Inside the Commons, with Rhubarbara Dunghill. Parts 11-15.
[It is worth reminiscing, dear reader, about our previous forays into the wacky world of Westminsterian politic that must reside, rent-free (although nonetheless requiring a deposit of six farthings per chuckle, or ‘fpc’, and an additional shiny Match Attax per subsequent snort, Big Six teams only, as is customary on this humble island adjacent to Ireland on which we make our beds, and eat them too) on the leaves of that wizened wisteria we would call ‘la mémoire’. Essentially, as follows:
Our charming narrator is the ex-Whiggish MP for Jeespott (EX?! I hear you question, see Part 11 before rudely interrupting next time if you will.), one Ms Rhubarbara Dunghill. Perfectly legally, we must accentuate, we have been provided (albeit through subterfuge and subterranean tunneling experts sourced from Peru) unprecedented access to this unremarkable character’s private diary. In this, we have been exposed to that grey, Brutalist period of politics that has marked our ‘Mews-Feeds’ and ‘Twittle Pages’ for so long, namely that the Tory PM Louis van Gaal was assassinated in the House of Commons via a stake through the heart, replaced via archaic law by that unknown backbencher and one-time mayor of London-Upon-Thames Horace Johnson. Critics of Mr Johnson suggest that the true mastermind behind the throne is Tony Blair, now reformed as a high-functioning member of the Liberal Democrat Party after the disappearance of previous party leader Vince Capable. As to the veracity of this claim we at the Half-Mast Gazette are unable to comment, except to point out that the one constant in this era of governance is the unwavering accuracy, integrity and calamity of all media sources.
A month ago, the government announced that it would be invading Iraq in order to confiscate and destroy a weapon of mass destruction: ex-Rugby Union grandee Kenny Logan.]
Part 11: Rhubarbara in Baghdad.
Diary, I am sorry not to have written sooner, but as you shall soon find out I have been exceptionally busy. Shortly after Horace Johnson’s ascension I received formal notice that I was being kicked out of the Whig Party, on orders of Jeremy Corbett, due to my association with Tom Watson’s Red Buzzards. Curiously, the letter promised to reinstate me if I converted to the faith of Judaism, which I found strange. Anyway, I was out of a job, only to receive a telegram offering employment from that notable periodical the Half-Mast Gazette. I, being an educated and valued member of society (and by golly, the world at whole!), was of course well-associated with the fantastic journalistic history of the Gazette, and quickly notified the Editors with my acceptance of the Zero Hour Contract they offered.
The Gazette generously appointed me junior war correspondent on the intern pay-scale, undoubtedly impressed by my many years of public service as MP. My salary comes primarily in Nectar Points, the food of the gods! Although I also receive perks such as 10% off in Topshop and Holland & Barrett (not that an ex-public servant would spend her money in that offshoot of the Low Countries!).
Regardless, I was sent on the first ferry to Baghdad to report on the new PM’s invasion. There must have been a clerical error on the part of the shipping company, as the First-Class ticket promised by the Editors failed to materialise and I instead spent the three week journey among the livestock, but I made some friends for life among the hay! Upon arrival in Iraq I was taken to the Brexitish Army Barracks outside Baghdad. The Barracks themselves were a formidable sight, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next!
I looked around me.
Up here, pussycat.
My word, it was Jeremy Corbett! He was stuck legs-akimbo on a high fence surrounding the camp.
What’s the matter, I asked.
Well, this old cat was practising T’ai Chi on one naaaarrow beam, advicamente courtesy of my new guru – Michael Myers. I seem to have found himself in a bit of a cherry. I can’t get down.
I paused for a moment. Why should I? You kicked me out of the Whigs less than a month ago.
You’re still in a parakeet over that? Rhubarbara pop a chillow, coolside up. That was yonks, man. Help your old pal out and pop a ladder, it’s the sabbath so I can’t help myself down, Diane’s in Iran and Vic’s standing before the Hague, you’re all I got.
I felt guilty leaving him there, buzzard circling o’erhead, a feeling that only grew stronger over the evening after I left him there.
Tonight is my first night in Iraq, and I am excited to use my position to report the truth of what’s going on here, not what the establishment want to hear. A few oddities stick out, however. Firstly, that my old secretary at the Commons, John Cornichon, greeted me inside the camp. It seems the Editors reached out to him too, and he continues to work under me.
Second, that the Editors gave me no address to send my reports to, and were strangely insistent that I continue writing any diaries or journals I may divulge in. But what do I know? I’m new to this industry.
Goodnight, diary. More tomorrow.
Part 12: Barracks, O’Bama?
Let me jump straight into this.
It all started late last night, when I couldn’t sleep over the noise of jackals screeching ‘ORDERRRRR!’ in the dusty alleys of Baghdad. I snuck out of my tent, and past the dog-kennel John Cornichon enjoys sleeping in. I entered the mess hall bumped into a tall soldier.
Whoa, easy there. What’re you doing in these barracks? You’re civilian.
I explained about my job with the Half-Mast Gazette.
Incredible, I read that publication every morning, and sleep on a mattress of back-issues. Thank you for your service, the Gazette are the true heroes. I’m Barry.
Rhubarbara, I replied.
The man was handsome, with ‘B. O’Bama’ embroidered on his fatigues. I feel I had seen his face before somewhere, but where? Being in politics brings one into contact with a lot of faces, one can hardly be expected to remember them all.
I really don’t do this, like, ever, but hell, I’m gonna right now. Would you like to see me tomorrow? I can show you around the neighbourhood, it’s not safe by yourself.
I was flattered by the attention of this handsome soldier so immediately agreed to go with him. And go with him I did.
This morning Barry and I ventured out of the barracks. After a short walk we came across a little Iraqi girl, sat on the streets.
Please, Americans. I have nothing.
Her pleas touched the very epicentre of my soul, and after educating her firmly on the differentiation between America, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, The United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, I turned to Barry and asked whether we could do anything to help.
Poor girl, look, her sandals have completely fallen apart.
It’s true, how could she run around this city in shoes like that? Her broken sandals looked to be the same size as my sturdy boots. I started to unlace them and said: Your sandals are beautiful, I would love to have them. Would you like to trade?
The girl nodded.
Beautiful American leatherwork!
I did not correct her this time, and exchanged my shoes for hers.
Better wear those sandals, you don’t want to cut your feet on any broken glass.
It was true, so I bent down t—
AT ONCE, FOUL WITCH OF THE MARSHES!
I spun around, and saw that Barry O’Bama was none other than the ghost of Oliver Cromwell!
Deck yourself merrily in those leather soles, and then accuse me of being a courtesan!
The girl swung a mace at the phantom’s head, knocking it clean off! It was Black Rod!
I do beg your pardon for misleading you, Ms Dunghill. I had received many complaints about a pervert in the barracks, so had to disguise myself. I never intended you to get caught in the crossfire.
Taken aback, I said of course and left.
Mate, you know what made me say ‘of course’ recently? The 2019 Correction Slip 1 UK Public General Act allowing the creation of further provisions in relation to finance via amendment of laws. Does that sound fair to you? Bloody Westminster, I’m off for a wank.
And with that he was gone. It seems you can leave your job and travel across the world, and the shadow of Westminster follows…
Part 13: The Blair Ditch Project
I am writing this, but I do not know why. My position as a war correspondent in Iraq is irrelevant, as within a couple of hours everybody in Brexitain will have heard the news: Tony Blair has been captured by the enemy.
This morning Blair’s aides called an immediate press conference over breakfast. We were told about a truck bringing supplies to our troops in the mountains, and that Tony Blair would be driving it. Shortly after lunch, we discovered that his convoy had been involved in an accident, and that Blair was missing. What seemed an obvious PR move had become a source of great anxiety for the senior commanders, but us journos were excluded from the drama. So I went to my secret surveillance source – Jeremy Corbett.
A quick explanation: while I had neglected to rescue Jeremy from the top of the camp’s perimeter fence, I felt a level of empathy to the man who had fired me and so gave him bread and water each day, in return for information about what he could see in the command tent from his high vantage point. I had taken precautions to ensure that Jeremy didn’t betray me, or cease to be useful. Now, I am reluctant to detail this in full, but my editors have ensured me (through an anonymous note, how did they even know what I was involved in?) that journalists have complete immunity for any crimes committed abroad. In short, I had determined that Jeremy’s T’ai Chi excuse was false, and in fact the leader of the opposition had gotten stuck in a pacifistic attempt to escape conflict. Yes, dear diary, I blackmailed him and he became my pet. And on this day, this is what he told me:
Thanks to Jeremy’s lip-reading skills, I can report exactly what went down on the journey today. In order to stop something exactly like this from occurring, the supplies are transported in a highly-armored convoy of vehicles, of which Blair was supposed to drive the middle – and thus best protected – one. Blair instead pioneered the front vehicle, and refused to drive on the right or left side of the road, instead driving down the unpathed lane divider in the centre of the road, and soon leading the entire convoy into a ditch. In the tumult, some enemy fighters entered the wreckage. When the smoke cleared, Blair was gone.
Part 14: Johnson takes the Wheel!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS EXTRACT HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM THE HALF-MAST GAZETTE’S PRINT ISSUE, AND IS WRITTEN BY GEORGE R.R. MICHAEL]
How uncanny today has been in Westminster. Horace Johnson has made great strides towards ending the conflict in Iraq from his throne-room in Downing Street. He sent a strongly worded letter (inset) to the CEO of Terror demanding the return of Tony Blair, and has managed to organise a meeting to negotiate his safe return. In a stunning speech before the Commons this afternoon, Johnson said ‘Plum.’ This is undoubtedly the first sign of brilliant governance from the PM, who has previously been described as not the sharpest tool in the shed, although likely the biggest.
Part 15: Finale
Due to my experience with subterranean cults [see Part 8 – the Editors] I was chosen, accompanied by John Cornichon, as the sole press correspondent at the meeting to negotiate the release of Tony Blair. The location was deep inside a system of caverns in the mountains, and I must admit I was fearful, sweating through the bechamel layer of sun lotion I smeared over my gaelic tones that morning. Dozens of soldiers – led by Captain Johnny Mercer – prepared to meet the CEO of Terror. Soon, he arrived with his militia. The CEO was tall and pale, likely due to a lengthy spell underground, and sported a long grey beard. Captain Mercer initiated proceedings by insisting on seeing Blair, who was brought in, shackled and hooded, by the very weapon we came here to destroy: Kenny Logan! He must have stood over nine feet tall, and his muscles were the size of huge gobstoppers. Certainly, my stop was gobbed.
The soldiers drew their weapons with panic, Mercer shouted CALM DOWN. It was at this stalemate that negotiations began, tension lingering in the air like a gaseous mosquito. I won’t bore the reader with the specifics of what happened next, but the agreement reached involved two French hens.
[CEO of TERROR]
But that’s not all I want.
The negotiations continued.
So tell me what it is?
[CEO of TERROR]
This. Hit it, Kenny!
Kenny Logan roared with the ferociousness of a thousand Tyneside step-mums, manifesting a spinning ball of light in front of his iron jaw. The light cleared and there, formed out of the soggy air, was Horace Johnson! Kenny Logan roared again and blasted the Prime Minister with his lazer eyes, leaving naught but a lumpy puddle with the appearance of a thousand Tyneside step-dads.
The troops started firing at the beast, but the bullets turned to dust on his huge pecs and Kenny Logan instantly obliterated them with his lazer eyes!
The muggy temperature inside the cave increased with the heat of optic lazers to such a degree that every gun in the room melted, scolding the hands of those carrying them – functionally disabling every soldier in the room! The CEO of Terror saw me hiding behind the rocks, and pointed Kenny Logan in my directions. The lazers shattered my stony hiding place and hit me square on the chin – but the high factor of my sun lotion caused the beams to knock on at a sharp angle, bisecting me good friend John Cornichon and filling me with dread!
Clearly the CEO of Terror did not realise what had happened and, fearful that his superweapon did not work, started to sweat. This sweat dissolved the spirit gum holding his beard to his face, which promptly dropped off and revealed him to be…
Grab her! Blair shouted.
Kenny Logan picked me up with the ease of a crane. The industrial machinery rather than the elegant bird. Blair nodded at Kenny Logan and muttered No survivors. Rip her in two.
By golly I knew he was capable of it, having just seen him teleport the Prime Minister halfway across the world with only the power of a yawn.
I am invincible!
You’re wrong, came the muffled voice of the prisoner I had assumed to be Blair.
I am, the prisoner ripped his shackles off like they were made of paper and punched Kenny Logan through the centre of his chest with such force that his fist burst out the beast’s back. The soldiers looked up with awe at the prisoner, who removed his hood.
And it’s not invincable, it’s Vince Capable.
And it was!
No, no, no! I thought I had defeated you forever when I kidnapped you when it was first mentioned in the preface to the second installment of ‘Inside the Commons, with Rhubarbara Dunghill’ immediately before Part 6: Van Gaal’s New Deal!
I was deeply confused as to why my name was mentioned, but had no time to dwell on this fact as Vince Capable breathed fire onto Blair, ending his insanity.
Before I had a chance to thank him, Vince winked at me and turned into a swarm of flies – dissipating in the air.
I led Captain Mercer and the mercenary fighters under his command out of the caverns, and soon enough we were flying home.
In twenty minutes I shall be landing in London Heathrow, the seatbelt signs have just been activated. What a strange time it has been since I first started writing this diary. Two Prime Ministers have died, and the world was saved from the destruction of Kenny Logan’s mighty lazer eyes and athletic prowess. I have lost some good friends along the way, dearest of all was John Cornichon, who showed ample interest in this diary and where it was kept – although I am certain never violated my trust in reading it.
On that note I must remark that this is the final page of my diary, and although it is odd for a diary only to have 15 pages for entries, I must end my self-reflection thus.
Goodbye dear diary, squaaaawk squaaaawk.
Rhubarbara Dunghill. Tuesday, 27th August 2019.