By Lizzie Eldrige. From her long series of Tales from the Land of Serenity.

All this hullabaloo in the Land of Serenity when we are simply and quietly trying to go about our business as usual.

For such a small and peaceful little haven of tranquility that simply likes to keep itself to itself as well as its brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, aunties, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, godfathers – who would have imagined that our humble abode would suddenly find its images plastered all over the front pages of so many international newspapers from London to Manchester to Madrid to New York to Washington to Tokyo to Berlin and to Bern, to Venice and Vienna and the vaguely-known Hague, to the dingy little dope dens of new Amsterdam, to Rome and to Reykjavik, Palermo and Paris, to Nice and not quite so nice Naples and Nantes, to Barcelona and Athens and Brussels and Bruges, Copenhagen and Catania and Lugano and Lille, to Stockholm, to Oslo, to Moscow, to Glasgow, to Gdansk and to Hamburg, Helsinki and Hull, to Florence and Dublin and Oxford and Cannes, to Dubrovnik and Salzburg and Pisa and Lima, Sao Paulo, Santiago, San Salvador, San Sebastian, San Francisco, San Diego, St Andrews, St Petersburg, Sarajevo and Seoul and St Edmunds-in-Bury, Monaco and Warsaw and Krakow and Kiev, Cologne and Sofia and Geneva and Genoa, Istanbul, Côtes d’Azur, Côtes du Rhône, Kirkintilloch, to Crieff and Bologna, Bucharest, Budapest, and Toronto and Granada, Beijing, Singapore, and to Tripoli, Trieste, Zurich and Zagreb, and on on to the hotels in Zanzibar, the sights of the Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Grand Harbour, Grand Opera House and Halls where a singer is singing for those who have ears in their gold-covered purses of sow-leathered silk in their smug inside pockets of tailor-made suits cut to fit so precisely by underpaid hands hired just for the purpose and to save them from being idle as they languish in cells at her Majesty’s leisure so what more could they want than to stitch up this sewn-up yet now falling apart at the seams charade of a banquet in which those who build banks which can slip under walls can toast each other generously, pat each other on the backs and give out a polite gasp of shock when one revered member of the party gets a little too boisterous – because who wouldn’t under such jolly circumstances? – and catches his hand accidentally on the champagne glass he was sipping from in such a genteel manner but oops – let’s not cry over spilt Dom Perignon because there’s always more where that comes from! – but it could have resulted in some blood-splattered handkerchiefs being waved in the air which the singer, a fine tenor, would no doubt have mistaken for applause having already dismissed some argumentative yet persistent little dissidents with a reminder – as if they should need one – that the journalist they were impudently trying to remind him about was dead!

‘I’m a Cultural Ambassador!’ he said. ‘Don’t you know? And I don’t discriminate between my clients in terms of how many people they’ve killed or how many dictatorships they’ve managed or how many people they’ve unfairly imprisoned with or without trial or how many people they’ve robbed by means of the very people I’m entertaining here tonight or how many heads they’ve beheaded or how many hands they’ve cut off or how many instruments of torture they implement to sustain their regimes or how many human rights they’ve overturned in their unstoppable thirst for power or how many indignities they’ve made however many people suffer in order to sustain their own position as dignitaries or how long their criminal records are or whether or not they’ve faced criminal prosecution for their crimes or whether or not they’ve breached UN sanctions or European conventions or worldwide agreements about the treatment of human beings at the most basic of levels or if they’ve embezzled, defrauded, spun money through wringers, if they’ve cheated or lied or resorted to murder to ensure that their secrets remain under wraps, or use gun-toting cowboys to carry out their deeds, or pay mercenaries money to silence their critics, or intimidate and threaten and bully and taunt, or trample on flowers and candles and vandalise grief, tear down forms of resistance and interrogate innocent people for offences dreamed up in the very moment of accusation knowing full well that all incriminating evidence that works against themselves will be shredded or bundled into suitcases or signed and sealed in personal e-mails designed to bypass public scrutiny and with that friendly laughter of agreement that anybody who even so much as attempts to undermine their plans to stockpile billions of euro while screwing taxpayers out of healthcare, education, independent critical thought, will be…eliminated.’

‘All this hullabaloo,’ the opera singer sneered, ‘when the fact of the matter is the journalist is dead!’

And the fact of the matter is that 45 journalists – how dare they slip through our tightly-stitched-up net? – from 15 different countries – as if any of these countries matter when Serenity is quite clearly the Ruler of the Waves, including the airwaves which we proudly take control of and which is why, from now on, the only music which shall be played is that emanating from our most worthiest and most humane of all Cultural Ambassadors, the Only Tenor – but these insidious members of the fake media brigade took it upon themselves – because nobody asked them – nobody invited them to do this – we certainly didn’t put out any request that the assassination of a journalist – a mere member of the lowly Fourth Estate – on the soil of Serenity which is fed and nourished by our forefathers’ blood, those who fought to keep Serenity rooted in prejudiced bigoted narrow-minded hateful blinkered spiteful tribal medieval ways of thinking that we’ve worked so hard to maintain with our pitchforks and our stakes – we didn’t ask these 45 snooping-around journalists to interfere with our serene functions which keep Serenity in place and ensure that justice is carried out in a way that may appear totally antithetical to the rest of the never-never world but it’s how we do it in Serenity and if you don’t like it then fuck off back to you own country because we’re quite happy to have our Leaders take control of the judicial system, the police, TV stations, investigations into money-laundering activities, investigations into the misdemeanours of our Leaders who can never do any wrong because the judicial system and the appeals courts and the media and the dissemination and/ or shredding and/ or concealment and/ or the barefaced lying and denial of anything remotely having been done in any way or shape or distorted form having been done wrong is in the hands of our Leaders and THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE!

For we pride ourselves on the fact that Serenity is NOT a normal country!

Just because 2 of the people in positions of power who have long ago been photographed wearing Panama hats have now been categorically and irrefutably exposed for absolute and unquestionable and yes, we’re talking massive amounts of money here, money laundering does NOT mean they have to go! WE decide! WE take our own decisions! WE decide who’s fit to govern and who isn’t! What’s a little bit of illegal stashing away of kickbacks into secret Panama companies in the interests of personal business or – and quite understandably because we all do this, don’t we? – as an investment for your family in the unhappy event of your untimely death? We only want what’s best for us, don’t we?

So what if these 2 men didn’t come clean about this in the first place and denied all knowledge of ever owning anything in the colour black because everything’s the new black these days, isn’t it?

So what if a journalist was assassinated in a massive car bomb in broad daylight who just so happened to be prying into the private affairs of these two trusted men who were only making preparations for the rainiest of days?

And, as our operatic Cultural Ambassador made clear, it doesn’t mean that because you don’t agree with someone that she should end up like that and by ending up like that, he was of course referring to being brutally blown to pieces in a car bomb only minutes from her home, leaving her oldest son to confront parts of his mother’s body around a burning car.

We, in Serenity, would be the first to pay our respects by clearing away all tokens of love, the demand for justice, the demand that the people who ordered the assassination be found, that Leaders resign, that the rule of law be restored to one that protects its citizens and doesn’t blow them to smithereens.

Just because more than 250 international writers and 72 of those pesky MEPs have demanded the immediate removal of our ever so cultural Chairman of the Most Capital of Cultures, world-renowned now for his erudite pearls of wisdom and his most silvery of tongues, doesn’t mean that we agree. No! He serves as the gatekeeper to all that is regarded as offensive and because he amply reflects the progressive liberalisation of our modernising thrust in a no holds barred and a suitably I-don’t-give-a fuck-whatsoever-and-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it-anyway attitude, we placed him in the utmost position of trust as the Keeper of the Keys to the broom cupboard in case that monument to our monumental resistance in the Greatest of Sieges in all known history that took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago is overrun with dangerous and obnoxious and visibly threatening objects such as flowers and candles and photographs and handwritten notes of love and sadness and grief which only serve to unnecessarily remind people who do not need to be reminded that a journalist was assassinated in our midst but it was absolutely NOTHING to do with us and how dare anybody so much as try to contradict this!

45 journalists from 15 different countries? Pah! We’re not pansies like you! We take control of our own media here in Serenity if you don’t mind!

And what’s the problem? For our Wagneresque warbler of diplomacy was more than kind in dedicating a whole aria to the slain journalist who he didn’t even agree with but she’s dead although she shouldn’t have ended up like that, but just for good measure and to shove a load of water under a dilapidated bridge and to prove to those annoying little dissenters who have a right to their opinion which might be supported by copious amounts of documented evidence published in international papers and all across the world, but that he also has a right to his own beliefs, including the fact that he certainly didn’t agree with what the journalist said although she still shouldn’t have ended up like that, but he also has the right to sing in front of whoever he so chooses and that’s got nothing whatsoever to do with them and how dare they interfere with an event designed to place him in the spotlight no matter if that light might have a different hue when placed beneath the glaring scrutiny of the international media which exposed the out-and-out corruption of 2 significant politicians in Serenity who had already been placed under the spotlight by the assassinated journalist as well as papers washed up in Panama, and just because there might be some connection between all of this hullabaloo and the people who were organising the event at which the opera singer was singing because what else is an opera singer to do but sing does NOT mean that he doesn’t have a heart.

As if serenading Banquo’s Feast, our Cultural Ambassador dedicated an entire aria to the assassinated journalist and, as you can imagine, his audience was well and truly hushed.

But their ears perked up at the sound of money for our operatic diplomat became altruism personified. Following hard on the heels of our benevolent Leader – who was, yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, an honourable member of the self-same audience along with his charitable wife – our Maestro of the Magnificat showed his true unfailing generosity by donating the proceeds of this lavishly paid-for and no expenses spared evening to his own and oh so immensely charitable foundation set up by the Bank of Serenity whose own lily-white hands have been washed by none other than Pilate himself.

U ejja! So much hullabaloo in Serenity. So much, and such unnecessary, hullabaloo.