- That’s it.
- The clock tower?
- Uh-huh. The building at which the man was pointing disappeared as their pod went behind a wide white steel upright. Father and son were on a big wheel beside a river. Each time it completed a rotation, the wheel passed a derelict building, a pile of bricks except for a wall standing prone and leaning slightly to the right. Just visible was a faded advertisement hoarding which said ‘Queue here for London Eye tickets’.
- So why did you bring me here?
- Because of what it symbolises, because it’s important for you to understand.
- Come on, think about it. You did history at school.
- Yeh, Mr Gayle’s class. I know the Government used to be in London before it moved to Norwich.
- And… something to do with the final war?
- Yes, in that building the politicians decided to go to war. That was the beginning of it all. If they’d listened to the people… we didn’t want it, we demonstrated.
- But it was democratic then, right? So the people elected the Government. Which sounds cool, I mean, I’d like to do that when I’m old enough. But then Mr Gayle said it was crazy to expect a badly-educated population to elect leaders based on inadequate information.
- Son, you have no idea. Putting power into the hands of the people sounds wonderful. In practice, the people never knew the real power they had. They just let the politicians get on with it and the politicians stopped telling the people what they were doing. They treated the people with contempt.
- Yeh, that’s pretty much what Mr Gayle said.
- What else did Mr Gayle say?
- That… the Government lied to go to war, when war wasn’t the right thing to do, there were other things to try first …
A voice interrupted them:-
- They… dissembled. The people in charge didn’t read the history of this country, they thought that what had gone before had nothing to do with them, that they didn’t need to learn from the experience of the other political leaders of this country. They thought they knew best.
Father and son looked across the pod at the elderly man they’d followed onboard. There were just the three of them in Pod 24.
The man turned to the window again. He wore an old-fashioned Homburg hat pulled down to his ears, his hands pushed deep into the pockets of his winter coat on what was a warm day. All days since the final war were warm. Something to do with the chemicals.
The pod shuddered and came to a halt.
- Thank you for visiting London Town. This is the last stop of your tour. Please disembark and go to your tour bus by Door 3 where your exit identity will be confirmed.” The voice was tinny, it came from no mouth.
People spilled out from other pods onto the pavement. Father and son stood in line behind the elderly man. The winter coat swamped him, as if it wasn’t his. They inched forwards, listening to the people in front saying their name aloud.
- Edward Challinor Lyons
- Jemima Lyons
- Timothy John Prentice
- Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.
© Sandra Danby
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A discussion about democracy, after the last war: CONSEQUENCES #flashfiction via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-r4