A Diplomatic Quandary....
Parliament House, Ekaterinsburg:
Larry Fergusonsson, Special Minister for State, strides into President Rapp's office-
"Oi, KRappy, there's some bloke from the Duchy of Beerstein with a prezzie for ya."
Looking a little drawn after having attended the funerals of two public servants, whom he'd had executed for leaking information to the press, Kelvin Rapp snapped.
" Lawrence, I've told you before not to call me KRappy! You address me as President Rapp!".
"Yer can stick that where the sun don't shine, mate. Quite the little mandarin now, aren't ya?"
"Mandarin? Do you mean the fruit?"
"Don't be a smart alec, KRappy, I mean the Chinese kings or whatever they are. Startin' to fancy yerself as a bit of a monarchy now days, aren't ya?"
"Fergusonsson, don't call me Krappy! And I'm sick of your jokes. 'Duchy of Beer Stein' indeed! Do you think I was washed out of the midden in the last shower?!"
"Don't think you got washed out at all, mate. I think you had to be dragged out, with all the other sh...."
"ENOUGH! What are you going on about?"
"I told youse- there's some cove from the Duchy cons-yulate here with some sort of prezzie for ya. Yer deaf or somethin' "?
"For God's sake..!"
"Got religion too, now? Yeah, yer turning into a right little mandarin, aren't ya? The Caucus, mate, will have something to say.."
"SHUT UP! Just show the bugg... I mean please ask his excellency to come in."
"Just remember, KRappy, the Eastern Marches righties won't always control the nominations, mate. And then yer for the chop. Yeah, yeah, keep yer jocks on, I'll go grab the bludger for you now!"
President Rapp composed himself. The thought that the incriminating evidence being placed in Fergusonsson's home would soon rid him of another dolt lightened his mood considerably. Fergusonsson's brother would object, especially about the execution no doubt. But with a seat in the ministry suddenly vacated, he could be bought off.
"President KRapp, may I present the consul from the Reich Duchy of Beerstein, Leftenent Kern'l Johannes Tooheys?"
"YOU PIECE OF.... My apologies....Who? KEG?!! What are you doing here!"
"G'day, Kel. Mate, me olds were from Beerstein, see, and Dad's uncle sort of set this up for me. 6 quid a month for expenses, a real Duchy seal, enough sealing wax to block an elephant's ears (so's I can post me letters for free, see?) and a pension when I retire, though not as good as the ones youse blokes get. So I'm the consul for the Reich Duchy of Beerstein, mate, when I'm not busy at the Blood and Bucket. One day I hope to be an ambassy-door."
"Ambassador? Very well, so you're not only the publican of the most violent hotel in the city, you're also the consul of Beerstein? How ironically appropriate! Very well, Consul Tooheys, what can I do for your grand nation today?"
"What? Knock it off, Kel! Yer sound like one of them uppitty Pommy blokes at the Hound and Whistle. Here, they sent yer a gong, mate. Dunno why. It's real silver, too. I had Blue up at the assay office file a bit off, to check it."
"You what? (sigh). Thank you, Consul Tooheys. It is my sincerest hope that the award of this most prestigous.."
"Gawd! Knock it off, Kel! I ain't got all day to listen to you rabbitin' on! This job's gone straight to yer 'ead, hasn't it? I'll show meself out, mate".
President Rapp stood looking at the Star of the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Tankard. Why Bluey Singh had decided to file the top point of the star, rather than a piece at the back where it wouldn't show, was beyond him. These cretins! The question now was how to respond?
"Yes, Mr President?" Chen Chiqui, his personal executive assistant (Rapp was proud of that job description- he'd thought of it himself), poked his head around the door.
"Please ask the Vice President, Assistant Minister Assisting the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Ceremonial Observances and the Parliamentary Secretary for Parliamentary Duties to come to my office, please."
2 hours later.....
"...and what's more..."
"Put a sock in it, Kel!" The Assistant Minister Assisting the Minister for External Affairs, Edward (Red Ned) Creene, had had enough of the tirade.
"Who needs gongs any way. Bloody monarchist stuff, gongs are. If the blokes do..."
"Or shielas!" Juliette Buzzard, Vice President and Minister for Women's Business, wasn't going to let that slip.
"Alright, blokes or shielas do something good then we give 'em a bit of land, pat 'em on the back and hope they'll starve before they tell anyone what a useless piece of land it is that we gave 'em. It's one good idea the Conservatives had! Some of 'em have actually turned their places around and made a good go of bein' cockies, too, so we get their taxes. Those that don't usually end up back in uniform, so we don't even starve that many."
"So no, we haven't got gongs and I reckon we don't need 'em! Monarchist s**t, gongs!" Red Ned folded his arms and sat back, glaring at his president.
"The point is, though, that when one receives one of these honours from another nation, one is supposed to reciprocate. Not to reciprocate is considered a grave insult. Worse, with the current unrest in Europe we have excellent opportunites to again rent out the regiments. Such an insult may damage those prospects!" Antonio von Albanees, Minister for Ceremonial Observances, tried to make his comrades understand the ramifications.
"Exactly! We can't ignore this!"
"Well, instead of a gong you could send him the title to that dodgy bit of land that Snowy Kimberley has been trying to flog off. 20 thousand acres isn't much, especially out there, but it's not as if this Duke bloke is going to come and have a look, is it? Besides, if we take it off his hands then Snowy might be a bit more generous with his donations at the next election." Juliette eyed her fellow Cabinet Members hopefully.
"Inappropriate, I'm afraid. It will have to be the star of a Commander of an Order. And we don't have one. An order that is. For diplomatic purposes, and to get the Council of Generals on our side before the next election, I suggest we should establish an Order."
"And I reckon we'll look like flamin' monarchists if we do! Next thing yer know we'll be up to our eyeballs in Dukes and Barons and that lot!"
"Ned, you thought that Coronet Lager should be banned as being Monarchist! And old Tom Coronet didn't give a cent to us after you made the pubs stop buying it by threatening them with new laws, if we won the election. Then there was all the fuss from the Republican Society of Birdwatchers when you renamed that cockatoo!"
"It was a parrot. And you can't have a King Parrot in a republic!"
"And it was sexist! Where were the Queen Parrots?"
"But this is about money! If we don't have customers for the regiments, we'll have to start standing troops down! Do you want a repeat of the '28 Rebellion or the Arakun again? Not to mention the loss of money to fund our election campaign! Without that money, how will we tell the citizens of all the work we've done? Leaflets and posters don't grow on trees!
NO! We need an Order and a Star. Even if we do restrict it to foreign rulers!"
"Enough! We need an Order that represents this great country. Antonio, be so kind as to get the Minister for the Arts to design something suitable. " President Rapp took control of the meeting, before it could degenerate further. He'd have to talk to his "helper" about planting some more evidence, soon.
"Minister for the Arts! Pierre Garrotte! You know, the minstral fellow that we put into Rostov, to get the middle aged, middle class voters to change their vote."
"Oh, him? Are you sure? It's likely to look like a whale rogering a gum tree, if he designs it!"
"Keep an eye on him and make sure it's not too outrageous. Use plenty of diamonds, too. And gold, of course. That will get Billington and Kimberley on side. " The President eyed his recalcitrant ministers.
"All agreed? Good. Let's get moving on this one. The ball's in our court and we can't afford to waste the possibilities of taking advantage of the synergies this could produce!"
"I beg your pardon?"
His ministers had that look again, the one he hated, that said they had doubts about his leadership! Well, they'd soon understand why he was their leader.
"Just do it! And wake up Smith and take him with you!"
As the bewildered ministers left his office, Juliette heard Red Ned mutter to himself
"Fergo was right about this bloke!"