Richard Pierce

Life, Politics

Day 252

A perspective.

On average, about 2,000 people die in the UK every day. Yesterday, the Queen was one of them. Of course, when someone who has been at the centre of public consciousness for over 70 years dies, there will be collective national grief. But we would do well to remember the national context. There will no national mourning for those other 1,999 people, no change in the programming of TV and radio stations, no huge crowds gathering outside their many houses and leaving flowers, no state funerals for them. Nor for those who have already died today (and I have just been told of the death of someone I was acquainted with). There is an injustice in that, an injustice in the wildly differing circumstances of all these deaths, from opulent wealth and comfort to excruciating and mutilating poverty.

Some commentators say this will be a difficult time for the UK because the Queen was not only the one thread of continuity since World War II, but that she was the one person who stopped UK society from becoming divided. But I’m afraid the second point is absolutely untrue. The UK has always been a hugely divided society, with an ancient class system in place which encourages (if not forces) the nation to prostrate itself before the Establishment, the head of which the monarch always was, a nation divided simply into haves and have-nots, a nation even more deeply divided since campaigning for the EU referendum started, the outcome of which was partly a protest against the austerity imposed Cameron and Osborne, and partly a craving to get back to the days when Britannia ruled the waves, and the Queen was ostensibly the head of an Empire. The head of a constitutional monarchy with an unwritten constitution. Which proved to be worth exactly what something that’s not written down is worth – nothing. No recourse for politicians lying about constitutional matters, no recourse on corrupt politicians, no power to do anything at all, in fact.

Now is not the time to stick with antiquated, entrenched, and discredited traditions and institutions. Now is the time to give the UK a written constitution which is enforceable by law, to give the UK an elected head of state, to move towards a fairer electoral system of true Proportional Representation, to reduce the Establishment to a small part of society from being the part of society that rules, that syphons off the public’s money and gives it to friends, family, and big industry on top of their already immense profits and wealth. Now is not the time to say things must just go on as before just with another wealthy unelected monarch who will be as powerless, isolated, and caged as his predecessor, albeit in a golden cage where the suffering of his people will seem a long way away, a suffering that is being deliberately made worse by the government of the day.

Whichever way you look at it, to celebrate the Queen’s life by tearing down all the artificial edifices of the monarchy and creating a new state would actually be to celebrate her as a catalyst of change rather than just as another one in a long succession of irrelevant figureheads. If we wish to pay tribute to her, this would be the best and most lasting.



‘Two hours for what?’ Aggie says.

‘Till you break into the White House, of course,’ Marion says. ‘Isn’t that why you’re here.’

Aggie laughs. ‘Cassie didn’t tell me about any plan. What she said is that you’d help me find out more about those files, more about what Valentine might be planning.’

‘I think this is part of that help,’ Bill says. ‘We help get you in and out of there, and back to the UK, and you find out what you, and we, want to know.’

Aggie’s mind races. Are they friends or foes now, these two? Have they tried to lull her into a false sense of security with all the babbling and joking? She shrugs inwardly. It doesn’t matter. She trusts herself to be able to look after herself, no matter how much security there might be at the White House. ‘I’ll need weapons.’

‘Yes, you will. I’d almost forgotten about all that.’ Marion shakes her head. ‘Not really. I just find it hard to shake off the jokey act when I’ve started.’ She gets up and walks to a chest of drawers, shiny with veneer and patina, pulls open the top drawer. ‘Cassie told me to get you this, although I can’t see how this would help you in anyway.’ She hands Aggie a leather sheath with a knife in it, straps folded neatly around it.

Aggie, now next to Marion, takes it. The leather is smooth and soft, not like new at all. She pulls the knife out, tests its weight in her hand. Its balance and heft is identical to the stiletto she left with Lily. ‘Nice,’ she says. ‘How did she get it to match my old one so exactly?’

‘I have no idea,’ Marion says. ‘I just did what she asked me to do.’ Next, she pulls out a small gun from the drawer, this one similar to the small one Aggie found in Cassie’s room at the very beginning. It fits into Aggie’s palm. ‘And any number of magazines,’ Marion says, piling them on the top of the furniture.

‘They can go into my backpack,’ Aggie says, fetches it, and shovels the black magazines into it. She sits down in her chair again, pulls up her trouser leg, and secures the knife and its holster to her calf. ‘That’s better. I feel almost complete.’ She takes a small sip of the wine. ‘It’s very nice indeed. Thank you.’ She leans back. ‘And now, the plan. You have a plan, I presume, under all the jokey act.’

‘Yes, yes,’ Marion says. ‘I must admit, as well, that I just needed to be sure of you. Both of us did.’

‘You don’t trust Cassie?’

‘I don’t trust anyone.’ Marion’s voice is harsh now. ‘I can’t afford to. None of us can. Cassie is an enigma to me, and I know she speaks the truth. But she’s not infallible. And neither are we.’

‘The plan?’

‘I see you don’t much like talking round things.’

‘No.’ Aggie is coiled up inside, ready for whatever it is that will come. Her internal map has switched on, and she can see that the White House isn’t far away, and that it’s almost impossible to get anywhere near it without the police or army noticing. ‘Why didn’t you just ask the President to let us in.’

‘Pshaw. That would never happen. He’s much too busy. Insurrection in the air again. The orange man agitating from afar. And who knows who might not be on his side inside.’

‘The next thing you’ll tell me is that there’s some sort of secret entrance no-one else knows about,’ Aggie says.


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