The village is slowly drifting by the island of Annobón. It is an extinct volcano characterised by a succession of beautiful valleys and steep mountains, covered with rich woods and luxuriant vegetation.
From what I can see, from my cell window, it looks a beautiful place.
The Old Monkey tells me all the goings on in the village through the bars of my window. He says the natives of the island come out in their canoes selling water and fresh provisions, of which Annobón offers an abundant supply.
Beaver tried to con them by persuading them to gamble the supplies in the Casino - but they were too canny for him. They soon realised that the games were fixed and took revenge by doubling the price of their goods. Beaver had a tantrum and told them they were a bunch of capitalists operating a monopoly.
He had no choice but to pay up, however.
The Old Monkey asked me if it was not, now, time for him to organise a an invasion of Homesea to take it back into my possession. I refused to countenance the proposal. I will stay in jail for as long as it takes for the villagers to realise the error of their ways and ask me, once more, to take charge of their destinies.
Annobón's name derives from Ano bom - the Portuguese for Good Year.
I would hardly describe this year as having been good. It has been frought with problems.
The Old Monkey informs me that Dearman has collapsed into administration. It was all too much for him - he simply fainted at the thought of having to reduce his prices. At this very moment he is laid up in bed being administered to by Nurse Gladys Emanuel. I'm not sure I feel that sorry for him - she's a pretty young thing.
I shall have to help him out, if I ever get back. Homeward would not be the same without his superb range of pick'n'mix - at only £30 per pound.
Beaver Hateman held a "Crossing the Line" ceremony, today, in an attempt to lift the despondency that has settled over the village following the decision by many to stay behind in Tarboosh.
It is an old naval tradition held on board ships as they cross the equator.
It involves the initiation of sailors, who have not crossed the line before, into the realm of Neptune - god of water and the sea in Roman mythology.
As the village approached the equator, Beaver dressed up as Neptune, wearing a white toga, a false beard, a crown and holding a gold trident and a conch shell.
I must say that, at first, it was all very amusing and the villagers joined in with gusto.
The initiation ceremony involved being doused with water from a hose - all good clean fun.
But, when it came to my turn, Beaver decided to add some additional rites - increasingly disgusting ordeals. These included wearing my clothing inside out and backwards; crawling on my hands and knees, being swatted with short lengths of firehose; being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with mushy fruit and being locked in a water coffin of salt-water and bright green sea dye.
As I attempted to maintain my dignity and remain a good sport, Beaver laughed and shouted "All you have to do is say 'I'm a Washed-up Celebrity, Get me out of here!' - and we will stop the proceedings!"
Whilst crawling through a large tub of rotting garbage I spotted the television cameras.
So, it was clear that this was just a means for the Badfort Crowd to humiliate and degrade me.
Beaver had crossed a line.
"Up with this I will not put!" I trumpeted and catching Beaver off guard I gave him a sound kicking up.
He flew over the church spire and landed with a great splash in the ocean.
Revenge is sweet.
I did get a rather nice certificate for enduring the ceremony. In the space where the name of the crossing vessel is written I rubbed out 'Badsea' and wrote in 'Homesea'
It looks very nice on my cell wall. Beaver has incarcerated me in the police station jail - I am accused of treason.
Yesterday, the day gradually grew hotter, and a particularly dry wind blew in from the desert. Towards the East the sky began to look yellowish, and the sun became dimmer. The people of Tarboosh muttered uneasily and shut themselves in their homes. The wind became stronger, and away over the desert a great wall of flying dust and blown sand appeared.
On to the waterfront raced the gigantic dust devil, a great spinning pillar of dust, sand and litter rising high into the air.
It was a sandstorm. The force of the wind was immense and the Badfort Crowd, with their faces wrapped in cloths, battled to tie the village to the shore with great mooring-ropes. But they drew taut as bowstrings, snapped, and flew back like elastic bands.
Soon a foaming stretch of sea began to open between the shore and the Strand Quay.
The coast of Africa drew farther and farther away.
We were adrift, again.
This has created a major problem for Beaver. For, a good percentage of the inhabitants of the village did not make it back to the village before the storm hit. Beaver, himself, had been luxuriating in a Turkish Bath at the time and only got home in the nick of time - jumping the yawning gap between the village and the beach dressed only in a small bathing towel that scarcely covered his modesty. I believe a number of papparazi pictures of him (with certain areas blacked out) can be seen in a publication called 'Heat' magazine.
Beaver announced that he would send out boats to bring them back to the village. But to his chagrin they returned empty. It seems that the villagers have taken to the climate and the laid back lifestyle of Tarboosh and have no desire to return.
Beaver decided to appear in another of his 'fireside chats" on the television this morning.
"People of Badsea, as you know our population is now somewhat depleted. This has created a number of fiscal problems - although the Casino is still bringing in a healthy revenue from tourists, takings are down. Therefore, although to date no one in Badsea has had to pay tax - apart from Uncle, I am forced to introduce Income Tax at a rate of 45%. But do not worry, this will only apply to the very wealthy - the money will be redistributed to the poor and needy!"
Of course, the problem is that everyone on Badsea is now very wealthy. Their incomes have soared from office rentals to offshore companies and selling geegaws to tourists. The villagers are not happy. They suspect that the poor and needy that Beaver refers to may, in fact, be the Badfort Crowd.
Bad news from Homeward, too.
My brother informs me that my Treasury is sorely depleted. The economic misfortunes around the world are now being felt at Homeward. The dwarfs are no longer spending money on wild extravagances such as steam radios and mutton.
I have decided to kick-start the economy by reducing rents from a farthing a week to a halfpenny a month.
Last night, Beaver and I were invited to a party - the launch of the Atlantis Palm Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.
Well, actually only Beaver was invited - due to his status as the leader of the newest offshore state. I, apparently, no longer count as a world leader because of my dispossessed position.
Beaver, in a surprisingly jovial mood, kindly brought me as his guest.
It was a lavish affair - even by my standards. There was a heady cocktail of sunshine and as much champagne and oysters as one could wish for. We partied away in the company of A-list stars and had a feast of 4,000 lobsters.
The nightingale from down under, Miss Kylie Minogue, performed and was, as usual, radiant.
Beaver and I decided to get some fresh air and take a ride around. We were appalled to discover a city of labour camps hidden away from the eyes of tourists. Migrant labourers lured into a life of squalor and exploitation.
"This is an absolute disgrace. This is no way to treat one's workers - if this is the price to pay for a life of luxury it is not worth paying!" I declared.
"To right, Unc - its a bloomin' disgrace. Lets show 'em a good time for a change - we'll take them to the party!" shouted Beaver.
For once, I heartily agreed with him.
In a long procession, we led them all to the party - Sultan Ahmed Bin Whassisname went puce with anger but there was not a lot he could do about it without provoking an international incident.
Beaver sidled up to him and whispered "I've got a duck bomb under my kaftan and I ain't afraid to use it - one false move and Badsea declares war on you."
It was wonderful to see the workers partying with all those celebrities - Robert de Niro, Janet Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Michael Jordan, Charlize Theron, Mischa Barton, Agyness Deyn, Sir Philip Green, Dame Shirley Bassey, Yasmin Le Bon, Jade Jagger, Lily Allen and Lindsay Lohan.
Mind you, I suspect that they thought they were all unrecognisable Bollywood stars.
I am heartened to see that a great trading friendship is developing between the villagers and the people of Tarboosh.
At first, it took a while for them to get used to the cultural differences in the shopping experience.
I noticed a desert tribesman, trying to buy a pair of shoes in Miss Botany's shoe shop, had some difficulty with our quaint ways. "It says four pounds on the ticket," Miss Botany was saying very loudly and clearly. "What's the use of saying you'll give me two?"
I must say, I had some difficulty at first, myself. I wished to purchase some rather nice carpets for the tower and the seller was dumbfounded when I just offered the price on the ticket. It seems that it is deemed discourteous not to indulge in the game of haggling and he was most put out that I made no effort. I soon got into the swing of things and by the end, although I had beaten him down to half the price, the merchant seemed most pleased. "Sire, you had me fooled - you truly are a great exponent of the barter!" he declared. "Well, I am a world renowned business tycoon" I admitted.
It seems that we may all have to get used to this form of trading in these recessionary times. The news from Homeward is not good. My brother says that it is a veritable blood bath on the highstreets. Last Christmas Cheapman was selling motorcycles for a halfpenny. This year, apparently, he is offering a two for one deal on them.
Poor old Dearman is in a state of great distress. He has very little business usually, anyway, because he steadily increases the price of goods every day. This year he has had to actually reduce them - his battered tin milk jugs are only £21 now. He used to do a roaring trade - selling broken rustic items, to gullible rich people enchanted by their 'retro' charm. But, with so many financial whizz kids out of work the discount shops are rising in popularity - and even the the formally wealthy have decided to shop at Cheapmans.
I must say there is nothing like a bit of shopping to improve ones mood and disposition.
I decide to purchase a splendid purple kaftan - when in Rome do as the Romans do, as they say. There is a particularly hot dry wind here, and it is good to wear something that allows the air to circulate. Beaver made some remark about me looking like Demis Roussos - whoever he is?
Even Beaver has relaxed a bit - he is hobnobbing with the Amir's at the camp of the local desert tribe. The silent old men of the village sit under the palm trees with the silent old men of the desert, watching goat races. They are most impressed by Beaver's riding skills.
Yesterday, I had a long after-dinner chat with my old friend Cornelius the Camel. We bantered about the old days but we were all aware of the elephant in the room - the metaphorical elephant, I mean. The subject that no one, in particular the Old Monkey, wanted to raise. I know that he wished to save my feelings but I could not stand the small talk any longer, I had to ask the question.
"How are things in Casablanca - is the old place still there?" I asked Cornelius.
"Yes, Sultan, Unc's Cafe Americain is still serving up the best coffee in all Morocco, but it is not the same without your exalted presence, Sire." he replied.
"Has she ever visited since..." I began...
"No Sir - Never" said Cornelius emphatically.
My mind wandered back to those distant, difficult days....
At one time, I resisted my destiny - I spurned the life of a world famous entrepreneur, because my heart was broken.
Instead I roamed the far flung corners of the earth, finally settling in Casablanca where I ran a small cafe. A cosy and intimate environment where friends could relax and linger, huddled on the many sofas, drinking a wide choice of coffee and other beverages. I should have patented the idea, I know. Two tourists from Seattle nicked it and now have hundreds of similar outlets around the world.
These were dark days. The lights were going out across Europe. The power workers were on strike. Beaver Hateman was on a tour of the world preaching revolution and fermenting industrial action.
One day a beautiful elephant came into the cafe. The Old Monkey was playing the piano.
"Hello Old Monkey" she said
"Hello Miss Maggie. I never expected to see you again." he replied
"It’s been a long time"
"Yes, ma’am. A lot of water under the bridge"
"Play some of the old songs, Old Monkey"
The Old Monkey began to play a number. He was nervous.
"When will he be back?"
"Not tonight. He went home. Leave him alone, Miss Maggie. You’re bad luck to him."
"Play it once, Old Monkey, for old time’s sake."
"I don’t know what you mean, Miss Maggie."
"Play it, Old Monkey. Play 'Nellie the Elephant'"
"Oh I can’t remember it, Miss Maggie. I’m a little rusty on it."
"I’ll hum it for you....Sing it, Old Monkey"
The Old Monkey began to sing
Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And said goodbye to the circus Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump
At this point I stormed in...
"Old Monkey, I thought I told you never to play…."I shouted, then stared in amazement. I tried to maintain my cool.
"Hello, Maggie." I said
"Hello, Unc." she replied "I wasn’t sure you were the same, Let’s see last time we met…"
"It was the G10 in Paris” I snapped back.
"How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day that Beaver led a violent demonstration against the Summit" she murmured.
"Not an easy day to forget. I remember every detail - Beaver and his gang wore sackcloth, you wore blue." I said sardonically.
"Yes. I have put that dress away. When the unions are smashed, I’ll wear it again." she countered.
I first met Maggie when we were both at University, I studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics and she Natural Sciences. I admired her and admit to finding her the most agreeable and attractive cow (female elephant) that I had ever met.
We met again in Paris at the G10. By then I was at Harvard and she had gone into politics - she had won a parliamentary seat in one of the jungle suburbs.
Our relationship blossomed, we were to go away together - but she just disappeared from my life. I later heard the she had married a successful business elephant called Denis.
"Are you here with Denis?" I inquired. "Yes, we are here for a golf tournament" she replied. Before we could talk anymore she was whisked away by one of her political aides.
That night, for the first and only time, I drank a barrel of Black Tom.
"Sir, are you not going to bed?" said the Old Monkey - clearly concerned at my condition.
"No. Of all the Koolvat joints in all the world, she walks into mine." I responded angrily.
Then Maggie walked in.
"So, here's the successful Minister for Education - I hear they are calling you the banana snatcher?" I jibed.
"Yes, but I can take it - what I can't take is being away from you" she whispered.
"It's a bit late for that! Why did you do it! Why did you leave me!" I cried as the emotions welled up in me.
"I'm sorry, it was a mistake...but can't you see?...once I found out about the bicycle stealing accusation I could not afford the risk. Exposure of the matter could have destroyed my career. A politician's spouse has to have a blameless record." she cried.
"I DID NOT STEAL A BICYCLE!" I shouted.
"Forgive me, I have been a fool, how could I have given you up for a career in politics?...I can't think straight anymore...you'll have to do the thinking for both of us...lets leave Casablanca, together, on the first flight out in the morning." she whimpered.
That night I wrestled with my conscious. Then the phone rang. It was Wizard Blenkinsop. He desperately needed my help - unless I were prepared to buy Homeward it would fall into the hands of Beaver Hateman.
The next morning I met Maggie at the airport.
Denis fell out of the taxi I had ordered for him.
"Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then and it all adds up to one thing. You’re getting on that plane with Denis where you belong. The Gorillas are on strike again, the jungle is in trouble - I know, and you know, that you are the only one who can sort this madness out. You have to run for Prime Minister." I told her.
"If that plane leaves and you are not on it you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life. We’ll always have Paris. We did’nt have, we’d lost it, until you came to Casablanca.
I’ve got a job to do too. I have to go and buy Homeward. I must become a world famous tycoon. It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little elephants don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.. Someday you’ll understand that.
Here’s looking at you, kid."
With that I waved her off.
Later that night I confided in The Old Monkey.
"I think it was probably for the best in the end....I'm not sure who would have worn the purple trousers in that relationship."
"Well, to be honest, Sir," said the Old Monkey "I always found her a bit shrill"
The village has once more come to rest on the mainland - specifically on the coast of North West Africa, the Kingdom of Tarboosh, and the inhabitants seemed none to pleased to see us.
This morning, as the shore loomed nearer and nearer, we could make out the details of square white-washed houses, domed mosques and tall minarets. Crowds of people poured on to the waterfront and even at a distance I could see the excited state that they were in.
Hateman was becoming more and more anxious. "What's up with this lot?...we better break out the duck bombs... it looks as if we're in for some trouble!" he shouted to his cohorts in the Badfort Crowd.
"Calm down, Beaver, you'll only make matters worse if you take precipitous action, lets see if we can find out what the trouble is first." I said, trying to defuse the situation.
This just made him more angry. "Listen, mate - if you remember you ain't in charge any more - I'm the boss now." he shouted.
The people of Tarboosh swarmed across the beach and into the cobbled streets. They all seemed very angry, the leaders shouting strings of angry words over and over again, to which the followers replied with harsh sounds in chorus. Here and there were banners with strange curly writing and one or two in English, saying things like: 'GO HOME BAD PEOPLE." and "DOWN WITH THE HATING INVADERS!"
"I think, Beaver, that there seems to have been some misunderstanding engendered by your renaming of the village as 'Badsea' and the fact you have an unfortunate surname" I explained to Beaver, who was getting more and more irate.
"Well, if its a fight they want, I'll show them the might of the glorious People's Republic!" he cried.
"Wait! I think I see a friendly face!" I declared - for in the crowd I had spotted none other than Cornelius the Camel, brother of my old trusted friend Claudius!
"Greetings, Sultan of Sultans." said Cornelius. The camels always speak in this way - it is highly embarrassing but what can one say?
I explained the misunderstanding that had occurred and asked him if it would be possible for him to assure the crowd of our good intentions.
"Do not worry, Sire, the knots of discord shall be swiftly cut through!" he replied.
He then jabbered away to the crowd for a bit and they suddenly looked at me in awe.
"Well that seems to have done the trick - what did you say to them?" I asked Cornelius.
"I merely explained that you have the brow of Solomon and are deeply versed in learning. Oh, and that you are very rich and a great patron. They beg you gather the silken tassels of their homage and request you look at some carpets, of the finest quality, that they feel sure you would wish to purchase" replied Cornelius.
"Most gratifying!" I answered.
This exchange sent Beaver into apoplexy. "Oi, Camel, tell em its me thats what is in charge here!" he screeched.
"You are a very noisy annoying man and they are not interested in what you have to say." snorted Cornelius.
The folk of the village and the folk of Tarboosh were soon exchanging goods and experiencing each others cultures. The Tarbooshi had their first experience of a traditional cream tea whilst the villagers had a go smoking hubble-bubble pipes, playing backgammon and drinking little cups of coffee.
As the village basks in the heat of the desert, only Beaver seems annoyed at the change in circumstances.
I see that Mister Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has called on all the major countries to cut taxes to prevent the global economy sinking deeper into recession.
I was expecting a call from him asking me to attend the G20 Economic Summit. I felt sure that they would want to draw on my many years of expert opinion. No such call, however, was forthcoming.
Of course, Hateman has been a major ally and confidant of Mister Brown in his endeavours.
Beaver has been crowing about the success of his policies ""Good evening, friends, unlike other countries, hit by depression, Homesea is very much afloat - because here no one pays any taxes!" he declared on the television last night, during one of his 'fireside chats'.
Of course, that is only half the story. The village has gone gambling mad and Beaver is raking in the money at the Town Hall Casino.
He declared that today they would mark the great success of his fiscal stimulus by having a special parade for the needy children of Homesea.
Beaver Hateman has been playing the Pied Piper of Badsea, leading the children around the village playing his flute and singing "Hail, the Revolution!", a traditional Badfort protest song.
Like the Pied Piper, I am convinced he is leading them astray. It is not surprising that the children are needy - their parents spend the whole day at the roulette table.
"Look at the old miserable elephant," shouted Beaver as he strutted past me "I have just given a million to Children in Need, hope you have turned out your pockets!- have to do your bit don't you and, as you know only to well, the odd philanthropic gesture does wonders for the image don't it!"
I have, of course, made my usual donation. I did ask Sir Terry not to make a big deal out of it - but he insisted on waving my cheque about in front of the cameras. One does find the acclaim for ones generosity quite embarrassing. I really think it was a bit much, however, when he pulled out Beaver's cheque and said "and look here is another even bigger one from the old sackcloth saviour himself, Mister Beaver Hateman- Baron of Badsea !"
If only Sir Terry knew the source of those funds I am sure he would be outraged.
Beaver Hateman has confiscated my traction engine. He informed me that the people's commissariat had decided that it is 'environmentally unsound'.
He told me that I would now have to travel everywhere by bike.
"But don't worry you won't have to nick one, mate, cos out of the generosity of our hearts we are gonna lend you one!" laughed Beaver. A caustic reference to the incident in my youth when I had borrowed a bicycle without informing it's owner.
He then wheeled out a penny farthing!
It is a most uncomfortable ride. The only saving grace is that it has an awning. It is now very hot. The village is floating towards the coast of North Africa, and the villagers have taken to having a siesta in the afternoon or basking in the sunshine.
The creepers that used to struggle a few inches a year up the old brick walls have begun to spread over the eaves and clamber up the chimneys. The little cacti plants of the village allotment holders, that barely survived in their greenhouses, are now flowering and flourishing.
Given the parlous state the world is in at the moment I know that I should be giving more thought to rebuilding the structure of international finance, but no one seems to want to hear my views anymore - they are too busy being taken in by Beaver's rhetoric.
Quite frankly, although I feel somewhat guilty about it, I am rather enjoying these days in the sun without any responsibilities.
The only annoying factor, today, has been that Hitmouse has insisted on following me around everywhere inside a big balloon. Everywhere I went he would roll into view. He said that he was making sure that I was not trying to ferment unrest amongst the villagers.
I dealt with him. I accused him of being a champagne socialist, knowing how much the taunt would enrage him.
He did, indeed, become furious and immediately pulled out his skewers and threw them at me.
This, of course, resulted in the balloon becoming punctured. It flew off into the air taking Hitmouse with it. Hopefully, his ego will be as deflated as the balloon.
"Well, financial, actually...we were wondering if you could give us a bit of advice on investments?...this capitalism lark is all a bit new to us, Number 6, whereas you've been exploiting people and indulging in dodgy financial...."
"Stop right there!" I shouted "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. My life is my own... I am not a number. I am a free elephant."
Beaver Hateman has implemented the issuing of Identity Cards to all the villagers.
He has set up booths all over the village to gather 'biometric' data.
Beaver says that they are necessary because of the influx of tourists and foreign business people.
He made the announcement in a television appearance last night.
"There is a demand, now, for cards - and as I go round the village I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don't want to wait for their cards. They don't want any of those foreigners coming into our village committing fraud at the gambling tables, terrorising the place with their metropolitan ways, and accessing Badsea public services for free" he said.
He insisted that, as I was not a proper resident of Badsea, I would have to register as an illegal alien. I reminded him that he was not a proper resident either, as he had been on holiday here, like myself, when the village went adrift.
"Yes, that's as maybe," he replied "but, I'm in charge now!"
I then asked him why I had to pay £300, for my card, whilst everyone else was only paying 3s 6d. "That's 'cause you have rather large hands and therefore big fingerprints. It's all extra data we have to get on the card you know. Plus, don't forget, your large trunk!"he scoffed.
"You can stay, but don't cause any trouble - and you can't work, and no sponging off the state!" he guffawed.
"Need I remind you, I am an elephant of independent means - I hardly think that will be necessary." I replied.
"You ain't seen your Rates Bill yet then?" laughed Beaver.
It used to be that when the President-Elect became clear, in the United States, I would give them a call to congratulate them and they would ask for my sage advice on worldly matters.
Last night I gave Mister Obama a call and was told he "was a bit busy and would call me back later".
I decided to go for a walk along the seafront. There were fireworks going off all over the place - but that is not unusual now that every night is Fiesta Night, here in the village.
Beaver was also taking the air that night and I must admit I eavesdropped on a mobile telephone conversation he was having.
"Listen Barack, me old mate, yeah redistribution is fine but you gotta relax the old rules and regulations - let people have a bit of fun in these hard times. No need to tax the old hedge funders - look, thats why they come here. To get away from the taxes innit. But then I just fleece 'em in the old Gambling Hall don't I? There's more than one way to skin a cat you know? They can't resist a bit of a gamble - you just got to fix the game, mate...."
I could bear to listen no longer. Are there no standards left?
My stand against Beaver, my refusal to leave the village, does, however, seem to have increased my celebrity status. As I walked back home I got a phone call from a Mister Steven Moffat inquiring as to my availability next year to assume the starring role in a popular television drama."Change, my dear, and not a moment too soon. Perfect timing - I need a new direction." I said to Mister Moffat.
Apparently rumours abound about my taking this role - you can read a tabloid newspaper's so-called exclusive by clicking on the image below.
But I have had second thoughts. Now is not the time (excuse the pun) to desert the villagers.I thanked Mister Moffat for the offer - but I really need to stay in the village for the sake of its citizens.
Also, I only ever act in my own work, or that of the great playwright Mister Ernest Wiseman.
My followers have been urging me to leave. They believe the village to be a lost cause.
There is no doubt that the village has changed. Those cottages that have not been adapted into accommodation for offshore companies are now being converted into 'boutique' hotels for the wealthy tourists who come here to gamble and party.
The villagers have changed as well. They are no longer happy to live the simple village life. They have got used to the high life, going to 'do's' on the Russian oligarchs yachts moored in the harbour and playing crazy golf with Mr Trump on the seafront.
Meanwhile, Beaver lords it up in the Town Hall quaffing champagne.He has given himself the title Baron Hateman of Badsea.
I have come to a decision.
I know that the time will come when this dream world will disappear like the mirage that it is. The villagers will then need my wisdom and experience to rescue them from the nightmare which is sure to follow. It is my duty to stay.
I know that the Old Monkey will refuse to leave my side and Noddy Ninety will insist on manning the Railway Station to the last, but I have told Cowgill to organise an airlift and ordered all my followers to return to Homeward. For my brother, Rudolph, will need their advice and assistance in the smooth running of my great metropolis.
No doubt Beaver intends to make life difficult for me - but I will fortify myself with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing.