Friends, Romanians and Asylum Men, I've Come to Give Vouchers, not to Harrye You!

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The Independent Online

So, what have King Tony and Queen Cherie been up to as they complete another week's reign over the unruly British? The only way to find out is to turn another page in the ongoing Shakespearean tragi-comic documentary "The History of King Tony" (or, "New Labour's Lost, Love").

The scene is a busy thoroughfare on the outskirts of London, where crowds are thronging the pavement. Enter a policeman.

Police: Stand back! Stand back and give us all some room!

No pushing there! I want a peaceful crowd!

Anon the King of England passes by,

En route to business with the King of Ireland

And you must not prevent his passage here.

So to this end, I cry: Stand back! Stand back!

And let us have a decent bit of hush!

Man: What king is this of which we hear you speak?

Police: Your very own dear king, King Tony!

Man: No king of mine is he. I am a Gypsy

Come all the way from far, remote Romania

To seek asylum in this friendly land.

We have no kings to tell us what to do.

Policeman beats him over the head in a friendly sort of way until he gets back on the pavement. Enter King Tony in procession.

King Tony: My friends! I greet you all as I pass by!

I love you all, and labour night and day

To bring you better health and education,

Less crime, more roads and all that sort of thing.

I've sorted out the schools and NHS!

Now I go to solve the Irish mess!

King Tony waits for the expected ovation, but nobody in the crowd says anything. He turns to his trusty favourite, Sir Alastair Campbell.

Tony: They do not cheer me, Campbell. Why is this?

Campbell: Your majesty, they are all immigrants

Who speak no English, only native tongues - Romanian, Albanian, or that language

Which only Gypsies know the secret of.

Tony: I do not want them here. Pray send them back

To such benighted lands as they came from.

Campbell: No, no, my liege, we cannot quite do that.

They have come here to seek our sanctuary.

They flee from persecution and from terror

To this fair land, so famous as a place

Where refugees may always find asylum.

Tony: Our country is a byword for warm welcome?

Campbell: Why, yes, it is. And for a helping hand.

Tony: I hope the taxpayer never hears of this...

But let me question one of them straightaway.

You, sir!

Man: Me, sir?

Tony: Yes, sir, you, sir, me, sir!

Now tell me truly where you do come from?

Man: From Poland, sir, to take a holiday

In this fair land, but for a week or two.

I go by coach around the beauteous isle,

Except for Scotland. Only to Carlisle.

Tony: Can this be true, this tale of holidays?

Man: No, sir, it's not. But I was told to say

That very thing by him who brought us here.

We gave him all our money for the trip,

And he said: When you get to British shores,

You are a tourist, not a refugee.

If they should think you seek a refuge there,

They'll shoot you dead, like as a Norfolk farmer

Does shoot the man who takes away his telly!

Tony: Nay, to such tales you must not lend an ear!

But tell me why you're here and not in France

Or Canada, or somewhere else like that.

Why seek you refuge in this cold, damp land,

A land of fish and chips, and hot, sweet tea?

Man: Because, my lord, I once did hear your king,

The former king, I mean, John Major,

Talking of all that made this island great.

He spoke of spinsters cycling through the fog,

And old men strolling with their favourite dog,

And getting frozen to death on Everest.

But better still and higher than all the rest

He spoke of cricket on the village green,

As being the fairest game he'd ever seen.

Tony: He's right. Our cricket is a sacred sight.

But look - here come 11 men in white!

Enter an England cricket XI. The captain addresses them.

Captain: So Hansie says to me, he says, look here,

Another draw is what the public fear.

So I will make a sporting declaration

And if you've got the skill and concentration

You'll win the match! And I hope that you will win,

Because, if not, a fine mess I am in!

Cricketer: And then did Hansie offer you a cut?

Captain: Well, first, he didn't mention money, but...

The England cricket team pass on, out of earshot.

Man: I cannot believe my ears! I have been sent To a foreign land where even cricket's bent!

The scene changes to a top level meeting between King Tony of Britain and King Bertie of Ireland.

Bertie: All hail, O king. How goes the pregnancy?

Tony: I take it you refer to Queen Cherie?

Bertie: I do indeed. How is your lovely wife?

Tony: As well as ever, and twice as large as life.

And how goes everything in the Emerald Land?

Bertie: Things are booming, Life is really grand.

Tony: Good, good... And shall we have a little chat

About the stage the peace process is at?

Bertie: Oh, God forbid! We have agreed before

That we can argue till our throats are sore

But we will never make a peace to last

While there are Prods and Catholics in Belfast!

Tony: 'Tis true. So why do we thus meet together?

Bertie: To chew the cud and talk about the weather.

I ask you news of your dear pregnant Queen.

You ask me whether Ireland's still as green.

We nod, and chat, and shake our heads a bit

And then we face the press and say: Now, this is it!

This is the very last chance for peace to take!

And then we meet again after six months' break,

To chat and nod and blather one more time,

In the great revolving pantomime.

Tony: I'll see you then, then, later in the year.

Bertie: With no great hope of progress, I do fear.

Exit the two kings. Duke Ken Livingstone comes from behind a curtain.

Ken: In six months' time I shall be London's mayor!

At least there'll be some further progress there!

Oh, watch the world's great monarchs roar and rage

When Duke Ken Livingstone enters on the stage!

More of this next week, if the weather holds

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