Mood swings

It's useful to know that not everything is at it seems on the surface

Peter Edgerton
PETER EDGERTON

Boasting a population of about 10,000 people and with a relatively small town centre, Puckleton-On-Sea was the kind of place where everybody knew everybody, at least by sight. The townsfolk prided themselves on their warm, courteous demeanour and their peculiar, yet heartwarming, way of greeting anyone they recognised and, indeed, many they didn't.

"Yawright?"

"Yawright?"

This ubiquitous conviviality suited local politician George Swarbrick down to the ground.

He regarded himself as something of a charmer, you see, as, in fact, did most of his constituents. George had won the local elections by a landslide. He'd even created something of a stir at a national level by addressing the prime minister with a hearty "Yawright?" one memorable afternoon in the House of Commons.

Oh yes, he was well loved by the fine people of Puckleton alright.

George would spend most days glad-handing strangers, kissing reluctant babies and telling old people how young they looked, even stopping occasionally to get some actual work done.

It was hard not to fall for the Swarbrick charm, even his opponents acknowledged that.

George Swarbrick wasn't entirely happy though because, truth be told, there was a whopping great fly in the ointment in the shape of one particular gentleman whose behaviour made even the redoubtable George question his own charisma.

The man in question was clearly someone who lived in town because George would see him relatively frequently on the High Street but here's the peculiar thing: this chap would, when it suited him, greet the portly politician with a hearty "Yawright, George?", yet at other times he would look right through him as if he didn't exist.

On more than one occasion, the fellow had had the audacity to cross the street in order - and George was sure of this - to avoid him.

For a man of George Swarbrick's indomitable self-image, these slights cut to the quick.

His day-to-day success depended on a rock-solid everyman image and waving at someone who didn't always wave back didn't look good at all.

In fact his advisors had started to express their concerns; something would have to be done.

As luck would have it, one Saturday evening, George was holding court in The Frog & Thistle public house, when the man - who had by now become something of a nemesis - walked into the saloon bar with a couple of friends choosing not only to ignore the politician but to brush past him with an air of passive aggressive disdain.

This was a snub too far. George waited for his opportunity and, when the offender had been left alone by his companions for a second or two, nipped over for a quiet word.

"Look here, sir. Your behaviour is simply intolerable. I should like an explanation."

"What? How dare you! I don't need to explain anything. I don't like you, it's as simple as that. I voted for the opposition. You're an empty vessel. Go away and leave me alone."

George was stumped

"But why.. why do you sometimes..?"

The man didn't give him time to finish his sentence and swept away towards the bathroom.

Unable to compute such strange events, George was left rubbing his head and staring into the middle distance. His profound confusion was soon compounded by the same man walking back in through the main door again a couple of minutes later.

"Yawright, George? God, I'm so sorry I'm late. You haven't seen my twin brother in here, have you?"