The Falcon & the Viper

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Chapter 34

On a grey, overcast morning in Central London, the traffic had come to a grinding halt in heavy congestion caused by yet another protest march blocking the capital’s streets. Many marches had taken place in recent months in London and the rest of the country, by ordinary people protesting about the crippling policies of the existing government and its ruling class. The decent, hardworking citizens of the country had had enough of their lives being controlled by and dictated to by greedy politicians, who were no more than the puppets of the stupendously rich, elitist society who really ruled the country and were milking it dry. Dismayed and disillusioned, they worried that everything seemed to be spiralling out of control, with high inflation and interest rates resulting in fewer jobs and many bankruptcies of small companies, causing a vicious circle of more unemployment and redundancies.

Many looked on in disgust at the European Union’s daily dictates from Brussels and viewed the MEP’s fat salaries and huge expenses claims as scandalous. Dominated by far right German politicians occupying the most powerful jobs and swaying policy, the Union seemed to run along fascist lines and favoured Germany to the detriment of the other member states

Chancellor Martina Lohmann appeared to be losing control as Germany began flexing her powerful muscles again, with scant regard for her defeat in the last two world wars. With the UK government’s long policy of whittling down defence spending and the huge budget cuts forced on the armed forces, those old enough to remember the dark days of Munich shuddered, as they recalled Neville Chamberlain’s failed appeasement policy.

The small Metropolitan Police presence, thanks to more government cuts passed on by the mayor of London, was only just keeping control of the large crowd. In a line of snarled up traffic, a chauffeur sat behind the wheel of a shiny black Rolls Royce stationary on Park Lane and cursed quietly under his breath. He realised his effort to get the minister sitting in the back to the Palace of Westminster in time for an important vote had failed, even with their escort of the two traffic cop motorcyclists. The police crowd-control officers ahead seemed powerless in their actions to get the stationary traffic moving again and the thousands of protesters milling around the stalled traffic ensured that his boss would miss making his vote. The driver, who had only worked a couple of months for his employer, knew he would soon get it in the neck from the arrogant prick sitting behind. He had already had enough of the pompous git, but jobs in the present climate were scarce.

Lord Thomas Anthony Westcliff, the 17th Earl of Canterbury and for many years a prominent member of the House of Lords, leant forward on the large cream leather upholstered seat of the Rolls. He was a rotund, ruddy faced man with a small upper lip that a droopy moustache failed to conceal. His long, greasy silver hair needed a cut and the piercing, hawk-like black eyes narrowed as they took in the chaos ahead through the windscreen. Westcliffe fumed in frustration, consoling himself with the thought missing the vote would not matter, as what the government did would soon be under his control.

‘Damn and blast it, Williams! Is there any way around this foul up?’ he demanded.

‘I’m afraid not, sir. I would have driven down Constitution Hill but the police protection officers told me earlier that Green Park has been closed, on the direct orders of Norris Jackson, the Mayor.’

‘What on earth for?’

‘He’s made the park available for the protesters to use as a rest area when the march ends.’

‘He’s what!’ spluttered Westcliff. ‘The man’s gone too far. The blithering idiot should have kept it open as a priority route for me and other important members of the Upper House to get to Westminster on time for the vote.’

‘I couldn’t agree more, sir.’ replied Williams, thinking his job would have been made that much easier if it had.

‘What the devil does he think he’s playing at?’ he said and thumped the headrest of the seat in front with his fist in anger.

‘All he seems to want to do is help these morons in their feeble protests. They should learn to conform,’ he ranted.

‘As mayor of London, Jackson should spend more time on important matters, one priority of which should be to ease of the capital’s traffic. He should ban all public cars and implement more park and ride schemes and not hold up the likes of me with important work to do by encouraging these idiots to run riot through our streets.’

In exasperation, Westcliff reached for the switch in the door, powering down the rear window of the Rolls and shouted to one of the escorting police officers sitting on his motorcycle alongside.

‘Get on your radio now to the officer in charge of policing this crowd and tell him to clear a path through for me.’

Before the officer could respond an egg was thrown through the open window and hit Westcliff in the face. The rotten egg shattered, the smelly, sticky yellow yoke mixed with bits of shell ran down his droopy moustache and dripped down the front of his Saville Row shirt and tie. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket in anger and wiped his face, which was now turning crimson as he began shaking with apoplectic rage.

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