Flavour of the WeekFriday, April 21, 2017
Gibraltar-Malvinas: breathing fire
For The Herald
The beard-singeing line was uttered by Rear-Admiral (retired) Chris Parry, former director of operational capability at the British Ministry of Defence. What set it off was an EU document with guidelines for Brexit negotiations with London. It stated that any deal involving Gibraltar would have to be agreed on between Spain and the UK giving Spain veto power over it. This was seen by some sectors in Britain as a Spanish land grab (over the land Britain took as its own in an eighteenth-century war). Lord Howard, former Tory whip, declared he was sure Prime Minister Theresa May would go to war with Spain to defend Gibraltar just as Margaret Thatcher did with Argentina over the Malvinas. (The head of the British fleet that fought the Spanish Armada was also a Lord Howard but this one is a Lord Howard of Something Else).
The British fleet is currently much weaker than in 1982. Parry therefore said that if Britain wants to “talk big” over Gibraltar (who writes these people’s lines Trump?) it must invest “appropriately” to boost its military capacity. But this is where he asserted that anyway, Britain was still capable of going after the king’s facial hair. All that is on the record. What remains to be disclosed is a meeting of British super-patriots at a London club (one waiter there is a Spaniard and he sent me the following information).
The casual observer might think the members had simply toddled to the club for a spot of restorative spirits, but the casual observer would have been wrong. They were there to devise additional strategy if the UK faces an onslaught from a suddenly threatening Continent.
“Bit of a pickle we’re in, what?” was Lord Muzzlering’s opening statement.
“Been in worse,” growled Lord Rudder. “Just have to keep our eyes open and our powder dry.”
“I say, old chaps, that’s lovely chitchat, but let’s get specific, shall we?” broke in General Linstock. “France! While everybody’s in a flutter over Spain, who knows what Froggie is up to? He may decide to invade again. Memories of 1066 are still fresh.”
“By Jingo!” exclaimed Lord Bowsprit. “You’re right! And this time they could also come in by rail! The first thing we need to do is block the Channel Tunnel.”
“Never should have been built, I’ve always said,” agreed Rudder.
“I’ll make a few phone calls,” said Admiral Halyard, who although retired like everybody else in the group, still has some good connections.
“Capital, old sport!” applauded Lord Grapeshot. “But I say, chappies, we need to take a hard look at the Dutch too. They came over and attacked us as recently as the times of Charles II, and later put the House of Orange on our throne. We’ll change their colour, all right, if they try something now, what?”
“The reference to Orange,” said Lord Mizzenmast, “reminds me that if we have a fight on our hands on the Continent, Ireland may try to stab us in the back.” “Aren’t we forgetting something, old bean?” thundered Air Chief Marshal Turret. “The Kraut! We must be ready if HE tries something again! Didn’t he send the Angles and Saxons over? And the queen’s line comes from Germany. Any moment now, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha may decide to impose ‘direct rule’ on us!”
“I say what about Denmark?” Lord Radome demanded. “The Danes have invaded us before, and may be at our shores again, we need to collect Danegeld to make ready.”
“Gad, sir!” exploded Field-Marshal Blimp, famous from his days as a colonel. “We’re overlooking our real enemy in Europe. Italy!! We may see the return of the Romans if we don’t look sharp!”
“I think if we go to war, it’ll be with Greece,” said Lord Thegin. He’s descended from Lord Elgin, the Elgin Marbles fellow, but had the title changed because the “El” made it sound Spanish. “In the midst of all this how-d’ye-do, they may try to grab the Marbles. But we’ll settheir white skirts on fire, by Jove! And this time,” he added, “we’ll bring back the rest of the Parthenon, what?”