(with apologies to Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn)
Episode Three: The worm turns
MINISTER [SINGS]: I did it! I did it! I said that I would do it and indeed I did!
SIR HUMPHREY: I take it your visit to the Prime Minister was successful, Minister. Or should I address you as Professor Henry Higgins?
MINISTER [SINGS]: You thought that I would rue it, you doubted I’d do it. But now you must admit that succeed I did.
BERNARD: You mean the Prime Minister actually agreed to declare a national de-worming campaign, issue ivermectin to every household and gradually phase out the vaccines?
MINISTER [SINGS]: Now wait! Now wait! Give credit where it’s due. A lot of the credit goes to you. Thank you, Bernard.
SIR HUMPHREY: Are we to understand the Prime Minister expressed no reservations?
MINISTER: None, Humphrey. He described the de-worming plan as ‘fascinating’, ‘ingenious’ and promised to put his best people to work on it. He didn’t even bat an eyelid when I mentioned the ‘c’ word.
SIR HUMPHREY: Cummings?
MINISTER: No, Humphrey. The conspiracy to suppress news of ivermectin as a potent anti-viral drug that would make the vaccines redundant. But that is only half the good news. Boris felt that someone of my talents deserved an international role. He’s giving me a senior position at the FO. It would be a big step up. Let’s face it, this place has become something of a backwater since the Ministry of Health hogged all the limelight.
SIR HUMPHREY: Were those his exact words, Minister: ‘I’m giving you a senior position at the FO?’
MINISTER: Word for word. You’re showing me that crocodile smile, Humphrey. What are you concealing?
SIR HUMPHREY: If I may indulge in some wild conjecture, did the Prime Minister say ‘Leave everything to me’, then remind you that you have signed the Official Secrets Act and elicit your vow of silence?
MINISTER: How did you guess? What have I missed, Humphrey?
SIR HUMPHREY: The ‘f’ word, Minister.
MINISTER: Explain what you mean. And please stop grinning like that.
SIR HUMPHREY: Minister, the Foreign Office is only known as the FO in films and cheap novels. The correct acronym is FCDO – Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The real FO is something entirely different – the Falklands Office. There’s a vacancy for an information officer in Port Stanley they’ve been trying to fill for the past 18 months.
MINISTER: The Falklands! Oh my God, what have I done? What can I tell my wife?
SIR HUMPHREY: Oh, it’s not so bad, Minister. The penguins provide endless entertainment. And I’m told the Victory Bar does a very acceptable fish and chips.
BERNARD: And there will be the novel experience of dealing with a grateful population.
MINISTER: I can’t believe that you two are taking it so well. How can we get out of this situation?
SIR HUMPHREY: We? I’m afraid there’s very little Bernard and I can do for you. The Prime Minister’s word is final.
MINISTER: Oh, did I forget to tell you? I’m afraid I have a confession. Well, civil servants are always complaining that Ministers steal the credit for their work, so in fairness I mentioned the sterling contribution you and Bernard had made to our de-worming solution. I asked whether you could both accompany me to my new post. Boris readily agreed and has put the arrangements in hand.
SIR HUMPHREY: Waaa . . . [COLLAPSES].
MINISTER: Quick, Bernard. I think he banged his head when he fell. Wipe the foam from his mouth and get him a glass of water. What is he trying to say?
BERNARD: He seems to be speaking in tongues, Minister. I think I detected some Persian, but mostly Anglo-Saxon words from the Middle Period.
MINISTER: Help me get him into a chair, Bernard. That’s better. I think he’s coming round. Can you understand me, Humphrey?
SIR HUMPHREY: Ic aet underguite. I understand perfectly, Minister. You have arranged for us to end our careers ignominiously in the world’s deepest oubliette. Hearty congratulations!
MINISTER: Well, I for one am not going. I won’t be shanghaied when the public are being led up the garden path into uncharted waters . . .
BERNARD: Excuse me, Minister, but you can’t be led up a garden path into uncharted waters, unless of course your garden overlooks a cliff.
MINISTER: That’s precisely what I mean, Bernard. The government is playing genetic roulette with experimental vaccines that are already resulting in suspicious deaths. Meanwhile, the guardians of our liberties remain silent: the press look the other way, the MPs regard their face masks as gags and GPs hide under the bedclothes. It’s time someone took a stand. I refuse to be shut down.
BERNARD: You’re in good company, Minister. The inventor of the genetic therapy technique has been shut down for saying they’re dodgy vaccines that should never have been authorised. The inventor of the Covid test has been shut down for spreading misleading information that the tests are useless. The same goes for the Japanese co-inventor of ivermectin, who dared to say the drug is the equivalent of penicillin. And Professor Chris Whitty has forbidden doctors from prescribing any anti-viral drugs, including ivermectin, for the relief of Covid sickness.
MINISTER: It’s an outrage. The public must be told.
SIR HUMPHREY: You know what Scaevola said: ‘Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.’
MINISTER: Not all of us read Greats at Oxford, Humphrey, but I know my Latin. ‘The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.’
BERNARD: It was Hitler’s favourite saying.
MINISTER: Leave Hitler out of it, Bernard.
SIR HUMPHREY: Let us be clear. Are we contemplating actions that might be construed as rebellion? Because, hypothetically speaking, we control a powerful organ of the state well suited to the role. To believe our critics, we are the Ministry of Disinformation; we brief the media with falsehoods, distribute lies and brainwash the public. All of which may be true. Crucially, we also control several dedicated printing works. What more does a resistance group need?
MINISTER: Humphrey, you amaze me. You’re coming over to our side?
SIR HUMPHREY: All for one and one for all.
BERNARD: You realise your wall camera is still active, Minister?
MINISTER: Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.
BERNARD: I expect it’s a common phrase in Port Stanley. I think the legal term is ‘sheep worrying’.
MINISTER: Bernard, really! All right. We have a couple of months before our postings come through. Let’s put on our thinking caps this weekend and we’ll reconvene on Monday morning. Agreed?
SIR HUMPHREY and BERNARD: Yes, Minister.
Episode Four: Herd Mutiny
SIR HUMPHREY: Good morning, Minister.
MINISTER: Good morning. I’ve been thinking, Humphrey.
SIR HUMPHREY: Congratulations, Minister.
MINISTER: But first, any second thoughts? Bernard?
BERNARD: None, Minister. I may have to leave the country anyway.
MINISTER: Good heavens. Are you on the run?
BERNARD: That’s just it, Minister. I went for a drink with my girlfriend last night. The shandy was stronger than I thought and I found myself proposing to her. Now I realise it was a terrible mistake. She’s a large, vengeful woman and may take my rejection badly.
SIR HUMPHREY: What about your self-defence classes, Bernard? Surely you can hold your own.
BERNARD: I can’t hold anyone. Social distancing makes a contact sport like judo rather tricky. I haven’t progressed beyond the bowing stage.
MINISTER: I sympathise, Bernard. My own dear wife has threatened to lower the portcullis over this Falklands posting. What about you, Humphrey? Did that bump on the head make you say things you now regret?
SIR HUMPHREY: Not at all, Minister. What I am about to say may surprise you. The pandemic has emboldened the government to activate the police state apparatus that we have been quietly building for years – speed cameras, street cameras, mobile phones with GPS and the ever-attentive Alexa to name but a few.
MINISTER: What’s your point, Humphrey?
SIR HUMPHREY: I don’t want to become an algorithm, Minister. If the system is to switch from reactive to proactive, it will require constant monitoring, for which we lack the manpower. The Stasi had the same problem, but they didn’t have our technology. Computers have been replacing Civil Service jobs for years, and now Covid-19 has provided a pretext for accelerating the process. Stop the pandemic and we stop all the bio-security cockalaurum.
MINISTER: I’ve had a few thoughts on our project. If we are to influence events, we have to find a pressure point that will force Boris to change his mind.
SIR HUMPHREY: The Prime Minister is unencumbered by humility or shame, Minister. Even mass protests are water off a duck’s back to him. The media will simply ignore them.
MINISTER: All the more reason why he should be persuaded that a large, secret organisation has mobilised against vaccines and demands ivermectin as routine treatment. Nothing frightens government more than something it can’t identify. To avoid detection, we should keep the controlling group as small as possible. But we’ll project ourselves large, like the Wizard of Oz.
SIR HUMPHREY: We’ll need to keep the public onside, without confronting their stubborn faith in Boris, perhaps by adopting a catchy name.
BERNARD: How about Herd Mutiny? The public were so upset at being treated like cattle that the government dropped herd immunity like a hot brick. It’s a name that that reminds them of that insult – it ropes people in, so to speak.
MINISTER: Herd Mutiny. Excellent. Now, what about our programme of action? I’ve observed that the one thing that throws politicians and powerful men off their stride is public ridicule. Can we think of some way of putting egg on their faces, under the gaze of live television cameras? We don’t want anyone hurt, mind you.
SIR HUMPHREY: It seems we’ve been thinking along similar lines, Minister. Bernard and I have been working on a plan that will leave something more memorable than egg on their faces. But let me first set the scene. The government has announced a special Farmers’ Day next month to placate them for the loss of EU subsidies. Rustic folk will gather to be honoured at two London venues, where two huge haystacks will be erected.
MINISTER: Where, exactly, Humphrey?
SIR HUMPHREY: Two places greatly deserving of our attention – the House of Commons and the BBC’s headquarters. The PM, Cabinet Ministers and MPs will gather around the Commons haystack and clap the farmers in a sickening display of obsequiousness. At the same moment, the director and staff of the BBC will be applauding the farmers in the courtyard of Portland Place. That’s when we strike. I’ll let Bernard fill in the rest.
BERNARD: I’ve been studying a video of the Green Monster tanker. It holds 8,000 gallons and distributes a huge cloud of spray over a wide area. Apparently most farms make do with their rusty old tankers, so there should be no problem obtaining two.
MINISTER: I’m completely lost. Spray what, exactly?
SIR HUMPHREY: Nitrogenous waste, Minister.
MINISTER: I’m no wiser. Bernard?
BERNARD: Liquid manure, Minister. A concealed fireman’s hose from a tanker will spew manure under high pressure from the centre of the haystack, deluging everyone within a radius of 20 yards.
MINISTER: Good grief! The spectators will look like Worzel Gummidge with straw stuck all over them. What a mess.
BERNARD: Yes, but a mess with a message, Minister – don’t mess with us. Our calling card will read something like: ‘We’re returning your vaccine. Give us some decent ivermectin – Herd Mutiny.’ Those pictures will go all around the world.
MINISTER: How on earth are we going to arrange all this without being discovered?
SIR HUMPHREY: One or two permanent secretaries share my concern about automation and might be willing to help. Fortunately, the Civil Service is secretive and compartmentalised, with the left hand often not knowing what the right is up to. Rather like a communist cell structure, really. And I have a brother-in-law at the NFU . . .
MINISTER: What’s that racket outside? Bernard, take a look, would you?
BERNARD: There are a lot of police cars with flashing lights. I can see at least 20 police entering our building. They all appear to be armed.
MINISTER: They’ve come for us. Someone must have been monitoring that camera. Do we give ourselves up?
BERNARD: Never, Minister.
SIR HUMPHREY: Perhaps we can live to fight another day if we escape down the back stairs. Get on the first bus you see and we’ll meet up in three hours at Heathrow.
MINISTER: Heathrow? Where are we going?
SIR HUMPHREY: The one place they’ll never look for us. The only holiday destination currently permitted on the green list.
MINISTER: You can’t mean the Falklands? Oh, God’s trousers! Right, we’ll rush the back door on my count of three. Ready?
SIR HUMPHREY and BERNARD: Yes, Minister!