Cracking on with the crowned heads of Europe

King Gerhard: `Follow the middle way, I told the crowd. Not left, not right, but middle! I told them loud'
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The Independent Culture
MORE TODAY of the rediscovered Shakespearean masterpiece The History of King Tony or New Labour's Love Lost, in which King Tony has his hands full with the uprisings of the Welshman Sir Rhodri Morgan, and the Cockney rebel Duke "Red" Ken Livingstone. Meanwhile, he also has to deal with a state visit by an ally, the newly crowned King Gerhard of Germany.

Fanfares, martial music, police sirens, etc. Enter King Tony and Queen Cherie to welcome King Gerhard of Germany.

King Tony: Welcome and thrice welcome to our


Welcome to New Labour and New Britain,

A land where sheep may safely graze at will...

King Gerhard: Unless, of course, they've first

contracted scrapie! Tony: You jest, I hope, for know, my dearest coz,

That all our flocks and herds are safe at last to eat.

There was a time when British cows would run

And fall, and rise, until we called them mad.

But that was then, in bad John Major's days.

Now all is changed and cows may safely graze!

Gerhard:[ Aside.] This fellow talks a lot, but

little says.

I wonder what he truly purposes...

[Aloud.]Then hail, King Tony! Heil Dir, lieber Tone! Wir haben oft gesprochen am Telephon,

Und endlich treffen wir uns! Ist gut!

Tony: Alas, I speak no German. Oh, that I could!

Gerhard: Also, Du kannst nicht Deutsch


Wie du Franzosisch kannst? Sehr schade!

Tony: Will someone please enlighten me forthwith

As to what King Gerhard means to say?

Gerhard: Fear not, good Tony! It is but my jest! I thought I would pretend to speak no English

To show we Germans have a sense of humour! Tony: It was not very funny.

Gerhard: No, but it worked!

Tony: So tell me, German coz, what did you say?

Gerhard: When?

Tony: E'en now, when you did spout

that German...

Gerhard: Ah, yes! I said that it was good to meet

Now that we have all Europe at our feet.

In turn pray tell me, if you simply may,

What exactly you mean by "the third way"?

Tony: Good, Gerhard, good! I'm glad you asked me


You see, we must rethink our ancient ways,

Nor be bound by musty modes of thought.

Forward! Upward! Free from dogma's chains!

Gerhard: [Aside.] He says all this without the use

of brains...

[Aloud.] 'Tis very well said, King Tony, as I know,

For I said just the same a while ago,

When I was fighting for the German throne,

With Old King Kohl, to make the crown my own.

Follow the middle way, I told the crowd.

Not left, not right, but middle! I told them loud.

It must have sounded sweetly to their ear...

But what comes next? One can electioneer

For ever in the middle way, but governing

Is rather harder, even for a King.

Enter a messenger, panting hard, after a long ride.

Tony: But, soft! What hard-pressed messenger

is this?

Speak, varlet, speak!

Messenger: My liege, I bring bad news.

The House of Lords is baying for your blood!

Arrayed against you are they all, and armed!

Tony: Arms? What arms? There's nothing there

to fear!

These toothless lords have only privilege,

And privilege is a blunt old battle-axe

Hanging useless on the family walls.

One puff from me, and down their privilege falls!

The time has come for me to quell these lords.

I do not fear their stale and rusty swords!

Enter a man in a white suit, pointing an accusing finger. It is the holy prophet, Martin Bell.

Martin Bell: Woe to you, King Tony! Alas, alack!

From temptation's brink step smartly back!

Yes, you've a mandate to unmake these peers

But take care that it does not end in tears,

For when you take away another's power,

You do increase your own, hour by hour.

Remember, Tony, that there's nothing chic

In showing yourself to be a control freak.[Exit.] Gerhard: What was this warning that I heard him


Tony: Pay no attention. The man is just a nutter.

More of this saga some other time...