As the dark and dreary days of 2022 drew to a close, a disillusioned band of former soldiers decided enough was enough. Weary of living in a country whose (mis)fortunes were increasingly being dictated by the most easily manipulated and ill-informed members of the electorate, and gravely concerned at a growing lack of societal compassion combined with an increase in hate speech, a rise of online abuse, and witch hunts for the flimsiest of reasons, they came up with a plan to take extreme action against those they identified as being guilty of gross stupidity. The straw which placed too much weight on this particular ungulate’s back was the response to an innocuous Christmas advert.
Calling themselves the SPS Brigade, they purchased an old school bus, transforming it into their mobile central command before they took to Britain’s streets.
‘Boycott Waitrose for showing farmers glorifying their sun tans. They are a disgrace.’ Alex read the Tweet aloud, looked at Jerry, then at the man whose shoulders the muscular sergeant was pressing down on, holding him in his seat. ‘Really? That’s what you got from a Christmas advert showing farmers toiling in all weathers, that they were topping up their suntans and gloating over it? That’s really what you read into it, Kevin?’
‘Yes, it was a disgra—’
The palm of Alex’s hand connected with Kevin’s right cheek. She didn’t hit him hard, just enough to show she wasn’t messing around. Kevin tried to pull away, but Jerry held him firm.
‘Was it, Kevin? Was it a disgrace?’
‘Yes, it was an insult to—’
‘No, it wasn’t. You know it. I know it. So why did you post it?’
‘To raise awareness of the risk of sun canc—’
‘NO-IT-WAS-NOT. We’ve seen the photos from your holiday in Lanzarote in June. The ones of you slobbing around on a sunbed looking like a freshly cooked lobster. We’ve seen all the holiday brochures lying around your flat; the ones promoting sun and sand resorts. You haven’t posted anything attacking them for glorifying fun in the sun breaks. So why publish posts attacking a supermarket?’
‘Because it offended me.’
‘No, it didn’t. Why did you post it?’
‘It was a stand against materialism and big business.’
‘No, it wasn’t. Your kitchen is full of take-away burger cartons from an international franchise and your phone is the biggest brand on the market. Look, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I’m going to keep slapping you until you say something sensible. Why did you do it?’
‘It was …’ Kevin started to say something, then changed his mind. ‘… I don’t know … people take notice on social media; pay attention to what I say.’
Alex’s hand stayed away from Kevin’s cheek.
‘And before social media they didn’t, did they? You were that sad little loser in the pub nobody listened to because you spout utter garbage. Social media has given you, and people like you, a voice. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it, Kevin?’
‘I SAID ISN’T IT?’
‘Yes,’ Kevin whimpered.
‘So, tell me. What was really wrong with that advert, Kevin?’
‘Nothing,’ Kevin snuffled. ‘There was nothing wrong with it. It was quite nice in truth. I just jumped on the bandwagon.’
‘Just another sheep blindly following the flock.’
‘I guess so,’ Kevin whispered.
‘And you’re not going to do it again, are you?’
Kevin shook his head.
‘Because if you do, we’ll be back to slap you sensible again. And I won’t go so easy on you next time. Now on you go. Go home, Kevin. Be a nice person.’
‘I will,’ Kevin whimpered. ‘But slapping people isn’t very nice either.’
‘No, it’s not,’ Alex sighed. ‘But to clean up the shit, you have to get some muck on you. Now go, get out.’
As Kevin scampered out of the SPS bus, Matt glanced up from his monitor.
‘I’ve got another one, Lieutenant. Some bloke in Easington has Tweeted that white Britons will be in a minority by 2030.’
‘Easington … in County Durham?’
‘The whitest place in England? The chances are this joker has never ever even met anyone who’s not white, and yet he’s posting this rubbish.’ Alex stood up and placed her hands on her hips. ‘Right, let’s hit the road. We’ve got a massive job ahead of us guys. Time to go and slap this country sensible. Qui cogitat vincit.’