Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Writings of Albert Morris
Article 24 - Vintage Buchan days redolent of intrigue and cryptic warnings

I WONDER whether I am physically and mentally fit enough to live in Tony Blairís brave new Labour Britain. It takes strength of body, depth of character and sharpness of mind, and after what the Queen is alleged to have said to Paul Burrell, Princess Dianaís bastion of a butler, I fear my mental powers are still reeling under the strain of trying to decipher her cryptic observation: "Take care, Paul, there are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge."

How does she know that they exist if she knows nothing about them? Nevertheless, the phrase is redolent of intrigue, national and local, political and non-political, spiritual and temporal, possibly involving faceless, stripe-suited, sharp-lapelled men and women in Parliamentary power corridors, spin-doctors injecting mind-numbing misinformation into the national consciousness, global mandarins of commerce and industry, the new, covert rulers of Britain, meeting secretly in windowless offices in obscure suburbs to increase their stranglehold on our economic jugular vein by regulating prices in burger bars, discos and lap-dancing clubs and a small but powerful group of politically-motivated people seeking to subvert all that Britain holds dear such as the National Lottery, Blind Date, salt and vinegar crisps, warm beer and, in an island stricken with work-excusing afflictions, an ancient but healthy suspicion of foreigners.

The phrase is almost straight from John Buchanís African novel, Prester John, in which equally cryptic words, "The blesbok are changing ground", was tossed like a balloon at a childrenís party and bafflingly indicated an imminent native uprising.

Its true progenitor, however, is the authorís novel, Greenmantle, in which the hero, Richard Hannay, is told: "There is a dry wind blowing through the East and the parched grasses wait the spark. And the wind is blowing towards the Indian border. Whence comes that wind, think you?"

Search me. All I know is that, after hearing Mr Blairís and Bin Ladenís terrorist warnings, I can say, in non-cryptic terms, that Iím in danger of getting the wind-up, and blow me if I donít suspect that the rest of Britain feels the same way.

I might have felt less edgy if I knew the Queen had told Mr Burrell: "I want you to fly to the nearest Black Sea port, mingle with pedlars in South Russia, Afghan horse-dealers, Turcoman traders, sailors in coasters, sheep-skinned Mongols, Hindu fakirs and Greek merchants, and get to the Teahouse of the Tired Turk at the Street of Old Bathrooms in Bokhara. There, you will meet one who will reveal the secret of the dark forces operating behind the smiling visage of Blairís Britain."

Burrell, his butlerial braces buckling and his arches aching after standing for three hours, would have undoubtedly smiled bravely as the Queen went on: "I may be sending you to meet, who knows what, under circumstances about which I cannot even begin to guess; but what do I know?; Iím only the Queen. You are going on a rough road, but it goes straight to the hill-tops. OK? Push off then; Iíve got to take the corgis for a canter."

That would have been a slug of vintage Buchan - the stiff, upper and lower lips, determined eyes, unswerving chin and clipped tones, and thatís the Queen talking to a fearless, upstanding flunkey entrusted on a mission for his monarch.

What have we got? Tony Blair warning us that terrorists could be everywhere, gassing us, blowing us up with "dirty" nuclear bombs, unlike the decent, clean ones the Ruskies might have dropped on us, poisoning our water supplies, and maybe even playing on golf courses and not replacing divots, thus making life in striking, train-service-inefficient, road-traffic-gridlocked, NHS-sagging, war-contemplating Britain even more uncomfortable than now. Like Dadís Armyís Corporal Jones, we are told, "Donít panic".

Help, however, could be at hand. A shop in New Yorkís Manhattan is selling survival equipment for the terrorist times - gas masks, body armour, anti-radiation tablets, as well as parachutes, so useful for leaping from air-liner-damaged skyscrapers. Similar shops will doubtless open in Britain.

Meanwhile, I am not panic-stricken. I am simply going to lock my front door, pile the furniture against it and have a glass of tonic sherry and a charcoal health biscuit. Would Buchanís heroes have done more? If so, donít tell me.

Return to Article Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus