The Rediscovery of Sex

I was watching an old 1930s movie recently. A couple got married. They never had a honeymoon. The husband carried his blushing bride over the threshold, dropped her in the living room, then went off to work. The wife went shopping.

In the one scene in the bedroom, there were twin beds. Both husband and wife wore pajamas. They gave each other a good night smooch, then each crawled into their twin bed and went off to zzzz-land. No time in the movie did the couple even hint at the s-word.

Since movies are a very good reflection of real life, none of the thirties romances had sexual activity. If couples were having sex, they kept it on the q.t. Guess that was why it was called the Great Depression.

It got me thinking. How did they avoid sex? I mean, these days sex is everywhere. It’s on magazine covers. It’s in the ads. It’s in the movies. It’s on tv. It’s in the music. It’s even on the evening news. We can’t seem to get enough of it. So just how did our forefolks avoid sex? Why would they want to anyway? Why did it take a World War to bring back sex?

Big questions. Recently Uncle Bardie came across an ancient tome called  “The Real Kinsey Report” that explained much that has been hidden from history. Lord Byron was one of the last two people in England in the Nineteenth Century to enjoy a ménage à duet, his female partner à duet being the other people. As the famed Lord was making a strategic withdrawal, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were engaged in hanky panky on the HMS Queen Mary. The thing is there was more hanky than panky.

Vickie and Bertie were off on their honeymoon. Of course, you do know that the origin of the word “honeymoon” was Anglo Saxon for “tiddlywinks”.  As soon as Bertie showed his blushing bride his tiddly and she showed him her winkie, they both realized this would never do. She said, “Ewwww.” And she meant it. He said, “Yech.” And he meant it. That was the end of sex as our forefathers and foremothers knew it. The end of foreplay. And afterplay too.

They returned to Buckingham Palace and declared that there was to be no more sex in the land. To make sure that their command was obeyed, they proclaimed a proclamation and they decreed a decree. Every female over the age of twelve not only had to wear a girdle. She had to wear a corset, even when she went to bed. Especially when she went to bed.

Unlike Prohibition, the new regime of non-coitus dilecti was widely popular. The Germans loved it. The Russians loved it. The Chinese loved it. The Greeks loved it. The Americans loved it. The Italians, not so much. Only the French resisted. And the Canadians who were half French anyway. The Canadians just shook their heads and thought, “Are they crazy? How are we to keep warm, eh?”

Late in the century, the French came around. We all know the details. It was the Albert Dufus Affair. Seems that A D was messing around with the Can-Can. Needless to say, it was uncanny how candid the Can-Can can.

The Can-adians never came around. Oh, sure. They too had a coitus interruptus with the Yukon Gold Rush. It was a brief run. Why have all that gold and not have anything to spend it on? So it was soon back to the business of coitus-ing all over the place. Like they say, nobody can the way a Can-adian can-can. Canada, what a country.

Since men and women didn’t make whoopee during the Great Sex Out, they didn’t need to smell good either. So no one took a bath.

Talk about Weather Changes and Global Warming. For almost one hundred years, Earth was bathed in a certain smell. Scientists blamed it on the Industrial Revolution. The truth is it came from the lack of bathing. The smell almost destroyed the ozone layer. The planet was carbon dioxiding all over the place.

For ten years after the Anti-Fornication Act of 1840, there were no babies born. “Why no babies?” the Victorians queried. Everybody liked babies. Oh, sure. There was the poop. Good thing the babies outgrew that. Not the pooping. Changing the diapers they pooped in.

The Victorians did not equate pregnancy with sex. They believed babies were delivered by storks. But there wasn’t a shortage of storks. So. Why no bambinos? It just wasn’t natural. Before they could say, “We’re really screwed,” a solution appeared on the horizon. It came from a most unusual source.

The North Pole. And it was not Santa Claus who presented a solution. Everybody presumed it was Dr. Livingston. But Dr. Livingston was deep in the heart of Africa presuming.

It seems that the Sir Rutherford Rutherford returned from his Great Balloon Exploration into Wild Blue Yonders of the Outer Atmosphere with an amazing artifact. You’ve heard of the iPod. He brought back an ePod.

A what? Yes, you heard me right. I said an Extraterrestrial Pod, known as an ePod. Extraterrestrials were born from ePods and it had been going on for centuries.

When ePods were first introduced to the rest of the planet, people were very skeptical. Some even afraid. Here is some footage taken at one of the first Royal Society meetings:

Soon the Victorians calmed down and realized this was the answer to a prayer. No sex and beaucoup babies. Before you knew it, most families were raising a crop of ePods in their backyards.

There were those who resisted like Abraham Lincoln. “Fourscore and seven years ago” was not about the Declaration of Independence. Abe was talking about the wild sexcapades our forefolks had back in the Olden Days. The Boston Tea Party was a protest, not over a tax on tea, but a tax on condoms.

I bet you thought Manifest Destiny was about increasing the size of the United States westward. It was not. It was about spreading the ePod Gospel. Custer and his Cavalry were taking a wagonload of ePods into Indian country. Sitting Bull had seen the future and he wanted none of it. It was every Indian’s right to have babies the organic way. None of that genetically modified babies for the Sioux.

Despite the resistance, the ePods became the way children came into this world by the beginning of the twentieth century. Oh sure, there were rebels without a cause like D. H. Lawrence and his Lady Chatterley. FDR was rumored to have said to Eleanor on their first night as a married couple, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

This was the way of things until World War II. The War destroyed most of the ePods. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they wiped out the ePod Supply of the entire United States. FDR wasn’t kidding when he spoke before Congress and said, “This is a Day that will live in Infamy.” He really meant it. By the end of the war, the Atom Bomb radiated the few ePods left.

For the next few years, the world was in despair. What to do? What to do? The Korean War was fought because the Allies believed the North Koreans were hoarding ePods. They weren’t. So the Allies lost interest and declared a Truce.

No one seemed to know what to do. Then Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr parted the waters.

Burt and Debbie showed us the way. Sex was back. And this time it was here to stay.

At least, till another ePod outbreak.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 39: A Jolly Right Good Well-Earned Happily Ever After

Previously our heroine took matters into her own hands, or should I say her fists. 

When Quills saw our heroine’s bosoms coming out of the carriage, he knew he was in love. “I say,” he said.

When our heroine, her ladyship Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, caught a sight of Quills’ deep blue eyes, she knew she was in love. He was the One. The Mr. Right she had been looking for. “Well, well, well,” she said.

Escorted by the future Sir Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law, the three of them returned to Merry Olde England by way of Paris. The Eiffel Tower and the Seine were lovely that time of year in that particular year. “Jolly good,” they said. “It’s all so whimsical.”

In the meantime, Pip’s father, the Flip of the chip off the old block, had been redeemed from the poorhouse. He was knighted for having such a good son. After he returned to England, he was made the new Chief of the Defense Staff.

James Bond 007 was thrown into the Tower of London, only to be released by the good office of Her Majesty QE2 some sixty years later. The queen was honoring the request of her very brave servant, his great grandson after the defeat of Oddjob and Goldfinger, Moonraker and Dr. No. By that time the grandfather had prostate and couldn’t piss worth a damn.

As far as the Wah Wah League was concerned, The Mighty Paddington The Iranian Cubist Assassin was killed by the Royal Marines for trying to escape. Father Jerome and Mother Superior Sarah were thrown deep under a Spanish prison. Doctor Qwackers was de-doctored for his quackery and sent off to the Australian Outback where he had a run-in with Crocodile Dundee.

Only Mata Hari somehow escaped. Guess she shook her hips and some low-ranking soldier let her slip through his hands. After all, what manly man could resist those hips. Of course, she would turn up some years later in France, spying for the Kaiser. The Times went under new management, put in its place for all the two-timing two-timingness.

Argyle Mactavish won his election with an overwhelming majority. The House of Lords came under Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants’ leadership and dumped any legislation that denied Lady P. P. her rightful title and lands. The ghosts marched back to their homes and took well-deserved rests. All the marching and gathering and convocating had tired them out.

On the day of the arrival of her ladyship and Quills in London, the Prime Minister was sitting for his Prime Minister portrait. But he got up and watched the ticker tape parade of Quills and her ladyship through London to Buckingham Palace.

“Welcome to Bucky, my humble abode,” Queen Victoria said as she happily met her two favorites at the door. “Let me show you to the Lincoln Bedroom where you will be staying while here.”

“Oh, we have a Lincoln Bedroom in the White House too,” Lady P. P. said, after she stopped her curtseying.

“Yes, I know,” the queen said. “But this isn’t that Lincoln. This is Sir Abraham Lincoln. Freed the slaves, you know.”

“Don’t contradict a queen,” Lady P. P. said under her breath. “Don’t contradict a queen.” She continued on the Grand Tour through Bucky.

It was spring and London Society was out and about and ready to begin its season. Usually the season ended with the best of the galas. This year was to be different. The Queen, Her Majesty herself, was throwing out the first ball. It was to be a gala in honor of the engagement of Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe and Quills Loopsey.

It was to be the evening after she awarded Quills the Barony of Duffield. The old Baron Duffield was sent packing off to India and one of the Hill Stations with the low rank of private in Her Majesty’s Services. Also she awarded Lady P. P. the Award of the Grand Poohbah, the highest honor in the land. There were moans and groans among some of the society folk. They were not happy that a commoner, Two Ems, Mrs. Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants, had been made the new Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. “How dare her. To promote an American to such an illustrious position,” they gossiped.

The Queen’s retort, “I’m the Queen and Empress of India, right?” Everybody agreed. “Then I can promote whoever I want. Or is that whomever? Oh, whatever. Am I right or nay?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” they said, but still they gossiped.

The public of course was ga-ga at all the gowns and black ties and that sort of thing. Society’s best was at the Her Majesty’s gala. The lords and ladies, the great and the important, the bigwigs and the littlewigs from all over arrived in their carriages and their carriagettes.

Queen Victoria, Her Imperial Majesty, Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, was the last to arrive. The Old Lady marched in to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” with all the pomp and circumstance in her dignified personage she could muster.  She was all smiles, bowing her head to this and that person as she passed them kneeling before her majestic personage. Then she took her place on the throne at the front of the Great Ballroom on the Thames.

Quills and her ladyship, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, began the ball with the first dance, boogeying to the “Tallyho Waltz.” Of course, it was a kind of foxtrot. Over in the corner completely ashamed of themselves was Quills’ father, Sir Hackle Loopsey, and his oldest son, Chessie doing what Chessie always did. Being a perfect foppish fop with his head up his rump, and such a big rump it was. Beside them was Flimby, Sir Loopsey’s terrier dog, and he was a real pisser. He had already managed to piss on the ballroom curtains not once, not twice, but three times.

John Smith, our heroine’s Daddykins, was enjoying this magical night immensely. He had his “sweet little Mawy Contwawy” back and she had found true love. What more could a daddykins want. Margaret “Moms” Smith was complaining about this or that or the other. She was never satisfied. But everybody ignored her.

Sir Myles and Two Ems were enjoying the repartee of Sir Alec Alec of Delphelic, an archaeologist, entertaining his listeners, “Mummies and all, you know. And daddies too, tallyho.” And off he went, tallyho-ing with Sarah Bernhardt of French fame. As they tallyhoed around the room, one lady said to another, “I say, isn’t she too well-endowed?”

Another said back at the first, “And she isn’t endowed enough.”

“Oh, you’re too too peek-a-boo,” still another lady commented.

“And you’re not peek-a-boo enough,” another came back with another comment.

“You’re so Britney Spears,” one fashionista said.

“I say, you’ve done yourself so Madonnaesque,” a high-born lady said back at her.
And away they went, dancing the tallyho across the floor. The women jumped on the back of their male partners and yelled, “Tallyho.” Their menfolk galloped back and forth across the ball room.

By the end of the night, all attendees had a jolly good time. They had nipped their share of the punch, partaken in caviar and all such gourmet stuffs that happen to be served at these kinds of high class affairs.

Several days later, Quills and Marye Caterina became a Mr. and Mrs. in a simple ceremony at the queen’s own chapel. Only a few friends were in attendance. The parents of both, the queen, Sir Myles and Two Ems and, of course, Argyle Mactavish.

After the “I doeses”, the happy couple were off to Haggismarshe Manor House to greet servants and ghosts and ask for their blessing. Of course, ghosts and servants gave it to Lord Baron Quilip “Quills” David Armistead Loopsey of Duffield and Lady Baroness Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott Loopsey of Duffield and Haggismarshe.

And the happy couple lived happily ever after into their old age. They had four children, ten grandchildren and any number of great grandchildren before they were off to join the long-gone Smiths, Loopseys, Wimpleseeds and Prissypotts in that large banquet hall where the aristocracy is known to banquet.

Sometime later, the Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Lizzie Borden found the dead body of Lord Dunville Percival Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe floating off the coast of South Carolina. How that body arrived off the coast of South Carolina is a whole other tale left for another time.


The writer sat back, lit himself a cigar and grinned. He had come to the end of his tome, The Absolutely Unbelievable Endearing Adventures of Lady Marye Wimpleseed-Prissypott. Somehow, he worked through all the jokes, and all the times when he didn’t want to write the damned thing. It was done, and he was a happy man. He saved his work and closed the file.

He went to the kitchen, took a grand puff on his cigar and a drink of the pinot he poured. Soon the glass was empty. He poured a second glass and walked back to his computer with a big smile on his face. 51,717 words. He was indeed proud of himself.

Lady Whats-her-name had adventures up the wazoo and who knew? Maybe the next novel might bring more adventures. He had only one more thing to do. Upload his words to his online drive. Before he did, there was just one itsy-bitsy change he wanted to make. Change THE END to FINALE. He sat down at the computer, opened the file that contained his grand saga and looked at the page. He was stunned.

The words, all 51,717 of them, had been erased. Where was his work, his month of staying up late and typing out nonsense into the word processor? Hours of trying to think up crap for a useless extravaganza of an exercise.

He stared at the monitor. Suddenly a big mouth appeared on his screen. It said in the crudest possible way, “I’m hungry and I want more words. More words, if you please.”


Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 36: The Prime Minister Prime Ministering

Previously, a ghostly rebellion.

Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, Queen Victoria’s face was serene, and at peace. She sat in her very large queen chair, her throne if you will. She sat in the Queen’s Audience Chamber in one of her many long black mourning dresses with their white lace, her white hair done up in a large bun the way she liked. Across her lap lay the edge of a large fabric the size of the Bayeux. It was one the queen had been knitting since the first anniversary of her husband Albert’s death. It contained many scenes from his life.

At the center of the fabric was a portrait of a handsome vigorous Albert. Scenes from his life circled that portrait, scenes of Albert hunting, Albert teaching, Albert riding, Albert freeing slaves, Albert advising his queen and his wife in manners of state, Albert being as handsome as Albert could be. The section she was working on this day was Prince Albert and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Just looking at her soul mate, though only a portrait and not the real thing, still gave her goosebumplings.

The look on Her Majesty’s face was one of reliving those days some thirty-odd years earlier. Of late, she had been working very hard to finish the fabric that had required most of her life since. She wanted it completed before her death, and she had come to realize she did not have that many more years to spare.

The queen looked up at the door of her Audience Chamber. The Prime Minster stood waiting for her to recognize his presence.

“Prime Minister, why do you disturb us in our time of respite? We thought we were quite clear. We do not wish to see the Prime Minister again. You can confer with our Personal Adjutant if you desire to convey a matter to Her Majesty.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I understand. But your Personal Adjutant thought this should be a matter for Her Majesty’s ears. I have news of the gravest of matters. It is a matter that only Your Majesty can address. No one else.” The Prime Minister was making every effort to salve the queen’s ego and hoping his strategy worked.

“Dear Bertie is dead, and you have news. What news can be more disturbing than the death of our beloved husband?”

“None, Your Majesty, none. The thing is that I have good news and bad news.”

“Good news? Yes, we could use some good news. Autumn is always in need of good news. What is your good news, Prime Minister.”

“Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe is alive.”

“That is not what The Times has reported. And you must know that The Times never reports anything falsely. If The Times reports it, it is not fake news. It must be true.”

“I agree,” the Prime Minister said. “May I approach Your Majesty’s Person and relay the full details?”

“Well, if you must, you must,” the queen said impatiently. This was nothing new. She was always impatient with prime ministers. They were the bane of her existence, the sore tooth she never seemed able to pull. All but one that is. His name was Benjamin Disraeli. The worst of the bunch had been Gladstone.

This Argyle Mactavish was no better or worse than the rest of the lot. So, she supposed she could be patient. But he had better hurry. She had more important things to do, like knitting. And oh, she must do some gardening and possibly some riding. Yes, riding with the memory of John Brown at her side was always an enjoyable experience for the elderly queen, none more enjoyable. “But please do not push my patience. I have the work of state to do as you must know.” Her head pointed toward the fabric on her lap.
The Prime Minister stepped over to her side, careful not to step on the large fabric spread out on the floor in front of her person.

“I too thought the news of her ladyship was wrong. That I was being given hopeful news that would later turn into nothing but a rumor. But I have an eyewitness. One in our service in Spain.”

“What does Spain and those Spaniards have to do with Lady Marye Caterina?” Her Majesty wanted to know. Her curiosity was beginning to arise. She had started to listen to the Prime Minister’s news. She continued her knitting but her knitting had slowed to a snail’s pace.

The Prime Minister took a position, sitting down on the carpet beside his queen’s chair. “Your Majesty, it seems that when the S. S. Twit went down, her ladyship somehow escaped. Our investigations have revealed that she is a very good swimmer. A very good swimmer indeed. She was able to swim to the coast of Spain, just south of Barcelona. Evidently, she wandered into the district of Sant Monjuic. There she was taken in by a priest. She is resting comfortably in a convent. But my understanding is that she has amnesia, Your Majesty.”

“Amnesia?” The queen’s interest was indeed perked up. “Is she in good health? We do hope she is in good health.”

“She is. But, Your Majesty, her life is in great danger. From two sources.”

“No, Prime Minister, tell me it isn’t so. The death of Little Nell and now this. I don’t think my heart can take it.”

“But it is, Your Majesty. I am afraid it is. The church and the convent she is staying at is the headquarters of the Wah Wah League. There are those in our government who want to take her out. Otherwise she will become a bargaining chip for that dastardly piece of barbarism that the League is.”

“Can you save her ladyship. Oh, I do hope so.”

“We do have a plan.”

“Oh, goody two shoes.”

“There is a second problem,” the Prime Minister continued. “It is The Times. Even if we save her, The Times will deny her existence and try to make her disappear. They cannot allow their reputation to be burnished that way. They have infiltrated my government at every level and are out to destroy any effort I might make to save her ladyship. And Lords is back at its old tricks, trying to take her title and her lands should she return. Of course, when it comes to Lords, there is hope.”

“Hope, Prime Minister?” Her Majesty asked. What hope could there be? For years, the queen had allowed Lords to run the show. Until now, they had never asserted their power over the queen’s desire. The queen had sent down messages to the Lords that she was interested in the welfare of Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe. American-born or not, her ladyship was still one of her subjects. And she, the queen, was the Mother of All Her People. How dare Lords challenge her prerogative. They would regret this.

“Westminster is surrounded by the Gathering of Ghosts. The lords of Lords can neither leave nor enter. They are trapped, and they don’t have a quorum to do their business. All sorts of mischief has broken out down there. The ghosts throughout the realm have gathered in favor of her ladyship. But you know how stubborn Lords can be. Ghosts or no ghosts, they will not give in easily.”

“So, what do you intend to do?”

“I need your help, Your Majesty.”

“How can a weak old woman such as ourself help?” Her Imperial Highness desired to know.

“You can dissolve Commons and call for new elections.”

“But it isn’t done, Prime Minister. You know that. The House of Commons would be wailing about interference from the throne. You know yourself that Commons is very protective of its prerogatives.”

“I do indeed, Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister interjected. “I do indeed. But, when Your Majesty acts in concert with my government, it will not be thought of as interference. It will be thought of as support against the overthrow of Commons by the Lords. Lords plans to install its own government with Sir Myles di Fussye-Pants at its head. Thank God, I have Sir Myles at my side. Lords thought they had him in the palm of their hands. After all, he comes from one of the oldest families in the realm. But he is a very independent thinker. Nothing could gladden him more than the defeat of this plan of Lords.”

“Why does Sir Myles support you, Prime Minister?” the queen wanted to know.

“He finds all this conspiracy against her ladyship distasteful. As you know, he has an American wife, the former EmmiliaLouise Muddytenstein-in-the-Alps. And he is allied with a number of aristocracy with foreign wives. If Lords pulls this off, that will be the end of aristocratic marriages to wealth. No wealthy American worth her salt will marry an English aristocrat without access to his title. Sir Myles will be supporting the new elections.”

“I certainly don’t understand why Lords has gone down this suicidal path,” the queen commented.

“It does seem like suicide, Your Majesty. That is for sure. But they are doing it in the name of Tradition. They don’t want to see the country sold off to foreigners.”

“I see, Prime Minister. I do see. Yes, you have our support. I will have the Lord Chamberlain draw up the papers immediately.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister said.

“No, Prime Minister,” the queen said. “Thank you.”

Then Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places, Queen Victoria did something extraordinary. She stood up. She never stood up for a prime minister. With one exception, of course. That exception being Benjamin Disraeli whom she loved as she loved one of her children. The queen stood up for Argyle Mactavish. She gave him her hand to kiss. He kissed it and rose at her insistence.

“Now, Your Majesty, I must return to Number 10. I have some firings that are in order.” He bowed and backed out of the Audience Chamber.

Next Week, the Prime Minister does his thing.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 12: Dismissed

In which the P.M. goes to meet the Queen and it’s not pretty.

Previously: Her Ladyship, our heroine, reported the incident with Mata Hari to the British Ambassador in Istanbul, then went shopping in the bazaar and ran into her ex-boy friend. When they parted, he was still her ex. It was then she decided to take a cruise to Egypt. Little does Lady P.P. know, the House of Lords is threatening to take away her title and lands, even though her Daddykins paid up the wazoo for them.

It was a lovely spring afternoon in England, but, in the affairs of men, winter was on its way. Wars and rumors of wars. Droughts, floods, depressions. The Great Wall of China was cracking. The Chinese blamed the Japanese and readied for war over the matter.

The pyramids of Egypt were crumbling. The Sphinx had sneezed and her nose fell off. In India, the Sikhs were after the Moslems who were after the Hindus who were after the Sikhs. The Boers in the south of Africa were up in arms. Cecil Rhodes was stealing their diamonds. The Zulus were mad because the Boers were claiming their diamonds. The French were hanging Dreyfus out to dry. The London dockworkers were striking.

And Gibraltar appeared to be sinking. The waves from the Krakatoa explosion finally reached the Mediterranean. This was some twelve years after the volcano had blown its top in the Indian Ocean. According to H. G. Wells, the planet was being overrun by Martians. Martians indeed. If anyone was doing the overrunning, it was the Venusians.

The British Empire’s arms stretched around the globe and it appeared they were growing tired. How much longer could the British maintain their control over the affairs of mankind. As the song says, “We’ve got trouble right here in River City.”

The Prime Minister stepped into his carriage at Number 10. He began the ride over to Buckingham Palace for his weekly audience with the Queen. The sun shone upon his worried face as he passed the Changing of the Guard and Whitehall. He always liked the view out his window, driving through St. James Park. He loved the pelicans, the lake and the scarlet geraniums. He especially loved the trees: the Plane, the Black Mulberry, the Scarlet Oak. All this loveliness, yet on this particular day it could not change his mood.

Queen Victoria, Her Imperial Majesty, Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places was agitated. And her agitation was agitated. She paced the room in her long shroud of a black dress, her mourning gown. Not a curve, not a bosom, not an ankle showing. Only a drape draped over Her Majesty’s anatomy.

“I am distressed, deeply distressed,” she mumbled. When Her Majesty mumbled, everybody in the Palace understood that the Queen was to be left alone.

“Madam is distressed,” the Queen’s Privy Purse told the Prime Minister as the P.M. made his way down the long corridor from the entrance of the Palace to the lift.

“Madam is distressed,” the Queen’s Lift Operator said as the operator pressed the lever to take the P.M. to the Queen’s Floor.

“Madam is distressed,” the Queen’s Physician said as the good doctor took out the Queen’s toilet from the night before for inspection.

The Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting went to speak but the Prime Minister interrupted. “I know. Her Majesty is distressed. My God, I can hear the mumbling. The whole of the Empire can hear the mumbling.”

At his insistence, the Lady-in-Waiting opened the door to the Queen’s Audience Chamber and pushed him inside. He felt like a lamb being led to the slaughter, all this talk about the Queen distressing over God-knows-what. “Patience, man,” he whispered to himself. “After all, she is Her Majesty.”

He walked into a large dark room. The curtains were drawn shut, hadn’t been opened since the night her beloved Bertie died.

The Prime Minister softly closed the door, then stood where prime ministers stood for their weekly audience. Melbourne, Peel, Russell, Palmerston, Disraeli, Gladstone had all stood there. At the edge of the room. He waited to be beckoned by Her Majesty to do her bidding. Every muscle in his body urged him to leave. The meetings with the Old Lady never went well. But today’s briefing was going to be more unpleasant than usual. He could feel it in his bones.

The rather large Queen, her body filling her half of the room with her majestic majesticness, stopped her pacing. She sat down in the rather large chair below the rather-large portrait of her beloved Bertie. She looked the Prime Minister’s way, hemmed and hawed several times, then beckoned him to come sit on the footstool like the dog he was.

He lowered himself before Her Majestic figure and knelt on the footstool. He never was sure whether he should bark or pant and beg for a bone. Today he did neither. He waited for Her Majesty to speak. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes stretched into an hour, then an hour and a half with barely an ahem along the way. Finally…

“Well?” Her Majesty demanded.

“Yes, Your Majesty?” he said.

Well, what do you have to say?”

“Say, Your Majesty?”

“Don’t appear an imbecile.” The large figure stared down at the dog of a Prime Minister at her feet.

“An imbecile, Your Majesty?” The dog tried to wag his tail to please his master.

“Yes, or would you prefer I call you what my Beloved Bertie called an imbecile?”

“And what would that be, Ma’am?”

“A dummkopf. Are you a dummkopf, Prime Minister?”

“If you say so, Your Majesty.”

“And if I say not, Prime Minister?” Her distress had abated. She was now enjoying this Game she conducted with her Prime Ministers. The one exception had been Benjamin Disraeli. She missed him. He had been such a great spot of tea. An enjoyable tête-à-tête always passed between the two as they had high tea together. He knew how to serve a queen. The rest was a joke and deserved her royal scorn. So scorn was what she gave them. “And if I don’t say so, Prime Minister?”

“As you say, Your Majesty.”

“But I didn’t say.” She was tiring of the Game.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” The Prime Minister’s knees were getting tired. They were beginning to buckle.

“Why were you not going to tell me, Prime Minister?”

Instead of saying what he felt, “What the hell are you talking about,” the Prime Minister continued to play his part. As all the prime ministers before had. And all her prime ministers-to-come would. “I apologize, Your Majesty. You know I wouldn’t have secrets from Your Majesty, but I am getting old. Things slip my mind easily these days.”

“I can see that, Prime Minister. But things of importance you always reveal to me, do you not?”

“I do indeed, Your Majesty.”

“Then why this time did you not tell me? I had to learn it from the Prince of Wales. You know how hate getting news from Little Bertie. Do you think that is right?”

“I can only beg Your Majesty’s pardon for being so reticent. I did not wish to disturb Your Majesty’s dignity on trivial matters.”

“Do you consider the removal of a peerage a trivial matter?”

“No, Your Majesty. I do not.”

“Of course, you do, Prime Minister. After all, you are only a commoner commonly born.”

“’Tis true, Your Majesty, sadly ‘tis true. I am commonly born. But that does not mean I do not care. All matters of governance throughout Your Majesty’s reign concern me. Any concern of Your Majesty is a concern of my government.” My God, my knees hurt. How much longer must I endure this torture?

“Prime Minister, you must speak to Lords and rectify the situation.”

“I will, Your Majesty. But in my burdens of governance I haven’t been following the business of Lords lately. I have been concerned with other matters.”

The face of Queen Victoria, Her Imperial Majesty, Empress of India, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Egypt and Lots-of-Other-Places turned white. She was angry. She stood up.

“Prime Minister, this audience is ended.”

“But, Your Majesty.” His face too had turned white. Fear gripped every bone in his body. If he did not please Her Majesty and continue the audience, his career might well be in jeopardy. And he knew it. “I am so sorry, Your Majesty.”

“This audience is over, Prime Minister.”

The queen turned and left the room, walking into her private chambers off to the side of the Audience Chamber.

The Prime Minister was stunned. What matter had he ignored? My God, what had Lords gone and done? What act of complete idiocy had they moved on? Whatever they had done, there would be consequences. And this very afternoon.

Behind the Prime Minister still kneeling on his toad stool in his doggie position came a sound. He turned and saw the maids dusting. Soon he would be dusted out of office if he didn’t act. He could not allow things to fall into a freefall with the lords or his government would fall. He had to take charge. He must rectify the situation. But first he must find out what the situation was.

He rose and stalked out of the Chamber, his feet marching to the tune of the swishing of the dusting. Past the door with the big knocker on it and down the empty hallway and to the lift he plodded, his body stooped. He had aged ten years in the hours since he entered the Queen’s Audience Chamber.

The lift on its way down kept repeating, “What am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

As he made his way back to Number 10, the Prime Minister’s carriage wheels kept repeating, “What am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

Next Week: Ship Ahoy