A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Mired in Victorian attitudes, Quilps turns to politics



No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than Indigo Quilps decided to do something about it. He needed something more than a love of his wardrobe and the books of Charles Dickens to fill his empty hours.

But he stumbled straight away on one huge obstacle that loomed before him: politics: he didn’t know anything about the subject, just that everyone said they hated politicians because they were all liars.

Oh, he knew there were what are called parties (though not the jelly and ice-cream variety which he would have preferred) and that people joined them according to the whims of some indefinable emptiness in their egos. He even realised that if you were a working man, say down coal mines from the age of six like in the good old days, then you were a natural for the labour party, and if you were what he aimed to be in life, a multi-millionaire with six houses and a yacht, then you were likely to be a big wig in the conservative party. And what’s more, if you were somewhere in between the two, then maybe the Liberal party was for you, though there were others.

So he did a bit of instant thinking and like all good wannabe Victorian gentlemen he put things into mental pockets.

To start with, he was unemployed, though he did have a wife and child and the free handouts from the state just about kept their heads above water despite his own airy-fairy ambitions regarding wealth, though unsuspected by him his lovely wife Maria had a profitable side-line in prostitution, which was what paid for their little luxuries, like food. So at first glance it didn’t seem that any one of the three main political parties really represented his status in life. But he had his mental pockets and he slid the conservative into one because his ambitions were sort of their cup of tea. For the thousandth time he regretted not being a genuine Victorian gentleman and about to invest in a new railway line that would make him rich as Croesus, but reality almost bit him and deep down he knew those days were over, for everyone. One day he’d see if he could buy a public utility, but that lay in the future.

So he’d chosen a mental pocket and he was the sort of man who made decisions, and kept to them regardless. It was an attitude that had served him well, and he had no intention of changing it.

I’d have put you down as labour: you know, working class,” said one chum on his way back from the pub, and he shook his head (which almost dislodged his top hat and sent his tails into a spin) and swore that black was white so convincingly that his companion had to rearrange his understanding of light and shade.

The local Conservative Party mostly consisted of dreamers with small shops that they imagined were going to grow into huge empires, women with little intelligence but a fondness for well creased trousers and Latin quotes they didn’t understand and old men whose fathers had always professed to be conservative when it came to voting.

And it was at a meeting of this odd body of people that Indigo joined them by scraping together the membership fee (little Olive would go without the luxury of formula for a day or two as a consequence), and wearing his best and tallest Top Hat because it made him look better than the smaller and shorter ones did. And, just so that the small crowd knew he was someone special, he wore a tail suit with crimson lining and a starched collar that threatened to cut into his neck.

He felt, the part, but when he was invited to address the meeting because he was a new member he hadn’t a clue what to say. The request, which he really ought to have expected, came quite out of the blue and almost flustered him.

What do you say to a group of people like this? He knew one or two of them, only slightly but well enough to nod in their direction, and he was canny enough to think he knew what appealed to them.

Of course he did! You don’t bury your head in the bad old days (and for most people the Victorian age was bad) without knowing that most people want things to get better. So he started his speech, off the cuff and rather straight-forwardly:

Ladies and Gentlemen,” he began, “I was an abused child because for some reason my parents decided to die before their time and I went into a home for the orphans of the district…”

That caused the sort of gasp that he liked hearing because it meant people were taking in what he was saying.

But were they?

What he meant in that opening was that being without parents is, in his mind, a kind of abuse because parents are part of a child’s deal with life, and even though he went on to suggest that the people who had the job of substituting for parents were brilliant and kind and loving, what was remembered by one journalist there was the bit about him being abused as a child.

This was grist for his paper mill! And that hack made full use of it, and as it was a day without anything like news to report it mde the headlines on the front page


The article under that headline was meaningless twaddle, but the headline was there. And in a town like Brumpton where opinions matter even though they’re based on not vry much, an enquiry into the misdeeds at Brumpton Orphans Sunshine Home was demanded, and the lovely lady, Mollie Daybright, who was in charge of the unfortunate children being cared for there was deeply hurt that one of her charges, that awkward Quilps boy, the one who always said he’d love to be educated at Dotheboys Hall, should suggest that anything wrong ever happened on her watch, because she knew that it didn’t.

But a ball had been set rolling and Indigo Quilps gained a reputation for something or other, but in truth nobody was actually sure what.

© Peter Rogerson 24.07.22


© 2022 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 24, 2022
Last Updated on July 25, 2022
Tags: politics, political parties, conservative


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 78 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..


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