It was a rainy Tuesday evening, and the residents of Lower Strangling gathered in the Village Hall for what was without a doubt the worst evening of the year; the Lower Strangling Hustings.
Every election, no matter how big or small, Lower Strangling invited the candidate from each major party to address potential voters.
But what was originally intended to be a nice evening where people found out what each MP stood for, always turned into a war of words between angry opinionated people who thought they had moral superiority over everyone else.
Each hustings the villagers hoped would be better, but each year was the same. Still, Lower Strangling persevered.
This year the hustings were for the District Council elections on Thursday, and the Village Hall was split into four isles of chairs.
The Socialists sat in the far left isle, the fascists sat in the far right isle, the Daily Telegraph readers sat in the centre right isle, and the villagers of Lower Strangling* and whoever was left sat in the centre left isle.
In front of them were four potential candidates, representing the four main political parties.
When everyone who was attending had sat down, Simon stood up in front of them to introduce the candidates.
“Welcome, everyone, to our hustings for the District Council elections,” Simon said.
“Boo, Vicar, boo!” Shouted everyone sitting in the far left and far right isles, united in their hatred of the centre left.
Simon composed himself, then continued. “Without further adue, here are the main candidates for the District Council in our area. Thank you for your time.”
The candidates quietly acknowledged Simon.
“Representing the Conservative Party, we have Graham Taylor.” Simon continued.
“Wheyyy!” Cheered everyone in the far right isle.
“Boo! Hiss!” Said everyone in the far left isle.
“Good afternoon,” said everyone else.
“Representing the Labour Party, we have Humphrey Ellacott.” Simon said.
Again, everyone either booed, cheered, or bade good afternoon depending on their political view.
“Representing the Liberal Democrat’s, we have Hannah Richardson,” Simon said.
The crowds responded accordingly.
“And last but not least, we have Sally Jones for the Green Party.”
Once everyone had calmed down, Simon sat down and let the questions begin.
A man in the left of the hall put his hand up.
“You there,” Simon said.
“My questions for Graham,” the man said, “is it true that you said that humans shouldn’t have rights and if it is could you clarify what you meant?”
Everyone around him cheered as he sat back down.
“I didn’t say human’s shouldn’t have rights,” Graham said, “I simply said that given the current state of things perhaps they didn’t deserve rights, and yet they have them.”
“It’s the same thing!” The man said.
“Boo!” Said everyone around him.
“Are you saying my girls don’t deserve rights?” A woman said.
“I would prefer to answer questions about my plans for this area,” Graham said.
“Quiet please, quiet.” Simon said when the hall became a chamber of noise.
Once the room was quiet, Simon selected a woman behind him.
“Mine’s a general question,” the woman said. “As most of you know, it’s almost a year since Ethan Stone was brutally murdered*. So far no suspects have been found and his family still doesn’t have justice. What are you planning to do about that and how will you prevent it happening again?”
“I was still at my farm in Devon when the poor man was killed,” Humphrey said.
“Boo, Devon, boo!” Shouted the Warwickshire nationalists.
“But I was shocked to hear about it. No one should be killed for their political leanings,” Humphrey continued, ignoring the Warwickshire nationalists.
“Even if they believe humans don’t deserve rights?” One man said.
“Yes,” Humphrey said calmly. “As for what Labour will do about it, we will make sure Stuart Kennedy and Warwickshire Constabulary make the investigation a top priority and we will give each councillor as much security as we can afford.”
“We plan to hire bodyguards as well as have several police officers outside our HQ,” Hannah added. “Although no one else has been murdered, it’s best to be cautious.”
“We will make sure that the case will have a more satisfying conclusion than the finale of Line of Duty.” Sally said.
“We’ll put several police officers in the streets and constantly monitor everyone who walks around,” Graham added, “and we’ll make sure whoever did it gets put in prison behind bars.”
“So the Tory Party plans to make Warwick District a Police State?” A man to the left of the hall asked.
“In a sense, yes,” Graham said. “We also plan to reinstate capital punishment. The murderer of Ethan Stone will be hung, drawn, and quartered if we are elected. It’s the only way to make sure this never happens again.”
“It has never happened again!” One woman said.
“Murderer! Murderer!” Several people shouted.
“Fascist!” Other people said.
“Bring back hanging!” People in the right of the hall said.
“Bring back waterboarding!” Some other people in the right of the hall said.
“Order. Order. ORDER!” Simon shouted.
But instead of order, Simon got more disorder.
Simon’s blood began to boil. He’d had enough. He had to do something. He got out of his seat and marched to the men at the right of the hall.
“Right, that’s it. Get out of my village.” Simon said.
“Ooh. Gonna fight me, are ya?” One man said.
“Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” The other people around him shouted.
“No. I’m going to let Satan do the dirty work when you see him in hell,” Simon said.
Suddenly the room fell silent.
The other villagers of Lower Strangling faced palmed themselves. Simon had done it again.
“Are you saying I’m going to hell, Vicar?” The man said.
“Yes. I would say all of you have a one way ticket to hell,” Simon said.
“Ooh, the vicar thinks I’m going to hell,” the man said.
That was when Simon lost his rag.
“BUT THE FEARFUL, AND UNBELIEVING, AND THE ABOMINABLE, AND MURDERERS, AND WHOREMONGERS, AND SORCERER’S, AND IDOLATERS, AND ALL LIARS SHALL HAVE THEIR PART IN THE LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE WHICH IS THE SECOND DEATH!” Simon yelled in the face of the men. “ALL OF YOU FIT THAT DESCRIPTION!”
Terrified of Simon, several people in the far right isle got out of their seats and rushed out of the hall.
Simon the dragged two of the people in the far right isle and pushed them out of the hall. “AND STAY OUT!” he shouted.
Once everyone who’d stayed had calmed down, the evening resumed.
Eventually, after several questions about cycle lanes, recycling bins, and dangerous junctions had been asked, the hustings had finally ended.
Eventually, only the residents of Lower Strangling were left.
“Are you off your high horse now?” John asked.
“Yes,” Simon said before turning to the other villagers. “Sorry for my outburst, everyone. They just really got to me.”
“I think we all need to go to bed.” John said.
“We need to return to Will and Eleanor,” Sarah said.
“Ok. Goodnight and I’ll see you in the morning.” Simon said.
With that, the villagers of Lower Strangling went their separate ways. Hoping that the evening’s events would be forgotten as quickly as they started.
Unfortunately for them, various people had recorded the whole thing on their phones.
TO BE CONTINUED.
*Except of course, for Will and Eleanor, who were being babysat at the manor as their parents felt they were too young to sit in a room with angry opinionated people shouting at each other because they felt they were right and everyone else was wrong.
*See The Body in the Lavender Field and The Case of the Severed Arm