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For All Nails #92:  A Royal Audience

NCCC Studios
Hoboken, NJ, NC, CNA
12 July 1974

Phil Maroni caught the downbeat of Peter Shaffer's hand and
began the "Closing Time March".  It was a funny job, playing 
the same songs every night in abbreviated versions timed to 
fit into the breaks of a talk show.  But with _his_ music you
could play the same song with the same mates and it was never
quite the same.  There was always another direction to take the
clarinet licks, for example.  Which of them took the lead in 
the last eight bars was decided by eye contact -- tonight Pete 
wanted it -- whoah!  Not bad, old friend.  A little extra for 
a special show.  The crowd was into it tonight, taking a little 
longer to die down as Walt MacAnuff took the mike.

"G'evening folks!"  Several seconds for applause to die down.
"It does feel special here tonight, doesn't it?"  More applause.
Walt let it fade expertly before jumping into the monologue.

"A news story tonight from Northern Vandalia.  Seems this wheat 
farmer found part of his crop knocked down in a strange, circular
pattern.  Couldn't tell if it was a low-flying airmobile, or some
kids in a loke, but it didn't look like any of that.  Thought it
might be some of those _space pixies_ that people have claimed to 
see in those parts."  The audience was suddenly quiet, spellbound.
You could never tell when Walt was serious, even after all this 
time.  The man was a master.  "Well, they've just sent the scientists
from the Ministry out there and they've got the answer.  Turns out
our friend William Robbins [1] was trying to land a gyropter." Bah-dump.

William Robbins?  The guy who had made a montagu upside down on the
show a month or so ago -- upside down, ok.  Most of the audience was
connecting the dots more slowly even than he, leading to a mixture
of cackling and groans.  They loved Walt even on the bad jokes, 
maybe especially on the bad jokes.  The host started back in.  

"We do indeed have a _very_ special show for you tonight, folks, 
with a very special guest.  I've had Albany Dukes and Norfolk Knights 
on this program, and once a real peer of the realm [2], but for the first
time we welcome real royalty -- His Majesty Ferdinand the Third [3],
King of New Granada!"  More raucous applause, with maybe a hint of 
caution?  On one hand everyone liked the King, on the other there was 
what his country was doing in Trinidad...  

"Also, musical guest Sarah Kluzinski and, because it's Friday, the 
Closing Time Players!  Be right back!"

Pete's downbeat kicked them as one man into a Lokes [3a] song, "My Girl's Best 
Friend".  The camera light went off before the first chorus, but naturally 
they kept playing for the studio audience through the commercial.  Phil stole
a glance at the door of the prep room where a young man in a suit waited
for the aide behind him to send him forward.  The song ended and the
director's voice over the outspeakers said "Back in fifteen."  Attention 
returned to Walt on his stool.

"My first guest is no stranger to North America, having been educated
at Burdette Academy, UNO Prep, and the University of New Orleans, all
in our own state of Georgia.  Unlike many college graduates from last
spring, he has already found a job."  Pause for the laugh.  "Ladies and
gentlemen, please raise your glasses for His Majesty, Ferdinand the Third
of New Granada!"

The King strode confidently out to Walt as the band played the well-known
UNO fight song in the military-band style that was the only way that most
of the CNA could imagine using horns.  (Too bad they couldn't do their
waltz-timed EJ [4] version with the squeezebox lead, Phil thought.)  There 
was a noticible audience buzz as Walt came briefly to his feet to take 
the King's hand.  Someone had actually wondered, at the production meeting, 
whether Walt should "stand for" such a controversial figure, but Walt had 
shut them right up.  "He's a bloody King!  Did your mother raise you in a 
barn?"  By now both men were seated, and Walt began.  

"Your Majesty, I want to begin our conversation with the issue that is
on the minds of all North Americans watching this program.  How much
progress have you made in introducing _real_ football to your new homeland?"

This was planned, but the audience didn't see it coming.  Did they even
know that Ferdi Hohenzollern, as he had been called then, was a footballer?
Back in New Orleans you couldn't have missed the excitement four years 
ago when he'd scored the winning try for UNO Prep to beat St. Xavier in
the city championship.  But though he'd stuck it out to make the Varsity
in college, he'd not gotten into many games there.

"Well, Walt, the big game in New Granada is a variant of what you call 
kickball here, the kid's game.  No hands, try to kick the ball into the
goal, I played it in Spain as a boy myself.  But it's no kid's game in
New Granada -- the best players are real artists with their feet, you
should see.  They can kick the round ball far, kick it accurately, bounce
it off their bodies in all kinds of ways--"

"Can they kick it _straight_, sir?  If so, I think I can find jobs for a lot
of them in _Brooklyn_..."  Guffaws from the audience.  Most of them, like
Phil, had watched the NCCC Match of the Week last Sunday, where the Trolley
Dodgers had missed two conversions and three easy field goals in losing
to Charleston 15-13.  Not their fault, really, the heat was brutal.  Maybe
someday Charleston and New Orleans could build indoor arenas with cooling
fans, like the one in Henrytown...

"New Granada is interested in _all_ kinds of trade and exchange of visitors,
Walt.  But to answer your original question, there _is_ some Mexican-rules
football in Bogota, with some clubs dating back to the Empire days.  And 
I _have_ started a club using the Tory rules, the _Asociado Real de Futbol
Norteamericano_, where we had two hundred men show up to the first meeting.  
They like what they've seen of the game, and they're interested in learning 
it.  I'm even getting together some films of _your_ best games, Walt, to show 
them how it's done."

"You're kidding, sir, I hope."

"Not at all.  Virginia against Georgia in Oldfields [5], 13 October 1966.
You made a single run of seventy-five yards for a try, with three cutbacks
across the whole field.  I was a third-former at Burdette then, watching on
the vita, rooting against you of course.  It was that moment I decided to 
be the best footballer I could be.  I kept following you through that year
and the next with New York -- I have to admit I cried when you got hurt."

"Not as much as I did, sir, believe me."  Walt's face was redeer than 
usual -- the poor guy was genuinely embarassed, Phil thought.  Well, 
Phil had seen that late hit along with millions of other vita viewers, 
and _still_ hadn't forgotten it.  What had it been like for Walt?  No 
surprise he was ready to move on.  What was going to happen now?  This 
was live vitavision, with no script, though the two men had chatted 
briefly earlier.

"Seriously, sir, what _about_ Trinidad and Tobago?  There's your army and
navy, just walking in and taking over a tiny little country.  What's your
side of the story?"

"Well, Walt, I _could_ say that the whole point is whether they were 
properly a separate country at all.  Those two islands were part of New
Granada until about a hundred years ago, when someone else's [6] army and navy
just walked in and made them independent.  But more importantly, there was
a very unstable situation there, with the whole population of immigrant-
descended workers claiming to be oppressed, and starting to be violent 
about it.  New Granada intervened to restore order, plain and simple.  _We_
think that the islands will be much better off being integrated into our
Kingdom, but it's not going to be up to us."

"It's not?"

"No, Walt, we're going to give the _people_ on each island the chance to
vote on joining New Granada, as soon as the situation stabilizes, certainly
within the next eighteen months.  If they join, they'll have representatives
in the new Popular Assembly just like the rest of the people of New Granada."

"And what if they vote against you, sir?"

"We're going to do everything we can to prove ourselves worthy of their
support, Walt, and I'm very confident that we'll win.  If not, we'll pull
out, just like that."

"Would you allow international observers at the polling places?"

"It's too early to get into those kind of details, Walt, but it's a
definite possibility.  We won't have anything to hide."

"Excuse me, sir, but if you don't have anything to hide, why haven't 
you allowed the international press to report from Trinidad and Tobago?"

"Walt, I'm not a military man, and I have to defer to the judgement of 
those who are while the islands are under military administration.  I've
given them my assessment of the CNA press, at any rate.  They were a bother
for me from time to time while I was trying to live my quiet student life
here, but I had a lot of respect for them.  Most of the time, when they
printed something, they knew it was true.  Our armed forces have waged
a disciplined and lawful campaign in Trinidad and Tobago, Walt.  I've seen
the confidential reports that prove that, and eventually the world will be
able to confirm that too.  After all, our whole position is that those
islands are, or ought to be, part of our country, right?  Why wouldn't we 
treat them that way?"

Like the parts of your country with Jeffersonista rebels, perhaps?  But
Walt wasn't going to go there, Phil thought.  And to be fair, the CNA
papers said that the new government had a much better record than the old.
Not that they'd set a very high standard of decency...

"One last question, sir, if I may.  Should we North Americans be worried
about New Granada, the way we've always been worried about Mexico?  Are
you blokes planning to expand militarily?"

"First, Walt, New Granada is a country much like North America, only
with a somewhat less happy history.  We became independent of our mother
country while maintaining ties to her, just as you did.  Our problem came
with a failed government, that of the Hermions, that had to be removed by
the military.  But _our_ military has worked from the time they took over to 
reestablish a government responsible to the popular will, with the same
kind of institutions that have been so successful in keeping North America
stable and prosperous.  We admire your achievements here, Walt, and we want
to emulate them.  I hope that doesn't worry you or your country."

The King continued.  "As for military expansion?  Walt, we aren't coming 
to South Beach any time soon except as peaceful tourists.  We want peace 
and honest commerce with all of our neighbors.  The only problem is that 
we live in a rather rough neighborhood in some respects, with some nations 
on our borders that are not as stable and peaceful as the CNA or New Granada.
If the peoples of some of those nations should decide we're doing a good 
job, and they want our help in reorganizing their own nations, it's possible 
that we could get involved there."

"As for Mexico, we know about the history of fear and distrust between 
you and your neighbors.  They're our neighbors as well, and our relationship
with them is very complicated.  But there's something very encouraging 
going on, Walt.  Both your Governor-General and Mexico's President are
clearly men of peace, who want better relations between the great American
powers.  We need to recognize our differences but also our common culture,
our common borrowings from our parent cultures in Europe and our common
history of taming a new world.  We have to talk to one another, Walt, just
talk to one another.  We're all very similar people, and all we want is to
live together in peace."

Nice words, Phil thought, as he tuned out of the conversation and began 
preparing himself for Sarah and her song.  Not at all scary, was young
Ferdi.  New Granada was presenting a handsome young face, but who or what
was behind the mask?

Enough politics, he thought, reviewing the song, "Old Cape Cod" [7], in 
his mind.  Nice, sweet, pretty, like Sarah herself.  The girl would be 
right on top of every note, you could be sure.  She didn't mind Phil's
clarinet dancing over and under her melody, and playing the bridge 
differently each time.  But there was no give and take with Sarah like
he had with Pete and the boys.  No initiative to react to.  Not unlike
a couple of his ex-wives.  No, if there was going to be a revolution in
popular music, Sarah was going to be the last holdout.  Nice shoulders
and arms in that dress, though.  This was a visual medium, after all, and
the _real_ singers Phil would have picked to sing on the show tended to
be stout Negresses from Fort Lodge.

Someday, Phil thought, the music would all come together.  Walt had been
the first to put Juan Bailleres on the Tory vita, and their own work was
making a difference too.  (Walt had been merciless when the Mexican 
magazine _Azul_ [8], the one millions of Tory men read "only for the 
articles", had done a feature on their music.  And a three-minute version
of the "Closing Time March" was getting some time on the Mexican wireless,
though because of the strange licensing laws down there the total royalty
so far had been only fourteen pounds.)  Contact between different peoples,
different senses of humor, different musical styles, maybe that was the key.
Would people who really _knew_ each other go to war with each other?  Of
course not -- just look at the French and the Germans...

******************

Excerpt from final shooting script 
"Closing Time" comedy sketch
12 July 1974

"Candidates' Debate" 
by the Closing Time Players

Moderator: Martha Huffleby
Monaghan: Morris Garrett
Skinner: Hartley Philips
Dean: Carver Dana

[the three candidates respond to questions in turn,
 the following exchange being typical...]

MODERATOR (in formal business dress): Mr. Governor-General, what is your 
          reaction to the latest developments in the Free Russian Republic?

MONAGHAN (dressed in a traditional suit): Well, Miss Brook, I'd just like to 
         make it plain that what I've said previously regarding the Russian 
         situation -- and I'd like to make it clear that this is a reiteration
         of what I've said before -- will remain the policy of this 
         administration until such time as events there might warrant a 
         re-evaluation of administration policy, at which time it will be 
         the policy of this administration to provide a further clarification 
         of administration policy.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Governor-General.  Governor Skinner, what is your 
         reaction to the latest developments in the Free Russian Republic?

SKINNER (dressed in worn bib overalls and chewing a straw): Why, Darlin', I'm 
         right glad that you asked me that there question.  'Cos you know, 
         it just goes to show what my pappy always told me.  He told me, son, 
         you got to remember that when it gets to be mule-skinnin' time, 
         ain't no one ready to jump that fence less'n they got the right 
         color shirt on.  An' let me tell you, Darlin', them words is just as 
         true today as they ever was.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor Skinner.  Councilman Dean, what is your 
         reaction to the latest developments in the Free Russian Republic?

DEAN (dressed in a brightly colored "Space Saga Lives!" shirt and a tinfoil 
         hat): Miss Brook, if that is in fact your real name, this just goes 
         to show the extent to which the people of this country have been 
         misled by an irresponsible and maliciously biased press.  I pledge 
         on behalf of the Masonist Party [9] to free the people from the 
         cynical exploitation of the controlling interests, and let them 
         leave their lives in peace.  And justice.  We also demand that the 
         letter "k" be removed from the alphabet.

Notes:

[1] William Robbins, an eccentric CNA comedian whose current act 
    consists of performing various common and not-so-common tasks
    while standing on his head.  He was a guest on "Closing Time"
    in late June.

[2] His Grace Roderick Tarleton, Duke of Newmarket, who discussed
    horse racing (he is one of the CNA's leading breeders).  Newmarket, 
    Virginia is on the site of OTL's Lexington KY and is the seat both 
    of Walt's own University of Virginia and another North American noble 
    creation dating to just after the Trans-Oceanic War.  The first Duke of 
    Newmarket was Banastre Tarleton, famous in both timelines for 
    creating Tarleton's Legion (though the two Legions had somewhat 
    different roles).

[3] Though the last Spanish Viceroy left South America in 1805, the nation
    of New Granada continued to acknowledge the (purely formal) sovereignty 
    of King Ferdinand VII/I (VII of Spain, I of New Granada).  Ferdinand 
    VIII/II ruled Spain 1851-1873.  During the Hermion dynasty of 1890-1973
    the Spanish King was not recognized in New Granada, of course, but as
    we have seen the former Ferdinand IX of Spain has now been elevated 
    to the New Granadan throne as Ferdinand III.

[3a] It's worth mentioning that the Lokes are an _a capella_ group, and would
    sound to an OTL audience like a cross between the Bobs and the Yale
    Whiffenpoofs.

[4] "EJ", for East Jefferson, denotes the musical style of the inhabitants
    of OTL Louisiana, many of them descendents of violently anti-British
    Francophone refugees from Acadia, displaced by the Seven Years' War.
    It's had a considerable influence on music in New Orleans.

[5] Oldfields, Georgia is on the site of OTL Tallahassee FL.  UG was 
    founded there in 1822 and (as Sobel pointed out) is one of the 
    great universities of the CNA.  Relative newcomer Virginia (in the
    absence of its OTL founder) had to wait until 1858 and didn't take 
    off until it received heavy support from the Arthur Program.  

    Virginia and Georgia played what is claimed to be the first 
    intercollegiate football game in 1892, and now play a game in each 
    of the fall and spring regular seasons and also meet frequently
    in the SC Varsity Cup final.  Walt grew up in the mountains of 
    north central Virginia (OTL WV) and went to the provincial flagship
    school on scholarship.  (Academic, of course, athletic scholarships
    being officially unknown in the CNA.)

[6] Britain's, with the explicit approval of the CNA, of course.

[7] By a cross-time coincidence, this is very similar to a song recorded
    in OTL 1957 by Patti Page.

[8] See Carlos' unnumbered post #27, "Sexo, Drogos, y la Musica del Diablo".  

[9] The convention at which the split in the Peace and Justice Party
    became official ended with an official renaming of the "Dean wing"
    as the "Masonist Party".  (The "Levine wing" is campaigning as the
    "Reform and Justice Party".)  Former GG Richard Mason has undergone a
    posthumous rehabilitation somewhat like that of OTL's Richard Nixon.
    But according to polling by Markey Research (released to their growing
    list of private clients), some 63% of the CNA electorate still think
    that Mason was barking mad and that a Masonist Party can't be much
    better.  Markey would have advised Dean to raise his potential ceiling
    of support by choosing another name...

Dave MB (with thanks to Johnny Pez)