situation, and the history, there was never one group to attack, one body to leave. Now Steven had seen the face of the real enemy he knew that he was powerless in its wake.

May 19th, 2014, 02:03 AM
What victory? Six independents elected among 646? Or was this a by-election with only six seats up for grabs and all considered safe for the ruling party? That would be a victory, but no such situation is stated.

The best line is near the end: Your whip might as well be called a flagellant.

You need to focus. Your narration has much the same confusion as I would expect to come from speeches by members of such a minority party. You need to step back, decide how you can make the confrontation clear-cut.

This line confuses me: Steven sipped his pint reluctantly, it was an IPA. It had to be an IPA... How does that go with the explanation that says the Leader of the Party had specified that British ale was to be consumed?

I come away confused, and I've covered my share of politics from the Mississippi State Legislature to the Belize National Assembly. I think you need a serious reworking to make matters clear for all of us.

May 19th, 2014, 08:00 AM
Thanks for taking the time to feedback:

I guess what I wanted to go for, and clearly need to work harder to show, was the personal victory of the election (In Britain you elect individuals not pary members technically and I just wanted that often forgotten idea of electing a person to be a focus) and how the idea of the personal victory the system intends becomes meaningless in the face of party politics. The other victor was the crazy fringe party becoming actually viable. 6 seats is no small achievement in our 2.5 party system. Will work harder to clear up both these points in the next version

Yeah the Indian Pale Ale, I dunno, it just seems like there's always an IPA on at the Bars I go to and its one of the reliable British Ales that you can find. (I think I'll spend more time clarifying the selection process)

Yes and on re-read I think the whole last section where the younger guy explains how he's been mislead by the media narrative and also demonstrates the arrogance of the political class needs to be simplified somehow. I can see how the last 1000 words just aren't right now on re-read.

May 19th, 2014, 02:43 PM
gamblingworld - Maybe start with your 'winner' and work on his image. Consider who and what you want him to be. The stumble, hesitation, and uncertainty as he enters the bar is distracting and creates the idea that he's a loser. Later in the confrontation the picture of a loser is confirmed. Have him stride in with head held high, confidently orders his ale, and look about him with the air of a man who has arrived and who knows he is a winner. Yes, his party has only six seats, but they will make themselves heard and he will ensure that everyone from the Prime Minister to the Leader of the Opposition know who he is and where he stands.

Then work to make the confrontation with the majority member coherent, a step-by-step tearing down of the winner's conceit. The next to last paragraph, beginning 'You were never...' works quite well but the back-and-forth between the two preceding that final verdict needs work to clarify where the two stand and why.

May 19th, 2014, 04:24 PM
'You don't understand why you're hear.'

This is where spell check lets us all down!

The cynicism from the younger chap is refreshing. One would expect such from the older protagonist. Your vocabulary is simply exquisite, especially in dialogue. I would be happy to read more. When I say that, I mean, I want to read more!