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For the 'spring cleaning' at omniocular, a shot at April's challenge. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
For the 'spring cleaning' at omniocular, a shot at April's challenge.

With apologies to Kipling 

 

69. A Muggle Prime Minister’s warning to his/her successor about the Minister for Magic, to a Kipling poem.

 

One PM resigns….

 

1.         So here’s your Empire.

 

‘Ah.  John.’  The voice was glacial; the expression of her face, no less so, iron-cold.  A woman of iron.

 

So that is how it was to be.  Well, there was no likelihood, really, that the old girl would take this quietly.

 

‘Prime Minister.’

 

She glared.  By day’s end, by tomorrow morning at latest, that title would be his, and they both knew it.  Perhaps they regretted it equally.  If not yet, they doubtless should do by the end.  Formally, she had supported him in the leadership contest now won; yet there was no question but that she could not relish her being replaced, even by him, as a more palatable alternate to the contemptible Heseltine or the trimming Hurd.

 

‘Cranley has advised me of the result.  I … must … congratulate you.  Now.  There is a matter of which you ought, perhaps, to have been advised before now – perhaps when you were first sworn to the Privy Council.  It certainly cannot be put off longer.’  She turned her head, birdlike, and looked over towards a small and astonishingly ugly portrait.  Her former Chancellor reflected, with the irrelevance that so often attends upon times of obscure portent, that her famous coiffure was as unyielding as Pauline Prescott’s.  Northern housewives….  Norma would never….

 

‘You will recall,’ she said, ‘John Nott, formerly the Secretary of Defence?  He shall be joining us, along with a lady don, a Professor McGonagall, and – well, you will meet a minister you were not aware existed.  New to his brief, in fact: a Cornelius, ah, Fudge, I believe.’

 

2.         Enough to frighten any one but me? / Neat that!

 

The Rt Hon John Major, newly commissioned by HM to serve as her Prime Minister, sat in his office, his grey head in his trembling hands.  Typical of Mrs T to have made certain the chalice was poisoned before handing it off to him. 

 

Yet that had ever been the way of it, had it not.  She had lectured him well into the night – she and John Nott both – and he was man enough to admit that he had been in want of it: this highly-coloured secret world, of magic, Wizards and Witches, a devolved Ministry, a Dark Lord defeated by an infant (and Professor McGonagall, beside whom Margaret seemed malleable and warm, had disputed the easy assurances of that prize ass, Fudge, that the defeat was final and that this sorcerous sod of a ‘Voldemort’, whatever that was, was truly gone for good): it was all too highly-coloured for a good, grey man.

 

And it seemed, somehow, that this was nothing new, this secrecy and this danger, and the way of PMs to keep things from their successors until concealment was no longer possible.

 

That terrible conversation of last night!  Magic was capable of much, it seemed: not least in preserving and recording the moments of his predecessors in this office, as they revealed the dread intelligence of magic’s existence to their successors.

 

In the war-stained, echoing rooms, at Potsdam, as the general election results came in, Winston took Clem Attlee aside….

 

‘My dear Clem.  We shall, it seems, be returning to London, I to resign the seals of office, and you to kiss hands and then to return hither, to take upon you the burdens that I, like Pilgrim, must lay down.’

 

‘Mmm.’

 

‘There is a burden in that pack that you must be made aware of….’

 

And Winston’s final, minatory suggestion, after Attlee had at last accepted the incomprehensible and fantastic facts.  ‘I am sure it would be sensible to restrict as much as possible the influence of these persons, who are capable of doing an immense amount of harm with what may very easily degenerate into charlatanry.’

 

It was advice that Attlee had very much taken on board.

 

3.         Well, now’s your turn of exile.

 

John Major, now PM and staggered by the unknown responsibility, the secret world that he must also work with, and more than work with if he meant to be master in his own house, reflected upon Attlee’s grudging admission, in 1951, to Winston, that the Wizarding World had gotten the best of him.

 

‘Believe in the mumbo jumbo. Can’t accept the ethics.  You were right.  Dark Lords and nasty buggers, even with this Grindelwald sod put paid to.  Still has sympathisers, even now.  Country spent a great deal of blood and treasure rescuing our lot from attacks by the other one.  Bad business.  You were quite right.  Can’t trust ’em.’

 

4.         Here's their ground. / They fight. / Until the Middle Classes take them back, / One of ten millions plus a C.S.I.

 

God only knew, Prime Minister Major – and that still wanted getting used to – God only knew, John Major reflected, what sort of trouble the wand-waving buggers had brought upon the – what was the word?  Ah, yes.  ‘Muggle’: distasteful label – God only knew what troubles the mad bastards had brought upon the normal world.

 

Poor old Eden had been brought into the secret when Winston first began to fail, and had set his face against the bastards.  Much good had it done him, for all his fine words; and there was reason to think they’d had their revenge in the events that sent Eden packing.  It was all very well to say to Winston, and later to warn Supermac in much the same words, that a policy of firmness was wanted, and would be adhered to.

 

‘I do not believe that we can make progress in dealing with them if we allow the impression to gain currency in the Wizarding world that we yield to constant pressure. I am certain in my own mind that such progress depends above all on the temper of the nation, and that temper must find expression in a firm spirit.’

 

They had managed to break that spirit, with their arcane powers, and break Eden with it.  But he was damned if they’d break him.

 

5.         I’m old. I followed Power to the last, / Gave her my best, and Power followed Me.

 

Macmillan, he realised now, had had an advantage, his family straddling the border between these two worlds.  No wonder, then, that he’d dismissed their danger, concentrating upon Muggle affairs and letting the Wizarding world mire itself deep in its own follies and its pretence of peace.  ‘I thought the best thing to do was to settle up these little local difficulties’, he’d said, dismissing a hidden nation within the State.  Folly.


6.         You’ll never catch my style. / And, after all, the middle-classes grip / The middle-class – for Brompton talk Earl’s Court.


As for Alec Douglas-Home, who famously ‘[did his] sums with matchsticks,’ there was little to be said, the new PM reflected.  The only means of interesting Alec in the Wizarding world had been its deciding, as it sensibly did not do, to put on a Quidditch match at Lords in the presence of the MCC.  Alec hadn’t so much as thought to warn his successor that the secret world existed.


7.         And wonder. Oh, you’ll wonder ere you’re free!


Harold Wilson, come to think of it, had had a legitimate complaint of his predecessor’s culpable casual negligence.  The storm of the first war against the Dark Lord in Wizard-dom had broken upon him, all unlooked-for, and undermined his whole ministry: the first very nearly as much as the second.  The disasters that had befallen
Britain in Wilson’s premiership were not all natural nor all the result of his silly socialism, after all, and he had spent his time at the top of the greasy pole trying to manage the country whilst protecting it from a hidden war in an unseen realm.  No wonder that he had become paranoid; no wonder that he had adverted to the struggle in warning Ted Heath, as he had not been warned by Alec Douglas-Home.  ‘We have taken steps which have not been taken by any other democratic government in the world. … Yet these – these bloody Wizards – who benefit from all this, now viciously defy Westminster, purporting to act as though they were an elected government: people who spend their lives sponging on Westminster and British democracy and then systematically assault democratic methods. Who do these people think they are?’


8.         A hundred thousand speeches, much red cloth, / And Smiths thrice happy if I call them Jones


Thus forewarned, Heath had struggled mightily.  It had been to little avail.


‘Action, not words.  We must put these people in their place,’ he’d said, shocked to his churchman’s core by what he had seen at ‘a secret meeting on a secret tour which nobody is supposed to know about’; and he in his turn had warned that, ‘We will have to embark on a change so radical, a revolution so quiet and yet so total, that it will go far beyond the programme for a parliament.  This magical system, this rogue ministry of a hidden people, this secrecy regime and civil war amongst sorcerors: it is bad because it is a negation of democracy.’


9.         … and then all’s done... / Four years, and I forget.


So had Big Jim Callaghan found it, and been defeated by it in his turn.  ‘I have seen this magic, and it works.  We must pry off their grip on our throats.  If we were to fail, I do not think another Government could succeed.’


10.       I envy you the twenty years you’ve gained, / But not the five to follow. What’s that? One! / Two! – Surely not so late. Good-night. Don’t dream.


Yes, he reflected, Mrs T had known, on this head at least, whereof she spoke: ‘a dictatorship … a failure in human and economic terms, a power in only one sense, their ability to use magic for the most base of ends’: precisely that.  The lady, if they would not be reformed or brought at least to heel, was very nearly for burning – them.


And their illogic, their sheep-like flocking to any perceived power, coupled with their power!  It was, John Major reflected, high time to force them to return to those core values, time to get
back to basics: to self-discipline and respect for the law, to consideration for others, to accepting responsibility for yourself and your family, and not shuffling it off on other people and the state.  Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be ‘too clever by half’. The probability was that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters; and when it came to believing in three impossible things before breakfast, this Wizarding lot, well….


It was late, now.  May Day – or rather, now, the small hours of 2 May, 1997.  Seven years since he had been warned of this secret threat that was now mounting in violence and horror, with no end in sight.  (He could not have imagined that, one year after to the day, it would end in triumph for the side of good.)  Seven years since Maggie had told him, ‘There is a matter of which you ought, perhaps, to have been advised before now – perhaps when you were first sworn to the Privy Council.  It certainly cannot be put off longer.’ 


Now it fell to him to do the same in his turn.


‘Prime Minister?  Mr Blair, sir.’


‘I’ll see him.’  In a sudden flash of insight, he thought he could hear his successor’s future voice, saying, ‘Whatever other dangers may exist, no such fear exists today.  The spirit of our age is one in which the prejudices of the past are put behind us, where our diversity is our strength’; and a fainter voice yet, a Scots burr, warning weakly of imprudence.  ‘No such fear exists to day’?  God send that day should come, and swiftly.

________________________________________

END

________________________________________

 

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Comments
fpb From: fpb Date: May 19th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant. I would have designed the various people differently, but from your point of view, this is extremely well done, and manages to incorporate HBP's famous opening chapter very competently.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 19th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

And, as I see, for the rec, as well.

As John Major was PM in '96, wh is generally when Book 6 is regarded as being set, I felt constrained to use him as the pivot. I also challenged myself to use the snippets of Kipling in order, and the PMs in order. The result, you see. It is less a matter of my politics than of art, in this instance.
tudorpot From: tudorpot Date: May 19th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Very clever, I love Churchill. Somehow I thought he might be a little magical.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 19th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, I rather think he was.

Save for purposes of this piece.

Thank you for yr kind words.
darkthirty From: darkthirty Date: May 20th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I like it.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 20th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm greatly obliged.

Not to say, chuffed in the extreme. Thank you.
goddessriss From: goddessriss Date: May 20th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

I like this.

Lots. I like to think that Princess Tony would panic, and have a hissy fit on being told. Do you think he would have kept it secret from Big Al? I think we should be told...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 21st, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're most kind.

I anticipate a sequel.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 27th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very enjoyable! I must admit I find it hard to imagine finding McGonagall colder than Mrs T, but it is, I daresay, entirely a matter of perspective!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 27th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks.

As I recall, JKR said she modelled Minerva upon Mrs T, and if you add the stress of dealing with Fudge and all that Scots rectitude, you approach, I shd think, absolute zero.
dbassassin From: dbassassin Date: May 28th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Very enjoyable read.

I've often wondered what The Old Mag would have made of the WW. She'd have eaten Fudge for breakfast without batting an eyelash, I'm sure.

The inherent anarchy would have chewed on her last nerve, I think.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 28th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

And not only the anarchy.

'Wets. Sopping, the lot of them. Those who're not the lickspittles of tyrants are simply too frit to stand on their feet....'

I'm glad to hear you liked it.
12 comments or Leave a comment