Malcolm sat on the edge of his seat. He watched each foot appear then disappear before him. He felt a hand upon his knee and gazed up at his mother’s patient face. She looked different today; her blond hair hung loose and rested over her shoulder and she looked like one of those painted dolls he’d seen in Harrods with red lips and blue eyes, but she was prettier than them. |
"Stop it little one, you're making the chair wobble."
He frowned and rested his feet on the floor.
"I know it’s boring; we won't be long," she said with a smile.
Malcolm remembered the hall to be bigger. The four hundred people packed into it seemed to bring the walls in close, almost on top of him. With every seat taken, the men, women and reluctant children, perched wherever they found space.
“Mummy are we sitting in the front because we’re important?”
“Yes, you’re very important, Daddy’s trying to make things better for you.”
“What, just for me? What about those people outside in the rain?”
“Yes, them too.”
He rested his elbows on his knees, put his head in his hands and stared up at the stage where his Father stood with several people gathered around him. His thick black hair swept away off his handsome face, held in place with a generous layer of Brill Cream. At six foot three he stood taller than the other candidates. Malcolm swelled with pride as even at his young age, he sensed the air of superiority his Father emanated that most confused with plain confidence.
Each candidate had a different colour rosette pinned to their chest. They jostled for the best position, but his Father dominated the stage regardless.
“Mummy, look, Daddy’s got a blue flower; that’s my favorite colour," he said not taking his eyes off his father. “And it matches his tie…”
“Yes dear, it’s my favorite colour too...Cross your fingers,” she said needing to raise her voice a little over the crowd.
Malcolm lifted his hands, smiled and crossed both fingers for his mother to see.
“Mummy, I’ve crossed my toes as well…”
“Good boy,” she smiled and ruffled his hair. “Here we go…” she said putting her arm around him and giving him a squeeze.
The speaker walked across the stage to the podium. He shuffled his papers and tapped the microphone. A dull thud erupted through the old tannoy speakers which peered down at an angle over the crowd, imposing their importance.
The noise abated but didn’t disappear as the speaker waited for as much hush as he was going to get.
“Oh get on with it you silly old sod.”
Malcolm frowned at his mother; she smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
“Well…he does milk it a bit.”
The balding man stood enjoying his moment as all eyes turned to him.
“In the year of our Lord, Nineteen Eighty four, for the constituency of the London borough of Hanwell. I the undersigned being the returning officer hereby give notice that the total number of votes given for each candidate were as follows for th…”
Malcolm’s mother made pincer like motions with her hands and wobbled her head from side to side.
Malcolm laughed, “What party is Daddy?”
“Conservative,” she mouthed in his direction.
“Glover, David John… London and class war candidate…thirty six votes…”
The hall managed a small clap, “That’s not many is it Mummy?”
“No, but it’s a good effort.”
Malcolm fixed his eyes on his father. He’d moved to the centre of the stage with the Labour candidate to his left. Malcolm knew the man supported Labour because he had a red rosette. He also knew Labour were soft left wing nancies who, if they had their way, would let the black and Paki bastards in to do whatever they liked. He knew this because he often hear Daddy talk on the phone to his friends. He didn’t know what a Paki looked like but knew the bastards were invading the country. Daddy said they were from Pakistan but his friend Ally came from there and he liked him. Daddy was working hard to stop the nasty ones coming in, not Ally, it sounded an important job.
The speaker continued. “Thomas, Linda Jane…Green Party…one hundred and seventy four.”
“That’s good isn’t it…?”
Malcolm knew she was a lesbian, but he didn’t know what a lesbian did.
“Daddy’s going to get lots of votes isn’t he?”
“Yes dear… try to be quiet now, mummys trying to concentrate.”
Malcolm stared at the floor; he swung his feet back and forth getting bored with it all again.
The speaker kept going, Malcolm pulled at a piece of cotton that hung from his jacket. The zig zag of the stitching adding to its length as it yielded.
“Stop that Malcolm,” said his mother, she broke the cotton off with expert fingers.
A yawn spread through him and he covered his mouth with his palm. He’d not slept much over the last few nights, and it was beginning to take its toll.
He rested his hands back in his lap and glanced back up at the stage, there were so many people. He did like the one in the tall hat with a leopard-skin jacket though. He only got seven votes, but didn’t seem to mind at all.
“Wright, Samuel John…”
Malcolm sat bolt upright in his seat; he grabbed hold of his mother’s arm “It’s Daddy, Its Daddy…” He said, his voice rising to a high pitch. His mother didn’t react; she stared transfixed by the speaker.
“Conservative party…Seventeen Thousand five hundred and….” The hall erupted with shouts and claps. The speaker waited for the noise to die down, “Fifty votes”
Malcolm’s father began to shake the hands of everyone on the stage, except the man to his left. The hall went quiet again.
“Knell, Kevin Haldon, Labour… Fourteen….” Malcolm didn’t hear the rest, he and everyone else knew it didn’t matter. Malcolm watched his mother rush up to the stage full of excitement;
She stopped, and ran back and grabbed Malcolm's hand. “Come on Pal, let’s find Daddy.”
He followed her around the side of the stage, up the steps and through the jostling bodies. He could see his father being hugged by one person then another. Desperate to get to him; he followed his mother who pushed her way through.
“Excuse me…excuse me….”
He’d won, Daddy had won. He'd beaten the Lesbian, the paki lover and the man with the tall hat.
Malcolm felt himself being lifted. Light stubble brushed his face and the smell Old Spice slapped him as his father lent in close to kiss his cheek. He held tight as a flash stung his eyes.
Malcolm heard people shouting from behind a row of cameras, the operators trying the get his father’s attention.
“MR WRIGHT…THIS WAY MR WRIGHT.”
He stopped and held Malcolm close then pointed back to a large poster with his smiling face beaming across the crowd. It carried the slogan…
‘The Wright way’s the only way…’
Malcolm’s chest puffed up; he'd come up with the slogan and had been there when the first one rolled off the press. Everyone made a huge fuss of him for being so clever.
Malcolm couldn’t stop smiling; he put his arm around his mother as the camera flashed again. ‘Me, on the front page’ he thought.
From his raised position, his smile could be seen from the other side of the packed hall. His father had won. He’d been voted in to be the local candidate for parliament.
Now he’d got what he wanted, maybe the noises would stop.