Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome once again to the show that
puts every one of you in the position of power The Peoples
Ritchie and Don, the double act that had hosted every edition of
the Peoples Politician, took a step onto the stage in unison, opened
their arms wide and stood stock still, heads thrown back, bathed in the
lighting effects, the rain of the glitter cannons, the dramatic classical music
and the frantic slapping of the audiences hands as the latest edition
The two had become a second-rate British institution, the light
entertainment equivalent of Poundland. They went through their little routine
with their topical gags, the manufactured, petty disagreement and then, once
satisfied that the audience had been suitably warmed up, got back to the
well-trodden path of voting for the next mug.
Its great to be back isnt it Don, said
Ritchie, and so soon too. It only seems like yesterday, he said
wistfully, with faux nostalgia before winking conspiratorially into the camera
and through to the people at home.
Indeed my little friend it does, agreed Don.
Weve had our ups and downs on this show, weve had successes
and of course, we have had failures. And you know what Ritchie, well have
more failures and more successes, he said, voice deepening, adopting a
The audience lapped it up, classic Ritchie and Don stuff this.
But this great land of ours and the people who are
custodians of that land, he continued with a sweeping gesture across the
audience, give me the confidence that we are on the right path, that we
are giving power back to the people, back to where it came from!
He finished with a triumphant fist clench as the audience
whooped their delight.
Eh, Don, you feeling alright mate? asked Ritchie
Don looked dazed, shook his head as though woken from a trance.
Yeah, yeah. Fine . Think I might have been channelling the
Prime Minister for a moment there. If youre watching at home PM, he
said looking straight into the camera, next time, give us a bit of
warning if youre going to do the body snatching thing, eh?
Ritchie, standing behind Don, looking into the same camera, drew
his finger across his neck while pointing at Don with the other.
The audience fulfilled their role and lapped it all up: God,
such a cheeky pair those two; its a wonder they get away with it; reminds
me of my grandson; wish our Leslie would bring someone like that home. They
were experts in their field. Albeit a muddy, shit-filled field but they were
the kings of it nonetheless.
I hated the show, I hated the processed, artificial sensation it
left me with and most of all I hated Ritchie and Don and their constant mugging
for the camera. But I had to watch it as I had promised myself, no matter who
won this time, how annoying or loathsome they might be, I was going to watch
them like a hawk. I was going to hold their hand every step of the way and,
where possible, protect them from the politicians. In essence, I had promised
myself that I would do everything for this Peoples Politician, that I had
failed to do for Marjory.
I had failed Marjory because I didnt want to taint my
reputation with something I thought was frivolous, vacuous and created purely
to give our rotten system a veneer of democracy. I had let her wander, bold but
naive, into the political den where she was lazily toyed before being brutally
dispatched for having the affront to challenge.
I had given my motives and my actions deep consideration and I
was confident that I was now clear about who I was. I was a coward of course
but I was also worryingly indifferent to the plight of those that did not
immediately impact my condition or situation. I of course had empathy but I had
developed an ability to switch it off when it posed a moral inconvenience.
I found that I was a man who could stand back in the shadows and
watch as an innocent was fed to the establishment. And it wasnt just
Marjory. I behaved the same with Sian and Ben and although they did not suffer
the extremity of Marjorys fate, they were broken on the wheel all the
same. Damaged, savaged for the entertainment of the public in the face of
defiance from the establishment.
And I was part of that establishment. I was clear on that. I had
always taken great pride in the belief that I was a knowing outsider, one of
the few who did not play the political game for personal gain but the shock of
Marjory made me look at myself and my actions with greater detachment than I
had ever managed before.
I saw clearly that far from being the one outside throwing the
stones in, I was already in, protecting the establishment from the stones. I
was complicit in the very thing I disdained, hated even. That was not who or
what I wanted to be. It was too late to realistically change career now, not
without accepting a huge change in living standards (which I just wasnt
prepared to do) so I resolved to change my behaviour within the machine,
remember who I was, stop ignoring my instincts and remember how to obey them.
Which is why I had decided, regardless of who won this latest
instalment of The Peoples Politician, I was going to help them in any way
I could. I was going to protect them from the emotions of the political class
which could swing from mocking indifference to a lethal fury with very little
I may have hated the system, the political class structure, but
I understood it better than most, better than some of the politicians
themselves and I was determined to use that knowledge to protect the latest
lamb offered up to a public sentiment, a media structure and a political system
that was nourished on the spectacle of the fallen, the disgraced and the
I had hitched my trailer to this unknown individual. If the
worst happened again, I was going down with them. It would be my only hope of
defying who and what I had become. There was still time for my sins to be
This latest episode was the first time that the general public,
I, became acquainted with Seth and it was also the last time we would vote for
a Peoples Politician. There was no real hint at what he was really like
in that first appearance. He kind of stood out but not as someone who would
ultimately change the fabric of our society. He didnt have that
revolutionary look or the air of a grand leader of men.
He was quite a small man, about 5ft 8 and thin without being
skinny. He had dark skin but it didnt appear to be the result of foreign
holidays or sunbeds; more a natural sallowness. He wasnt a
big figure by any means, neither in stature nor personality but one
thing I do remember very clearly from seeing him the first time. His eyes. They
were blue, clear and yes, they sparkled. At the time, I put this down to
excitement which it turned out it was, but it was not excitement at being on
TV. His excitement had a deeper source, a source that I would come to know well
over the years I worked with him and although that sparkle waned over the
course of those years, a hint of it remained, even until the end.
There was a sense of energy about Seth. The way he talked was
fast and pointed, enthusiastic and encouraging and most of all you found
yourself listening when he spoke. Ill always remember that. And the fact
that he made you feel good when he spoke. I cant explain it. Many have
since tried to explain the pull he had but I suppose the point of things being
ethereal is that they cant be pinned down.
The way he spoke didnt feel designed to draw people in,
get them onside, but it did. He just had a natural way with people and they
were drawn to him. This was of course helped by the fact that his face was
handsome and he had a ready smile. I suppose, fundamentally, he was attractive
and people were drawn to that, as we often are.
And that first time he appeared on stage, beckoned on from the
wings by Ritchie and Don, he did seem different to the others that had come
before him. He seemed normal, approachable and someone you could readily like.
I remember watching his first appearance on TV at home and thinking: He
seems like a nice guy. I hope he doesnt win.
But as that episode progressed, I started to realise that there
was more to Seth than a handsome face and a personable persona. There was a
depth, a feeling that he wasnt letting on about something. That he had a
knowledge, an intelligence that lay just beneath the surface.
I cant remember much else about that first episode but I
do remember that. That there was more to him than the nice guy he presented. Oh
yeah, and I thought he had an odd name. It just didnt suit him.
Welcome to the stage our latest candidate for the
Peoples Politician, Seth! roared Don to the talent show template of
bright, flashing lights, loud music audience applause.
Seth came on from the wings through the cacophony of noise and
light and took his place beside Ritchie and Don.
Welcome to the show Seth, beamed Ritchie, looking
not at Seth but into the camera.
Seth replied his thanks, smiling and waving to audience.
Now folks, you know that the rules have changed slightly
since the last show and one of those is that we dont publicise
contestants last names anymore. Those pesky journalists have been giving
everyone a hard time lately and we dont want our contestants to feel
intruded upon, continued Ritchie, affecting a drawn-out, upper
class accent at the end.
Indeed me dont Ritchie, Don cut in.
Now Seth, why dont you tell us and the people at
home a bit about yourself and why you think you have what it takes to be the
next Peoples Politician. So tell us Seth, who exactly are you?
To be continued...