Thursday, May 3, 2012


The coming of a kind of peace in other more distant parts of the crumbling old empire neither hastened an improvement to things nor detracted a great deal from the fact that the old foes now faced up to each other with the mutual hatred and ferocity reserved for true gladiatorial contests of substance. Nothing of the piddling Liverpudlian skirmishes of yore, nor of oft mentioned struggles with unpredictable peasant tribes from Londinium. Soothsayers implored that defeat this time would mean gradual, painful extinction, whilst to the victors, the spoils of war would be plentiful, bountiful and may even come accompanied by a rose-tinted piece in the Telegraph by Mark Ogden, but don't hold your breath.

Elections in the two territories revealed a widely differing strategy for supremacy. The Old Guard chose to litter their middle ranks with elder statesmen, who many thought of as tired and out of ideas and energy, plus a returning battle-scarred Oriental, short of breath and still with the same hair. The attack from the East would be full of verve and explosive in its power, as their leader Magnificat Mancini Glorioso took with him a Praetorian Guard of devilish little cavaliers and giant fighting men in the middle and rear lines. They would be led by the glorious glistening form of Vincius Kompanius, one of the most legendary leaders of the epoque. A man of stout frame, lithe movement and firm beliefs, he combined power and grace in the leadership of his men. He would run through hails of arrows, through walls of clay and brick just to upend Ashley Young.

Disgusted with election failures in the neighbouring Precinct of Pious Ignoramus Athleticus, the fading Emperor Maximus Brutalis waged war on the legions of doubters strewn in his army's path, stating that he was the man for the big occasion and all those who hesitated in their faith would be banished to the outlying colonial precincts of Eindhoven, Los Angeles Villa + Plungepool and, worst of all, the madhouse jail at Talksport. Brutalis had a terrible unmatched temper and was well known for throwing legionnaires to the furthest outposts of the empire if he was displeased with them. His rhetorical prowess stretched to Great Oratory, Salutary War Speeches, Mind Games and Giant Child-like Fibs.

On this occasion Brutalis sent out word that he would be relying on his Grand Fighters, the father figures and sages, amongst them Manlius Ferdinandius, Ninnius Nannius Nonnious, Edwardius Duncanus Jones. And Park Ji Sung.

Hobitus Maximus and his brother Hobitus Minimus were considered ill-fit for battle.

Brutalis's men enter the fray in defensive mode
The other communities thought better of mocking Maximus Brutalis for breaking with century old tradition of Being on the Front Foot. The ancient Praetorian guard Teddius Sheringatus had been quoted as saying to the crowds at the Forum Shopping Centre, "In the old days, the sight of our legions on the attack would freeze the opposition with fear. Now we go to war with a South Korean mercenary and a Tall Man called Smalling."  Others knew Brutalis to be a Master Tactician, Chewer of Gum and Arch Clock Pointer, a man who would stop at nothing to win and who could spit out live bumble bees whilst drinking a glass of UHT milk.

Jostling for position, the crowds strained and a large ornamental Etruscan pot fell and knocked out the ancient senator Dwitius York. This was seen by some as an omen of what was to come. Dark clouds hovered overhead and the banging of enormous drums could be heard in the side streets and alleyways, as night fell on that fateful arena of combat.

Brutalis's men, in the mistaken belief that a seige would offer better prospects than a full frontal assault,took to the battleground with cautious backward steps, led in tiny circles by the seasoned scarred old fighter Jinja Nuttus. By bringing attention to the flaming hair of their ancient leader, they hoped to prolong the battle, but misjudged the ferocity of their opponents as Jinja was flattened time and time in the middle field by his capable adversaries. Nuttus resorted to his ancient craft to save face: kicking at the air and pointing at things angrily.

Jinja Nuttus was met in this fervent Middle Zone by an opponent so huge and so impressive that others cowered in his shadow. For this was Elephantus Ivorius, a collosus of many battles and here was his kingdom, rolling before him like the sun-drenched plains of Bondouku and Yamousoukru. With his able consul Barrius Garthicus and accompanied by flag bearers and little wizards Optimus Silva and Fantasticus Nasri, Elephantus crushed the forlorn Jinja and his light-footed sidekick Ninnius Nannius Nonnius, who had been busy entertaining sections of onlookers with his circus flips and gaily painted underclothes..

Lager tops all round in Villa Maradona as the Gallagher Clan arrive for tiffin
The brave troops marched forward and repaired the damage inflicted in the early year, one smote from the leaping frame of Vinicius Kompanius being enough to smash the resolve of the enemy. Meantime, the massive tarpaulin-clad frame of Guardsman Smalling was seen to be ripped asunder and thrown to the ground.

The crisis for Brutalis was now before his eyes. With a sudden rage frothing in his chest, he leapt forward with the agility of a Yak in slippers and raised his hand to Magnificat Mancini Glorioso, imitating the classical deadly parody of a million supercharged battles, the most hostile gesture of a thousand insults and curses: the ner-ner yakkety yak fingers. Glorioso met his gesture with his own ner-ner yakkety yak fingers and the skies exploded with venom and cascades of lager top.

From every direction and with overwhelming alacrity, Magnificat's men roamed forward to claim their reward. The soothsayers who had foretold doom now danced the hokey kokey and giant ornamental vats of Etruscan red wine plus sumptuously decorated polystyrene trays of chips and gravy were wheeled towards the villa containing the embracing figures of the Clans Gallagher and Maradona. The great oracles eyed each other with dignity, respect and mutual amazement.

"Viva Le Belgium" went up the cry, again and again. "Viva le Belgium!"


  1. That's a great read, and I'm not in your class, but you know the only comment that can be made on that piece is......

    Infamy, Infamy....

    1. If Sid James had turned up in Maradona's suite, we'd have had the full set!


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