As you know my predecessor, Gordonicus Laborius (a.k.a. “Gordonicus the terrible because he was, well, bloody terrible) has obligingly fallen on his sword and it has been my honour, along with my cohorts of the Coalitium Desperandum, to have been chosen by the Emperor for elevation to high office via the Festival of Dupus Electus. I have accordingly taken over the reins of power of this troubled Province.
It seems appropriate at this juncture to address you, the plebian masses, directly now that I am a few weeks into my tenure and things are trundling along as smoothly as a loose chariot on a sharp incline and before the high hopes that attended my assumption of the governorship have completed their traditional evaporation.
The first thing I should point out – and let me be very clear about this – is that when I used the term “reins of power”, I was of course speaking symbolically: I have discovered that my high office does not actually wield power as such, except the power to follow the dictates and edicts of his majesty Caesar Nefarius Vexus and the Illuminati of his imperial council, the Hiddum Agendum.
Truth be told, I did not know until I succeeded to office that there was an emperor or a Hiddum Agendum, although looking back nostalgically upon the heady days when my responsibilities were joyously confined to sardonically heaping scorn on the hapless Gordonicus, looking wise on the steps of the Senate and dreaming up policies that sounded different to the ones that already had the galley of state holed below the water line and sinking fast, I’m not sure how I managed to miss the blindingly obvious.
The fact that almost everybody else in the country knew about it, thanks to the irresponsible agitations of the renegade faction, Conspiricus Theorus, which got the slaves, artisans, plebians and small merchants of the land hurling abuse at the Televisium, was particularly annoying.
Why on earth did no-one think to mention it to me? I can imagine that the ousted Gordonicus is having a quiet chuckle at my expense now that I am well and truly lumbered.
But such is life. I couldn’t be expected to know everything and there was scant time in my busy schedule to acquire an understanding of economics, the real world in which we live or indeed the people in it. Besides we have hundreds of years of history to attest to the fact that these are not necessary skills for the leaders of nations.
Be that as it may, now that the Emperor has made Himself known to me and the realities of life have been impressed upon me in no uncertain terms, I have had to make some minor adjustments to the plans I and my co-Governor, Nickus Cleggus, made when we thought we would be in actual control of a sovereign nation, rather than provincial administrators acting on behalf of the Empire (variously referred to as “The Union” or “Democracy.”)
The main, very tiny, adjustment in our thinking has been to switch from making decisions and trying to run things to not making any decisions or actually doing anything unless instructed by the Emperor or his primary agencies such as the World Debt Emporium or the Complex Militaria Industria.
Fortunately, many of our policies, known as the “Adjustmens Cosmetix,” were pretty much more of the same policies already used by Gordonicus and his predecessors: political and economic measures that had proven so successful in the bloodless subjugation of Britannia, her giving up the will to live and her consequent incorporation into the Empire.
As such, these policies already bore the imperial stamp of approval and His Majesty quite likes people to come up with creative ideas as to how to dress up the verbiage surrounding, or indeed concealing, them. Which was why I was chosen to get elected: the Emperor wants the regional administrators representing his interests, deflecting the wrath of the natives and so forth, to at least look as if they can be blamed.
So very little had to change then, beyond our dropping any big ideas we may have had about our station in the great scheme of things and once we did that, we managed to slot haplessly but nevertheless disappointedly into the smooth-turning cogs and grinding stones of the Imperial mill.
Our huge, sweeping vision that so fired the public imagination and set a majestic new horizon before the nation, to “balance the books by cutting all non-essential services such as hospitals, schools and the police and driving the citizenry of this great nation into penury,” had to go – well, at least the “balancing the books” bit, which we have been informed is actually impossible. The rest of our great vision remains inviolate and thus we plan to press ahead with sweeping reforms that, like all the best reforms, will avoid bringing actual change into the equation, except of course where we are able to make things worse.
We are confident therefore that we can reverse the failures of Gordonicus whose tenure saw the province plunge to fifteenth most powerful in the Empire. We fully intend to see Britannia sweep to sixteenth or seventeenth position, although ultimately the fortunes of any province depend pretty much on whom the Emperor happens to like at the time – if anybody.
Be all that as it may, it falls to me now to address you as your Governor and to brief you on all the great strides forward that have been made by the Empire to which you find yourselves subjugated and my immediate plans for this Province.
There is much positive news to convey to you, news which, while it may not give you cause for celebration, will at least convince you to keep your heads down and refrain from rocking the boat.
The Guild of Usurers and their global network of Debt Emporia have continued to prosper beyond all the dreams of avarice, while the agents of Onerus Incumtax, the Imperial Proconsul for Threats and Extortions, have come up with increasingly ingenious ways to crowbar from the plebian purse money the aforementioned plebs would otherwise have frittered away on food and clothing.
The apothecaries of the Pharmacopeia, from whose ubiquitous dispensaries flood forth magic pills and potions, known in the popular parlance as Serius Sideffex, have flung open their doors to the nation’s children and thus prosper beyond all imagining. Or at least they would, did not those very pills and potions remove from their beneficiaries the onerous capacity for imagination.
It is a similar success story for the manufacturers of fortifications, tridents, claymores, slave collars and gravestones, all of who report soaring profits.
Which brings us to our peacekeeping operations: Britannia’s auxiliaries continue to brave friendly fire in their selfless and indeed often pointless sacrifice in support of the legions of the Complex Militaria Industria, which campaigns tirelessly against the barbarian hordes who under their leader Holdus Toransum threaten at any moment to sweep down upon the Empire and force upon us the ignominy of not invading anybody. That support, I might add, puts to shame that forthcoming from other provinces such as Gaul and Germania, which seem quite unable to enter into the spirit of the thing.
Detractors may argue that our peacekeeping efforts have resulted in prolonged and incessant warfare but that surely is a small price to pay for our peace of mind, not to mention giving the populace something to think about other than stringing up their lords and masters. Besides, the peaceful sandal maker of today could easily become the blood crazed terrorist of tomorrow unless we take firm steps to prevent it – preferably before the idea has even entered his head.
(This address is continued in part two)