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Chronicles of Nadir 2: Prince Crispian - Chapter the Eighth
The Chronicles of Nadir
As told from the grave by Tom Lewis
What happened to chapters 3 to 7, you ask. Well, I was discussing that with Jack the other day and I think it’s all getting away from him a bit. But just to get you back up to speed – oh yes, a little lower m’dear – I jotted down a few notes and passed them to the scribbler lad. Just a half thanks, I’m having dinner with Gorton and you know what that’s like. Bloody Famous Grouse. Bloody Blue Orchids – taste buds shot off in the war.
Tale the Second
Chapter The Eighth:
Hasten Slowly and Speed Thy Steed
Well, things had been moving faster than petrol prices and
Jules of the Galliard had been appointed head teacher and there were a lot of people standing in corners of rooms facing the wall and wondering just how long this would take. DFAT had been renamed the Department of Foreign Languages and Trade Enquiries. PM&C had been renamed the Kevin (although in the privacy of the Cabinet Secretary’s Private Office it was known as the Kremlin) and not a single public servant had been sacked or had slept. In an interesting example of Federal/State co-operation, the No-doze was being supplied by officers of the NSW Crime Commission and being shipped in at an enormous rate – they’d managed to get a very cheap charter rate on the Pasha Bulker.
At one stage, there was a serious proposal by the Minister assisting the dismantling of Workplace Relations to recruit zombies but since the only ones they could find had worked in the Dwarf’s office during the leadup to what was now known in the Shadow Treasurer’s Office as “THE GREAT DEBACLE” it was thought, on the whole, at the end of the day, all things considered, fair dinkum, better not.
The press office had been renamed Ruddspeak and someone was still trying to find Eric Blair to head it. Alan Ramsey had said no and Paul Sheehan was so full of mineral water that he now sloshed when he walked. Miranda Devine, Piers Ackerman and the Albrechtsen woman had all said yes of course but, on the whole, at the end of the day, all things considered, fair dinkum, better not.
The Health Minister had been put in charge of a team investigating who was leaking (and where) and Jules of the Galliard’s boyfriend had been appointed as a consultant heading a group of hairdressing apprentices tasked with trying to get Nicola to wash her hair. The Attorney had been given the task of restructuring Federalism which wasn’t going all that well because, well, he wasn’t all that bright really and they’d finally found him in a broom closet a week after he’d first gone missing.
“No harm done” he said as he emerged into the light – “quietest cabinet meeting we’ve had so far”.
Thank Christ there were a few vacancies coming up on the High Court but, on the whole, at the end of the day, all things considered, fair dinkum, perhaps better not. Look what happened with Eddie, and the McClellands lived practically for ever.
Prince Crispian, on one of his rare visits to the Country, was at the despatch box poring over piles of papers, shuffling and re-shuffling them, head down tail up although no-one had yet been able to tell up what, murmuring quietly to himself in Cantonese. Fred, in ASIO, which hadn’t been re-named either and from which no-one had yet been sacked (largely because everyone in ASIO was called Fred and it was so hard to do the dismissal notices) noticed that Prince Crispian’s mobile was on and had just placed a call to a well-known
Meanwhile, over at DFLATE, a second assistant deputy secretary turned to a junior colleague and said:
“I just can’t get the hang of this. How is anyone supposed to understand this stuff?”
His underling, a plant from the NSW Crime Commission and part time author of TV specials, looked sleepily in his direction and detected his bosses’ error.
“James, my dear fellow,” he said, “the instruction was to learn Mandarin.”
He deftly removed the box of fruit from the second assistant deputy secretary’s lap and handed him a dictionary.
“But… this is in Chinese.”
“Look,” replied the special agent, “I’ve been coping since the election just by asking for number 34 with a small fried rice.”
The evening before, at a restaurant table in wintry Gosford, however, things had gone at a slightly slower pace. The new member for Robertson who was thick as two short planks laid end-to-end and not very bright either was out to dinner at the local club with her husband, Jules of the Galliard’s State equivalent, now know as Sir Lancelot as a result of what was to be referred to as the “Ill-made Night” [look it up – I had to –Ed]. They’d been getting heavily stuck into the plonk now that it was cheaper than petrol and he’d lost his licence anyway as a result of legislation he’d introduced as Roads Minister – talk about things coming back to bite you.
“Sorry mate, we need to set up the disco, could we move you out onto the terrace?”
said the recently TAFE-graduated waiter who had a major in hospitality.
“Do you know who the fuck you are talking to worm?”
said the Minister who didn’t have to worry much because, after all he had an upper house seat and he didn’t actually need the peasants to vote for him individually, and let’s face it, once you’d lost your licence there wasn’t much chance of becoming Premier anyway so what was the point of trying to change down – just ask Bingo and Scully – I mean, really, it was just a fucking dog that did for Carl (well, that and his acumen as a politician – and who wanted to run NSW Railways anyway? Look what it had done to David Hill and he’d starred in The Leaving of Liverpool after all).
While it is not entirely clear exactly what happened next (the statutory declarations have not yet been tendered in evidence and it was the Terror that broke the story), it was Gosford after all and hospitality at Gosford TAFE is not necessarily what the children might be used to by way of the silver service at the Melbourne Club, the outcome seems to be that the Minister went home in a huff. Unfortunately, he also went home in a car. Well, the short plank’s car actually. It also appears the fucking police weren’t called – they didn’t need to be – the NSW Crime Commission had had a bug in the car for months. At one stage they were a bit worried because they picked up a conversation where Belinda was saying that she thought she had caught the bug but it was only the flu.
“# 34, # 36, # 48, double prawn crackers and a free coke”, he said.
Prince Crispian replied in perfect Cantonese.
The delivery boy who was an ABC whose grandfather had come out in 1859 and settled in
“Don’t have a clue what you’re talking about mate but that will be $36.70 including the GST.”
The Cabinet Secretary who hadn’t yet been sacked but also hadn’t slept since the election and was quite frankly rather sick and tired of hitting the ground running came in with a new pile of papers for the Prince. On top was the Sunday Telegraph followed by the early edition of the SMH, a pile of Statutory Declarations, withdrawals, position papers on the use of the expressions f------- and c---, and an unfortunate piece of mandarin peel left in a briefing paper by a second assistant junior deputy secretary from DFLATE.
In a move that had both Cocky Caldwell spinning in his grave and Eddie Who is Obeyed (as opposed to Eddie Ward who would have found it all quite funny) choking on his muesli, Prince Crispian said:
But right now across the Asia-Pacific region there is a great danger that we will end up with a bowl of spaghetti rather than an integrated set of free trade agreements…
“Mate, you didn’t order spaghetti. It’s $36.70 and we prefer cash,” said the ABC.
It was all getting rather confusing even for Prince Crispian. Let’s face it: it was the Cocky who had said “Two Wongs don’t make a White” and the Prince only had one of them and even though it was a fairly homely sort of thing to say he’d managed to resist asking if anyone had another penny for his thoughts. That reminded him: he took out the sacred scroll on which he recorded important THINGS TO DO and jotted down in the spidery handwriting he had developed for marginal notes on Cabinet Papers:
Who let Garrett back from
Find Oates. Who stuffed up project Shackleton?
His gorge rose as he remembered that only that week Channel 2 (or was it channel one now?) or perhaps they should rename it vingt-et-un (so much to do so little time) had been taking the piss again with a new programme suggesting you could bbq whale meat. Momentarily returning to the real world, the Prince looked up and the ABC was still standing there, hand outstretched. Clearly, there had been a breakdown in communication. Turning to him, Prince Crispian said in Bahasa:
“How, all said and done, could GST derive $36.70 as a figure?”
“Mate, I don’t know what language you’re talking but we’ve always understood the mighty dollar and there’s 36.7 of them owing. You want take-away – we deliver; you don’t want take-away – try the Iguana Club.”
The Cabinet Secretary shuffled uneasily and through red-rimmed eyes counted out the change in his pocket. He didn’t have a 10c piece and he wasn’t prepared to short-pay the ABC who, by now, was getting decidedly toey. He handed over a twenty, a ten a five a dollar coin and four twenty cent pieces.
“Keep the change,” he said
as the ABC dropped the food parcel and stormed out of the chamber using language more appropriate for a mid-north coast eatery.
Just then the member for Robertson walked in, looked blearily both at the Cabinet Secretary and at Prince Crispian, burped, muttered something about taking away the licence, a car, waitpersons and rushed out before the unmistakable sound of retching reached their ears.
Prince Crispian looked distinctly confused and the Cabinet Secretary could feel the onset of a fireside homily. Switching to Russian, he put a comforting arm around Prince Crispian and said:
Slowly the Cabinet Secretary led his now-soothed charge out of the Chamber and towards the waiting Rein. As he removed his glasses and polished them in a fashion which would do someone with obsessive compulsive disorder proud, the Prince reflected on the outstanding success of the recent 2020
Meanwhile, in the Nelson bunker, Brendan, who had never been an ophthalmologist or even near a College, had an altogether different problem: the ratings fell like the gentle rain from heaven, or, as Malcolm, once again endearing himself to everyone in spitting distance, had incisively remarked while stepping on a small kitten’s head,
“like the gentile reign of Kevin.”
He might be a Roman Catholic convert himself but Malcolm was still going to bat for his constituents (no-one had yet been able to get the bat away from him).
And he didn’t know how prophetic his words were to be.