Whilst beyond the storm tossed Channel the forces of repression advanced inexorably across the verdant interior of beleaguered Jersey, in a sumptuous office at the heart of England’s capital three bedraggled figures stood, stooped and spiritually broken before a vast mahogany desk. They were dressed in ill fitting white roll-neck submariners’ jumpers, dungarees and plimsolls donated by charitable sailors, crew of the Coastguard armed trawler that had plucked them from the sea off Brighton pier after intercepting their dangerously overcrowded pedalo. They wrung their knitted woollen beanies in their gnarled hands.
“Coping with the whims of our feudal Seigneur was tough enough in the Tyranny of Sark, but this King Emperor is threatening our livelihoods. He inflicts burdensome taxes, criticises our architecture and imposes farming methods unsuited to our tiny island. We have risked all to escape. You must do something to help us.”
Larry tried to look compassionate as he faced them across the desk.
“Actually I don’t have to do anything. That is the point. I am the temporary, acting, titular head of state in a federation of autonomous anarcho-surrealist collectives. My job is to do nothing.
“I am, of course fully aware of the invasion and of your plight. I have formulated a plan, a plan so secret that none but my trusted aide even guess at its existence.”
Barrymore entered with a tray of scalding hot mugs of cocoa, smoothly gliding across the carpet on Rookie Retro V2 roller skates. As she skidded gracefully to a halt before placing her tray on the desk Larry leaned over and whispered in her pointed tortoiseshell ear:
“Do I have a plan yet, Barrymore?”
“No sir, you do not. I have refuelled the dirigible runabout and would respectfully suggest we make an excursion to Limehousesailortown.” She turned to the Sarkees, “I’ll get someone to take you down to the kitchens. You must be famished.”
Barrymore adjusted the elevator wheel and Larry’s runabout gently descended from sunshine into the clouds below. The ever-present Vwoooh given off by the churning propulsion blades changed pitch ever so slightly, the Stanley Steamer aero-engines chuffed reassuringly and, as condensation began to form on the observation ports, she switched on the windscreen wipers.
Shortly they broke out of the cloud and the silver ribbon of Limehouse Reach sparkled up at the airship. Barrymore blew sharply into a speaking tube and the resulting shrill whistle was answered with a, “Huh?”
“We’ll be there in five minutes, Mr Prime Minister. Do you want me to fetch Boris up or are you planning to visit that den of iniquity in person?”
“Take her down and anchor as close to the shore as you can manage. We’ll take the launch in.”
Larry stood in the bow of their tiny inflatable while Barrymore rowed. Once alongside and with the craft moored to a handy pile, he scrambled up a precarious vertical ladder to the balcony at the rear of Bozzy’s Catnip Den and marched unannounced through the French windows into the lounge. Barrymore scurried to catch up.