Ton(3n)y & Sherry

“So that’s why I hate my mother so much,” Ton(3n)y Bla[th]er said, draining his straight glass of Fuller’s London Bitter.
“Because she kept saying, ‘Toe, knee, chest, nut’ while pointing to various parts of your anatomy?” Phil the Tory asked. “’Nother one?” he added, pointing to the mug.
“Yes, please – and a sherry for Sherry.”
“I don’t s’pose you ever ate Mother’s Pride bread, though,” Phil said, moving off to the bar in the pub in Hampstead that they frequented for the non-confrontational political get-togethers.
Charlie, the leader of the party often called the flip-flops, asked, “But that wasn’t why you changed your name?”
“Not in itself,” Ton(3n)y Bla[th]er said. “That was because of numerology. By adding a mute ‘3n’ to ‘Tony’ and turning ‘th’ into glottal stop in ‘Blather’, the numerologist not only managed to construct a name with inherent success, but she also altered the pronunciation of my surname to give it more sense. That’s why I’m the sensible politician with guaranteed success!” He shook with laughter, but did so alone.
“And Sherry?” Phil asked, setting the glasses down.
“Her father – a rather strong-minded American of Italian descent – got my mother-in-law to accept the name ‘Blaire’,” Ton(3n)y said. “That may not have been too bad with his surname, Morera, and kept most the television newscasters away from her as the mechanics of saying her name didn’t make a pretty sight on the screen. But ‘Blaire’ doesn’t go too well with ‘Bla[th]er’ and sounds rather repetitive, and we pols don’t want that, do we? So we gave her a nickname that reflects the drink that she likes best.”
“Yes, that’s how it was,” Sherry said. “Anyway, I’m a better lawyer than Ton(3n)y and earn two or three times as much. And it’s more pragmatic to use ‘Blaire’ together with my mother’s maiden name as nom de guerre, if you like. Smythe-Withaney. Calms the judges down. And impresses the punters, as well.”
“Sweet?” Phil said.
“Careful how you address my wife,” Ton(3n)y said.
“I meant the sherry for Sherry.”
“Oh, yes. Sweet.”
“So what took you into politics?” Charlie asked. “And why Labour?”
“Well, as you know, I was born and brought up in mining country,” Ton(3n)y said. “You don’t grow very old there without having heard about all the injustices and dangers in a miner’s life. The risk of pneumoconiosis, explosions caused by mine gas, backbreaking work in small places, poor pay for the work and danger involved… And the pit closures.”
“But you don’t sound like you come from a mine area,” Phil said.
“No, I was a bit lucky,” Ton(3n)y said.
“His dad won a scholarship so Ton(3n)y could go to grammar school,” Sherry said. “The teachers at the primary school were pleased about that – they said he had talent, but were afraid he would go down the mines at 16 as well.”
“That scholarship meant that my family could afford to let me go to grammar school, yes. And from then on… Well, the teachers there also said I had talent, ought to go to Oxford.”
“Which was a bit of a mouthful for your parents,” Sherry said, having heard the story several times. “But by then your dad had been forced to stop going underground by bad health and the mine found him a clerical job.”
“Yes, but that didn’t pay any better – and then the union gave me a scholarship, which enabled me to study at Oxford without thinking about the cost,” Ton(3n)y said.
“So Arthur Scargill’s a popular man as far as you’re concerned?” Charlie asked.
“Definitely. But I think my dad’s work for the union and the Labour Party helped,” Ton(3n)y said. “Going to the meetings every week, helping in election campaigns and so on. He was a very practical man whose political beliefs were based on his everyday experiences, but he couldn’t force himself to speak at meetings or participate in debates – I wasn’t from him that I inherited my like for public debate. But he dragged me down to the local party office whenever there was a need for help, like putting out chairs or making tea. Something caught me and I ended up making speeches and on the debating team.”

To be continued after the nest general election and leadership conference, whichever comes first…
Copyright: Michael de Laine 2007

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