Liz Lowrey writes. It was three weeks before Christmas and Mrs McTory shivered in her draught filled drawing room. In spite of the generous winter fuel allowance she could not bring herself to use this after all she wasn’t one of those people who were dependent on state handouts. She would rather freeze her old and bitter bones then partake in a universal benefit available to all. She stooped to rake the dying embers of the small fire and sighed. She longed for a time long ago when all was rosy in her world. Well she remembered the halcyon days when the Iron Lady was firmly in control of the Dis United Kingdom or so she had believed. Of course there had been discomfort and hardship for many in Scotland at this time but that was of no concern to Mrs McTory.
Outside the street was quiet and only a few folk braved the driving hail as they scuttled home to enjoy time with their families.
Families thought Mrs McTory, who needs them. In fact who needs friends, neighbours or any sense of belonging or community. She was indeed a typical Tory. Certainly not me she huffed as she eased herself into the old leather armchair and closed her eyes for a few seconds rest before she ate her frugal supper.
Suddenly she was jolted awake. There was a strange chill in the room and she noticed the fire was no longer lit. In the corner of the room a shadowy apparition had appeared. Good evening hissed the figure. I have come to educate you in the ways of the world. Tonight you will receive three visitors. Each will tell a story and then you must make a big decision. What’s the decision stuttered Mrs McTory, but it was too late the apparition had vanished.
Well I never muttered Mrs McTory must be getting old, I’ve started to imagine things.
Outside she heard the banging of van doors. Peaking through the blinds she noticed a family entering the neighbouring house. The family were poorly dressed and had three children whose excited voices could be clearly heard.
How glad we are to have arrived they shouted excitedly. The crossing of the Channel was so scary. And that evil Home Secretary Herod wanted to send us back. Thank goodness we are welcome in Scotland. Mrs McTory tutted. She remembered her own children, a boy and a girl. Both now proud members of the Scottish Tory branch office. One almost became an MSP back in that day, but then there was an incident involving expenses claims and he melted back into obscurity never to be given air time on BBC Scotland again.
As she headed to bed Mrs McTory was overcome with anxiety. How would she cope with her new neighbours? Maybe she would have to move to a better area? Would the three visitors arrive?
With all these thoughts swirling through her head, she fell into a restless sleep.
As the clock struck midnight she jolted awake. A strange aroma filled the room. It was the stench of decaying Unionism. She rubbed her bleary eyes and did a double take when she caught sight of the apparition before her. The figure creaked slowly towards Mrs McTory encumbered by many chains. Each chain represented a damming policy inflicted on people by subsequent Tory governments. There was the hostile environment chain, the benefit cap chain and many others. I was so wrong mumbled the apparition. If only our policies had been kinder. Now it’s too late, so much damage has already been done. It will take decades to repair the damage and I’m so sorry that this was inflicted on the people of the UK and more so Scotland who never wanted our policies and made this crystal clear at the ballot box.
With this apology of sorts the figure vanished and there was a loud knock on the door.
As the door opened an insignificant man dressed as a clown with giant feet appeared. Greetings to you Mrs McTory he hissed. I am the new branch office manager and I’m here to tell you that in the battle for the Union every vote will count. We are losing momentum and look what’s become of Scotland. People are invigorated and filled with hope and optimism for the future. This cannot go on.
But why wondered Mrs McTory, surely after all hope isn’t a bad thing. The clown suited man began to rant. Brexit will be good for Scotland. Even Mrs McTory knew this to be a false fact. She was used to spending her summers in her small villa in Tuscany, but Brexit had put paid to that. Aside from the annoying residency time limits she would be unable to take her beloved and pampered pug dog with her as he wouldn’t be welcome.
She genuinely didn’t see the irony of what was happening in front of her eyes. Suddenly a hostile environment for people didn’t seem like such a good idea. And then we must get rid of the devolved Parliament grunted the giant clown suited man. Our esteemed leader has stated this and it must come to pass. With those parting words the figure slunk back out the door and a gloom descended on the room and on Mrs McTory.
Suddenly she wondered if Unionism and Toryism were in fact such a good thing. She tried to rationalise this by revisiting the Bitter Together arguments that had been perpetuated during the 2014 referendum. Surely these were correct or were they, she asked herself. Returning to slumber her thoughts were confused to say the least.
As dawn was breaking a melodic sound filled her bedchamber. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she noticed a bright light in the corner of her room. It was glowing gold and blue and looking closer she saw it was a Saltire Star. The new neighbours’ youngest child was holding it raised in her small hand.
Good morning she said. My name is Independence and I have travelled over harsh lands and dangerous seas to arrive in your country. I am so happy to be here with my family and looking forward to a new and better life in this lovely country. Mrs McTory swallowed hard as a lump rose in her throat. Suddenly she realised that life in Scotland would be so much better without reliance on a UK government bent on causing misery to all its inhabitants and anyone daring to attempt to come and live here.
The little girl smiled and waived and was gone in an instant and almost immediately Mrs McTory fell into a deep and restful sleep.
Next morning Mrs McTory woke and immediately remembered the visitors from the previous night. She compared and contrasted the harshness and mean spirit of the first two callers with the hope and optimism of her final young visitor. Indeed she thought the future of Scotland cannot remain in the aged claws of Unionism.
Filled with a renewed sense of optimism, she called her two children and spoke at length about her transformation from dedicated Unionist to potential independence supporter. Her arguments were reasoned and persuasive and she could only hope that in time her children would be persuaded that only with independence would Scotland become a better place for everyone who has chosen to live here.
As she mused about her sudden and radical change of heart there was a knock at the front door. Standing on the doorstep was her new neighbour with her two small boys and a little girl. Pleased to meet you said her neighbour. My name is Patience and these are my three children. Opportunity Hope and Independence. Mrs McTory blinked in surprise and said welcome, but I believe I’ve already met your little girl. Maybe it was the early morning sun or some other trick of the light, but for just a moment Mrs McTory was convinced that Independence was holding the Saltire Star.