THE CYCLE STORE ON STELLAR NINE

November 22, 2021

The Cycle Store on Stellar Nine – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the origins of this tawdry tale scroll down to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 9                 DATE: 13th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

THE CYCLE STORE ON STELLAR NINE

Following the unfortunate omelette incident, where a selection of particularly potent hallucinogenic mushrooms were inadvertently incorporated into the Governor’s lunch, he was confined to bed in a semi-conscious state, whilst the toxins slowly worked their way out of his system. During this time, liberated from the usual restraints of a conscious mind, the Governor babbled freely across a whole range of dreams and desires. The Third Recorder duly noted these down in a pocketbook, which he kept in a safe, in his quarters, away from prying eyes. There was one adventure however, that did not appear to offer any significant opportunities for bribery and extortion. This was from a time in his delirium when the Governor believed himself to working in a cycle shop on a distant planet. The Third Recorder jotted down the Governor’s garbled imaginings, then worked them into a coherent composition. He later entered this into a poetry competition held by Lax on Sunday, the local weekend paper for the town of Lax, and won third prize. The poem was subsequently printed in Always Lax, the weekender’s daily companion publication.

It is rumoured that the Governor tried to claim half of the prize money and credit for himself but relented, when impressed by the manner the Third Recorder had so rigorously recorded the Governor’s other garbled meanderings.

The poem as it appeared in Always Lax is as follows:

 

The cycle store on Stellar Nine

 

To the cycle store on Stellar Nine

Come aliens of every kind

The ‘Techs’ have each and every feature

To satisfy the weirdest creature

 

Monopeds are hard to please

Being short of feet and short of knees

A clamp is used to brace their middle

So they can push the monopeddle.

A Sluggeroid when fitted thus

Can move much faster than a bus

 

Biped pedals are made to meet

The needs of very different feet

For Flipper Flops from Fangle Five

Have flipper fins, four metres wide

But Nipper Pins from Thimble Three

Have feet that are too small to see

 

Tripeds live on a world of cheese

There’s Cheddar, Cheshire, Boursin and Bries

They’re bikes are specially designed

To harvest cheese below the rind

They scoop and weigh and wrap for sale

Then teleport to Wensleydale

 

Now Quadropeds are built for speed

They’re bikes are made to match that need

They’re sleek and smooth and make no sound

And have no bits to weigh them down.

No lights to scare off Agravars

No saddle, wheels or handlebars.

 

Pentapeds live for just one day

And learn to ride without delay

Sexes hatch at opposite ends

Of a cycle track with lots of bends

They meet, they kiss, drink beaujolais

Then lay their eggs and fade away

 

Hexapeds pull a carriage behind

And offer a lift to all they find

But while you think ‘how very kind’

A lid drops down, you’re trapped inside.

The floor heats up below your shoe,

And very soon you’re Hexaped Stew.

 

Heptapeds have a mystical hair

That grows up through the mystical air

And at the top a mystical hand

Holds them high above the land

They don’t buy bikes to ride at all

They’re hung as art upon the wall

 

Octopeds live, but only just.

They don’t like change, not even rust.

They sit still with their silent brood

In darkened rooms and wait for food

They chain their bikes up by the stair

So nobody goes anywhere.

 

Nonopeds live in constant fear

One of these days they’ll disappear

And no-one will remember them

And so they ride an old tandem

A friend upon the second seat

In case they vanish in the street

 

Decapeds have an iron jaw

And munch on bikes left at the store

The Tumlins live inside their tum

Up-cycling all the bits that come

They weld and wire till at the back

They drive out in a Cadillac.

 

There’s Twentypeds and Centypeds

And Manypeds and more

There’s needy ones and greedy ones

And speedy ones I’m sure

There’s scary ones and wary ones

And hairy ones galore

And you’ll find them all

At the Stellar Nine Store.

IVORY TOWERS

November 14, 2021

Ivory Towers – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the beginning of these terrible turn of events refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 8                 DATE: 13th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

IVORY TOWERS

Background information relating to the Governor’s Residence

To get to the Governor’s residence on the British Veteran Islands you head north out of Lax, turn right at ‘A Cockatoo’, a well-known house of ill repute, then up the cobbled lane to ‘Gungad Inn’, a dilapidated gentleman’s club at the top of the ridge. The club had long since been abandoned due to a lack of suitable gentlemen, most of whom were down the road at ‘A Cockatoo’. From Gungad Inn you head down the windy rock-strewn track through the only remaining tea plantation on the island to Bushy Bottom, where you will find the Governor’s personal residence. This was the first time it had been used for this purpose. A few weeks before, the previous Governor’s residence was burnt down in mass rioting, when, Veteran Radio accidentally played a version of God Save the Queen, by the Sex Pistols.

The original owner was a concert pianist and named the building ‘Ebony and Ivory Towers.’ However, Mr Baker had the ‘Ebony and’ removed leaving just the ‘Ivory Towers’. The full name brought back unhappy memories of the song playing on the car radio when his relationship with his first, and only true love, came to a tumultuous end. There was a short interlude between pianist retreat and governor’s residence, when a fun-loving hippy commune moved in uninvited, and then mysteriously disappeared a few weeks later. Rumour has it they were supplied extra strong cannabis and woke up in a tent at Glastonbury Festival. The Assembly has always denied any involvement, but a number of Glastonbury tea towels have been noted in the staff kitchenette.

The residence itself is an unusual affair, consisting of four, four storey towers, carved out of white marble embellished with black musical motifs, linked at ground level by social spaces, now used for entertaining foreign dignitaries and the like. Anne, the housekeeper, a quiet, but determined woman of indeterminate age, had a firm control of everything house related, keeping the place spick-and-span.

Following the announcement that the Governor had a highly contagious and deadly disease there was a noticeable reluctance for anyone, especially delivery drivers, to negotiate the rocky road down to Bushy Bottom. As a result, the residence was soon short of groceries, and Anne had to improvise, sometimes with unexpected results. The day after his arrival Anne decided to serve lunch on the terrace. The Third Recorder witnessed events from his study and composed the following:

 

A Day in the life of A M Baker:

 

The eminent AM Baker esquire

Came on down from his ivory tower

to the terrace where his table was set

For a cup of tea and an omelette

 

He sat himself down in a wicker-work chair

And tinkled the bell that was waiting there.

Anne arrived with a melamine tray

A plate, a cup, and brew of the day

 

But, leaves and flowers and potpourri

Appeared to be floating in his tea

He looked forlorn, he had a feeling

This wasn’t his usual cup of Darjeeling

 

‘Not Twinings,’ Anne said, ‘but there’s no space on

any delivery from Fortnum and Mason.

They’re just not willing to break a chassis

For anyone other than Shirley Bassey.

 

I picked those herbs from the trough by the door,

The one planted up by the owner before.’

‘But Anne that bloke used scented candles

And wandered round in open toed sandals

 

He’d a ring through his nose and free range hens

It’s bound to be full of halucinogens.’

As he spoke some cows strolled over

With Spanish guitars playing Bossa nova

 

The leader span round on a roller skate

And licked a mushroom off his plate.

‘Maybe,’ she said, clicking castanets,

‘You should have checked the omelettes.’ 

ARRIVAL

November 07, 2021

Arrival – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the origin of these extraordinary events refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 7       DATE: 12th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

ARRIVAL

The following summary of events, is based on CCTV footage, garnered from security cameras located around the Governor’s residence in the Veteran Islands. Audio was patchy, so a direct transcript was not possible. 17.32 is the time mark coincident with the moment Andrew Baker and The Third Recorder entered the building.

Summary of events on arrival:

As soon as they entered, the Third Recorder ushered Andrew Baker into a side room while he initiated a series of discussions with members of staff.  He needed them on side. Without their allegiance, the crazy charade of a bogus governor, would not be possible. Persuasion was less difficult than you may think. New governors often bring with them loyal and trusted staff from previous engagements to replace the incumbents. Keeping a well-paid job was motivation enough for most. The job security provided by dirt on the incoming governor, was a welcome bonus. We can assume, from the lack of subsequent redundancies, leaks, and mysterious disappearances that this approach was entirely successful.

Next, he called in a ‘favour’ from a local doctor who turned up shortly after with his medical bag. The doctor was taken in to see the governor and immediately declared, he was suffering from a highly contagious disease and must be placed in quarantine for a period of not less than four weeks.

After that, he contacted a disgraced member of the Assembly, who’s disgrace was securely locked away in the Third Recorder’s safe. Dr Reginald Court would be Mr Baker’s teacher in the procedures and protocols of the Assembly.

Finally, he selected a mix of poetry and prose from the well-stocked library and stacked them up on a side table in the side room. Then he addressed his employer.

‘Governor, this is your initial reading list. We have no more than a few days to turn you into a master storyteller, and little more to turn you into a man of sophisticated taste and learning, so I suggest you make an immediate start. I have drafted a daily schedule for the next four weeks. Please be up at 6.00am sharp. This is your timetable for the day.' A piece of paper was passed to the governor, which he perused with some concern.

We believe the timetable below is that referred to in the conversation above. It was discovered, in the governor's ensuite, between page 59 and 83 of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. As all the pages between 59 and 83 had been torn out, we believe Mr Baker was not too enamoured with the text. The pages were not discovered anywhere within the room. 

6.00 am           Wake
Time to rise for exercise.

6.30 am           Dress
Be governly, not slovenly.

7.00 am           Breakfast        
Please don’t alarm us by wearing pyjamas.

7.30 am           Poetry             

You are a poet, you just don’t know it… yet.

8.00 am           Letters

Replying to post, is what you do most.

9.00 am           Classics

You’re thick as a brick, if you don’t read Dick… ens

10.00 am Assembly Rules

Protocols and procedures; I know it's boring, but please stop snoring.

11.00 am Elevenses

Tea and a bun, yummy, yum, yum.

11.30 am Writing with feeling

Lust, love, anger and rage, please include on every page

12.30 am Stair Exercise

Half-way up the stairs is the stair where you squat.

There isn’t any other stair on which to rest your bot.

1.00 pm           Lunch 

Don’t be a dork, use the right fork.

2.00 pm           Public Speaking

Be loud, stand proud, ignore the crowd.

3.00 pm           Writing

Don’t try for clever, we’ll be here forever.

4.00 pm           Keep Writing

Each best-seller written, has a lady who's smitten.

5.00 pm           More Writing

Steamy and hot, will sell a lot.

6.00 pm           Even More Writing

Blood and gore, sell even more.

7.00 pm           Dinner

Don’t be a goon, use the right spoon

8.00 pm           History

You just can’t ignore, what went on before

9.00 pm           Yet More Writing

Always passionate, never ration it

10.00 pm         Literary hour

Books that thrill, by Charles and Will.

11.00 pm         Bath

It's time to unwind, from the daily grind

12.00 pm         Bed

Choose to snooze.

 

'Oh come on! Not every hour of every day. This isn’t "My Fair Lady."'

'You’re so right. Professor Henry Higgins had considerably more to work with and far less to achieve. Be grateful I have allowed a short spell for sleeping. See you tomorrow.'

Airport and Environs

October 31, 2021

Airport and Environs – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the start of this sorry state of affairs refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 6                 DATE: 12th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

AIRPORT AND ENVIRONS

 

There are no records of Andrew Baker and the Third Recorder landing on the Veteran Islands, or their subsequent journey to the prospective Governor’s official residence. We therefore include an excerpt from the ‘Visitors Guide to the Veteran Islands,’ by Hugo Weston-Smythe, a descendant of the island’s first governor, which describes the area around the airport.

The guide starts with the sentence, ‘Visitors are welcome to the Veteran Islands but tourists are not.’ This reflects the somewhat insular nature of the islands and it’s people. Half are largely made up of retired diplomats who are thoroughly sick of smiling and glad handing everyone they meet. The other half are the descendants of the original inhabitants, a wise and hardy race that had suffered one invasion, and did not wish to suffer another. The following excerpt is from chapter three ‘Airport and Environs:’

The airport on the Veteran Islands is an unusual affair, being located on an atoll a short distance from the main island. Constructed as a military base in the second world war, the airport has changed little in the intervening years and maintains a certain rudimentary charm. A strip of palm trees has been ripped from  the centre of the atoll and replaced with a ribbon of tarmac, with two small hangars off to one side, one for privately owned light aircraft, and the other, a repair workshop for the only airline with a base on the island. There are no travelators, escalators, stairs, lifts, shopping concourse or duty free. Planes land, a set of steps is wheeled up to the exit door, and the passengers descend. From here they walk to a kiosk by the gate where Reginald, the customs officer reviews their documents, and demeanour. In the meantime, baggage is removed from the hold, chucked onto a trolley and wheeled to the gate, where it is reunited with its owner. Those lucky enough to pass through the gate can spend some time at ‘Wings’ café, sheltering under the canopy constructed entirely from the recycled wings of aircraft that had not anticipated the short length of the runway. Here they will be surprised by just how reasonable the prices are, or they will be fleeced alive, depending on the whim of the owner.

Until recently the journey to the main island of Pootle, would have been via a pontoon and ferry; a journey that enabled suitable adjustment from the frenetic outside-world to the gentle pace of island life. Unfortunately, in recent years, a causeway has been built linking the airport, via a number of smaller islands to Pootle. However, a 10 mph speed limit ensures some adjustment is still possible. Indeed, if taxi drivers feel their passengers are a little too excitable or energetic, they will often do a series of loops around the minor islands to ensure they are suitably calm when they finally arrive. This is entirely for the benefit of the visitors, and residents, but it doesn’t do the taxi driver any harm either. It took one visitor, an American rap artiste, so long to get to Pootle, the taxi driver had to turn round immediately in order for him to catch his allotted flight back.

The first of the minor islands on the way from the airport, Fritter, is also the largest. Much of the island is taken up with the main residence and servant’s quarters of the Veteran Islands most famous resident, Ritchard Branston, owner of the world famous ‘Veteran’ brand and the well-known condiment, ‘Ritchard Pickle.’ Mr Branston’s exuberant personality and crazy antics have made a big impression. Beautiful beaches, rocky outcrops, palm trees and glorious white sands, can be found elsewhere, so why-oh-why did he have to choose the British Veteran Islands.

Next are a string of small islands, Amble, Loiter, Mope, and Tarry, occupied by the respectable residences of old money. Three-piece suit, trilby hat, cravat, walking cane and a pair of Church’s Burwood Oxford brogues, are required, just to be the postman. Sneakers, jeans and tee shirts are not illegal, yet, but those wearing baseball caps round the wrong way may be shot on sight.

The final stretch of causeway from Tarry to Pootle, is long and narrow, and in bad weather, the crashing waves, dancing spray and torrential rain, can make the drive feel like a ride on the log flume at Alton Towers. But, in good weather, the drive across to the mainland, heading straight toward the capital ‘Lax’ is magnificent. The sun dances across the ribbed terracotta tiles to land with heavy feet on the painted pastel facades as they cascade down to the harbour. Here the white sales and silver masts glint and sparkle as they sway in the gentle breeze. This is the place I call home.

WOMEN

October 25, 2021

Women– by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved.

For the origins of this embarrassing affair, refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 5                 DATE: 12th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

WOMEN

 

In the final stretch of the flight to the Veteran Islands, the Third Recorder was busy perusing the F.U. magazine. It was actually called ‘Diplomacy Today,’ Published by Fothering and Unstall, who’s initials were displayed in large capital letters, top right of the cover page. As a result, in somewhat Ironic fashion it had become known as F.U.

By his side, Andrew Baker was growing more and more nervous. He had neither the qualifications or natural talents required for Governor of the Veteran Islands. However, with some contrivance on his part, this was the role bestowed upon him. Amongst other things, he was supposed to be an English graduate from Cambridge University, whereas, he had only a handful of CSEs one O’level, and grade 4 clarinet to his name. As the plane neared its destination Andrew Baker wondered whether he could live the lie. His dutiful assistant, The Third Recorder, was thinking exactly the same thing. He decided to make it his duty, to ensure Mr Baker did not indulge in any activities that might compromise the charade.

The following conversation was accidently picked up on a Dictaphone issued to Mr Baker, who, after pushing random buttons in a vain attempt to get it to work, had left it on the arm rest between him and his co-conspirator, on record. It was handed in to the Foreign Office on the plane's return to London, by one of the cabin crew. The transcript is as follows:

‘So what is my greatest threat? How could my secret be discovered?’

‘Women. Women can wheedle anything out of you.’

‘Women? But, I have been singularly unsuccessful with the opposite sex all my life. I can’t see that changing anytime soon.’

‘Aah, but now, you are the Governor.’

‘And?’

‘And… that makes you irresistible to women.’

‘Irresistible?’

Yes, irresistible.’

‘You mean, they might want to go out with me?’

‘That and much more.’

‘Much more?’

‘Much… much… much more. Far too much in fact. You won’t be able to maintain your cover in those circumstances.’

‘Can’t we just run with it for a few weeks, test it out, and if things are looking dodgy, rein it in a bit?’

‘Depends. How good is your Latin and Greek?’

‘Rusty.’

‘Rusty?’

‘OK, non-existent. What’s that got to do with it.’

‘It’s important! Particularly in moments of… passion.’

‘Moments of passion?’

‘Yes. They, the err, ladies, at the appropriate moment, will expect you to exclaim…’

‘yes?’

 ‘No, not yes!, which is a common exclamation I admit.’

‘So what, exactly, will they expect me to exclaim?’

‘Anything.’

‘Well that’s alright then.’

‘Provided it is in Latin or Greek.’

‘Latin or Greek? At the finale. Is that what Cambridge graduates do?’

’I have to admit, it is a strange compulsion, but I have it on good authority, that this is indeed the case.’

‘Couldn’t you teach me a few words.’

‘I’m sorry, but it’s far too complicated. They’ll also expect you to rattle off a few phrases. It’s just not possible.’

‘Seems a bit odd.’

Just be glad you’re not an Oxford Graduate.’

‘Why?’

‘They recite elements from the periodic table.’

‘Is that a timetable or something.’

‘It is a tabular display of the chemical elements arranged by atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties.’

‘Like hydrogen?’

‘Yes, like hydrogen.’

‘Well, I can just shout hydrogen then. Job done.’

‘Hydrogen is more of a beginner’s element, you really need to be closer to oganesson.’

‘I can learn a few elements.’

‘Aah yes, but then, in the aftermath, they… the ladies… would expect you to describe the properties of the element, in a suave, sophisticated, and err… knowing, manner.’

‘Sounds easier than Latin or Greek.’

‘Indeed it may be, but unfortunately, you are, in theory, a Cambridge Graduate.’

‘If I am indeed, irresistible to women, and their presence is a threat, how can I avoid their advances?’

‘That is a good question. Fortunately, there is an article in the F.U. magazine on this very topic. I was reading it just now. Aah, here we are. It’s a table with governor personality types shown in blue, and the women that find them irresistible in red below. We need to find a personality type, that you can adopt, that is not listed here.’

‘But the only personality type not listed is psychopath, and I’m not sure I can pull that off.’

‘In that case we’ll have to resort to option 2.’

‘Option 2, what’s that?’

‘Bad breath and flatulence.’

For ease of reference, the aforementioned article is included below. It should be noted at this point, that the magazine ‘Diplomacy Today’ is aimed entirely at male diplomats. It’s sister publication, ‘Diplomacy Tomorrow’, is for their female counterparts.

Diplomacy and Disgrace

Weak willed and vulnerable to female advances? Unable to say no? Keen to avoid a career destroying scandalous affair? Spot the danger on the horizon and sidestep the women that find you attractive.

 

Know yourself – Diplomats and their traits

Know the enemy – Women who find those traits irresistible

 

Personality type 1: ‘The Child’

Traits: young, vulnerable, wide eyed and insecure.

Tell-tale signs: Trousers too short, soft souled shoes, puppy dog eyes.

Attracts: ‘The Mother’

Traits: nurturing and protective. Jealously guard their ‘project.’ Appears caring, but really, cunning and manipulative.

Tell-tale signs: Hair like the queen, pearls, Prince of Wales tweed skirts and cashmere sweaters (never trousers). Slingback shoes with heels of medium height

 

Personality type 2: ‘Father Figure.’

Traits: Confident and caring.

Tell-tale signs: Greying temples, frown lines, cardigans and a pipe.

Attracts: ‘Ingenue.’

Traits: appears playful and naïve, but really, cunning and manipulative.

Tell-tale signs: plain white collared shirt with enough buttons undone to reveal glimpse of white brassiere. Tight fitting plain trousers and simple flat sole sandals.

 

Personality type 3: The ‘Academic.’

Traits: Intellectual and introvert.

Tell-tale signs: knitted ties, tweed jackets with patches, grey woollen trousers with turn-ups and brown brogues. Metal rimmed spectacles.

Attracts: The ‘Sophisticate.’

Traits: appears terribly interested, laughs at whimsical comments, seems to get you, but really, cunning and manipulative.

Tell-tale signs: Slightly unkempt hair, plain dress, slightly old fashioned, often seen with a book of poetry.

 

Personality type 4: ‘Adventurer.’

Traits: outgoing, driven, confident.

Tell-tale signs: wild unruly hair, deep tan, leather jackets, jeans, weather beaten leather hat.

Attracts: ‘The Bohemian.’

Traits: appears independent and spirited, with a sexy, devil-may-care attitude, but really, cunning and manipulative.

Tell-tale signs: carefully tousled hair, wide brimmed hat, lace up blouse, jeans with big leather belt and knee-high boots.

 

Personality type 5: ‘Spiritual Leader.’

Traits: calm, collected empathetic.

Tell-tale signs: black or white suits, plain shirt with no collar, no tie, espadrilles, far-away look, tendency to nod gently when talking to someone.

Attracts: ‘Mystic.’

Traits: appears sultry and serene, but really, cunning and manipulative.

Tell-tale signs: straight shoulder length hair, simple and subtle make up, long flowing dress with long sleeves and floral pattern. Necklace with simple slender gold chain and large pendant with crystal.

 

Personality type 6: ‘Macho Man.’

Traits: brash, arrogant, extrovert and tactile.

Tell-tale signs: fake tan, medallion, open patterned shirt with wide collar, side burns, moustache, thick wavy hair.

Attracts: ‘Siren.’

Traits: appears cunning and manipulative, but knows Macho Man is too stupid to read the signs, no matter how obvious.

Tell-tale signs: plunging necklines, curly shoulder length hair, big eyelashes, deep red lips, stilettos, pendant necklace with pendant nestled within an ample bosom.

 

Too busy? Employ a ‘spotter’ to steer you away from danger; refer to our recruitment section. For the ultimate deterrent, try our ‘Cabbage Soup’ and ‘Garlic Lozenges.’

BUT NOT

October 16, 2021

But Not – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the start of this sad state of affairs refer to Case Note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 4               DATE: 12th JUNE 1990   

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

BUT NOT

 

‘So what are the qualities needed to be a Governor?’ Andrew Baker asked the Third Recorder, on the plane to the Veteran Isles. He was due to take up the post and needed a few pointers. ‘It’s not the qualities, it’s the ‘but nots’ that make the difference’, the Third  Recorder replied. ‘‘But nots’?’ Andrew Baker said with curiosity. The Third Recorder explained, ‘It’s like this, there are lots of good strong qualities out there, but they all need to be softened by a ‘but not’ to be entirely appropriate for a life in diplomacy.’  ‘A but not?’ Andrew Baker queried again. It was clear to the Third Recorder examples were required. ‘You give me a quality, and I will give you the but not,’ he said.

‘OK,’ Andrew Baker replied, and started a list:

Andrew Baker proposal               Third Recorder's response

Confident   but not   arrogant

 Cautious   but not   cowardly

Collaborative   but not   dependent   

       Calm but not catatonic.

 

'Do you only do Cs?' - 'Okay! How about:

Independent but not aloof        

Generous but not a dupe 

Ambitious but not ruthless

                   Imaginative but not away with the faeries

 

    Logical but not a Vulcan

'Vulcan is not a quality' - 'Why not? You know exactly what I mean.' - 'Alright then, what about:'

     Knowing but not a know all

Leader but not a bully

    Loyal but not a sheep

 

Focused but not blinkered

Disciplined but not inflexible    

Dignified but not pompous

'Debatearal... oh sorry, er... perhaps:'

Likes to debate but not argumentative

 

   Happy but not histerical

Resilient but not a rock    

Tolerant but not lenient 

     Patient but not indulgent 

 

'Hmm Perhaps we should try:'

Doesn't swear but not a prig           

Doesn't drink but not a grinch     

Doesn't tell but not a liar       

Doesn't smoke - unless on fire

'That is not a "but not"' - 'Okay! Do it again'

Doesn't smoke but not insensitive to

the needs and desires of others no matter how flawed

'Clever, very clever. What about:'

                      Social but not a slave to the media

'That's not a proper answer.' - 'Okay, but don't you mean sociable?'

Okay! Sociable but not a gadabout      

     Humble but not unaware of

the marketing potential of a good news story

'Aha! Alright then, what is the 'but not' for:'

           Wise but not a smart arse

'That's not an answer!' - 'okay you got me. Wise is wise. You can't be too wise or overly wise.' 

‘That must be the best list of ingredients for the perfect human being, ever.’ - ‘I’m not sure Rudyard Kipling would agree.’ -  ‘Who’s Rudyard Kipling?’ - ‘You don’t know who Rudyard Kipling is?’ - ‘Does he make exceedingly good cakes?’ - ‘We’ve got a long way to go if we are to pass you off as a Cambridge English graduate.’

‘Have all the other Governors been ‘but nots?’ - ‘Oh no, most have been butt heads.’ - ‘Why do I have to be a ‘but not’ then?’ - ‘They’d been to Eton and Cambridge, they could afford to be butt heads. Your only chance is to be a ‘but not’.'

 

 

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

October 10, 2021

Honesty is the Best Policy– by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the beginning of this sorry saga please refer to case note 1

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 3                 DATE: 12th JUNE 1990     

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

 

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

 

Due to the short space of time between interview and flight, it was the Third Recorder who handed the employment contract to Andrew Baker for signature. As all questions and answers have to be formally recorded in such circumstances, he resorted to a Dictaphone in his blazer pocket, to make sure everything was fully covered. The following is a direct transcript of that recording. For clarity The Third Recorder’s comments are in Blue and Andrew Baker’s are in Black

 

This is your contract.

Thanks

It’s all fairly straightforward.

Oh, OK.

If you wouldn’t mind signing… there, on the back page… and the date just there? Good. And this copy for me. Thank you. You might want to read that some time.

Err, how much does the Governor of the Veteran Isles earn?

£50,000.00, give or take a few pence.

£50,000.00! That… that’s… a lot of money.

£50,000.00, plus the residence, car, boat, and clothes.

Clothes?

Clothes. Five ordinary suits, two dinner suits, lounge suit, shirts, ties, bow ties, shoes, and peripherals.

Peripherals?

Hats, handkerchiefs, suspenders, cummerbund, ties, scarves, umbrellas etc, etc etc.

I guess you have to do quite a lot for £50,000.00, plus residence, car, boat, clothes and peripherals.

There’s plenty to do.

And is the plenty to do… difficult to do?

I would say so. But, you have all the relevant qualifications and experience, so you’ll be fine.

Which of those qualifications and experience do you think are particularly relevant.

I’d say the Cambridge degree, business experience, time in the civil service and of course, leading that team up Kilimanjaro. That should have prepared you adequately.

Err, yes, it would I suppose.

Yes, it would.

There is maybe just one tiny little thing that perhaps I should mention.

Yes?

A bit of a confession.

And?

The CV in the interview, did not exactly match my qualifications and experience.

Not exactly? Are you saying your CV was inaccurate?

No, no, no! My CV was entirely accurate. It’s just that the CV referred to in the Interview, was not necessarily my CV.

Really?

Err, yes… really.

Do you think it may be a bit late to tell me this, half way across the Pacific, on the way to take up your post.

Err, maybe. Is that a very bad thing to do?

Let me see, falsifying qualifications, accepting a government post under false pretences, reading security briefings without proper clearance. I would say that is pretty bad.’

I didn’t read anything.

Your contract is a secret document. It can only be read by those with suitable security clearance.

But I had to read it to sign it. In fact, I didn’t read it, I just signed it.

Irrelevant I’m afraid, I will have to inform the authorities.

Couldn’t I just go back on the next plane?

I doubt it. You see, all planes leaving the island have been cancelled.

Since when?

Today. Now.

Why?

The Veteran Isles are being invaded.

Couldn’t you have told me that before I got on the plane?

It wasn’t officially known at the time. So there probably won’t be a British Veteran Isles to govern when you arrive.

You mean, I’ll have to hang around for a few weeks until it all gets sorted.

I wouldn’t think so.

But you said there were no planes leaving.

Quite! But, you don’t think an invading army will allow a Governor to leave do you?

I don’t know.

You’re more likely to be shot. Firing squad.

Shot! Shot!?

Do you mind keeping your voice down. Not everybody knows the situation. We don’t want to spread panic. Not on a plane.

Surely being shot is worth panicking about. Shouldn’t they know? Shouldn’t we turn the plane around?

I’m sure they’re all OK. It’s probably just you… in danger.

But I don’t want to die

You should have thought about that before accepting the post.

Did they know about the invasion at the interview?

It’s a possibility.

Did they know about the CVs

It’s a possibility.

Did you know?

Maybe?

What do you mean maybe?

I saw Jasper Eghart messing with the CVs a couple of days ago. My guess is the other candidate, Peregrine Winterbottom got wind of circumstances, and used his connections to get Jasper to… mix things up a bit.

You mean I am being sent to my death to save some knob from Eton.

Yes.

 

Third Recorder Sir

Can I help you madam.

We’ve had a message. Would you mind calling the Chief of Police on the Veteran Islands?

No problem. Where… ?

We have a phone in the cabin. If you would just follow me.

Certainly. I’ll be back in a moment.

 

It seems you have brought some good luck with you.

It doesn’t feel like it at the moment.

Well, the invasion is off.

It’s off?

Earth tremor off the coast of Oikland caused a tidal wave and sank all the boats. All the invading boats.

No more invasion?

No more invasion.

What about the Veteran Isles? Did the wave get them?

Hardly touched them. Just grazed the northern shores. Remarkable really.

So I’m not going to be shot?

Not this week.

I’m safe?

Until the authorities catch up with you.

Can’t you do something about that?

I’m really not sure.

There must be something.

Let me have a think... hmmm there is one possibility.

One possibility? What possibility?

There is a back scratching option.

Pardon

A ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ option.

Oh! And how exactly do I scratch your back?

The last action the departing governor instigated before scurrying off was to do away with Third recorders, keeping just the First and Second Recorder.

So why are you here?

The First and Second recorders vanished, with the departing governor, before the Deputy First and Second Recorders could be sworn in, leaving only me to fulfil official duties.

So, you want me to make you First Recorder?

No, no, no. You can’t make me First Recorder, that wouldn’t work at all. The Deputy First Recorder automatically takes over the role, once sworn in.

And the same for the Second Recorder?

Exactly

So how…?

You have to abolish the posts of First and Second Recorder and reinstate the post of Third Recorder.

Won’t people think that a little strange?

No, not at all. This is a quaint group of little islands rooted in Britain’s imperial past. People will think it just a typically quirky British tradition to have a Third Recorder, and no First or Second.

What about the deputies? Won’t they be suspicious?

Of course.

So how…?

In line with my duties, I keep a comprehensive record of the comings and goings of the Deputy Recorders and I happen to know, they will be more than happy to take up other professions.

I see. But what about my qualifications?

Everything apart from the Cambridge degree is easy to gloss over. The problem with an English degree is that visitors are likely to ask all sorts of questions; what are your favourite books, favourite plays, poems and so on and so forth? Are you an avid reader?

I’ve read the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Hobbit. Will that do?

I doubt it. Any books of poetry?

I’m fond of nursery rhymes.

Not really what I’m looking for.

What can we do?

We’ll have to discourage dignitaries coming to the island initially. I’ll introduce you to some literature, and we’ll have to work on getting you an honorary degree from Cambridge.

An honorary degree? How the hell am I going to get that?

You just need to write a suitable novel. It either has to be so high brow that nobody reads it, or so low brow that everybody reads it. It’s called the Cooper conundrum. Everyone has read Jilly Cooper. She will, therefore, receive an honorary degree from somewhere, much to the smug satisfaction of her ardent admirers. That will provide the honorary degree of the university in question with a certain public legitimacy. However, it diminishes the academic elitist nature of the degree at the same time. Therefore, the university in question will have to balance Jilly Cooper with a series of completely unheard of and totally unreadable authors.

Are you telling me I have to write a high brow elitist novel to get a degree.

That was my first thought. However, in this instance, with your background, we might have to stick with the low brow popular novel approach.

You want me to write a best-seller

Not just ‘a best-seller,’ but ‘the best-seller’.

The best seller?

It is a Cambridge degree we’re after. It’s got to sell, and it’s got to sell well.

 

ON THE WAY TO THE PIZZERIA

September 29, 2021

On the way to the Pizzeria – by Andrew Batty - Copyright 2021: All rights reserved

For the start of this sorry state of affairs, refer to Case Note 1

 

FOREIGN OFFICE INVESTIGATION

THE VETERAN ISLANDS

CASE NOTE: 2                 DATE: 12th JUNE 1990

SUBJECT: ANDREW BAKER

ON THE WAY TO THE PIZZERIA

 

The Third Recorder accompanied Andrew Baker on the flight to take up his post as Governor of the British Veteran Isles. He was there to explain the customs and culture of the Isles and record any pearls of wisdom from the Governor himself. In the plane Andrew Baker recalled an unfortunate incident on the way to a restaurant at the airport. He had planned a romantic meal with his girlfriend Sonia, who drove them there. Sonia combined a certain nervousness at the wheel with an explosive temper; not necessarily the best qualities for a driver. Her cautious navigation of the multi-story carpark was met with frustration and impatience by the driver behind, who sought to let her know. Somewhat agitated, the unfortunate Sonia crashed into a concrete column. In a fit of rage she charged over to the other driver and made her feelings known. In the meantime, Andrew Baker, anticipating the turn of events jumped onto the bonnet of their Ford Fiesta and put his hand over the CCTV camera. He managed to conceal the visual representation of events, but unfortunately the screams reached the ears of a young police officer on level four, who rushed to provide assistance.

The Third Recorder, feeling it was his duty to ensure the Governor’s first few days were comprehensively covered, penned the following record, in his imitable style.

 

ON THE WAY TO THE PIZZERIA

 

Madam

The severity of your crime appals,

You went and kicked him in the balls,

What tease, what taunt, what terrible troll,

Could make you lose your self-control.

 

Weeell, it’s like this officer:

 

I drove my little car

To the pizzeriah

And had to park it in

This multi storey thing

When a big fat SUV

Came up close to me

 

Now

 

I wasn’t driving fast

It’s not long since I passed

But he didn’t like it slow

And sought to let me know

With a gesture of his hand

That I did not understand

 

So he

 

Flashed his lights with scorn

And blasted on his horn

Then begged for me to move

With words that are quite rude

And nudged my little car

With his big fat bumper bar

 

So I

 

Descended into panic

And drove a little manic

When I took the turn too fast

And inevitably crashed

But as steel began to buckle

I heard that driver chuckle

 

Now

 

My nature is quite mild

But I was feeling riled

So I pulled him from his seat

And pinned him to the jeep

And the rest is just a blur

But I think it happened thur.

 

What Madam. What happened thur?

 

Weeell Officer

 

I think he groans and crawls

Cos I kicked him in the balls.

 

Hmm. Madam…

 

This is, without doubt, the most heinous crime

And by all accounts you should do time,

But there is no witness that I know

So why not have another go.