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For All Nails #181: Angry Johnnie

No. 10 Downing Street
London, England, UK
13 January 1975

"What in God's name do those bloody Johnnies want?" wondered Sir Geoffrey Gold.

"That seems clear enough, Geoff," George Loring replied.  "They want us to keep
clear of America."

"But why?  Do they actually /want/ those Dagos to have a factory spewing out
Mercator bombs?  Going, for all we know, directly to Mercator himself!"

"It's rather more complicated than that," said Loring.

"Isn't everything?" said Sir Geoffrey with a sigh.  Tamping down his pipe -
with Carolina tobacco, ironically - the Prime Minister peered at his Minister
of Education.  "You're supposed to know what makes Johnnie tick - you've
written enough books about 'em.  Why are they trying to block us, when they
ought to be jolly well backing us to the hilt?"

"It all goes back to the Mexican War," Loring explained.  As a former lecturer
at Cambridge, lecturing came naturally to him.  Sir Geoffrey didn't mind;
Loring was one of the Party's elder statesmen, which was a polite way of saying
he was too old to have his eye on Number Ten.  And he /did/ know an awful lot
about the North Americans.

"The Rocky Mountain War, as they call it.  It was the defining moment in their
history - even more so than the Rebellion.  They had half again Mexico's
population, twice their strength in men under arms, five times their industrial
might, and ten times as many warships."  Sir Geoffrey nodded.  He had read all
this before, in Loring's own books in fact, but hearing it from the man's own
lips somehow brought the points home with vivid clarity.

"They ought to have given the Mexicans a thorough drubbing - yet they didn't. 
They launched no less than eight major campaigns against the Mexicans, and
every one failed.  Reading Gilpin's memoirs is enough to make you weep - a
first rate mind surrounded by mediocrities.  I've often wondered how history
might have turned out if Gilpin had had just one competent general at his

Shaking his head to disperse the digressive thought, Loring continued, "At any
rate, Gilpin wound up shouldering the blame for the debacle, and the country
turned away from him, and from the path of greatness he represented. 
Isolationism, they call it - pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist.  Now
it's reached the point where they expect the rest of the world to return the
favour and pretend /they/ don't exist.  And not just them, but the whole of

"But Skinner seemed such a sensible fellow during the election campaign," said
Sir Geoffrey with genuine puzzlement.  "If you didn't actually listen to him
speak, that is.  Now his policies seem indistinguishable from those of his

"It was all just politics, I'm afraid," said Loring sagely.  "Underneath all
that 'King and Country' rhetoric, he's still a North American at heart, as he's
amply demonstrated this past week."

Sir Geoffrey's pipe went out, and he paused to relight it.  "Well then, how can
I make it clear to him that we /can't/ ignore New Granada?  The Stuffies [1]
and Twinks [2] are screaming for blood, and we've promised each of them a
bucket of type D Dago Red. [3]  Not to mention the domestic repercussions if we
allow the Dagos to bluff us."

Sir Geoffrey was certain Loring would get the point - any NRP member would.  It
had been public outrage at Harold Fuller's disgraceful failure of nerve during
the November Crisis that had swept the Party to power in 1966.  Mosely
Leigh-Oswald had promised the British people that the NRP would never allow
themselves to be bluffed out of a certain victory the way the Whig-Tory
coalition had been, and Sir Geoffrey Gold had no intention of going back on the
Founder's word.

"As for Skinner," said Loring, "I'm afraid there's nothing you /can/ do.  He
can no more stop thinking like a North American than a leopard can change its
spots.  He can't see the necessity for action in this crisis because Johnnie
never sees action as a necessity."

"Then what /can/ I do?" Sir Geoffrey implored Loring.

"You'll have to do what he wants you to do," said Loring.  "Namely, ignore

"Ignore him?" said Sir Geoffrey in astonishment.  "With him trying to obstruct
my every move?  And making all too good a job of it, too."  It still confounded
Sir Geoffrey to think that good, loyal subjects of the Crown in Jamaica and
Barbados could turn their backs on Mother Britannia at such a time.

"What you've got to remember," said Loring, "is that isolationism is a coin
with two sides, and that the other side is called passivity.  Skinner may
persuade the West Indians to stand aside, and he may try to persuade us to do
the same, but persuasion is his only weapon.  It is alien to his whole style of
thought to attempt any use of force."

"It wasn't alien to Carter Monaghan's style of thought," Sir Geoffrey pointed

Loring smiled.  "You've just made my point for me, Geoff.  Monaghan isn't a
full-blooded North American, you see.  Two of his grandparents were escaped
Mexican slaves.  In spite of his commendable impulse to action, though,
Monaghan was fatally hampered by the need to rely on his fellow North Americans
to carry out his orders.  The results in Porto Rico speak for themselves."

Sir Geoffrey considered his Education Minister's words.  "So what you're
saying," he concluded, "is that Johnnie is /also/ trying to bluff us."

Loring nodded.  "Exactly, Prime Minister.  Call his bluff, and he'll be forced
to back down.  It worked for Lord North, it worked for Pedro Hermión, and it'll
work for you as well."

Sir Geoffrey gave voice to a final feeling of doubt.  "But, George, won't that
make them angry?"

"It doesn't matter," Loring assured him.  "Getting angry is all that Johnnie
/can/ do."


[1]  Australians, so called for their famously overdeveloped sense of propriety
and formality.

[2]  Taiwanese.

[3]  Bartholomew Cubbins, the North American doctor who first discovered the
two human blood factors, at first erroneously assumed they were stereoisomers,
and named them Dextro and Levo.  Although later researchers proved Cubbins
wrong, the two factors are still called type D and type L.