The Gammon Meeting of Restoration 2020

In a smoke-stained, beer soaked room with rickety wooden tables, and battle-scarred velour covered chairs and stools,  a group of middle-aged men are having a bit of a meeting.

 

“Right then.  Let’s get this meeting underway shall we?”

“Hang on.  Where’s Bob?”

“Bob’s not coming.  He’s picked up some work.”

“Doing what?”

“Dunno.  He wouldn’t say.  In fact he was pretty cagey about it.  Says he’s having a meeting with this new boss this afternoon. First of all I want you all to look at the notice.”

“What is it and where did it come from?”

“It’s our list of demands now that we’ve left Europe.”

“The EU.”

“Same thing.”

“Nope.  Europe is all to do with geography.  We’ve left the EU but we’re still a part of Europe – geographically.  That’s what my boy says anyway.”

“Anyway.  I’ve been given this poster and asked if we can sign up to circulate it round our area. ”

“Can we read it first? I’m not signing up to anything without reading it first. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place.”

“It’s called the Restoration Bill and it’s list of demands from those of us who voted to leave Europe, I mean the EU.”

“Ta.”

“I’ll read the first bit – ‘We the Sovereign Citizens of the United Kingdom demand a redress of our God-Given right to Liberty, Free Speech, Assembly, Self-defence, National Self-determination and Christian Faith, all of which have been eroded’.”

“Do what?”

“Doesn’t the United Kingdom include Wales, Scotland and a bit of Ireland.  I thought we were trying to make Britain great again?”

“We are.  I think that bit might be a mistake.  Shall I go on?”

“Yeah, I mean unless anyone else has any objections about the first bit?”

“Well I do.  I’m an atheist now but before that I was a Jehovah’s Witness; so the bit about God-given and Christian doesn’t apply to me, does it?”

“I don’t go to church so it doesn’t apply to me either.”

“Will you just stop nit-picking and let me get on with it!”

“Sorry I spoke.”

“Number one on the list is restoring the freedom of speech eroded by hate speech laws.”

“What does that mean when it’s at home?”

“It means that we can say what we like, when we like and about who we like, and we can’t be stopped or get arrested for it anymore.”

“Hardly freedom of speech when you’re told to stop nit-picking is it?”

“I’ll ignore that comment.  Point two is restoring the right to self-defence and bear arms. Before you say anything, ‘bear arms’ means that you can carry weapons without getting arrested, nothing to do with wearing a vest.”

“Cool.  Knives and guns and such?  That first bit about self-defence; does that mean that if a foreigner has a go at me I can knife him and not get arrested?”

“Hmm, I’m not too sure about that.  Point three goes on about Common Law, the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights.”

“Flippin’ heck what’s all that about then?”

“I looked it up.  Common Law is law written by the courts and not the government, the Magna Carta is an important document that goes back to 1215, and King John signed up to it. The Bill of Rights isn’t that old, it only goes back to 1689 and it’s all about rights.”

“No shit Sherlock.”

“So this lot that drew up the poster want us to go back to the really old days then?  Why?”

“Point four; restoration of Double Jeopardy, jury trial and Legal Aid.”

“Double Jeopardy!  I saw that film.  Cracking!  What’s it mean for us though?”

“It means you can’t be tried for the same offence twice.  If I broke into the club and bashed the manager but they didn’t have enough evidence so I was found not guilty.  If a witness came forward after the trial and proved that it was me, I couldn’t be tried again.”

“Sounds good to me.I’n not sure about legal aid though.  They gave it to that bloke who was going to be deported and he won the case and was allowed to stay here because he had a cat.”

“You’ve been reading the Daily Mail again.”

“It was in the Sun.”

“Point five is about getting rid of the Commies so that they can’t infect our families, education system, law and public institutions with their nasty ideas.  I think we can all agree to that one.”

“I suppose so.  Can I go to the bog?  This is a bit boring and my bladder’s full.  Shall I get another round in when I get back?”

“Good idea.  All this thinking and talking is making me thirsty.”

“Hurry up then. I’ll carry on anyway; the next bit is about making sure that our kids are being taught British History, Geography, Constitution and Christian Faith in school.”

“What does constitution mean?”

“It’s like telling kids about laws and such. They have it in America.”

“But I thought  you said earlier that we’d be going back to really old laws from really old England?”

“Point seven is about British Fishing waters.  These blokes want us to have full fishing control of 200 miles.  I suppose that’s all around the United Kingdom because that’s where the sea is.”

“Doesn’t apply to rivers and such then?”

“I don’t think so.  Point eight is making sure that veterans get housing, benefits and services.”

“Does that include all veterans or just the British ones?  What about the gurkhas and such? That would mean that they got more stuff than people who weren’t in the forces.  That’s not really fair is it?”

“Better than giving it all away to immigrants.”

“Aren’t gurkhas immigrants if they decide to live here?”

“Point 9.  I can’t see any discussion on this one.  No EU flags to be flying on official buildings. Is that okay?”

“Yeah.  Stick the good old Union Jack up there instead.”

“The Union Flag you mean.  The flag that represents the United Kingdom rather than just Britain.”

“You mean that the Welsh, Irish and Scottish are allowed to fly our flag as well?  What about all that bunting and little paper flags that we bought cheap?”

“You can fly St George’s flag if you like, but bear in mind that he never visited England and he was born in what is now Turkey.  So he wasn’t even an immigrant.  Just a foreigner and the patron saint of people with the clap.”

“No! Where did you get all this from?”

“My nipper did a project on it for school.  They’re doing family trees now.  I had  to spit in a bottle so my lad could send off and find out what my DNA is.  Everyone in the class had to get samples; your girl is one of the ones who got their results back early, I’m still waiting for mine.  I might turn out to be royalty or something. What did yours say.”

“I’ll ask her when I get home.  Are you sure?  I haven’t spay in any bottles.”

“No, but you’re always gobbing in your back yard.  She probably snuck out there with a cotton wool bud  and scraped a bit off the floor.”

“Do you lot want to hear the last point or not?”

Ah, go on then.”

“It’s a bit long but basically it means that anyone convicted of crimes, and having responsibility for covering up grooming groups will have to give full disclosure.”

“Grooming?  What like combing and washing dogs and that?”

“No, you numpty! Like those blokes who were having sex with under age girls.  Those foreigners.”

“Most of whom were born in the country and were British citizens – or should I say sovereign citizens?”

“Are you sure you weren’t a remoaner mate?”

“Here’s your beer lads.  You’ll never guess what I’ve just heard at the bar!”

“Ta.  Okay, what have you heard?”

“The Club’s undergoing a refurb; new owner, new manager,  new name and new rules and regulations.”

“What! They can’t do that!It’s our club.”

“Not any more. It hasn’t been a club for working men for a long time.  None of us work.  Who’s bought the club? ”

“It’s a constitution – no – a consortium.  That means it’s a group of people have clubbed in together to buy it and run it.”

“Who is in the consortium?  Are they from round here?”

“Yeah.  The head of the consortium things owns the Polish supermarket, the Pizza Pan and the French bistro down the road. I don’t think he’s going to take too kindly to that poster of yours either.”

“We’ll have to fight this lads!  We know our rights!”

“What rights? You going to wave the Magna Carta at him?”

“The manager says we’ll have to pay our tabs and apply for membership before the end of the week.  It’s going to be known as The European Comradeship club.  I’ve already signed up.”

 

 

 

 

‘Georgie’

IMG_20140423_115738

This figure of St George was one of my lovely mum’s favourite finds.

He belongs to an era when Mum had stalls at antique fairs in the South of England.

She had an eye for beautiful things anyway and when she retired, she decided to dabble in actually buying and selling.  My stepdad was generally roped in to lug the special boxes down three flights of stairs – the less special and more commercial boxes were kept in the very cold storage shed by the bins. He didn’t mind too much; he would sit at the back of the stall and read the Sunday papers once everything was set out, maybe strolling off to the nearest pub for a pint of real ale at lunchtime, and coming back to help Mum pack up again.

If he was working, it would fall to me to help.  I liked wandering amongst the other stalls, selling whilst Mum was off having a browse, and I even got into the swing of unwrapping the newspaper from each precious object, displaying it and wrapping it up again at the end of the day.

I learned from Mum. What was good and what was tat. What would sell and what would be endlessly wrapped and re-wrapped.  Different fairs called for different goods depending on the clientele.

I became eagle-eyed for those who came to pilfer; interrupting them with a smile and a question before they had the chance  to tuck the object of desire into a capacious pocket.

Even now special things sing to me from amongst the rubbish.  They may not always be worth much; I probably wouldn’t be any  good on ‘Bargain Hunt’ but as the saying goes – I know what I like.

Some of Mum’s favourites never actually made it onto the stall.  Her St George statue – or Georgie as he became affectionately known, was one of those objects. He stood proudly by the fire in every property Mum lived in: the third floor maisonette I grew up in, the sheltered housing flat she and my stepdad moved into when the stairs became too much, the even more sheltered accommodation just down the road from us that they moved 240 miles to in order to see more of their beloved grandsons, and finally the specially adapted bungalow that enabled Mum to escape from hospital and have an extra eighteen months of freedom.

I was always very fond of Georgie.  He’s a tactile boy with a lovely smile. I’d often sit on the floor next to him whilst watching the TV.  There was always something very reassuring about his solid wooden form.

Not surprisingly, years later when Uni Boy was a toddler, he developed an affection for Georgie too.  We had to watch him closely; the origins of Georgie’s paintwork were unknown and whilst mostly smooth, there were a few hard edges still.  Georgie was one of his first words, which pleased my Mum extremely.

Gap Boy also enjoyed Georgie’s company and at first there were a few tussles regarding ownership but UB moved on to playing chess with Grandma, leaving GB to the less cerebral pleasures of Georgie hugging.

Just like Puff the Magic Dragon, Georgie was abandoned by my boys as they grew older and turned to gameboys and football but he still held pride of place by the fire; a memento of Mum’s antique fair days long after she left us in 2009.

Georgie was the first thing I saw when Hub and I began the long process of clearing out the bungalow after my beloved stepdad died suddenly in 2012.

I brought Georgie home to my own fireplace and he has been there ever since; a symbol of my Mum’s love for her heritage, for beautiful  and unusual things.

My lack of prowess in the field of housework is well-known.  I have had feather dusters but they invariably disintegrate from age rather than use. My mantelpiece is a display area for important but not necessarily priceless objects.

It is Georgie’s special day today so I have dusted him down and elevated him to the windowsill where he can keep company with the freesias and my star-gazing bunny.

Happy St Georgie’s Day Mum.