tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 53

No Future Ch. 53

bybradley_stoke©

LIII
Hope and Glory
Lord Newbury
2078



The whole thing had been a bloody fiasco. In fact, it had been a disaster from beginning to end. Instead of rallying the whole nation to the defence of the beleaguered nobility, the actions that Lord Newbury had foolishly allowed himself to be associated with had rather hastened its decline. On this very day, one and a half thousand years of history would be swept aside to placate the bloody-minded Scots. So much for a constitutional coup. It was more like a constitutional cock-up. And the worst thing was that the lord had nobody else to blame but himself.

Would the lord now be known simply as Mr. Norman Francis Erickson? Possibly he could still be left with a honorary title. Something with a less noble sound such as 'Sir'. Sir Norman was better than nothing, although it could never compare to Lord Newbury. That was a proper title. But if they could scrap the Royal Family, mightn't they also scrap the Honours System. Titles such as the Order or Commander of the British Empire had been anachronistic honorifics for well over a century and with no Britain, let alone a British Empire, they'd become even more anachronistic. But maybe they'd preserve the honorary title of 'Sir'.

Sir Norman.

Could he get used to that?

The question of how he would be addressed should be the least of his worries, but there had been little time to adjust to the change. When everything began to unravel it did so with indecent haste. What one day had been a conspiracy of growing significance that had yet to actually move into action suddenly became a major news story, a political scandal and a total calamity. Even now, Lord Newbury had no idea of who it was who'd been the despicable traitor. Somewhere within the lord's wide set of affluent or well-connected confidantes was a man or possibly a woman who'd betrayed the confidence with which they had been entrusted and sold the news story of a proposed reassertion of order to foreign newspapers. And once it was published in the Scottish press and reported in gruesome detail on SBC and WBC, it was only a matter of time until the generally compliant English newspapers joined ranks with the usual pinko suspects to print the gruesome details. The poorly funded EBC and the reliably reticent Sky News UK were amongst the last to make the public aware of what Lord Newbury and his accomplices had planned.

It was natural that the most loyal English media would be reluctant to break the news. Lord Newbury knew only too well how much it was implicated in the conspiracy. But the lord had now come to know who his real friends were. They most certainly didn't include the press barons, whether resident in England or abroad, who'd previously been so eager to conserve the legacy of nobility and status. After all, the likes of Lords Desmond, MacKenzie and Morgan weren't going to abandon their honorary titles without a fight. In fact, they were once the champions of the cause whose assurances of support seemed most rock-solid.

"We'll be behind you one hundred and one percent," said Lord MacKenzie. "We mustn't capitulate to the bloody Scots. They've already got independence. Why do they have to fuck up the rest of the established order? They'll never be satisfied until their bloody blue and white flag is flying over Westminster."

"I've got estates in Scotland," said Lord Morgan. "You have as well, haven't you, Norman? I know what the Jimmies are like. They're ungrateful buggers. We're well rid of them. But what do they do now but sanction a flood of workshy immigrants through the tartan border into the country. All those bloody Africans and South Americans! They can't use nuclear war as an excuse for inundating our noble land and taking jobs from good honest Englishmen."

Nevertheless once the news was out, the press barons were no more principled than anyone else. Not one of Lord Newbury and the other lords, knights and dignitaries whose names had been uncovered by the foreign press was spared the onslaught of intrusive press coverage, unsavoury speculation, and unmannerly paparazzi at the doorstep. The only thing that distinguished the conservative media from the pinkos was that those who Lord Newbury thought were his most natural allies were the ones who focused most on whatever snippet of tittle-tattle that could be found about the sex lives and peccadilloes of the privileged. Questions were asked about why Lord Newbury had never married, for instance.

Was there no matter of privacy left?

"What about the libel laws?" Lord Newbury asked his advisors, which included his solicitor, his press officer and Sir Wayne Yelland, a close associate of Lord Desmond whose presence was conditional on it never being made public knowledge. "Can't I use the libel laws to halt proceedings?"

"It's a bit late now, my lord," said the press officer. "Using that tactic will only make it seem like you've got something to hide."

"Why are your newspapers printing all that salacious speculation about me and Prince Brian?" demanded Lord Newbury. "What has that got to do with the constitution, Sir Nigel?"

"Nothing, my lord," admitted the knight and once senior editor of the Sun on Sunday. "But we need to do everything we can to focus the news on what is already known to the public. The more stories on those like you whose involvement is already public knowledge then the less attention will be paid on others whose involvement must be kept outside of the public domain."

"So why print that story of my holiday with Prince Brian?" wondered Lord Newbury. "Where is the public interest is that?"

"It had already been printed in Le Monde, my lord," said the press officer. "The English media couldn't ignore it."

"You aren't the only victim, my lord," said Sir Nigel, as if this made any difference. "Sir Eric Esterhazy, for instance, has definitely received worse."

"Do you want to destroy the reputation of every last decent man in this country?" pleaded Lord Newbury.

However there were bigger fish to fry than just the dozen or so people of great importance whose private lives and loves were now public knowledge and whose involvement in the crisis had generated so much acreage of newsprint. The long editorials in the Telegraph, Times and the Mail that condemned the generals, barons, politicians and sports personalities who'd been embroiled in the crisis claimed to do so to uphold the constitution and the paramount power of the elected government, but Lord Newbury was now discovering the extent of the media barons' hypocrisy.

Although the lord knew the names of those whose identities had yet to be exposed, he was also aware how constrained he was from deflecting the story away from himself and towards the others.

"It would be suicidal, my lord," said the solicitor. "What you know about them that isn't already known to the world's media can be matched by what they know about you that still hasn't been reported."

"Furthermore, my lord," said Sir Nigel. "Once the heat has died down, your former friends are certain to fulfil their promise to protect you from worse scandals in the future."

"Worse scandals? What could be worse than the filth that the media has already smeared me with?"

"I wouldn't use the word 'smear' to describe the stories about you and Prince Brian, my lord," said Sir Nigel. "Nor, indeed, the stories about you and the male prostitutes in Paris. Nor, for that matter, the account of the lavish parties you hosted in Abu Dhabi. Technically, a smear is a falsehood, whereas the evidence in all these stories is very strong. And at this stage, you cannot use the argument that they represent an invasion of privacy and are not in the public interest."

"Where will it end?" pleaded Lord Newbury.

"When the foreign media is unable to find anything more to print, my lord," said the press officer.

"When the public gets bored with the story, my lord," said the solicitor.

"When the story becomes more about resignations and public confessions, my lord," suggested Sir Nigel. "Believe you me, there is no one at New Transnational who doesn't want to move on from this story. Already many of the issues about which the Times, the Sun and the Independent have campaigned for so many years are essentially settled, but they not at all as we'd have liked. The Royal Family will soon be no more than a distant memory. The last vestiges of a venerable tradition that dates back to Alfred the Great will be consigned to history. This great nation of ours will become one more Republic amongst many others in the North Western corner of a continent of Republics. This isn't what any of us would have ever wanted to see."

"Indeed not, Sir Nigel," said Lord Newbury.

So, what could his lordship do now? He'd been abandoned by all those he'd once believed were his friends. He was a man alone. All he could cling to for comfort was his wealth and privilege. His reputation was in shatters. His friends had deserted him. He was the last man standing in the battle to defend tradition and the essence of being English. A warrior surrounded by the corpses of those who had also fallen. Moreover, Lord Newbury also recognised that this romantic image was a metaphor too far. Rather than a warrior, he was already nothing more than one of the corpses. There was no last man standing. The bastions of honour and tradition had either already fallen or been abandoned the field of battle. And not only had those who'd abandoned the field given up the struggle, they denied that they'd ever been party to it and pretended that all along their allegiance had been elsewhere.

All around him was nothing but treachery, deceit and disaster.

"What shall I do, Nick?" Lord Newbury asked Lord MacKenzie in a desperate phone call after the Telegraph had printed a story that exposed his participation in a sordid sex party in Mallorca that involved a teenage boy band and a minor film star.

"One thing you must do above all, Norman," said the lord, "is never call me again. It is an enormous hassle to have to purge the records of telephone calls like this. My phone-line may be encrypted, but the risk is too great."

Lord Newbury was annoyed. Was he now supposed to apologise to a man who'd earned his title not by birth but by the sordid business of selling newspapers and advertising? "Don't worry, Nick," he said. "I shan't phone again. All the same, have you any advice to give me?"

"Take a flight on the next plane to the Congo, Norman," said Lord MacKenzie. "I know how much you like the little black boys. Cover your tracks well and stay low for a year or so. And if you're a good boy, we won't tell anyone where you are or what you're up to."

Fuck you, Nick! was the thought most prominent in Lord Newbury's mind after hearing this not so very sympathetic advice.

"I'm sorry for having troubled you, Nick," said Lord Newbury instead. "Let's hope this all blows over soon."

"I hope so too. Goodbye, Norman. Best of luck."

Lord Newbury pondered his fellow lord's recommendation. How did Lord MacKenzie know about his villa in Kinshasa? And more to the point how was Lord Newbury going to get there without attracting attention?

The answer was obvious, of course. He still had the American passport he'd bought on the black market in the name of Newton Nash, American businessman. One of the advantages of the collapse of the United States of America was the sudden glut in the market of old US passports while new passports were being issued for the new nation states that had emerged from the ruins of what had once been a great country. As long as nobody was able to trace his actions from withdrawals from his Swiss bank accounts he could remain in the Congo for a long time.

And one thing Lord MacKenzie was definitely right about, though Lord Newbury could never admit it, was the lord's attraction to tight black arses. He could hardly wait to fuck as many little piccaninnies as he was able.

That would help to keep his mind off the loss of his historic title.

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