Going Through The Motions.
Sir Charles Savage glared at his team from below bushy scowling eyebrows.
‘Remember, we have to protect the state’s Armistice Ceremonies from the anti-war protestors, at all costs!’
Faye Blanche looked a little confused. ‘Isn’t the Armistice Ceremony all about not having any more wars?’
Sir Charles fixed her with one of his sternest grimaces, one sufficiently scary to freeze the blood of most underlings. That young Blanche was a bloody problem. ‘I would remind you,’ he stated chillingly in his iciest tone, the one usually reserved for sackings. ‘The Remembrance Service is a solemn respectful ceremony. We are there to show our veneration for those who have fallen. We can’t have a bunch of woke yobs chanting slogans and wanting war stopped.’
Faye remained uncowed and still looked bemused. ‘But the peace march is not going near the cenotaph, is it? And all these choreographed ceremonies do have a feeling of just going through the motions.’
‘They should not be bloody marching on the same day!’ Sir Charles replied angrily. Really, the woman was the end. ‘It’s not respectful! The King will be there and the Prime Minister – all the important people. We can’t have them upset by the likes of that scum!’
The rest of the team stayed silent, watching to see how this might turn out.
Faye was confused. ‘Surely,’ she asked, shaking her head, ‘the best day to march for peace is on the day that the country commemorates peace and the losses that war creates?’
She really was the silliest girl! Sir Charles turned bright red. ‘The Armistice Ceremony is when the country comes together to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for this country,’ he snarled through gritted teeth.
‘Yes,’ Faye continued unfazed, ‘Yes. Exactly. I know that. In the hopes that it might never happen again.’
‘We come together in a formal manner, all fitting and proper, to pay our respects,’ His eyes bored into her.
‘But it keeps happening, doesn’t it?’ Faye protested. ‘And the marchers want it to stop, don’t they? Surely, that’s the whole point of the Armistice Ceremony?’
‘This bunch of woke imbeciles are not respecting the solemnity of the occasion!’ Sir Charles was becoming furious. He had nearly called her a silly girl in front of the whole team. That could have got him in trouble. ‘The Home Secretary wants it stopped. She says that they are being disrespectful. She knows how to show respect!’
A derisive snort went up from the back of the room. Sir Charles jerked his head round to see who was responsible but they were all looking equally innocent.
‘Does it really show disrespect to march for peace?’ Faye asked, not quite seeing the logic of what Sir Charles was saying. ‘As long as they do not interfere with the formal ceremonies?’
Sir Charles could not really believe this was happening. ‘Don’t you understand anything?’ He snapped. ‘We are British. We have a way of doing things. We lay our wreaths, recite our poems, say our words, march in good military fashion and show that we are prepared to fight for peace.’
‘But surely, fighting for peace is what is wrong?’ Faye was becoming more bewildered by the minute.
‘In this country we stand up for peace!’ Sir Charles declared. ‘We lay down our lives for peace! And we’ll fight anyone who says we won’t! This nation is built on strength and good British backbone and spirit!’
‘But,’ Faye stammered, ‘isn’t there a better way? Aren’t the peace marchers….’
‘Enough!!’ Sir Charles exploded. ‘Do what the Home Secretary has instructed us to do! Connect with the police, army and security services and order them to crush anybody who dares to disturb the peace by protesting war!’