In a bizarre speech to the Confederation of British Industry last Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the theme park Peppa PIg World, made car engine noises and lost his place in the speech for twenty-one seconds, muttering “forgive me” three times as he searched through the pages…
They drifted through time and space, to a place beyond time and space.
To a vast, cold hall, lined with spectral tombs. Some had effigies of their inhabitants carved onto their lids. Many were of men in armour. There were a few, a very few, of women.
This was the Hall of Albion, resting place of the spirits of the rulers of England.
The dust-motes now stirred, dancing to the the air-change as the the drifting words sounded through the chamber.
The words “forgive me”, thrice uttered by a beleagured ruler. It was the Judgement Call.
A ghostly lid opened, and King Arthur sat up. Legend foretold that he would return at the time of the country’s greatest need. It appeared that this time was now.
Arthur knew at once his calling, and that he must bring companions. He went mentally through the list of his successors, like Jim Phelps selecting his team in Mission Impossible. He knocked softly on one lid, and a spirit sat up. Arthur approached another tomb, reached out his fist, then stopped.
He didn’t want to terrify the man. He wouldn’t bring Margaret.
He chose another tomb. Another spirit rose. Arthur nodded, and the three vanished.
In Downing Street Boris Johnson was in his bedroom. He had put on his Peppa Pig pyjamas and was about to get into his racing-car bed, when the room suddenly went cold. He turned and stared open-mouthed at the three apparitions facing him.
Arthur looked at Boris’s hair. “Did we get you out of bed?” he asked.
“No,” said Boris, confused. “Why?”
“Never mind,” said Arthur. “You have sought forgiveness from the Council of the Ancients.”
“I really don’t think that I have,” said Boris.
“When the ruler of England asks three times for forgiveness, the Council must respond. We are here to judge if you deserve it.” He nodded to his companions. “This is Winston Churchill -”
“I know, I know,” said Boris, eagerly, “I’m a huge fan.” He extended a hand, which passed straight through Churchill’s. Boris tried to suppress a shudder.
“- and this is Henry IV, Part 1,” said Arthur.
“Er, what?” said Boris.
“Twins,” explained Henry. “We took it in turns.”
“I see,” said Boris, who didn’t. “Look, I’m sorry to have summoned you from, er, wherever, but I don’t need forgiveness,” he said. “I haven’t done -”
Arthur produced a scroll, and unfurled it. It stretched to his knees.
“He has tried to stop a member of his party being punished for ill-conduct, cancelled promised transport for the hordes of the north, changed care rules so that the poor pay more than the rich, and walked along a hospital corridor during a plague with no mask on.”
“Well,” said Henry. “A person will make a few mistakes during their reign.”
“That was just this month,” said Arthur.
“Oh,” said Henry.
Churchill shook his head. “Never,” he said, “Have I heard such a. Litany of infamy. Committed by. Just one man.”
“I say,” said Boris, beaming, “I really do love the way you talk.”
“Thank you,” said Churchill. “Did it. Catch on?”
“Sort of,” said Boris, “though only with William Shatner.”
“Never mind that,” said Henry. “There’s no way we can forgive all that.”
An arm, clothèd in white samite, mystic, wonderful, suddenly appeared before Arthur. It brandished another scroll, which Arthur took and read. He frowned, then looked at the others.
“We have to forgive him,” he said. “Apparently it’s Thanksgiving week, and we have to pardon a turkey.”