AH Vignette: In Place of Strife

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Callan, Nov 15, 2015.

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  1. Callan Absolutely Dire

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Location:
    Toronto
    ‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
    Where there is error, may we bring truth.
    Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
    And where there is despair, may we bring hope’

    The spotlights had come onto the orchestra now. The elderly sound system strained to broadcast the Olympic Hymn around the old stadium, signalling the beginning of the end of the Opening Ceremony to the Berlin Olympics of 1992. In a glass box on the upper levels of the stadium was where the world leaders and other important dignitaries sat, free to observe the proceedings away from the elements and ordinary people. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom seemed to have gotten the best seat in the house, an armchair at the corner where she could see everything and everyone in the entire stadium. She looked like she was glaring at something, but she was contemplating everything that had happened over the last 33 years. She was overwhelmed to think about it all, but even here she wasn’t about to break the Iron Lady persona.

    “Which National Anthem is this?” the Vice President asked in her trademark sunny smile, leaning over from the seat next to the Prime Minister.

    The Prime Minister pretended not to hear her. She was deep in thought, and, quite frankly, didn’t appreciate the American’s flippant attitude to the whole event. It’s not like she didn’t understand it; she had been through it all, all the strife and terror of what textbooks had been written since the war had termed Decades of Darkness. She didn’t think much of the Vice President anyway. “Liddy”, as she insisted on being called, was too smiley and too folksy and too boorish, like an android with a switch jammed on in “HAPPY” mode. Why was she even American talking to me? She wondered. It’s not like the UK matters to anything in the grand scheme of things. She should be sitting with the Brazilians or the South Africans or the Chinese - you know, the people who actually have meaningful power now. Britain didn’t really mean anything since half of it was destroyed in the war. The Prime Minister sometimes wondered if she had been in the right half of the nation, but she never entertained such self-pitying thoughts.

    I wonder how she survived the Third World War then? The Prime Minster wondered. Through sheer luck, probably. Like her, the Vice President probably just happened to be far away enough from any enemy targets when Khrushchev and Kennedy decided to end the world together over a little island off the coast of Florida. The week that that had happened, the Prime Minster had chosen to join her husband, against her better judgment, on a trip to the Shetland Islands. She couldn’t remember exactly why he was there in the first place, some sort of crazy fact-finding trip. She hadn’t really been following the news but then one day all the radios went quiet, and the ferry didn’t come that day. She preferred not to think about what the radio said when it came back on. She preferred not to remember Jack de Manio listing all the cities and towns that had been obliterated from a bunker somewhere in Wales, and the realization that they were all on their own.

    What she preferred to think about was what happened after that. Everyone banding together in a very British way. Jo Grimond taking charge of the Republic of Shetland and Orkney under the worst of circumstances. The cheers that rang out when the two exhausted Superpowers sat down and ended the War in Stockholm. She had sat out the Third World War quite comfortably, all things considered. It was three years before she and her husband made it back to what was left of Britain; the fact that they wanted to go back was almost as mad as wanting to go to the Shetlands in the first place. There was no home to go back to, and they eventually found themselves in a refugee camp outside York, where what was left of the British government had regrouped. It was there, in 1965 she recalled, that she had first gotten involved in the politics of the Reconstruction Government-

    “It’s very… very fitting this Olympics being here of all places, don’t you think?” said the Vice President, jolting the Prime Minster back to real world.

    “Well, that was the whole idea.” The Prime Minister forced a smile, and found it came easier than she’d imagined. “Berlin was pretty much the only one of the Great Capitals of Europe which didn’t go up in smoke. Saved by the fact that it had become a warzone the moment that War was declared. Once the dust settled, there wasn’t much point in a wall. Or anything else really. And once the world had rebuilt itself enough to think about things like this, it had to be Berlin. The place where the two power who started this war clashed, several times. East and West reconciling. I mean look." The two Stateswomen leaned forward, looking out of the window at the two athletes carrying in the Olympic Torch. One Soviet athlete, one America. The cheers rang out across the stadium; they could even hear them in the little glass box.

    "I'm probably not supposed to say this", said the American, "but it really was better that is was held here in Berlin, rather than Los Angeles, where we wanted to hold it. I mean, we started the war. It might have not sent the right messages for the International Olympic Committee to go with us. I mean, it's not like anyone won the Third World War or anything. Really. Having it here," she sighed, "Maybe we can show we're all past that division. That we can all come together in the end."

    The Prime Minister smiled, and wiped her trademark thick glasses. "It never ends, Vice President. We'll think of new ways to be foolish. I mean, I'm going to retire next year. I've done all I've wanted to do. I'm the first Prime Minister to be properly elected since the war. And lots of other good things. And when British Prime Ministers retire, they become Lords, and go to the House of Lords. It's a bit like your American Senate, but it does a lot less and it's more elitist. It didn't do much before the war, and but we made a new one after the war. For some reason. The Military Government liked the tradition. The closest we got to abolishing the House of Lords was a massive war, but even that couldn't stop it. The point is, the more things change, the more things stay the same."

    "I suppose so. So you're going to become a Lord then?"

    "Yes, and I get a title as well: Jean Barker, the Baroness Trumpington of Kent."

    The Vice President had no idea what that meant. She just smiled and nodded, and looked out the window. "The fireworks the Germans have put on are quite something, aren't they..."
     
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  2. Nofix Scalawag Donor

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Location:
    Copper Republic of Arizona
    I like it.

    I feel like some of it went over my head but I like it for what it is.
     
  3. Sideways they/them/terrifying abyssal god monster Donor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
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    Ubiquitous Greater Cornwall
    Very interesting. And a very good choice of hipster PM. A lady now sadly mostly famous for making a rude gesture in the House of Lords
     
  4. Callan Absolutely Dire

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2013
    Location:
    Toronto
    I'm glad that it worked, I was a bit worried that it wouldn't because of all the gaps that weren't properly filled.

    Thanks.

    I actually remember Trumpington from when she appeared on HIGNFY (She was the oldest ever contestant on the programme) and when I was reading about how her background, I discovered that she'd tried to become a Tory MP (She ran for and lost a nomination for the Isle of Ely).
     
  5. Thande a special man who knows these things Donor

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Großyorkshire
    I like the double bluff you run here on It's Obviously Not Maggie but wait is it Barbara Castle oh no wait- etc.