Write on... The Wandering Politician

【明報專訊】There's a story grandmother likes to tell about the old days, a time before the invention of the automobile and before Thomas Edison gave us the incandescent light bulb. It would have been a time before the invention of radio too, meaning there was no television, no internet and no mobile phones. News and information travelled at a snail's pace then, often losing its accuracy while being spread by word-of-mouth. The story that grandmother tells is about something that happened when she lived on a farm some distance from the city. It was there, in the city with its capitol, that politicians gathered to attend meetings, participate in debates, smoke cigars, and from time to time make a decision. From what she said, it would seem that being a politician in those days was a rather untroubled occupation. To continue being a participant in that august body in the capitol, however, meant that every two years many of them had to hitch a horse to a carriage and set out to meet the voters. That, grandmother declared, was how she came to know the man she described as The Wandering Politician. He was someone who enjoyed her hospitality and story-telling, and for the past few elections he ended his day with a knock at her door. There, just as the sun was about to disappear beyond the surrounding cornfields, he presented himself, always looking a bit dusty in a long black coat and wide-brimmed black hat. Surely no self-respecting constituent could turn away a thirsty, hungry, tired politician at that hour! And so grandmother didn't, taking him into her home to eat, drink and, after a lengthy evening spent exchanging stories before a comfortable blaze in the fireplace, show him to a bed in her guestroom.