The Remain Vigilant Broadcasting Corporation
" Now for some me time again, " Patrick said happily to himself, flopping into his armchair with a can of beer and a banana.
After a long day at the supermarket with his trusty mop, it was nice to spend a relaxing evening glued to his favourite propaganda channel.
And he particularly deserved it this evening. It had seemed like one job after another today, first the orange Ribena in aisle ten, then the salad cream in aisle seven, the old-lady-puke at the delicatessen followed by his own puke at the delicatessen brought about by cleaning the old lady's.
And that was just the first hour.
He took a blissful swig of beer, picked up the remote balanced on the arm of his chair and flicked on the television screen.
The familiar strains of Bryan Adam's " Everything I do, I do it for you " accompanied the regulation montage of reassuring Gordon Brown photos.
Gordon Brown laughing in a jolly fashion.
Gordon Brown kissing a baby's head.
Gordon Brown helping an old war veteran across the road.
Gordon Brown laughing again, this time with a Rastafarian man.
" I like this Mister Brown, " Patrick said aloud to himself, " A man of the people, clearly. "
Gordon Brown listening intently to what a hospital nurse has to say, no doubt on all things of a hospitally nature.
Gordon Brown shaking hands with a muslim cleric, no doubt pronouncing it as a productive meeting.
" Marvellous, " said Patrick, " building bridges in the community, that's what we want to see. "
Gordon Brown headbutting a Communist party candidate.
" Quite right, " Patrick raised his can in a salute. " Blasted no-good bolsheviks. "
Gordon Brown laughing again.
Gordon Brown having a tooth removed. Possibly as a result of too much laughing.
" Aww, bless him. He's just like the rest of us really. "
Gordon Brown in a Gestapo uniform kissing a portrait of Bin Laden.
" Hmmm, " thought Patrick, " they must have put that one in by mistake, but no matter, I still like him. "
Gordon Brown kissing another baby.
Gordon Brown kissing a hooded thug in a Nickelson top.
Gordon Brown kissing a labrador.
Eventually the song and the montage came to an end.
" I hope it's the blonde presenter tonight, nice eyes and a nice pair of ears. "
To his disappointment, a man in glasses and a suit appeared on screen, but the disappointment soon made way for gushing pride when the words ' A Home Office Minister ' appeared across the bottom of the screen.
" Gosh " said Patrick, picking up the banana, " We must all be extra special people today if one of them is speaking to us directly. "
He looked at the banana in one hand and the beer can in the other.
He tossed away the banana and carried on with the beer.
" Good evening to you, the British people, " said the Minister.
" Good evening Mr Minister. "
" As you will be aware, this country is on a critical state of alert following the events in London and Glasgow over the weekend. "
" Yes, " said Patrick, tutting furiously. " Shocking state of affairs. "
The words REMAIN VIGILANT! flashed across the screen in big red letters. Instinctively, Patrick took a quick glance behind him.
" We would like to assure you all that everything is being done to ensure your safety. "
" Of course. I know it is. "
" Much of it is thanks to the courage and professionalism of our emergency services... "
" Yes! " Patrick punched the air with his beer can, feeling a wave of proud patriotism washing over him. " Gawd bless 'em, the brave bastards. "
He was thankful that the worst thing he had to do in his job was mop old-lady-puke at the delicatessen.
" But we must also thank you, the ordinary common people with your cheap cars that you have to drive yourselves ( how very quaint ) for your continued vigilance. "
Patrick felt a smug swell of self-congratulation, remembering his own swift action the previous Wednesday at discovering an unattended grape on the supermarket floor. Thanks to his quick thinking, the store was evacuated and the police carried out a controlled explosion of the suspicious piece of fruit.
The big red words REMAIN VIGILANT! flashed up on the screen once more.
" It is time to repeat the following after me. "
" Right, okay. " Patrick liked this bit, it was fun. He sat up in his armchair attentively.
" I shall not yield to the terrorists, " said the Minister.
" I shall not yield to the terrorists, " Patrick repeated obediently.
" I shall not be intimidated by the extremists who seek to destroy our democratic British way of life. "
" I shall not be intimidated by the extremists who seek to destroy our democratic British way of life. " He held his beer can in the air defiantly.
" I will continue to live my life in a normal fashion, but whilst remaining vigilant at all times. "
" Yeah, all that too. Most definately. "
" Blah blah blah, " the Minister continued. " Cliche after tepid predictable cliche, too early to say, police are keeping us updated, waffle waffle say the word vigilant at least eight times in every news item and every interview... "
" Blah blah....err, what?... "
" Stiff upper lip! Home guard! Be terribly British about it all! Yes Mr Mainwaring! Good old British beef! Yorkshire pud and butterscotch Angel whip for afters! Learn our language if you want to come here Johnny Foreigner! The Sun, we love it for putting a big Union Jack on its front page, we won the war! We won the- "
The Minister was suddenly bundled off camera, and the montage of photos and Bryan Adams returned.
TEMPORARY FAULT appeared on the screen, followed by REMAIN VIGILANT!
Eventually a middle-aged woman smiled patronisingly at a waiting nation. The words ' Another Home Office Minister ' now appeared at the bottom of the screen.
Patrick settled himself back into the armchair, smiling back at her. She seemed like a nice lady, he had a feeling it was that Baroness Bloomin'eck but he couldn't be sure.
" Now, as we have stressed before, " she said, as if nothing had happened, " the key is for all of us to be vigilant and alert... "
" Absolutely, " Patrick agreed with a nod, " What can I do though to be more vigilant and alert? "
" ...And I can hear you all asking ' what can I do to be more vigilant and alert? "
" That's right, I did, I just asked that. " He was impressed at how in-touch these nice politicians were.
" Well, vigilance actually begins at home. Ask yourself the following question. What is my next door neighbour doing right now? "
" What is my next door neighbour doing right now? " he asked himself.
" Perhaps you should find out. "
" Perhaps I should find out. "
The Minister paused for a moment, staring at the camera. " Well go on then, " she said, making shooing motions, " I'll wait for you, and then resume this broadcast in one minute. "
Patrick climbed out of his armchair, slung on a coat and popped round to his neighbour's front door. An old man in an Argyle jumper answered, halfway through putting his own jacket on.
" Hello Ted, what are you doing right now? "
" That's funny, I was just popping round to ask you the same thing. I'm watching the television at the moment. "
" Ah, same as me then. " Patrick grinned. " Oh well, be vigilant and have another day tomorrow. "
" Cheers Pat, have another day yourself. "
Patrick returned to his beloved armchair. " He's watching the television, " he told the woman on the screen.
She took a glance at her watch and resumed the broadcast, her eyes widening in mock surprise.
" He's making a bomb, you say... "
" Er...no....he's watching the.... "
" ...Well there you go you see. That just goes to show we must be alert to everyone. "
" We can never be sure can we? "
" No I suppose not. " Maybe Ted was making a bomb, he thought to himself. He did seem to be acting a little odd.
Maybe Patrick was making a bomb, Ted was thinking to himself next door. He did seem to be acting a little odd.
" If you are in any doubt at all, we suggest you have a CCTV system set up and trained on your neighbour's back garden. Your local police station will be happy to assist and advise you on this. "
" Right, " said Patrick, " I will. Never liked the stupid old git anyway. So how can I be more vigilant when I'm out and about? "
" I can hear you all asking 'So how can I be more vigilant when I'm out and about? ' Well it's very simple. We all have to walk much slower. "
" Right, gotcha. " He took a swig of beer. " Why's that? "
" Why's that, I hear you all ask... " Damn, this woman was good. " Well, it's very important that we all keep a keen eye on everything and everyone. Now we can't do that if we're all rushing about like headless hostages can we? " She waggled a finger in a 'naughty boy ' fashion, then suddenly glanced off camera.
" Sorry?....Oh, did I say that? " She turned back to her viewing public, " I mean, like headless chickens, I do apologise. "
" Right, so walk slower. Okay, that makes sense I suppose. "
" And if you see anything remotely suspicious, please report it immediately. "
" I will, " said Patrick. " But how about some examples? "
" And here are some examples. You're walking down your local high street, and walking towards you is a frail old lady with a walking stick, weighed down with a couple of heavy shopping bags. Suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, she stops and places the bags on the ground, rubbing her back. "
" Okay. "
The Minister cocked her head to one side. " Why? Why has she suddenly done that? What could she have lurking in those bags? "
" Gosh, err.... " Patrick was stumped by this one. " ....umm...vegetables? "
" You might be sitting at home right now, saying vegetables...then again, what if it was a nail-bomb? "
" Oh jeesus, I didn't think of that. "
" You didn't think of that, did you? "
" No you're right, that's what I just said. I didn't think of that. "
The minister leaned in towards the camera until her head filled the TV screen.
" You should not approach this old lady under any circumstances. Well, unless you feel like rugby tackling her...but otherwise, call the police immediately. "
" Right, I will. "
" You don't need to be sure, if you have any suspicions at all, report it immediately. If someone on a street corner is scratching their nose in an abnormal manner, a man dressed as a clown entertaining a group of children, somebody wearing headphones, all of these you'd be justified in thinking are possible terrorist threats. "
" Golly, " said Patrick, " this is certainly opening my eyes. "
" And what about the overweight dog being walked in the park? "
" What about it? "
" What about it, you may well ask, " the Minister continued.
" I did. "
" Well, is the dog really overweight, or could it be packed with highly dangerous explosives? "
" Blimey. " Patrick shook his head in admiration. He really had never thought of that.
" Call the police straight away, they will cordon off the dog and carry out a controlled explosion on it. "
The piano intro to " Everything I do " began playing in the background, and Patrick realised with disappointment that the broadcast was about to end.
" People of Britain. In conclusion, we must all stand united and show the terrorists thay will never win. Carry on your lives as normal, but remember... remain vigilant, remain alert, and remain stupid....er, I'm sorry, that was meant to be...er, well it doesn't matter. Have another day. "
The Minister waved, and the photos of Gordon Brown reappeared once more in sequence.
Patrick rose from his armchair and applauded.
" Remain vigilant, " he told himself as he turned towards the kitchen to grab another beer, slipped on the banana he'd tossed away earlier, cracked his head open on the door frame and died the next morning in hospital.
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