AH Vignette: 'After the Funeral.'

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Callan, Jun 14, 2015.

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  1. Callan Absolutely Dire

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    “What do we do now, Gordon?”

    Both men were staring out the window, watching the West Country speed by from their train to London. They were still wearing long, black coats and frozen, sullen expressions, as if they were still in that Welsh church, burying their slain Prime Minister and colleague. The service had been short and solemn, and both men had felt much more respect for the thousands of people who lined the streets in Tregadar than all the foreign dignitaries and Tories who had come to pretend that they liked Neil for a few hours.

    Gordon just continued to stare out the window, as if he hadn’t heard his friend.

    “Sorry, what did you say Tony?”, he said as he looked up across the table. He took a sip from the can of beer in front of him.

    “What are we going to do? I mean, in terms of, you know, career trajectories. What are we going to do? What’s gonna happen? Who’s going to properly replace Neil?”

    Gordon just stared through his colleague. Tony assumed he didn’t know what he meant.

    “Well, I mean Roy is only ever going to be an interim PM, and while John has the whole ERM thing round his neck, the job’s going to be his in two month’s time, unless someone else steps up to the plate. Of course, no-one’s going to remember any of those disasters over the last year and a bit after… well, what happened. He might not be JFK, but he'll be pretty well-remembered. And then of course Glenys might make a career of her own, apparently that's the rumour.”

    “And who would that be? That someone else who challenges John?”

    “I don’t know, maybe… one of us?” he said, looking into Gordon’s eyes.

    Gordon froze up for a few seconds, and then his face turned into an all-too familiar scowl.

    “We only fucking buried Neil four hours ago”, Gordon snarled through gritted teeth, “Four fucking hours ago. I don’t believe this. Is this why we’re catching an earlier train from everyone else, so we can talk about this shit? I bet Peter put you up to it. This sounds just like Peter. I could see him talking like that, but I never thought I’d hear such shit from you of all people.”

    Tony didn’t seem to recognize his mistake in bringing it up. “We’re going to have to bring this up sooner or later.”

    “But not now!” Gordon exploded. Can’t we just give this all this… this politics a break after what’s happened? Can’t we just mourn? It was bad enough what happened at Robin’s funeral last week with those Nationalist cowards, but you? This is all you can think about isn’t it? The IRA blows up some of your closest friends and nearly kills you and all you can fucking think about is ‘could I become Prime Minister after all this?’ Have some decency. I suppose it’s easy for you to think just switch from mourning to politicking just like that when you escape with cuts and bruises, but you know, not everyone…” He trailed off as he realized that he was having a meltdown in a public carriage, in the quiet coach of all places. He lowered his voice and looked out the window. “I mean, Jack might never walk or talk again, after what those bastards…” He sniffed and wiped his eyes.

    He got up, and glared at Tony as he walked by his seat to the toilet, hobbling along with his cane as he went. The train sped into a tunnel, and there was a split second of darkness before the lights came on. He could never forget that cabinet meeting. One moment, they were all listening to the Chief Whip desperately try to fudge the numbers in the Commons so that they could see if the Kinnock Ministry could survive Lamont’s latest confidence motion and then the next moment there was a big bang, the ceiling collapsed and then all Tony remembered was silence, for what felt like forever, as he watched who he believed to be John and Roy getting up from under the table to try and find what was left of the Prime Minister. Then a policeman, or a fireman, or someone half-carried him out of what was left of the Cabinet room. He didn’t remember much after that, but some journo who happened to be outside of Downing Street when the attack happened had photographed him stumbling out the rubble, his clothes tattered and covered in plaster, a massive cut on his forehead, his mouth gaping open and his eyes staring forward into nothingness. It was an iconic photo now, or something.

    Gordon’s comment about “cuts and bruises” wasn’t entirely accurate. Yes, he in a much better physical state than many of his colleagues, but even now he was nursing an blinding headache, of the type he had been experiencing regularly for the past month. And then there were the nightmares and triggers, which were much more frequent. But he wasn’t going to tell Gordon about those. He couldn’t even tell Cherie: she was understandably scared to death by the whole thing, and now looked for any excuse for her husband to leave politics.

    As he finished his thought, Gordon hobbled back into his seat. He looked down at the table. There was an awkward silence as the two men avoided eye contact. The train sounded it’s horn, and another one whooshed by their window, making it shake.

    “Gordon.” Tony broke the silence. “I’m sorry I brought it up. You’re right, it’s too soon to be talking about this stuff.”

    Gordon said nothing, instead looking outside. “I shouldn’t have exploded like that, he muttered. "We’ll sort it out later. Maybe Cunningham or Prescott might have a go? I don’t know. I’m not really sure of anything anymore. None of them will be able to get Ulster under control."

    "Did you hear? Two Irish teenagers were murdered in Southampton by a mob this morning. Well, I think only one of them was Irish but it hardly mattered to the mob. Still, better than those riots, I suppose. What the point? Of it all? It's all going to shit anyway.” He went back to staring out the window, trying not to cry.

    “Well, I’m sure whoever succeeds Neil will sort it all out,” Tony said. He raised his can of beer and Gordon raised his.

    “To Neil.”

    “To Neil.”
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
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  2. Dom I'm the sensible one here, plebs Moderator Donor

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    Top work, our lad.
     
  3. Meadow but see, when Meadow does that, Monthly Donor

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    I like the twist at the end that Jim Murphy becomes leader in 1992. Good stuff, you conveyed the mortar attack well. A real human side to all the characters, too.
     
  4. Callan Absolutely Dire

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    Cheers.

    Human side was what I was going for. I think it's something of an AH blind spot in that a lot of TLs seem to gloss over the impact of such attacks and assassinations: any PM dying in office is itself going to have a big impact on the national psyche and popular narratives (see also: JFK) but for the PM to be blown up in his front room will definitely not be something that's moved on from in a hurry.

    What got me to write this is that it occurred to me today that in the many versions of this Mortar attack scenario, lots of sitting ministers survive and continue in government, and that they never really talk about how they're affected from nearly getting killed. I imagine half the cabinet here will have some form of PTSD at the very least. I can see the Northern Irish Peace Process grinding to a halt as well: how well do you think you would be able to negotiate when your friends and colleagues have been blown to pieces in the name of Irish Republicanism?

    I don't get the Jim Murphy reference though.
     
  5. Meadow but see, when Meadow does that, Monthly Donor

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    Pretty much. You conveyed this very well. I agree that the Peace Process has been set back at least a decade.

    Tony says whoever becomes leader 'will sort it all out'.
     
  6. PMN1 Member

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    Can't find the piccie at the moment but there was a drawing in the telegraph the day after Christopher Lee died with Tony in a coffin with the caption suggesting he audition for the role of a blood sucker...
     
  7. Geordie NAME OF OWNER Donor

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    Cracking stuff, Daltonia. Really well done.
     
  8. Heavy clique-bait Banned

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    That seems rather optimistic to me. :(
     
  9. Thande a special man who knows these things Donor

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    Good work. I remember using the same general concept (Kinnock wins and then the IRA mortar attack happens and turns deadly) in The Curse of Maggie, but this focus on the personal angle makes it much more visceral. To be honest I probably didn't take into account the sort of revenge attacks you describe here.
     
  10. DaveB Well-Known Member

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    John Smith as Chancellor presumably, and saddled with the ERM fiasco. Makes you realise how lucky Labour were to lose in 1992 and get proof that Tories can screw up the economy as well. Perhaps lucky to lose this time too, economic rough waters may be due.
     
  11. AndyC Shadow Secretary of State for Infrastructure Donor

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    I like this. A lot.
    It'd also screw up the Blair train if he did stand - and get hit by a loss in '97.
    But the post-traumatic shock implications for both the people around that table and the country as a whole would be colossal.
     
  12. DocU An Ongoing Disappointment

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    That is superb.
     
  13. thevaliant Soviet Socialist

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    I wonder.....

    The 'throw away line' about the Chief Whip trying to cobble a majority against Lamont's Conservative party would suggest the loss of Kinnock and a few others means that majority has now gone.

    The best option for Blair here, would be to take the helm and call a general election, which could be a landslide for Labour, rather than just fight (and win) three or four easy by-elections.