Keir Hardie’s flat cap and John Henry’s cut throat razors……
So there I was, counting out 500 quid in twenty pound notes to Jane, a once sexy, now middle aged Returning Officer. They don’t accept cheques, or credit cards – just cold hard cash. Jane stuffed the wad into a brown envelope. I handed over my bit of paper with 10 signatories – all people of sound mind from the said constituency. Jane cross checks the names with the electoral roll and confirms they are all ‘OK’. – She declares that I have been accepted to kiss babies, knock on doors and generally annoy people for the next 4 weeks.
I’m a candidate for the General Election.
It’s been a bumpy old road though. Alfreda almost scuppered the great adventure by declaring I didn’t qualify. "Oh really, why is that then?" I asked.
Alfreda has a weighty tome from the Electoral Commission in her mitt… "Well, it says here ‘People who are ‘idiots’ are disqualified from standing"…..
"Vereee funeeee"… I wittily reposte – well it’s good training for when I get into the House isn’t it? "And does the Speaker agree with me that the Right Honourable Member for Sedgefield is a complete and utter twat"….
But she’s got a point though. It’s a sort of Catch 22 deal isn’t it? You’d have to be an idiot or a narcissistic arse to stand for Parliament in the first place wouldn’t you?
Well I’m not a narcissistic arse am I? A big arse maybe, definitely a big arse, but not a narssy-arse. I don’t even like my big arse – it’s too big and arsey…. So that must make me an idiot – ergo I am disqualified from standing….. I need some lateral thinking. Someone to clear the whole conundrum up for me. Where’s Edward De Bono when you need him?….
Yes, ordinary bloke Alfie has decided to get it on and mix it up with the giants of oratory and spin, fight toe to toe with the slipperiest of characters known to man… the British politician. It’s not exactly ‘Mr Smith goes to Washington’ – more Mr Grumpy crosses number 23 off his list of 50 things to do before he snuffs it…. I’m following in a family tradition though, – my old Granddad – George Albert stood twice as an independent in between the two wars.
I decided to have a bit of a root into the Alfie archive. Eventually, I found this picture taken in the mid 1920’s – at first glance it appears to be a Keir Hardie flat cap convention, but it was in fact, the Liverpool section of the mass hunger march to London. My Granddad is the big geezer with the really big and really floppy flat cap just to the left of the banner and next to the little kid. Please note his square jawed countenance.
George was a seaman, a writer and a Communist, active in the docklands of Liverpool. His first electoral slogan above a picture of him as if chiselled out of purest foursquarium was ‘Vote for George Albert – the man that cannot be bought’…… His second, aimed at the jaunty nautical vote was ‘Put it there, sailor’…. The graphic showed a big hand holding a pencil about to draw a big cross on the ballot paper.
He didn’t get very far. He lost both times, but I can’t help thinking that if he’d stood in Brighton he might have been a bit more successful…..
Campaigning then was a bit tougher than it is now, so tough in fact that George Albert employed a bodyguard. His name was John Henry, a mountain of a man, granite jawed, sporting a flat cap made of the ear lobes of his victims - and as tough as a three-week old flame grilled ‘whopper’ beef burger (and that’s really tough). – He was so hard - he had two little pockets sewn into the end of his coat sleeves…. And in those little pockets he hid two razor sharp, cut-throat razors. When danger threatened, as quick as a flash, John Henry would whip them out, wave them about a bit like a demon Sweeney Todd - Whirling Dervish ensemble and ask who’s up for it then….
I don’t have a ‘John Henry’ to protect me, I don’t need him, I’ve got somebody much, much scarier. Alfreda is my newly appointed agent and hired muscle. She’s five and a half foot tall in her very pointy-sharp pointy boots. She’s 100% of feline wildcat savagery…… I just hope we don’t run into John Prescott on the campaign trail, I don’t think having his head shoved up his backside will look very nice – for a start, it’ll stop him speaking the usual drivel and make him look silly to boot. Hmmmm,a win-win situation if ever there was one.
Next instalment – On the stump, on the high horse, on the doorstep, on the ale….