With heartfelt apologies to George Orwell…
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Marie logged on to her MiniJust terminal. She knew she had precious few minutes to get work done before the afternoon five-minute hate. How quickly things had changed! One minute you work for the Department of Justice and spend your time putting off inquiries into tribunal fees (to be delivered “in due course”), the next minute you are shovelling piles of pictures of Lord Thomas of Cwmgeidd down the memory hole.
A siren blared and everyone in the office turned to the telescreen. The words “Enemies of the people” flashed up and were followed by unflattering stills of Lily Allen, Gary Lineker, the Judges of the Supreme court…
Marie despised this part of the working day. She feared her hate wouldn’t appear enthusiastic enough. She could only manage a “grrrr” while colleagues shouted “Lefty traitor!” “Jug eared fuckwit!” and “Crisp eating wanker!”
Privately Marie missed Walkers crisps, now considered a degenerate food. The Victory seafood flavoured starch-based crisped savoury snack weren’t a patch on a nice bag of prawn cocktail. She would never voice this out loud, of course.
The five-minute hate over, she returned to her computer terminal, to go back over old judgements removing any reference to the European Court of Justice, or to European law, or human rights. Or the Bill of Rights. Or the Magna Carta. Where this, as it often did, left a gaping hole in the judgement, she was encouraged to invent a precedent that the necessary legal principles could be derived from. She had been praised for her own little eco-system of believable but easily overturnable jurisprudence, the actual judgements going down the memory hole with everything else.
The tannoy crackled into life. “Marie Jones, to room 3.25.2 immediately if you please.”
Marie froze. She felt the eyes of her colleagues upon her. What had she done? Had her hate not been hatey enough? Had someone grassed her up for the time she called the Victory British Spiced Poultry Stew by its old, banned name, Chicken Tikka Masala? Nervously, she walked to room 3.25.2. She knocked on the door and entered.
It was department leader Fisher. A middle-aged man in a Victory wool-style suit and square glasses.
“Is everything alright, sir?”
“Can I speak with you freely?”
Marie sensed a trap, but no way out of it, so just raised one eyebrow in a gesture that was non-committal enough to not self-incriminate.
“Marie, your work has attracted some attention. You have attracted some attention. I wouldn’t say this to just anyone, but there’s a private club for like-minded people. We’d love to see you there.” He handed her a card with an address on it. As her eyes met his he tapped the side of his nose.
“It’s a private club, you understand?”
Marie returned to her terminal and as soon as she had memorised the address on the card, she threw it into the memory hole.
That evening, she found her way to the club, having taken a circuitous route around town. She knocked on the door and after a minute of, she presumed, being examined by CCTV, she was admitted. The club was, in décor, like the bar of a budget heritage hotel, all flocked wallpaper and cheap chandeliers.
“Marie, you made it!”
Fisher approached her with a tray of canapes.
She nibbled a triangle of toast.
“That’s… that’s not Victory yeast extract inspired savoury spread?”
“No, it’s the real thing.”
“Marmite? But how?”
“I know a guy. Let me show you around. Gin? Not the Victory stuff, the real stuff.”
“I don’t drink gin. Not unless there’s nothing else.”
“Then maybe… Whisky? From the rebel People’s Republic of Scotland?”
“You have real Whisky?”
“I’ll get you a glass.”
The whisky was good. It warmed her from the inside. The smokey, complex flavours reminded her of what she had missed. Was it really only a month since they’d triggered article 50?
She waltzed around the warm, bright room from one person to the next. They all had something in common – they had links to Europe. A Latvian nanny, a cousin in Berlin. Even a French wife. There was a disenchantment with the powers that be that could not be voiced elsewhere.
“You fit right in,” said Fisher, refilling Marie’s glass.
“How did you know you could trust me? That I hate what’s happening, that I voted Remain?”
He pulled a picture from his pocket. Marie, twenty years and thirty pounds ago, holding a placard that said “Stop the fees.”
“That was 1998. Everyone was against student fees.”
“Not everyone had a placard. From the Socialist Workers’ Party…”
She sipped the whisky, and the light began to dim from the room, until she was in blackness.
When Marie opened her eyes she was in a small room, 5’ by 5’ with concrete walls. A woman cowered opposite her.
“Don’t hurt me, please?”
“Theresa May? Is that you?”
“Take what you want, just don’t hurt me.”
The figure opposite wore dirty, ragged clothes. She had bound her feet in strips torn off her skirt, and had smeared mouse droppings on the makeshift shoes in a tragic parody of leopard print.
“All I said to Nigel was that it wouldn’t hurt to have a parliamentary vote. I mean, the Supreme Court said we had to and I’m sure it would have gone our way. And now I’m here. Did He send you?”
“No. My head’s throbbing and I’m not sure what’s going on.”
“You’re in a bad place. You’ve pissed Him off, if you’re here.”
The door opened. Wordlessly, two men walked in and picked Marie up by the armpits. As she was carried down the corridor she could hear the Prime Minister’s pleading voice. “You’re going to see Him! Put word in for me. Tell Him old Theresa ain’t so bad. Tell Him. TELL HIM!”
A door slammed behind her. She was in a brightly lit room. In front of her, with his back turned, was a man in a tweed jacket, a pint of bitter on the table in front of him. Cigarette smoke plumed above him.
“Marie. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
The voice was not what she expected. Less plummy and more… Leicestershire. The man turned around.
“A lot about you.”
“Don’t look so surprised, you’re a clever girl.”
“Enemy of the people? Come on. I tweeted bland, easy to agree with statements that gave people a chance to feel like they were rebelling. Every retweet I got was someone unthinkingly putting on an act of resistance, while never challenging the status quo. Think about it. If you wanted to control society wouldn’t you want an agreeable voice of mild dissent to distract from the real revolutionaries?”
“But you’re football’s Mr Nice. You’ve never been booked in your entire career.”
“I never needed to be booked. Why would I go in two footed when I had useful idiots to do my dirty work for me. Why would I risk my Achilles when I knew Gazza would risk his for the cause? Of course it was all more straightforward then. You knew who your enemy was. Nottingham Forest. Now… now things are messy.”
“Do you hate the European Union?”
“I don’t hate. I just do what’s best for me.”
“What did they pay you?”
“Did you never think Leicester City winning the English Premier League was… an impossible dream?”
“So who’s pulling the strings, Mr Lineker? Donald Trump?”
“That barely-sentient Wotsit? Don’t make me laugh! I may as well tell you before I kill you. The man behind all of this is…”
“Marie! Marie! Wake up!”
“Oh, darling, I was having the most awful dream.”
“You were screaming in your sleep. Can you tell me what it was about?”
“The UK had just triggered article 50 and we were living in an Orwellian dystopia… and…”
“Don’t cry darling, it was just a dream. Brexit is going swimmingly. Our jam exports are through the roof, and standards of living are almost back at 1867 levels. We have trade agreements with North Korea, Kazakhstan and that island with all the crabs, and our new “constitution-lite” is really taking the misery out of making laws.”
“You’re right darling, I’d never question the wisdom of the people who voted to leave, given all the thought they put into that. It just felt so real. I’m so sorry.”
Marie chided herself. Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of her nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. She had won the victory over herself. She loved Brexit.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is a work of satire. I think Gary Lineker is ace and would be happy to stand in front of him with a rifle come the glorious day. I have no reason to believe he is a kingpin in a huge right-wing conspiracy and I am writing this disclaimer of my own free will. Come on the Foxes!
For the further avoidance of doubt, the above disclaimer is still satire. Gary Lineker is great, and I would follow him into the quagmire of a glorious revolution, but fuck Leicester City, right? Marching on Together! *Does Leeds salute.*