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5.8.9 RC1

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Nicholas Clark
November 10, 2008 15:30
5.8.9 RC1
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    A jumbo jet touched down, with BURANDAN AIRWAYS written on the side. I
    was hugely impressed. British Airways are having to pawn their Concordes,
    and here is this little tiny African state with its own airline, jumbo
    jets and all.

    I asked Bernard how many planes Burandan Airways had. 'None,' he said.

    I told him not to be silly and use his eyes. 'No Minister, it belongs to
    Freddie Laker,' he said. 'They chartered it last week and repainted it
    specially.' Apparently most of the Have-Nots (I mean, LDCs) do this - at
    the opening of the UN General Assembly the runways of Kennedy Airport are
    jam-packed with phoney flag-carriers. 'In fact,' said Bernard with a sly
    grin, 'there was one 747 that belonged to nine different African airlines
    in a month. They called it the mumbo-jumbo.'

    While we watched nothing much happening on the TV except the mumbo-jumbo
    taxiing around Prestwick and the Queen looking a bit chilly, Bernard gave
    me the next day's schedule and explained that I was booked on the night
    sleeper from King's Cross to Edinburgh because I had to vote in a
    three-line whip at the House tonight and would have to miss the last
    plane. Then the commentator, in that special hushed BBC voice used for any
    occasion with which Royalty is connected, announced reverentially that we
    were about to catch our first glimpse of President Selim.

    And out of the plane stepped Charlie. My old friend Charlie Umtali. We
    were at LSE together. Not Selim Mohammed at all, but Charlie.

    Bernard asked me if I were sure. Silly question. How could you forget a
    name like Charlie Umtali?

    I sent Bernard for Sir Humphrey, who was delighted to hear that we now
    know something about our official visitor.

    Bernard's official brief said nothing. Amazing! Amazing how little the FCO
    has been able to find out. Perhaps they were hoping it would all be on the
    car radio. All the brief says is that Colonel Selim Mohammed had converted
    to Islam some years ago, they didn't know his original name, and therefore
    knew little of his background.

    I was able to tell Humphrey and Bernard /all/ about his background.
    Charlie was a red-hot political economist, I informed them. Got the top
    first. Wiped the floor with everyone.

    Bernard seemed relieved. 'Well that's all right then.'

    'Why?' I enquired.

    'I think Bernard means,' said Sir Humphrey helpfully, 'that he'll know how
    to behave if he was at an English University. Even if it was the LSE.' I
    never know whether or not Humphrey is insulting me intentionally.

    Humphrey was concerned about Charlie's political colour. 'When you said
    that he was red-hot, were you speaking politically?'

    In a way I was. 'The thing about Charlie is that you never quite know
    where you are with him. He's the sort of chap who follows you into a
    revolving door and comes out in front.'

    'No deeply held convictions?' asked Sir Humphrey.

    'No. The only thing Charlie was committed too was Charlie.'

    'Ah, I see. A politician, Minister.'

[p44 _The complete Yes Minister // The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister by
the Right Hon. James Hacker MP._ ii "The Official Visit" *]

Currently it's at

Please don't publicise that URL outside p5p  - instead

once it's had time to propagate to CPAN's mirrors.

Nicholas Clark

* Very very funny, timeless, and scarily topical, even 28 years later. See

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