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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

DensleyBlair

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Including how senior officers become so used to being looked after with all the mundane things, they can be quaintly both imperious but helpless when left by themselves. “Oh, how do you open a door/ book a flight” etc :rolleyes::D Not all of them, but many.
Sounds not dissimilar to a number of academics I have encountered over the past three years… :p Amazing how a sort of base instinct for self-sufficiency can fall into dormancy if not exercised regularly enough.
 
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Specialist290

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Including how senior officers become so used to being looked after with all the mundane things, they can be quaintly both imperious but helpless when left by themselves. “Oh, how do you open a door/ book a flight” etc :rolleyes::D
Sounds not dissimilar to a number of academics I have encountered over the past three years… :p Amazing how a sort of base instinct for self-sufficiency can fall into dormancy if not exercised regularly enough.
A long time ago, I read a biography of Eisenhower for a school book report. One of the things that stuck with me the most was the fact that, despite living through the rise of the automobile, he never learned to drive. He went straight into the Army from a small Kansas homestead where the horse and carriage were still in use, and despite becoming both a logistics wizard during World War II and the man who created the Interstate Highway System as President, all through that time he never got behind the wheel himself because he always had a chauffeur or some form of official transport to take him where he needed to go.
 
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El Pip

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(the Foreign Office was much more ready to offer concessions).
The 1930s Foreign Office didn't know how to do anything else apart from offer concessions. Even discussing the possibility of standing up for Britain would get you considered 'not sound' and have your senior explain the issue while saying it wasn't actually a reprimand.

The corporal being left adrift by bureaucracy has the ring of verisimillitude to it indeed.
I must admit I read it more as the corporal deliberately diving out of sight of the bureaucracy and carving out a comfortable niche. 'perpetually underemployed', allowed free roam around Cairo to setup a network for 'acquiring' things for the Officers at the HQ (and perhaps taking a little off the top for his troubles). Mark my words Mukungurutse shredded his paperwork himself and is currently actively working to make sure he stays "lost" in the War Office bureaucracy, well for as long as his pay keeps coming through anyway. ;)
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Sounds not dissimilar to a number of academics I have encountered over the past three years… :p Amazing how a sort of base instinct for self-sufficiency can fall into dormancy if not exercised regularly enough.
Speacilisation does things to humans at a certain level. It's like a more extreme version of project tunnel vision.
 

Le Jones

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1590408965129.png


Chapter 16, Downing Street, 20 April 1936

1590408988844.png


“Remind me, again, my darling, why we’re not going to Fort Belvedere?” Lucy Baldwin, in smart, but not modern clothes, asked the question pointedly as she corrected the flower display in the small Downing Street flat. She had not agonised, in the way that many men and women do, over her evening attire. She was a woman in her late sixties, and an Upper Class, Victorian lady; that was how she dressed. Her air of indifference was clearly an assumed one, and she turned from the flower arrangement to stare pointedly at her husband.

“I’m not entirely sure,” Baldwin replied, not fully invested into this conversation. “I would have thought that Belvedere would have suited him more…”

“…you mean,” his wife corrected him, “her more.”

“Her more,” Baldwin allowed. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Lucy Baldwin offered her husband the knowing look that every mother, wife, or daughter has offered a male dear to her who just doesn’t understand. “So, my dear, that your attendance at the King’s pleasure is a matter of the state.” She had a truly Queen Maryish haughtiness as she said this.

“The Court Circular?”

“Dinners at the Palace, and, more appropriately, the attendees, are put in, are they not?”

Baldwin looked flabbergasted. “This entire evening to get it on record that I had dinner with him, and her?”

“That would be my calculation,” she said, the knowing look triumphant.

“He has,” Baldwin agreed. “He has switched to the Palace so that the entire world knows that I have sat down with that woman.” He looked pale, in shock.

“One presumes,” his wife said grandly, “that postponement is out of the question?”

“It would signal a breach, certainly without a sudden emergency,” he said gruffly.

“Then it would appear that I shall the pleasure of meeting Mrs Wallis Simpson of,” she looked at her husband with a raised eyebrow. “Where was it?”

“Baltimore, Maryland.”

“Maryland?” Lucy Baldwin couldn’t resist an imperious smile. “A delicious irony, wouldn’t you agree? Her poor Majesty…”

“…is best not thought of this evening,” Baldwin said, asserting himself.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The car took them to Buckingham Palace quickly enough, sweeping through the gates and into the quadrangle with the ease that comes from being the Head of Government. Baldwin recognised Captain Godfrey-Fausset of the Royal Navy who offered a perfect Naval salute to the Baldwins, and then escorted them in. Baldwin was suddenly aware of the twitch below his left eye returning, and felt a tightness in his chest. His symptoms must have been more obvious than he thought, as Lucy placed a reassuring hand on his.

“Do you require water?”

“No, we’ll be sat down all night anyway,” he said with irritation. They were close, in the way that only a lifetime together could make two people close, but she could be overbearing and it occasionally became too much to tolerate.

The Captain smiled. “Ah, Mrs Baldwin, would you be so good as to join Mrs Wigram in the anteroom? Thank you, Ma’am. Prime Minister, His Majesty wondered if you had ten minutes for a private discussion?”

“An excellent idea,” Baldwin said bluntly.

Godfrey-Fausset looked strained, Baldwin could see that as the Naval Officer led him to a small study (Lucy had been taken by a Palace official to the reception room) near to the library (Baldwin had no idea in which room they would be dining). The King was there, fussing with his tie.

“Ah, Baldwin,” the King said, in the same way a student greets a long-dreaded examination. “Please, sit,” he waved awkwardly to a row of three chairs; Baldwin hesitated and then, ever eager to keep to a steady middle ground, opted for the centre one. “It is swell, very good, in fact, of you to agree to join our little party.”

Baldwin had cards to play, but, like the King, his hand was not as strong as others would immediately imagine. He sat quietly as the King, taking the lack of response as some form of implied agreement, continued.

“I wanted to thank you for your report on this Germany nonsense,” the King said, all serious and business-like focus. He looked around the desk, and then seemed to remember something. “Of course, it’s at Belvedere. Not to worry, I can remember enough of it, I think. Well anyway, you and Anthony did very well. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Sir, it has been,” Baldwin said, showing something of his inner turmoil, “a difficult time.”

“I am glad that we agree on the Germany matter,” the King said, slightly insensitive to the older man’s evident weariness.

Baldwin now had to play one of his cards. “Sir, you have the right, whether it is a privilege or a duty, to use your prerogative and warn, counsel, guide and advise your Government. You have the right to consult and to be consulted. What you cannot do, what you must not be seen to be doing, is ordering your Government to pursue a certain course. Your direction to me and the Cabinet, if it leaked, would cause grave disquiet in the nation at large.”

The King stared at his Prime Minister. “I would, after your little homily, argue that I was ‘warning’ you, Mr Baldwin.”

“Just so, Sir, but it read awfully like you were commanding us,” Baldwin said gently.

“I see,” the King said, looking hurt. “Perhaps if you called upon me more, then I would feel that I have been consulted,” he said in a very wounded tone.

Baldwin bit back a retort that His bloody Majesty had cancelled more audiences in three months than his father had in nearly three decades of service. “I will ensure that the Downing Street staff work more closely with the Palace people,” he said smoothly, shifting the blame on to the Palace assistants (who were, in Baldwin’s view, probably innocent on all charges – it was her, or perhaps him).

The King sighed, “shall we join the others? Unless there was anything else for me.”

Baldwin loaded another round in his constitutional cannon, but one that he had been told that he must fire, “Your Majesty should know that we may, for as brief a period as possible,” Baldwin said in careful mitigation, “have to offer shelter to the Ethiopian Emperor.”

The King rolled his eyes. “Here?”

“Goodness no, Sir,” Baldwin, now sounding like a hotel concierge, said sycophantically. “The Empire, initially. And if he does come here? Somewhere out of town, perhaps Exeter, or Chester. Some delightful old English city.”

The King nodded; he didn’t really care. “Will I be expected to officially do anything?”

“Certainly not,” Baldwin said immediately, and perhaps too emphatically. “I have ordered that if he visits England, he will have no official status.”

That mollified the King. “Oh well done,” he said with obvious relief. “I cannot imagine Wallis liking him!”

Baldwin again bit back a retort, this one that Wallis had ‘liked ‘a far greater number of men than the King could ever imagine, but instead inclined his head in thanks for the compliment.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The guest list, of course, was like one of those dammed American films that his youngest son, Arthur, so enjoyed; Baldwin couldn’t quite remember the precise term, but they were all obsessed with dark creatures and murderous intent (he vaguely remembered one about a werewolf, of all things, on the loose in London!). As he was announced, and entered with the King (quite the honour, Baldwin allowed), he looked, with horror, at his dining companions. He felt a moment of pure sympathy as he saw Lucy being led around the room by Wallis Simpson, playing, so obviously, the role of hostess. With a chill, he saw her spin on her heels and advance, with a steely determination, towards them

“Prime Minister,” she said, in a truly muddled accent. There were layers, Baldwin realised, to this complicated woman. “It so good to finally meet you,” she sort-of drawled.

Mrs Simpson,” Baldwin replied, earning an amused, if reproachful look from his wife at the unintended emphasis. “Ah, and Mr Simpson,” Baldwin added at a figure lurking close behind the two women.

1590409237294.png


“Do you like the music?” The question, which would seem an innocuous enough prelude to small talk, was delivered aggressively (no, that was wrong, assertively was a better description) and with a hunted look in her eye. Baldwin, despite himself, felt sympathy for this woman. She was desperate for his endorsement, to complete this occasion without opprobrium.

Baldwin feigned interest by overexaggerating the gesture of listening to the music. With a sinking heart he realised that it was something modern, with a bumpy rhythm, beat kept by claves and what he thought was a saxophone. All eyes fell upon the British Prime Minister as he was asked to perform a solemn duty and pass a verdict on the musical choices of the King’s mistress.

“I like it,” he said lightly, “what do we do next? Smoke opium?” There was a roar of laughter from the political guests, Alfred Duff-Cooper and Sir Samuel Hoare and their poisonous wives. In crisp Naval uniform another figure, Commander the Lord Louis Mountbatten, next to his own bonkers wife, offered what Monsell at the Admiralty would, no doubt, describe as a ‘career laugh’, an over the top gesture to make his appreciation of the joke obvious. Baldwin sighed heavily. The only guests not roaring with laughter were Godfrey-Fausset, escorting, to Baldwin’s dismay, Lady Maud ‘Emerald’ Cunard, and the Wigrams. The King and the Sovereign’s Private Secretary exchanged knowing glances with Clive and Nora Wigram; like Lucy (and no doubt Baldwin himself) they looked out of place with their Edwardian (or Victorian in Lucy’s case) clothes and silently, mournfully, sipped on their cocktails (Baldwin had expected champagne or wine).

The King was also silent for a couple of seconds, wondering, no doubt, if Baldwin’s jibe about opium was a pointed reference to Mrs Simpson’s supposed past (it was, Baldwin couldn’t help himself). Seeing the rest of the gathering laughing heartily, the King’s scowl suddenly switched, he also roared with laughter and patted his Prime Minister on the back with a very matey, hearty slap.

Thus patted, the Prime Minister and his Sovereign went to dinner.

Lucy’s facial expression at the table settings was magnificently Victorian, her disdain at Wallis Simpson and Emerald Cunard being sat, like prized family members, at the ends of the table very obvious. Baldwin found himself enduring the King and Edwina Mountbatten; thankfully the latter was too busy flirting with Alfred Duff-Cooper to be interested in the Prime Minister.

“Sir Samuel,” the King half-shouted to Hoare, “will we be seeing you back in Cabinet soon”?

All eyes looked quickly to Baldwin, who steeled himself for whatever torment or nonsense was intended.

“Well, Your Majesty is too kind to ask,” Hoare said smoothly, and Baldwin immediately saw through the flattery to the falseness underneath; if you knew Sam Hoare more than superficially it always came out. “I would like to serve, if the right opportunities arose.”

“Well Baldwin, when are you going to give Sam his due,” the King asked expectantly.

Baldwin was saved from making a response as Duff-Cooper, who had no love for Hoare, shook his head slightly. He had had too much to drink and was losing his self-control. “Slippery Sam strikes again,” he said in a boorish mumble, sending Edwina Mountbatten into fits of giggles.

Her husband was trying, and failing, to impress Lucy Baldwin. “You know,” he said, addressing her in the same tone that one might a Labrador, “I am astonished that you have not been asked to be the Lady Sponsor for one of our ships.”

Wallis Simpson, who had been bored by Godfrey-Fausset, now saw a way to tease both he and Mountbatten. “A Lady what?”

“Lady sponsor, Ma’am,” Mountbatten said, cutting in before Godfrey-Fausset, “the Lady who commissions a warship. Usually someone of quality, of status.”

Wallis Simpson turned immediately to the King. “David? Could we do that?” She was direct, interrogating.

“Well I guess that we could, Wallis dear, but…” The ‘Wallis dear’ was as close to a public admission of the adultery that Baldwin had heard in the Palace.

“It would need Admiralty assent,” Godfrey-Fausset said, in challenge. He couldn’t help himself.

“Not necessarily,” Mountbatten, smoothly, replied, before a dismissive “Sir. His Majesty approves the names and commissioning of warships does he not?”

“Yes,” Wigram said testily. “It is a prerogative power, the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister.”

“So, why not select the sponsor? For you, my dear, nothing short of a battleship would suffice!”

“Yes, er, Wallis,” the King, trying to retain some propriety, struggled to say.

Wallis wasn’t finished. Avoiding the disapproving gaze of Lucy Baldwin, she glared at the King. “It’s what we talking about. If I have to make a public appearance…”

“I’m sorry?” Wigram was alarmed.

“Sir,” Baldwin began, able to endure no more, “with whom were you talking?”

The King fussily waved away Baldwin’s objection. “I’m just,” he looked around, “taking soundings on how we establish the new reign.” Wigram, in a breath-taking display of disloyalty, clearly rolled his eyes.

“But it would be an occasion,” Lady Cunard, never one to let an argument ‘die down’, picked up the reins. “To launch a warship. We could all go.”

“What about Ark Royal,” Duff-Cooper, now moved from ‘tired’ to ‘drunk’, offered. "The vessel that carries Royal hopes!" Hoare gasped, as did Edwina and Louis Mountbatten. Lucy Baldwin looked at the Simpsons, Duff-Coopers and Mountbattens as if they were all mad.

The King, who seemed, still, to be torn between disapproval and endorsement of the conversation, turned to Baldwin. “I did have a request, for you, on that one.”

“That what?” Baldwin was tired, his chest hurt and he wanted to rest.

“Can I approve the names of the new battleships? I have often thought that this is a power I would like to wield.”

“Er, yes, Sir,” Baldwin said carefully, “but the new designs are not even ordered yet. They’re designs on a table at the Admiralty. The Naval Estimates aren’t due until July.”

“I expect to be consulted,” the King said darkly. He brightened when he looked at Mountbatten, seemingly under Wallis’ spell. “Louis, you should stick around,” Baldwin frowned. ‘Stick around’ was neither English or regal, and he drawled it in an almost American way. “Care to be my ADC?”

Mountbatten offered a very formal nod, while Edwina Mountbatten ignored Duff-Cooper’s comment that it would offer even more beds for the Mountbattens to jump in and out of. Mountbatten suddenly remembered something that was vexing him. “Prime Minister,” he drawled, “has the Foreign Office decided, yet, if it will support us sending a ship to the Olympics?” Godfrey-Fausset coloured immediately, while Wigram’s eyes were immediately heavenward, as if praying for a deliverance that never quite seemed to materialise.

Sensing Lucy tensing at the younger man’s impropriety, Baldwin determined to be polite. “I believe that will agree to send a cruiser,” he said flatly, “although there are a couple of matters to er, iron out.”

The King, who was also heading towards being overcome by his intoxication (Baldwin sensed that he was nervous, or was it desperation?) also looked, goggle-eyed, at his Prime Minister. “Was this that note from Pipps?”

“Phipps,” Wigram snapped, unable to restrain himself, “Sir Eric Phipps. And perhaps we would best…”

“…something something,” the King began, brutally cutting off his Private Secretary (to the fury of Lucy Baldwin and the evident delight of Wallis Simpson), “oh yes, ‘the German Government attach enormous importance to the Olympic Games from the point of view of propaganda,’ that was it wasn’t it?”

“Yes Sir,” Baldwin said calmly, deciding that the moment to contain the King’s lapse in security had passed. “He also said, as Your Majesty will no doubt recall, that he anticipates that Germany will take the opportunity of impressing foreign countries with the capacity and solidity of the Nazi regime.”

“And the French still want to boycott?” That was Mountbatten again, enjoying the access to the Heads of Government and State.”

“Vansittart,” the King recalled the name and so said it slowly, “met with the French didn’t he?”

“He did, Sir,” Baldwin said nodding. “There will be no protest.”

“And,” the King said, full of earnest interest, “you’re worried, aren’t you? That a British cruiser parked off…”

“…Kiel,” Mountbatten immediately offered, beating Godfrey-Fausset and Wigram to it.

“Thank you, Dickie, Kiel then, would show somehow that we support the Nazis?”

Baldwin gave a shrug to suggest it wasn’t the maddest idea, while Duff-Cooper, feeling left out, chipped in with his own observation.

“Eden’s also worried that the Navy will want to participate in the sailing events.”

“Well why not?” That was Ernest Simpson. Wallis shot him a vicious look, to the amusement of Mountbatten and Duff-Cooper.

“And so, we have a few protocol matters to dispense with,” Baldwin said smoothly, but feeling mildly displeased that by also ignoring Simpson’s point he was implicitly condoning him being cuckolded.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It was later, over coffee, when Baldwin, about to make his excuses, grab Lucy, and flee into the night, noticed the Wigrams unhappily approaching him. He saw Wigram had a dejected posture and tears in his eyes.

Baldwin, who had spent a lifetime reassuring wavering politicians and civic dignitaries, gently touched Clive Wigram’s shoulder. “Out with it,” he said commandingly.

“Where to begin,” Wigram said in an exhausted voice. Baldwin was immediately worried: the man seemed spent. Angry Wigram, hysterical Wigram, furious Wigram he could assist; he usually at least showed feeling, energy. Baldwin wondered if he was now hollowed out.

“Is it the Court Circular?” Baldwin hoped, as Lucy took Wigram’s wife to one side, that it was; he decided that he could accept that.

“I wondered how you would view that,” he said, again without emotion or energy, smiling a hollow smile. “All of this, so that her name could be listed alongside of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for War. Mountbatten was an added touch, you know he can’t resist an opportunity to genuflect.”

Baldwin was now very concerned. Not with Mountbatten, who was as close to the Yorks as he was to the King, but with Wigram’s complete surrender. He no longer really cared, evidenced by the almost acceptable way of describing Mrs Simpson. It was no longer ‘the whore’s name’ or ‘the name of that mistress’, it was merely ‘her name’. “It was inevitable, Clive, and is there is precedent from his grandfather’s day.”

“His grandfather,” Wigram said with a tired smile, “did not contemplate marrying Keppel, or Churchill, or Langtry.”

Baldwin closed his eyes. “Is that his intent?”

Wigram nodded. “He is thinking about it, quite seriously, Prime Minister. Belvedere has become the HQ for this little operation. None of the old household staff are allowed over there, now. But I hear rumours.”

“Go on,” Baldwin said in a carefully neutral way.

“He corresponds with Winston, I’m not allowed to see what about, even Winston has too much sense to talk about it. I know that he is booking calls with people from across the Realm, but I am not in his confidence.”

As the ladies returned, Lucy with a magnificently pointed look that it was most-definitely-time-to-go, Baldwin again felt very, very, afraid. He was very aware of the tightness of his chest.

“I, I need to think about this,” Baldwin said, tiredly. “Are you alright, Clive?”

“I’ve not got long left,” Wigram said, completely at ease, “I’ll go, soon enough. And then others will have to guide him.”

Baldwin smiled sadly. “Is it always like this?”

Wigram didn’t really react, his eyes were lost, in reverie. He suddenly snapped into the ‘here and now’. “This was a good night, Prime Minister. She didn’t belittle him, publicly.” Next to him, his wife looked mournfully at her shoes.

“Clive,” Baldwin began, “I will need a list of the private callers to Belvedere. I’m hearing alarming rumours that he has taken the advice to find an avuncular, a mentor, slightly more to heart than we’d like.”

The little group was joined by Godfrey-Fausset, who red face and tense demeanour suggested fury. “I’m not cut out for this reign, I’m afraid I’m off,” he said to no one in particular.

Wigram, whose job it was to keep up morale in the Palace, nodded sadly. “Please, give it another fortnight. He’s getting easier.”

“Aye,” Godfrey-Fausset, though less drunk than most of the guests, was still intoxicated and it had given him ‘a touch of steel’. “Aye, or is it that he’s spending so much time away from his duties that we’re getting more time to recuperate?”

“Call on me,” Baldwin said, firmly. “Call on me at the Commons. Captain, I hate to add to your woes, could you arrange for my car to be readied?” Godfrey-Fausset immediately went to convey the instruction. Baldwin turned to the Wigrams. “Good luck, Clive. Nora, a pleasure, as always.”

“Prime Minister,” the Wigrams said, in unison.

As Baldwin flopped into the car, he felt truly, desperately unwell, and sad. Time, he thought sadly, is running out. For both of us.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


GAME NOTES

The POD begins to reveal itself. A dinner party is held at Buckingham Palace revealing tensions within the Royal Household, as well as between the King and his Prime Minister. I have actually brought forward two dinner parties, one from May and one from later in the Summer, with a slightly truncated (and amended) guest list but sticking to those in politics and the Establishment that would be likely to feature. This is the POD’s course running on, showing an Edward acting much more speedily than he did in the real word, aided and abetted by some shadowy, half referenced contacts.

Did Baldwin ever sit down to dinner with Wallis? Yes he most certainly did, at the May function of the two that I have mentioned – and of course it featured, as Lucy Baldwin cannily realised, in the next day’s Court Circular. A fig leaf of propriety was maintained by the presence of the increasingly ridiculous Ernest Simpson (the warnings of the former Lord Mayor of London and others having been ignored) and by the presence of a smattering of other Cabinet members (Duff-Cooper and Hoare both attended dinners and both were leading pro-Edward figures), but it began the slow drumbeat toward a more public declaration that Wallis was non-negotiable for Edward. Be under no illusion, this is a significant move and elevates the Simpson situation into an issue that Baldwin should not ignore (it is debatable whether that point was not actually crossed months ago, perhaps before the death of KGV), but now that Baldwin is officially ‘introduced’ to Simpson (or vice versa – Debretts isn’t exactly forthcoming with PMs meeting mistresses) it is an issue for him to handle with the Cabinet and Royal Household.

That Royal staff is fraying spectacularly; both Wigram and Godfrey-Fausset featured at the May dinner and I remain convinced that, despite their by now obvious and focal enmity to Wallis, they would be dragooned into attending. It offers a further ‘official stamp’ upon the Simpsons as Establishment courtiers and ties the senior Palace staff in with the Cabinet and King. But this came at a price: Wigram (in May really, but here mid-April) really did seem to suffer some form of collapse, leading the splitting of the Palace staff into pro and anti-Simpson camps (the whole thing sounds truly awful); Godfrey-Fausset was an early casualty of this, as we shall see in a few updates.

I couldn’t resist, for some sadistic reason, teasing Godfrey-Fausset more than was probably required and using his beloved Royal Navy as the method. There are a few Royal Navy points here, specifically the naming of ships, their Lady Sponsor, and the request from the FO / Germans to send a ship to the sailing events of the Berlin Olympics (held at Kiel). All of these are real issues; there was a huuuuuuuge protracted argument about whether to send a ship to the Olympics, in the end one was found but not without a lot of argument at Cabinet level – Eden had to bully Monsell (and his replacement Sam Hoare, who does, as is hinted here, pine for a return to Cabinet) for a cruiser to go. The naming of warships is a prerogative power: that is, a power held by the Sovereign (or more properly held by the Sovereign but exercised by the Prime Minister – the point is that it doesn’t need to go before Parliament). The naming of warships is a peculiarly controversial little obsession and monarchs genuinely become exorcised by it. Churchill maintained a protracted battle with King George V over the naming of dreadnoughts proposing ‘HMS William Pitt,’ which was declined by the King on the basis that it was too easy to imagine a rhyming insult! Irritated by the rebuff, he then proposed ‘HMS Cromwell,’ which was less politely declined. Here, we’re really talking about the KGVs, which we have seen on the drawing boards but are as yet unbuilt or unnamed. There are all sorts of stories about the saga of the naming – almost as convoluted as the tangled tale of their design (and armament!). It was Bertie, when he became King George VI, who resolved the proposals (which included HMS King Edward VIII!) in favour of a tribute to his father. At this stage, there is no way that Edward is going to ‘sign off’ on KGV, so the impasse continues.

The tradition of ‘lady sponsors' is another odd one. The sponsor of a Royal Navy warship up to the mid nineteenth century was usually a member of the Royal family or a senior military figure or official, but in the course of the 1800s it became increasingly common for the sponsor to be a woman, and lady sponsors were, by 1936 (and indeed, today) the rule rather than the exception. Female Royals, or the wife of leading military / political types, tend to be favoured.

The other, secondary characters, the Mountbattens and Lady Cunard, are, more than anything else, regular diners at the Palace who could be expected to ‘make up the numbers’ at short notice. I’m relaxed about Lady Cunard, she was useless but ambitious, but I am steelier in my dislike of the Mountbattens. Louis Mountbatten, to me, seems someone who’d be perfect in some figurehead role – the difficulty being that in the Royal Navy you have to work your way up (even with the frankly ludicrous ‘leg ups’ that he received) through some gritty command and staff positions; in both of these his record is, well, chequered. Lucy Baldwin was as Victorian and haughty as portrayed; what is also evident is that the Baldwin's marriage was a very happy one and that he truly relied upon her.

And now the ‘elephant in the room’, we finally meet Wallis. Looking back, I have probably, despite my efforts to be balanced, been slightly too sympathetic to the King. This update hopefully shows the darker side (balanced with a keen mind and desire to do some good), the neediness, the desire to meddle (or over-meddle) and of course the frankly odd relationship with Mrs Simpson. I strike, I hope, a balance here; she was coarse, and completely tone deaf to the Britain of 1936, but was that entirely her fault? With delicious irony I enjoyed making Baldwin the centre of this update and thus the one, on your behalf, to sense that her bravado may be a ‘front’ to hide her nerves. After all, despite her brazen nature, Baldwin, alone of all the participants, is the one that matters; however the King plays his hand, it will be Baldwin who responds. Such a meeting (and I have hinted at her influence over the drinks and jazz music) would have understandably been as much of a trial for her as it was for Baldwin. None of this reflects well upon the King – he really should, other than surrounding Wallis with sycophants and friendly faces, have done more to defuse the situation.

Back to the wider world, next…

@stnylan: I’m not sure, y’know. Egypt, I think was in such a unique position (particularly after the Italian adventures nearby) that a well-informed administration without German distractions and without a new and erratic monarch would have struggled.

@Captured Joe: Well, Egypt is one of two colonial mishandlings (the other is India) that makes my blood boil with HOI4. It is treated as colony in the same way as Jamaica or Cyprus yet had a nascent state with (admittedly extremely limited) autonomy. Yet Malaya, with a governor appointed by London, is a puppet. WT (actual) F?!

@TheButterflyComposer: You’re right about the focus tree, and without killing some anticipation I cannot tell you how and when I picked what I picked.

As to the longevity of politicians, you’re right, and there is a sense of the younger men itching to take over here, never mind in the mid 50s when Churchill eventually packs in.

@Specialist290: Happily, I can report that this was not a little Le Jones fabrication – Hailsham really did say that in Cabinet!

@DensleyBlair: So, to soak in the atmosphere, The English Patient is of course on the list. I also enjoy Brideshead Revisited, The Remains of the Day (I thought of this last one a lot when writing The King’s First Minister) and, for (middle class) English life, some of the ITV Poirots. What all of these ignore, of course, is the biting poverty of industrial Britain.

@Bullfilter: If a normal member of the commentAARiat’s praise is kind, then praise comng from someone who has served as one of my characters has is truly special, so thank you. Belsay will pop up again, in a few update’s time.

@DensleyBlair: Or members of the judiciary.

@Specialist290: Fascinating, and the irony, given some of his ‘big ticket’ measures, is delicious.

@El Pip: I think, on balance, you’re right about the Cpl. I may use him again, as Belsay’s career develops further.

@TheButterflyComposer: True, true!
 
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Captured Joe

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One really has to feel sorry for Baldwin here, as well as admire his restraint.

And Edward seems totally helpless to deal with the situation...
 

Bullfilter

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What an exquisitely uncomfortable gathering! Especially in a milieu when every word and nuance is meant to be nuanced, subtle and cultured when at its best, at the top. One can only shake one’s head sadly, say “Bally rum show, old chap!” And move with trepidation on to the next excruciating crisis. Very well done.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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As soon as the king made a policy 'suggestion' that was more like an order, alarm bells should have been ringing. But actually doubling down and trying to get someone into cabinet over a dinner party with no build up is just obscene. Then face palmed when Wallis open her trap and talked about sponsoring a new battleship as the king's lady in front of the victorians in the room.

I'm begining to see exactly why the government was keen to toss edward rather than house train him. I'm also wondering what the devil Edward thinks is going to happen if he keeps doing shit like this. Does he have a plan to put his people in government? Appeal to the people? Not sure what he's expecting to happen here.
 

stnylan

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Thus patted, the Prime Minister and his Sovereign went to dinner.

I really liked this line, the simplicity of it and yet the slightly puerile way the PM is treated by the King. It captures something very vital about the whole gathering.

For all its fraught tones though the bit that hit home was Wigram, his appearance, his apathy, his exhaustion. Married with what we know of Baldwin's own struggles .. it makes one wonder how events (irl) would have played out with more energetic figures around Edward VIII.

I wonder what on earth Queen Mary is making of all of this. In this timeline will she become reconciled to her son's choice? Especially if this union proves fruitless the internal dynamics of the Family could get complex.
 

Specialist290

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Ah yes, the Dinner Party from Hell, where you're expected to put in an appearance for propriety's sake but you just know you won't be comfortable around some (or most) of the other guests. As TBC has said, given the way Edward and friends trample over what is supposed to be a somewhat dignified affair, it's no wonder the broader Government wanted him (and them) out.

One thing that definitely comes to the fore here (aside from Baldwin and the Old Order's clear exasperation with the King) is an apparent contradiction in Edward's character. He seems to have strong opinions on what he wants done and is clearly motivated enough to try to circumvent the usual formal strictures and channels of his office, but at the same time in such a "private" setting he appears almost hemmed in by flatterers and sycophants, and almost moonstruck in the presence of Mrs. Simpson. It's easy to possibly write this off as him being a well-meaning individual manipulated by others with selfish interests, but I do think this does betray a rather fatal flaw in the King's character -- he seems to want validation and recognition above all else, and he's more than happy to take it where he can find it even when he's not entirely comfortable with where it puts him.
 

DensleyBlair

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A truly horrific encounter, exquisitely written. I was almost squirming in my seat reading that last update. Baldwin's sorry plight, thrust unwillingly into the heart of an awful gathering, came across painfully well. The pathos at the end, with the meeting of the Victorians, almost an impromptu support group for those forced to deal with the King, capped off something of a minor emotional rollercoaster. It's hard not to feel for Baldwin, Wigram and co.

Meanwhile, Edward seems to have been getting up to a good deal while our focus has been directed elsewhere. One wonders how much is pantomime and how much is sincere. There is an incredibly performative element to everything going on at the Palace at the moment, and in many ways it looks like Edward is trying his hardest to establish himself as his own man (or, perhaps more truthfully, Wallis's). That said, it's surely unwise not to credit his actions with some intentionality. No doubt he knows what he's doing – whatever 'it' may be. From Baldwin's perspective, more's the pity indeed.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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There's are further hints that the king is trying to form his own bloc though. Winston and Lloyd George however are fairly respectable advisors and choices for private audiences. Provided he doesn't publically, or privately get caught, dealing with Mosley, David might get away with this politicking for a while yet.
 

El Pip

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Well that entire scene seemed hellish and convinced me I have, if anything, been far too generous to Eddie and too kind to Mrs Simpson. The breaking of Wigram should surely be the last straw for anyone reasonable, there can be no excuse now to support the King unless he makes some radical changes in his personal life.

Baldwin again bit back a retort, this one that Wallis had ‘liked ‘a far greater number of men than the King could ever imagine, but instead inclined his head in thanks for the compliment.
Now this raises an excellent point. Did Eddie actually know he was chasing a wanton harlot? Did someone ever sit him down and explain the truth to him rather than the twisted version Wallis provided, ideally with a bit of Special Branch evidence to demonstrate that she had not changed and was still chasing multiple other men at the same time as him. Now that would be an interesting POD, but probably not the one we are looking at.

Looking back, I have probably, despite my efforts to be balanced, been slightly too sympathetic to the King.
There is no slightly about it. ;)

I strike, I hope, a balance here; she was coarse, and completely tone deaf to the Britain of 1936, but was that entirely her fault?
Yes it was entirely her fault. Why on earth would someone's arrogance and complete unwillingness to even slightly adapt to their new country not be their fault? It's like saying the bank fraudster was nervous while doing their stealing, that is the correct reaction to doing the wrong thing and not something to be empathised with or invoke sympathy.

You do wonder what Eddie could have been like had he fallen for someone like Lucy Baldwin, someone calm, smart, supportive and appropriate. Didn't really get haughty vibes from Lucy, beyond what should be required from a quasi-official state dinner party at least.
 

Le Jones

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Dear all,

Update tonight, but...

I have two smallish updates to complete our "while the King is wenching, this is what is going on elsewhere" roundup. One is short but important, the other is a Le Jones flight of fancy - a bit parochial but important to set up two fictional characters. After that, the mad Summer of '36 begins...
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Now this raises an excellent point. Did Eddie actually know he was chasing a wanton harlot? Did someone ever sit him down and explain the truth to him rather than the twisted version Wallis provided, ideally with a bit of Special Branch evidence to demonstrate that she had not changed and was still chasing multiple other men at the same time as him. Now that would be an interesting POD, but probably not the one we are looking at.
Depending on how sadistic they are, they could always tell him after he leaves to marry her. "Oh and by the way..."

Still not sure where the Divergence is going to be. Ethiopia gone. Ruhr gone. Is there going to be a plane crash at some point during the olympics?
 

Captured Joe

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El Pip

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An airship crash, you mean?
The Hindenburg did famously fly around the site during the games, if it were to burst into flames and crash into the Olympic stadium, taking out the entire Nazi leadership in the fireball, that would be a novel POD and I for one would read the hell out of it.

Alas I fear it is an idea too magnificent for this world and will never see the light of day.
 

DensleyBlair

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The Hindenburg did famously fly around the site during the games, if it were to burst into flames and crash into the Olympic stadium, taking out the entire Nazi leadership in the fireball, that would be a novel POD and I for one would read the hell out of it.

Alas I fear it is an idea too magnificent for this world and will never see the light of day.
I would also absolutely read the hell out of this, in case anyone reading has the time and the will. :D
 

Le Jones

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1590700400168.png


Chapter 17, Jerusalem, 22 April 1936

1590700459660.png


“No! Not you, where are you going?” The chaos at the road was obvious as the three infantrymen, of the Essex Regiment, shouted and cajoled the Arabs off the road. Two of them were men of Essex while their leader was a cockney corporal who not too politely remonstrated with the local man to keep clear. Their timing was close, as the car sped past them only seconds later, the corporal managing a half-hearted salute as the staff car rolled on into the city. The corporal, a ‘journeyman’ (not a high flyer) soldier who had served in Ireland, India, Turkey, the Saar and now Palestine, thought that this was the worst posting that had ever served in. Even Germany, last year, had been more welcoming; at least, the corporal thought in a contemplative moment, we have something in common with them.

The senior occupant of the car, Sir Arthur Wauchope, the British High Commissioner for Palestine, merely nodded as his staff car sped past the soldiers before returning to his notes. It was left to his ADC to acknowledge the salute. Wauchope looked up as the car veered left rather than the right that he was expecting. The car stopped at yet another army checkpoint.

He held on to his notes as the car arrived back at his residence, noting with resignation that his senior aide was waiting for him. He looked out, and saw hundreds of Arabs, seemingly peaceful enough, but gathering, protesting, all the same.

1590700534014.png


The car rolled, finally, to the residence where Wauchope noticed that his senior staff were all waiting for him. Straightening his suit, he braced himself for the worst. The ADC, as befitted a ‘flunky’, carried the High Commissioner’s briefcase.

1590700555604.png


“Nablus, Haifa, Jenin, Tulkarm and here, Sir,” the senior aide greeted the Wauchope. “They have formed an Arab National Committee.”

“I’ve seen it,” Wauchope said wearily. Unlike his staff, who seemed eager to respond, Wauchope just felt incredibly weary. “There were hundreds of them.”

“It’s well organised,” the aide agreed, “most of the Arabs involved in transport, local trade or working for us on projects are on strike.” They walked, the aides briefing as Wauchope trudged (or doddered, to the aides he seemed woefully antediluvian) back to his office. “They have issued demands.”

Wauchope stopped and looked over the ancient city. In this distance, over the noise of cars and bustle, he could just make out the chanting of the group that he had witnessed. “Tell me,” he said pleadingly.

“One, prohibition of non-Arab immigration. Secondly, prohibition of the transfer of Arab land to non-Arabs. Next, the establishment of a ‘National Government’, responsible to a council representative of the inhabitants; that would be Arab dominated, Sir. They’re advocating not paying taxes and continuing the strike until we back down.”

Wauchope nodded, half listening to the chanting crowds. “What do we propose?”

“We crack down. Suspend habeas corpus, impose curfews, deploy the Army.”

Wauchope turned, shocked. “What? This isn’t a colony, it’s a mandated territory…”

That took some of wind out of the aide’s sails. “As a Class A territory we are required to…”

“I am aware of the requirements,” Wauchope said testily. “We refer up.”

“Up?”

“To London. Contact Eden and Thomas.” They had arrived at Wauchope’s office. “Until then, I agree with the security checkpoints, we punish all tax evasion, we offer a Royal Commission, and we warn off Cairo and Baghdad.”

“You think, Sir, that this could spread?”

Wauchope sighed as he placed his hat and jacket on a hook. “I fear that it might, yes. Draft a note to London, advise them of the strike and request instructions. To go tonight. What’s our military strength?”

“Insufficient,” the aide said simply.

“Include Duff-Cooper. Request a brigade, infantry, with support equipment, perhaps from Egypt.” Wauchope sighed again, and although it had been ten years since he had commanded his division, and five since he had been a GOC, he wondered if a division-sized force was required.

“Of course, with this scandal over Thomas…”

“We might get nothing for weeks,” the aide agreed. “Dammed silly of the Colonial Secretary to go talking to bankers,” he said in a light-hearted, gossipy way.

“It is not the talking that is the error,” Wauchope corrected, “rather that he revealed details of Chamberlain’s budget.” He sagged to his chair and felt every one of his sixty-two years. He was looking forward, finally, to a long and peaceful retirement. This appointment to Palestine had been supposed to be a sinecure, a comfortable and easy ‘gong’ to recognise his lifetime of service. And now the Arabs were on strike. Not wanting to blot his copybook at the twilight of his public service, he would refer up, but include Eden and Duff-Cooper so that if, as he suspected, the scandal-engulfed Colonial Secretary was too consumed by his battle for survival, other Cabinet members could assist.

He was snapped from his thoughts by two other figures, one uniformed, one not, who seemed to float in.

“Why is it,” Wauchope said wearily, “that I only ever see you two when things are very bad?”

The uniformed figure spoke first. “Sir, I have a squadron of Hawker Harts at RAF Ramleh at thirty minutes’ notice for operations.”

Wauchope shook his head. “No, Hill, these are not some Iraqi tribesmen. Stand your men at the aerodrome down, but thank you for your efforts,” he said very tiredly. He turned to the other man. “I do not look forward to your comments with any relish.”

The man, who was known as ‘Cullen’, was almost certainly not really called Cullen. “We need to be as ruthless as they will no doubt be.”

“What does that even mean,” Wauchope almost wailed.

“I think that if one element of the populace is arming, we should help the other side.”

Wauchope sagged down into his chair. “Wouldn’t that, Mr Cullen, risk turning one group’s little angst into a,” he thought hard, “civil war?”

‘Cullen’ shrugged. Wauchope closed his eyes, a mix of tired irritation and desperate helplessness overwhelming him. Time to refer up...

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

GAME NOTES

The Arab General Strike begins.

The General Strike had a number of causes – I’ve been careful and amended, slightly, the list of grievances (the ‘non-Arab’ references mean, in this case, Jewish) to avoid sparking controversy over something that just isn’t handled in HOI4 (or, to my knowledge, has never been covered), but immigration and land transfers were a part of Arab dissatisfaction, as was a benign but aloof British administration. By 1936 the British had managed Palestine through the Colonial Office for some fifteen years, most of them relatively quiet (compared to other flashpoints). Wauchope and his predecessors were proud of their time balancing (with mixed results) Arab and Jewish communities. The Foreign Office, Admiralty (for Haifa) and War Office were all spectators, occasionally mediators. So when, in April, a highway murder triggered protest, Wauchope viewed this as another mild disturbance; a measured response (which had been successful, or least not unsuccessful, previously) was his first instinct (as portrayed). Some in the Colonial Office, and the Army, RAF and MI5/6, were keen for a tougher response that would have perhaps avoided the later revolt (a toss-up, then, as to whether pain earlier would prevent pain later) but both London and Jerusalem were dragged along. Despite advocating a “consistent, firm and united” response Wauchope was none of these.

I have decided to avoid adding a raft of superfluous real / fictional characters to a story that won’t go on for very long and isn’t particularly active (or at all active) in the game, but is important for some of the characters, so I focussed upon Wauchope and his dealings with some (relatively) low level Britons in Palestine. The bit about the army and the infantry dislike of Palestine as a posting comes from a conversation had a long, long time ago with a veteran of the postwar problems, where (in an admittedly much more threatening environment) Palestine was hated by the Tommies posted there. In an AAR that has to be focussed on the those ‘at the top’ (at this stage at least) I wanted to offer an everyman’s introduction, a trio of bored, uncomfortable infantrymen trying to follow their orders in an alien, unwelcoming environment.

The man at the top, Arthur Wauchope, was indeed a tired old soldier; British policy in mandated territories (and not, as Wauchope mentions correctly, a colony) is not my strongest area. But, it was clear that he was very cautious in dealing with the strike (although some of the criticism reads as hindsight – he couldn’t have known the scale and duration of the action) and was wary of doing too much without Whitehall’s blessing. That blessing, as I mention at the conclusion, was hampered by the collapse of the Colonial Secretary’s authority as he did indeed leak some tax changes to a bunch of bankers - I hinted at this in the Downing Street garden update. The strike, frankly came at a bad time (although, in 1936, was there ever a good time?) and was not at the top of the Cabinet’s priorities. I find the management of the mandates fascinating as the fig leaf of paternal management by the WW1 victors was pretty thin. While, as a ‘Class A’ territory, the language of the League of Nations stated that Palestine was deemed “to have reached a stage of development where [its] existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as [it is] able to stand alone”, in so many ways (colours on maps, which department of the Government ran the things etc) they were new colonies. I wondered about yet another portrayal of a tired old senior Briton wearily getting on with his duties (a la Baldwin, Chamberlain, the Palace staff) but I think that this is more a sign of the times than of my writing. Niall Ferguson describes, in Empire a generation of Britons ‘silently cracking’ and, while I disagree with some of his other conclusions, I get his point. The British collapse (which I anchor firmly in the winter of 41 / 42 with the failures in the Far East and desert campaigns) although triggered by overstretch, was ‘built in’ years before, and to my ‘Top Gear Maths’ mind it comes from the shock of WW1, and the challenge of a burden increasing, rather than decreasing, after that war. Britain in the 20s and 30s had to balance so many issues (Ireland, India, mandates like Palestine, ze Germans, the Russian Civil War, Turkey’s emergence from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, increased Dominion autonomy, economic woes, the clamour for political reform, the emergence of the dictators, just naming a few) that it would be foolish to suggest that there wasn’t an impact on those ‘calling the shots’. WW2 produced some magnificent British performances, but covered systemic issues that weren’t even partially understood until the postwar crises and resolved even later than that (and arguably some weren’t).

@Captured Joe: I think that the whole ghoulish spectacle was a necessary torment for all – Baldwin had to meet her, but any such meeting would have been a torrid affair.

@Bullfilter: I bit like my response to @Captured Joe, I think that the whole thing was a forced event that could have been worse, even if it was pretty uncomfortable.

@TheButterflyComposer: The thing is, it was like this – Edward was still finding his feet and was estranging himself from those who would help him to conform (and I’m with some of the earlier commantarAARs – both sides should adjusted to meet in the midde). Wallis (and her social circle to a huge degree) made a bad situation even worse.

@stnylan: I do sympathise with the Palace staff. Yes they were stuffy and frigid, and didn’t give him much in the way of support, but the way that they were treated was utterly objectionable.

@Specialist290: I think you’re on to something, I am increasingly of the view that this is a ‘mother’ thing. Queen Mary was a distant mother and Edward needed affection, practically craved it.

@DensleyBlair: I’m deliberately letting the POD bubble away – to reveal it early ruins the story.

And yes, the meeting of the Victorians was a deliberate alignment of, well, ‘the old guard’.

@TheButterflyComposer: The King is definitely ‘taking soundings’, that much is now clear. What is not yet clear, to Baldwin, is for what reason.

@El Pip: I am convinced that by this stage, both in the AAR an reality, attempt had been made to brief the King on Wallis’ character. The memoirs of those involved are littered with attempts to highlight to him the darker elements of her character. But, whether it was pig-headedness or sheer inability to see the bloody obvious (and I am not sure which of these it is), the King’s head was not for turning.

I’m in a difficult position here – everyone has a view on whether it was all his fault, whether it was her fault, whether it was the Palace’s fault, or Baldwin’s. The truth is that everyone, so far, has given a ‘below par’ performance.

@TheButterflyComposer: The divergence is coming up after the next update.

@Captured Joe: Well, the (official) British delegation at the Olympics was minimal – so while it would be apocalyptic for Germans (and butterflying through Europe), the direct impact on the UK would be at first slight.

@El Pip: And alas you’re right.

@DensleyBlair: Sorry! Not this callsign.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Trouble in the Middle East, at the best of times, is unwelcome news for the ruling class in London. These, of course, are not the best of times...

Intrigued to see where this particular detour leads us. :)