Valentine’s day cards will go… if the Codswallop Coalition sweeps Zeus to power at No 6.
‘Whatcha doin’, Pops?’ Hermes, on four days of extra leave from the Post Office in compensation for having worked on the morning of Boxing Day, had joined the Father of the Gods on the spacious penthouse patio overlooking Marina Bay. He had planned to spend the morning catching some sun at Catalan Bay – empty of beachgoers at this time of the year – but had been defeated by the heavy February clouds with their hint of drizzle to come.
Zeus removed the cheap biro from the corner of his mouth where, while he pondered what next to write, it had drooped like a Western gunslinger’s cheap cheroot, and gestured with it at the pad of lined foolscap on the glass-topped coffee table at the side of his lounger.
‘I’m making a list of all the things I’m going to include in my manifesto,’ he said in the serious voice of more than usual gravitas, which in millennia gone by had announced the most powerful Olympian decisions.
Hermes raised a quizzical eyebrow: ‘Manifesto?’
‘Yes. There’s a general election due this year, and I expect No 6 to dissolve Parliament towards the end of autumn. So, I need to start preparing my campaign,’ said Zeus firmly, jabbing the chewed ballpoint against the glass to emphasise each word. ‘Hebe is going off to the Department of Culture tomorrow to reserve the Mackintosh Hall and Ince’s Theatre for every Thursday night in October and November. Dionysus has put me up for membership of the Calpe Club, and Poseidon is wangling me into the Fishing Association. That’ll take the wind out of Picardo’s and Azopardi’s sails.’
‘Aren’t you being a little precious?’ Hera put down her knitting and poked her head through the open sliding doors. ‘No 6 has become a bit like this Brexit flummery in Britain and Brussels – totally unpredictable. One thing one minute, something else the next. You might find that the present incumbent postpones an election – just like May kept putting off her ‘meaningful vote’.
‘All the more reason for me to take a stand, impose a firm line, guide the Rock’s financial and gaming sectors into the new uncharted seas of this ephemeral state which they call “Cyber-land” or something’, Zeus rose to his feet and gestured with his right hand outstretched as he had seen Socrates do in moments of high oratory. ‘After all, if you look seriously at all the uncertainties of Cyberspace and crypto-currencies it’s very much like our old world in the early days of Olympus. And we’re certainly the only occupants of the planet who have experienced, and come through, such a muddled melange of codswallop.’
‘Yes. Codswallop.’ He repeated the word which he had discovered while thumbing through the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as he searched for stirring phrases to include in his manifesto. He like the word, and would work it into his slogan… perhaps even name his party for it. “The Codswallop Coalition” sounded good.
‘But you won’t be able to stand for Parliament, let alone be elected.’ Artemis had joined her mother in the doorway. ‘You’re not on the voters’ roll… and, as you’re a foreigner, they won’t allow you to vote. You have to be Gibraltarian or English.’
‘I’ve thought of that,’ he grunted smugly as only an ancient Olympian can grunt. He turned over one of the foolscap pages and held it up for his wife and daughter to see. Scrawled in large capital letters the words “PAUL REVERE”. ‘Ha! I’ve thought of that,’ said Zeus smugly
The pair in the doorway peered closely at the letters, exchanged blank looks, and waited for Zeus to explain… if explanation there was.
‘American Revolution?’ the father of the Gods prodded. And when neither showed any sign of understanding, continued; ‘No taxation without representation – that’s a slogan that summarised a primary grievance of the American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution. And see where it’s got them – super-power status.’ Triumphantly.
‘And in Gibraltar’s financial services sector some of the top players and top tax-payers are foreigners – Germans, Swiss, Frenchmen, even Scandinavians – who pay high rates of personal tax. I estimate there are about a thousand, and should they refuse to pay tax, or threaten to leave unless they enfranchised, the Government will have to give in. It can afford to lose neither their tax revenue, nor their skills. I shall muster them to act. And I’m confident they can become my power base…’
Hermes lost interest in the new-born politico’s address to his two improbable constituents. He scanned the proposed list of manifesto undertakings. There were scrawled words which made little sense – either singly or read in conjunction with each other.
“Cigarettes”…“uniform” … “cards” … “girls”.
‘What do these mean?’ Holding out the page, he interrupted Zeus’ flow.
‘Among the first thing I intend to do is to stop girls – and boys – smoking in the streets while wearing their school uniforms. It gives education a bad name.’
‘Would it be better to stop them smoking at all – whether in or out of uniforms? Either way it’s unhealthy,’ the ever-wise Hera suggested.
Zeus ignored her.
‘And I will put an end to the crass commercialisation of cards – get well, cards, birthday cards, Christmas cards, Valentine’s cards… they’re just unnecessary money-grubbing gimmicks.’
‘Did I hear someone say “Valentine”? Aphrodite called from the kitchen where she had been drying her newest nail varnish over the electric toaster.
‘Pops is going to ban all sorts of fancy cards when he ousts Picardo in the election, and takes control at No 6,’ Artemis called.
‘Oust Picardo. He mustn’t do that,’ Aphrodite protested. ‘Fabian’s a dish… lose a bit of that middle-age spread and I could really fancy him.’
‘You fancy anything in trousers,’ hissed Artemis – and the Olympian household headed back into the everyday. ‘Though, tell you what, let’s both send him a Valentine’s card… I doubt there’s ever many of those in the No 6 mailbox.’
‘I‘m not surprised they clubbed him to death. Look at all the bother he has stirred.
‘It’s a nice, polite way of courtship,’ ventured Hera, waspish for once as she recalled her husband’s many infidelities and the disguises he used at times to achieve the current object of his lust.