Don’t Mention the Scones!

Writing Prompt: It’s 1999 in the UK and you’re watching the solar eclipse. Only it never gets light again. After years of fighting for food and rioting, everyone’s pretty much gotten used to it now, and carries on as if nothing ever happened in a very British manor…

Years had passed since the sun was eclipsed by the moon. Years without daylight, and years without a British Summertime (not that the British Summertime had ever been worth much fuss).

At first there were riots (after all, any excuse is a good excuse) during which half a million pounds worth of kettles were looted. Said kettles were then immediately put to use brewing tea. Much needed tea. Tea to calm the nerves.

But of course, what a fresh pot of tea needs is a plate of biscuits, and perhaps some scones for company. So the riots began again. Only this time there were fights. Fisticuffs at dawn.

The fights were about one of two things.

Firstly, which biscuit was the best biscuit. There were digestives, malted milks, custard creams, bourbons… too many to choose from, and for every biscuit there was a man or a woman who believed that their biscuit was the best biscuit.

Secondly, how to pronounce the word scone. These, of the two types of fights that broke out, were the more savage of exchanges.

The streets were filled with slander;

“It’s pronounced scone you twollop!” one man shouted, throwing his knee into the stomach of an innocently by-passing cyclist, “I’m terribly sorry, old bean.”

“Not to worry.” the innocent by-passer said with a pant, before scurrying off with a packet of ginger snaps.

“What’s gone?” a woman shouted over the ruckus.

“Not gone, scone.” the man had replied.

“No, you’ve got it all wrong.” an elderly chap tried to argue his point ever so politely, “It’s pronounced scone, as in stone.”

**

Once the rioting had ceased, and the British Public were safe at home with their hot beverages and biscuits of choice (best not to mention the scones), they began to calm down. And after they’d done away with being calm and decided to start panicking again, they all went down to the local pub.

A few years, and many more pints later, talk of the endless eclipse died away only to be abruptly replaced by talk of how there never seemed to be a match on the telly anymore.

It was a tragedy, the beautiful game lost all because the sun couldn’t be bothered to get up out of bed. Well, the British Public weren’t one to complain, but they still managed to get up and out of bed every morning (except on Sundays). Granted, this was with the help of nice cup of tea… so maybe that’s what the sun needed! A nice cup of tea. But where had all the kettles gone? Ah, yes, they’d looted them. Still, awful shame about the beautiful game, someone aught to do something about that.

**

It is a well known fact that the entirety of the British Public is a close personal friend of Her Majesty the Queen’s. Unfortunately, however, the entirety of the British Public simply wouldn’t fit inside of Buckingham Palace (and they wouldn’t have had enough scones, anyway), so the British Public sent Alan in to go and sort out all this bother with the constant nights and the lack of football.

After all, what was the point in getting tipsy, merry, sloshed and legless (in that order) if your team hadn’t won (or lost) a match (and not just any match, but the match)?

Truth be told, there wasn’t much point at all.

**

“Sir Alan,” (almost all British men are Knights, and all British women are Dames), “what a pleasure it is to see you.” the Queen proclaimed from under her bed sheets.

Close personal friends of the Queen were allowed to visit anytime, even when the Queen was sleeping. There were guards, of course, wearing bright red uniforms and tall, fluffy black hats. One posted either side of the door. And around their ankles ran a pair of rather excitable Corgis.

The Queen sat up, put aside her cup of tea, and took up her crossword puzzle, “Eight down, only three letters, another word for recently stolen?”

“Hot?” Alan offered.

“It is a bit, isn’t it.” the Queen agreed, throwing back the top layer of sheets, “Eight across… I’ve tried kettle, but it’s far too long.”

Alan shrugged, “Your Majesty, I’m here to talk about football.”

“Oh, Alan, there’s not been a game in months! Terrible shame it is, too. Do you know I’ve not been able to get tipsy, merry, sloshed or even legless for a damn long time now. Too long. What’s the point? Without a good game to watch I dare say there isn’t one.”

“Precisely, Your Majesty.”

“Please, Alan, call me Liz.” the Queen smiled endearingly at her close personal friend Sir Alan.

“Well, Liz, we, the British People, have an idea. And it’s a bloody good one at that, even if we do say so ourselves.”

The Queen put down her crossword puzzle, “Go on, I’m listening.”

**

Less than eight months, and seven million pounds later (which was also six months overdue, and five million pounds over budget), Big Ben had been re-purposed. It had been the logical choice of structure for the British Public’s ingenious invention – A Bloody Big Light (as in: blimey Alan, that’s a bloody big light, ain’t it?).

The idea was that by fitting an enormous spot light to the face of Big Ben they could light an entire stadium (maybe even two) in which the beautiful game could be played.

All in all it worked, for a while.

After the first match between Man United and rivals Chelsea (which ended in a one-nil win to Man United) the streets of London were filled with a cacophony of both deliriously happy and bitterly dismal voices.

Singing voices.

Chanting voices.

And terribly drunken voices.

It’s safe to say that the old bobbies were out in force that night (or day perhaps?), keeping careful watch over all the shop’s kettles, and an ear out for any mention of custard creams or scones.

**

To some degree Britain was more or less able to cope with their newfound day-less existence.

On the one hand, it was almost always tea time now, and the troubles caused by moments of awkward eye contact were mostly non-existent on account that you couldn’t really see anyone all that well. And even if you did catch someone’s eye, it was terribly difficult to tell if they were staring back at you, especially when you were two pints away from utterly sloshed (after your team had just won (or lost) the big game).

On the other hand, the British Public were at a loss for words. Quite literally. They no longer had their most basic of rights, a right which any one of them would have died for, and that was the right to complain about the weather.

It was almost impossible to discuss the weather now, let alone complain about it.

Still dark. That’s what people said. There was never any sun to send them to the beaches, and strangely enough there was never any rain now either. The weather was dark on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays… you get the picture.

It was always dark, and because of this conversation between the British Public completely dried up some several years later. This left Britain in a state of lightless, endless, silent peace… so long as nobody mentions the scones.

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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