Martin Mainwright struck a pose. It was a well practised pose from the privacy of his chambers, or in front of the full-length mirror in the master bedroom, on the rare occasions when the house was empty. It was a pose that one would not care to be caught doing in public as it was riddled with Narcissistic connotations, but now the private practice sessions could end and allow for the unveiling of the victory stance. For very few, even his opponents, would deny him this moment, this moment forming part of the many that would lay before him during his journey to glory. Mainwright was already a household name but was on the verge of having his own section in bookshops specialising in history.
For Mainwright’s journey, however short, had been impressively prolific. More than two-hundred days shy of his fortieth spring on this planet, he was expecting to be elevated to the level of the great ones upon his arrival at the office the next day. For Mainwright, the office was the Houses of Parliament, he had been an MP (for Sittingbourne) for more than six years, after a distinguished career in local government and politics. His credentials were perfect to spearhead the campaign for his party to change their rather stuffy image and move into the late twentieth century. Popular and respected. Mainwright was the inevitable choice for the youngest Chancellor of the Exchequer, and later Prime Minister. And so the pose, surrounded by his closest aides and allies, it was his moment to cherish. They would all expect a piece of the cake when it would later be sliced, but for now it was Mainwright’s cake, and he proudly carried it to the table.
To reach the point he found himself at that moment Mainwright had made many sacrifices, but he had also benefited from the circumstances, both sociological and political, that would allow him to reach a hitherto unexpected position in the somewhat stuffy world of British politics. Brilliance has been a watchword synonymous with Mainwright’s life. Even his birth caused the scratching of heads in the upper echelons of the Sittingbourne medical field. Nineteen thirty-five was not a great year to be born in, world recession managed to make poverty a well-recognised house guest in all parts of the globe, the threat of another war was not being felt at grassroots level, but still causing chin rubbing. Political instability was endemic all over Europe, and Uruguay were world champions.
The Mainwright’s situation was, for the great majority of the British public, enviable. Martin’s father, Cecil, was a civil servant who had been decorated in the Great War and been given an honourable discharge that still caused flashbacks every time he remained seated for great periods of time. Therefore, the Mainwright’s were able to maintain a reasonably, or at least relatively, high standard of living. His mother, Beryl, was offered the role of mother and housekeeper in the set-up. A role oft seen for ladies of her generation, although her mother had worked in a munitions’ factory, in the process getting muscles that before the last battle of Ypres would take the factory arm-wrestling championship, Beryl’s generation were not expected to get their hands dirty, except if it was by making a corned-beef hash, well not until nineteen forty or so. When Beryl fell pregnant with Martin she had already had the pleasure of two near-death experiences whilst in the throes of childbirth, and medical science did not recommend a third foray. Complications appeared quite soon, and Beryl was confined to bed for the last five months of the pregnancy. Hot water and towels were not enough on their own, medical technology would have to be stretched a little further if Beryl were to meet the stork this time. Despite fears to the contrary, and the none too optimistic calling of a priest, Beryl managed to give birth to a boy after eight and a bit months gestation. Martin struggled at first, he was not named Martin until it was clear a name would be of some significance to him, but eventually managed to turn into a healthy child just in time to enjoy the nightly mortality challenge options of the Second World War.
The war caused the Mainwright household to sink further into unhappiness, Cecil felt impotent at not being able to participate and, as he put it, finish off the job on the Bosh, Beryl felt impotent at being impotent after finishing up with the greater part of her reproductive organs resting in the bins of the local children’s hospital. Had these events taken place in the luxury of fifty years’ later, her parents would have simply separated, later divorced and Cecil Mainwright would have joined the second generation of weekenders. Without this simple solution, Mr. & Mrs. Wainwright were forced to ride out the bad times, become closer and live out the rest of their days embarrassingly claiming they loved each other as much as the first time in the presence of their then grown-up children. With the parental outlet down, young Martin forged a close relationship with his sister Helen and did most of his playing with brother Jeremy. If his birth had been an accident, a worse accident of birth would have been being born in Coventry or Liverpool, Sittingbourne was not high on the Nazi’s agenda of military strongholds, and although suffering was around every corner, they escaped to an extent. When Martin began school in war-torn Britain, there was little time available to single-out prospective the child genius with a grand future. When a certain amount of normality returned, though eggs were still tinned and no-one had yet to see a banana, Martin prepared for the eleven plus exam, and people began to suggest it was time to hold on a minute. Martin could read and write at three, diligently copying tasks from his elder sister’s workbooks, he tinkled the ivories at the age of five and was doffing his cap at long division at seven. Despite the bulk of his learning taking place after school, Martin was a charming, ridiculously polite and popular member of the school. With his parents’ relationship back on track, Martin developed an interest in History, nurtured by his father, and spent a great deal of his free time with war veterans, indignant that what had happened twice this century on the battlefields of Europe never happen again.
Martin prepared for the eleven plus with Helen, the pair of them laughing at the ease of the questions and was the first person in Kent to get one-hundred percent. The education board were so impressed with Martin that they offered him a full scholarship to one of its finer public institutions. The Mainwrights pondered the offer but felt that a steady home influence with the emphasis on feet on the ground would benefit him more than spending time with people who had more surnames than neurones. At the Grammar School he found himself encouraged by fine teachers, offered the possibility to further his interests and to participate in sports. Martin, under the guidance of his father, never allowed himself to become a child with his head buried in a book, spending weekends walking in the countryside, he had an innate ability to record and document every piece of information imparted to him, or playing rugby in winter, cricket in summer. In August he would go with the school French club to the school where their exchanges took place. He was the youngest ever winner of the Kent Latin prize, took “O” level Maths and English Language at fourteen, passed with “A”s, and captained the school debating team to a hideously biased final against Harrow where the refereeing would put to shame the guy who would later give Caine and Stallone, and lesser footballing dignitaries like Nascimento, Ardiles and Moore, a hard time against a German Army XI. It was an idyllic time for Martin, at fifteen he was asked to fill in for the first XI, batting at number three and hitting one-hundred and six off seventy-three balls.
The family seemed almost protected from the syndromes that would one day have names and become part of post-modernist culture. They never had too much but didn’t go wanting. Discipline was not something Cecil and Beryl had to worry about too much, as that paperwork took care of itself. As martin prepared his “A” levels and Oxbridge entrance exam, he furthered his musical ability, joining the local orchestra and being offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, which he politely turned down. He had decided that he would read Economics, that his gift for numbers could be used for good to pull the world economy round, not so that the capitalist countries could enjoy larger abysses between the rich and the poor in their lands, but so that on every table in every land there was bread. Idealistic, certainly, naïve, perhaps, but at the very least refreshing. His performance at the interview for Oxford University was legendary, the Dean almost gave him his job there and then. He single-handedly had a negative effect for the weaker students on the nineteen fifty-two “A” Level grade curve, by taking “A”s in Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, Chemistry and Economics. He did not take the General Studies paper originally but was asked to after his results came through for the “proper” exams, hurriedly taking the exam the morning of the death of his pet python and still taking a grade “A”.
It was a tearful moment for Beryl as her little boy left home. All mothers tend to go down the same boulevard at this moment, whether it be the Bolton Institute of Higher Education or King’s College Oxford the destination. Martin had no problems fitting in, despite taking his “A” levels a year early, he had the social grace of a person of many more than just seventeen winters. When the workload was seen as to easy for him, he began to turn his energies to more taxing issues, and it was where he first met a man that would become his mentor, the famed economist Dr. Ludovic Cassells.
Ludovic Cassells had arrived in Oxford as a visiting professor in nineteen thirty-two. Of Hungarian origin, he excelled in a number of subjects, but found his true vocation to be Economics. Distressed by the possibilities offered to him at Budapest University, he accepted the offer of a conference in Oxford to flee the east. Those in charge of the University of the bicycles were not really keen on a political crisis arising from a poaching scandal that broke protocol, but Cassells would not be moved. He was an enormously handed, at first glance grotesque-looking and uncoordinated. As he walked across the ground it appeared that none of his muscles were connected to the part of the body they were supposed to activate, but on closer inspection, he had a magnetism that keen to get on young female, and there were offers from the boys, would find it hard to resist. The government were also keeping an eye on Cassells, at first wary of his sudden appearance in the United Kingdom as Europe flew headlong into another crises, but then realised the potential worth of this genius. The policy was to have home-grown talent spearheading economic policy, but they admitted that this may have been part of the reason for the dire economic situations in which the economy often floundered. Cassells was soon juggling his lecturing at Oxford with being an adviser to the Chancellery. Cassells enjoyed a privileged position within the framework of both the government and the university.
It was then with some surprise that one fine night in late nineteen thirty-six he disappeared from Oxford, only to reappear four years later with a finger missing, several scars with which he did not leave, and a vagueness that even for him surprised listeners when the subject of his absence was broached. His return did not endear him to the already suspicious government, who, despite their need for a man like Cassells during the fraught economy of the war years, did not feel the man could be trusted. They tried to revise their plan by secretly contracting understudies of his and hoping to prise out the information thus, but Cassells had been around and was not going to let his services be leaked out of his rooms. Anyway, with the war in full swing, University education was not seen as a priority, and Cassells fell on diificult times, combining lecturing with a job on the local radio impersonating the top notch Third Reich members to hilarious results. He even contemplated a return to the east, but when things started to pick up after the war and coupled with a much eyebrow-raising romance with the local vicar’s daughter, he decided to stay in Oxford. In nineteen fifty-one he was made Dean of Economics.
Cassells was also renowned for being immensely rude to staff and students alike. Only when he found a student, and he believed Oxford University was the least likely place to find them, that met his intellectual requirements did he bother to take an interest in their education. The University had to employ another professor to do his marking and paperwork, tutorials were not an option, but Cassells attracted the right amount of eccentric fame that the University could use to its own benefit. As soon as martin Mainwright was accepted into Oxford, the meeting between the two was anticipated with bated breath.
Martin was inevitably drawn to Cassells, they shared the same ideas, the same passions outside the classroom and had the same visions. Many companies had already heard of Mainwright, and were slightly perturbed at the idea of his brilliance being corrupted by Cassells, the companies wished to headhunt Mainwright, and use his ability to their economic gain, there was talk that Cassells was a Communist sympathiser, his advocating of free public health systems and education for all were not ideas they wished to be passed on to Mainwright. So it was with great relief when Martin Mainwright began to spend more and more time with the daughter of Lord Flogburne, a Conservative (though a small c would also work) Lord and follower of a clearly traditionally based division of wealth system.
Gemma Flogburne was Martin’s first experience of love, it was not something he had seemed to have time for previously, the Grammar School set up not providing a myriad of opportunities by ensuring a single-sex environment. Martin’s brother Jeremy had been gifted a winning smile by the puberty gods, and offered Martin tips and pointers as to crack the case, but in those days, as in these, if you don not have the patter, there is none for you son, even if you do look like Michaelangelo’s David. Therefore, Martin was considered as a really nice lad as he left for University, still a virgin. Gemma was not in the same boat, she was not even in the same river or Olympic racing category, although her hymen went innocently whilst horse-riding at fourteen, it would not have lasted much longer. Gemma summered abroad, smoked, had a collection of gramophone records and considered a good night out to be more than five G&T’s. She was allegedly studying something somewhere but spent little time in her elusive seat of learning. When he met her he realised that he hadn’t actually got around to having any fun and began to make up for lost time. Of course, Martin could not keep up with her pace, he tried to look like a skinful of gin was second nature to him, but never managed to see the end of a party. Nonetheless, he was smitten, and despite Cassells warnings to the contrary, Martin remained with Gemma until he inevitably found her rolling round with another after aiming to surprise her with flowers (since that moment Mainwright has never repeated the romantic surprise, always making sure details are known to all parties before any type of surprise can take place). Martin was devastated, Cassells forte was not consoling love-sick teenagers, and his choice of words did not help the potentially suicidal youngster. Cassells did though manage to pull out one piece of advice of some worth, and that was to get away for the summer, have a good time and forget about Gemma. The situation had caused him to fail a few exams he was expected to be good enough to mark, the University accepted the rather delicate emotional state he was in and allowed him to do a retake in September. They also recommend he take part in the trip to the Rhône Valley where fruit-picking and open-air camping may help him through this difficult time.
The face of Martin Mainwright that arrived in south-west France that Tuesday afternoon did not even appear to be a distant cousin of the one that left four weeks later. On the journey back he was able to thank Gemma the favour she had done him by opening first his heart, and then his eyes. For four weeks he spent the days picking fruit in the blistering sunshine, and the nights drinking ludicrously cheap wine and making love to a beautiful Mexican girl in the rooftop of an old barn where they slept. As opposed to the relationship with Gemma, both parties in the Martin-María tryst knew that time was to be taken advantage of, their relationship could never work, in the mid-fifties the nearest people had to MSN Messenger was the telegram, and that somehow wouldn’t work. The sadness he felt on saying goodbye to María was not akin to the sadness he felt on losing Gemma, of course if she had decided to drop everything and come with him then that would be marvellous. He, on the other hand, had no desire to up ship and leave a promising life in the west to do God knows what in Mexico. For the next couple of months letters came and were sent, though each one shorter and struggling to hit the etiquette of at least one side. November saw no letter, a Christmas card was sent from Oxford and a reply came from Monterrey, where it wasn’t happening, two months later. Martin’s academic career was back on track, and by the summer he was looking at his final year with a first average. The headhunting companies were also pleased as Mainwright’s academic brilliance caused him often to take an opposing stance to Cassells, although they were still a bit friendly for their liking.
During his final year, Martin met and fell in love with Elizabeth, a beautiful, sensible librarian, daughter of a civil-servant and the woman who would be designated the role of those behind the scenes who deserve this award / recognition more than I do / Behind every great man there is a, etc. etc. Within two months they announced their engagement, which broke a number of hearts in Oxford (not only the girls, but many prospective father-in-laws went into a form of depression when they saw their dowry was not enough). Martin finished Oxford in the summer of nineteen fifty-five with a first-class Masters’ degree (automatic upgrade, not a feature at Bolton) and the known world after his signature. Cassells implored him not to work for a major multi-national, and to go into a government department, but Mainwright the graduate had discovered a taste for the good life in his final days at Oxford, as his would-be suitors wined and dined him. Mainwright made it clear that he wished to work for a company that had a social conscience, and promises were made that would be soon forgotten as Mainwright entered his avaricious twenties.
It did not take Mainwright long to climb the ladders put before him in his place of work. By the time he was twenty-six he was considered senior. He and Elizabeth married in the summer of fifty-six, during the preparations they heard Elvis Presley for the first time but didn’t think much of him. She remained in the library for a while, but soon second-generation economic geniuses were being talked about. A man of numbers, Mainwright decided that three was a good number of children as it hadn’t done his family any harm. Jeremy was the best man, and Beryl’s eternal happiness was achieved when Helen and Elizabeth struck up a friendship that would last until the first of them decided to explore the afterlife. In November fifty-nine, the first-born, Charles appeared as the Mainwrights relocated to the capital. With the recovery of the British economy after the Second World War, they were installed in suburbia, where the rewards of a young executive were enjoyed. Sixty-one saw the second offspring, Elizabeth said she liked the name Gemma, Martin laughed, and they decided on Emily. The next year the third and final member appeared, taking the name Jeremy after his brother was tragically killed in a car accident. The loss of his brother had a profound effect on Martin. He had always seen Jeremy as a person who knew things that he had somehow missed that class, and worried as to his ability of going through the difficult aspects of life to follow without his big brother. His life up to that point had ill-prepared him for tragedy, and as he was able to appreciate the frailty of his parents, Elizabeth’s ailing mother and other crude realities of fate that a sheltered existence had saved him from. Although Jeremy had no children of his own, he was the perfect uncle. Martin’s children were too young to comprehend what had happened, Helen’s children were devastated by the loss, and the effect was passed on to Elizabeth. Martin was reminded of his discussions with Cassells, who gave a moving speech at the funeral, and began to think about putting something back.
It was then, at the age of twenty-nine that Martin Mainwright entered politics, as a local counsellor. His passion and drive to make a difference was fuelled by Cassell’s theories, and his election was inevitable. Entering local government, Mainwright was of the belief that if enough people rallied together, even at the lowest level, then a difference would be made. He was soon disillusioned when the majority of those elected spent more time involved in petty squabbles, back-stabbing and other meandering towards personal gain, than actively representing their constituents. Mainwright was soon convinced that it was not from the bottom that things had to be changed, but at the top. As he moved up through the local council, he was not ashamed to use the local press to expose corruption, some of the older members of the council tried to inform him of the rules of cricket, but Mainwright was on a mission.
His popularity with the constituents was matched by his unpopularity with his council colleagues. Assassination attempts are not altogether common in local government, but the situation had come to the stage that the Mayor had seen his income reduced by more than seventy percent as a result of Mainwright’s meddling behaviour. If the Mayor was losing out on backhanders then the chain was broken, pay-offs to the Mayor meant third parties whose palms were greased from the tea-lady to Super-Intendents. Cassells philosophy was that if the people you detest detest you, then you’re doing well. Mainwright knew that powerful and rich people were against him, but never suspected that the night he left the new Italian restaurant that a copycat Sarejevo Austrian Archduke removal plan on the streets of Guildford. Thankfully, the Guildford branch of the Serbian rebels did not have the same accuracy, and Mainwright took the bullet in the hip.
After the incident, the Mainwrights had to take more care than before, and this led to what was an enormously happy period for their children. With their father a politician whose life was under threat the family were rewarded with a pair of bodyguards. Gary and Ken were at first glance your typical brutish bullyboys who liked nothing more than dishing out a good kicking. However, appearances were deceptive again as the two became pivotal members of the Mainwright family. The boys loved the idea of being escorted to school by two big bruisers, and the standing in the school also benefited from their new guardians. Inevitably, the boys mouths’ tended to work a bit of overtime as they acquired a reputation based on a precarious pretext in the school. In the family home Gary and Ken never failed to surprise, Gary helping the children with their Maths’ homework, for which he had a don, and Ken proving to a dab hand in the kitchen, his mother had lived in Rabat for a long time and had passed on a marvellous couscous recipe, as well as showing a side not normally seen of bodyguards as he read his poetry at night. When the corrupt and bad were eventually tried and punished, the promised revenge never materialising, the Mainwright household was declared a self-sufficient environment, and Gary and Ken went on to their next mission. Of course, there were tears, young and old, as they left, words of wisdom to the boys, final cooking tips to the staff and ladies, and a heart-warming “if you ever, ever, ever need anything, here’s our number” to the main man. Then, they were gone. Like a hostage victim who finds it difficult to readjust to normal life, the Mainwrights suffered the same emptiness with the loss of Gary and Ken.
Things took a long while to get back to normal. School was a continuous problem. Charles and Jeremy had become rather carried away with their accompaniment to school, and mouths that had previously remained pragmatically shut, opened incessantly. Once the bigger boys got wind of the Venezuelan five-foot two housemaid who was bringing them to school, there was the suggestion that “you’re not so hard now”. A suggestion that was soon proven. A suggestion that would mean Charles and Jeremy not having any money for tuck, fishing their plimsolls out of the lake and having a free shampoo and set (without the shampoo, well, if you spilt up the syllables, then you get, but it’s best not to go there) every day. They spoke to their father about the situation, but he just told some dull story about when he was a boy and had to face up to the perils of schoolboy life. Charles and Jeremy did not want to face up to these perils, they wanted Gary and Ken to come back, smash some heads and reinstall the brothers as the cocks of the school.
Emily also felt the space left behind, the household had become quiet again, her father barely present due to work commitments, and her mother, the sensible librarian, was never the life and soul of the party. Even Auntie Helen seemed to pay less visits to the house now that Gary and Ken had left. The children discussed the situation but could not find a solution. Jeremy suggested that if they gave Gary and Ken their pocket money then that would cover their wages, somehow Emily knew a high-risk job would pay more than one pound fifty a week. Charles then decided to act on his own. He realised that all that was necessary was an atmosphere of fear to cause those in charge to consider a bodyguard, or two, necessary. Charles had mastered a number of impressions at a very early age, his Lord Douglas-Hume was always a winner at Christmas parties, as was his Duchess of Kent, though it was feared puberty would be the end of that one. One the centrepieces of his repertoire was his own father, so with the aid of magazine letters stuck together to make a ransom note, and a desperate call from Martin Mainwright himself, the family were again on the protected list.
When Mainwright came back from a business trip to the far east, he was most surprised to find Gary and Ken, once again in the spare rooms, and the cook and the maid on camp-beds in the kitchen. He was even more surprised after he was told that he himself phoned to ask for assistance. Charles remained quiet about his part in the story but found himself continually having to produce more ransom letters etc. so that Gary and Ken would stay. Inevitably the maid found copies of half-cut up Woman’s Weekly’s and had soon cracked the case. After a big, serious sit-down, apologies were made, and Gary and Ken collected their belongings again.
Elizabeth was the one who got the real downside of the life of a politician’s wife, especially when Mainwright combined his work in local government with an executive role in the company where he began his path. Although she had the children, once they reached school age with two members of full-time staff in the house it was difficult to fill her days. She flirted with the idea of returning to work, getting involved with charitable organisations or some other outlet for her frustration, but most ideas were met with disapproval by her husband. She felt that her youth had passed her by with only memories of books she hadn’t read, children she hadn’t raised and dreams she hadn’t fulfilled. She wasn’t entirely sure as to what these dreams consisted of, but she felt sad when she thought about her husbands memoirs containing only passing references to her. When she saw her husband arrive every night, exhausted at gone ten in the evening, desperate for some kind of interaction and all she got were a few grunts, she wondered if she had the chance in another life, would she have made the same decisions.
Martin was, though, oblivious to this family upheavel. He believed his family needed little more than those he represented, a few well-chosen words, often written by someone else. Had he seen the situation in which those who were supposedly the closest to him were in, he may not have taken the plunge in sixty-eight to enter the House of Commons. The party were keen to nurture him for the first of the two chambers they expected him to sit in. Some considered thirty-two to be too young to become a Member of Parliament, but Mainwright exhibited all the characteristics the party wanted to revitalise their image. To an extent, he was potentially dangerous, frighteningly honest and incorruptible. Those shortcomings, it was felt, would soon disappear once he was immersed in the real world of politics, so it was considered for the best that he got involved as soon as possible. The first question to answer was when would the right moment come along?
Thankfully, a chain of unexpected events were to propel Mainwright into the House of Commons. The member for his parent’s constituency, Sittingbourne, had a reputation for never quenching his thirst, had he tried grapefruit juice instead of Courvosier Brandy, he may have got a little further, but to no avail. He was also, in his own words, an old romantic, this translated basically to a fondness for red lights. Not that he had an enviable collection of brake lights, the Honourable Member for Sittingbourne was under the impression British Politics was still in the “Golden age”, for him, of politicians having a power which would make the Divine Right of Kings seem rather liberal. Therefore, Harold Morthington-Blommberry-Smythe, apart from destroying the stationery budget, was an embarrassment to the party, not for doing what he did, but for getting caught. Still, his family went back to the pre-Alexandrine period in Sittingbourne, and therefore enjoyed a large majority. His interest in politics was flitting, his knowledge even less so, as long as he could remember his name and which direction to go in, at least they had a vote in their favour at all times. But Harold, was not the image the party wanted to put forward in the winter of the twentieth century, the constituent was becoming more demanding, better-read and less accepting of an upper-class twit trying to rape the servants. Also, Harold was not alone, all over the country many would-be and really-are Harolds were having their fun, night and day, at the expense of the constituents.
Mainwright had always hoped for a prestigious central London seat, but when news came through of the heart attack that had brought Mr. MBS’ life to a close, the party suggested Mainwright might be just the man to take over. Of course, his parents were delighted that he may be returning home, business commitments, amongst over things had made his visits to the family home scant in recent times, often Elizabeth went up with the children and an excuse. Mainwright had no intention of living in Sittingbourne, when he won, but concurred with the party’s wisdom. The campaign was a strange affair, Mainwright representing the same party as the deceased who enjoyed an invincible majority. The party, though, wanted to make a statement to its voters all over the country, that the constituents were going to come first from now on. No political observer was fooled for more than a minute that this was the first in a long line a kissing babies and other techniques to make the general public think that politicians are human beings. The by-election received a healthy amount of television coverage, senior party members used expressions like “the face of the future” as the well-groomed, impeccably–dressed, inevitable housewife’s favourite, romped home. He increased the majority and in an impassioned victory speech, he had the audacity to suggest “the future begins here” whilst the candidate for the Monster Raving Loony party vomited in the corner due to some undercooked and out of date eggs used for the egg-mayonnaise sandwiches.
Being the honourable member for Sittingbourne was not quite the exciting entrance to politics that Mainwright had hoped for. People were happy for things to tick along nicely, and it was considered the best policy that the boat not be rocked. Whilst he questioned his decision, the party were pleased his keenness, and offered him the possibility to run an anti-corruption committee, whose results, and findings would never come to anything. Mainwright was delighted to accept, and spent evenings appearing on television debate programmes in which he assured anyone corrupt that “the good times were over”. A combination of innocence and desire to get the job done caused him to fail to see that the party were only removing a bit of token deadwood, no-one with any influence would suffer from Mainwright’s crusade, which would also be a grand test for the man himself.
During one of his investigations, the plan was for him to catch red-handed an unscrupulous local councillor, who in a last-ditched attempt to escape exposure, would offer Mainwright a piece of the pie. Obviously any old bribe would not be taken seriously by such a champion of honesty, and so the party perpetrated a series of seemingly complex clues that would lead Mainwright to the guilty parties. As the scam would seem almost undetectable, and, the best part, Mainwright could cover his tracks afterwards, if he were to accept, he would never be found out. Or at least that was the way it was played. Mainwright flatly refused, and at a very grandiose internal trial, he gave evidence to convict the corrupt who were led handcuffed through the doors by armed policeman, only to be set free on the other side with new identities and their bank accounts intact.
The party were still not one-hundred percent sure what to do with Mainwright. The initial policy was that if he wanted to be honest then corruption could continue around him. This policy had a flaw in that Mainwright was equally content exposing those of his party, sometimes more so, than the opposition. The extra stress of having to be careful was not something those who had been in the party for a long time enjoyed. One such case was that of a local councillor who had been creaming off a nice little earner for himself for a good number of years. Mainwright took his case as a vendetta and would not rest until justice was done. Which it was, to an extent, with Mainwright believing he was serving a twenty-year stretch in Pentonville, the man and his colleague were condemned to serve out the rest of their days as civil servants in Whitehall. Some considered this to be a worse punishment. What was true though, was that the pair joined an ever-growing list of people who would be more than keen to get revenge on Martin Mainwright.
During the first few years as an MP, Ludovic Cassells remained a major influence on Martin Mainwright. He was, after all, godfather to Mainwright’s first born, and his dealings with the government in days gone by, were of great guidance as Mainwright stumbled around in the dark. The party left Cassells alone, they still believed in their idea that Mainwright was malleable, young and his opinions would change with time. To speed up the process, the party thought it might be a good idea if the Mainwright cause felt it had bitten off more than it could chew. Mainwright was given a promotion and took the charge of Junior Minister at the age of thirty-six, praised for his sterling work in the anti-corruption field, and his dedication to making Britain a safer and cleaner place. It also gave him the opportunity to spend less time in Sittingbourne, something he was greatly thankful for. His workload actually decreased as Junior Minister, he was forced to resign from his company, who immediately took him back on as an executive advisor, with six times the salary. Mainwright thought this figure rather gross, as his new function appeared to be; smile for the magazine photograph at the annual dinner. He wrestled with his conscience, and eventually gave half of this salary to charity. Nice to see exactly were his limits lay, although word in the Ministry was that Elizabeth had her eye on a new house in Chelsea.
Junior Minister was a happy period for the Mainwright’s as a family, with more free time Martin and Elizabeth could participate in more activities, both joining the local amateur dramatics society and triumphing in a particularly lively production of “Pirates of Penzance”. Martin shone in the complex role of “Happy” in “Death of A Salesman” and Elizabeth was outstanding as “Daisy” in a stage version of “The Great Gatsby”. Martin had wanted to play Gatsby and could not hide his disappointment at not being offered the role. Elizabeth became a well-to-do figure in local social circles as the Mainwrights were the talk of the town. Holidays were enjoyed all over Europe, Mainwright instigating the twinning of Sittingbourne with Grenôble, something which the English twins got noticeably more out of their cousins françioses. The Mainwright’s children proudly attended the local comprehensive school, despite offers of free places in the country’s top penis-slamming in doors establishments. Apart from the occasional death threat or suspect package in the post, it was a glorious time for the family, and one that continued until this evening. A chilly, November night in nineteen seventy-five, with Mainwright, in that pose, surrounded by his evergreen wife Elizabeth, as beautiful today as the day they married. Ludovic Cassells, the one constant influence in his life, part of his drive, ambition and desire, this was as much for Ludo as for Mainwright. Other assorted bum-licking sycophants also populated the room, hoping that when the Mainwright caked was sliced that they would be in the running for a slice. Good people to have on board, but the sort of people you wouldn’t miss if they weren’t there, as in the next post there would always be more CV’s, more people to work twice as hard for half the money so that you can become successful. His parents were there as well, as was Helen who was helping with the clearing up.
The celebration may have been seen by some as counting the number of packets of Rowntree’s Jelly you can fit into a suitcase before the suitcase has been bought. It was expected that in the cabinet re-shuffle to be announced the following day, that Martin Mainwright was to be promoted to the post of Chancellor of The Exchequer, and thus becoming the youngest person to ever hold the post. Of course, these things were kept very hushed up, but there had been so many hints and winks that Mainwright could not help but hold a celebratory dinner. Cassells had always told him that “The only certainty in politics was that there are no certainties” and he was right to an extent, but Mainwright thought that this a certainty. Mainwright had planned everything and given explicit instructions to the staff. He was about to make a speech in which he would thank all those concerned, when the news came that the Champagne had been overlooked. One of the extra serving-staff, hired especially for the event, profusely apologised and offered to run to the offy (it appears he was northern; god bless) and have the cost be felt on his very own pocket. Mainwright announced there was no need for such behaviour, that the wine had gone somewhat to his head, and a walk would do him good. One brown-nose was heard raising a glass to “The man of the people”, though not prepared to go himself, he happened upon a nice bottle of Bordeaux and let him leave, hoping the words would assure him a place in the Ministry.
Mainwright put on his heavy overcoat and stepped out into the night air. After about three steps, the cold air had sobered him up and he thought about getting the servant to go after all, but, thinking again, remembered that the people did not like politicians who made u-turns, and carried on into the night. The walk to the off-licence (offy in northern vernacular) was not a long one, but there was a strange presence in the air that night. Mainwright was well known in the area, and often seen on the streets. The area had zero crime according to the police, which translated as no criminals lived there, well criminals in the sense of burglars, car-thieves, drug-pushers and pimps. Tax and Property fraud were crimes but had a certain amount of je ne sais quoi about them whereas the others had a certain amount of er, dunno like about them which would just not do. However, as Mainwright left the house he felt as if he were being followed but put it down to the wind in the trees. As he turned the first corner out of his road, he bumped into a character who was clearly out of place in such a neighbourhood. Mainwright felt quite threatened at first as the man put his hand on his arm to steady himself. At the same time a noise was heard which sounded like an old-style camera taking a photograph and letting off a puff of air. The man apologised and went on his way, Mainwright supposed he could be one of those rocks singers they said had moved in. Then, on the next corner, a lady whose repute was in no way fitting with a neighbourhood which boasted Victorian bay windows, also blocked his path. Mainwright noticed that she reeked of alcohol but did not consider that maybe she could smell the two bottles of vino he had supped, and nearly had a heart-attack as she offered him sexual services in return for financial (cash-only) re-imbursement. He informed her he was happily married which was her cue to go through her seemingly never-ending repertoire of comments along the lines “most of them are” before continuing to fall down the road. He finally reached the purveyor of liquids with something extra and recounted the evenings incidents. As the two of them mused over what was happening to the neighbourhood, Martin was brought two bottles of ice-cold Champagne (now, you don’t get that in Rock Ferry, do you?). Mainwright reached for his wallet and was surprised to see a lack of cash in there. Had one of the ungamely types managed to do away with his cash in a swift move? He enquired as to the possibility of payment by card, he was told cash was preferred (it is nineteen seventy-five), but as it was his good self, an exception would be made. The shopkeeper then proceeded to pull out an instrument that would now tug at the heartstrings of any card fraudster or University student with an overdraft, the hand operated credit-card receipt producer. Shops should now place one in every hundred establishments, just for fun, to feel again that you’ve got away with it, for at least as long as it takes the second-class post to hit your doormat. The shopkeeper filled in the relevant columns and the copy placed in the till where the next day it would set off all sorts of alarms in the bank’s headquarters, but let’s not move too fast, there’s champagne and cigars for everyone. So, it’s back to the house, sans incidents, and crack the corks, make the speeches and light the cigars. Tomorrow there will be some rather sore heads.