Saturday 1 February 2014

Council of Despair - Man Flu

BONG! The last of the sonorous chimes of the Louis Quinze ormolu time piece rang out across the Chief's bedroom. Midnight. In less than a minute those reports written by Mr Ferret, that interfering little beancounter, would be published and the press feeding frenzy would begin.

The Chief sat up in his monogrammed silk pyjamas and looked across the room. Sleep was impossible. 

There was the life sized photographic portrait of Meryl, wrapped in her best chihuahua furs, staring sternly ahead as she confronted a mob of unwashed protesters outside some doomed village school. Over there was a framed letter from Buckingham Palace. He read the familiar words.

"It is with great pleasure that We bestow on our humble and loyal servant [insert name] the High Office and Distinction of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to Local Government and keeping those uppity Taffs under control. ER (Queen)."

His reveries were interrupted by the familiar cough of Smithers, the butler.

"I thought you might like a midnight snack, Sir. Special Edition Duchy Originals and a cup of Camilla's Myddfai gorse infusion. It says on the packet that it will fortify you for the challenges which lie ahead and soothe a troubled brow."

"Ah, Smithers, and very reasonable at £3.50 per serving too. I suppose you have some messages for me?"

"Indeed, Sir. Ms Klebb from the Press Office is growing increasingly desperate. The journalists are demanding a statement, and she has now phoned 23 times to ask for guidance."

"Tell her to say, 'We shall give the matter careful consideration at our forthcoming meeting in June. In the meantime there is no further comment'. That should shut them up for a few hours."

"Very good, Sir. I have told the, ahem, "Leader" and the others to call back after lunch tomorrow when you have rested."

The Chief slept fitfully. His dreams were filled with lurid images of rodents and slippery things wearing press badges. There were some familiar faces peering out at him from behind the whiskers and forked tongues. The reptiles from the BBC up the road, little Lewis from the Guardian, that Shipton character and Garry Owen, a born troublemaker if ever there was. Then there were the bloggers, hammering away at their keyboards, and cheering them all on were the ranks of opposition councillors: Whippersnapper Pryce, that bolshy little reverend, the awful woman with the red hair, and a wild, druidic figure in a pink pullover shouting in Welsh from a mountain top.

His troubled slumbers were at length disturbed by another cough. It was Smithers.

"Good afternoon, Sir. It is one minute past twelve, and I have brought you some lunch".

The Chief was momentarily perplexed. One minute past twelve? Was this some sort of waking nightmare, a groundhog day?

His mind was settled by the murky light of another rainswept Welsh afternoon outside. Had he really slept that long? The royal gorse infusion certainly had something to recommend it, despite the foul taste.

Smithers coughed again.

"It's Loughor cockles, Sir."

"Good God, Smithers, are you trying to kill me? I'll just have a piece of toast. And what about the vegetables?"

"I have summoned the Executive Board to a briefing in the Servants Hall for 4 o'clock sharp", Smithers replied before adding, "Mr Mudge is on the telephone and says it is very urgent. May I put him through, Sir?"

"Very well, Smithers", said the Chief as he took his first sip of Myddfai dockleaf and organic sawdust tea.

Moments later the excited voice of Mr Mudge could be heard at the other end of the line.

"Sir, I have drafted an urgent press release which I would like to run past you."

The Chief sighed. "Get on with it, man."

Mudge cleared his throat and began to read haltingly.

"This authority totally rejects the findings of these people from the Cardiff Bubble. They are ostriches in the sand, running around like headless chickens while we make the 'ard decisions as a dream team. At the end of the day and to be totally honest, it comes down to jobs, jobs, jobs. I would like to thank..."

The Chief's patience snapped. "Jobs! It's about MY job, you fool. Now get off the line while I put together a message to the world with Ms Klebb".

After a most productive afternoon, the Chief donned his grey trenchcoat and went down to the Servants Hall. There they all were, lined up and ready to hear his message. Meryl in a stunning dalmatian and otter pelt matinée jacket, the dog woman in her brown trouser suit, the dishevelled figure of Mudge, and the posh woman who could read books. Plus others whose names he could not quite remember.

"It is so good to see that you are making a recovery. Honi soit qui mal y pense, if I may say so, Sir", purred Ms Tremble.

"The fight back begins here!" replied the Chief, wondering what Ms Tremble's last comment actually meant. "I have for you a statement which is for immediate release and publication in the People's Journal and Star."

He paused and began to read Ms Klebb's words.

"It is in acknowledgement of the supreme sacrifice and personal devotion of our beloved Chief to his thankless duties in running this ungrateful backwater that the Authority has undertaken the measures it has, fully in the knowledge that Mr Quentin Monie-Baggs QC had concurred that what we were doing was quite possibly on the right side of the law, and that with a fair wind and the right judge, we might just get away with it.

In doing what is only his job, the Chief has been pilloried and criticised. He has not asked for much, and that is why, based on the expert advice of Wonga-wonga Finance (Guernsey) Ltd., the authority agreed to pay him a paltry pension in advance of his retirement so that he might enjoy a living wage.

As a caring employer, we did what was only right and proper.

It is for these reasons that we have no option but to instruct our solicitors to begin immediate proceedings against this unwarranted and despicable interference in our affairs. We shall fight them on the beaches, and quite possibly all the way to the Supreme Court."

The words were greeted with a round of applause by the assembled board before they were dismissed, the Chief's final words ringing in their ears.

"It's business as usual, ladies and gentlemen. We shall never surrender!"


Anonymous said...

Da iawn!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant Cneifiwr - you should be a script writer; this would make a marvellous pantomime on stage. The frightening part is that it only a hair's breadth from reality - really good parody is close to the truth!

Anonymous said...

It has been drawn to our client's attention that the blog posting entitled "Council of Despair - Man Flu" dated 1 February 2014 is based on information which can only have been obtained through unlawful means. We have been instructed to seek an immediate withdrawal of the posting, an apology, a full disclosure of your sources and, of course, substantial sums of money by way of compensation.

The information on which your post relies can only have been obtained by illegal phone-tapping, bugging of our client's premises and unauthorised disclosures by person or persons as yet unidentified, in breach of contract and duty of trust. Our client's e-mails, Facebook and Twitter accounts may also have been accessed in an unlawful manner, and data may have mined through my client's extensive use of "Angry Birds", which we understand to be a popular executive tool used to alleviate stress.

Counsel's advice has been sought and we are confident that whatever our client says and thinks is correct, and therefore unless you accede to all our demands by midday yesterday, the full panoply of the law will be used to seek redress, kindly paid for by the grateful tax-payers of the county.

Yours etc,

DeLuded, Paranoid and Expensive LLP

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Cneifiwr! A masterpiece!

Anonymous said...

Haaaa ha ha ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

An absolute masterpiece! Just recovering from my aching ribs! Superbly hilarious!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have just taken time to read the public information reports and would recommend others to do the same. The reports are easily read and very interesting.

The auditor absolutely demolishes the councils case on both the indemnity and pension arrangements.

I think the council legal dept must be spitting blood at how things have turned out. For me the indemnity issue turns on what the executive board were told about how lawful such a move would be and it looks like they were only told half the story. In addition the council must now be feeling a bit silly about how their manipulation of the "urgent items" rules for the preparation of agendas has been rubbished in both cases. It looks amateurish.

Now must be a good time for some kind of change in the council. I know PHG is going to call for a vote of confidence but what are the chances of that succeeding.

The rising star on the Labour group Calum should now exercise ruthlessness and organise a putsch. He can after all plead ignorance ! a Plaid led Labour coalition with socialist principles at the fore should be the goal.

Does anybody else agree ?

Anonymous said...

There is no sanction available to force these people out. There used to be for councillors: in extremis a Standards Committee could suspend a councillor for months or years - now it is just a slap on the wrist or refer the matter to the police in the case of catching them with their hands actually IN the till. Just seeing them there with till open, wads of wonga in their mitts isn't even enough.

CEO's: well, if the Leader and Executive backs them its their bat, their ball and they are in forever.

Nice isn't it.

Anonymous said...

It is very funny,I should de laughing,but i can't,it is not about what is happening in a land far away,but in our own
County.While people are struggling to make ends meet
Those idiots are messing about,and in the City sixty miles
East they don't seem to care.Trouble is it very close to
The truth.

Anonymous said...

Nodyn i Mark James A note for Mark James
Avoiding tax by employing convoluted tax strategies means one of three things will happen:

1. the public (and more 'ethical' organisations) will pay more tax to make up the shortfall;

2. the government will cut spending, so reducing public services;

3. the state’s budget deficit will increase, as will government debt over time, potentially increasing the tax burden for future generations.