“Morning Peter,” David said as he arrived at his Saturday morning constituency surgery, at 10 am. “What have you got for me today?”
“Oh the usual of course, but I think we can predict a few surprises this morning. There’s been a bit of rumbling about another phone mast application.” Peter Morrison had been David’s agent since he was first elected to this safe Home Counties seat ten years previously and he had a feel for constituency problems, like a mariner smells the incoming weather.
“Shouldn’t be surprised if quite a few turn up today to vent their fury,” Peter said, looking over the top of his half-moon spectacles, his purple jowls emphasised by his white shirt and dark blue tie. “And we’ve had several letters on the subject as well, so you’d better get those under your belt before the hordes arrive.”
He patted the pile of correspondence on the desk and then turned to the door. “Diana’s running late so I’ll get the kettle on for us. Tea or coffee?”
David placed his order then began flicking through the various papers. Some were handwritten, some neatly but extensively typed. Peter had attached little briefing notes to a few of them, ‘troublemaker, but in with current mayor’, and ‘prospective chairman of school governors’.
It was invaluable having an ally such as Peter who knew the history of every action group, every town hall and nearly every parish councillor in the area. “You’re damned lucky to have such a good chap,” David’s colleagues were always saying. “You need a sound chappie to pave the way.” It meant that David was better prepared for this regular exposure to his electors than many of his fellow MPs. “It was a bloody ambush at the weekend,” one of them said. “I don’t fancy going back there in a hurry, I can tell you.”
Peter returned with coffee as David was nearly half way through the pile of letters. “That’s an odd one,” Peter said, pointing to a sheet of thick white paper covered in angular black letters. “I thought I recognised the name when it came in, but I wasn’t too sure, otherwise I’d have put a note on it. I have a feeling she’s that artist woman who did all the breasts some years back. Caused quite a stir. I think she’s got herself in with one of these third world women’s charities now. Still banging on about breasts though.”
David read the letter slowly, deciphering the fierce writing. “Think she’ll cause trouble? She’s saying the famine is partly our fault and she seems to think we’ve had a hand in encouraging the multinationals to promote their powdered baby milk in underdeveloped countries.”
“Well she’s right there of course, but that’s not the only cause of all their troubles, is it. I don’t think she’ll be a big problem. We’ll send her the usual response saying you’ll try to find an opportunity to raise the matter.”
David put the letter to one side and then Peter sat on the corner of the desk and slammed his hand down on the next item in the pile. “Now that one is a bit of an issue,” he said. “Harry Matthews is a real local troublemaker. He’s complaining that the Parish Council did not read out his letter when they discussed a planning application at the last meeting. Now I’ve checked with the chairman, Tom Hill and it’s clear they did everything by the book. They noted the number of letters received, summarised the main points of objection and they have no legal obligation to read out every single blasted letter submitted on each and every application.” Peter put the letter in his folder. “So you can leave that one to me as well.”
to be continued Dec.14