Chapter One of "The Churchill Memorandum" by Sean Gabb
The Churchill Memorandum
by Sean Gabb
[Suppose Hitler had died in 1939. No Second World War. No takeover of
England by the Left. No descent into the gutter. Forward to 1959. England
is still England. The Queen is on her throne. The pound is worth a pound.
All is right with the world or with that quarter of it lucky enough to
repose under an English heaven....]
Of course, he said, dropping his voice so it could be heard only half
way down the queue, the Americans have never changed over. They still
call today March 6th1959. Their custom is to put the month before the day.
It makes good sense, as the month is more significant than the day. As if
looking for support, the old bore pointed up at the calendar that hung
just beside the concrete statue of the President. It was a wasted gesture.
The departures hall of Anslinger International may have its excellences.
If so, these didnt extend to its calendar. Through dust-covered glass, it
was still showing a date from January.
Next! the check-in clerk snapped. The New York accent is never friendly.
New York bureaucrats, Id long since found, go out of their way not to
sound friendly. Somebody muttered, from a few places behind me, about the
interminable wait. We shuffled forward another eighteen inches. One of my
coloured porters strained with his box. Since the others didnt think it
worth the effort of moving theirs, he scraped it an inch or so across the
uneven floor, then went back to sitting on it. I took a new standing
position as I came to my own halt. It didnt do to scratch in public. Even
so, my left buttock was itching again like mad. Had I been bitten by
something? I wondered. Id been told you might pick up some nasty things
Mind you, the bore struck up again beside me, the computer chappies go
one step further. They put the year in front of it all. They write today
as 59-03-06. That lets them put dates into a numbered list where they
follow each other in fully logical sequencemost significant number first.
Just before I retired in 56, we had a new computer fitted in Calcutta.
The Marconi people had shipped it out in pieces for fitting together in
situ. Big thing, it wasneeded its own building, you know. He took out
his pocket handkerchief and, holding it in his left hand, blew his nose
hard enough to start an echo round the cavernous dump where wed all been
shivering half the afternoon. I was one place from the check-in desk, and
I saw the clerk look up disapprovingly from her inspection of yet another
exit visa. Unimpressedor perhaps unawarethe bore sniffed loudly and
rearranged the very large and very white moustaches that covered his very
large and very red face.
I did ask the boy in charge, he went on, what would happen when the
century number changedwhat would he do when 00 came after 99? Gave me a
fishy look, the little blighter, and muttered something that boiled down
to sufficient unto the day. He chuckled. Would he drift into
recollections of his Indian days?
I could have kicked myself. Buttonholedand even before check inby the
voyage bore is bad enough. Buttonholed by a bore whod served in India was
surely as bad as things could get. Unless I was to spend the next three
days locked in my cabin, all my thoughts of a pleasant flight home were
looking decidedly iffy. I looked again at his tie to see if it gave any
indication of what hed been doing before he retired. But the nearest
fluorescent lighting was on the blink, and I couldnt see the details of
There was a loud crash behind us. Fifty bored, impatient faces turned to
see whod got the double doors unlocked that led back out into one of the
less ghastly areas of New York. It was whole squad of Republican Guards.
In their regulation fedoras and trench coats, they paused at the entrance
and looked round. Most carried hand guns. A couple had sawn-off shot guns.
One of them pointed in my direction and held up a folded sheet of paper.
Coming at a brisk march, they set out across the fifty yards that
I fought to keep a blank face. Even so, I could feel my guts turn to
vinegar. Forget voyage bores. Things had just gone horribly to the worse.
And this wouldnt be the end of it. For what it might be worth, I put a
hand up to reach for my passport.
Hands out of pockets, dear boy, the bore breathed into my neck. His
voice had a soft urgency wholly different from his calendar monologue. He
was right. Id been here long enough to know the drill. Trying to control
their trembling, I stretched out my fingers and pressed my hands against
the fabric of my trousers. Looking neither to right nor left, on the men
came through the now silent hall. I thought of the permit Id bribed out
of the Repository Office in Chicago. Would it mean anything against these
people? I prepared to clear my throat, and tried for an easy smile.
But it wasnt me they were after. They stopped beside me. But it was the
man right at the front of the queue they were surrounding.
Alan Greenspan? their officer snarled. He unfolded his sheet of paper.
It was covered in typewriting, and there was a photograph in its top right
hand corner. You are Alan Greenspanenemy of the people! The little Jew
in front of me cowered backwards and got out a few words in the sort of
English accent you hear in Hollywood films from the old days. The officer
laughed unpleasantly and took up the British passport the clerk had been
in the process of stamping. Holding it in his left hand, he rubbed one of
the pages between the thumb and forefinger of his right. He sniffed at his
fingers and held them out to show how blue theyd turned. Take him down,
he said to one of his men. The mans face took on a gloating look as he
put a hand on the Jews collar.
Im a British subject, Greenspan squealed in an accent that now said he
clearly wasnt. He looked at me as if for confirmation. I forced myself
not to step backwards, and looked steadily down at the floor. You cant
touch me, he cried again, desperation in his voice. Im a British
subject. A hard poke in the stomach sent him to his knees. The officer
turned to face the flight representative who was hurrying over to protest.
Hes none of your concern, he said in the cold voice of authority. Hes
not a British national. He put a hand on the holster that bulged through
his trench coat. The young representative opened his mouth to speak, but
thought better of saying anything at all. It was now that Greenspan found
his own proper voice.
Free Ayn Rand! he shrilled quickly. Shes been in solitary for a year
now. Theyre killing her with neglect. He was taking in breath for
another slogan. But a knee in his face sent him straight down on the
floor. The officer snapped an order to his men. They pulled Greenspan to
his feet and three of them began dragging him back towards the doors.
Restore the Constitution! he managed to shout. Anslingers a tyrant!
But that was it. With a last despairing wail of A is A! from Greenspan,
the doors closed behind him and his keepers, leaving the rest of us in
I can smell a Jew at five yards, the officer said, now looking directly
at me. He smiled and flexed backwards, showing still more prominently the
bulge of the metal in his pocket. And I can smell subversion. You were
beside him. You were with him?
I wanted to tell the man very smartly Id never seen Greenspan before in
my life. It was the truth. Hed pushed in front of me not half an hour
before, and had been giving me funny, sideways looks ever since. I thought
of claiming friends in high places. Instead of all this, though, I opened
my mouth and found that I couldnt even breathe out. The officer was
looking triumphant. Already, I could fear, he was turning to give orders
to more of his men. Before I could open my mouth and try for gibbering,
the bore had an arm on my shoulder.
My dear fellow, he said to the officer, youll find this young man
really is a British subject. He had nothing to do with your felon. The
officers face turned a kind of puce. I thought for a moment hed pull out
his gun and try some pistol whipping. But he controlled himself. He took
the bores offered passport and looked long and closely at it, comparing
face with photograph.
Stanhope, he said at length to the bore, separating the syllables into
Stan Hope, a slight emphasis on the second syllable. He twisted his thin
face into an apology for a smile. Reginald Stanhope. Do your friends in
England call you Reggie?
They call me Major Stanhope, came the reply in a tone that avoided all
hint of rebuke. The officer turned the pages of the passport.
Well, Major Stanhope, he said, now mockingly, it says here youre
subject to Imperial immigration control. You sure dont look like no
British bred, came the now breezy reply, though born in Cyprus. The law
is very strict, you knowdoesnt just apply to Her Majestys coloured
subjects. One law for all and all that. The officer continued looking at
the much-stamped pages.
What was the purpose of your visit? he asked with a lapse into the
official. He pointed at the dense mass of previous visa stamps. Is it
Not in so many words, dear boy, Stanhope said with a wave. But theres
a brotherhood among those of us who served in the War thats very like
blood. I tried not to look at the black glove that covered the stillness
of his right hand. He saw my attempt and laughed softly and held the hand
up. I got this on the fourth day at Paschendaele, he said. Jerry
machine gun bulletwent in through the knuckles, lodged in the elbow.
Whole lower arm had to come off in the end. He waved the artificial limb
and looked the officer in the face. You might say I was lucky. Whatever
the case, life goes on. You learn to get by with the other hand. I cant
I sit on the Veterans Relief Board in London, he said, pulling himself
back to the main subject. Not many Americans in the War, of coursecame
in too late for that. But they took quite a few casualties. All old men
now, those still with ussome older than me. But American war pensions
dont buy much with all this inflation. We do what we can. Youd be
surprised the difference a few shillings a week can make between want and
They fought in Englands war, the officer said with quiet contempt.
Its only right that England should look after them now. He gave
Stanhope back his passport and now took mine. Anthony Markham, he said
with the same division of syllables. Born in Rei-gate, January 17th1930?
I nodded and managed a feeble smile. I wondered if Stanhope was laughing
inwardly at the unconscious reversal of the dates. I could feel the sweat
running down my back. And the purpose of your visit?
Im an historian, I said, trying and failing to match Stanhopes easy
assurance. Im researching a biography of Winston Churchill. Youyou may
have heard of him. He was half-Americanhis mothers side. He left all his
later papers to Harvard. I was out here to consult them. II The officer
had lost interest, and I trailed off. Avoiding his face, I looked up at
the statue of Anslinger. It had been cast in the early days when he was
modelling himself on Mussolini, and there was still black paint on areas
of the uniform. Somehow, the artists had got a smile on the mans face. He
was looking down at the little girl he held in his arms. She looked back
adoringly. I tried to think of something flattering to say about my trip.
Just then, though, the sound of a gunshot came though the doors. Stanhope
raised his eyebrows. Well, really! someone said from far along the queue
behind me. All about, there was a buzz of quiet outrage. I looked past the
Presidents statue, though the single sheet of plate glass that gave a
view over the landing field and the huge body of the airship that quivered
two hundred feet up in the breeze. The cabin was painted in the Imperial
Airways colours, and had a Union Flag at each end.
I felt a hard bump in my chest. It was the officer handing back my
passport. Before I could gather any words for thanks, he and his men were
already heading back for the doors.
Next, the clerk grated. It was my turn. Still trembling, I put my
passport on her desk and pulled out the paper copy of my exit visa. She
ignored the documents and pointed at the five wooden boxes my coloureds
were still attending. Theres a forty pound weight limit for non-stowed
luggage, she said. I pointed at the handwritten amendment on my ticket.
She waved it aside. Theres a forty pound weight limit for non-stowed
luggage, she repeated in exactly the same tone. I stared up at the
ceiling and tried to pull myself together.
I am a personal friend of the British Foreign Secretary, Harold
Macmillan, I said with an attempt at firmness. These boxes contain
papers for a project in which he has taken an interest. She gave me the
dead look that only officials in a down at heel police state can give.
Theres a forty pound weight limit for non-stowed luggage, she replied,
for all the world as if there were a gramophone record in place of her
mind, and the needle had stuck in a groove. I smiled weakly. Normally, Id
have called the representative over and got him to explain things. Now, I
was even willing to leave the boxes behind. For all they meant to me, the
safety of that cabin hovering in the sky outside meant more.
If I might be so bold, Dr Markham, Stanhope whispered conspiratorially
from behind, I would suggest the offer of a supplemental fare. £2 should
do the trick. I swallowed and reached into my pocket. There was obviously
no point offering any of the thousand dollar bills that still bulked out
the paper section. Instead, I took out one and two half sovereigns, and
pushed them quietly across the desk. The clerk stared at them. She took up
one of the smaller coins and bit into the gold. She covered all three
coins with a sheet of paper. Without another word, she stamped my
documents. Well she might. That must have been a months salary for her.
Next, she cried. I glanced at my coloureds and pointed at the boxes.
There were hours still to go till boarding. But I could at least get out
of this bloody queue.
To read more, buy a copy here:
Director, The Libertarian Alliance (Carbon Positive since 1979)
sean@... Tel: 07956 472 199
Skype Username: seangabb
Wikipedia Entry: http://tinyurl.com/23jvoz
Buy these novels by Richard Blake: "Conspiracies of Rome"
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Buy them as presents for your friends and loved ones.