Reformist Generations: Part Nine – Visions of the Future

Part Nine – Visions of the Future

Copyright © 2016, Nick Lucas

This is a part of Reformist Generations and follows the part The Finishing School and the University of Life. Having read the previous parts is a prerequisite for fully enjoying this story.

Spring is upon us and the election campaign is finally underway, although few of our maidens are taking a particularly active interest in the national debate. However, everyone is safely at home and earning God’s love, something for which we should all be grateful for. The men folk, of course, are fully engaged with the campaign, as well as with business behind the scenes and everyone has their own views on what will happen next. The newspapers and television channels are all full of famous names like Craig and Buckingham, Forbes and Harrington, but this is the new generation, the men who represent the future of the Reformist renaissance.

First Leadership Debate

“Forming a new Christian Alliance is all well and good…although there are a number of other relationships we need to maintain and improve…but this election should be about what we intend to do here. Richard is shying away from that because what he really wants to do won’t work.” Nicholas Craig insisted, tiring of the international debate and trying to drag things back closer to home. “I want to hear how he proposes to release our National Service nuns after five years when we have proved that this will rapidly reduce numbers and affect patient care. This sort of nonsense flies in the face of the facts…I intend to improve service levels by extending the basic service to seven years and making it much harder to defer. Girls who have served make better Christians, and better Christians make better wives and mothers. And after seven years, if a Sister does not have a marriage contract signed by her guardian or the offer of appropriate training or job, she will automatically serve another two years and so forth. It is called National Service for a reason and it should be an honour to serve if marriage is impossible.”

“Can’t you see that this is too harsh?” Richard Buckingham cut in, as the moderator let things flow. The people wanted to get to know the two candidates better and the best way to achieve that was to let them debate. “I have not detailed my proposals on length of service as yet, because we do have to ensure that we maintain numbers. But there are other ways to do that and we cannot sign Sisters on indefinitely. No one denies that every citizen of this country has to play their part in our continued success but we need to look at others things. The real shortages are not in numbers but in fully trained nurses and teachers. Because of the relatively short term nature of National Service, training is rushed and as a result is generally mediocre. We rely on life nuns for specialist care, and although a sizeable number of young ladies dedicate their lives to the order, there are never really enough of them. I actually support Nicholas’s desire to restrict deferrals…this has become the latest middle class obsession and it does not do anyone much good in the long run. It is called National Service for a reason and it is important, and I would like to see more girls taking their vows at sixteen so that they are ready for marriage when they leave. We will also be looking at ways to attract more life nuns, but in order to do so we need to make the service less painful for all parties. I have a sister in the order for life as well as an aunt, and a niece who will be taking her life vows soon, and I would like to see them all once in a while. This is what I call modern Reformism…we have spent long enough developing the boundaries which make our lives so blessed in God’s love and now I believe it is time to look at improving the experience of all our citizens.”

Home Sweet Home

Miss Walker noticed the difference in her girls. Both were desperately eager to please, turning to her constantly to seek her approval for even the smallest of things and reacting fearfully to even the slightest rebuke. She had spotted a tiny scuff on one of Chelsea’s shoes for instance, commenting on it in some frustration as it was a new pair, and the child went pale, tears already in her eyes, as if she fully expected to be punished for her sins. Neither spoke directly of their experiences at Crowthorne College and no one else asked them any questions. Mr Blackstone had received a detailed report on each girl, and that told him all that he needed to know, and the rest of them were just pleased to have them home. Miss Walker had strict instructions to maintain what Hugh Blackstone called a Crowthorne routine with the girls, which had presumably been suggested in those reports, and she did so with a heavy heart. But the girls did not object. Catherine no longer had time to write to her pen pals or to read any of her grandfather’s books, but she approached her extra lessons with a surprising fervour and always thanked her guardian profusely for helping her earn God’s love.

“Thank you Miss Walker,” Chelsea said graciously as her muzzle was removed, before turning politely to her guests. “Good afternoon, Miss Biltcliffe, good afternoon Miss Cameron.”

“Good afternoon Chelsea…and such perfect manners, Miss Walker.” Miss Cameron smiled at her colleague and friend of many years. They were both in similar positions with their respective employers and had naturally confided in each other over the years. Juliette, Chelsea and Catherine had been friends since before they could walk, and although Miss Cameron did not say anything the idea of Chelsea calling her charge Miss Biltcliffe was horrific. It might be the polite thing to do, but they were long standing friends in a private house.

“Chelsea dear, you may of course call Miss Biltcliffe Juliette.” Miss Walker informed her youngest charge, whilst turning to remove Catherine’s muzzle. She was not supposed to let them chatter unless they had visitors, or remove their mittens until it was time for dinner.

“Thank you Miss Walker,” Catherine spoke as soon as she could and then looked at the others. “Good afternoon Miss Biltcliffe, good afternoon Miss Cameron.”

“Catherine, you have permission too…I will remove your mittens once I have made the tea…would you like to help me, Miss Cameron?” The two guardians left the room and Juliette sat down, next to Chelsea and opposite Catherine. She looked rather concerned and certainly did not know what to say.

“Such mild weather we are having Juliette, I imagine it was a nice walk here this afternoon?” Catherine asked, breaking the rather awkward silence.

“Oh yes it was…and I am so glad you are both home…I hope it was a…pleasant…time?” Juliette responded, searching hard for the right words.

“We are so fortunate to have had the experience, Juliette…I am sure we have learned a lot and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity.” Catherine replied demurely, her mittened hands resting in her lap. She was trying so hard, but that in itself was wrong of course. Miss Parry had taught her that she should not have to make a special effort to behave. It should be her natural response to any situation and not some sort of act put on in front of her elders and betters.

“Shall we say a prayer together? We should thank the Lord for blessing all of us with His Love.” Chelsea suggested and soon their voices could be heard throughout the house, led by the two Baraclough girls.

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’. What can man do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace…”

“Good grief, what did they do to those poor girls?” Miss Cameron hissed, pushing the kitchen door closed to make sure no one could overhear them.

“I cannot imagine, but they expect punishment for the smallest things,” Miss Walker replied as she filled the kettle.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Kayleigh Beckford had to let Miss Garfield guide her, feeling her guardian’s gloved hand on her arm through her thick cloak and responding automatically to each squeeze. It was something they had practised in London, as every walk she had involved the use of her blinding mantle at some stage. However, since returning to New York, she had not been allowed her sight outside of their new apartment, as Miss Garfield did not think she should see things which might upset her, or tempt her to sin. Her father had kept his promise. But only up to a point, of course. Much to her surprise and dismay, nothing else had changed in her life. Her father had been promoted, and senior KHM executives were all Reformists. It was where all the money was, and in any case, as her father reminded her, she had thrived under Miss Garfield’s care. She had protested enough to earn her worst ever beating and Miss Garfield soon had her back under control, earning God’s love.

Miss Garfield finally removed Kayleigh’s blinding mantle in Bloomingdales. Still hidden behind her mantle and veils, she stared at ordinary life continuing around her. Girls walking around talking with their faces on view, their hair uncovered and even their ankles visible. No jeans, of course. The Reformists had managed to get that law through in all states, although it was not always enforced by the police. It depended where you were. New York was a cosmopolitan city but Kayleigh did not see any other traditional maidens.

——————————————————————————————————————————

Mena and Catriona had to return to Archie’s house so that Catriona could be near the hospital and Angus. They had both had a gentle time with James Miller, despite Miss Freeman, but only by comparison. Mena was under no illusions, and her frequent discussions with her father made her position crystal clear. She was trapped by the chip he himself had forced upon her and there was no escape. Her son was still her legal guardian and nothing else was possible without his agreement, for her or for Catriona. Back in London, she remained in formal mourning for Alistair Forbes. Dressed in black and back in the care of Miss Archer, she lived quietly, mostly silently, and continued her lessons with her adopted daughter, the two of them imprisoned in the same endless nightmare. Archie had little or nothing to do with them, and Annabelle seemed embarrassed, although Mena had always got on with her daughter-in-law. However, her friends did not forget her entirely. Archie could hardly refuse to accept visits from Elizabeth Munroe, Brogan Osborne and Chloe Radcliffe, although the latter was still in mourning too and could not come often. Brogan did though, as she could travel up to London with her husband almost whenever she liked, and Mena valued her visits beyond any other.

“Sebastian is rather underwhelmed with the election campaign, so far,” Brogan admitted, chattering away about anything in an effort to rouse the old Mena, who was certainly Brogan’s intellectual equal in normal circumstances. “He called the recent debate polite, although I would have said boring…there is not a lot to choose between Richard and Nicholas. Can you believe that we have watched those boys grow up…and now they are running for President?”

“I did not see the debate.” Mena informed her.

“Hasn’t Archie discussed it at dinner? I am longing to hear any gossip…”

“Not with me…I usually eat quietly with Catriona.”

“Surely you eat dinner with the family? With your grandchildren?”

“No Brogan…I am an embarrassment to him…or perhaps a burden, or a reminder of the man he has lost…he thinks I did not love Alistair as a wife should…”

“Then he is not totally stupid…has he stopped to ask himself why?” Brogan demanded, causing Mena to look at her sharply as if stung by comments. “Mena, love is hardly a prerequisite of our lives, is it? Obedience definitely…honour and respect, perhaps for some, but love…he asks too much of you.”

“I know you love Sebastian.””I do, but I didn’t…not until quite recently I think…although familiarity can often feel much the same in my experience. We grew to love each other…it was never Romeo and Juliet…and I am lucky.”

“How about your first husband…I never met him?”

“Harry was entirely different for me…I accepted and encouraged the match but he was a complicated character.” Brogan said thoughtfully, staring into the near distance. “I could hate him one minute and love him another…he wanted me, and he often enjoyed taunting me…he could be cruel and then so kind…he was…unpredictable.”

“Alistair was never kind…he was cold and cruel and calculating and utterly ruthless…I once thought I could tame him, or bend him to my will, but I was a fool…and even in death he has ensured that I cannot forget him.”

“Archie will be spoken too if necessary Mena…Sebastian has already tried to do so and he asked Nicholas Craig to have a word too, a few weeks ago. You must mourn your husband, for the sake of appearances if nothing else, but no one will let your son do anything terrible.”

“I am not sure it matters.”

“Of course it matters. Life is important, enjoying what you can is important…Mena, people played music and wrote poems in concentration camps and we are better off than them…this world may not be what either of us expected when we were younger but it is all we have.”

“I can’t take much more…I have no one I can trust…in the family I mean…I have given them everything they ever wanted and they still won’t leave me alone.”

Soul-Searching

Richard Buckingham persuaded the duty officer to let him walk down Downing Street. Number ten was the first home that he remembered as a child, and although it was no longer used as a residence for the Prime Minister, who now had offices at the House and a flat at Kensington Palace, it was still a government office. He stood outside, looking up at the windows of what had been the family flat for a time. Politics was in his blood, or rather the business of government, because no Christian Democrat really had to worry much about elections. It had got to the stage where the party did not put up any candidates in certain constituencies simply to guarantee the Social Democrats a few seats. In practice he was part of a one party state. But almost without meaning too, Nicholas and him were creating a division over what his father called the middle ground, and he was not sure of what was going on.

Burying his hands in his coat pockets, he tried to work out what he really believed. He was one of the first children of Reformism and he had known nothing else. He had read about it, of course, and his father had told him lots of stories, but he had grown up with the idea that women needed to be controlled, for their own protection, and used for the greater good of the whole of society. It did not appal him as it did some people. The simple fact was that the system worked and most people seemed to recognise that. And although the family voting system was obviously unfair, there was little groundswell of opinion for reform, and certainly little desire to go back to how things were.

Modern history had taught the British many lessons. No one under fifty could really remember much about life before the modern renaissance, but the common perception was that the country as a whole was more prosperous and that every person contributed towards that affluence. The rebalancing of society, with special regard to the position of the female, was generally seen as a necessary development, and there was no feminist clamour for change. Not that anyone ought to be surprised about that, because the reality was that no such clamour would be allowed. Kieran Radcliffe and Alistair Forbes had both cracked down on any sign of organised opposition with seditious objectives, other than the rather pathetic efforts of the Social Democrats, the state sponsored opposition, who were preserved mostly for appearances sake. It was far too easy for the master of any house to keep his wife and daughters under perfect control, and it was simple enough for the state to take over that role if anyone was slipping through the net, as it were.

So Richard and his friends were not reacting to any groundswell of public opinion. Richard held a constituency surgery in Dorking, his constituency, on a monthly basis, and there were no queues of disgruntled voters demanding a softening of stance from him and his colleagues. The electorate had long since stopped behaving like citizens in a democracy, and Richard found himself remembering that despite his track-record, millions of Russians had supported Joseph Stalin like a hero. Walking back towards the House, he joined Steven Trevor for a pint in the Members bar, and he expanded on his thoughts.

“Dad used to talk about the Westminster bubble in his early days,” Richard mused, wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve. “He said that politicians were divorced from reality…all Etonians or Oxbridge graduates, most never having done a proper days work in their lives. Even the press were much the same…they didn’t understand what real life was like. And we are repeating the same mistakes…damn it Steven, this is not a democracy anymore…in acting for the greater good, we have just taken over. Our voters don’t really expect to be listened too…and they are also a little scared to complain about something that is so obviously working. We keep telling them how much better off we all are and listing the evils we have eradicated that they are too scared to point out that in doing so we destroyed a lot of other things as well.”

“And we have certainly never done a proper days work in our lives.” Steven Trevor laughed, waving at the barman for two refills. “But is democracy so damned important? This country works…our father’s turned back the clocks and recreated a society that is economically successful and where everyone knows their place. Your Dad always denied it, but that is the effect, isn’t it? I reckon this country is back to pre-first world war levels of democracy…women still have the vote but they knew what they were doing with family voting…men were being put back in control.”

“And people are happy enough with that…there are no riots in the streets?” Richard suggested with a grimace.

“Hardly encouraged these days, is it?” Steven laughed, handing the barman a ten pound note. “Forbes was a past master at investigating anyone who started to organise…look what he did to Daniel’s contacts when he did those talks to various little groups last year? No one wants to be investigated…it never works out well…so people keep quiet, and keep their noses clean if they can…life is good if you play by the rules.”

“But good for who, Steve? Men…the rich?  Certainly not women…I would rather be a maiden than a nun but we have disenfranchised half of the human race.”

“God made man, woman is of man…it is right in God’s love.”

“Oh come on Steve…I know my bible as well as you do…but our interpretation of the words of God is deliberately severe and limiting…we know we have gone too far.”

“Or is that just us in our little bubble worrying too much? I mean, Nick is hardly getting run out of town for saying that we are actually being too soft?”

“But that’s my point,” Buckingham insisted, slapping the bar in front of him in his frustration. “The government is acting separately from the people…democracy no longer exists. Dad won power by speaking for the silent majority but within one five year term he introduced family voting and silenced the whole electorate…”

“Oh that’s not quite true…more people actually vote…everyone over the age of twenty one has to vote.”

“But the head of the household controls those votes…and after forty five odd years that behaviour…the idea of male supremacy…must be fairly engrained in people’s minds. Few wives and daughters are going to protest when their husband or father controls their tracker and punishment chip…it’s too much to fight, Steve.”

“So what are you suggesting? You aren’t talking moderation here Richard, you are talking revolution?”

“No, I’m not…I am just trying to make sense of the situation…I mean, we have become exactly what Dad fought so hard to consign to history…a political class divorced from the people…and then electorate are growing fat and lazy on self-interest and prosperity. Dad and his generation acted for the greater good…I really do believe that…and they achieved all of their original objectives and more, but we are approaching the fiftieth anniversary of the modern renaissance and we have to decide what to do next.”

“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, do we?” Steven Trevor laughed, reaching for his pint, unable to take his friend’s soul-searching entirely seriously.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

“James…thank you for coming…we do not see you in Meadvale nearly enough these days.” Archbishop Osborne stood up as his guest was shown into his office, moving around his desk to shake hands. Miller was still quite sprightly for his age. But he was still amongst the older Reformists, along with Buckingham, the last survivors of a generation who delivered unprecedented change. Osborne himself had been a few years younger and thus had found his place amongst the original acolytes, in his own case rising on the coattails of Michael Winstanley. Miller had chosen Alistair Forbes, of all people.

“I was never perceived as a Godly man, Sebastian…and I am too damned old to be travelling around all the time…I prefer London…these days.” Miller responded as he was guided to a seat and offered coffee.

“I wanted to talk to you about your daughter…and about Catriona,” Osborne said as soon as they exhausted any small talk, a frown immediately on his face.

“I suspect we find ourselves on the same side on this subject.”

“I would hope so.” Osborne sighed, playing with his pen. “I have tried to advise your grandson, and I took the liberty of asking Nick Craig to broach the subject, which I think has improved the situation slightly…but I am worried about Archie’s intentions after the election.”

“I am working on him, Sebastian.”

“And working for Nick too, I believe. I take it the two are linked somehow?”

“Helping my grandson achieve his ambitions will hopefully encourage him to be…charitable.”

“I do not think the conservative cause is helped by such a harsh approach…”

“Oh this has nothing to do with politics Sebastian…and I believe you get quite a few widows entering the order…is it just the high profile ones you wish to avoid?” Miller asked, looking amused, and Osborne had to admit that he had a point. Quite apart from the fact that he knew Mena, and that she was one of his wife’s best friends, it was the potential embarrassment to the Church which concerned him. Even the suspicion that someone who had been First Lady was being put into a convent against her will by her own son would damage the Church, especially as it would be true. Miller was right, of course. It was not particularly unusual for widows to take their vows, and he had no doubt that many of them were forced. For the greater good he supposed, although he could not see how at that particular moment in time. “But I do appreciate your help…however, we must all accept that Archie has the law on his side.”

———————————————————————————————————————————–

“Charles, you must understand that I have always served several masters…” Chris Slade looked pained as he explained the situation to the temporary President, but Buckingham merely grinned, not at all surprised by the answer to his question. It was no great shock that Slade had been in demand, even after he retired from his official position. He had a particular skill set and the major players in the game had all needed them once in a while. Slade’s discretion had been admirable.

“I do Christopher…and served us well, I have no doubt. You were only ever used to discover the truth and occasionally help deliver it into the right hands…at the right time. Mostly, we were on the same side.”

“If not always entirely trusting in your friends?” Slade smiled, relaxing a little, as the President seemed to be taking a pragmatic approach to the past. He had done nothing wrong of course. He had worked for Buckingham, Munroe, Radcliffe and Forbes both on and off the government payroll, and they were all aware of those basic facts. When and why were his own business in his opinion, and he was discrete. He never betrayed a confidence, unless he thought it was necessary.

“In my retirement, I think I just wanted to keep a benevolent eye on things. We rapped a few knuckles together, but we did not change the course of history.”

“I don’t think so…most of my…discoveries…have been used as deterrents, I believe.”

“Indeed…and I need some more, Chris.”

“Tell me how I can help, Mr President?”

“Archie Forbes…someone is going to need to make him see sense sooner or later. And James Miller…I am never quite sure whose game he is playing these days.”

“I shall see what I can do…”

——————————————————————————————————————————-

“It’s simple…we reform family voting…and then we let the people decide.” Richard Buckingham told Peter Munroe, using his Godfather as a sounding board. “I was trying to overcomplicate things before, but this is the answer. It is the only flaw in my father’s record…if we rectify that, the people can vote for change.”

“Was it a flaw?” Munroe asked, sitting back and playing devil’s advocate. “Or do you intend to question everything it allowed us to do forty years ago?”

“Peter, we both know it was a trick to ward off Ben Cartwright…and yes, it secured the renaissance…but at what price? My father believes in democracy.”

“Yes, I think he does, in essence…but I am not sure he believes it works.” Munroe sighed, reaching for his coffee. “The system we replaced had not delivered a proper mandate for over twenty years, and society was out of balance…”

“I am not looking backwards Peter…I not only refuse to rubbish what you and my father did, but I fully agree that we make decisions for today and that tomorrow they may look different. The point is, where do we go from here? That is the debate we are having with Nick Craig…and I am saying we give the people…all the people…the right to choose. We have put things back on an even keel, and we have put proper boundaries in place, but we have also created a new aristocracy…a new political elite who have no more right to decide the future than the political bubble you popped back in 2020.”

“I see the point…and I am not saying I disagree with you…but think of who you are asking to vote for this?” Munroe asked thoughtfully. “You are asking men to give up the power we have given them.”

Signing on the Dotted Line

“I hope everyone will be comfortable, Hugh…but it is nice to see you all here,” Duncan Balcombe said as he helped Hugh Blackstone lower himself into an armchair. Miss Robinson and his wife were helping the ladies, his wife taking special care of Caroline Blackstone. The old woman needed her assistance, but Duncan was delighted to see that Hugh’s wife was properly muzzled and mittened for once. His wife had expressed some concern that she would not be, but he had assured her that Hugh knew how his family ought to behave. He had asked Miss Robinson to leave Hannah free to assist her, especially with Mrs Blackstone, as a mark of respect, but otherwise she would certainly conform to propriety. Balcombe had met many men like Blackstone over the years. They were a dying breed, clinging on to as many echoes of the old ways as long as they could, but Hugh seemed to have finally seen sense. Catherine was a good girl, a pretty bride for his son, and obedient enough. She would not cause him any problems, and Graham wanted a wife with some intelligence. Duncan himself had chosen strength of character in his Hannah, and she had been good for him, generally. He hoped that Catherine would be the same for his son because that was what a modern marriage was all about. He did not spend too much time thinking about the past, and how things were. He had been a child when Charles Buckingham came to power and he had spent his formative years listening to his parents talk like Blackstone. It was pointless. Those days were gone.

“We are all delighted to be here, Duncan…such a lovely home.” Hugh Blackstone replied, managing to control his stick for once. Catherine stood to one side, waiting to be settled, doing her best to stand stock still. Miss Walker had not travelled with them, as the Balcombe’s could not house her, even for the night, so she would be submitting herself to Miss Robinson’s care for the best part of twenty four hours. “And we hope cause to celebrate.”

“Of course Hugh…all of the paperwork is drawn up, you just need to read and sign it…but some tea first, and then we can leave the ladies to chat whilst we get down to business.”

“George is planning to teach Graham a ‘Maradona’ turn, whatever that is…but I promised his mother I would not let him ruin his best suit, Graham?” Hugh boomed, encouraged by the news that things were going smoothly before making sure that his grandson was to be looked after.

“I think I can keep the young tearaway occupied for an hour or two, Sir,” Graham Balcombe smiled, putting his hand on young George’s shoulder. Florence Baraclough was settled by Miss Robinson first, with her mother being cared for by Mrs Balcombe herself. She had mixed emotions. She wanted her daughters to be safe more than anything in the world, and she thought that Catherine would be safe with Graham Balcombe. He was a surgeon, like her father, and her father thought that basically he was a good man. His father was perhaps a little full of himself, and the power the law gave him over his wife and daughter, which had resulted in the employment of someone as abhorrent as Miss Robinson, but Graham seemed to be what she had heard called a modern Reformist on Radio Four. He knew nothing other than the Reformist way, but there was also nothing of the renaissance about him, because he was born into paradise. Florence was not a particularly deep thinker and she had not continued her education after leaving school, but she knew what her parents were, and she could see how someone like Graham was different to them. Her parents remembered the old ways and still regretted their passing. And therefore they had never really embraced the new ways. They had done enough to avoid things they did not want to do or suffer, and they had built their home life accordingly. It was not in any way rebellious. In fact it was the complete opposite, as the objective was to keep the family safe. But the Balcombe’s had clearly taken the opposite path, and Graham Balcombe was the product of that decision. Florence thought that George would be a fine young man, but he would also share some of his grandfather’s views of course. They had all heard them often enough, and George cared for his family. If Hugh Blackstone lived long enough to see George to his coming of age the family would be safe for another generation. But Graham Balcombe had no shadows of the past hanging over him. He had been born a man in a man’s new world, where anything was possible. He was confident, well educated and sure of himself and his future. He was letting his parents arrange his marriage, but he had certainly been consulted and Florence had little doubt that he could have refused Catherine.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Miss Garfield had little trouble with Kayleigh Beckford. She had been tamed in London, and although her father’s decision was a shock to her, she did not resist the inevitable. KHM was a very traditional institution, and becoming more so. Ever since Shap Nixon’s presidency, Reformism had been practised in the USA, with each state taking a slightly different slant on how best to follow the famous doctrine. New York, the bank’s base, was not a religious centre. Even with a fanatic like Nixon in the White House, the bank was a business and New York was about money, not piety. But over the years, as Reformism started to restore some of the strength of the US economy, and closer relationships with the British and London as a financial centre became essential to profitability, the managing partners of KHM began to realign themselves. They did not make a huge song and dance about it. That was not the way the financial sector worked at the best of times. They just started to promote those who were prepared to commit themselves.

The United States of America was simply too big to convert over night. Nixon had achieved a lot, and by the time he had finished four years as Vice President to Aaron Lumsfield and his own two terms as President the Republican Party could have changed its name. But he could not bring all fifty states into the fold. Instead, it was left to time and self-interest to bring others over from the dark side. As Kieran Radcliffe had discovered in Great Britain, encouraging the rich, the powerful and the famous to convert encouraged others, and the carrot was often more effective than the stick. Robbie Beckford was therefore a case in point. His career depended on his willingness to convert, and he brought his daughter with him. He would take a wife too. Miss Garfield expected another charge quite soon, certainly by the summer. In the meantime she was kept occupied arranging to move Kayleigh into the new apartment her father had rented in the Dakota building and introducing the obedient maiden to the New York social scene. It was not as large as the one in London, but the daughter of a full partner in a business like KHM needed to socialise. Kayleigh would be a bride soon enough herself, and Miss Garfield needed to keep her in the shop window as much as possible.

——————————————————————————————————————————

“You cannot turn back the clocks,” Daniel Harrington insisted, his frustrations clear on his face. “These women do not expect equality or freedom…they know and accept their place. It was unbelievably hard even to convince a few of them to ask for the right to a private vote…and Forbes cracked down pretty effectively on that. And what would be the result if you succeeded anyway…how could we guarantee that they would not vote us out of power?”

“That is kind of the point of democracy Dan…and isn’t it what you were trying to do anyway?” Richard Buckingham asked with a sigh, running his hands through his hair, tiring of the constant debate. But they needed to come to some sort of agreement if they were to have any sort of manifesto.

“I was trying…well, we were trying…to get some sort of anti-Forbes bandwagon going…but this election is a whole new ball game.” Harrington admitted, equally tired, reaching for the bottle of water.

“The trouble is we don’t know what the people want…it’s so long since anyone asked them.” Steven Trevor stood up mainly to stretch his legs and walked around the conference table. “But I am starting to see what your father was getting at now Richard…he said promote your vision, didn’t he? Maybe this election is not about policy…he said do what it right, not what is left or right, soft or hard…but work towards the vision.”

“And there is our problem, because we don’t have a vision…anymore than Nick does…we want like this but not quite as hard on people, and Nick and his team want like this but with a few of the leaks plugged up. It’s not exactly mesmerising stuff and the electorate are hardly energised.”

“So, you have to energise them…we have to paint a vision of the future and then work out how to get them there.”

Part 10


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