Monday, 29 September 2014

Gideon and the young mum

Gideon, a man of wealth and privilege, stood up in front of his friends and supporters. This was his big moment, an occasion that would define his career and more importantly convey the values on which his life was based. To loud applause he set out his priorities for the future, not just his future but the future for a society he knew he had been destined to govern.

In the rain a young mother pushed a second hand buggy with her infant child wrapped up in a baby coat bought at a charity shop. She limped as she walked, the lasting effect from the beating she had received from her alcoholic partner before she was able to find respite in the local refuge. She didn't know how long she would be able to stay there because funding for the refuge was being withdrawn. Since leaving her part-time job, fearful that her partner would find her, she had no income. In her hand she clutched the food voucher given to her by a social worker. She had heard of Food Banks but had never dreamed of being in a situation where she would depend on one. She was no scrounger, just grateful for the promise of some food to tide her and her child over until she received her next instalment of child benefit.

The speech was going well. Taking a deep breath, Gideon looked squarely into the camera lens, aware that his real audience was not around him but out in the country. He had chosen his words carefully, read his script several times to avoid the unforgivable sin of omitting a crucial paragraph and practised the look that would communicate sincerity. Now came the key moment. The words that Gideon hoped would commandeer the headlines of news reports and papers. And so Gideon declared that if elected his government would freeze working-age benefits, including child benefit, for two years, building on the one percent cap imposed from 2012. He was also pleased with the well trailed tax cut on 'drawdown' pensions. The hall echoed to the sounds of cheers from the party faithful. Political editors breathlessly reported the news on television and radio as social media timelines began to fill with accounts of the announcement and website front pages were redrafted. Now they would see how serious Gideon was about meeting the demands of the times.

George turned off the radio as The World at One ended, sighed, placed the Food Bank Distribution Centre sign outside the hall door and prepared to welcome that day's clients with his team. Fortunately yesterday had been Harvest Festival in many of the local churches and most had collected goods for the food bank. There would be enough food for the next few weeks, though the increasing demand meant that stocks were depleted more rapidly than before. The door opened and a young woman, her expression conveying her deep sense of embarrassment, pushed her child's buggy into the hall and handed over the damp voucher.

Gideon was applauded by his team of advisers as he entered the hotel reception room and the maid prepared to serve the drinks. He loved the sound of popping champagne corks in the afternoon, it sounded like... victory.

Any similarity to real events or persons is entirely intentional.


Nancy Wallace said...

Well said!

Anita Mathias said...

Lol! Love the last line.
I assured your authenticator that I wasn't a robot, but it wouldn't take my word for it. It wanted numbers!