…Tony reaches his destination and finally escapes the people on the train…the continuing story of Tony Blair in the wilderness…
Well really. A tannoy, indistinct above the slamming doors, bellowed. I was thirsty and somewhat hungry. The carriages dragged and pushed in a series of false starts and then the engine blasted, drawing the carriages on. A gust of wind hit Invershneckie station. I pulled my chic but annoyingly useless ski jacket tighter and looked round for the nearest MacDonald’s where I could start ingratiating myself to the locals starved of real political representation. It had to be a MacDonald’s, the place to be seen, the place where I could reach out to the people who needed to love me, the kids, the poor and the disadvantaged.
Invershneckie’s tiny grey platform shrank all round me.
There was no MacDonald’s in sight, but at least I was off the train, away from the harmless old lady who’d made my head spin with her strangely comforting religious talk. At least I was away from the rather dangerous sounding man. Standard accommodation was very risky when you’re an instantly recognisable ex-PM, victor of Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and the Thames Valley. I started rolling my first cigarette in Scotland. It had been a long time since I could roll a cigarette.
“Bless me. Coincidence is the work of the Lord. It’s a sign.”
Bloody hell. I dropped the cigarette paper. I shivered uncontrollably. The woman was standing right in front of me, pulling the hessian shawl tight. Her chest heaved.
“You’ll probably feel the cold up here, Tony Blair. Cold air is sent to remind us of our mortal fate. We’re so awfully far north you’re bound to detect a chill in the air even for August, so look after yourself, Tony. Take extra care. Don’t be caught out by the weather. Draw each breath as though it’s your very last, and smile in the face of the devil. Scotland is a very small place, but not so small you can’t lose yourself in it, not so small you can’t lose God in it. May the Lord God be with you at all times, Tony, and bless you. I look forward to meeting again, very soon.”
You know, ignominy, defeat, humiliation, misjudgement, and complete loss of face should be no bar to high office. The wilderness years had been hard on me so far, and I felt the need for warm underclothes. I’d been misunderstood, cruelly deposed. My wife had left me, but now I felt my luck was changing. It was a new beginning. I was going to get paid for doing absolutely nothing in Scotland. The free time would allow me to shape my return to power, my rehabilitation. A mysterious letter had arrived telling me to catch a train to Scotland, straightaway. It said there was something in it for me, politically, and that’s what I did, and that’s why I was standing at Invershneckie’s tiny grey platform wondering what, for the love of the people of Sedgefield, was the real Tony Blair doing bringing the Trust in Belief train to Invershneckie.