In a sleepy Kent village, nestled between the Church and the Haven for Fallen Women sits the Sluts Return. Dating back to the sixteenth century this drinking establishment has seen them come and seen them go. Naturally it is a frequent watering hole for members of CAMRA as it serves some of the best real ale in the county.
The layout is simple, one large room downstairs in which there is a bar, an inglenook fireplace and seating for eighty patrons. Two walls are taken up by booths which have been constructed using old church pews, these are popular because they give a modicum of privacy to those who decide to occupy them. In the centre of the room are a scattering of round wooden tables, each with four chairs. The floor is flagstone and the walls are daub and wattle. The nicotine stained ceiling has the obligatory exposed beams expected of a building of that period.
Taking advantage of the privacy offered by the booths or, “the pews”, as the locals describe them, two men sit deep in conversation. Pints of ‘Badgers Cull’ and Halal pork scratchings sit forgotten as they go over the day’s events. One of them looks up from his sheaf of correspondence and asks the other.
“Where is Nigel today?”
“Dunno lah, iznee sposed to be on dat Andy Mah Show or summit?”
“Do you mean the Andrew Marr show, Paul?”
“Dats wor I said, lah.”
“You really need to ease off on the scouse accent Paul, people find it difficult to understand you.”
“Woz dat sposed t’mean lah? Didn’t do the Beatles any arm did it?”
Suddenly a shadow is thrown across the table, both men look up.
“You two arguing again?” Asks Nigel.
“No, just having a laugh with Neil, I’m sure he thinks that I actually speak to people on the street in a thick scouse accent.”
“F..ck off! Paul!” exclaims Neil, his faced creased with mirth.
“I’ve just got back from London and my throat is as dry as a camel’s foot.” said Nigel. “I’ll just get a pint of Badgers and I will join you.”
Five minutes later he returns and joins the other two in the pew.
“What have we learned from this week then lads?” Asks Nigel.
“Well I think you can take the moron’s offer of a televised debate with a pinch of salt.” Said Paul. “By the way.” He added. “Good catch on the Marr show, dragging Ted the Twerp into a debate when he obviously is of the same view as the moron.”
“Yes, I was rather pleased with myself on that one. I’m with you though Paul, I can’t see Cameron allowing any debate if their is the slightest chance that he will come out of it looking even more of a clown than he already does!”
“What’s your take on it Neil?”
Neil took a sip of Badgers and savoured the cool amber liquid on his tongue as he contemplated how to answer.
“In my view he has tried to be clever by inviting the ‘Greens’. I believe that he hopes to tie you down in green issues so that he doesn’t have to answer any questions on the EU and immigration. Ted the Twerp would take you on tomorrow, he is desperate to show his Party faithful that he is “The Man” the one who will destroy the threat of UKIP and then go on to defeat Cameron both in the debates and the GE.”
“Neil’s right.” Said Paul, breaking into the conversation. “Miliband couldn’t help himself with you on the Marr Show Nigel. He is desperate to shake off the ‘weak leader’ tag. No one has tried so hard to lead from behind since Kinnock was in charge of Labour. You need to be on the same platform as Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. The only way we will achieve that is by petitioning the broadcasters and by using social media to force the issue. We could also get up a hundred thousand signature petition demanding that a four-way televised debate take place. Argue the Greens out as their star is fading fast and they will have no relevance whatsoever post 2015.”
“You could say that about the LibDems.” said Nigel, a wry smile on his face.
“Don’t discount them yet Nigel.” Said Neil. “They are still strong in the West Country and around the Levels. They split Labour in North Wales and are strong in Shetland and Orkney plus, don’t forget they are well represented in the South especially around Romsey and Winchester.”
Eventually the conversation left the issue of the televised debates and moved to Miliband’s (Ted the Twerp) speech at the weekend. He called it his ‘cost of living contract’. Ten points which he said would improve the lot of everyone in the UK.
Nigel read them out, one by one. The table was hushed when he finished repeating the Twerps vision of the future. Then Neil burst out laughing swiftly followed by Paul. Nigel couldn’t help himself and joined in. Soon, tears were streaming down their cheeks.
“Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages by banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and pressing for stronger controls in Europe.” Uttered Nigel through fits of laughter.
“Wonder where he got that idea from?” Said Paul.
Here is the best one, stuttered Neil, tears still streaming down his face. “Get two hundred thousand homes built by the year 2020.” “Aghh, ha,ha,ha,”
“By whom?” Asked Nigel.
“The abused foreign workers of course.” Replied Paul.
“Keep the noise down over there!” Shouted the publican, Mr Huhne.
“OK Speedy.” Replied Nigel, then, turning to Neil. “Get another round in Neil.”
“Did you hear the Twerp’s speech?” Asked Paul of Nigel as Neil did a slow march to the bar.
“Talk about hypocrisy! Exclaimed Nigel. “The man must be suffering from terminal amnesia. In one part of his speech he says;” if you vote Labour in these elections, you’ll be voting for the one Party that has placed the cost-of-living crisis at the very centre of our national debate.
“Remind me Paul, which Party caused the cost-of-living crisis? Then he goes on to say;”
Labour MEPs will put growth and jobs at the heart of the European Union.
“That rings true because at the heart of the European Union is Germany!”
“You are so right Nigel. He is playing to the tune of Barroso and Van Rompuy. He even has the audacity to say that;” Labour MEPs will insist that the EU helps clamp down on tax avoidance by the largest companies.
“My goodness, he knows full well that it is the ‘largest companies’ who finance EU policy.”
“I know.” Replied Nigel. “He is relying on the fact that hardly anyone in the UK knows how the EU really works.”
Neil arrives back with the beer.
“Still talking about the Twerp’s speech?” He asked.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Replied Paul through a mouthful of Halal pork scratchings.
“The bit that had me and the missus rolling about laughing.” Said Neil. “was when he said.” Working with Local Authorities, Labour will guarantee that there is a job for every young person who has been out of work for more than a year, paid for by taxing the banker’s bonuses.
This set all three of them off again into fits of raucous laughter.
“No more please.” Stuttered Nigel. “I’ve got to get up early in the morning and my ribs are killing me.”
“Pork scratching, anyone?” Asked Paul.