Friday, 14 November 2008

ABOUT THE EURO SOAP

This story of our possible future in the EU was written by me over a period of time, I hope you find it amusing as well as informative.

The Euro Soap has had two past outings, it began life as a monthly story added to the Euro Realist newsletter back at the tail end of 1997 and through to 1998, in the days when it was in print form only.

The problem with trying to alert people to the dangers of membership of the European Union is that the subject is boring. Who wants to read about directives and delve into pages and pages of legislation in detail? Who can understand the convoluted way EU legislation is drafted? The answer has to be a very rare few, but everyone understands the facts when these directives and laws impact on our lives, when our local Post Office closes because of EU postal directives, or when you can't fathom the weights and measures on packaging because of compliance to enforced EU metrication.

All this, and more, damages our lives and in this speculative story it predicts a future scenario where the EU is in total control and the harm it wreaks on the lives of ordinary people struggling to get by. Although this has been written very much tongue in cheek, some of what was speculative in 97/98 has since come to pass. We now have the EU-wide arrest warrant, which plays a part in this story, plans for road pricing to comply with the EU's TENs programme are being implemented, ID cards are being put into place and in recent times certain people living in the UK and soon airport workers will find them compulsory on order to keep their jobs.

As I said, much of this was speculative when first being written, but is becoming fact. The idea of the story was to be funny, but the subject is far from funny - there is nothing humorous about losing our freedom to the European Union.

I hope you enjoy the story and let others know about it too, but as they say, many a true word spoken in jest.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

CHAPTER 1: THE LADS NIGHT OUT

It was the lads night out, they always met up as the same time every week. all of the gang meeting up for a few beers. The five of them had been friends since they did their compulsory national service in the European army.  It had become a ritual meeting on Wednesday nights down at the Delors Arms for a few beers and a good old chinwag,  then moving on to the New European to hopefully chat up a few girls.

Jimmy was first to arrive, he waited his turn at the bar eyeing the ample proportions of Beverley. A thought passed through his mind as he propped the bar waiting to be served, years ago she would have been known as 'Beverley the Buxom Barmaid' - but not now, of course, not in these enlightened times. Anyone who works in a pub are known as, and have to be referred to, as 'drinks dispensing personnel' (DDP’s), and as far as buxom is concerned he would be landing himself in a right load of trouble even saying the word. Beverley sashayed up the bar and grimacing at Jimmy she asked: “Wot yer want then?”  “A bitter please” replied Jimmy.  “Wot, 75cl or a small un?”, “75 please Bev” Jimmy confirmed.  “That's 20 euro’s then” Beverley confirmed. Jimmy looked at the beer then at Beverley. “Bloody hell 20 euro’s! It was 18 last week!”  “Well you will drink these exotic beers, why don’t you drink lager like everyone else?" Beverly grumbled.  "Anyway you know v.a.t has gone up to 25% to help out the Bulgarian region. Then there is the surcharge the Commissioners stuck on the hops that have to be grown specially for these low volume specialist beers, you shouldn't moan so much, its still cheap at half the price, bloomin trouble maker is what you are” said Beverley who, for her, was being polite.

Jimmy paid up and sat down in the usual corner, as he took his first swig James walked in, he waved to James then attempted a conversation with the charming Beverley. “Nice day today” he said.  “Yer talkin' to to me” she snarled back.  “Well yes, I was trying to be polite” James confirmed.  “Stuff that, wot yer want” Beverly growled.  James sighed: “oh 75 of lager”. When Beverley had finished slopping his lager all over the counter and grunted something which sounded obscene, he handed over his euro’s and sat down with Jimmy.

“So how you been today Jimmy”? Calling him Jimmy rather than Jim was done on purpose. Out of the five of them four of the friends had the same name, James. Apart from Graham, who was 26, they had all been born in 2006 the year after the whole of Europe had adopted the French system of having a list of permitted names to choose from. This list was rationalised to a number of Euro approved names of which the bulk were what used to be referred to as continental names in the days before the United States of Europe (USE) had been formed. There were loads of Helmut’s in the German regions, Pierre’s in the French regions and out of the handful of original English sounding names James seemed to be the most popular. Unless of course your parents were one of the privileged who worked for the Commission, then you would have a name like Maria or RenĂ©. Unfortunately RenĂ© Bloggs never quite had a ring about it somehow, but the commission couldn’t do a lot about that as these old British names were passed down the generations. There had been discussions about giving grants to people who wished to change their surnames by deed poll to a more friendly Euro sounding name, but this idea had to be put on hold as it was deemed to be not important enough at that time due to lack of funds. The old Eastern bloc countries of the Union were costing a fortune and crippling the economy. There was a sneaking suspicion amongst the hierarchy that all of these James’s had come about out of respect for the late Sir James Goldsmith who had been declared a posthumous traitor of the USE. Someone had dropped a clanger allowing the name of James on the approved list.

So our five friends who were known as Jimmy, James, Jim and Jimbo to save confusion, plus of course Graham, who had few problems with his name, were all due to meet on this balmy summer evening. Jimbo was next in, when he sat down all flushed and bristling he looked back at the bar, “what's up with that mardy DDP?" He muttered.  "I thought she was going to jump down my throat”. The general consensus was that it was the wrong time of the month although her bad temper was normally only slightly better anyway. Graham was next to be on the receiving end of Beverley’s dulcet tones. He plonked his plastic beaker of beer on the table (glass had been banned on health and safety grounds some years before). “Strewth what you lot done to her?” he said nursing a battered ego.  “Bugger all” they all innocently replied. After that they all settled down to their beers and general chit chat when Jimbo piped up.  “Where’s Jim?" he asked:  "He’s late tonight”.  James said that Jim had to take on extra Eurospeak lessons “its probably due to that”.

The lads were well into their second 75cl’s by the time Jim came in. He had still got his papers and books from his Eurospeak lessons and stuffed them under the table before going to the bar. Hushed voices warned him to look out for Beverley, “she’s in a right old mood”, “so am I” grizzled Jim and stormed up to the bar. All four looked in horror awaiting the clash of the Titans.  “I want a lager and make it snappy” Jim demanded.  “Stuff you mate, you'll get nothin' if you talk to me like that” Beverly snarled back.  “I’m a paying customer, so jump to it”. The whole pub went quiet, Jim the butcher, who had been reading about the beef ban on the regions of what were once known as England being possibly lifted by 2040 in the latest edition of Offal Monthly, and how the commissioner from the Mercia region, Thierry Sutcliffe had said: “at last after all of these years we seem to be getting somewhere but it will take a little longer yet” put his paper down to watch the impending demise of Jim.

“Wot yer say” screeched Beverley. By now Jim was beginning to lose his nerve but stood his ground, “you got cloth ears or something”? Beverley went crimson and Jim went pale, his legs began to give way a little and he had to steady himself slightly against the bar. By now the head of steam building up in Beverley was reaching explosive proportions, “oh for pity's sake please give me a lager Bev. I’ve had a rotten day”, “you creeping nurd, you jumped up little tospot you”, a whole load of verbal expletives came pouring forth from Beverley’s Midnight in Brussels red painted lips and Jim visibly shrunk with each one. Finally with anger vented Jim's plastic beaker of lager was slammed down on the bar slopping beer everywhere, Jim hadn’t got the bottle to ask her to top it up, he just crept back to the lads who had enjoyed every minute of Beverley’s verbal destruction of poor old Jim.

Graham piped up, “ you showed her then Jim!”  James almost spilt his beer trying not to laugh. Jim flopped into his seat exhausted: “I hate those bloody language courses and now I am having to do an extra one because I’m behind everyone else, I will never be ready for Eurospeak in two years time when its introduced, I will have to stick to English”. The others looked horrified, “ you can’t do that, you know that English will be an illegal language when Eurospeak becomes compulsory.”  “Well, what am I to do?  I just can’t grasp it, I will be like those poor old buggers in the old folks homes who still talk about those old fashioned weights and measures they used last century”. Jimmy drained his beaker and said: “You’ve got no choice but to learn, we're all doing it, it will only be the Americans allowed to use that language here after 2032, and then it won’t be known as English, our language will only be known as American and if you haven't got an American accent and passport you'll be right in it”.   “Yeh” said Graham “first it will be fines, then a prison sentence.”  Jim went ashen: “What a horrible thought, banged up for six months with compulsory Eurospeak lessons every day” he said.

The Delors Arms began to get busier and James the Drinks Dispensing Administrator (DDA) came on duty to help out. Landlord was a term of phraseology that had been deemed to be not only sexist but too steeped in British history, so DDA’s had been introduced instead. Any of the older generation who went into a pub and referred to the landlord, or even had the nerve to ask for a pint, were seriously frowned on. After serving a few customers and getting the little rush of customers served up with their lagers, Martini’s and wines, he came over to the lads who were well into their third round. Jim still had some catching up to do. “I am sorry about Beverley tonight lads” he consoled.  “That's allright James, we hardly noticed any difference” some of them lied.  Jim said: "I bloody well did".   James the DDA said “mind your language, vicar James is sitting behind you.” “Oops. sorry James” Jim apologised.  “That's ok" said the DDA: "I know you’ve had a bad day, but its nothing to what's been going on in Beverley’s family” he intimated. 

The group of lads all huddled up closer to listen to this new and interesting piece of hot gossip. “Tell all James” was the unanimous call from the group.  “Move up a bit then lads.  ”The DDA sat in the middle of the huddle then looked furtively around the pub. As if on cue the lads all glanced around too in the traditional precursor to a bit of juicy gossip. James by now having the full and undivided attention of his audience.  He leant forward and said: “Now where do I begin?”  “Get on with it James” they urged. “Well, you know Beverley's dad Jason is of that funny age, he was born in the late sixties?” “Yeh” they all replied. “Well, you know a lot of people born around then, or before, tend to harp on about the old days and go on about that sovereignty thing?”  “Yeh, never fully understood that said Jimbo”. “Well Beverley’s dad has been spouting on a bit too much, I had to throw him out of here last night after he had a few too many in case he gives the pub a bad name. (Delors Arms!)  He was going on about independence and all that”. “Wow, he wasn’t was he?” they gasped.  “He was, and its been reported” the DDA confirmed. “Never” one of them said. “Yes, and the old Euro bill has been around his house this morning”.   A stunned Jimmy said: “I know him vaguely.”  “Well, he’s in it now, they found one of those banned Union flags in his loft” the DDA gossiped.  “Really?" was the surprised reply.  "Yup and its worse than that” the DDA went on.  “How?” the group of lads asked: “Well they’ve accused him of being a terrorist member of the BLA” the DDA said.  “What, the British Liberation Army?” the group gasped.  “Yeh, he’s to go up in front of the Inquisition” the DDA confirmed.  “Flippin' 'eck” one the lads said.  Suddenly, without warning, Beverley started to cry.  No one in the pub could get over it, they did not know what to do or say next as thay had never seen any emotion from Beverley before, other than her normal surly manner.

Monday, 10 November 2008

CHAPTER 2: THE MORNING AFTER

Jason Brathwaite was not having a good day, in fact Jason was having a lousy day, as far as days went this one was most definitely the pits. Yesterday was a good day, he had been down to his last five euro’s which he put on a nag, which in turn had romped home at ten to one. Not believing his luck, he then put the lot on another horse and that also won - and the next one and the one after. By the end of the day his pockets were stuffed full of euro’s. He could vaguely remember the Delors Arms, but after the eighth or ninth lager everything had become a little vague. Visions of standing on a table lecturing the whole pub about how much better life had been in the old days before Britain had been sucked into the United States of Europe came to mind. “Surely that was just a dream?” he thought. He also had a hazy image of the DDA throwing him out and telling him his custom was no longer desirable in the Delors, but all of that was lost in a alcoholic haze. He did, however, remember the morning after.

He remembered lying in bed suffering from the worst hangover in living memory, his mouth felt like the bottom of a bird cage and his head, although numb on the outside, throbbed mercilessly on the inside. Engraved permanently in his mind was the almighty crash as ten muscular and extremely large European police officers, known to all as the “Eurobill”, demolished his front door, charged upstairs to his bedroom and all of them pouncing on him together resembling a rugby scrum. Jason also remembered wearing nothing but a pair of dirty old underpants as he was manhandled, handcuffed, dragged backwards down the stairs and thrown unceremoniously into the back of a Euro Maria. After a short journey he was once again grabbed, frog marched along a disinfectant smelling corridor and thrown headfirst into a windowless cell. It was there he languished in a sea of self pity, head throbbing, battered and bruised from head to toe, with every bone in his body feeling as if it had been broken. “What the hell did I do last night?” he asked himself.

Jason sat dejectedly in his tiny cell for over an hour, thoughts desperately raced through his mind as to why he should be there - but to no avail. Then the lock clanked, the door swung open, and once again he was off. This time he was in such a vice like grip his feet didn’t even touch the floor, they just seemed to dangle blowing in the breeze as he was rushed into interview room number nine, thrown into a chair and told not to move. About five minutes later a rather oily looking character sauntered into the room. He was dressed in a smart suit and smelled of Old Strasbourg after shave. He was about 35 year of age, or so Jason thought by the look of him. The Eurobill fussed about him treating him with deference, one of them shut the door for him and grovelingly asked if there was anything else he required. The oily character then sat down on the opposite side of the table to Jason, leant back in his chair, crossed his legs, folded his arms and looked at Jason with an air of disdain as if he was looking at something extremely unpleasant. Jason went cold as this person gave him the same sort of look anyone would have for something unmentionable which they would spend ages trying to scrape off the sole of their shoe. They sat opposite each other for what seemed like an eternity to Jason, who just sat and trembled. The oily character then leant over to one side of the table and switched on the tape recorder.

“Interview with one Jason Wyngard Brathwaite”, he looked at his watch: “Commencing 09.47 hours, interview being carried out by Chief Inspector of Europol, Jean Pierre Higginbotham”. Jason looked petrified. “Jason Wyngard Braithwaite, you stand accused by the Inquisitorial Justices of the United States of Europe, for acts of terrorism against the State of Europe and for being a member of the outlawed terrorist organisation, the British Liberation Army, otherwise commonly known as the BLA. What do you say?”, “Bloody hell!” Jason replied, he felt numb from head to toe which helped to ease the agony of his aching body. “I repeat, what do you say?” pushed Jean Pierre: “You've got the wrong bloke” trembled Jason. “Oh no we haven't, we have been watching you for quite some time with your anti-Federal and treacherous outbursts, we know that someone like you must be mixed up with the BLA”. “I’m not, honest”, swore Jason in a panic. “Come off it Jason you must be, we know you were in the magnificent epicentre of Brussels at the time that bomb went off outside the Commissioners Head Quarters last year” pushed Jean Pierre. Jason’s mind raced back in time, although he was still in a terrible state, his body suffering the effects of over indulgence the night before which meant his mind had a job to race anywhere, then it came to him. “I was there on the pubs annual outing, a cultural exchange between the Delors Arms and the Santer bar in the Rue de la Ted Heath. We spent all weekend trying to drink each other under the table” confirmed Jason. 
The Chief Inspector looked at Jason with steely eyes: “We know that’s just a cover, mind you quite a good one, you had us wondering for some time and were never quite sure - until last night”. Memories of the previous nights fling came flooding back and Jason looked in horror, the image of himself standing on a table haunted him, surely that was just a dream he asked himself. “Oh yes Jason, you convinced us last night, your table top performance was the final nail in your coffin old chap”. “Oh my gawd, you don’t mean that really happened do you, I thought it was all just a bad dream”. “This is your bad dream Jason, you've been caught and we are going to send you away for a long time - a very long time”. “What proof have you got, there can’t be any, it must all be circumstantial”, “We don’t need proof, you are accused and as such its up to you and whoever you have as your lawyer to prove your innocence”. Jason pleaded, “What happened to, a man is innocent until proven guilty?”. “My my Jason, you do live in the past. All that time wasting palaver went with most of the other arcane traditions when we became one with the glorious European States of Europe” gloated Jean Pierre, who almost sat to attention as he mentioned the words ‘glorious European States of Europe’. Jason hurled the insult: “You stupid great pillock”. The Chief Inspector went a slight shade of red, his cold piercing grey eyes bore into those of Jason's murky bloodshot eyes: “I’m not the one who’s going to be locked away for a very long time” stated Jean Pierre coldly. Jason felt a shiver run down his back. “You can’t keep me in here without charging me, I know my rights”, “Oh no Jason, you used to know your rights, Habeas Corpus went out with all that other clap trap. We can keep you in here indefinitely and no one - I repeat - no one, can do a thing about it”.

The Chief Inspector rose from his seat, slightly stretched himself, took another cold look at Jason who looked a forlorn figure his grubby underpants, then turning to the two Eurobill and nodding in Jason’s direction: “Lock it up lads - and see if you can get it something to wear, I’ve never seen such a revolting sight in all my life, I don’t think I could stand looking at that flabby great belly again."  He swaggered out of the room followed by Jason's insults and the word “git” ringing in his ears. Jason; a sorry looking, dejected and crumpled piece of humanity, was hauled back to his cell and thrown in. About thirty minutes later a well worn apology of a track suit was tossed into him: “Put that on” growled the officer before slamming the door shot once again

Jason spent a cold and uncomfortable night in his cell. The next morning at around 6 am his door clanked open: “Come on you - breakfast”. Jason shuffled out into the corridor where the other cell doors were open. There were eight others who all looked in much the same state as Jason, stood waiting in line.  “This way lads, what would you like for breakfast, bacon, sausage and eggs or devilled kidneys with kippers and coffee to follow?” teased the guard as he marched them into the makeshift canteen, then confirmed: “Its cold porridge for you lot and a mug of tea - queue up over there”. They all waited in turn as a sticky dollop of cold grey looking stuff was shook violently off a ladle by a chap in a chef’s hat. The congealed blob lurked on its plastic plate looking more like concrete than porridge. After 24 hours Jason was just about over his hangover - but the look of this revolting substance made him turn green. “Come on eat up you’re all being collected at ten o’clock this morning” shouted the guard. Jason looked quizzically at the chap sitting opposite him. “What’s he mean collected?” asked Jason. The man looked sideways at Jason: “Don’t you know we are all being done for crimes against the USE?”. Jason looked bewildered. “Strewth where have you been chum? We are being sent to the human warehousing (prison) near the Chief Inquisitors Judicial HQ close to Brussels, it’s a massive prison complex. He has signed for our arrest and as soon as the formalities are taken care of we will be off. All there is left for them to do now is to wait for Guisepe Murphy, the Judge of Freedoms, to sign the paperwork when he gets in at nine thirty this morning and that’s it”. Jason spent the rest of the ten minute breakfast period crying into the coagulated grey blob which lurked on its plate, uneaten, in front of him.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

CHAPTER 3: AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Wendy and Beverley stood outside of the regional Europol offices and within minutes the large black gates opened and out swung the prison van. The windows were blacked out, they stood at the roadside shouting their goodbyes hoping that Jason could hear them above the noise of the diesel engine as it revved up and roared away towards Kohl International airport (this used to be known as Heathrow). “What are we going to do now then?” Beverley asked her mum. “I don’t know Beverley, I really don’t know” was the only thing Wendy could say. They slowly walked back to the bus stop to return home.

Down at Jason’s last remaining local, the Commission and Clause, which was the only place left he hadn’t been thrown out of, all the talk was of Jason and his arrest. Mind you the Commission and Clause was such a rough dive any talk in there was hardly sober and mostly undecipherable, unless you had consumed a great deal of lager, that also included the DDA who had always been in a worse state than poor old Jason. Hence the reason why Jason hadn’t been thrown out as he had always looked quite respectably sober to Jim, the inebriated DDA. Word had also got around to all the other pubs, every one of which had kindly requested, in not the politest of fashion, that Jason take his custom elsewhere. Jason had become the talk of all the pubs in the town.

That evening down at the Delors Arms a general debate had been going on about Jason and his guilt. The general consensus had been that Jason must be innocent because he had always been too drunk, and far too incoherent, to even get involved with the BLA. In fact, it was deemed he would have been a liability to the British Liberation Army and a positive danger to anyone around if he had been allowed to handle explosives. On these grounds alone Jason couldn’t possibly be involved. They had decided he would have received the same treatment from the BLA as all the local drinks dispensing administrators had given him, i.e. thrown him out! 
Thus it was decided Jason must be innocent and a collection for the free Jason Braithwaite appeal had begun. The money raised that evening was a start, but a poor one. It consisted of a few euro coins, one torn and badly stained ten euro note, and a few washers which had been hard to spot during the collection as they were not too dissimilar to a euro coin. “40 euro’s? Is that all!” James the DDA exclaimed after the hat had been passed around. “Well you know most in here are unemployed” Graham responded. “Few will ever have the hope of a job, its not like the old days last century when the worst unemployment figures only reached 3 million”. “Yeah” agreed James. “Ever since the crash of the euro a few years after monetary union began it's been tough for everyone”. 

After monetary union had been forced through by the EU at the end of the 20th century against the will of the people of Europe, and common sense, the euro was launched on time and at the dates laid down. Many economists at that time had warned of collapse, but so determined was the EU's leaders they would not hear of delay or abandonment of the scheme. It did not take too long before the cracks began to appear. Trying to tie up all of Europe's interest rates had created chaos, parts of Europe boomed while others sank into a deep recession. When the people who operated the money markets moved in they made a killing, but unlike the British ERM disaster, once in no one could pull out, they were trapped and had given all of their reserves to the Central Bank in Frankfurt. Any country which threatened withdrawal from the euro were told: “fine, we will keep your reserves”, they would have been left euroless and without assets. All of Europe went into such a steep decline it became almost a clone of Communist Russia. Even the euro became a joke on currency markets and just like the Communist Rouble, it became worthless. In fact the Federal States of Europe, as it went into decline, began to look more and more like Communist Russia. Laws and dicktats became more authoritative, the state took more control, and people were finding that they had less freedom as the European Federal Government became ever more controlling. As every year went by the more and more Europe began to resemble the old Communist bloc as its people became increasingly restricted.

“Its been hopeless for the unemployed” said James. “Look at poor old Sydney up the corner there”. They both looked at the huddled figure of the 67 year old man sitting on his own with his drink. “He ran a successful import export business. They reckon he was a millionaire and instead of getting out like the rest of them when they could see it coming, he stayed. He said it was patriotism but they soon put paid to things like that, we're all supposed to be proud to be citizens of Europe now. Anyway, he lost the lot, money, cars, big house - even his wife ran off with a Commissioner, poor sod”. Graham agreed. “Whatever we are going to do, we will have to get a bit better organised than this if we’re to do any good for Jason. I’ll arrange a special meeting with the lads, we will all be in here tomorrow night, see if you can organise others to come along”. James agreed to this and the first free Jason Braithwaite meeting was on.

News of the meeting soon got around, most were going along, meetings like this usually turned into a fair old knees up. Wendy and Beverley had heard of this meeting, Beverley was overjoyed. “Look what they’re doing for me dad we’ll soon have him home”. Wendy wasn’t too sure. One she didn’t want to dampen Beverley's spirits and two, although she was a bit miffed about the way Jason and she had been treated, especially when she looked at the state of her front door which was now boarded up and only just about hanging on its hinges after the Eurobill had bashed their way in, she had hoped for a period of quiet without Jason arriving home drunk every night.

It was Eight o’clock the following evening and once again the group of friends, Graham, Jimmy, James, Jim and Jimbo had all gathered for this special evening, and the pub was filling up. James the DDA was tickled pink, he hadn’t had the pub so busy in a long time. The last time it was as packed was the day the Monarchy had been abolished by Brussels and the Royal's had flown out to live in exile in America. That night, although busy, had been a strange night for a lot of people.  Although many had moaned about the privileges of the Monarchy, they had suddenly realised that it had gone forever and things were changing fast, the atmosphere then had been a little like a wake. Most had realised that compared to the Brussels bureaucracy the Royal family had been cheap to keep, but now it was too late, control of the country had gone and the British had no say or veto over this, it was decided by a few Commissioners and that was it, implementation swiftly followed.

Beverley was done up to the tens. The expression done up to the nines had been changed some years earlier when sayings like this had all fallen foul of the metrication of customs and sayings directive, hence a stitch in time saves ten, a bird in the hand is worth 5 in the bush and at fives and tens instead of sixes and sevens. By the time Beverley and Wendy turned up at the Delors there was a debate under way about the best way to help Jason. Fundraising around all the local pubs and on the High Street was discussed and generally agreed. Getting the press involved was mentioned but as the press had little liberty due to Brussels laws which had reduced the freedom of the press,  not much hope was given to that. Everyone made a fuss of Beverley and Wendy. This was quite strange to Beverley as most had been the victims of her acid tongue. The only previous conversations she had with the customers of the Delors was to ask what what they wanted to drink and usually in not the most pleasant of terms. Beverley almost even started to enjoy herself.

Jason had not been having such a pleasant time of things, bundled into the prison van with the other eight who were to be shipped off to Brussels, they had trundled off in this van with blacked out windows.  Not being able to see out for over an hour until the doors opened they found themselves in a large prison compound. They were fed and watered then shoved onto a 60 seater coach which was full with other prisoners.  As before they travelled for over another hour until finally arriving at Kohl International airport. The coach went straight through in the special lanes marked and reserved for the many prison vehicles and lined up with five other coaches which had all come from different regions. Each coach off loaded in turn at the steps of the waiting Jumbo jet until the plane was full with all, who like Jason, had been accused of crimes against the Federal States of Europe. 
Jason sat in his seat on the Jumbo next to the chap who he had breakfast with, that is if you can call a dollop of cold congealed porridge breakfast. “We meet again”. Jason looked at the man sitting next to him. “Oh this morning, you're the one that told me where we're going”. “That's me, Mark Harris is the name” Jason's traveling companion confirmed. They shook hands. “I’m Jason Braithwaite, you don’t seem too bothered about this?” Jason observed.  “I’m not Jason, why worry, enjoy the flight you will probably get your best meal in a long time on this flight”. Jason, who was terrified of what lay ahead, was puzzled by his new found companions nonchalant attitude. “Why aren't you bothered? We could be locked away for a long time and I haven't done anything worse than get legless.” Jason said.  “I have contacts Jason, you stay close to me when we get settled in at the other end and you will be alright.” Mark confirmed. “Why would you want to bother with me you don’t even know me?” Jason enquired.  “I think you could be a useful chap to have around.” Mark answered back. Jason was bewildered by Mark, he didn’t fully understand how he could be useful but said no more. The doors of the plane were slammed shut and the plane was pushed out of its bay and then taxied around Kohl International to the runway. Jason managed to get a last glimpse of his homeland then the Jumbo’s engines roared into life and they flew off to a very uncertain future.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

CHAPTER 4: ESCAPE FROM THE EUROBILL

The free Jason Braithwaite evening at the Delors Arms had been in full swing for over an hour, when suddenly the doors burst open and in poured the Eurobill. “Come on break it up this is an illegal get together, we know what's going on.” they announced. People began to flee as the Eurobill were feared and hated, many of them had been recruited for their support for the USE. To escape the raid on the Delors by the Eurobill some of the Delors regulars scrambled out of the lavatory window, some ran upstairs and slid down the drainpipe, whilst many of the others were caught. Their names and details were taken electronically from their ID cards whilst those who had forgotten to bring their ID cards were thrown into the Euro Maria and taken off for interrogation and charge for being in a public place without a compulsory I.D. card.

Beverley and Wendy managed to scramble out of the ladies toilet window. “Oh tit’s, I’ve laddered me tights wailed Beverley”. “I’ll bleedin’ kill your dad for this” complained Wendy as they scarpered into the gloom of the unlit streets. Street lighting had become a luxury which could not be afforded, it had begun on the pretext of reducing carbon emissions and was later included in the cut-backs enforced by the Brussels elite. When out on most dark nights Wendy and Beverley had cursed the unlit streets, but not this night, they were glad of the dark as they made their furtive escape.

At work the next morning Jimmy was relating the previous nights events to Sandra, the office secretary. He was the only one of the five friends who had not had his ID card checked and was telling Sandra how one of the German region Eurobill had recognised him. He said how lucky he was that he worked in a solicitors office as they had done that particular member of the Eurobill a good deal with the legalities when he was moving house from his old German region and purchased his first home in their region. Nothing had been said, the German Eurobill had just nodded to Jimmy to clear off and Jimmy took his opportunity and fled. Sandra, as usual, wore her bored I’ve heard it all before expression. “I think you are a prat being involved with all of that, who cares about that Jason Braithwaite anyway?” she said.  Jimmy was shocked. “We work in a legal office, our job is involved with justice and I don’t think Jason was capable of what he’s been accused of. In fact I am going to have a word to Mr Biggs about it later”. “Best of luck chuck, I bet he couldn’t give a toss either” sneered Sandra.

Much to Sandra’s surprise, Mr Biggs showed an interest and asked Jimmy to follow him into his office. As he followed Mr Biggs, Jimmy pulled a face at Sandra who in return gave him a two fingered salute. “Sit down Jimmy” said Mr Biggs waving his hand towards the chair on the other side of his desk. “Tell me all about this Jason Chappie and how you got involved”. Jimmy related the story of Jason’s arrest, of Beverley and Mrs Braithwaite, of Jason’s inability to do anything useful, let alone be involved with the BLA, and of the raid on the Delors Arms. After listening to all of this Mr Biggs told Jimmy to contact Mrs Braithwaite and Beverley as he would like to see them. Jimmy was also told to keep up the collection with his other pals for Jason, but Mr Biggs suggested they make it a quiet and a slightly underhand affair so as not to attract the unwelcome attention of the Eurobill and the Authorities.

After work that evening Jimmy called into the Delors on his way home to see Beverley. “A 75 of bitter please Bev”. Beverley was back to normal. “Still drinkin' that exotic beer? Yer know its gone up again”. “Strewth, how much is it now?" replied an exasperated Jimmy.  “23 euro’s since yesterday, extra tax on all specialist low volume beers”. Beverley gloated as she told Jimmy. He looked around and asked what James the DDA had to say about it. “Oh ‘im, he got the sack after last night, we’ve got a new DDA starting in a week or so. His names Mr Politi, he’s coming in from one of the Italian regions”. 
Still looking around Jimmy asked where Graham and James were as they were usually in at that time. “Banned”. “You what! What for?” asked a startled Jimmy, “For getting caught in here last night” replied Beverley in her usual couldn’t care less manner. “All your mates got done, they've all had 20 punishment points on their ID cards, a 400 euro fine and a twelve month ban from the Delors for attending an illegal get together”. Jimmy gasped. “Bloody hell, this is all your dads fault, we were only doing it for him”. Beverley sighed. “Why is everybody blaming me dad for everything these days?"  Jimmy, beer in hand, leaned against the bar dejectedly. “I’m really depressed now and I’d only popped into give you and your mom the good news”. “What good news?” quizzed Beverley. “Oh I’ve had a word with Mr Biggs, my boss, and it looks like he might be prepared to help your dad. He wants to see you and your mom tomorrow at eleven o’clock”. Beverley blushed partly due to how rude she had been to Jimmy and partly with excitement knowing her dad had got another chance. “Just wait until I tell me Mom she’ll be ever so pleased”.

“No, no, no Beverley, I’ve had enough, your dad can stew in there for all I care. After last night I’m finished, I just want some peace and quiet, for years I’ve waited for a chance like this. With your dad out of the way I can enjoy myself. I might even be able to keep the house tidy”. Looking at the front door she sighed. “Starting with that mess”. The front door was still boarded up. “Well, Mr Biggs may be able to get that fixed, just come with me” pleaded Beverley. “And me dads going to be in there for a long time anyway. You know the legal system works slowly, please come with me” pleaded Beverly. Eventually she wore her mother down and she reluctantly agreed to see Mr Biggs.

Jimmy had contacted the lads who were still smarting from their 400 euro fines and punishment points. He managed to talk them into meeting him that night, although the location of the new venue was of concern to them. “The Commission and Clause! You gone bonkers” shouted Graham down the phone, “its lethal in there”. “Come off it, its not as bad as they make out” replied Jimmy. “Well if its not that bad how come even the Euro Bill won’t go near the place?” demanded Graham “That's its main attraction” Jimmy pointed out. 
That evening, heart in hands, the group of lads warily entered the Commission and Clause. As Jimbo, the smallest of the group, approached its grim portals, a large rough looking character who was the bouncer on the door glared at him. “Got any knives, knuckle dusters, guns or weapons of any kind on you?” he demanded. “No” quaked Jimbo. “That’s a shame” replied the bouncer. “You'll need a weapon of some sort to survive in there".  He then began to roar with laughter at the look of terror on Jimbo’s face. That was always his favourite joke and he repeated it endlessly to all who entered. Once inside it looked as if it might be true. Drunken bodies were sprawled around the place and suddenly a fight broke out down the far end of the bar. Chairs and plastic beakers flew in all directions until the bouncers calmed things down with further acts of violence.

The lads purchased their drinks and after delicately pushing their way through a rough looking crowd who propped the bar they managed to find a darkened corner to sit in. “I’d heard this place was bad, but I never believed it was like this” whispered James. “Well, if we’re to continue the free Jason Braithwaite appeal this is where we will have to meet from now on” warned Jimmy. “Stuff Jason Braithwaite” the others replied in unison. “So far he’s cost us a fortune and got us all banned from the Delors” moaned James, then looking at Jimmy he asked: “How did you get away with it?”  "I was rather fortunate" blushed Jimmy. “However, we can’t give up now as Mr Biggs is on our side” he enthused. “Who’s Mr Biggs?” asked Graham. Jimmy related the interview he had had with his boss and how he wanted them to continue furtively. 
After much persuasion they all reluctantly agreed to continue the cause for Jason’s freedom. It was about this time that the DDA spotted his new customers in his hostelry. Staggering up to them he slurred, “hello lads, I haven't seen you in here before, where you from then?” The lads looked at each other. “Think we should tell him?” They agreed as they had heard that Jason was a pal of this particular DDA. “Sit down here with us” they invited. The DDA cautiously and suspiciously sat down with them and they began to tell him what they were up to. Suddenly the whole pub looked around as the DDA shouted out “WAH HEY” and jumped on the bar to announce the free Jason Braithwaite appeal. The lads suddenly found themselves the toast of the pub and the drinks came fast and furious and money towards the appeal was pressed into their hands. A few grim looking characters winked knowingly as they handed over their donations. “There’s more of that if you need it” they were told. “Where do they get it from?” Asked an incredulous Jimbo. “Don’t ask” replied Jim. The evening had suddenly begun to look up.

Prison life did not suit Jason. After the routine check in procedure of which parts of it Jason wished to forget, he was then thrown into a cell which was already occupied by a grim looking person from one of the Eastern regions and a weasely looking French man who winked at Jason in a most unnerving manner. There was also the ugliest looking, shaven headed, German Jason had ever clapped eyes on. Jason shuddered then looked around like a trapped rabbit as the door slammed shut behind him leaving him to the mercy of his motley looking cell mates. Jason then placed his few items which had been given to him in the only empty cupboard. There was one bar of carbolic soap, one roll of hard lavatory paper, a spare pair of prison issue underpants and a prison rule book written in Eurospeak only. Eurospeak was the official language of the prison and Jason hadn’t got a clue what the warders were talking about, he had never bothered to go to Eurospeak lessons even though they were compulsory. 
He could see he was going to have problems in here with the lingo alone, plus he had not had a drink for three days and had begun to feel the effects of withdrawal.  He began to have the shakes. The lights went out without warning and Jason lay in the dark wondering how he was going to survive.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

CHAPTER 5: THE NEW DDA

Over two weeks had passed since Jason's arrest and things had calmed down a little. Wendy Braithwaite had managed to get her front door fixed, she had struck a deal with a carpenter who had been a friend of a friend of a friend. He fixed her door and she had supplied some catering for his daughters birthday party. Deals like this in the regions of the United States of Europe (USE) were not uncommon - the black market thrived. With such a mass of unemployment due to the restrictive bureaucracy of the USE, the only way people could survive the lean times was to do illegal deals. No rules or regulations, no tax at over 50% and no exorbitant V.A.T. Also, for those with few scruples, a life of crime beckoned. As unemployment soared, so too had crime as it didn’t pay for many to go to work.

Beverly had been slouching against the bar of the Delors Arms reading Europolitan when the door burst open. The sight which confronted her made her chin to drop so low it almost hit the counter, she had never seen a sight like it before. Standing in the doorway stood a short stocky man in dark sunglasses wearing a white suit, black trilby hat, white and black brogue shoes and casually draped across his shoulders a camel coat, which finished off the whole ensemble. Two large henchmen, dressed in black, lurked behind him. “Cio, sono Benito Politi”. Beverley was flabbergasted and her mouth gaped even wider. The little Italian marched across to the bar to Beverley, grabbed and kissed her hand which smelled of stale beer, and exclaimed: “Che la bella donna, come si chiamo? Er ‘ow you say what ees your name beeautiful lady?” Stunned, Beverly replied: “Bloody hell”. “Ah what a beeautiful name, Bludyell I justa fallen in love with you, I am your new boss Benito Politi”. The two henchmen stood each side of Signor Politi looking menacingly at Beverley. “Blimey, I had better show you around”, Beverley flustered before taking the sinister trio on the grand tour of the Delors. She lead the way as her new DDA followed on calling her, “la bella donna Bludyell”.

Word soon got around about the new DDA down at the Delors and that evening the pub was packed. People had come from miles around to see this rare sight, it was the best entertainment they had had in their drab lives for a long time. Beverley was sick of being called Bludyell, every wit in the pub was shouting “another lager Bludyell”. This did not bode well as Beverley had such a short fuse. It was just gone nine o’clock that evening when old George, who was ninety one, shuffled up to the bar and said “usual please Bludyell” when Beverley hit the roof. “THAT’S IT, I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU LOT”. She banged old George’s plastic beaker down and stormed off. Signor Politi who had been introducing himself to the pub regulars was amazed by Beverley’s tantrum and exclaimed: “Magnifico, la bella donna Bludyell, she hava da spirit, da fire in da belly, whata wonderful donna”. Beverley just heard the uproarious laughter as she slammed the pub door closed behind her.

Life for Jason had settled down as he became used to the prison routine. Up at six in the morning for breakfast, followed by a visit to the communal shower where he stood as far as possible from Marcel, his weasely French cell mate. In fact Jason had nicknamed him ‘Marcel wave’, every time Jason had looked in his direction Marcel waved at him. After his shower Jason went to the gym. It sounds incredulous that Jason would work out, yet after his first week in prison languishing in a total fog of gloom and depression, his new found chum, Mark Harris, had found Jason out and took him in hand. He started to talk Jason out of his depression little by little at first. He showed Jason around the prison. which he seemed to know it like the back of his hand. He also showed Jason the tricks and dodges and explained in English the basic rules of the prison as Jason couldn’t read the rules book he had been issued due to it being in Eurospeak. 

Mark had also half bullied and half scared Jason into getting fit. He told Jason about the number of prison murders: “You have to be fit to survive in here” he warned. After years of abusing his body with alcohol, greasy fry ups and lack of any physical exercise in any shape or form, other than walking to the bar and back, Jason hadn’t known what had hit him under Marks fitness regime. Even in these early days it had begun to work and Jason quickly began to loose weight, which was partly due to the awful food which Jason could hardly tolerate. Almost everything had garlic in it, the whole prison reeked of the stuff. Jason, however, was beginning to feel better. The shakes had gone and his yearning for a drink was also on the wane - had Wendy seen the change she would not have believed it. Mark had plans for Jason but he wasn’t letting on as yet. He had got a long way to go and time was on Marks side. His plans were well under way, all he needed was about four to six months working on Jason then everything would be ready.

“Mr Biggs wants to see you immediately” said Sandra. “I reckon you’re for the high jump now after what you did asking about that time waster Jason”. Jimmy had been out to lunch which had consited of a packet of crisps and a spamburger at the Happy Eurosnax Eatery. When Mr Biggs had told Sandra to send Mr Applecroft in to his office the minute he got back, Sandra couldn’t wait. During Jimmy’s lunch break she had been presuming he was in trouble due to Mr Biggs abrupt manner. She thought Jimmy was in deep water. Jimmy cautiously knocked on Mr Biggs door. “Come” boomed the voice from within. Jimmy stepped into Mr Biggs’s large office and nervously stood in front of his desk. “Sit” ordered Mr Biggs, Jimmy sat and waited while Mr Biggs finished studying the letter he was reading. “Ah, Jimmy, how would you fancy a trip to Brussels tomorrow?” “Tomorrow?” queried Jimmy. “Yes its of some urgency and to do with this Jason chapie of yours”. “Yeh, I’ll go” agreed Jimmy eagerly. “Good lad, here are your Eurostar tickets, your travel documents, hotel booking and instructions, get some expenses money from Sandra as you will be in Brussels for two days. 

“Well?”, Inquired Sandra gloatingly. “You're to give me two days expenses out of petty cash, I’m off to Brussels” beamed Jimmy as he posed in front of the mirror while Sandra angrily sorted out the petty cash in a silent rage. She hated Jimmy getting a fast one over her, she had been sure he was in for the sack, yet somehow he’d dropped for this perk. Jimmy was up bright and early the next morning, Mr Biggs had booked a taxi to take him to the station. It took just over two hours to get to Gare Du Edwina Currie the Eurostar terminal. Like most high profile locations, St Pancrass station had undergone a name change and had been renamed after a hero or heroine of the federalist cause. Gare Du Edwina was a run down place. Due to the decline in the USE’s fortunes, funds were unavailable for maintenance. What was once seen as a fantastic piece of architecture and a wonderful example of refurbishment was now just a grubby eyesore with cracked and broken glass, automatic ticket machines rarely worked and the station had a general air of neglect. It was sad to say it had become run down over the years. 

The same could be said of the trains, they were still using the original engines and rolling stock. Breakdowns were common, seats torn and badly stained, and it was hit or miss if the buffet service was available. Trains rarely travelled at their original speeds of 160 to 180 miles per hour, most times they rattled along at half that. Due to this Jimmy’s journey seemed never ending, the train had stopped in France after leaving the tunnel and had been delayed for over an hour without anyone bothering to tell the passengers the reason for the stoppage. By the time he arrived at his hotel in Brussels it was late evening and Jimmy was knackered.

It was the next morning when Jimmy was refreshed that he began to notice the difference. People staying in the hotel looked smart, even affluent. The staff in the restaurant over breakfast were pleasant and smiled at him. They were pleased to show him to his table and take his order. Jimmy felt slightly uncomfortable as he was not used to being treated in such a civilised manner. On the few occasions he had visited other USE regions he had experienced just the same unpleasant, surly and outright rude service as home, although in a variety of languages. A new list of universal rude expressions wre begining to develop in Eurospeak in readiness for the launch of the new Europe wide language. Somehow or other the terms ‘plonka’ and ‘wally’ had been incorporated into the base versions of Eurospeak and Jimmy had been on the receiving end of this parlance in several languages, as well as Eurospeak. 

This civilised hotel in Brussels was a new experience to Jimmy who felt a little unnerved by it. Even other guests said good morning and smiled. Jimmy, however, had enjoyed the best breakfast he could ever remember, fresh grapefruit, bacon sausages, scrambled eggs and freshly ground coffee. It was just as he had read or heard about the way it was in the old pre-federal days. When he stepped outside the hotel Jimmy really began to see a difference. Brussels was clean and tidy, not like home with litter lined pavements. There was no graffiti, the buildings were smart and well maintained with no broken glass, and people in general were smart in appearance. Jimmy stood on the hotel steps scratching his head in amazement when he saw a sight he never imagined could be possible, yet there it was. Coming towards him were a team of people in smart tidy overalls actually cleaning the road and pavement Some were busy sweeping , some hosing down and some throwing what little rubbish there was into a cart. He had never seen anything like this at home or anywhere else, come to that. Jimmy watched in awe as they worked their way past, they even smiled at him as they went by. After they had gone it was then that he took notice of a shop window. On display was an Alladins cave full to bursting with luxury trinkets and items, all sorts of nick nacks were for sale. Yet, at home if it wasn’t practical it was of no use. People did not have any luxury items anymore, those days were just history. Life was far too hard, but not here. This was a strange city.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

CHAPTER 6: CARS

Jason was beckoned by a swarthy Greek guard. “Come”. Jason looked around the cell block but it was obviously Jason the Greek wanted. The guard took him along corridors, through security systems, prison doors clanked open then were slammed shut and locked behind them as Jason obediently followed the Greek guard. “What's this about? Where are we going?” Despite asking several times, all he managed to get out of the guard was a brusque “E’h”. Eventually they arrived at a door. “In” commanded the guard. Jason looked at the slightly open door, then at the guard and cautiously stepped into the small room and said: “Blimey I never expected to see you!”

Jimmy sat at the rickety table while a guard sat peering into the visiting room through a plate glass security window. “You have to sit opposite me and keep your hands on the table at all times” said Jimmy. “Why’s that?” Inquired Jason. Jimmy replied, “rules”. “Well how come you’re here? I normally expect to see you in the Delors, how’s your pals by the way?” Jason asked. “Banned from the Delors because of you, but we only have thirty minutes so we can’t hang about” urged Jimmy. 

He then related the events in their part of their region since Jason’s arrest, also why he had come to see Jason who had forgotten that Jimmy had worked in a legal office. “Now tell me the whole story from your side” inquired Jimmy. Jason began to tell of the whole sorry affair in a tumult of relief and woe while Jimmy frantically scribbled it all down. The guard behind the plate glass window watched and recorded all that was said. Suddenly the Greek appeared at the door and told them that time was up. Jimmy looked at his watch: “Strewth, was that thirty minutes?” he exclaimed. As Jason rose and began to leave the room Jimmy shouted after him: “Mr Biggs will try to keep you informed, keep your pecker up”. He then tidied away his papers and was escorted off the premises. Tomorrow he would have to see the Judge in charge of Jason’s case - but tonight he had this strange city to explore.

There was hell of a banging on Wendy’s brand new door. “All right don’t knock the bloody door down, I’ve only just had the thing fitted” she shouted. As she opened the door and adjusted her eyes to the early evening gloom, she gasped as she focussed on the three menacing characters who stood in front of her. She went pale and stuttered: “Tell Ivan I’ll definitely pay him the forty euro’s I owe him next week - I promise, please don’t smash the place up like last time”. Benito Politi looked a bit perplexed. “I come for Bludyell, I take ‘er out, Benito Politi give ‘er the best night she ever 'ave”. “BEVERLEY!” called Wendy as she stood aghast on the doorstep staring at Benito and his two henchmen. “BEVERLEY” she shouted even louder. “WHAT?” came the surly reply. “I want you here at the door, quick”. “You Signora Wendy, mama di Bludyell?” Benito inquired. “BEVERLEY, stop farting about and get here now” Wendy screamed. Beverley sauntered up to the door: “Oh it’s Mr Politi” she announced to her horrified mother. “You know this geezer?”. “Yeh it’s the new DDA from the Delors, Mr Politi, didn’t you know?” Beverely answered. “No I bloody didn’t, I thought it was some new lot from the Russian Mafia who had bumped Ivan off and come collecting his debts” Wendy said in a worried tone. “Na, nothing like that” was Beverley’s half baked reply. Looking at Signor Politi, Beverley inquired: “Whatcha want then cock?” Wendy sighed, all those elocution lessons when she was a little girl.

“I come to givva you a good time, I come to take you out”. “Nah” was the reply, “I’ve had enough of fellas, nothin' but trouble all of em, sod off”. “But I take you in my new car”. “You got a car? How the bloomin' 'eck did you manage that? You’ve only been in the region for five minutes” replied a surprised Beverley. Benito touched his nose: “I ava mio contacts”. Beverley peered out into the road, to see in all its magnificence, a 2001 Vauxhall. It was 29 years old, showing its decrepit age, full of rust, almost bald tyres, yet it was a prize beyond compare. “Give me ten minutes to get ready”.

To own a car in 2030 was a very rare privilege, most were owned only by the elite, the privileged few who worked for the Commission. One or two with connections in the right places could manage to get their hands on the steering wheel of a used car, but, it was only the Commission who could authorise a brand spanking new car and that was only for the exclusive use of Commission employees. All the other plebs and peasants had to make do with the run down public transport system. Often journeys started were never finished, or finished by walking miles in all weathers. 

Things had begun to get bad for motorists after speed cameras were hidden everywhere and millions of drivers lost their licences. This really achieved nothing other than to begin a spiral of unemployment and inflation. Many lost their jobs as they could no longer drive especially as road tolls crept in pricing many, all but the wealthy, off the roads. Many motorists started to demand more money to pay for the extra burdens to the costs of travel imposed on them, all they wanted to do was to continue their modest lives and work. Business’s, large and small, began to feel as if they were under attack as they lost custom by being situated in the wrong place, their customers fell away due to not being able to get to them as they were not convenient for public transport. Many companies began to lose vital orders as their reps were forced off the roads due to the increasing burdens and it all added to a downward decline in the economy of what was then Britain. 

Ministers in government seemed to forget that a vehicle for many people and companies was a vital tool. In the early part of the century, when all the countries of the old EU had signed up to the single currency and the new Federal States of Europe had been created after the EU constitution was ratified, was when the Commission in Brussels came into its own and flexed its new found muscles. Once it held all the power, the old local politicians had been swept aside as a new EU elite took over, they were ruthless. National governments were abolished and made illegal to be replaced by regional councils as a facade for democracy. However, other than being free to decide minor things, they had little influence. The Commission controlled everything.

Cars came under attack. First people had swinging taxes for having garages and driveways, then after a year or two a system of EU permits for car ownership was set up. The bureaucrats went berserk, this was something they could really enjoy by creating public misery under the pretext it was being green, whilst at the same time the whole economy continued to decline. Car firms were closed and workers sacked. Many car manufacturers became victims and shut down. Ford, seeing how things were going, moved fast and moved all production to America. They also closed down all of their European ventures and got out before they lost too much. The Japanese had done the same even before Ford. The Nissan bosses, who so long ago had professed the wonders of a single currency, quit while they could apologising as they went. The United States of Europe (USE) had turned into an over regulated disaster as all foreign investors pulled out as fast as they could. 

Of course the Commission gave subsidies to a few of the privileged car firms. The Germans made sure Mercedes and BMW were ok, as did the French with Renault and Citroen, but, Saab, Morgan, Fiat, plus many other makes all bit the dust. Even Seat, much to Spanish surprise and consternation, were closed down. The sorriest of all sights were the Italians. The minute they lost their cars they had lost their machismo, every Italian male seemed to lose the will to live when their cars were gone. They sulked, many sat in cafe’s crying into their wine and expresso’s. Little Italian boys moped about as there was little to grow up for knowing they would never be allowed to drive. The Commission had a wonderful time and enjoyed every minute of it - they hadn’t created so much misery and chaos since the days of the British beef crisis.

Beverley went to town, she tarted herself up in her best posh frock which reeked of mothballs, then covered herself in Max Santer eau de cologne. Perched in the front of Benito’s rusting hulk as Tonino and Lelo, Benito’s two henchmen, desperately tried to open the windows to ease the overbearing pong from Beverley in the front. “Where are we going then?” asked an excited Beverley: “I can’t remember the last time I was out in a car”. Benito turned the key and after a few breathtaking seconds of strange noises, the car coughed and spluttered into life. “Don’t it sound wonderful” exclaimed Benito as the car coughed and rattled. “I just ‘ad it serviced and tuned by the best mechanic in town”. Beverley, who hadn’t much of an idea of how a car should sound, agreed with him. She had three criteria for judging a car. Any motor with a heater and radio that worked and had a vanity mirror on the passengers sun visor was considered to be a good car. This jalopy passed the Beverley test with flying colours. “Euro a Bongo club here we come” shouted Benito and off they roared. Wendy shut her new front door. What on earth was Bludyell about she thought, then shrugged her shoulders and went back to watching Eurondale Farm on the telly.

After Jimmy had returned to his hotel and written up his account of the meeting with Jason, the evening was his. He dined in the hotel, everything was there, a vast choice on the menu and not a spamburger in sight. He chose a Calais sole, this used to be known as Dover sole, like Britain's fish stocks which had been taken away and given to all the other countries of Europe, so too had Dover sole as it had been renamed by the bureaucrats. His three course meal started with an exotic dish which he had heard about when he was a lad but had never seen before. Melon slices, they were exquisite. The Calais sole was cooked to perfection and served with an assortment of other vegetables, the freshness of which Jimmy had never in his life experienced before. Finally, he finished his meal with the most fantastic gateau laced with brandy followed by fresh coffee. He sat at his table full and contented, when the most beautiful vision appeared in the restaurant doorway before him. She stood looking around then moved to her table as the waiter beckoned to her. Jimmy was smitten. I could live here he thought to himself. He remained in his seat with the biggest, silliest, grin ever to cross his face.

Monday, 3 November 2008

CHAPTER 7: JUDGE HENRI DUCASSE

Jimmy glanced across the hotel restaurant to take another look at the girl of his dreams. She had her head down studying the menu, he sighed as he looked at her. It was as if she knew she was being looked at, she suddenly lifted her head and looked in Jimmy’s direction. Jimmy went bright red and quickly looked down and began fiddling with his coffee cup, then, like a prat, he sent it flying. There was coffee everywhere, all across the brilliant white table cloth and dripping on to the floor. Two of the waiters rushed up and started fussing around. Jimmy wished that a great hole would appear in the floor and swallow him completely. “Oh cripes, I’m terribly sorry” was all he could say to the waiters. “Do not worry sir it happens often” said the two waiters politely in unison. Jimmy, flushed and flustered, just wanted to get out of there. “I’m finished anyway, I’m leaving now” he blustered. “Good evening sir, have a pleasant evening” came the reply, again in unison. He felt that every eye in the restaurant was fixed on him. As he rushed out he got a fleeting glimpse of the femme fatale, she had her hand across her mouth desperately trying not to laugh. “Sod it, sod it, sod it” was all that kept going around his head as he handed in his key at reception and headed down the road to the nearest bar.

Beverley’s evening was going much better. She had discovered Benito had got connections in the right places. If you wanted to get on in the United States of Europe having the right connections was everything. It was no good being born brainy, you did far better by either having parents who worked for the Commission or, failing that, you smarmed up to the right people and began to develop your contacts as early in life as possible. The USE was a hard place to be without connections, and those at the bottom of the heap had very unpleasant lives. Beverley, though, was in her element. She felt truly posh as Benito’s rust bucket spluttered to a halt right outside the front of the ‘Euro a Bongo’ club. The icing on the cake for Beverley was she saw Marjorie Cracknell, the snobby neighbour, who lived with her equally pretentious parents at number 89. 
Beverley knew from bitter experience that the Euro a Bongo club would have many people hanging around for hours waiting to get in. Marjorie had probably aged about two decades during the time the Euro a Bongo bouncers had kept her and all of the others waiting. Tonino rushed to the front of the car and opened the door for Beverley, he was relieved to be out of that confined space, but, went a little green around the gills as he caught another blast of the vapours Beverley was giving off. A combination of moth balls and Max Santer au de cologne was a fearsome cocktail of smells.

Beverley glimpsed sideways to make sure that Marjorie Cracknell had seen her, she then made her grand entrance. The bouncers on the door made a special fuss of Benito. Benito slipped them a few euro’s each and with Beverley on his arm, plus Tonino, and Lelo following, they swept past the queue in style as one of the doormen went off in a cloud of exhaust fumes to park Benito’s ancient chariot. Beverley was on cloud ten (don’t forget the metrication of sayings directive), she had never, ever, had the chance to out do Marjorie Cracknell before. Tonight she had achieved a life's ambition in a way that went far beyond her life's dreams.

Jimmy sat on a stool in the first bar he had come to, it was called the Bonino Bar. As he sat in the Emma lounge, drinking his third lager, a soft female voice with a French accent behind him said. “I haven’t enjoyed myself in that stuffy hotel as much in a long time”. A tingling sensation ran down Jimmy’s back, he turned around. It was her, the girl, and she had spoken to him. Jimmy was speechless, he tried to say something, his mouth opened and closed but nothing seemed to come out. He turned bright red and she began to laugh at him again. She sat on the stool next to his and introduced herself. “I am Claudette Devenelle I think you are very funny” she laughed as she put her hand out to him. Jimmy just about managed to stutter out his name. As he shook her hand it seemed so small, smooth and delicate, not like the girls back home who had such rough and calloused hands through their hard lives and rough living. He went all dreamy as he looked into her hazel eyes, her fair hair was swept back, she had a nice smiling face. Jimmy could she that she was younger than him, she looked about twenty four. Jimmy could also see that she had connections, possibly a well to do family. Her clothes were not cheap and she had an air of confidence about her. “So do you live here?” he enquired.  “Oh no, I am here with my father, he is here on business. I come along to keep him company.  I am afraid he has been lonely since we lost my mother. It has been hard for him, it was all very tragic”.  She suddenly looked so very sad, Jimmy decided it was time to change the subject. “I come from one of the English regions, I am here on business too, just like your dad”. Jimmy’s night had just improved tenfold. Once he had got over his initial embarrassment he chatted away to Claudette as if they were long lost friends and the evening flew by. Before they knew it they were the only ones left in the Bonino Bar. The barman coughed discreetly. “I am sorry sir, I have to close up now”. Jimmy looked puzzled. “Its early isn’t it?” He looked at his watch. “Blimey its gone one o’clock, I thought it was only ten”. They left the barman to close up and sauntered back to the hotel where they said their goodnight's in the foyer, she pecked him on the cheek. “Thank you for such a nice evening. I usually get so bored when my father is out on business”. As she went to walk away Jimmy shouted “shall I see you again? I still have tomorrow night here”. “We leave in the morning, Jimmy” she replied, “but while I think about it give me your address and telephone number, you never know I may visit your region some time and I would like to see you again”. Jimmy lay in bed thinking of Claudette and fell asleep with a very happy smile on his face.

Beverley’s night had also been a roaring success. She had danced the night away almost non stop, Benito introduced her to all of his chums, he had a lot of contacts for someone so fresh to the region. Nearly all had looked a bit quizzical as he introduced Beverly as “Bloodyell” but none said anything, apart from Ivan. “Vat is zis viz ze Bloodyell, I know you as Beverley?” He glared at Beverley in the menacing way she had often seen before. Beverley said very little. Ivan was a fearsome character and she had seen his vile temper more than once when chasing her mom for the money she always seemed to owe him. “How do you know that Ivan?” she asked Benito a little later. “He’s a da big buddy, I know Ivan a longa time”. “Just be careful” Beverly warned. Other than that Beverly’s night had been like a dream. It was gone four in the morning when Benito took her back home.

Jimmy’s second full day in Brussels had been a hard day. It had begun pleasantly enough with yet another wonderful breakfast experience, the waiters had fussed around again. Jimmy was really beginning to enjoy this life. It was just such a shame he had to return home the following morning. Jimmy made his way across the city to the Judiciary and Inquisitorial headquarters. Getting through the elaborate security system had been a nightmare, even though Mr Biggs had already pre-booked an appointment with Judge Henri Ducasse it still took Jimmy over an hour to be processed by the system before being able to flop down in the Judges waiting room. All the Brussels official buildings had high tech and elaborate security systems. The ruling elite were paranoid and did all they could to keep the ordinary citizen as far away from them as they could. By the time Jimmy had passed through this system they knew his blood type, his shoe and collar sizes, where he came from, who he worked for and how long, his exam results and his likes and dislikes, they seemed to want to know every minute detail. Finally, he sat in a waiting room awaiting his allotted appointment time - and he still sat in the same place long after the appointment time had passed by more an hour later. Eventually he managed to stop a very stern looking lady as she passed through carrying a bundle of official looking papers. “Do you know how long Judge Ducasse will be? I have been kept here for well over an hour” he asked. She peered at him with a look of disdain. “These people, what do they expect?” she snorted. “You will have to sit and wait as long as it takes, the Judge is far more important than you”. With that she stormed off in a huff at Jimmy’s audacity.

It was almost two hours after the appointment time when Jimmy was finally allowed to see the Judge. He explained the case to the Judge who was not in the slightest bit interested. Jimmy also explained that the only evidence they had against Jason was purely circumstantial. He also explained that Jason had been a hopeless drunk and was incapable of the crimes he was accused of. The Judge took a cursory glance at a photograph of Jason and said. “He looks fit enough to me”. Jimmy then had to explain that the prison photograph was nothing like the Jason that had been accused and arrested. “He’s been getting fit in the gym” Jimmy pleaded. Judge Henri Ducasse was not really very interested. He had already decided Jason's guilt, it did not matter to him whether Jason, or anyone else, come to that, served a very long sentence for a crime they hadn’t committed, he was more interested in his golf and other pastimes than the innocence of a few of the lower classes. All his colleagues were of the same mould and held similar views and treated their responsibilities in the same cavalier manner. Thousands who were innocent of crimes they had been accused of languished in the USE’s prison system. 
All Judge Henri Ducasse was bothered about was his game of golf the coming weekend. As far as he was concerned Jason could rot in prison for ever more, it was of little importance to such an eminent figure as himself. Jimmy’s appointment was curtly terminated when the judge had finally become far too bored by yet another dreary case of some pleb professing innocence. Jimmy was told his allotted time had expired and to leave the building as quickly as possible. Jimmy, defeated, made his way back to the hotel to write up the events of a very disappointing meeting.

Friday, 31 October 2008

CHAPTER 8: AWKWARD QUESTIONS

It was a particularly bad night in the Commission and Clause. Chairs flew around the room, plastic beakers lay across the floor with their drinks spilled, dazed, comatose, and prostrate bodies lay around the room.  The Free Jason Braithwaite group of friends sat cowering in a corner. A nearby table was ripped apart from the bolts which held it to the floor and just missed them as it went hurtling through the window. Suddenly bouncers equipped with crash helmets and baseball bats, rushed in and attacked as many of the pubs rioters as they could, just to try to calm things down. As usual the Eurobill had been called, but as ever they failed to turn up. Down at the station when the call came in they all began shuffling bits of paper and trying to look busy, all made excuses as to why they could not attend yet another fracas at the C & C. 
Those who had no excuse as to why they could not to attend turned pale at the prospect of being sent out to deal with the fracas. However, after setting off they soon deliberately got lost on the way - yet once again. The Commission and Clause had become the most elusive pub in town as far as the Eurobill were concerned. Murder, mayhem, threat of world war breaking out from its premises and still they would never find the place on purpose.

Jimmy sat staring into space with a glazed expression, oblivious to the holocaust going on around him. Ducking yet again to miss a flying table Graham said: “Look at it, its in a world of its own since it came back from Brussels”. The others agreed. “He met a girl over there” said Jimbo. They all looked at Jimbo then at Jimmy. “Come on, snap out of it, what was she like, what happened?” Jimmy roused himself from his dreamy memories of Brussels and began to tell them all about his last few days. They didn’t know what was the hardest to believe, either the fact a girl had taken a liking to Jimmy, or the things which Jimmy told them about Brussels. “So you're telling me that people actually smile at you and are nice to you when serving you?” queried an incredulous James. “Yup”. “And people go around sweeping the streets and tidying up?” “Yup”. “And all of the buildings are well maintained, with no broken windows?” “Yup”. The other four looked at each other in disbelief. “Go on, you’re pulling our legs, we've never heard of such a thing”. However hard Jimmy tried to explain they couldn't comprehend that there could be a place where such things happen and was so nice.  Everywhere else they knew was run down due to lack of funds. 
The riot in the pub calmed down to an occasional punch up, a few more drinks went down as a very subdued group of friends mulled over what Jimmy had told them. “It must be like heaven” Jim finally pronounced. “Oh it is, and more” replied Jimmy. “They have angels there too”. At this referral to Claudette the others put their fingers in their mouths and started making retching noises.

There was an air of uncomfortable trepidation in the Delors Arms. A few customer sat in huddled little groups feeling distinctly nervous - Beverley had been pleasant to them -even smiling from time to time as she served them. Old George entered the pub and sensed the atmosphere immediately. He looked around and saw the tension on the faces. Before he could even say anything Beverley smiled nicely and said. “Usual George?” “Er, yes please”. “Its been another nice day again today, hasn't it” said Beverley, whilst smiling sweetly. George was well and truly confused by now, he looked around the pub -nervous faces looked back at him. “What's going on?” he asked as he sat down with his old pals - no one seemed to know and found Beverly’s new found friendliness unsettling, so much so some could stay no longer and made a quick exit. 
Meanwhile, Benito was in the corner of the pub in deep discussion with Ivan. Both had their henchmen standing behind them. Lelo and Tonino stood glaring at Borodin and Grimkov, who in turn gave their hardest and fiercest facial expressions in return. This sinister looking meeting did nothing to help the atmosphere. Two more customers began to crack up and rushed out leaving half drunk beakers of beer - something totally unknown in these austere times. “My contact will have ze shipment vizin ze week, I can put you down for thirty percent”. “Isa dat all?” replied an exasperated Benito. “Vell, it may be possible to arrange forty percent but, zis vill affect ze price” replied Ivan. “Mama mia! Thatsa no good, you do for the same price da forty percent, I maka da no euro’s iza more expensive” expanded Benito with arms waving. “You are ze hard man to deal wiz, I give you thirty five percent for ze zame price”. “Isa still no good, thirty eight percent same price and itsa deal”. Ivan looked at his two stony faced colleagues then back at Benito. “Ok, I will do, you are ze very hard man”. “Isa good to do business with you again Ivan. So I get thirty eight percent ova di chocolate which come next week”. “Shss” hissed Ivan waving his hands in front of Benito. “If the authorities hear, even worse the Eurobill know of it, zen we will lose ze lot”. Chocolate had become a contraband item, the Commission many years before had outlawed it as an unnecessary luxury.

Drug runners had found chocolate a far more profitable substance to smuggle and struggled to cope as the demand for chocoholics turned it into dark brown gold. If the Eurobill came across chocolate smuggling they would set a trap, attack the culprits and take the lot for themselves to sell. Ivan had a big shipment due and Benito wanted a slice. Both he and Ivan were partial to a dodgy deal or two, but neither trusted the other. With the deal struck they shook hands. “Hey Bloodyell mia bella donna, bringa another round ova di drinks, I take you back to the Euro a Bongo club again tonight. I ina di good mood, giva da drinks all around ona di house”. Beverley beamed at the remaining customers and the place cleared within seconds.

The only respectable and well maintained building in the vicinity was the European Commission’s official office. Graham stepped cautiously into its grand marbled entrance. “What you want lad?” boomed a stern voice which echoed around the foyer. Graham nervously looked around for its source and saw a security guard sitting at a desk at the far end. “I wanted to make some enquiries about moving regions” inquired a very nervous Graham. Everything about the Commission’s office was designed to create a feeling of awe and unease to the uninitiated of the Commissions ways. “Oh yeh?” replied the guard with a look of suspicion. “Where do you want to live then?”, “Brussels” came the timid reply. The security guards roars of laughter could be heard all around the building. In fact it was so loud a few of the Commission’s staff appeared in the foyer to see what was going on. They looked at Graham then quizzically at the guard. “He wants to go and live in Brussels” roared the guard with tears of laughter rolling down his face. The first reaction of those who had gathered to see what was going on was first disbelief, then mirth and finally gales of laughter as everyone howled with glee at Graham’s expense. “So you don’t think its possible then?” Graham responded. His final remark created so much hilarity the Commission’s staff held their sides in pains of laughter. As a dejected Graham sulkily left the building, the security guard shouted after him. “Don’t forget to come back soon - we could all do with another good laugh”.

Little Elise Jones was puzzled. “Scuse me Miss”. “Yes Elise”. “I don’t understand these pictures in the history book”. “What don’t you understand” said Miss Hackett, the history teacher. “Well you know how life is very much better now than in the olden days because we are all citizens of the United States of Europe”. “Yes?” replied Miss Hackett cautiously. “Well, why do the people in the olden day pictures look happier and seem to have a lot more cars and fings than wot they do now?” an observant Elise pointed out.  Miss Hackett reddened. “You know that you are not supposed to ask questions like that Elise, ask questions like that again and I will send you to the headmaster”. As the bell rang at the end of the days lessons, Miss Hackett made a mental note to tear that photograph out of those history books, it was amazing how observant and quizzical those young minds could be. It was her duty as a teacher to make sure all the children under her remit leave school as obedient, unquestioning young citizens of the USE. 

Elise left school to be met by Auntie Wendy. Her mom, who was a niece of Wendy’s, had just found a job after six years without work. Wendy didn’t mind doing this duty, it got her out for a while and with Jason in prison and Beverley out all hours either working in the pub, or out with that strange little Italian chap, Wendy enjoyed the company of little Elise. “You're old aren't you aunty Wendy?” Elise asked.  “Not that old, you cheeky little sod” Wendy bristled. “Do you remember the olden days?”. “That depends on what you call the olden days?” Wendy answered “Were people happy in the olden days?” Elise pressed. “Oh I should say so Elise. We had lots of things then, everyone had cars, most had jobs, we even used to be known as a country called England with its own government which used to make all our own laws, we could even vote for who we wanted in our Parliament every five years” confirmed Wendy. “Why did it all go then Auntie? Where was this government place?”. Wendy’s thoughts drifted back: “Well, do you remember your day out recently when you went to Disney Westminsterland?”. “Oh yes, I liked that, that was where all of those funny people were dressed in all the olden day clothes and said all of them funny fings, like that fat man with the cigar who kept saying we will fight them on the beaches”. “Well”, said Wendy. “That place was our Parliament before it was sold off to the Disney Corporation and those actors you saw were re-enacting famous old speeches which some of our old Prime Ministers made”. “Why don’t we have it back like that now?” Elise badgered. “You know you are not supposed to ask things like that. You will land your mom in trouble with the authorities, they will think she is talking about things we are not supposed to. Anyway, it was those people we voted for who gave it all away without asking us, we didn’t even notice it, they did it all so sneakily and it was all gone before we realised it was too late”. Elise was still puzzled. During her short life of just eight years, she had picked up many things which had been said by her elders out of school which contradicted all that her teachers and the people who came regularly from the Commission, to make sure the kids were being taught the official USE account of history. All history books had been altered to suit the teachings of the USE’s account of history and any pre-federal history books were seen as subversive. Out of school though, Elise had picked up many different things unawares from her piers. “So was that Tony Blair as wonderful as teacher says then?” Wendy cringed.

CHAPTER 9: CADBULLIES CHOCOLATE

Mark Harris had made some drastic changes to Jason’s fitness regime. Instead of spending as much time in the gym weight lifting, circuit training and all the other gymnasium things, Mark had begun a regime of making Jason sprint and run around the exercise yard. 
“What's all this in aid of, why the change?” nagged Jason. “I have plans Jason and you are part of them” Mark replied patiently. “What plans, what are we going to do?” pressed Jason. However, all Mark would say was that plans were being made but not yet fully formulated, and Jason would have to wait to be told when the time was right. The fitter Jason had become the easier life in the Euro prison became. His hard looking cell mates began to treat him with more respect. He found he could push his way around a bit more compared to the days when he first arrived. Although he felt less vulnerable as he began to feel and look much tougher, he was still unnerved by Marcel. Every time Jason saw Marcel, he still waved at Jason in a suspicious manner making Jason squirm with embarrassment. Especially when the other prisoners were around and gave quizzical looks. Other than this Jason was coping in his new environment - just as long as he stayed out of Marcel's way.

Graham had made his way to Gare Du Edwina Currie and hovered around near the Eurostar ticket office, finally he plucked up courage and marched up to the booking clerk and in his most confident tone demanded a ticket to Brussels. A bored clerk, without looking up from the forms he was filling in, demanded Graham’s Brussels permit papers. Graham fumbled in his pockets. “I am sure I have them some where, I know I had them on me this morning”. After more pretend fumbling and searching he declared: “Oh dear, I seem to have forgotten them, I will just have to go without them”. “No papers, then no ticket” came the impassive reply. “Well I have to go, I have important business to attend to” demanded Graham. “Look sunny Jim, I get idiots like you trying this one all the time, sling yer hook and stop wasting my time” growled the clerk leaving Graham to slink away defeated. “Sod it, foiled again” he muttered. It was becoming an obsession of Graham’s to see if Brussels was all that Jimmy had made out.

The night of the great chocolate smuggling caper had arrived. Benito and Ivan with their henchmen, Tonino, Lelo, Borodin and Grimkov, plus a few helpers, waited on the coast. It was a dark night, just the way they wanted it. At the appointed time a light flashed from the darkness out at sea. Ivan flashed his light three times and received two flashes in reply. Another four flashes from Ivan and the coded sequence was completed. “Is ok?” inquired Benito. “Yah, much good” replied Ivan with a beaming grin. It was not long before powerful engines were heard roaring towards the shore. “They come now”, Ivan retorted. Minutes later three motor launches came roaring up and onto the beach. All three boats were fully laden with boxes and crates. A dozen orientals jumped out and began off loading, throwing boxes onto the beach as quickly as their little oriental arms could work. The head of this group approached Ivan and Benito. “Cadbullies” he announced. “Vot”, said Ivan bemused. The Oriental then looked at Benito. “Cadbullies?”. “E’h”, said Benito shrugging his shoulders and looking quizzically at Ivan. “Cadbullies chocolate sweetie” urged the oriental, who by now was getting frustrated and fidgety. Ivan leaned forward towering over him, grabbing his clothes he growked: “Who you call sweetie?”. This was a mistake as suddenly from the shore a chain of metallic noises could be heard. Ivan looked towards the noise and saw in front of the half unloaded boats, a row of machine gun toting, and very menacing, Taiwanese. Ivan released his grip, grinned nervously at the little Oriental and asked: "Sweetie?” “Ah so, boxes and boxes of sweetie, Cadbullies sweetie” replied the Oriental whilst he waved towards the half off loaded cargo. Suddenly, one of the helpers realised what was happening. “Its Cadbury’s chocolate!” he said in awe. “Its really top stuff, you will have them fighting to get their teeth around this”. Ivan suddenly realised his good fortune. “Vot you vait for, get zis stuff in ze van”. Suddenly all hands were hard at work mauling boxes of Cadbullies chocolate. 

Chocolate, due to the United States of Europe, had become such a rare commodity no one could get enough of it and smuggling had become endemic. Cadbury’s chocolate was a rarity beyond compare. During the early part of the century when the Federalists within the old EU had begun to see their life long endeavours come to fruition, and the old nation states were finally coming to their ends, many companies within the old EU decided to leave the EU for far less regulated parts of the world. Some went to the USA, many smaller companies moved to remote offshore islands whilst others, seeing the boom in the far east, moved to these low regulated countries, thereby cutting costs in time and labour without masses of EU bureaucracy. Cadury’s had relocated to Taiwan, Bournville was closed, the Bournville trust wound up and Cadury’s workers were reluctantly fired. After that the whole lot was moved to the flourishing Taiwanese economy. From then on the only Cadury’s to be had was that, which like this load, was being smuggled in. Ivan and Benito had a treasure sitting in the sand that would make them very rich men indeed.

Sandra put the telephone down and without looking at Jimmy said:“He wants yer in his office”. Jimmy, who by now was used to Sandra’s subtle ways, took it for granted she meant Mr Biggs. He knocked the door and waited for Mr Biggs’s usual “Come” before entering. “Ah, Jimmy, sit down lad”. “Now then Jimmy, I have read your report from Brussels and of your meeting with Judge Henri Ducasse, which is more or less what I expected. I hope you were not too dispirited by this” consoled Mr Biggs. “Well sir, I was a bit flat about it, he didn’t want to know” said Jimmy. “Oh take no notice Jimmy lad, you did well under the circumstances, he’s a silly old fart anyway” joked Mr Biggs. Jimmy smirked. “Now then lad, will you be prepared to make another trip to Brussels in a week or two as soon as I have things organised?” “You bet sir, I’ve never seen such a place” enthused Jimmy. “I thought you would like it, a bit of an eye opener isn’t it” confirmed Mr Biggs. “It certainly is” Jimmy replied. “Same hotel ok for you lad?” asked Mr Biggs “Yes please” a delighted Jimmy agreed. “Good, be on standby. Oh by the way, can you pop into that pub of yours and see Beverley, I would like her and her mother to have this report of proceedings so far”. He handed Jimmy a sealed envelope.
 “I’m off to Brussels again”, Jimmy gloated to Sandra after he left Mr Bigg's office. “Jammy sod! You get all the perks while I do all the work” said Sandra who was busy applying the latest shade of Enchanted Luxembourg nail varnish to the talons which she called fingernails. 

On his way home Jimmy called into the Delors Arms to see Beverley. The place seemed uneerily quiet as he approached the doorway. He opened the door and saw Beverley alone in state of absolute ecstasy drooling over a bar of chocolate. She was in such raptures that it took a few seconds before she realised someone had entered. When she became aware of Jimmy’s presence and that he was approaching the bar fast, she stuffed the remaining chocolate under the counter - but the damage had been done - Jimmy had noticed. “Was that was Cadbury’s?” he asked incredulously. “What was?”. Beverley blushed. “I saw it, you were eating a bar of not only chocolate, but, Cadbury’s chocolate! Where did you get it from?” Exclaimed Jimmy. “None of your business” snapped Beverley. “Give us a bit Bev” Jimmy pleaded. His eyes glazed over as a dreamy expression spread across his face, childhood memories came flooding back. He had a hazy memory of sitting in his pram with a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate in his hand and his face covered in the stuff and his mom spitting into her handkerchief trying to wipe the layers of chocolate away. Then one day the chocolate stopped, the sky turned grey and the world, by the time he was in his teenage years, had become a dull and dreary place. “Go on Bev just a nibble, I haven’t tasted that stuff in more years than I care to remember. I have got something for you from Mr Biggs”. At this Beverley relented and gave him a tiny morsel of chocolate which Jimmy placed in his mouth. He tried not to suck or chew, but stood at the bar in a trance as this exotic morsel melted in his mouth. 

“Bloody hell, it knocks your socks off, better than sex!” he exclaimed. “I never thought I would live to hear a bloke say those words” replied an amazed Beverley. “Anyway, what you got for me then?”. Jimmy passed over the report and instructed Beverley that this was also for her mom. “Its a full report of proceedings, so far, on your dads case and a report of my trip to Brussels” he pointed out. Beverley peered at the report, not fully understanding the legal jargon. “I saw your dad while I was there, he looks very different” Jimmy told Beverley. “How different ? ” she queried. “Well, sort of fit is the only way I can put it” replied Jimmy. “Fit? My dad, he’s the biggest boozer in town” an incredulous Beverley replied and continued: “My dad’s never been fit, he was born unfit, even my grandma said he was a fattest slob of a baby in the maternity ward”. “Well he’s fit now” Jimmy replied. and then asked her for a 75cl of beer as he looked around the deserted pub. “Usual exotic stuff?” Beverley asked “Yes please a 75cl of bitter” Jimmy confirmed. “Gone up again you know” warned Bevereley. Jimmy sighed and thought to himself: “I’ve got a drink problem, I can’t afford it”, before asking where all the customers were as it was normally a busy time. “I dunno”, puzzled Beverley. “Its really strange, ever since I’ve been going out with Benito they've all vanished”. Beverley didn’t realise she had spooked the regulars as they were not used to Beverley being nice to them, most had moved to the Chancellor’s Rest, which had a sign outside showing a picture of a jolly looking Helmut Kohl sitting with a glass of lager in his hand. The DDA in the Chancellor’s, who’s name was Gloria, was nothing like as fearsome as Beverley and could never aspire to Beverley’s surliness. Even so, most of the Delors regulars felt more at home in the Chancllor’s rest as Gloria was almost like the old Bevereley. As Jimmy drank this beer in the deserted Delors, a very happy Benito came bursting through the door and stated: “Isa good day, Isa fantastico day” and then planted a kiss on a shocked Jimmy’s forehead. “Every thing isa da sweetness”. Tonino & Lelo rolled their eyes.