Home > The Monday Musings Column > holiday humour for Easter as ThatConsultantBloke gets into another scrape

holiday humour for Easter as ThatConsultantBloke gets into another scrape

There’s no such thing as a free lunch they say, but then they also say never look a gift horse in the mouth. My problem was that I’d listened to the wrong bunch when the man offered me this gig, but there is no point in crying over spilt milk: that’s another thing that people will tell you, although those tend to be milkmen trying to sell you a new bottle.

No, this one was all down to me; I couldn’t even lay the blame on a dame. I should have smelt a rat when the ‘plane tickets came from the office of Myfanwy Montego, the Head of the Tourist Board & State Prosecution Service, but I was seduced by being able to turn left through the door of the plane instead of being down in steerage and, well, all of these little republics are so small everyone has to multi-function ‘cos there aren’t enough relations to give all the jobs to.

And so here I am in this stinking prison room handcuffed to a chair and facing a guy in uniform and aviator shades. He has so many medal ribbons on his chest that I doubt he needs a bullet proof jacket and if it wasn’t for the occasional puff on his cigar I wouldn’t be sure he was still alive. I must have been here for twenty minutes now and he hasn’t spoken or even looked at me. At least I don’t think he had looked, but I had no idea what his eyes were doing behind those mirror shades.

I tried to sit still as the sweat dripped off me. I would have been sitting in a pool but for the drain over which my seat was placed and I wondered what other bodily fluids it might have been there to dispose of. The ceiling fan turned, but not fast enough to shake the dust off its blades let alone cool the room.

Finally the man spoke; “The purpose of your visit?”

“I came to join the cruise ship Slattern of the Seas. I am supposed to be lecturing on board.”

“Why did you not board your ship in Tampa? That was the port of embarkation.”

“Because my invitation was to board her here.”

He shuffled the papers on his desk. They tell you never to volunteer information, but the temptation was too great. “You seem to have my travel papers there. My invitation letter is amongst them”

He considered this for a moment and then stood up and began to pace back and forth behind the desk. “What do you know about our nation?”

Actually I knew quite a bit, or at least I had read quite a bit, but a lot of what is on the web is written by people who know very little or just want to have you believe their version. It seemed like a typical melting pot of an island where all sorts had come from all over and not gone away.

I wasn’t going to open up though. What I had read might have been garbage or it might not, but let him do the talking. “Very little. I did look on the internet, but as I was expecting to be taken straight from the airport to the ship I did not think that I would have any contact with the locals. I’m not going to be making it my specialist subject.”

He shook his head. “Just another ignorant tourist.” He paused, the leaned towards me; “Or are you?” He picked up some papers from the desk then walked around and leaned on it facing me. “Your biography suggests that you are not a stupid man, so did you really think that there were enough members of the Latvian Lady Plumbers Association who would want to come on a Caribbean cruise to hear you talk about,” he consulted the papers, “the role of the electric milk float in 1990s logistics?”

I decided to ignore this. Sure it sounded far-fetched, but someone was giving me seats up front on the ‘plane plus a private cabin all in and all I had to do each day was a half hour talk plus questions and be willing to pose for photos, sign autographs and be nice to folks for four days. There was no pay involved, but I’d sell a few books on the back if the deal and who knows what contacts I might make.

Sweat trickled down my back as the silence stretched. I gave in; “OK, it sounded unusual, but why would I be here if I didn’t think it was legit? That’s the truth.”

He half turned and put the papers on the desk, picking up a pink card. “The truth? You say your story is true, but you are a liar!” The last words came as a snarl. He brandished the pink card and I could see that it was the immigration card that I had filled out on the flight. “There is no cruise ship, there never was. All of this is just a cover to get you into our country so that you can defile it!”

He was clearly getting angry, but I couldn’t see why. And what was all this about no cruise ship? Why would someone buy me a first class ticket out from London and have a uniformed chauffeur meet me at the airport? Realisation that I was in deep doo-dah must have clouded my judgement. Chained to a chair in an underground cell the best part of five thousand miles from home is no place to start getting difficult, but I figured that I was a goner so I might as well have some fun.

He beat me to it though; “You say here that your passport was issued in Newport. That is in Wales, yes, and your name, it is Welsh is it not?”

As I tried to think of some smart remark he leaned a little toward me. Why did he have a downer on me because he thought I was Welsh? “My passport was issued by the Newport office because it is the nearest one to where I live, but I am English not Welsh” I told him.

“Liar!” He screamed the word, then he began to read from the pink card; “Have you ever been refused admission to or have been deported from? No you say. Are you suffering from or have ever had any metal illness? No you say. Have you ever had, or are facing, any conviction for narcotic related crimes? No you say”

For goodness sake I thought, I’ve filled these bloody things in so many times for years. The answer is always no to every question, but he went on.

“Are you, or have you ever been, involved in any form of terrorist activity! No you say. Have you been in contact with farm animals or on a farm in the last year? No you say. Are you, or have you ever been, involved in the facilities management industry? No you say, but you are a liar!”

What! I didn’t remember that last question, but I had just been ticking the no boxes by then and not reading the questions.

He leaned in close enough for me to be able to pick up the aroma of his breakfast. “You are well known as a facilities management consultant. All the talking about logistics and milk floats is just cover to get you into our country and destabilise our government. You facilities management people with your petty rules; not you cannot park there, no you cannot have a bigger desk, no you cannot have new carpet, not you cannot turn the air conditioning up. We the government make the rules here not the likes of you people.” He was almost foaming at the mouth now as he began to pace back and forth in front of me. “You facilities people are the scum of the earth with your petty bureaucracy! We are the bureaucrats, not you! And you are not really English. I have checked and you live less than an hour’s drive from the Welsh border. You are a sleeper, working under deep cover while you wait for the moment that you Welsh can overthrow the English and seize power. And while you wait for your moment you have come here, invited by the Patagonian Welsh faction, to practice at overthrow the legitimate government here. We know that they have a facilities team and our agents report that almost all of they have been withdrawn to attend a week of training. That is why you are really here; to train these people to subvert our nation. So! What do you say to that?”

There wasn’t much I could say. The bloke was deranged, but he had a point. I had been invited here by someone with a Patagonian Welsh sounding name and the trip had all seemed a bit too good to be true. “OK. Maybe I have been duped into coming here, so why not just deport me?” I asked.

“Deport you? Of course, let us just put you on the next ‘plane back. Why didn’t I think of that?” His smile was sinister as he went back behind his desk and began to shuffle through the papers there. “It would seem that we have a problem here; you do not seem to have a return ticket.”

He was right in that. I was supposed to leave on the ship and they were going to give me my ticket for that when I got to the port. He began examining my passport. “We have another problem about deporting you because, according to your passport, you are not here”.

That was true too for I had been met straight off the flight and we had by-passed the formalities, my driver telling me that they would be dealt with by the customs guys at the port.

“You will be taken before the court in a few moments. There we will show that you entered this country illegally when you left the vehicle taking you to the port. We will show that you have lied on your immigration card and that you have come here under false pretences to aid others in subverting the government. The evidence is clear and you will be convicted. As the penalty for illegal immigration is death you will be taken from the court and shot.”

“Don’t I get a lawyer or a ‘phone call?” I was really sweating now.

He sneered. “Lawyers in this country are honest, they do not defend someone who is obviously guilty, but there will be one appointed to see that you are tried fairly and they will also be allowed to check that all members of your firing squad have full magazines: We would not want you to be merely wounded.”

There was the faint sound of automatic gun fire. He looked at his watch, “It sounds as if they are practising already” he smiled, but then the door behind me crashed open and, well I am sworn to secrecy over what happened next. A week later I had done what I had been sent there to really do and was on my way home. My passport shows that I was somewhere else at the time and there is no evidence that I was ever on that island. Those guys sure did hate facilities management people, but I’ve come across that often enough. Maybe no-one had ever tried to kill me before, although there have been a couple of guys packing heat over the years, plus another guy with a machete and more suspicious parcels than I care to remember. On that basis it wasn’t much more than just another day in the facilities office and believe me, the streets out there may be mean, but they have nothing on the offices, so mind how you cross the open plan.





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