Thursday, 25 August 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Eleven

One year later.

Antony Starling finished his proposed article for the school magazine, ordered the computer to do a quick spell check (Antony was pleased to see it reporting back that it had found no mistakes), and then saved his work.

Antony sat back satisfied. It had taken him a good portion of his summer holidays to write this article. The article might never be published at all, given that the editor tended towards cautious, uncontroversial writing, but Antony was very proud of it.

His article "Why Girls are the new Boys" would certainly raise a few eyebrows, which was exactly what Antony intended. Without a moment's hesitation, he imported the article as an attachment in an e-mail and sent it off to the mailbox of the school magazine's editor, Harry Stott.

Antony smiled as he thought of the very nerdy, but would-be macho, editor reading the article in just a few moments' time.

Antony then become more thoughtful. The last year had brought some changes, not just in his life, nor in that of the medium sized town in which he lived, but the nation also.

For Antony personally, he had sat his GCSE's last summer. All sixteen of them. He had worked and revised almost 24 hours a day and the result had been mainly B's and C's and a couple of A's. Good enough for him to be allowed to study his favourite subjects, English Literature, History, Economics and Business Studies in the Sixth Form at school. He ought to have been pleased.

But then his friend, Amy, and a lot of other girls in his class, had sat eighteen GCSE's and got solid A's or A*'s in nearly all of them. Amy herself gained eleven A*'s and the rest of her grades were A's. Like Antony, Amy was now a member of the Sixth Form, although because her favourite subjects were the maths and sciences, he rarely saw her.

Antony was pleased for his friend, but disappointed that he had not done so well himself. It was what had prompted him to write the article in the first place. Girls always did so much better than boys, if those exam results were anything to go by.

Antony was also unhappy because he had hoped to spend the summer with Amy. But that was not to be. Amy had been sent to a special camp, run by Female Dawn, for some purpose or other, for pretty much the whole summer. Antony supposed that the camp taught political indoctrination, but whenever he tried to ask Amy about her summer she became all tight lipped about it and would make her excuses and leave him to join her Female Dawn sisters, quite a number of whom were also part of the Sixth Form.

Antony guessed that solidarity amongst the sisterhood was needed. Now more than ever. For the Alpha Movement was increasing its grip on both the very town where he and Amy lived and nationally.

The Alphas had won the council elections earlier in the year, giving them a slender majority. At national level, their leader had managed to get into Parliament through a by-election, thanks to the current unpopularity of the conservative, labour and liberal democrat parties. It reminded Antony uncomfortably of the rise to power of the nazis in the 1930's. An electorate, disenchanted with the moderate parties, went for one of the more extreme fringe parties to "give them a chance".

Even in this town, the Alphas were so puffed up with pride and self-importance at their petty victory that they strutted about in their black uniforms as if they owned the place. Antony thought about what would happen if the pattern was replicated in larger towns, cities, even London itself, and shuddered at the images playing in his mind.

Antony's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a sound from his terminal indicating that an e-mail had been received. Antony opened it up and gave a sigh as he read it.

"Dear Antony

Thank you for your submission. After careful consideration, it is with regret that I have decided that I cannot include it in any publication of the school magazine in the foreseeable future, due to an overwhelming number of contributions. I hope you understand. I will, however, retain it on file for possible publication at some point in the future.


Henry J. Stott

It was what Antony had expected, but it was still a bitter disappointment.

Antony arrived home to find his parents in the middle of a row. Antony was stunned, as his father usually spent most of his time in bed, and spent more time snoring than talking. He was shocked to see that his father wore the uniform of the Alphas.

That his father had joined that movement had been the source of the row. His mother approved of neither the Alphas nor Female Dawn, and certainly did not want politics brought into her home.

Father was very firm though. It was time he started to be a man again, he said. He would be part of the Alphas and he would even find a job and win back his family's respect.

Mother was unhappy with the whole situation, but she could do nothing about it at the moment. Just because those Alpha thugs have won an election, you have to jump on the bandwagon. We'll see how long this fad lasts! was her parting cry as she went off to bed.

Antony tried to slink off to bed too, although it was still early, but his father spotted him and ordered him into the room. Antony stood before his father, who looked incongruous in the black uniform, all unshaven and with his large belly hanging over his belt.

"You, son, shall join the Alphas, just like me, and become a man!"

Antony mumbled that he didn't want to.

"Nonsense! I'll collect you after school tomorrow and we'll get you enrolled!" said his father, giving him a manly clap on the shoulder that almost knocked Antony over.

Trembling, Antony made an excuse that he had homework and went to his room. He sat on his bed, quivering. This was a nightmare! The last thing he wanted to do was join the Alphas. Amy would never speak to him again!

Amy. His mind seized on the name of his best friend. Hurriedly, he turned on his laptop and fired off an e-mail to Amy. Knowing her, she was probably out at one of her Female Dawn meetings or rallies, and wouldn't answer for hours, so Antony was pleasantly surprised when she replied almost immediately, and with an answer that brought a broad smile to Antony's lips.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Ten

A week later

Amy cried for a week after the fiasco at the shopping mall that had resulted in the arrest of herself, her sisters in the Female Dawn movement, and her mentor, Dr Craig.

Amy had been grounded and forbidden to attend any more meetings of the movement. Most of the other girls were much in the same boat, Amy had learnt by means of texts between mobiles. Dr Craig, who had insisted on taking full responsibility for her charges, had later been released without charge. Probably because even the pro-Alpha police were not daft enough to attempt to get a conviction based on the trumped up charges that had been brought against Dr Craig.

The gang of Alphas who had started the fracas in the first place, had got off scott free. Lack of evidence was the reason given in the local paper, even though there was one stall holder and a dozen women and girls who could have testified to the outrageous behaviour of the thuggish Alphas and the all too accommodating treatment given them by the police force.

Amy's rage at the blatant injustice and inequitable treatment that the Alphas had received compared to the Female Dawn members had barely subsided. She remembered well the humiliation of being bundled into a police van, finger-printed and put in a cell. Treatment that had been undeserved.

Dr Craig had had to attend an emergency meeting of the board of school governors, who had read all about the incident in the local rags (they had, of course, gleefully seized upon the spectacle of a school headmistress being arrested). The headmistress passionately defended her right to political activity outside her profession and pointed out that under her leadership, the school had been transformed from a failing school to one considered by the ministry of education as a school of excellence in the brief period that Dr Craig had been in charge.

Dr Craig survived in her post only by the casting vote of the chairwoman, who was an ally and (unbeknownst to her colleagues, a secret member of Female Dawn). But she was left in little doubt by the vice-chairman, a pompous little man called Sir Horace Philby-Smythe, that any further incidents that threatened to bring the school into disrepute would not be tolerated.

Dr Craig marched out of the meeting, her head held high. Dr Craig, being the formidable and indomitable woman that she was, immediately started legal proceedings against the local constabulary for wrongful arrest and detention. A high class barrister, one of the best in the country, Tabitha Willoughby-Clarke, offered to take the case and even more amazingly, refused to accept a fee.

In the weeks that followed, the press had a field day in the High Court. Willoughby-Clarke had a reputation for thoroughness, tenacity and detail that made her a feared opponent by all other members of her profession. She had never lost a case. And she didn't lose this one either. She wiped the floor with the defence brief, ripped his arguments to shreds and even reduced the overconfident Sergeant Walker to a quivering wreck.

The opposition threw in the towel after only a fortnight and admitted they had been wrong. Dr Craig was duly compensated for her ordeal at the hands of "apish thugs masquerading as police officers" as Willoughby-Clarke aptly put it.

Sergeant Walker and the other officers involved in the arrest faced disciplinary action.

Dr Craig, and Female Dawn, were completely vindicated. Amy's parents, on reading the local paper that had a picture of a triumphant Tabitha Willoughby-Clarke hoisting aloft one of Dr Craig's hand in a victory pose, realised that they had been wrong about their daughter and wrong about Female Dawn.

The day after the verdict, Amy proudly wore her uniform again as she attended the weekly meeting.