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A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture

By Tony Carden

 

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Episode Twenty Eight

 

“That” Checkers Meeting Truth Edition

 

Did the scene go like this?

 

‘Well, come on now, settle down. We’ve got to make a decision on my Plan.’

‘PM, if you please.’

‘Yes, Chris?’

‘We’ve got some leverage with the EU on how we negotiate. We should use that to the full to get the kind of agreement that really benefits the country. In every way.’

‘Am I to understand you consider my Plan does not do enough to benefit the country?’

‘I am sure we will benefit from a negotiated exit. But we have many options. I am not sure that the current plan is the best for the UK. We can—and should—do better. We’re giving far too much away with the current proposal.’

‘Hear. Hear.’

‘Ah, Boris, you have something to say?’

‘Indeed, PM. I am with Chris on this. Your Plan—and I note the capital P that goes with it—does offer some benefits. But it needs to be compared to the alternatives.’ He gestured at the document in front of him. ‘What happened to the briefs that we were asked to prepare making the arguments for the different alternatives? I don’t see that these have gone into the Plan, PM.’

‘I can assure you every facet of the Plan is carefully crafted. It provides a comprehensive structure that achieves the intent of those who voted leave at the referendum.’ She waged a finger at him. ‘You should be pleased. We’re squeezing Bernard and his ilk in such a way that we’ll emerge from Brexit triumphant. It’ll be a huge success, you’ll see.’

‘For which you’ll no doubt claim credit.’

‘No Chris. We’re here to exercise Cabinet collective decision making. We must all agree on my Plan.’ Mary paused before continuing. ‘Of course, as PM, it’ll reflect well on me.’ She saw their expressions. ‘And on everyone here, of course.’

‘This is not what people voted for.’

‘Now, Boris, what makes you think that?’

‘May I quote your own words back at you? Leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market and the ECJ; it means controlling immigration.’ He tapped the document on the table. ‘This doesn’t guarantee these things.’

‘Now, let me reiterate. After we leave, we’ll be a great, global trading nation and will be safer, more secure and more prosperous.’

‘So, you expect us to buy into this Plan…’ he picked up the document before letting it drop on the table ‘…you have put before us.’

‘Precisely. It’s the best alternative.’

Boris shook his head. Chris tapped on the table with his fingers.

‘Can I have a show of hands on agreeing this is the way forward.’

Hands went up around the table.

‘Boris, Chris, you haven’t raised your hands.’

‘That’s because I can’t support this.’ He pointed at the document.

‘You’ll have to reconsider your position in the cabinet. If you don’t agree, you’re out.’

‘I see PM. That looks a lot like blackmail to me. I don’t like it. Nor will the party.’

‘You’re on you own on this, Boris. You should know I have taxis on standby if you decide to resign. There’s also a stenographer in the ante room who will be pleased to take down your resignation letter.’

‘You are putting me over a barrel, PM.’

‘Indeed Boris.’ She waved around the room. ‘This is a hard game.’

Slowly he raised his hand. Chris followed likewise.

‘So, we are all agreed then. How nice.’

 

 

Or like this?

 

‘Well, come on now, we’ve got to make a decision on my Plan.’

‘PM, if you please.’

‘Yes, Chris?’

‘I would just like to have it on record that you have come up with a very inventive way of tackling the thorny issue of leaving the EU. I couldn’t have come up with a better proposal myself.’

‘Why thank you, Chris, that is so kind of you.’ She beamed at him. ‘Since you haven’t, as yet, put forward a proposal, we won’t be able to compare our plans, will we?’

There were titters in the room.

‘PM, please.’

‘Yes, Boris?’

‘I have concerns about your Plan. I note you put it in capitals. Most daring of you. Up to now, we’ve been hitting our head against the proverbial and possibly physical brick wall in our negotiations with that froggie creep Bernard. Do you honestly think it will survive encounter with that toad?’

‘We’ve got his measure.’

‘But PM, any dilution of your proposals may make us a vassal state of the EU.’

‘It won’t come to that, I can assure you.’

‘Do I then have your assurance that, if any of our red lines are breached, we’ll break off negotiations? It could mean a hard Brexit.’

The were mutters around the room.

‘Of course. When I said Brexit means Brexit, I meant it. And I still do. It most definitely means we’ll be leaving the Single Market and the jurisdiction of the ECJ and taking back control of our borders. It’s what people want.’

‘In that case, I think I can go along with the Plan.’ He tapped his fingers on the document in front of him.

‘PM.’

‘Chris. You’ve got something on your mind?’

‘Indeed, I do. I’m asking PM why you didn’t include some of the suggestions from the working parties that looked into our negotiating stance?’

‘We did.’

‘But I can’t see anything from their reports.’

‘There isn’t anything.’

‘Come again, PM?’

‘None of the recommendations passed muster. I had to start from scratch and come up with my own Plan.’ She picked up her copy and rolled it up. She held it like a truncheon. ‘We’re here to exercise Cabinet collective decision making. We must all agree on my Plan.’

‘Are we voting?’

‘Yes, Chris, we are voting on the Plan.’

‘Ah, it’s come to this.’

‘Well, if you’re unhappy you can always resign.’ He said nothing. ‘Let’s have a show of hands for my Brexit plan.’

Hands shot up around the table.

‘We’re all agreed. How nice.’

 

Or was it like this?

 

‘Well, come on now, we’ve got to make a decision on my Plan.’

‘PM, if you please.’

‘Yes, Chris?’

‘Frankly, I really don’t understand a thing about it.’

‘Hear. Hear.’

‘Ah, Boris, you’ve got something to say.’

‘Well,’ he tapped the proposal in front of him, ‘it’s gobbledygook.’

‘Anyone else got a snide comment about my Plan?’

There was silence in the room.

‘Shall we take a vote on who is in support of proceeding with my Plan.’

‘So, it’s your plan now?’

‘And whose, Chris, did you think it was?’

‘I am Brexit Secretary you know.’

‘I am perfectly aware of that.’ She glared at him. ‘As PM, however, it is my prerogative to have the final say on policy and decisions.’ She stared at each of the cabinet members in turn. ‘With the backing of the Cabinet of course.’

‘Hear. Hear.’

‘Your heckling Boris is becoming quite intolerable.’

‘Just providing my support for our collective position.’ He sniggered.

‘This is a Cabinet meeting, not Question Time in the House.’

‘Well, I thought Checkers was a house.’

‘You know what I mean.’

‘But PM, you must agree that the proposal in front of us won’t work. They’ll never buy it in Brussels.’ He turned to the minister next to him and added sotto voce ‘They won’t have the cash.’ He tittered at his own joke.

‘I suppose that’s meant to be funny?’

‘Well, it’s true isn’t it? Once we leave, they’ll have a beaut of a time paying all those froggie farmers.’

‘This has nothing to do with the CAP.’

‘If the cap fits, wear it.’

‘Boris. Get a grip on yourself. You’re the Foreign Secretary, for God’s sake. You’re not writing one of your columns now, you know.’

‘But I will be.’

‘Don’t you dare!’ Mary picked up her copy of the proposals and slammed it down on the table. ‘We vote.’ She glared at her ministers. ‘Does anyone wish to vote against my Plan?’

The Cabinet remained frozen in a tableau vivant.

‘Good. Then it’s agreed.’

 

*   *   *

 

‘Open up.’

The pounding on the door echoed in the hall.

Ahmed opened the door from the lounge and then hesitated. Weren’t expecting nobody. More pounding. Shit. Not the bailiffs again.

He tentatively made his way towards the front door.

Through the closed door he shouted out. ‘Who’s it?’

‘It’s me, Mrs. Patel.’ Oh God! I haven’t seen her in ages. Why’s she ‘ere?

He opened the door. She gazed at him expectantly.

‘What yah want?’

‘I heard about it.’ It?

What’s it?’

‘Your money, dearie.’ Was I supposed to be doing someit with me dosh? I ain’t got any.

‘I don’t get yah.’

She passed over an envelope. ‘See!’

He opened it. It contained a mix of notes and a few coins at the bottom. He took out the notes and counted them up. Then the four quid in coins. Two hundred and thirty-four quid.

‘What’s it for?’

‘It’s for you, dearie. We ‘eard about your troubles, see.’ What’s ‘appening?

‘For me?’

‘I’s went round and did a collection. Ta ‘elp yah out.’ Collection? To help?

‘People gave me the dosh?’ Yah got to be kidding me.

‘Yes, silly.’

‘Why?’ Shit. What do I say?

She laughed. ‘Ta give yah a bit after ‘em took yah stuff, see.’ Dosh for me. Can’t believe it.

‘Thank you.’

‘There’s else.’

A man carrying a flat screen TV appeared and shouldered past her and tried to pass Ahmed, who blocked his way.

‘Err, what’s that?’

‘Yah TV, mate. It’s ain’t just a pretty piece of glass.’ That’s not mine!

‘Don’t look like me TV. Where’d yah get it?’

‘You donna want ta know, mate.’

Mrs Patel grabbed his arm. ‘You need a TV with the kids ‘n’ all.’

‘It’s for me?’

‘Well, Eddie ‘ere ain’t putting it in ‘is ‘ouse, like. Ain’t that right, Eddie?’

‘No way, Mrs Patel.’

‘That man suggested it.’

‘What man?’

‘The guy at the church.’ You go to church?

‘Do yah mean Welham?’ Can’t be!

‘That’s the bloke. He suggested we do ta whip round.’

‘You know ‘im?’

‘ ‘es ‘elped many ‘round ‘ere.’ I’d no idea.

‘Dah like a cuppa?’

‘Sorry, mate; just puttin’ this in’s lounge and be off.’

‘Mrs Patel?’

‘Nah, Ahmed. You enjoy yah TV.’ I will.

She stomped off.

 

*   *   *

 

INDY REF2 AND THE LOST CRUSADE

FADE IN:

EXT. PARLIAMENT SQUARE – DAY – 1975

A large crowd fills the square.

 

A group of individuals wearing anoraks head towards the square

they appear to be a group of young Labour supporters

 

CLOSER ANGLES ON THE GROUP

Reveal only details of badges, belts and trousers. The

group is silhouetted against the sky as they stride

into the square and head for the statue of WINSTON CHURCHILL.

 

Then the leader raises his hand halting the group.

 

LEADER

To work!

 

GROUP comes to a shambling halt … and only now do we

realize that this is a TROOP OF BOY SCOUTS, all of them about

thirteen years of age. Their “Leader” is only their

SCOUTMASTER, Mr. Salmon.

 

One of the Scouts, a pudgy teenager named HERMAN, steps away from

the rest, bends over and pukes. The other Scouts rag on him.

FIRST SCOUT

Herman’s piss sick!

 

A BLOND SCOUT, however, befriends Herman. He has a thatch of

straw-coloured hair and the no-nonsense expression common to

kids whose curiosity and appetite for knowledge exceed what

they teach in school. Additionally, he has adorned his uniform

with an authentic EUROPEAN UNION FLAG.

 

SCOUTMASTER

Chaps, don’t anybody wander off.

It’s some crowd here and you can easily get lost.

 

Two Boy Scouts climb up the base of the statue.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. LONG SHOT OF CHURCHILL STATUE

The two boys climb off the statue. They head into the crowd.

ZOOM IN:

Herman appears very uncertain as to the wisdom of this

enterprise, but he’s drawn on by his companion’s adventurous

impetuosity.

HERMAN

I don’t think this is such a good idea.

 

LAUGHTER is HEARD; the Blond Scout pulls Herman towards its source.

 

The VOICES GROW LOUDER now as the boys get closer they can see the

origin. Not far away in the crowd, several men are busily unfurling

a large banner. The boys approach cautiously, careful to stay unobserved.

HERMAN

What is it?

 

This is what they see:

 

FOUR MEN are unfolding a huge banner. It is blue and gold.

As it goes up, it opens to reveal what it says: “So long GREAT BRITAIN.”

Next to the lettering is a circle of gold stars.

 

The men are ROUGH MAN (his name describes his dress), ROSCOE

(an East End bully boy of 14) and HALFBREED (with straight black

hair that cascades over his shoulders).

 

And the fourth man wears a LEATHER WAIST JACKET and BROWN

FELT FEDORA HAT. He has his back turned to us, but we would

be willing to bet anything that this is INDY REFF.

 

However, when the man turns, and his face is seen,

we are shocked to discover that it is someone else.

 

We’ll call him FEDORA.

TITLES END

 

The TWO BOYS are mesmerized by what they see.

 

Now we realize that the Blond Scout is actually a young INDY REFF

FEDORA

Alfred, can you get it higher?

MAN

Not really.

 

Two of the men stand and look at Roscoe who steps forward

grabs the pole and tries to yank it up.

ROSCOE

Hey, I’ll get cramp!

 

Whoops from the other men.

ROSCOE

I got an idea, Garth!

 

Roscoe rushes forward and helps Fedora raise the banner. Fedora steps

back and admires the display.

ROSCOE

We got something… We got something!

Look at ‘em.

 

More whoops from the other men.

 

Fedora pulls the banner, which is beginning to sag, upright. Halfbreed

pushes Roscoe as he jumps with excitement. Rough Rider steps

forward to hold the banner as Fedora turns to view the crowd.

ROSCOE

(more whoops; then)

Oh, look at that!

(more whoops)

We’ve done it! We’ve done it!

HALFBREED

Shut up. Shut up.

 

Fedora takes a rolled-up armband from his pocket and puts it on his sleeve.

Fedora’s comrades practically salivate at the sight of it.

ROSCOE (O.S.)

Well, we’ve done it, ain’t we?!

 

Indy takes off his cap and looks down at the off-screen action.

HERMAN

Indy? Indy? What are they doing?

INDY

Shhh!

 

Fedora prances around in front of the banner before

silently appraising its beauty… and its effect. He seems

aloof from the others; somehow superior to them.

HALFBREED

Hey, we got to make ‘em see our sign.

 

Indy stays unseen but is astounded by what he sees.

INDY

(hushed; urgent)

It’s the European Union!

 

Fedora continues to admire the banner, then turns to contemplate the crowd.

People are staring at the banner.

 

Indy turns back to observe the men.

 

INDY

That banner is sending the wrong message.

We must stop them.

 

A look of resolve comes into Indy’s expression, and he turns

back toward Herman

INDY

Run back and find the others. Tell

Mister Salmon that there are men

belittling Britain.

 

Herman doesn’t seem to be listening. Instead, he watches in

wide-eyed horror as a group of men advance in their direction.

INDY

Have him bring the police.

 

Indy matter-of-factly salutes the group coming towards them. They return his greeting.

Herman gasps.

INDY

They’re only EU supporters.

 

Indy grabs Herman’s scout scarf and pulls him closer.

INDY

Did you hear what I said?

HERMAN

Right. Run back. Mister Salmon.

The police. What, what are you gonna do?

INDY

I don’t know… I’ll think of something.

 

Indy releases the scarf, gives Herman a pat and Herman dashes

off. Indy sees the bannermen are distracted. As

they continue to hold the banner aloft,

Indy is able to work his way unseen to within reach of a pole…

 

Fedora looks over at the men holding the banner.

FEDORA

Raise your arms up. C’mon.

 

Indy grabs a pole.

The banner comes loose and Indy is able to make off with both.

ROSCOE

He’s got our thing!

HALFBREED

Get ‘im!

 

The three agitators are so eager to get their hands on Indy,

they knock each other over in the attempt.

 

Only Fedora is unperturbed. He casts a disgusted glance in

the direction of his floored companions — then sets off after Indy.

 

EXT. THE SQUARE – DAY

 

Indy EMERGES from the crowd holding the pole which is swinging about wildly in his hands.

 

The sun blinds him.

He pauses — squints — shields his eyes — looks in all directions.

INDY

Mister Salmon! Anybody! Everybody’s

lost but me!

 

He hears LOUD SHOUTS BEHIND HIM and dashes off. Rough

Rider, Halfbreed, and Roscoe are quick to appear and run after him.

FEDORA

There he is!

MEN

(ad-libs)

Let’s go! Let’s get him! Let’s go!

 

Indy dashes past one group of onlookers to another; he spots a possible way out of the square.

Indy drops the pole. But pulls off the banner and wraps it up.

He makes for a BUS.

 

EXT. ROUTEMASTER BUS

 

Inside Indy hesitates. The bus passes at some speed.

He lunges forward trying to catch the handle.

The ticket collector waves at him to stop and calls out.

Then… he JUMPS.

The impact sends a shock wave up his body that rattles his back teeth.

Indy stands up and is successfully on board the bus.

 

Fedora AND HIS MEN ARRIVE in time to see

Indy jump on the bus, the bus move on and leave.

Indy waves at them.

INDY

Ha! Hah!

ROSCOE

Hey! Come back here!

Fedora pulls out a walkie talkie and speaks into it …

and an AUTOMOBILE come ROARING OUT from the Embankment

(driven by another gang members. Now we

glimpse…

 

THE MAN IN THE PANAMA HAT

The passenger in the car. His face is concealed by the hat’s

wide brim. His arm is out the window, however, and we see an

olive-coloured hand protruding from the sleeve of an expensive

dark-blue woollen suit. He gestures to the agitators.

PANAMA HAT

Come on. Get him!

Indy looks back from the bus to see the car chasing the bus.

It catches up… the car begins to squeeze in on the bus.

Speeding car. Noisy bus. Rushing wind. Sounds of traffic.

Indy holding on and looking back, his

heart pounding, his adrenaline pumping.

The bus VEERS OFF in a new direction — towards a BUS STOP.

There is another bus just about to leave.

EXT. A BUS STOP – DAY

 

The 2nd BUS is pulling out. Indy swings out of the bus and touches ground, bouncing

and manages to grab the handrail of the 2nd bus.

He is hanging precariously on as it accelerates away.

He glances over his shoulder and sees the car pull out after him.

 

Indy gets himself into the bus just as Halfbreed and Rough

Rider leap from the car onto the bus.

 

Halfbreed tries to grab Indy, but Indy dodges and retreats to the upper deck.

Halfbreed clambers up after him but Indy gives him a kick and he tumbles down the stairs.

Indy leaps over him and, just as the bus corners, he jumps.

 

Indy rolls between two passing cars. They honk wildly. One brakes,

tires squealing, it spins out of control. The AUTOMOBILE is forced onto the pavement.

It crashes into a litter bin which flies into the air, spilling garbage everywhere.

 

Halfbreed has recovered and is now running after Indy.

Rough Rider has joined in the pursuit.

Indy enters the door of…

 

To be continued…

 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Chequers?