Tuesday, 25 May 2010

HCJ4 Gonzo Project: More Information Than You Require

I was just passing Stonehenge when I was just about ready to stop driving; in that shady part of the mind where you are just between falling asleep and wide awake, where your eyes could droop at any second resulting in a fiery crash, but you would be completely aware of the terror, and even more aware that you would have no one to blame but yourself. But this was not the only thing contributing to the high chance of death in a horrible, horrible accident. I was traveling in my Seat Arosa, a small roller skate of a car, a hand-me-down that had dodgy back tires and a fault in almost every component in one way or another. It is the sort of car that keeps a person honest, humble, and completely observant of their surroundings, simply because these surroundings might well be the last, so you’d better make the best of it. What I imagined I was driving to was a broken, twisted, rusty and grinding engine of a meeting, stuttering along and jarring like a plane caught in an ash cloud, so hopefully the fear would make it seem better.

I was traveling to meet, talk to and campaign with a man named Niall Warry, pronounced “Neil”, a name that was condemned a member of the public as “pretentious” in a place named Frome. Having never been to Frome, I did not really know what to expect, but considering the location (just in Somerset) I could be sure it was a sleepy country town just big enough for a Mark’s and Spencer’s and just small enough to still have village fetes. I was entirely right. I had been told to meet Mr. Warry in a car park just outside of a budding auction house, and to look for a large green land rover with a box strapped to its roof labeled “Niall Warry: Leave the EU Alliance.” This beast of a car, like most of the things about Niall Warry, was instantly recognizable as garish and unnecessary. I do not know much about advertising, but I’m fairly sure that many members of the public would be unlikely to pick up and run with a political movement plastered onto the side of a wooden box, and held to the roof by ropes and string.

I waited for half an hour in this dreaded car park, waiting in a suit that was too big, in a car that was too small, and hoping that the man I was meeting would not be too racist all the time. After a while I felt a little cheated, and so rang the number that Mr. Warry had given me during out e-mail correspondence, and a woman answered. My first reaction was frightened confusion, and then fear. The person on the other end sounded so unassuming and innocent, and as it turned out, it was Warry’s wife, who told me that she would ring a man named Tim, who was with Warry at the time. I was filled with panic. I had banked on meeting Niall Warry alone, in order to spar head to head with a man who I assumed would be nasty and another person added to the mix would probably make this a lot harder. Warry headed to the car park, and greeted me by shouting “Luke? Luke Garratt?” across the car park. “That’s me.” I answered, and walked towards him, offering my handshake as a way of putting myself under the banner of “Professional Journalist” rather than “Student”. Warry was a tall man. His nose was slightly crooked, and he had a halo of grey hair covering his head, with a sort of tuft at the front, almost akin to a certain type of professional entertainer found in circuses. “My colleague Tim and I are having coffee in a shop down the road. You haven’t been waiting long have you?” He asked, grasping my shoulder as we walked, “No.” I lied.

We got to the cafe where I was introduced to Tim. Tim refused to give his first name as he “Didn’t know what I would use it for” but in terms of his features, Tim was a watery eyed mouse of a man, who seemed to stutter and cower at the fact I was even talking to him, which is a mean feat, because I’m very unimposing. “You want a tea, or a coffee, or a bun?” Warry asked me, gesturing towards the Barista behind the counter. I declined, and sat down beside him, occasionally glancing at Tim, who was sipping a latte with both hands, perched on the edge of a stool like a bird. Warry then decided it was time for me to ask him some questions. I duly agreed.

He had been involved in politics since 1997, and before that, corporate management, and before that, the TA and the Green Jackets. He had left UKIP in February, letting his membership run out. Of UKIP, he seemingly had nothing but bad things to say, calling them ineffective and corrupt, and claiming that the leader of the party seemed to “have it out for him” since he spoke out against him. He had subsequently thought about organizing his own party if it gathered enough political and public steam, publishing and distributing 5000 leaflets advertising change, and a meeting. This massive amount of leaflets led to the attendance of 10/15 people which subsequently led to the formation of the “Leave the EU Alliance”. The emergence of Tim was a completely different story entirely. Tim was a journalist, or so he said. He had been involved in several different business ventures that reflected his different views on life, but right now he was a journalist, currently self publishing the magazine entitled RANT!, a magazine that focused on the “key issues” and “annoying things” in Britain today. “You can find that on the Internet.” He said happily. I could not.

Niall Warry seemed to be an unassuming man. In what I hoped would be a battle of some sort, whittling out the true nature of the man through subtle poking, he denied me at every turn with almost good answers. His stance on immigration was standard, the usual point-system and Australia comparisons. I pressed him with the more controversial things like prostitution, drugs, and gay marriage. He seemed to agree to all of them, with theories on how prostitution should be legalized, regulated and taxed, and the same for drugs, and as for gay marriage is stance was that “Gay people should be able to inflict the same grief as straight people”. But despite the very diplomatic answers he seemed to be giving, there was something not quite right about Warry. He seemed to dodge every question in a very weird way, in a way that he was answering diplomatically for the sake of diplomacy.

The overall impression was that of a sense of delusion. Warry would say he was forced out of UKIP, and then say he left of his own accord. He would say he is “aware of the current political climate” and how he “does not expect many votes” but then would go on to speak about how everybody thinks like him, deep down, and how he shares the views of the nation. How an independent candidate is better because then a supporter doesn’t have to sacrifice their views for the views of the party, how he rates on a diplomatic scale, but then talking about unity and the importance of following movements and influence.

Despite his insistence that he was a “normal bloke”, Warry and Tim did leave me with one gem. Out of the blue, Warry was explaining his thoughts on global warming, and how he did not believe in it. Not just that, but he actively denied it. Now, this would usually be put down to a difference of opinion, but the following things could simply not be ignored. I pressed him on the issues behind global warming, to which he replied “polar bears have never been more numerous,” but it was Tim who had the real gold; when I said “But what about flooding? Even if you don’t believe in it surely scientific predictions are something to worry about? These things have been studied.” Tim chimed in with his comment almost immediately after, as though waiting for the perfect time. “People can just live in houses on hills!” Tim leaned back in his chair, content.

Warry decided that there was no point me campaigning with him, despite our previous agreement; he simply had to get Tim back home. But before he left, he handed me a book, saying that it reflected his views incredibly. The book, entitled Bloodless Revolution: How we can change the world in one day, was a strangely topical diatribe, every part of which seemed to be set up to terrify its readers, scaring them with the fear of a terrible life that WILL DEFINITELY BEFALL YOU SHOULD YOU NOT DO EVERYTHING THE BOOK SAYS.

Fear is a powerful motivator. I was scared to drive a long distance. Because my car is a deathtrap, so I drove faster. Could it be that the reason Niall Warry started his party because he was afraid of not having an outlet? Afraid of people not hearing his voice after years of being a figure of public standing? I could be neither of these things, and it could be both, but one thing is for sure; Tim was definitely terrified throughout the entire thing.

1 comment:

Chris Horrie said...

Fantastic - you must record this as a sound file. Got to have this brilliant piece on the site.