by Nancy Rathbone
Whate'er her faults maun be, though ah umny sae uncharitable or unchristian as tae draw attention tae the mote in ma neebour's ee wi'out haen tae suffer in return fur the beam in ma ain, she is liberal in ootlook as weell as politics an tolerance no being a noted feature o Morningside Ladies, it is worth while notin it as a credit in her character; naw, Madame Madeleine de Parmentier is nae fink, despite her means o earning hur livin, by rentin oot her boady tae men fur money – but that's an unspeakably crude wey o describin the transactions which she engages in, sae I'll say nae mair aboot them; efter a' we aye build oor ain castles in the air – aye even a serious rapporteur lik me hus dreams; oh but a wudny write them doon in the paper fur abdy tae read, guid heavens, ah'd be mortified if sumdy wha kent wha ah wis saw me in the butcher’s or the baker's and sed sumpn like: "oh, Miss Rathbone, that was a very interesting and intimate article in last week's paper, it's always a revelation tae ken whit folk ane kens dreams aboot!" they aye gie awa their roots, stert aff Pan Loaf an end up Scottish Plain! bit nane the less, ah'd hae tae retreat tae ma latebra – which hus naethin tae dae wi ma bosom, it's a wee octagonal summerhoos ah've got in the gairden, it's whaur ah get awa fae the phone an fowk knockin oan the door lookin fur munny! bit the hale thing wis, when thon Chief Constable o Police Scotland, Duncan Doubleday in the flesh, weel, he'd oan a durty raincoat an a flat bunnet like a working man micht wear, made that racket wi Madame's door-knocker on Auld Year's Nicht, or tae be exact, fower minnits intae Ne'erday itsel, weel, a boady hus tae be prepared an am no in the Neebourhood Watch fur nuthin, so ah saw it aw wi ma ain twa eyes and a handy pair o nicht=sicht binoculars ah goat at the new charity shop, an instead o a lump o coal, he gied her a wee knob o coke! it wudnae burn fur hauf an oor, an tae tap it aw, a slice o black bun fae Greggs, still in the shop poke! an the look she gied him wud hae curdled milk, so he turns tail an scarpers, an seein the awfy tired an worn-out look on her face, whit cood ah dae? ah invited her in fur a wee sherry and sum o main ain shortie and black bun, an we hud a rare oul time, laughin aboot the shortcomings o men!
Burds in ma Winter Gairden
By profession, Madame de Parmentier,
Could truthfully say "I'm a rentier,"
From tumultuous giggles,
To campestral idylls,
Ataraxy was clearly her metier!
He wis a numpty, a ba'heid, a joke;
His Ne'erday handsel a wee lump o coke!
Her Ne'erday resolve went up, puff, in smoke,
As he gied her a slice o black bun in a poke,
For her redimite beauty could mak his heart-broke!
So he went hame, turned taps oan, had a lang soapy soak,
An considered hissel wan gey lucky bloke!
Afterwards, while Natalie brushed out the tangles in her hair and Rodger repeated the promises he had made and assured her that he meant every word of them, she told him to fetch a package with his name on it, from the middle drawer of her desk; when she told him to open it, he found all that he had asked for, including names, addresses, home, work and mobile numbers, email and Twitter tags for all the contacts and, crucially from his point, passport or ID photographs of them, which meant he would be able to spot a face in a crowd and check whether it was being watched by anyone else before doing a brush past and slip details of a time and place to meet into a pocket or bag; Natalie knew that he had a past about which he volunteered nothing and she also knew better than to ask, but, despite her bimbo looks and scandalous public antics, she was no fool: a Double First at Oxford and top marks in her Bar exams, she had defended some of society's pariahs and – if the CPS hadn't built a solid enough case to put them where they belonged, behind bars – she got them off and only hoped that next time she wouldn't, but she fought every case tooth-and-nail; she knew that Rodger Dennis was a false identity and wondered who he really was, but so far as his NEP work was concerned, she had no doubts and trusted him implicitly; so what she had provided him with was Top Dollar and included another identity, as he had requested in a whisper just before they all left the restaurant, and from now on he would be operating as Aidan Lindisfarne-Mead, fabulist, and Natalie would be his only direct contact, or, as she rather liked to think, controller; indeed, she rather hoped that when the Big Job began, she would have the chance to sit on his right hand rather than having to operate at arms-length; she gave an involuntary wiggle at the thought and leaned towards him for a deep and parting kiss, perhaps lacking mistletoe but full of unspoken promise and commitment that harked back to auld lang syne; and when he left the office, she gave over a few minutes thought to wonder which actors would play them when the time came to have a movie made about this Great Adventure!
Natalie Rhombus MP was clearly in holiday mood when Rodger Dennis entered her office, the morning after his quingentenary, and took the indicated seat facing her at the old Partners Desk in front of the window; over her shoulders he had a fine view of Green Park: "it's a lovely place you've got here," he said: "perk of the job?"and she laughed: "oh, but I can go one better than that!" so, rising from her chair she led him through an adjoining door into a smaller room, one wall of which was a large window, with a long, cushioned window seat, on to which Miss Rhombus threw herself and gazed up at Dennis, through her fluttering lashes, supine, utterly obdurate, a wicked smile on her face and said: "as the Patriots Treasurer, I run the didlum, you know, the Christmas Savings Scheme we have for Members – well, while we diddle 'em, how's about you diddle me?" and knowing that she held the purse-strings and he depended upon her active co-operation if The Plan was to succeed, he needed no second invitation, but threw himself upon her and was soon diddling her as she'd never been diddled before!
But, despite their inebriation, they heard him out; they were impressed with the Gatwick Job, the oh so simple way his telephone calls had prompted others, until the number of claimed sightings of Drones had triggered panic among the authorities and closed the airport; obviously, it would have been better if there had actually been some Drones but – and there's always a BUT – they hadn't been needed, it was only the possibility that had been required, and the claimed sightings had become a whirlwind and that was enough! the eight-man Army Council – the three MPs plus a solicitor from Truro, a dustman from Wembley, a butcher, a baker, and a candle-stick maker from Yorkshire (the first two from Croydon and Middlesbrough respectively) held a quick discussion while Dennis went to the toilet – something he hadn't done for years, use a public loo, that is, and he suddenly realised the date and that this was his quingentenary, five years since going into a Gents! he loathed the places, knowing that they were frequently frequented by Queers, Homos, Nancy Boys, all of which he loathed with the loathing only a Closet Queen knows, but at least this one, was more like a domestic toilet, with just a lavatory pan and wash-hand basin, no stalls which always seemed to be employed by men with a bladder obstruction for they could stand and whistle and smile at newcomers as if they had all the time in the world, and he detested them all – and, on his return, congratulated him on his Mission, which was when Natalie Rhombus (AKA The Quartermaster – The New English Patriots don't give a fig for Political Correctness) asked him, in her canorous voice, what he needed for the Big Job: "Five Gold Rings," (code for foot soldiers, spread around the country and taking their orders only from him), "Four Calling Birds," (untraceable disposable phones), "Three French Hens," (foreign couriers who were entirely ignorant of their missions and ready to obey his orders without question), "Two Turtle Doves," (incendiary devices which he would deploy to give credence to the Plot), "and a Partridge in a Pear Tree," (being a Hostage, if the Mission required one, and Natalie had the perfect victim in mind), and, really, that was it – Rodger Dennis's Plan was approved and the NEP War Council went downstairs where their table was booked; despite his intense antipathy to anything but Good English Grub and if the choice had been his, the Pie and Mash Shop, Lou Farrow's in The Blue, Bermondsey, would have been top of the list, Dennis cleaned his plate in short order and belched appreciatively! "that hit the spot," his only comment! meanwhile, Sir Pompus as an entrée en matière told the old story of his esteemed grandfather, Sir Philosophus MacFarlane, who had served in the Second Boer War and being challenged to a coup count, by gaining admittance to the Presidential Palace and purloining the top hat of President Kruger without being caught, which, by his use of a Wormhole, he managed very successfully, and he stopped speaking, suddenly, very soberly, realising what he had said, but only Doubleday had noticed, the others having heard most of the story in slightly different forms over a number of years and so paid little attention – a narrow squeak! and on the conversation flowed, each speaker attempting to trump the others with tales of their own, or their ancestors' deeds of similar valour, but Dennis wasn't listening, his mind focussed on the work ahead: he didn't have much time, and would meet with Natalie tomorrow morning to collect on his Shopping List.
The New English Patriots Army Council met in a flat above a Bangladeshi restaurant in Hainault, North East London and always enervated Rodger Dennis, so keyed up was he before it and, after an hour in the company of it's members, drained of his determination to strike at the very heart of the enemy to the the extent that he could easily have agreed with their fatuous comments and bloodless analyses – the paralysis of analysis, which dogged so much of the political philosophy he held on to, almost as badly as it's opposing Left Wing in the spectrum of politics in the UK – but the trump card he possessed buoyed him up and it owed itself to his skills as a hawkshaw, or gumshoe; it had taken but a trice for him to identify the other members of the Council through their pathetic disguises and noms de guerre: wigs, false moustaches and strange clothing could hardly hide their true identities to even a child, never mind someone with Dennis’s photographic memory, and encyclopaedic knowledge of his Home Ground, although he was just that wee bit unsure of himself in their company, so strongly did he disapprove of alcohol and the acrasy it so often led to; but even so, facing them now across a room rendered in primary, secondary and tertiary hues by a colour-blind decorator, he laid out the plan, ready for their intemperate comments, especially those of the three Conservative MPs: MacFarlane, now wearing a turban and a salon tan, Doubleday a fez and Zapata moustache, and the woman, Rhombus, a sari and headscarf so loud that he wished he had worn his sunglasses – but when on a Mission, and especially in Enemy Territory, which was how he regarded places like Hainault, Dennis became almost invisible, so little would his appearance register to even the aware, never mind the illiterate who walked the streets and whom he despised as much as he despised the government!
Rodger Dennis had juxtaposed the names which made up his pseudonym quite deliberately and they were very apposite: he had dodged through life with just enough menaces when necessary – usually to meet his immediate needs for money – and capitalised to his utmost on the inherent misosophy of his English compatriots, who distrusted intellectuals in general and experts, in any field, in particular; now, as the leading undercover agent of the New English Patriots, one of the fragmented ultra-right-wing groups which operate on the far fringes of politics, he had single-handed brought off another coup: he had demonstrated just how gullible the public were, and how susceptible to panic the air-transport system; three calls from different phone boxes were all it had taken to bring Gatwick to a standstill with no flights out or in for three days just before Christmas – suddenly everyone, from Joe Public to Air Traffic Controllers, sighted Drones where there should not have been any, and weren't; as a first dry-run, it had been an unparalleled success at no cost or risk to himself, so it was time to put the plan for Stage One to the NEP Army Council and really set the heather alight!
Suspects Held in Doner Conspiracy
Our Secularity Correspondent, Hubert H Humphrey wrtites:
National Crime Agency Officers are holding a number of suspects in custody regarding a latge scale conspiracy around the recent Doner activity at Gawtick Airport: there may be no nistletoe for the thousands of police, army, ait force and navy personal who have been scconded to support the police investigation;
well-armed sources have told me that there academics, believed to be masterminds of the plan, conceived at the highests level within SISI, were arrested when they were spotted, equipped with powerful binoculars, scanning the airport and apparently co-ordebating the doner movements; districtions varied, one source describing the three as hving lachrymiform faces, whcih was dismissed by another as a racist term banged under govermnent rules intrendidng to make positive anti-descriptionasing the defold standread in all services; however it has been comfirned that they were in position of a number of photographs of star-like objevts on tjhe night sky which experts have identoifoied as flying doners, and the thgere and a group of civilians dressed as shepherds and coompnied with there cuddly and morbidezza lambs have alsobeen detained in the company of and with a distinctive individual with rather angelic feratures - these are bleev to be the Echo Warriers mentioned in early repots as suspecks and their ias no noon link betweeb these two groups; it wood be dismissed by the security forces as the harping of a grinch to offer less sinister suggestions as to the aprint joining of forces by these distinct groups - it has already been vconformed by Gawtick Airport that there heavily pregnant femail travellers gave birth in a store-room which parameucks used for thast porpoise and that goodwill te;egrammes and phone calls have shut down the Airports own switchbored and staff are having to rely on personal moble phones to contact the outside workd; this cannot go on for long before the goverment will be forced to impose marshall lore and take over tjhe entyre sight.
The Daily Telegraph
Beddingshire Acquihire Assuages PM
Heath-Robinson Swingometer edges towards Approval of Deal
by our Weitminster Correspondent, Horst Wessel
Indications that the Conservative Members of Parliament for the three Beddingshire Constituencies: North (Sir Pompus MacFarlane), Mid (Mr Digby Doubleday) and South (Ms Natalie Rhombus) will all vote in favour of Prime Minster Theresa Maybe-Maybenot's Proposal for Leaving the European Union have swept through the Palace of Westminster like a tornado, aggrating the PM and her supporters; "this may prove to be the salve that parses the camel's back," said Mr Quentin Quib, Special Assistant to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Wilfred Heath-Robinson, who has been working closely with Brexit Secretary Timothy Michaelmas-Daisy on the final presentation to Parliament set to take place in the House of Commons prior to the Meaningful Debate which will itself be followed by the Meaningful Vote; after the descent into Pantomime hissing, booing and ribaldry immediately before the Christmas Recess, Mrs Maybe-Maybenot's supporters hope that a more serious tone will encourage 'closet leavers' to 'come out' and put their mouths where their hearts are and their votes where their mouths lead; Mr Quib promised that any member of the Opposition wishing 'cross the floor' at this crucial turning-point in the country's future history: "will find a warm welcome from Ms Rhombus awaits them," the Member for Beddingshire South having run a successful health and fitness company - Bouncy Bedds - for many years in the red-light area of Beedds, is well-able to help tired Members regain their full vigour and rise again: "she was very 'hands-on' and ran her business like an extended family," said Mr Quibb, "and has offered the skills of her staff to support Members of all shades of opinion during what promises to be one of the best-attended debates of 2019, so far!
"The only stumbling-block, as I see it," said Sir Wilfred, "is going to be Andrea Wearisome, so-called Leader of the House: she's one of those strange admixtures, who are both antigodlin and frenetic - it's impossible to predict what she may say, let alone do; we need a leister or some such gadget to keep her in place till The Dame gets to the end of her pitch," which was when a wicked smile spread over Quentin's face and Sir Wilfred stared at him: "come on Sonny Jim, if you've got something to say, spit it out!" and Quentin said: "Bedds!"
"Okay guys," said Sir Wilfred, "we've got three Under-Secretaries of State in the Commons, Julian, Jillian and Jo, so I suggest we designate them as your Chorus, Tim: they'll doughnut you and cheer in the right places – I'm told they're all pretty good with the Jazz Hands, and Julian has a basso-profundo sort of voice, so he can repeat the last word of each sentence, while the others say 'Amen' or 'Lordy Lord' or suchlike and we'll rotate them like a turntable; now, this bit for The Dame, have we got hold of that Red Hand of Ulster?" and Quentin, who had just returned, rather breathless – as if he'd been in the back garden having a quick ciggie with the Police Guards – said: "success! straight from the Leader of the Orangemen's Group Office – it was in a cupboard with their stockpile of Tizer and Vimto and back numbers of the Belfast Telegraph and a bit dusty, I think it's really just a tchotchke, or maybe a paperweight, but I gave it a wipe with my hankie on the way back," and from one of the voluminous pockets of his coat he pulled a red-painted bronze sculpture of a hand looking rather like that of a Police Officer refusing entry: "excellent," said Sir Wilfred, "I think that'll do nicely when the Oppos are booing, or asking rude questions; she can pull it out and say: 'talk to the Hand, Jeremy, the Face ain't listening until you begin to speak some Dunstable!' that should get a big cheer from the Orangemen – they won't realise it's theirs until they get back to their office and open the cupboard to get something to quench their thirst; wasn't there anything stronger in there?" and Quentin grinned: "three bottles of Bushmills, I've left two!" and from another pocket he drew an unopened bottle and three shot glasses; Tim, initially rather concerned about the proprieties of stealing from the offices of the Government's only supporters in Parliament, decided that, as the old sayings go: All's Well That Ends Well and The Ends Justify The Means, so, throwing caution to the winds, and dreaming of a tourbillion whistling through the Palace, emptied his glass in a oner and began to feel that maybe, just maybe, there was just a faint possibility of success ahead of them!
Although they were both surprised to find that they were still employed by The Dame, Sir Wilfred and Quentin quickly overcame their doubts and within half an hour of the Security Department – PC George Dixon – tracking them down at Quentin's flat, both arrived at The Bunker and got to work with Tim – who wore blue loon pants and a millefleur blouson which made him look like a Haight/Ashbury Hippy from the sixties, while Sir Wilfred had the crumpled look of a man wearing yesterday's clothes, which he was; the prototype appeared to consist only of a list of 1 – names of the various characters alongside the people they represented and expected to play their parts and 2 – a rough outline of the script; Sir Wilfred ran his hands through what little hair he had and then jumped to his feet: "of course! what a dim-bulb! we need Zee Concorde!" – he said in a fluent German accent, reminiscent of Angela Meerkat, and rushing to his secretary's desk, he grabbed The Proposal which The Dame had withdrawn after postponing the vote last week; he handed a couple of pages each to Tim and Quentin and instructed them: "find the cues for the gags and songs, it should be easy enough and remember, one of the big production numbers has to feature the Battle of the Boyne and the punchline, 'No Surrender' with The Dame brandishing the Red Hand of Ulster – that's what's going to grab the DUP by the short and curlies! we'll wipe the floor with the badmashers, Pirate Captain Black Jake and his henchman, Doris, lustrate the Party of the dreamers and schemers – and to bring in Red Jerry and the Troublemakers, a reference to the Red Flag and Cable Street, with the tag: 'They Shall Not Pass' - in fact, if she calls them Jerry and the Peacemakers, we could use – Quentin what was their big hit in the 60s?" and Quentin looked puzzled: "oh, you youngsters," sighed Sir Wilfred: "Gerry and the Pacemakers!" and Quentin's face lit up: "You'll Never Walk Alone, Ferry Cross the Mersey, How Do You Do It?" and Sir Wilfred high-fived the others: "okay, lads, I think we've found our message, let's see how we can work them into this this dirge and make it sing!"
The Dame's head was bowed over a document which she appeared to be reading intently, though her eyes never moved, yet she waved Timothy Michaelmas-Daisy to a chair on the opposite side of her desk; five minutes later she seemed to remember that he was there and looked up, from under her helmet of hair: "ah, yes, my Secretary of State for Brexit – this is a prototype of our response which will vitiate the expectations of the Council of Minsters and our own Back Benchers – it's a tad ruvid at the moment, but I want you to polish it up before tomorrow's Session; did you know that I am yclept The Dame behind my back? aha! my eyes and everywhere well if I'm to be portrayed as a Pantomime Dame, I shall be Widow Twankey and it seems you have been cast as Aladdin! and in the week before Christmas, what more Holy than to give them the Ultimate Pantomime? now take this along to Sir Wilfred's office – have you seen him? he and young Quentin seem to have gone off the grid – you don't suppose Sir Wilfred might be one of those Closet Queens, do you? he's really the man we need now to get this production into the House – be a dear and find him, will you? if anyone can rescue my Premiership it's him – and you, of course, Mr Michaelson-Daisy, or may I call you Tom, as we're going to be working so closely? the Country needs us, and we have to stop your Wicked Uncle Jacobini and his evil henchman Borisovsky from getting their hands on the Steering Wheel or the entire Ship of State will run onto the rocks and then where will we be? look canny, my lad – he's behind you?" and Tim whirled round, but there was no-one there: "oh no he's not," he stammered; "oh yes he is!" cried The Dame pointing at the door: "go, and prove you're not Doubting Thomas, Tom; come back with the final script, bring Sir Wilfred and Quentin, and we'll have a Dress Rehearsal tonight, for remember – The Show Must Go On!"
Of course, Timothy Michaelmas-Daisy was pretty annoyed that Simon McCoy had kept calling him Michaelson-Daisy during the interview: "I mean, it's not exactly a difficult name, is it?" he asked his friends, Julian and Sandy, when he popped into their bijou antique shop – yclept Bona Tatt for literal as well as Polari reasons - on his way home: "how would he have liked it if I'd called him Simon M'Boy?" – and Sandy cackled: "he'd probably have sat on your knee, ducks!" but Julian thought not: "ooh, he's far too Butch, darling, he'd be more likely to sit you on his knee!" which was when Tim's Official red telephone chimed like Big Ben, setting every sinew in his body jangling: "is it her Master's voice?" cried Sandy, but no, it was Eileen, The Bunker telephonist: "Secretary of State?" she asked: "the Eagle is flying back from the Continent this afternoon, please be in The Nidus at 3pm for an urgent meeting," which Tim confirmed: "the Nightingale will be there," thinking how ludicrously pointless these code-names were; he hung up and smiled: "it seems I've still got a job," as Julian poured them each another cognac to celebrate, "for as long as she seems to be under this delusion that she can swing a pleroma of votes behind her Proposal and far be it from me to naysay her!" at which Julian and Sandy brayed: "neigh, neigh, thrice neigh!"
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