This piece first appeared on the Guardian BTL pages. Its author has now kindly shared it with The Full Toss
Camp 34.7, Omsk, Siberia – October 11
Winter advances apace. The cruel wet snow is a constant reminder of the impossible, relentless struggles that lie in the months ahead. And why? For what end? The prospect of Spring brings no relief – so distant does it seem, such a bleak reminder of the good men we are to lose before then.
But oh! – despite the cold, our hearts are aflame! Finally the substance of Great Comrade Pyotrsen’s expositional treatise on the inner workings of the Ministry has reached us.
The Ministry has been curiously silent. Klarkov refuses to speak. He simply paces the corridors, day and night, muttering about ‘good families’, ‘the right sort of men’, and showing an uncanny desire for cheese. Oh how it thrills me even to think of it! Klarkov – the pompous bloated Klarkov – impotent and dumbstruck!
Then, today, The Steel-Man emerged from Ministry to address the camp. He spoke of the Great Comrade, though never mentioned him by name. ‘Aaaww, look, you know…’, he boomed, ‘the thing is, that in the Ministry… there’s things who are difficult.’ He stood taller. ‘And those things are the environment and philosophy of the, you know, the harmony, going forward. And the skill-sets what we do.’
He grew taller still and struck his fist violently on the podium. ‘And, aaww look, I personally for the others in the Ministry refudiate the claims one hundred and twenty percent!’ The clerks and officers of the Ministry stood, awe-struck, before applauding. The Steel-Man, visibly exhausted and emotionally drained, was lead back to his carriage.
The bumptious clerk Agniev scurried through the crowd and up to the podium. Amidst cries and shouts, he attempted to address us. ‘Friends! Let us show our gratitude to the Leader – and his fragrant wife – for the selflessness and love he has shown by choosing, independent of the Ministry, to address us today!’.
We Octobrists were confused – where was Klarkov, Downtonovich, where was the dossier fabricated by the Ministry against the Great Comrade? Non-plussed, we looked back up at Agniev for explanation.
‘Friends,’ he continued, ‘I am sad. I am sad. This whole episode has made me sad.’ ‘Why?’ shouted the increasingly trying Comrade Moronovich, ‘because the lady Pyotrsen made you look foolish?’. Agniev shuffled his papers, ‘Ahem, it has made me sad because this is bad for everyone. Everyone. Except me. And the Steel-Man. And the Great Overseer. And the Ministry. Rejoice and be glad that justice has spared the righteous – God be with you comrades!’
We shuffled back to our bunks outside the Ministry. Talk turned immediately to the genius of the Great Comrade. However, our joy is tempered. We in the camp are not so naive as to think Great Comrade Pyotrsen can be easily re-re-integrated into the Ministry. The hard winter is almost upon us and there is much yet to be done.