It is, as someone - Sophocles perhaps? Or maybe Ken Dodd? - remarked, a funny old world. It is a world where nuclear submarines are so filled with the latest high-technology that they can't travel 5 feet without bumping into each other. It is a world where someone opening boxes at random is seen as the ideal basis for a TV game show rather than the behaviour of a trainee shelf-stacker. It is a world where former Prime Minister Kiznya Schlop - he of the dodgy dossiers, iffy tobacco-sponsorship deals, and handy onion in the pocket in case of sudden deaths of princesses or other emotion-laden occurrences - can be awarded $1 million for "exceptional leadership".
It is, moreover, a world where Albia's fresh-faced Home Minister, Dumazd Pallitoy, can demonstrate his sincere commitment to "the equal worth of human beings" by sending squads of Foreign Office goons round to the High Court to warn judges that - should they seek to disclose documentary evidence that SM5 and America's CIA had connived at the rendition and torture of terrorist suspects(1) - then the Albian legal system "might suffer a nasty accident" at the hands of US intelligence agents along "whoopsy, how did I manage to knock the tradition of Albio-American intelligence-sharing into that car-crusher?"(2) lines. What is more, it now seems that Mr Pallitoy, far from attempting to resist this crude attempt to place pressure on the judiciary, was happy to let his civil servants actively solicit the American threats - behaviour that would normally seem akin to mixing your own concrete overshoes before a meeting with Al Capone.
Given (a) that the activity alleged in the case in question included taking the suspect on a world-tour of torture chambers, where he was subjected, inter alia, to strappado, beatings and genital mutilation and (b) Mr Pallitoy's oft-expressed belief that "human rights are there to hold us to account", one can only assume the Foreign Minister has been labouring under the misapprehension that the security services were merely seeking to show their companion a good time in some extremely specialist S&M clubs.
(1) see A Rocky and Hard Place for my own experiences in this regard.
(2) I am led to wonder whether the CIA gentlemen are, in fact, associated with US Ambassador Pazman and his "associates". Those of you who have been following my brief "work" stint on the new Embassy should be aware that I have now been forced to give up this post, after an ill-advised remark(3) led to my waking up yesterday with a fish's head in my bed.
(3) see Bonus Issues.
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