Friday, 5 May 2017

You and Your Mate go Shopping: A Parable About the Labour Party

It's time to go and get the weekly shop and, on this occasion, you've been put in charge by your housemates, having never done it before. Your friend, who has been the one in charge for all the recent occasions, insists on going along. He's not happy about this arrangement, as he makes very clear to you at the outset.

"You're going to fuck this up," he says, as you clamber into the car. "I know you're going to fuck this up. You should let me do it."

"Everyone said that they want me to do it," you reply. "At the very least, if you're not going to be helpful, you could be polite."

"It's not fair," he spits. "I build us all up. I got us the house. I ran all the operations well. Why am I suddenly being punished like this?"

"Because you and your American friend got drunk and drove a car through a shopping mall."

"But I installed insulation in the house," he whines.

You decline to point out that he lost everyone's money playing Three-Card Monty, lost the house and the new tenants had already ripped out the insulation and were converting the garden into a car park. You start the engine and set off on the road in silence.

Well, almost silence. Your friend is insistently tapping at his phone as he sits in sulky silence.

Your phone buzzes and you glance at it when you hit the lights. It's a pretty nasty message. You turn to your friend. "Did you tell Sasha that I called her a 'flatulent bitch'?"


"So why does she think I called her a flatulent bitch?"

"Because you did say that."

"No I didn't!"

"Well, it sounds like the sort of thing you might say."

You practice every spiritual technique you know to calm yourself. It doesn't really work but you reach the shopping centre without further incident.

Inside you check the list and pick up the items. You turn to your friend. "Should we get the Coke?" you ask, indicating the bottle.

Your friend shrieks and hurls himself to the floor. He slams his fists on the ground. He kicks his feet. "You're messing everything up!" he howls. "You're excluding me!"

Bewildered you look around and feel a bit embarrassed as a crowd starts to form.

"Leave him alone you fuck!" someone shouts.

"Why won't you just give him what he wants?!" another cries. "Stop being a shit-head!"

"You're ruining this for everyone, dickhead!"

They shout more abuse. Your friend kicks and screams even louder.

"But I'm not--I haven't--you stupid--!" you protest. One of the people clutches his chest, his eyes wide with horror, as if he's been shot.

"How, how dare you say that to me!" he roars. "Did you hear that abuse!? Did you hear it?!"

You turn to go away. Your friend grips your leg and refuses to let go. You drag him out of the shop, the crowd pursuing. You arrive at the car and you start to open the door when a pick-up truck arrives. The tenants who took the house off you hop out and run into the shop. Gunfire is followed by screams.

"They're robbing the place!" you say, pointing at the shop.

"Don't try and weasel out of the real issue!"

"We need to stop them!" you say.

"Yes, go and stop them," someone says.

"I can't do it alone!"

"Not up to the task are you? Maybe you should let someone who is take over."

"Can someone call the police?" you ask.

"Yes someone call the police!" a voice shouts. "What he's doing to that man is inhumane!"

You wrench open the car door and leap inside. Your friend scrambles into the passenger seat before you can drive off. You drive out of the area, the crowd running alongside, shouting and obscuring the view. You peer through the window, trying to see, knowing you're driving along a cliff-face.

"Let me drive!" your friend shouts. "I can drive so much better!"

"Will you just--!"

Your friend dives for the wheel and tries to grab it from you. The car whirls and skids before crashing into the side barrier and flipping over it. The car hurtles over the side and down towards the water.

The people outside shout louder. "Why didn't you do something?! Why didn't you stop this?!"

And on the seat next to you, your friend bounces with barely contained glee.

"I knew you'd fuck it up! I knew it! I knew it!"


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