Decamot inspired by the following items: Moorland, Abrams tank, hoofer, clock tower, Stetson, spectator, keyboard, 5th Avenue, satellite, telephone box
An Abrams tank performed impressive manoeuvres on ministry owned moorland backing on to Salisbury Plain, to the immense satisfaction of Field Marshall Sir John Henry Ware whose idea it was to enlist the services of our American cousins. The newly appointed defence secretary, Priti Patel, had likened the cost of a single tank to the jaghire for the Indian district of Andhra Pradesh, which most of the cabinet took to be a metaphor for ‘exorbitant’ but had not wanted to expose their woeful ignorance of revenue raising under the British Raj so had opted to nod sagely instead.
After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues had grown used to incongruous similes designed to appeal to social media junkies. It started when a cartoon hoofer dancing to ‘Heliotrope Bouquet’ by Scott Joplin was used to promote BAME involvement in Morris Dancing featuring a thinly disguised Andrew Lloyd Webber on keyboard. Most of the cabinet would have opted for something from the seminal album ‘Selling England By The Pound’ by Genesis but were over ruled by Dominic Cummings.
Most newspapers chose to ignore these attempts at Contrived Overt Populism (COP) but the Guardian and the Spectator couldn’t resist expansive editorials on the subject; both august publications seeing COP as the natural successor to the 19th century irony of Jane Austen, the 20th century satire of Beyond the Fringe, and 21st century universal cynicism. Each did their best to out- Punch their traditional rival to their rapidly shrinking readerships.
None of this would have been worthy of the merest smudge, let alone a minor footnote, in the history of representative government in Great Britain, had the Queen not received an extraordinary invitation from her opposite number in the US White House, which she duly put in front of the Privy Council as she thought his request was strictly outside that of the executive arm viz the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. It was a personal invite from one Head of State to another Head of State.
Her Majesty had rather enjoyed her role with James Bond during the opening ceremony of London 2012 and thought this special request might offer her a chance to reprise the role. Big Ben might again be regarded as special and not just any old clocktower. She might even persuade Bond to take her undercover. She had always wanted to see Prince Philip in a Stetson. If he were captured in the line of duty, she knew he would hold firm under the most arduous interrogation.
When the invitation finally came before a formal Cabinet meeting, it is fair to say that there was tepid enthusiasm for the project around the table, mixed with incredulity that Her Majesty had taken it seriously in the first place, typified by Michael Gove’s opening attempts at clarification.
“Did I hear correctly?” he asked the Cabinet secretary. “President Trump has invited us to participate in celebrating his re-election for a second term in November when we don’t know the outcome?”
“Yes Michael, you are right in every particular”
“And he wants us to take a giant float as part of a Mardi Gras parade down New York’s 5th Avenue to advertise GB’s unique wares?”
“Yes, that is correct. He has offered us the whole of 5th Avenue for the prime time 3.00 – 3.30 pm slot, which will be covered, apparently exclusively, by Fox News and the BBC”
“And by every Tom Dick or Prince Harry on their mobile phones no doubt” snorted Michael Gove.
“How much is all this going to cost?” asked Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hoping that he would not have to approach his father in law on behalf of HMG, yet again.
“Her Majesty has offered to go halves if we can find a role for herself, the Duke of Edinburgh and James Bond; and she is willing to cover Danny Boyle’s fee to direct the event.”
“How many other countries have been invited to participate in this dubious extravaganza?” Asked Dominic Raab, the Foreign Minister.
“According to GCHQ, 195 members of the United Nations including the Holy See and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”
“And do we know how many nation states have accepted?” Asked Matt Hancock, the newly appointed Home Secretary, keen to impress in his new role.
“According to Donald Trump, 120%”
The arguments in favour of participating, or sending a polite declinature, were passionately advanced by a mixture of royalists and republicans, atheists and believers, which make up the rag tag and bobtail elements of the Privy Council membership which dates back to Anglo Saxon England.
Membership is for life, so some of the more eccentric arguments were dismissed as the incoherent ramblings of original members; for example, one member asked, “What would Ethelred the Unready think, if it all went horribly awry?”
But in the end, Her Majesty had little alternative but to ask her Cabinet to have the final say.
The basic strategy devised by the Cabinet was designed to have a built in fail safe which could be executed at any point during the parade. Taken at face value, Trump’s idea of a modern mobile Great Exhibition to match the original put on by Prince Albert at Crystal Palace in 1851 had considerable appeal. It could showcase British talent ahead of negotiations for a comprehensive free trade deal which were approaching a critical stage with a satisfactory conclusion within sight.
The major drawback was the position of President Trump himself. How could anybody be sure that he would win the race for the White House on Tuesday 3rd November when the parade was scheduled for the afternoon of Wednesday 4th November? If he won, the US public might well look kindly on the Nation States taking part, especially Great Britain. If he lost, there could be a potential backlash with the incoming Democrats seeking revenge.
Danny Boyle’s proposed solution was a stroke of genius, but it did rely on Her Majesty’s skill as the truck driver with Prince Philip in the cab with her as map reader/navigator. After all, he explained, in February 1945, she joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary second subaltern with the service number of 230873. She trained as a driver and mechanic and was promoted to honorary junior commander five months later. What better training could she have had?
A specially extended M1070 Tank Transporter was commissioned from Oshkosh Truck Corporation for the British float. It had enough extra space to feature, at one end, the newly acquired but modified Abrams Tank plus a typical red telephone box at the other; with enough space in between for a full sized football pitch although this middle area was to be used to spotlight all types of typically British inventions, from soccer to Morris Dancing to Brompton Fold up bicycles.
The tank had been modified to make it look like one of those cannons used to propel clowns from one end of the Circus to the other. This contraption looked as if it had enough power to launch a satellite into orbit. Festooned in Union jacks, the GB float was an impressive sight which immediately caught the imagination of the cheering thousands who lined the streets of New York.
Waving majestically with her white gloved regal right hand, Her Majesty steered the float with her free hand into 5th Avenue just before 3.00 pm with an anxious Prince Philip beside her trying to work out why the controls appeared to be on the wrong side of the cab but he wasn’t about to unnerve his Sovereign with any such misgivings, as she was clearly having the time of her life.
Atop the float, attention was focused on the unmistakeable figure of President Trump waving to his adoring supporters from the roof of the telephone box, his orange face positively glowing with pride.
Having satisfied himself that the eyes of the world were upon him, he jumped down from the roof before entering the box itself accompanied by a theatrical explosion of blue smoke. He re-emerged fifteen seconds later dressed as Superman, his cape fluttering in the breeze as if it were designed to complement his swept back yellow hair. The world’s media had never seen anything like it and Trump was milking it for all it was worth.
Whilst all this was going on, and in full sight of the mesmerised crowds watching, the SAS constructed a rope bridge of the sought used in jungle warfare, attaching one end to the cannon now pointing skywards with the other fixed on the roof of the telephone box. President Trump was invited to walk up it in triumph having been assured that he would be the only US President in History to have been launched on a second term by the British themselves, since King George 111 bungled it in 1785.
As he approached the barrel end, the final results of the US election were being counted but it was close. James Bond, crouching in the base of the barrel dressed as a substitute Superman, was in direct touch with Danny Boyle who was inside the telephone box waiting to give Her Majesty one simple instruction in her secret ear piece. GO LEFT or GO RIGHT as this would enable the payload to be directed to one of two floats considered appropriate for Trump’s final destination. If he lost it would be North Korea; if he won he would land on to the float for Ireland. In the unlikely event of a landslide, the target would be the US float vehicle stationed on Wall Street.
As the GB Float approached Trump Tower a decision could have been made – left into E 57th street or right into W 27th street but Danny Boyle decided to allow the vehicle to lumber on towards the Empire State Building when the choice would be left on to E 33rd Street or right on to W 33rd Street. He was hoping that a decisive result might emerge in the next quarter of a mile.
With the crowds boisterously urging President Trump to jump down the barrel of the cannon, word came through of a recount in Florida. Danny Boyle took an executive decision and ordered Trump in his earpiece to jump.
“LEFT your Majesty LEFT” he shouted to the Royal driver. Her navigator consort immediately countermanded having finally worked out why the controls were the opposite to those at home.
The cannon immediately exploded into life as the M1070 tank transporter, decorated as the official Great Britain Float vehicle, veered right, not left, and two Supermen (not one as planned) emerged from the barrel at great speed, followed by huge whaffs of orange smoke; much to the wild delight of whooping, hollering New Yorkers enjoying the precarious predicament of their President who, with the help of James Bond, arrived by parachute 20 minutes later on the official float vehicle of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Life is full of compromises.