The Prime Minister’s Game of Golf by Rhys Majoram
This story is to remember Dorothy Pethick who planted a Fir on 15 February 1911
Mr Asquith smacked his ball into the air. It landed just short of the damp, cut green, but the Prime Minister’s golfing ability was the last thing on my mind. We sprinted through the forest and dived headfirst into a large bush in front of us.
“Owch!” Jessie Kenney yelled; a sharp stick had left a long red gash on her arm.
“Shhhhhhh,” Elsie Howey and I replied.
The noise made Mr Asquith look around as he strolled over to where his ball had landed. But he didn’t see anything. He certainly didn’t see us; three suffragettes, hidden in a bush, ready to attack the Prime Minister - on a golf course. We were only meters away from where he was standing.
My “Votes For Women” banner caught on a bramble behind me. Jessie tried to pull it off. RIIIP, it went as it fell.
“Is it time to attack?” Elsie whispered into my ear.
I could smell the leaves around me. I could hear the mumbles and clapping of the Prime Minister’s friends. Two squirrels chased each other up the giant oak tree beside us. A thick rain cloud drifted in front of the blinding sun.
It suddenly hit me, the extremity of what we were going to do. Is it really worth it, to attack the Prime Minister and get into so much trouble for a protest that we may not even win?
Of course it was. Every woman I knew was sick and tired of spending our whole lives cooking and mopping up. That’s why I had decided to join the WSPU; to put an end to women being treated as objects, owned by their husbands.
“Get ready,” I said, slightly too loud.
Trying to be as quiet and calm as I could, I snapped off a large stick from the tree beside me. It was long, strong and sharp, covered with twigs and thorns.
“Three, two, one, let’s go!” Elsie ordered.
We stood up together, all at once. We ran. We ran as fast as we could towards him. The damp grass squeaked, crushed by our boots.
“WATCH OUT HERBERT,” a golfer shouted to him.
Asquith turned around to face us with an expression of horror. He didn’t have time to move before we struck.
WHACK. I hit him with my stick.
OUCH. He stepped back, holding his stomach in pain.
A large, fat old man came at me, tackling me down to the ground. I dropped my stick, gasping for air as I fell backwards.
SMACK. My head hit hard on the ground.
It felt like time had stopped. I could feel my hair absorbing the moisture from the grass, like a sponge. Thoughts ran through my mind: would I be thrown into a cell? Would I be force-fed in prison?
Flashing blue lights were heading towards me. The sirens were deafening, becoming louder as they approached. I remained calm. I turned to look at Jessie. Like me, she was being held down on the ground by a group of men. She smiled at me. We were dragged up to our feet.
I was thrown into the back of a police truck. A bearded, middle-aged policeman grabbed my hands and locked them together in handcuffs. The cold metal felt heavy and uncomfortable on my wrists. The officer climbed into the front seat, turned the key and the engine started up. It hummed as we drove across the golf course. Through the rear window, I could see another police truck behind us. Carrying Jessie, no doubt. But there were no more motors. That’s odd, thought to myself; Elsie must have escaped. This wasn’t fair, considering that the assault was her idea.
After what seemed like hours, we approached a large, metal-wired door, guarded by two armed policemen. One of them stepped towards us. My arresting officer wound his window down and said: “One arrest, officer.” The policemen opened the gate and we drove through. We stopped next to a large, grey brick building. I was pulled out of the back of the truck and guided inside. It was a prison block.
There were at least a hundred cells spread around, filled with people. Some of them were shouting, fighting or swearing. I also noticed lots of women who were wearing the WSPU badges! Lots of us had been locked up for fighting for women’s rights. I was forced up a set of stairs and thrown into a cell.
The officer pulled the barred door shut with such great force that the neighbouring cells shook. He locked it; I was now a criminal.
I looked around me and noticed a small ‘talking hole’, high on the wall. I stood up on my uncomfortable, solid bed and looked through it. I saw Jessie in the next cell. I said her name: she looked up, wondering where it was coming from. She caught sight of my blue eye through the hole.
Recognising my voice, she said to me: “I changed my mind, what we did isn’t worth the consequences.”
“DINNER TIME,” a prison officer called from the floor below.
Guards went round, opening the cell doors. All of the inmates lined up and walked in a single file line to the canteen. Not me. I refused to eat. I decided that I might as well spend my time in jail campaigning.
Later, three guards came into my cell. They grabbed me by my limbs and carried me out. I remained quiet as they took me to a dark, desolate room where they laid me down on a table. I saw a tube on the table next to me. An officer inserted it into my mouth and rammed the plastic tube down my throat. I gagged so hard that I was sick all over myself. I could feel food being squeezed into me. Chicken soup tastes a lot less tasty when it gets forced into you.
I stayed calm, I fought for my rights.
Rhys is a Year 9 student at Langley School. He enjoys Maths, English and Physics lessons. He plays tennis and is even learning to fly! His inspiration for his story was from Fiona Sinclair’s session when he learnt about different suffragettes and looked at archive material.