Staff Commander A.D. Mann, official spokesman for H.M.Government's "Warden of the Marches", Lord de Braose, today gave a press conference at the Shire Hall, Hereford. In attendance were a number of representatives of the international news agencies and a gentleman from "The Times".
Staff Commander Mann cleared his throat and read a statement:
(1). HM Government wished to express their utmost admiration for the heroism of Captain James Barleycorn, Commander, 1st Wigmore LDV (temporarily attached), at the recent Battle of Wigmore Hall. Facing no less than three so-called Communist "armies" to the west flank of Wigmore Hall and consequently severely outnumbered, the 1st Wigmore LDV nevertheless defended their positions with "patriotic integrity" and "extreme tenacity", ignoring both offers of reserves and the prospect of a tactical retreat toward the Hall itself. HM Government desired to convey His Majesty's personal admiration of Captain Barleycorn's courageous stand against the King's enemies, represented not only by an immediate advance in his regular rank and the award of the Military Cross, but also the grant of a baronetcy. Henceforward, Captain Barleycorn was entitled to the name and style of "Major Sir James Barleycorn MC";
[polite round of applause from assembled representatives of the press.
Mutters in various languages : "he's done well for himself, hasn't he?"/
"that's one right in the eye for Sir Barrington, sure enough"]
(2). Storm Commander Giles had now fully recovered from his wounds received at the Battle of Berrington Approaches. In recognition of his gallant conduct at the said Battle, together with his courage and tenacity at the subsequent Battle of Wigmore Hall, leading his troops by personal example while still very much "under the weather", HM Govt. was pleased to confirm his promotion to BUF Group Leader, his seniority being backdated to the commencement of the action at Berrington.
[further polite round of applause from assembled representatives of the press.
Stifled yawns in various languages : "Is this it?"]
(3). HM Govt "now regretted to confirm" that Major Strait-Jackett, equally gallant Government commander at the Battles of Berrington Approaches and Wigmore Hall, had indeed been 'severely injured' in the course of the latter battle and was presently undergoing 'a special course of treatment' for such injuries. No future date has as yet been fixed for the gallant Major's "return to duties", nor would further comment be made "at this time".
[Stifled commotion within the press ranks. Muffled cries - in various
languages - of "twister!"/"tell us the truth, why don't you!"/
"come on, we've all seen that photograph!"]
(4). HM Govt was "nevertheless pleased to confirm" the appointment of Lt. Richard Everard, former Assistant Equerry (Military) to Queen Wallis herself, as the acting replacement, with full command authority, for
the late the said Major Strait-Jackett [aggressive shuffling within the press ranks]. A brief record of Lt. Everard's personal background and previous service to the Crown [hoots of derision] was immediately to be made available:
"Lt. Richard Everard. Charterhouse and Sandhurst. After obtaining his commission, Lt. Everard was posted to India where his first action was to take part in the hunt for the Chittagong Armoury raiders. Serving with the 14th Field Company, he was then involved in suppressing the Saya San Rebellion in Burma in 1932, before being posted to Palestine, where he fought with the Royal Scots Fusiliers at the Battle of Anabta in June 1936. Upon the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Lt. Everard resigned his commission to serve with the Carlist Requetes fighting in support of the Nationalist cause, and was awarded the Cross of Military Merit by General Franco. Lt. Everard returned to this country after the "present troubles" began, immediately resumed his commission and was shortly thereafter appointed Assistant Equerry to the Queen. Personal : Lt. Everard
happens to be related to
the late the said Major Strait-Jackett, whose mother was the sister
of the late Deidre Warming-Knightley, grandmother to Lt. Everard. Clubs : East India. Polo Club."
[outbreak of derisive laughter - in various languages - from the assembled
press corps. Cries of "what d'you take us for ?" "we all know he got too
close to the Queen, come on!" "We've been to the embassy parties!". Loud
comment from the foreign editor of Le Matin : "C'est petit "Richard", le
favorit 'frou-frou' de la Reigne de Bretagne!" Immediate demands from the
the monolingual representatives of the "Nishinippon Shimbun" and the
"Frankfurter Zeitung" for a translation of 'le petit frou frou"..
|Staff Commander Mann responds uncertainly to the anger of the international press corps.|
Perhaps such uncertainty is the explanation for what happened next...
(5). The announcement of Lt. Everard's appointment concludes the Press Conference. There being no further business.....
"Nonsense!" "What about Arrowsmith then, hmmm?"
"Where's the gold reserves, Staff Commander?
Tell us why the King's sending Everard to the front !
What on earth is a frou-frou?
As the Press Conference dissolved into unexpected chaos and a scatter of loud insults, Monsignor Alfredo Borgia, the "news delegate" of "L'Osservatore Romano"/"Vatican News" rose portentously to his feet, shouting first in English:
"I ACCUSE this Government of an offence against the laws of God and Nature!
I accuse this Government of hiding the truth!
I accuse your Leader and his minions of
chopping and stitching and re-animating
the exploded corpse of Major Strait-Jackett!
I accuse you all of consorting with
and then switching into French, outstretched finger pointing directly at the already befuddled Staff Commander:
[Sudden silence. General horror in various languages.]
In the years to come, notwithstanding the many hundreds of volumes of history and biography dealing with the Hereford VBCW on the library bookshelves, none could quite explain the immediate reaction of Staff Commander A.D.Mann:
|A surprising admission - was it really an admission? - from the Government Press Spokesman.|
The incident will be argued about for years to come.
PS. With many thanks to Alan for Lt. Everard's CV and "social history".