More scenes from the court of the not-so-crimson king

`Lord Jenkins, we do owe you such a debt. Your survey may transform the nation yet'
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The Independent Culture
FROM TIME to time I have brought you extracts from that fabulous lost Shakespearean play The History of King Tony, or New Love's Labour Lost, and I am often asked if there is any more where that came from. There certainly is, as follows...

Downing Street. King Tony commands his minions.

King Tony: Go, ask Lord Mandelson if he has news

Of progress of his Dome. The minutes pass,

And soon a new millennium will dawn...

Messenger: I go, my liege. [Aside.] I do this every


And every day Lord Mandelson doth say:

"Our progress is increasing daily!

At least we're not held back by Stephen Bayley!" And yet whene'er I look around the ground

No sign of real progress can be found.

King Tony: What ? Not yet gone?

Messenger: I go, I go!

King Tony: Then let me speed you with this

upraised toe!

Aiming a kick at the messenger, he cracks the incoming Lord Roy Jenkins on the knee.

Tony: Lord Jenkins! Your pardon that I knocked

you so...

Jenkins: Think not of it. All my life, it seems,

I have been knocked by passing strangers,


Book reviewers, critics, fellow historians...

A year ago, my liege, you asked me to survey

The voting patterns of this nation state,

Whether 'twere best to keep the old regime,

Under which the man who passed the post

First in position, should keep the seat,

Or whether there should be a fairer system,

Like to the one they have down under...

Tony: Yes, yes! [Aside.] How drearily he prattles


Jenkins: And so, my liege, I hold here in my hands

My grand report on British voting patterns!

Tony: Lord Jenkins, we do owe you such a debt.

Your survey may transform this nation yet.

Lord Jenkins bows and goes. King Tony throws the report on the fire.

Tony: And then again, perhaps it never will.

But as a source of warmth it fits the bill.

The courtiers laugh roughly. Enter Sir Jack Straw.

Tony: Why, honest Jack! 'Tis good to see your face! This man and I were radicals once together,

When we had bold ideals and went on marches! Straw: And shall do once again, my liege, for learn

That fate has put into our hands our ancient enemy,

Old General Pinochet, the torturer and killer!

Tony: Come, walk in private, Jack, and tell me how

We may torture Pinochet in turn...

Herald: My Lord the king! Before you wend your


There is a Viscount Trimble at the door -

Tony: Yon Trimble is a gadfly in my flesh.

I know full well the favour that he craves.

"Your majesty," he'll say, "my Irish lands

Are full of bandits holding guns and bombs!

Tell them to give them up, to hand them back!"

Tell Trimble that I cannot see him now.

Tell him I'm ill, or mad, or gone to China!

Herald: And one more supplicant there stands


A Welshman by the name of Davies, Ron,

Who pleads for private audience with the king,

To tell him something hugely embarrassing.

Tony: I cannot see him. Tell him to resign.

'Twill look as if he has done something rather fine...

The scene changes to a cave in Northern Ireland, where Mad Gerry Adams and his malcontent robbers are hiding. One of them is taunting him.

Robber: You told us, Gerry, that we'd have this land

Safely in our great republican hand

If only we could bomb and kill and maim...

We've done all that, but not achieved our aim.

Adams: Sure, lads, you've done a job that's

really grand! We've nearly done enough to win the land!

But just before we sing our victory psalms

We have to surrender all our bombs and arms.

Robber: How can we do it? All our bombs are gone!

All Semtex, shells and mortars - every one!

Adams: I know, I know. So we must make some


To hand them in and stop our holy war.

Robber: Make bombs for handing over! Is that

what you say?

Adams: I know it seems mad, but that's the Irish


More of this wonderful part-work some other time, I hope.