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Friday, April 26, 2013

Sir Reginald Delivers a Philippic

Sir Reginald despises politicians.  All politicians.  He finds Conservatives dangerously left wing and the rest of them are cloaked in some sort of red miasma of an unimaginable socialistic nightmare.  Sir Reginald’s politics are simple: Put all effort into maintaining the Empire.  Have no truck with foreigners.  Flog most of the lower orders regularly and increase pensions for people in his position.  And outlaw the practice of buying rounds in the club. And ban whistling.  And punish anyone or anything else that comes within his notice.  Ideally, he should be running the country himself except that he has no time for such quotidien activities.  All politicians who do not match up with these policies are nincompoops and namby pamby time wasters and should be flogged soundly themselves.

It is nine o’clock in the morning and Sir Reginald has been glancing at that Socialist Rag - The Daily Telegraph and reading of the government’s plans to provide welfare for orphans and widows.  And so when Phillips stumps into the breakfast room bearing the salver with the post, Sir Reginald is already incandescent with rage.  He snatches up the envelope and tears it open to find it is an announcement from the local council informing him of the forthcoming elections to that august body.  Sir Reginald’s demeanour becomes even more animated than it was before.  “Elections... bunch of utter incompetents and nincompoops.  And they want my approval.” He splutters.  “This country... going to hell in a handcart.  Magna Carta.  That’s where it all started going wrong.  Dangerous subversives.”  He is now coughing and choking so much that Phillips stumps a little closer ready to deliver CPR if required.  “How dare they... It is an outrage.”  He is now more or less incoherent and pauses to gasp for air.

In that split second of silence Phillips leans forward. “May I suggest, Sir Reginald, that if there is no one else suitably qualified to run for office that you do so yourself.”

“What!  What!! What!!!”  Sir Reginald suddenly finds his voice again and roars out “What!!!  Me join that rabble of self-serving ninnies and varlets?  That covey of slinking partridges.  That swill can of offal.  That... that... that...”  Sir Reginald suddenly seems short of suitable invective and splutters to a halt.
“I merely, wondered, Sir Reginald what  a man of your integrity and directness could achieve in the way of setting things to rights when there are only... rather lesser beings to oppose.  A seat on the local council might lead on to a seat in government of the country as a whole.  Of the Empire itself.”
“I’ve had enough of putting myself out for the good of the Empire. Years of service to King and the Empire. What did that ever achieve?”
Might I observe, Sir, that was merely as a ... how should it be put?.. as a servant of Empire.  A fine, dedicated, selfless, tireless, upright head of department, I may add. A great leader of men to be sure but always at the behest of other lesser mortals.  How much more fitting that you should be the master and they the servants...”
Sir Reginald has absolutely no doubts of his qualities as a leader of men so he curtly dismisses Phillips to bring him the required documents.

A week later sees Sir Reginald at the hustings.  Sir Reginald has bullied the wasters at the Club to sponsor him and put up the deposit and he is now ready for his maiden speech.  Phillips has ensured the stage is set with a table with a pile of cyclostyled leaflets and there are ribbons and streamers of such a dark blue as to be almost black.  Sir Reginald has quibbled about the necessity of such expense but Phillips has assured him that such favours are entirely necessary.  There is even a small bowl of very hard brittle toffee for the babies that are sure to be brought to him for some sort of laying on of hands.
Sir Reginald is helped from the bath chair onto the stage and begins to speak.  “This country is going to the dogs.”  He begins baldly with no preamble.  “It is being run by spineless nincompoops and ninnies. I intend to change all that. I intend to bring back the birch and... and...” He stumbles to a halt.  “Give the politicians what’s been coming for a long, long time...” For the first time he surveys the hall.  His audience consists of an elderly man in a stained cardigan.  An elderly woman with an ear trumpet and a middle aged ragamuffin in overalls.  A small girl with pigtails sits in the back row swinging her legs and sucking a lollipop in an extremely annoying manner. “You.” The child looks up. “Yes you.”  He booms.  “Stand up when I speak to you.  You have no right to be here.”
“Yes she does” says the workman with the overalls.
“What!  What!!”  An apoplectic pallor begins to well up in Sir Reginald’s cheeks.
“She’s my daughter.  She’s waiting for me.”  The man slouches back on his chair.
“Well you’ve no right to be here.  You, you... dunderhead you.  This meeting isn’t for the like of you.  We don’t need you.”
“Oh? Who is it for then? I thought this was an election meeting.”
“You dare to question me?  You dare to interrogate your betters?  You... you... Socialist.”
“All right.  I’m not good enough for you, so who is good enough?”
“Well, well...”  Sir Reginald swings his glare round the hall. “Them.  I mean those old people.  They must have enough sense to vote for me.”
“Them?” says the workman in a surly manner.”That is my Mum and Dad.  We’re all just waiting for you to finish so that I can lock up and we can all go out and get some supper.”
“Why you...  You nincompoops.”  And Sir Reginald falls off the edge of the stage into the arms of Phillips who places him gently into the bath chair.
“Give me those leaflets.”  Phillips dutifully fetches the small pile from the table on the stage.  Sir Reginald begins to tear them.  But the pile of sheets will not tear. Growing wilder and wilder Sir Reginald gnaws at them with his teeth.  Leaflet confetti surrounds him as Phillips the one legged manservant wheels him home to supper.

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