The daylight was going but Mary had finish writing her cards. She had been listening to music and an appropriate piece was playing.
Mary knew it was cold outside, but there was no escape from reality, she needed logs. Robert had delivered some pine logs, sustainability was important, there had been a frost, and snow had fallen all day.
Would this change, she asked herself, would we all fall into a semi-conscious, non-existence, of despondency and despair, forever?
As the light went the warmth went and the crisping air reddened Mary’s cheeks.
What would next year hold for us?
She went in and was glad to be by her open fire. The new logs crackled and popped for a while then settled to a warm glow.
The radio was running ‘Greatest speeches of the 20th Century’. Churchill was describing the terrible plight of the British Expeditionary Force on the beaches at Dunkirk.
Mary was reminded of the prophecies of doom by the nay-do-wells prior to the Referendum. There would be disaster and famine and the country would be ruined if we did not stay under the rule of the EU. Everything was thrown at those poor British troops by an Army and a power that had been preparing for the domination of Europe long before many had realised.
The sound drifted into a drone as Mary’s mind drifted, with her gaze, into the fire. The flames licked and curled, swirled and unfurled, mesmerized and captivated.
The door from the hall flew open and an American colonist stepped into the room.
It was as though he had just stepped out of a battle.
He began speaking.
“The British imposed a tyranny with their taxes. Is the way to oppose tyranny to allow oneself to be subjugated?” he asked with a conviction and an urgency.
Before Mary could answer,
“No! Because the tyranny will continue. The bullies do not seek victory their actions are their reality.”
Mary was shocked, “Were we that bad?”
“Not bearing you any personal disrespect ma’am, but yes. You, the British that is, were pompous, arrogant and stupid. Now it seems the shoe is on the other foot.” He looked at her, and, lowering his voice, said
“Take my word get out of the EU as quick as you can. Remember, no taxes without representation”.
Mary thought. It was two and half years since the Referendum. The American War of Independence dragged on for eight years, many died. Mary looked at the bullet hole in his chest and realised the fundamental importance and need for self-determination.
In the background on the far side of the room there was someone standing in the shadows who now moved forward into the light. He was an Indian man, short wiry and with sunken eyes. He looked as though he had been starving.
“I have a message for you.” He wore simple clothes and appeared poor but there was no doubt in him. “We are all the same memsahib, some think they are better, and that is their mistake.”
He wasn’t being vindictive, just stating a fact.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean, memsahib.”
Mary was suddenly aware of another person but had not seen him enter. He was tall thin with a wry smile. He coughed and Mary sensed he was dying.
“I warned of what will happen, it started in 1884. My timing was out”, his brow furrowed a little “but it is coming just the same”.
“The politics of power are addictive. They have an enigmatic feline attraction. But the consequences are frightening.”
The light dimmed at that point, the others had frozen and the temperature had dropped a few degrees.
He continued, “They will confuse you and divide you, Mary, believe in yourself and stand firm!”
At that all three of them then, strangely, started singing.
“Under the spreading chestnut tree,
Open your eyes and you will be,
Able to love, and able to see
Under the spreading chestnut tree”
“Freedom, Freedom, Freedom”, they were chanting.
Mary awoke with a start, the radio was droning in the background.
Mary’s neurons were busy, the electrical chemistry buzzing, connections were being made. The penny dropped; the mechanism whirred; the myriad of similar photos flapped at speed, and the person walked across the stage. A sheet on a flip chart was dropped and one big word exposed.
That is what this is all about.
“…We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous manœuvre.” The steady drone of talking continued.
It is easy to assume your world is the best, as separating subjectivity and objectivity is not easy. We are not warring tribes and Winston put his finger on it when he said “This is not our war – this is a war of the high-up people who use long words and have different feelings.”
Mary likened her realisation to an untidy desk; moving pieces of frustration, anxiety and fear out of the way and exposing empathy, responsibility and love.
She noticed that Churchill’s voice had become louder. He was in the middle of an important part of his speech “……We will fight on the beaches, (crackling) we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, (more crackling) … Mary turned the radio off, a storm was gathering.
“Let’s have a nice cup of tea with maybe a small tot of ingredient X, for Christmas.”
And in the words of Tiny Tim:
“God bless us, everyone!”
[Kim’s article above was written in collaboration with ‘Trinity’.]