I wrote this, about 30 years ago, for Radio 4. 'The Saudi Arabian Minister of Defence came to London on November 11th. He was accorded a Royal Welcome, as he had £3,000,000,000 to spend.'
by John Bilsborough Come, guardsmen, lay out your best tunics, come, officers, polish your swords. Come, trumpeters, furbish your fanfares, and bandmasters, practice your chords. Come, diplomats, silver your speeches, financiers, fathom your files. Come, technocrats, tune up your tributes, and Ministers, sweeten your smiles. Is the fleet of Rolls Royces assembled? Is there someone to carry the bags? Is the red carpet back from the cleaners? Did anyone iron the flags? Have the kitchen maids shone up the silver? Have the waiters de-crusted the port? Has the equerry ordered the orchids? (Last time they sent six dozen short.) Are the serviettes richly embroidered? The decanters filled up to the brim? Have the cruets been placed with precision? Are the lights not a trifle too dim? Has the welcome been worded with wisdom? Have the speeches been duly discussed? Do we open with Peace and Protection? Prosperity? Friendship and trust? Will we talk of Two Nations, united in a bond of most eager accord? Will they bring their interpreters with them? Do we know when we're meant to applaud? Let "British and Best" be our slogan. Put the "Welcome" mat out at the door. Don't upset these good folks with our problems. Do them proud and they'll come back for more. Show them friendship and kinship and warships... Show them tanks, guided missiles and jets. And remember to tell everybody concerned to wear poppies, lest someone forgets.
The end