Saturday 28th April 2012
Face to face with a giant
PAIN attends any recollection of the events of that evening: knotted are the threads of memory, sharp the cuts of misery.
Nevertheless, I recall the friendly ease with which the giant Ray Bilton, Pry Minister, leader of Guvver Munt and voice of the people of the United King Dumb, addressed Virgulle of the planet Rheta and Thomas Daniel of the family Walker.
He was small, for a giant. To my surprise, he also smiled, occasionally. Moreover he was familiar with many of the terms used by Tom, having, he told us, a son of similar age. It did not seem possible that this man, standing by a bench on the top of a cliff on a chilly December night, could wield so much power.
Indeed, had it not been necessary to curtail our conversation, I would have asked him to explain why he had sought this position of momentous authority; why he wished to control so much of the world; why he considered his judgment wiser than that of others; or why he too wore the neck-tie and wrist-manacle of serfdom.
As they neared the bench, Quinn, his associate, halted, remaining a few yards away, within earshot, while the Pry Minister stepped forward to shake my hand.
“Ray Bilton. Thank you for agreeing to see me, Virgulle. And it’s Tom, isn’t it? Pleased to meet you.”
He offered his hand to my companion, who took it limply.
“We should have cabinet meetings here. It would speed things up. A cold wind and drop of rain would do them good. So, Tom, can you do a kick-flip?”
Tom looked sheepishly at his skateboard, as if it had suddenly become a thing of great value. Then he grinned.
“Do you, er… skate… sir?”
“No, not me! I’m too old.”
“But you could sit on it! That’d be cool. The bench is all wet. If I…”
Tom placed the skateboard on the seat, down-upsides.
“…you’d have somewhere to sit. Save you getting your bum wet.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather stand. I’ve been sitting down all day. And I can’t stay long. Things to read, papers to sign. So, Virgulle, let me put some proposals to you…”