Tony, you'd rather die than be not king, sayeth the queen
The Bard's long-lost masterpiece doth show the more human side of King Tony on one of those rare times when he is on holiday
Tuesday 24 August 1999
The scene is a village in Tuscany. Everything is quiet except for thousands of policemen, bodyguards etc, milling round dressed as villagers. Enter King Tony, accompanied by Queen Cherie.
Tony: This country has a sweet and garlic air,
Which soothes us as it gives us appetite.
I love these moments spent in Tuscany,
Far from the stress and strain of daily life -
Sometimes I dream of giving it all up,
And coming here to live in solitude,
A hermit in these vine-clad hills and dales!
Cherie: I should cocoa! Chance would be a fine, fine thing!
You'd rather die, than cease to be a king!
King Tony's mobile phone rings. He answers it.
Tony: My majesty here. Yes, Tony speaking. Hello, John! (aside: Duke Prescott on the line. How he goes on!)
King Tony is unable to get a word in edgeways.
Tony: OK... Yes, yes... I get your drift, dear John.
But never mind - when I am home again, I'll help you sort out bus and railway train...
(To the Queen)
Poor John does get his knickers in a twist!
Just like the normal, old-style Socialist!
In opposition, he was in seventh heaven;
But when in charge, he's all at sixes and sevens....
Cherie: You must not alienate old guard friends,
Dear King. You'll need them at the bitter end.
But look - who is this long-legged apparition
Who strides along the street without a care?
Enter Dame Janet Street-Porter, walking booted.
Janet: Strewth, my blisters! Sod this rambling lark!
I wish I'd stayed at home in Muswell Park! Exit.
Cherie: This Tuscany is become like Hyde Park Corner!
Or do I mean the bloody Groucho Club?
Oh, Tony, let us leave this part of Italy
Where all the media do turn up in summer,
And go where we can shun the trendy throng!
Tony: OK. I'll pack my espadrilles and thong,
And to the south of France take you along...
The scene changes to a small village in the South of France, where King Tony and Queen Cherie sally forth from their chateau, completely alone except for thousands of secret police disguised as Tour de France bicyclists.
Tony: This country hath a dry and sparkling air
Which makes me feel at home in it straightway.
I speak their lingo pretty well, you know -
"Je parle Francais assez couramment!"
Cherie: "Oui, oui, je sais." You always tell us so.
Tony: I could retire to such a lovely spot
And give up ruling Britain like a shot!
Cherie: And I keep telling you, that you could not!
You worry about problems night and day,
Like, does it matter if Mandelson is gay?
Tony: Ah yes, Duke Mandelson! My faithful friend!
Whom I have not promoted finally
To be in charge of all our fighting forces!
It is, I think, a master stroke of mine!
Enter the military Chiefs of Staff.
General chorus: We stand united, in a khaki line!
If Mandelson is to rule us, we resign!
Tony: Oh. That's rather different... OK, gents -
I'll find you someone who will make more sense.
Exit chiefs of staff, laughing and sniggering.
Cherie: You see? No hermit's cave, your fate!
You never can escape from affairs of state
Where'er you go, where'er you seek to hide,
There are problems hiding in this countryside...
Enter Sir Greg Dyke.
Tony: What ho, Sir Greg! How goes the BBC?
Like you the job of being the new DG?
Dyke: My Lord, a word with you, as with a friend.
I am, quite frankly, now at my wit's end.
The old DG refuses to move out.
I talk to him, and sometimes even shout.
But Birt just smiles as if he cannot hear,
And carries on as if I were not there.
What can I do? The man has gone quite mad!
It would be funny if it weren't so sad...
Cherie: My Lord, this quite has ruined our holiday.
No more I'll stand. To London let's away!
More of this soon, I hope.
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