An historic day in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley. For the first time ever, Sir Gilbert Hill has raised two platoons of loyal followers with which he means to crush those with the temerity to oppose him. His original Golden Valley Invincibles are joined by his Colonial and Dominion platoon with fighters from as far apart as Africa, Canada and, er, Wales.
We are in the year 1995, plus or minus 10 years. Let’s go for safety and say plus or minus 15 years. Yes, that sounds better. Onwards.
Zimbotho is an island off the coast of Africa, possibly East Africa or maybe West but certainly not North and definitely not South. It is a semi-autonomous region of a mainland republic which is a last bastion of white minority rule. It is, however, also a bastion under siege. Various revolutionary groups are striving to overthrow the government and establish their own rule. All these groups include the word “democratic” in their name or published programme. This word is not necessarily an accurate description of their intentions.
Consequently, the mainland government has neither the time or resources to be too concerned with what happens in Zimbotho. Some twenty odd years ago, Zimbotho became a shop-front, designed to show the world that the whole country, mainland and Zimbotho, was progressing to majority rule. However, as things became more difficult for the mainland government, their interest, involvement and influence in Zimbotho gradually diminished and declined until now it has become virtually nonexistent.
Zimbotho has consequently gone its own way. When it received semi-autonomous status twenty years ago, a great deal was made by the mainland government of the fact that Zimbotho would elect representatives and a president by universal suffrage; all adults over 18 being eligible to vote. The People’s Party of Zimbotho, led by Dr Chiamaka Nolebe, was narrowly victorious and formed the first government. Over the next six years, Dr. Nolebe was fortunate enough to win two further elections, increasing his majority in Parliament on each occasion. Zimbotho settled down to life under the rule of the PPZ and eventually, seven years after the first election, a spontaneous, popular movement developed which demanded a referendum to decide if Dr Nolebe should be made President for Life. Despite the Dr repeatedly stating he had no wish to be accorded this honour, the pressure was overwhelming and the referendum was held. Unfortunately, it was announced and held within a matter of days so it was not possible to arrange for impartial, international observers to oversee the conduct of the poll. No matter because the turnout was 90% of eligible voters and of those, 99.99999% voted “Yes”. Dr Nolebe was one of the few, perhaps the only, “No” voter but was forced to accept the will of the people and accept the rôle of President for Life.
Shortly after this, Cupid came calling on The President. A cruise-ship singer by the name of Hilda Meadows attracted his attention and, besotted by her ample charms and dyed blue hair, Dr Nolebe wooed and won her, making her his wife and, incidentally, President for Life’s Lady. Hilda was a no-nonsense Lancashire lass, strong of limb and equally strong of mind; she fitted easily into her new life and was soon an active and increasingly essential part of the Zimbotho administration. Hilda’s mother was the daughter of a travelling salesman, Stanley Bigsworth, by his second wife. His first wife, Lady Geraldine Hill (one of the Herefordshire Hills) was the sister of the famous Sir Gilbert Hill. However, this part of her grandfather’s life was unknown to Hilda and any inherited aptitude for leadership probably came from her Lancashire grandmother and mother.
Eventually, twelve years after being elected President, Dr Nolebe was faced by another groundswell of public opinion which this time demanded a referendum to decide if Zimbotho should become a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with Dr Nolebe being offered the Kingship. Once again, his reticence to accept such an honour was overcome by popular demand and the referendum was held. This time, 100% of eligible voters cast their vote and 100% voted “Yes”. Due to an administrative error, it was impossible to have international oversight of the event but the Director of Referenda, President for Life’s Lady Hilda Nolebe was able to give categorical assurances of the independence and probity of the procedure.
Thus Dr Nolebe became King Chiamaka the First of Zimbotho and his wife became Queen Hilda the First of Zimbotho. The new constitution, drawn up by academics at the Hilda Nolebe Department of Political Science at the university of Zimbotho, specified a joint monarchy with King and Queen sharing the rôle of Head of State. In the event of the demise of either monarch, the survivor would become sole ruler. The title would pass to their children, the first born or oldest surviving child ascending the throne regardless of gender. From then on, the Head of State would be restricted to the Nolebe line, their wives or husbands being merely consorts and not joint monarchs. The referendum approved all of these tiresome details in addition to the main question.
Tragically, King Chiamaka was not destined to enjoy his elevation to royal status for long. Within two months of the joint coronation of their majesties, he was dead. One night, after a private supper with Queen Hilda he was, in her words, “took bad”. After suffering great agonies for several hours, he passed away. The Committee of Royal Doctors, greatly assisted by Queen Hilda’s bodyguard, unanimously confirmed a verdict of death by natural causes. Queen Hilda became sole monarch and set about the task of strengthening the security of her regime with vigour and determination.
Her first priority was in appointing a new Commander-in-Chief of Zimbotho’s armed forces. There was some urgency in filling the rôles of Commander and Deputy because of the tragic deaths of both of the previous incumbents. Both were killed in bizarre accidents made more remarkable by happening almost simultaneously. The Commander was mauled to death by his pet lion which unaccountably made a frenzied attack on him after having been a docile, playful companion for seven years. His Deputy was equally unfortunate. Whilst on a familiarity course with ZAP (of which more later) he apparently took leave of his senses and stepped out of a helicopter flying at 3000 feet.
Queen Hilda was able to fill the vacancies instantly. She accepted the position of Commander-in-Chief herself after all the senior officers implored her to take the role. They had been invited to a conference to decide this issue by the leader of ZAP (of which more later). ZAP organised the conference and ensured all opinions were heard in full, after which, the Queen was hailed by ZAP as being the most suitable person to become Commander. The other attendees were unanimous in agreeing immediately.
By great good fortune, her 13 year old son HRH Mbang Nolebe had been recently promoted corporal in the Cadet Corps of his English public school and was acknowledged to show great promise In this rôle. He was able to accept the position of Deputy Commander-in-Chief, an appointment based on unquestionable merit. He will carry out his duties whilst remaining in education in England. This arrangement is not thought to offer any difficulties.
Queen Hilda then settled down to re-establishing the authority of her regime. For some years various elements had been challenging the legitimacy of her husband’s rule. After his death, the rebellious groups became even more active. Fortunately, there are a number of different groups and they hate each other as much as the Nolebe regime. There has been no sign of any formation of a united opposition and for reasons of doctrine, religion and prejudice, it is most unlikely there ever will be.
The Queen’s military authority is soundly based on the loyal and efficient organisation known as ZAP. This is a Special Forces unit in battalion strength. It is comprised of mainly Europeans with local personnel currently in training and expected to join the unit in the near future. All members have specialisations in addition to their standard skills. Two of the most important special sub-units are the Queen’s Bodyguard and the Intelligence Section. The latter is lead by Queen Hilda’s daughter and heir apparent, the 19 year old Princess Imani Nolebe.
Supporting ZAP is the regular army. This is in brigade strength and includes Heavy Weapons and Transport units.
Finally, the Zimbotho Urban Militia is a popular, voluntary force of dubious worth made up of mainly PPZ members and supporters, largely drawn from the urban poor.
Opposing the Zimbotho government are several elements.
The FLC (Fraternal Liberation Column) which is a highly trained, well equipped group of “military advisers” in platoon strength supplied by an Asian Communist country. Their objective is to establish a Peoples’ Republic and to help develop the lucrative mineral wealth of Zimbotho. It has infantry and armoured elements.
The Fedayeen Brotherhood are Islamic extremists, a volunteer militia. They are mainly AK47 armed guerrillas, supported by the ubiquitous “Technicals” – HMGs mounted on pick-up trucks. They also have motor-cycle mounted Strike Sections.
Known as The Mainland Company, a force provided by the Central Government on the mainland has recently been introduced into the Zimbotho melting pot. Although the mainland government is itself beset on all sides by enemies, it has put together a Regular Army company (actually its strength is nearer to being a reinforced platoon). It is a mechanised infantry force which is ostensibly in Zimbotho to support Queen Hilda but in reality is seeking to re-establish Central Government control and reduce the Queen to the status of a puppet ruler or remove her altogether. It is likely to oppose the Fedayeen Brotherhood and the FLC but this is not guaranteed. Queen Hilda is not able to place any reliance on their support.
The Northern Liberation Army is a battalion strength group of mercenaries. Their only objective is to make as much money as possible and will fight for the highest bidder. They have taken part in actions, supporting in turn just about every other group in Zinbotho. They are very experienced professionals but will not sacrifice themselves in a hopeless, or even marginal, situation. Nor will they fight if they are not paid promptly and in advance.
The Lions of Zimbotho are a group of poorly armed but ferocious fighters from the untamed hinterland of Zimbotho. They have taken up arms to protect their wild homeland against incursion by commercial and political influences that seek to despoil all they hold dear.
These, then, are the various forces at large in Zimbotho. Queen Hilda is beset on all sides but fortunately her besetters are equally beset themselves. Who will eventually prevail is unclear but bold indeed is he who bets against Queen Hilda.
As we cast our eye over the Zimbotho landscape we can discern Queen Hilda making preparations for a Royal visit to the port of Bunjare where rumours of incursions by various malign forces are rife………………………………
The Lady Qelhatat O’Flynn, Official Wife Number Seven is now comfortably accommodated in a pleasant suite of rooms in Sir Gilbert’s country house. Her husband, Chief Kansan O’Flynn, has been unaccountably absent since news of her arrival in England reached him. Undeterred, she has been exploring her surroundings and has found great contentment in the sylvan calm of Sir Gilbert’s Great Park. Her foremost pleasure is to perform her wild, native dances against the backdrop of the ancient trees, always accompanied by her bodyguard of hand-picked young warriors.
The bodyguard have been making new acquaintances in their adopted home. A chance meeting with the Wormbridge, Abbey Dore and Pontrilas Morris side almost resulted in catastrophe when a friendly hobby-horse approached the bodyguard suddenly. Spears were raised and then lowered by the timely intervention of the accordionist whose playing distracted the body guard at the crucial moment.
Soon, the guard and the Morris men were firm friends and great jollity ensued.
The Golden Valley is agog with expectation of more exotic and exciting glimpses into the strange ways of the new arrivals.
The Flying Column deploy in defence of a vital asset
I am most happy to report that our new Flying Column, commanded by Chief Superintendent Ronald Bigsworth-Hill, has completed its first mission out of County and has recorded a noteworthy success in the process.
In pursuit of our stated aim of confronting extreme elements of whatever stripe wherever they should appear, I ordered Chief Superintendent Bigsworth-Hill to Herefordshire where concentrations of various undesirable elements were reported. Operating in support of local moderate forces, the Column succeeded in not only foiling the designs of revolutionary traitors but also caused the demise of a thuggish individual, one “Major” Straitt-Jackett, who has featured on my Wanted list for some time.
The people of Herefordshire will join with those of our native county in hailing Chief Superintendent Bigsworth-Hill’s glorious debut.
Report From Chief Superintendent Ronald Bigsworth-Hill
Acting on orders from Sir Albert BROCK, I led the Wiltshire Police Flying Column into Wigmore County in Herefordshire to counter the activities of various traitorous extremist groups of both the Left and Right of the political spectrum. The Flying Column was set-up with this express purpose in mind so my men greeted their mission with enthusiasm.
After sending our heavy weapons and motorcycle section off to join the Central Reserve, we deployed alongside Mr Himalaya Joe and his local volunteers. They were concentrated in defence of an important strategic asset.
A vital objective was securing livestock to succour the defenders and deny them to the enemy. Farmers bravely assisted.
Platoon HQ heavy machine gun section occupies a bunker, supported by the RCMP special section, on secondment from the Dominions
The platoon is greatly cheered by the arrival of the artillery section – its Spotters hurry forward, much appreciated by farm-workers, engaged in livestock rescue.
With their opening shot, the WPFC artillery score a “major” hit…! Aiming with surgical precision, the gunners eliminate the BUF commander, the notorious, murderous thug, so-called “Major” Straitt-Jackett. This poisonous individual has been high on Chief Constable Brock’s Wanted list for some time and has now met his inevitable end.
A message from Liverpool, taken by Wrench the Butler, contained surprising news for the Hill Enterprises (Dominions and Colonial) Loyal Volunteers Section’s leader, Chief Kansan O’Flynn. Entirely unexpectedly, one of his wives, The Lady Qelhatat O’Flynn, Official Wife Number Seven, had arrived in England. Leaving Official Wives One to Six to care for Chief O’Flynn’s thirty five children, she had followed her man to the wars.
As Chief O’Flynn was digesting the implications of this news, particularly regarding his plans to make friends amongst the Ladies of Hereford (already many of the WI section were considering transferring their affections from the POUM mortar crew) The WI and POUM he received more disturbing details from Wrench. The Lady Qelhatat had not travelled alone. She had brought her mother. Sole Official Mother-in-Law Tapiwa Onwuatuegwu was a Wise Woman. Possibly as a result of that wisdom, she was the only surviving Official Mother-in-Law. When her daughter became the Chief’s seventh wife, there were six other Official Mothers-in-Law, all hale, hearty and optimistic. Within a few short months, all had died, apparently from natural causes.
Chief O’Flynn had doubts about how his mother-in-law would react to his plans for the Ladies of Hereford. Chief O’Flynn, known to friends and enemies alike as The Lion Hearted, The Buffalo Chested, The Crazy Hippopotamus, was strangely nervous in the company of Sole Official Mother-in-Law Tapiwa Onwuatuegwu.
Unaware of these undercurrents, Sir Gilbert sent his man Stirrup to collect the distinguished, if unexpected guests. “ Take the yellow Packard, Stirrup, the ladies will like that.”
At a recent ceremony, Sir Gilbert Hill, selfless defender of Herefordshire’s Golden Valley, welcomed the latest addition to his hard fighting platoon. From the heart of Africa willing volunteers have flocked to the aid of the Mother Country in her hour of strife, none less than Sir Gilbert’s cheerful estate workers. Hill Enterprises (Dominions and Colonial) Loyal Volunteers Section is the first drop in the first trickle of the impending flood of robust warriors who will swell the ranks of the Golden Valley defenders.
The Clowns are not happy. After losing their precious Thing to Sir Rufus’ men (see Clowning Around in Nether Winslet), they decide on an immediate revenge attack. So the day after the disaster happened, having sobered up, they head back to Nether Winslet, accompanied by their faithful chimpanzees. This time, as well as being sober, they also have weapons. Even better, their wives are not about to be left out. Grabbing their shotguns, the ladies join the party.
Sir Rufus’s Men: Nick Harper (Leader); Barney Welch (Sidekick); Dan Butcher (Ally); Phil Mimms (Ally); Tony Butcombe (Follower); Alf Dearheart (Follower)
A great victory for the Clowns. Securing The Thing was all that counted in this game and they achieved that with only the loss of two chimps (who both recovered and are once again hosting tea parties).
Nick Harper, when he realised the extent of his defeat (all his men except Dan Butcher being casualties) had the unenviable job of reporting back to Sir Rufus. Unsurprisingly, the mountainous rage exhibited by Sir Rufus, never a sympathetic man at the best of times, was of a degree unsurpassed in the experience of all who witnessed it. Subsequently, during the many months he spent emptying and cleaning the various middens on his employer’s estate, Nick Harper had ample time to relive that moment when he had informed Sir Rufus of the disaster at Nether Winslet.