The Reformist Saga – Part Four
A Reformist Spring
by Nick Lucas
Daffodils in the Sunshine
Emma Stone felt Miss Clarke put pressure on her arm and recognised the blind command to sit down, responding without hesitation, because she had no other choice. In her full blinding mantle, she could see nothing and hear little. Miss Clarke had hold of her arm, and she was learning to respond to a pull or a squeeze. Maidens have to trust their guardians, and Miss Clarke had been working on Emma for over ten weeks. She kept her blind most of the time. It dramatically increased the level of dependence the maiden experienced according to the textbooks, and certainly Miss Clarke seldom needed to use her trusty paddle anymore. Emma did not even know where she was, other than somewhere in Meadvale. She could not even feel what she was sitting on, thanks to her nappy, gown and cloak, although she assumed they were outside. Maybe a bench, because she had seen the sunshine in-between getting out of her sleeping gown and being veiled for her outing. It was a cold winter, but she much preferred it to summer. Maidens dressed for propriety not the climate.
Emma had left the College. Her parents had decided to employ Miss Clarke and having a guardian lifted them another notch up on the social scale. Having Emma at home, under personal tuition, was considered distinctly upwardly mobile. Miss Clarke was pleased too. The Church was growing so fast that there were lots of jobs around, and although she had been advised to stay on, she reckoned that even though the Stone’s could not pay that much, she would be in a good place to get a better job in the future with some experience. The first congregation had been a bit of a closed shop, and relatively small, but Pastor Winstanley’s modern renaissance was blossoming fast and there was a shortage of trained guardians. Miss Clarke was being rather hard on Emma, but for her own good, because she did not have much time. Her parents had high hopes for a good match for their only daughter, but her chances would be restricted by her lack of training. Keeping her blind, deaf and dumb most of the time would help her learn her place.
Miss Clarke was quite glad that she was not a maiden, as such, although guardians had to follow a similar dress code. She had faith, and she believed that she was doing God’s work, but she also recognised that it was an easier life. She sat beside her charge on the park bench and enjoyed looking at the flowers in the first spring sunshine. Her job was much better than working in a shop, or doing some meaningless degree at a provincial university. She felt powerful and responsible. Her family had always been reformists, and she liked the way the community was developing around her.
Madeleine Buckingham squirmed in frustration as Miss Ford dressed her after her morning toilette. She wanted to know the result of the test, but the guardian was ignoring her, as always. Her husband was an important man, and his instructions to their guardian were uncompromising and irrevocable. He considered his young wife a great asset in his political career, but only if she maintained the highest standards of Reformist propriety and etiquette. No corners were to be cut, even if they were alone at home. Madeleine had hoped to be mistress in her own house, and although she had followed her mother’s advice, and Mrs Harrington’s, it was no use. Miss Ford, acting on her husband’s instructions, ruled her life. She was muzzled at home as much as her stepdaughter, and certainly prayed as hard as Elizabeth, and apart from a few hours of socialising in the afternoons and dinner with her husband, she was kept under the closest restrictions and supervision, as a dutiful wife should be. She knew it was God’s will, but it frustrated her. She wanted to know the results of the pregnancy test, because if she gave Charles a son his attitude towards her might change. He made love to her once or twice a week, whenever he felt like it, ordering Miss Ford not to put her in her sleeping gown when the ladies retired after dessert in the evenings. It was so unemotional, and she longed for him to show her some affection, even some love.
“Congratulations, Mrs Buckingham … the test is positive.” Miss Ford announced, once she had her charge dressed and ready to go downstairs. “I shall inform Mr Buckingham and make the necessary appointments.”
Elizabeth entered the haberdashery with Catherine, Henrietta and Georgina, shepherded by both Miss Ford and Miss Scott as usual, the four girls moving to the side, to stand out of the way of everyone else. Mrs Harper, the owner, and one of the few people of note in Meadvale who was not a Reformist, hurried over to serve them, her eyes sparkling above her rather thin and inadequate mantle. She was pandering to her customers, of course. But the gesture was appreciated by the church, and her custom was increasing all the time.
“Good afternoon Miss Scott … and Miss Ford … young ladies.” Mrs Harper said enthusiastically. The four girls immediately curtseyed, their backs held ramrod straight by their corsets. “How can I help you this afternoon?”
Elizabeth stood very still as the guardians ordered some ribbons, cotton and wool for their sewing and needlepoint, quite accustomed to the routine. Maidens were supposed to be unobtrusive. She could see through her veils but not well, and she was just a still, silent mound of velvet, concentrating entirely on Miss Ford, waiting for further instructions. It was as God expected her to be. She knew that now. Everything was for his glory and his love. She had been helping Catherine, as Henrietta and Georgina once helped her, and as they all encouraged their new companion Elizabeth had started to accept the positives of her new life. It was all very simple. She was so safe and protected from sin, and she had the time to devote herself to finding God’s love. She was a fortunate girl, privileged, and she knew that her father and his friends were working to make the world a better place. After all Catherine was the Prime Minister’s daughter, and she had converted just days after meeting Elizabeth and her stepmother, even though she had seemed against it at first. Elizabeth still felt that her father had forced her into the Church, but she could see that he was acting in her best interests, and other people were doing the same things. Meadvale was much more devout than it was when she first arrived, and it seemed like the perfect place to live.
Everything about the town seemed so idyllic, and everyone admired her. She was praised and congratulated wherever she went for her piety and obedience. She was a good girl, a credit to her father, and everyone at Broomwaters seemed very pleased with her. She did not have any stress in her life. No pressure at all, other than to live by God’s lore. She loved Miss Ford, and felt so safe with her. Her father was doing God’s work and she wanted to set an example to girls like Catherine. Her new friend was not saying much when she was allowed to talk. Miss Scott and Miss Ford kept her muzzled a lot of the time, because she obviously still had a lot to learn, but Emma was trying to encourage her. Henrietta and Georgina had done that for her, when she first found God, and she wanted to do the same for Catherine.
Not that Catherine cared what Elizabeth wanted, or anyone else for that matter. She had not heard anything from her father and she was effectively a prisoner. Obviously she knew she had embarrassed him, and potentially threatened his career, but she was in love. He was trying to save his own skin and ruin her life all at one stroke. Getting her out of the way was clearly his first motivation in handing her over to the Reformists. She could see that, because if, as her father had intimated, the news of her affair was about to break, having her well away from the press was essential if he wanted to control things. But she still loved her boyfriend and she was sure he would come for her. He would not leave her.
Party Political Broadcast
“I am not going to lie to the people of this country … I never have, and I never will, so help me God … this is a difficult time for me personally, for my family and indeed for every single one of us. My own faith has been challenged, my own daughter has been used and abused by an organisation hell bent on doing us all harm, and it is a reminder to us all, I think, that we are not untouchable. Modern life is too complicated for that … no one is safe. Not unless we try to change to protect ourselves. Our status as a Christian state has been central to the current political debate. A vociferous minority has started campaigning for us all to adopt Christian values … to remember where we come from and who we are.” Philip Henderson said with passion, talking into the camera. He had declined an interview. He wanted to talk directly to his people. “I think the Christian Democratic Alliance has a point … I can rightly be accused of being a politician first and a Christian second. I attend services of remembrance with his majesty the King … I place wreaths of poppies at the cenotaph like all the other leaders, but I pay less heed to the demands of my faith than I did as a small boy chattering in chapel … I do think we need to remember who and what we are. This great country is still broken after the financial crisis of 2008; we are still paying off debt and tightening our belts. We do many good things but if we have forgotten who we are, it is so easy to stray into dangerous territories without even realising it … to a certain extent, we have been doing that since the end of world war two. I have failed my daughter. Not out of neglect, but because I did not have the courage to say no to her. I let her go to university and live like an adult, although like most teenagers she was completely ill prepared to take care of herself. She made mistakes, but only because I allowed her to get into situations she should never be expected to cope with, but I am pleased to inform you that no real harm was done. She is safe and unharmed … none of the information forced out of her was important … I would like to thank my political opponents for accepting that, and for allowing my wife and I to concentrate on helping Catherine. She is mortified, as I am sure you can understand … embarrassed, humiliated and confused … but it has reminded us all that we should be better Christians and cleanse ourselves in God’s love. I believe that we can all take strength from this … and my party and I intend to revise our manifesto for the elections in May to reflect our desire to return this country to its foundations in Christianity. Not extremism, of course. I shall leave that to the CDA, but I have in mind a number of measures, and will be supporting some of the ideas put forward by my friend Charles Buckingham. My critics will say that this is because of the opinion polls … and that is of course partly true. Listening to the will of the people is crucial in my job and I am not ashamed to be influenced by the opinions of our voters. But I have had a personal epiphany I suppose. Our young people have grown up in the permissive society and that has led to the proliferation of strong drink, drugs, free sex and the general idea that everyone can do what the hell they want. Well they shouldn’t, and they can’t, not on my watch. I want to return to a time where society was built on things that the majority would not tolerate. I believe that recent church initiatives with schools have benefitted us all, and I am open to policies that deliver similar results. I am in favour of raising the age limits for alcohol, for driving and for a number of other things. I am in favour of reducing opening hours in public houses and of a return to common decency on our streets. The environment we live in shapes us all, and whilst I cannot and will not force people to go to church, I want our shared environment to be safe, decent and controlled, for the good of everyone. I stand before you as a changed man … not out of pragmatism to gain your vote, but out of bitter experience. We are letting our children down in the name of setting them free. It is a false freedom; we are filling their heads with nonsense that leads only to pain and eternal damnation. I pledge to you that henceforth, I shall work tirelessly to make amends for our past mistakes. The majority of good, law abiding people in this country have been ignored for too long … let us all work together to make this country a better place to live, for the sake of our children, and for the love of God.”
Charles Buckingham turned off the television set and smiled, before sitting back in his armchair and staring at Catherine Henderson, enjoying the look on her face. His wife and daughter, and Mrs Harrington and her daughters, were all present as well, all muzzled, as he had asked, so that they could concentrate on the momentous broadcast. David Harrington smiled too and nodded at Charles. It was an important victory. The Christian Democratic Alliance had a voice. It would have been hard to win seats at the election without an agreement with one of the main parties. Henderson had agreed not to field candidates in about twenty seats, to avoid splitting the conservative vote. He was also about to announce a number of new government policies based on the tenets of Christian Reform, as part of his new manifesto. It really was the start of a modern renaissance. It had worked in Meadvale, but it was now about to spread throughout the country.
Tea and Sympathy
“Christian modesty is very much a personal choice.” Mrs Walker suggested, pouring a cup of tea for Mrs Naismith, the newly appointed headmistress of Meadvale School, who had come to seek her advice. “Of course, at CLC, we encourage our girls to follow the Reformist doctrine. Once they reach sixteen if at all possible, and certainly if they want to stay on after year eleven, but in the state sector you have different responsibilities.”
“Yes, it is quite impossible to have the girls in mittens during lessons … the inspectors see it as too restrictive. Muzzles are also frowned upon, because the children are required to communicate verbally by the national curriculum … I feel that we are being continually thwarted by secular regulations, and the girls are suffering as a result. However, in spite of this, we have a number of girls who are showing a lot of potential … it is heartbreaking to have to let them down as we are, simply because of unwelcome outside interference.”
“Oh it must be.”
“Obviously the environment is better … they are not exposed to boys, and the uniform is a vast improvement, but I still feel as if we are failing them … our ethos is strong but in practise we can do little more than advise and influence.”
“Oh we must not be too hard on ourselves. As evangelical educators we have limitations.” Mrs Walker sighed, smiling at her colleague. “College girls are in a Reformist environment … that is what their parents are paying for … so we can enforce the doctrine as long as the parents support us, but you have to work within the system, of course. Look on the bright side, you have every one of your girls attending school in a decent gown, a bonnet and gloves. That is a positive. From there, you have to encourage and set good examples. It has only been a few weeks; you cannot expect to run before you can walk.”
The Velvet Curtains
Rebecca Fitzgerald held onto her sister’s arm as they crossed the road, and headed down the hill towards Meadvale School, in the company of their fellow pupils. Every girl had been provided with the new school uniform free of charge, and whether they were Reformists or not, they all had to wear it, if they wanted to keep their place. Their gowns were plain brown velvet, worn outside with a matching bonnet and cape. Every girl had to wear gloves, but nothing else was compulsory. Some, like her big sister, wore mittens over the gloves, and a mantle and veils with the bonnet, all optional items on the uniform list, and those girls were very much favourites with the staff. Rebecca knew that she would be one of them, when her periods started, and that thought, as she made sure that her half blind sister made it safely across the busy road, sent shivers down her spine.
Samantha had given up arguing with her parents. It just made things worse. She reported to the school nurse, who removed her mittens and muzzle before she went to class. She was not alone. Half a dozen of her classmates were doing the same things and they were being lauded for it, like heroines. None of her friends teased her. It was perceived as too dangerous to be seen criticising the church, as every girl knew that if they jeopardised their own place their parents could force them to follow the same path. Meadvale, as in the town, seemed to be disappearing behind thick velvet curtains. No one could escape. No one could offer any resistance. Inside her head, all she could hear was the bible. She knew God’s word, and she was living it, like a good maiden should, whether she liked it or not, setting a good example to others.
“Of course, Meadvale really is the easy bit … if we cannot impose Christian law here we will never do it anywhere.” David Harrington suggested, filling his wine glass. “Charles, we are creating paradise, but it is how we translate that to the rest of the country that will win us votes.”
“What do the latest polls say?” Pastor Winstanley asked, relaxing in his seat beside the fire. It was the last days of spring and there was still a chill in the air, but the men were all consumed by election fever.
“Church schools are incredibly popular, and the tightening of the rules is universally seen as commonsense.” Charles replied as he referred to his notes. “As is the restoration of basic discipline and manners. Our education policies are running at an approval rate of ninety per cent … to the point where Henderson is shamelessly copying our general line. However, his daughter is here. He will keep his word about not fighting us in areas where we already had a good chance, because we have saved him from her sins. If the polls return a coalition, it will be a Christian Conservative alliance.”
“How can we be sure he will keep his word?” Pastor Winstanley asked.
“Because Catherine Henderson’s transformation will be leaked to the press on polling day.” David Henderson chuckled to himself. “Getting her out of harm’s way suited the prime minister. The press had nothing to feed on, no one to photograph, and naturally whilst here she has been unable to do anything to damage her father. The story basically fizzled out before it even developed, and the police smothered the good bits. But once the people see that the prime minister is embracing Reform, it will force him over the line.”
“Christian fundamentalism is a term the Christian Democrats vehemently reject, of course.” Susannah Bennett, one of the BBC’s brightest star reporters, said into the camera, with the picturesque sweep of Meadvale High Street filling the screen behind her. “Here in rural Devon, in this sleepy town, they have started to build a model society … a model they want you to vote for in the election, for the country as a whole. Modesty, decency and manners are hot topics of conversation on these streets. I have been here for two days and I have not seen one person dressed in a fashion that shows more skin than necessary. People on the streets say that they just do not tolerate it. In the schools, the pupils all wear their prim, proper uniforms with obvious pride and if you ever longed to have doors opened for you, or to be addressed politely by a smartly dressed teenager, this really is the place for you. People have told me that this is how Britain used to be. Boys wear shirts and ties. Girls wear dresses. People say good morning to each other. People tell me that their churches are the centre of their lives, and that they try to live according to the word of God … they talk of respect, standards and values. I suppose about ten percent of the women I have seen out and about are heavily veiled. This is still a shock to an outsider like me, but not to the people here. We expect to see a Muslimah in a niqab these days. It is commonplace in our big cities, and we dismiss it as a cultural anachronism, or some sort of repression forced on young women by their fathers and husbands. So the Reformists are tarred with the same brush, but when questioned in the comfort of their own homes they give remarkably similar answers. Most are tired of being objectivised, of society looking at them as objects of desire. God says that women should cover in his house, and the Reformists argue that the world is their house so they cover out of love for Him and out of respect for themselves. The fashions here in Meadvale have little to do with the catwalks of London, Milan or Paris … but no one seems to care. It is like Ira Levin’s sixties horror story about the fictional town of Stepford … everything here is perfect, but this is not a story. Our own prime minister recognised in his recent broadcast that things have to change. Society has lost its way in some senses. He claimed that the silent majority, the vast mass of people who never really complain and who just go about their business paying taxes and keeping themselves to themselves, are tired of letting things slide. That is the message I am getting from the people of Meadvale. They have drawn a line in the sand and got together to reboot the community together. Instead of wishy washy liberals bleating on about the ills of society, this Church is led by men who not only speak out but also provide answers. They have stated what they believe in, and have acted to put what they can into practise. These pictures we are showing you are about now. Pastor Winstanley, the head of the Reformist Church, calls this a modern renaissance … a rebirth … and the people in this town are buying into what I would call a revolution. Come into this house with me, and meet the Fitzgerald family.”
Samantha did not really know what was going on around her. She was sitting in the corner of the lounge, still muzzled after her return from school and covered with her prayer blanket. Her mother had taken advice from her teachers. Whilst covering a maiden like that was often done as a punishment, it also helped a girl concentrate. She was listening to Pastor Michael talking about how her parents loved her enough to make sure she basked in God’s love. Beside her, Rebecca was not covered but she was busy studying her bible. In a way she was excited, as she had always wanted to be on television, but she had been told that she would be in the background, as the reporters wanted to interview her parents.
“Your children are not like the children I know in London … they look rather different?” Bennett asked Mrs Fitzgerald, who the audience had already been told had agreed to talk to a female reporter, as long as her husband was present the whole time and the Church approved, which they readily did.
“Oh I hope they are, but it is not superficial things like clothes that make us different.” Mrs Fitzgerald replied, looking to her husband for confirmation that she was sticking to the script. “In the bible, it says that women should never wear men’s clothes, so my daughters and I never wear trousers or shorts or anything like that, and we believe in modesty and looking decent. But we like our clothes, we believe they glorify God and display our respect not only for Him but for ourselves.”
“But your daughter is sitting in the room covered up like a noisy parrot?”
“Oh really … we are not rich … my girl’s share a room … but covering her is just a way of removing all distractions. We are all daughters of Eve, we can all unwittingly tempt and torment our men folk, so we happily restrict ourselves to live in God’s love together. My children do not waste their time watching inane television programmes or playing video games, or chatting on mobile phones or computers. They study hard at school, do their homework and love God. Samantha loves her lessons and she is so happy under there.”
“So, as you have heard, ordinary families are embracing Christian Reform.” Bennett said, as the camera followed her out of the house. “Charles Buckingham admits that not everyone follows his beloved doctrine to this extent, but many do, and even those that do not take such extreme measures have changed the way they live. Being a Christian used to be a joke, because there was no purpose to it, but as the prime minster has said times have changed … and I can reveal that his own daughter is living here in Meadvale as a maiden … the term used to describe girls like Samantha Fitzgerald, who we just met back there. I am trying to get confirmation of this, and maybe an interview, but one thing is for sure. This election is not about politics as we know it, because the agenda has shifted onto how we want to live. Reformism in its purest form deals with the foundations of live … education and how we interact with each other. Our permissive society is accused of allowing too much freedom, and instead of the nanny state looking after us, whether we like it or not, the Christian Democratic alliance are asking every one of us to vote for laws that ‘stop the rot’ to cause one of Charles Buckingham’s key phrases. He started by stopping people abusing church schools. He has single handedly increased church attendances by simply demanding that people keep their promises. If you want to benefit from a church education, go to church … and he wants that enshrined in law. The silent majority sees that as commonsense. The same goes for smart school uniforms. As one mother said to me, it is much harder for a child to misbehave and act like some sort of latent hoodlum if he is dressed in a blazer and cap. So tell us what you think? As we get closer to Election Day, what do you think of the policies? Who are you intending to vote for?”
Elizabeth Buckingham watched the broadcast with her stepmother, Mrs Harrington and the Harrington girls. In the peace and quiet of Broomwaters, their guardians had expressed their choice and fitted their muzzles and mittens, ensuring that the news was greeted in a respectful silence. Beth knew that she was part of a new social elite. She had listened to dozens of heated discussions around the dinner table and had heard all about the progress of the Christian Reformist renaissance. She had been a part of that almost a year previously and she had seen its development herself in and around Meadvale. Her bible studies told her that she was setting an example. She was at the forefront of a new generation living according to God’s word, and together they would eradicate the damaging effects of the so-called permissive society.
Her stepmother was three months pregnant, and as she was starting to show was about to enter a period of confinement at Broomwaters. She could not be seen in public without a corset, so she would spend her time in prayer. Madeleine had slept in her sleeping gown since the pregnancy had been confirmed, and had hardly talked to her dear husband in private. Beth was spending a lot more time with her as a result, reading the bible to her. It was a family time. Her father was obviously terribly busy in the run up to the election, and there was a sense of nervous expectation in the air.
Catherine Henderson watched the broadcast with her parents. She was muzzled, of course. Her father had little or no interest in what she might have to say. She watched in horror as the news of her ‘conversion’ broke. But her father seemed resigned to it as he told her that he was in partnership with the Christian Democratic Alliance. He had saved her, and now she had to save him, he told her, without emotion, as her future was intrinsically linked to his. He expected her to set an example, in exactly the same way as Elizabeth Buckingham did every day of her life. He mentioned a man, a member of parliament, and suggested that she would be marrying him, if the votes fell as expected, to further secure the alliance. Elizabeth Buckingham would be betrothed too. A new force was emerging, driven by the opinion polls, but the force had to be controlled and channelled, and secured, to make sure it held in the rough and tumble of politics. A new generation of young, vibrant politicians were being put into power, with the church, rather than the trade unions, sponsoring their advancement, so the church wanted them tied to the cause. Finding the unmarried ones a dutiful maiden to marry would set the tone. In the summer, her father said, almost every weekend would see another Reformist wedding and another blow would be struck for the future. He told her that once she got Marcus out of her system, she would start to see that he was acting in her best interests. That was, he kept reminding her, the whole point of the modern renaissance. Someone had to act to save the people from themselves.
Claire Munroe arrived home mid afternoon, to be with her father, pleased to have wangled a long weekend away from school even if the election was not exactly an exciting excuse. It was hard for a widow like Peter Munroe. He wanted to be seen as a family man, but he worked hard, and he sent his daughter to boarding school to give himself time for his career. Claire was used to being paraded for his constituents every once in a while. She was used to people sucking up to her father, and abusing him in equal measure. Brushing her long loose hair, she braided it and added a ribbon for the cameras. She was sixteen, or at least would be in a few days, but her father would expect her to look the part. She straightened her tie and brushed a few specks of dust from the train off her blazer, before she heard the horn and realised that her lift was there.
Hardingford was the next town down from Meadvale. Her father had been the Member of Parliament for eight years and they owned a house in the constituency, which Sophie frequented as little as possible. She much preferred to spend time at the flat in London, but the election was the priority and she knew that she was expected to put on a performance. She really had no interest in politics, and had certainly not followed the campaign at school, but she supported her father. He often joked that ten seconds on the news with her beside him proved that he was not gay but it was more than that, and she accepted the charade as she had grown up in the world of press invasion and opinion polls. If she appeared with her father, she had to look right, because anything wrong could annoy his voters. Hence staying in the school uniform was important. It gave her a studious appearance and was much less potentially damaging that wearing anything else. Dress down and she was a scruffy kid neglected by her father. Dress up and she was a posh little bitch with a father who had lost touch with the people. So her school had been chosen as much for the image and how it would look than for academic prowess. Her uniform was fairly typical of lots of state schools even though it was private. Nothing too showy and no stupid hats or bright colours. The idea was that she would look like a nice girl who could be at school with the kids of the voters. It gave the impression that Peter Munroe faced the same problems as them, and was doing the best he could for everyone, including Claire. She knew that his widower status appeared in every leaflet stuffed through a Hardingford letterbox, because it gave him the X Factor sympathy vote. He would get to boot camp on that alone with certain people.
But Claire forgot all about that in the car. She had not been to Hardingford since they spent a week or so there in the summer. She had gone away with friends during the Christmas holidays and her free weekends since had all been spent in Kensington, so her father could be near the ‘office’. And things had changed so much, even to the casual observer. It was a busy time on the roads, because the local schools had just finished for the day, and the changes were all clearly there to see. Claire did not exactly know the area well, because she was only an occasional visitor, but she knew it well enough to see the differences at once. She ended up asking Greg the driver what the hell was going on.
“Church wars we call it around here.” He said, being a local man, volunteering to help her father. “Schools have changed a lot in the last few months. The church high has split into two, like boys and girls … new uniforms, new image, and everyone has to actually go to church if they want to keep their places. Me and the missus have been going to keep our two at the junior school of course. Your Dad’s all for it … and so are most right thinking people. Look at them skirts … most of the kids used to wear the tight ones that barely covered their arses … its right Miss Claire. Decency starts at home, but the schools, the church and the government have to stand up for what’s right, to help people do the right things.”
“Yeah but who are they?” Sophie asked, pointing at several figures walking along the main street. She guessed that they were women, but as they were dressed head to toe in velvet it was hard to be sure.
“Of course Meadvale falling to the CDA is no particular surprise.” The anchorman told his audience. “Charles Buckingham will represent a constituency where his church is strong and the other candidates all lost their deposits. But the news coming out of neighbouring constituencies is really astonishing. Again, there are around twenty seats where Philip Henderson did not fight the CDA, preferring not to split the middle class vote, but we think they will win at least four more seats, and we believe that several Conservative candidates have adopted CDA policies as the polls closed, because they know they are in danger of losing previously safe seats. One, Peter Munroe, published a letter in the local paper, widely covered in the news this morning, acknowledging that his party are losing the argument to the Christian Democratic Alliance. It remains to be seen whether it is too little too late. Charles Buckingham, speaking as he placed his own vote, says that the political agenda has changed … that the people are desperate for change. My predictions, as we enter the counting stage, is that Philip Henderson will not be able to form a government without the CDA. His own daughter appeared beside the Prime Minister dressed as a maiden today and his candidates are rushing around like headless chickens, promising the Earth and trying to convince their voters that they are serious about embracing the modern renaissance. I am hearing of last minute bargains being struck, promises made. As you know, renaissance means rebirth, but this is beginning to feel more like a revolution. Suppliers of CDA approved garments are out of stock across the country. And breaking news … Henderson, his wife and daughter have just arrived at their polling station to cast their votes … and there you see it, we expected to see Miss Henderson dressed as a maiden, but Mrs Henderson … yes, Mrs Henderson is wearing the traditional mantle, veils and mittens too. Tonight ladies and gentlemen of Great Britain, you are voting not for a new government, but for a new way of life.”
The Reformist Saga is continued in part five Behind the Velvet Curtains.