Thursday 5 November 2015

Episode 36: A Rousing Speech

You know me. You followed me around the country. You loved me on the TV when I had you in stitches with jokes about my penis. You followed me in the tabloids, you supported my charitable works. Then you didn't. I don't know why, you made me a pariah. Now, I have people who love me again. So much that they made me their mayor. This is my new story, From Under Dark Clouds.

I called a meeting with immediate effect. Socrates rolled into the main conference room more than four hours later with the well-assembled secretary in tow. She set a laptop on the table and Mike the IT guy’s face appeared on the screen.

I asked them if they had seen the campaign video. Socrates nodded, the secretary smiled and Mike’s image flickered and jerked like some bearded Max Headroom.

“Mike, for fuck sake. Why are you video conferencing from down the hall. Get down here now!”

The secretary looked to Socrates who shrugged. She offered to make some coffee and disappeared without receiving an answer.

I was nestling the hot cup in my hands before Mike arrived. He gingerly tackled the door and entered with all the fluency of someone unsure of how to deal with a three dimensional world. He stood above a chair and swiped the air above it before Socrates pulled it back for him to sit. His presence carried an air of body odour and burned wiring.

“You OK?” I asked him, he clearly wasn't.

He keystroked the table before answering. “I’m fine, Mr. Mayor.”

I had my doubts but his new aura was beginning to make me regret bringing him down from the server cupboard. Socrates coughed and moved chairs.

“I watched it this morning and I have some issues.”

“I thought it was very nice,” the secretary offered. “You came across very well.”

Came across well? “I was dubbed!”

“You looked nice, though,” she said.

I held her green eyes in mine for the briefest of moments. I did, but! “The point is, have you seen the stats. Hundreds of thousands across the world and barely thirty from here.”

Mike tapped the table, “thirty four… five… six.” His eyes glazed, “Premature exit. Dislike registered. No comment logged.” He shut down but his fingers continued keystroking the table.

Socrates leaned back in his chair. According to him the Internet was no substitute for TV and some good old fashioned campaigning. Hoards of warm voters in a town square with banners, souvlaki and a couple of barrels of local wine. He looked to Mike who to my surprise supported his view.

“Data would indicate the while brands with well-established market awareness are able to leverage social media to gain further traction in sales, emerging brands are 83.28% more likely to increase market share after television exposure. This data indicates world trends as specific Greek data is insufficient and unqualified.”

“See! Banners and souvlaki.” Socrates gloated. “We start this evening. A few warm-ups locally. Got a crowd in especially.”

Mike swiped the table. “Online strategy will reach critical mass in 76 hours.” He stood, wobbled and headed for the door. The face on the laptop screen followed him as he left the room and smirked as he fumbled with the door handle.

“Mike, are you sure you’re OK?” I called after him but it was the Mike on the screen that answered.

“We’re getting there.” Then he was gone, leaving just a bad smell and a screensaver.

Smoke wafted the smell of grilling meat across the stage as the warm-up act played bouzouki-rock and sung of revolution. The barrels of generic white and generic red wine on the make-shift hospitality tables were going down as well as the band. I knew because I was helping. Not with the serving but the consumption; it was the best way to talk to the voters and turn their waves into a tide of change.

My sandwich man was there and I recognised some of the faces from the video shoot. He flitted to the grill and came back with two sticks of souvlaki and offered me one. I took it, still jigging to the beats coming from the band screaming for their lost youth.

“This is called the five hundred euro generation!” The singer announced.

“They’re good!” I swung my head in the direction of the stage.

“Meh! I make the best souvlaki you ever tasted.” The sandwich man replied chewing another piece of meat from the stick.

“No. The band, they’re good!”

He glanced at the stage then back to the bare stick. “I make much better! You will try.”

I’ll never understand souvlaki connoisseurs, I mean after all it’s a national dish that comprises of only two ingredients and one of them is wood.

I felt a warm pressure in my back and a hand on my shoulder. I turned to find the very well-assembled secretary smiling. “You are on in five minutes, Sir.”

I emptied my plastic cup and rested it on the table. Made my apologies to my company, handed him the remainder of my stick-meal and headed for the back stage area.

Socrates was there with my pre-fight rub-down speech. Give them what they want, give it to them nicely and get them on your side. Check? Check!

The singer from the band introduced me as the new Greek with the new vision and began to play AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on his bouzouki. I would have preferred The Smiths How soon is now or something from the KLF but there was no denying the effect it was having on the crowd. I waited in the wings and told Socrates to keep this kid’s number. The crowd were overhead clapping and punching the air in shoddy unison. I walked out took the kid by the shoulder and punched the sky. 

“THUNDER!” I shouted.

The band packed up their instruments and left me to the stage. As the front-man left he turned raised his instrument and shouted in English. “Hey! I saw you on youtube. You’re awesome, man!”

I paced the stage, taking my usual stance of enraged intent. A position of discombobulated exasperation with an electorate who faced with a choice, invariably chose feckless habit over informed volition.

“THUNDER!” I shouted, fisting the sky. “You want THUNDER?” I could hear the bouzouki arpeggio playing in the back of my head.

The crowd cheered.

“So why is it that every time you get to use your vote, you choose rain?” I paced some more. “You want the thunder of Zeus and you vote for an old man with a Swiss bank account!” I was loosing them. “I want to give you Thunder! The power of Zeus back in Athens, where he belongs!” This got a cheer. “I will give you back the country built on YOUR backs and sold to the Germans!” They were watching now and I moved closer to the edge of the tiny stage, to look them all in the eyes. “Because You are the backs of Greece!” I paused. “The backbone of a nation, proud and straight! Your will is the waves than lash the shores and beaches. Your blood, the life of our communities. Your votes the THUNDER that will strike at the heart of Europe.” My attention was momentarily snatched by the barbeque. “YOU are the WOOD in my souvlaki!”

This evoked a forest of sticks waved high in the air. “WE ARE THE WOOD!”

I looked off stage and called for the kid with his bouzouki to come back on. He raced out, plugged in and soon the familiar riff galvanised bared nerves.

“Your vote is the THUNDER! Give it to me and I’ll take it to Europe!”

I hugged the musician who continued playing as I waved my way off the stage.

The secretary was at the narrow exit just behind the curtains. She caught me in her green eyes as I squeezed passed. “Very rousing, Sir.”

Socrates shook my hand and kissed me on both cheeks. “Thunder, eh! Get that on fucking Youtube.”

He had some press for me to talk to waiting in the wings. From behind me I swear I heard a woman’s voice say, “You are the wood in MY souvlaki.”


If you enjoyed this episode, you should SUBSCRIBE and get the whole of book 1 for your iPad, Kindle or Android device.

Also, we are working on a Podcast which you will get before anyone else.

Go on! You know you deserve it!

Don't forget to share with the little buttons below.


  1. Hey... it's all Greek to me. I thought Zeus was lightning... the Scandinavian in me is a little Thor that you stole our thunder!

  2. Zeus was the CEO of Olympus corp. He was god of the skies, He walked like John Wayne and when he wasn't nailing whatever/whoever took his fancy he carried a lighting bolt with thunder as his theme tune (heavenly rather than AC/DC version). Then Greece went all Christian Orthodox and my guess is that he made his way up north for the latter half of the first millennium to take part in the Viking period.
    I think he works for Goldman Sachs now.


“In a hyper-real postmodern world, fact and fiction have become confusingly indistinguishable” Hunter S. Thompson

Throw in your two-pennies worth

From Under Dark Clouds

The Century of DIY