by John M. Joyce (December 2015)
I don’t get invited to that many formal evening parties – maybe ten or twelve in a year – so when an invitation to grace a soirée that was being hosted by two of my oldest friends dropped onto my doormat I had no hesitation in sending off my acceptance almost by return. The icing on this particular cake was that I had been invited not only to their party, but also to spend a couple of weekend days with them to catch up with all our gossip.
Well, the date in question rolled around and in the afternoon before the event I duly presented myself at my friends’ lovely old country house in the home county that they had chosen to settle in when they were not up in London. Wining, dining and nattering got underway almost immediately as I found myself a member of a most congenial small house party. A long and delightful afternoon spent in charming company ended only when we went up to dress for the evening’s jollities.
As I had anticipated, the evening was every bit as pleasant as the afternoon had been – really good company, a magnificent buffet and, joy of joys, bottles and bottles of the Schloss Johannisberg 1999 Blaulack Eiswein with the promise of a very generous nightcap of the Comte de Lauvia 1929 Vintage Armagnac at the end of the evening. I was a happy man and proceeded to make significant dents in my hosts’ larder and cellar with great gusto. The Johannisberg Eiswein, the finest of all the sweet wines, in my opinion, being cleanly sweet and not cloying, is a lovely wine for drinking throughout an evening and, surprisingly perhaps, is an excellent partner for buffet foods, and under its influence, and the influence of the excellent comestibles, I felt myself mellowing and relaxing.
I circulated and chatted with the many people whom I knew and, as a good guest should, also with the few I didn’t. Some of the younger guests put on some music and started some dancing in one of the larger rooms. The party was going with a swing and a good time was being had by all. At about eleven o’clock I retired to the library with my glass, a fresh bottle of the Johannisberg Eiswein and a plate piled high with some of the excellent contents of the buffet, and I encountered therein some other like-minded souls who were taking a break from the festivities. Gentle conversation flowed gently, as one would expect, between the predominantly mature members of this somnolent group. One of our number switched on the television set that stood on a low table beside the fireplace in order to catch some news, but she muted the sound almost immediately as we had all become involved in a discussion about how close the top three pairs were in the Marbella International Bridge Tournament this year and how good the play was considering that this is only the second year of that particular tournament.
Well, one thing led to another and we all ended up talking about the Bridge Federation of India’s Winter Nationals that were due to start in Poona in three days time (two of our number were due to play there and quite fancied their chances), so it was quite a while before any of us noticed the pictures and the scrolling headlines on the television set.
The pictures, needless to say, were of the unfolding events in Paris on the thirteenth of November of this year. Someone turned the speakers back on and we sat there in stunned silence as the sheer, visceral barbarity of it all became apparent. I’m not going to bore you with what we all said to each other as we recovered the power of rational speech, but rest assured that even that very privileged group of people in that very luxurious house enjoying that very generous hospitality knew exactly the role that Islam played in those atrocities and were, and are, fully aware of the vile attitudes, unsavoury mores and peculiar immorality of all of those who believe with any depth of feeling in that devil-worshipping cult.
People drifted in and out of the library for the next hour or so, but the party went on – albeit in a far more subdued way. Don’t judge us, what else should we have done? Should we have donned sackcloth and smeared ourselves with ashes and cried crocodile mourning tears for people we never knew? No, of course not! That would have been insultingly silly, and disrespectful of those who died in Paris that night. We continued to do what we were already doing for there was nothing else to do. Les personnes dorés are pragmatists, and besides, there was the promise of the Comte de Lauvia ’29.
Eventually the drifters stopped coming in and our host and hostess appeared with not one, not two, not three, but four bottles of the fabled Armagnac. I was impressed – the last time I’d seen more than one bottle of a Comte de Lauvia Vintage Armagnac it was ten bottles of the 1934 in a dealer’s cellar in Paris and I could only afford to buy one of them – and at that only by using one of my empty credit cards.
The gorgeous dark brown liquid was poured in faultlessly generous, multi-fingered measures into sparkling Riedel glasses and handed carefully around the room. I sniffed mine and then took a small sip. Should I bore you with a description of its subtle scent of rich coffee with a hint of spicy vanilla? Would you be captivated if I described its velvety, dark, sherry-like feel on the palate? Could I excite you by putting in plain words the fabulous, long, dense taste almost like a liquid super-sweet, very refined prune, or like some very fine, dream-like Madeira that one can only imagine for such a thing has never existed. Then the finish – warm as a good Armagnac should be, with a final flourish of something of vanilla and spice as one breathes out. Is it perfection? No, only God is perfect, but I’d be willing to bet that the Comte de Lauvia 1929 Vintage Armagnac is His Armagnac of choice.
Freshly lubricated, the conversation moved into the channels of midnight imaginings. Could something like Paris happen here in the U.K? In London? Perhaps in one of our other cities – one with a large Muslim population such as Birmingham or Bradford? Speculation about the probable future actions of the fifth columnists that were now scattered throughout our land grew ever more fevered as the night wore on. The consensus was that we were, and would remain for the foreseeable future, at risk and that the Islamic violence in western societies would gradually increase as the years went by.
Then, quietly and with good manners – almost apologetically, one of our fellow guests disagreed with us. He stated quite plainly that the situation in Britain would not be allowed to get out of hand as had happened, in his humble opinion, on the continent. What was more, he asserted, the British government had a Plan to keep the Muslim situation in the U.K. under control, and had had such a Plan in place since it was drawn up under the Blair Labour government back in 2005, after the bombings in London, when it had been known as the Lancaster Plan, named, he explained, after John of Gaunt who, although never king himself, sired the line of English Kings that came after him, kings who kept England together and at the forefront of world developments.
Naturally, we were all most curious about this Lancaster Plan and although the abundance of fine food and magnificent beverages had, perhaps, taken the edge off our ratiocinative powers, we nonetheless quizzed our loquacious friend as to what the Plan actually was – what it actually said. It was simple, he informed us. The Lancaster Plan contained several different provisions that could be brought into play to defuse the threat of Islamic violence in the U.K. That bald statement hardly satisfied us as an explanation. That fateful night we wanted to know what each provision was and how, and when, they would, or could, be activated.
What he said next left us somewhat bemused. He informed us, with no special tone in his voice, just in a matter-of-fact way, that the first two provisions of the Lancaster Plan had already been activated and were proving to be successful. Further provisions could be activated when necessary and in that way Muslim violence in Britain could be contained or minimised, or maybe even staved off indefinitely if the plan came to be implemented in its entirety.
Our interests were well and truly piqued and our curiosities well and truly whetted so we encouraged our informant to tell us more. He carefully explained to us the two stages that he’d just mentioned. The first stage was, so he said, the careful use of legislation to make any criticism of Islam, or Muslims, almost impossible. Many in government, he stated, were a little upset that in order to do that they had also made it legally very difficult to criticise other faiths such as Christianity or Hinduism, but their concerns about this had dissipated over recent years as it had become obvious that the police and the judiciary simply treated any criticism of a faith other than Islam, or criticism of a believer other than a Muslim, as being far less serious than criticism of Islam itself or of Muslims. The careful positioning by many NGOs, and left-wing thinkers, of criticism of Islam and Muslims as racist had not been entirely co-incidental either, so he averred, but had been initiated and encouraged by government officials in furtherance of the first stage of the Lancaster Plan.
The first stage of the Plan had been a success in that the Muslim population of the U.K. had taken full advantage of it to assert their uniqueness and to demand the respect that they felt was their due, the man said calmly. They were kept occupied and diverted by this and, as a consequence Muslim violence in Britain had been kept to a minimum – indeed, some Muslims felt, as this stage of the Plan, that so much progress could be made without their usual tool of violence that they even informed on those who were planning to perpetrate horrific acts on the streets of Britain. Viewed in those terms, the first stage of the Plan had to be considered a success.
As you can imagine, I’m sure, we were not surprised by the fact of such manipulation – we were, and are, all aware just how successive U.K. governments have curtailed freedom of speech to the point where it no longer exists in Britain – but we were surprised by the claim that certain people in government had been unhappy that religions other than Islam benefited from the restrictions placed on free speech and that they propagated the stupid, but successful, idea that criticism of the Islamic religion was actually racist. However, the retailer of this particular fact was certain that he was correct, was plausible and was sitting with us, so we encouraged him to tell us about stage two of this Lancaster Plan.
If I remember correctly it was at this juncture that our host opened the second bottle of the Comte de Lauvia ’29 and refilled our glasses – some in our number who preferred it took clean Riedels – and there was a moment or two of companionable and appreciative silence as we all sipped and relished the ambrosia. I had finished my food some time earlier and I did contemplate going back to the buffet and filling up my plate again, but to be honest with you I was quite full and felt comfortable and contented. Besides, I didn’t want to miss any of what our fellow guest might say about the supposed Lancaster Plan.
By this time he’d stood up and was leaning against the left-hand end of the mantelpiece holding up to the light in the middle of the room his Riedel of Armagnac that was in his right hand. I have a clear picture in my mind of this. There was a small fire burning in the grate and he was staring at the dark amber liquid as the light glinted through it and I noticed that he was really rather tall – he was leaning against the mantelpiece which was a fairly large early nineteenth century Louis XVI style rouge royale marble mantel with fluted jamb panels and a panelled frieze that had obviously been installed when the room had been remodelled as the library of the house sometime in the eighteen-thirties, and he dwarfed it.
He lowered his hand, turned and looked at our hosts and said something to them about the glories of the Armagnac and the generosity of their hospitality that caused everyone to mutter their agreement and our hostess to blush slightly. A moment or two of silence ensued and then he glanced at the rest of us. It was obvious that he was prepared to continue his narrative so one of us, I disremember who, asked him about stage two of the Plan.
Stage two, he informed us, had also been put into effect, but it was only an experiment in devolving power to small areas of the U.K. – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Ulster) – whilst still keeping the U.K. together as a type of politically whole unit. This was so that structures could be put in place to continuously manage that type of change. This would enable, he told us, the granting of some degree of autonomy, in an orderly and managed fashion, to various Muslim enclaves around the country when this became necessary. Precedents for devolution would have been established and the change could therefore be managed easily and without too much fuss from the general population. The whole Plan was really about managing the changes that the Muslims in the U.K. will keep demanding.
He went on to say that further stages of the Lancaster Plan envisaged granting these enclaves the right to implement their own laws, such as sharia law, granting Muslims the right to travel between these enclaves but remain subject only to the laws within them while so doing and expanding the enclaves as the need arose. The final stages of the Plan, he informed us casually, foresaw the need to alter the laws outwith the enclaves as they became bigger and more powerful in the national parliament – repealing such things as the laws that decriminalised homosexuality, the laws that granted equal rights to women and the laws that made all religions equal. The death penalty would have to be re-introduced and it would become necessary to assert in law the primacy of Islam and the superior position of Muslims in the U.K, but by the time that that would have to happen Muslims would constitute at least thirty percent, and more probably fifty percent, of the population. If the current government plans for the increased immigration of Muslims stayed on course then there should be no trouble in reaching that percentage in about fifteen years time, he told us. That would also ensure Britain having good links to the rest of the Islamic world through family and clan ties. The Plan was quite plain about the necessity of confusing and misdirecting the current population about immigration by distracting it with constant talk about refugees and overseas aid and other such trivia that could be magnified out of all proportion.
Such changes would occur incrementally and the formulators of the Plan believed that each small change would pass almost unchallenged for each as it happened would affect only a tiny number of people, or an easily despised minority such as gay people. Eventually, he said, it would become necessary for someone in the line of succession to the throne to convert to Islam, but by the time that that would become necessary there would be very few among the ruling elite, or the class of people represented by those of us at this party, who wouldn’t already have converted simply because it would be expedient to do so.
The Plan made provision for, so he claimed, the gradual changing of the law to conform with the requirements of Islam. No great changes at any one given moment were envisaged and the U.K. would continue to be a powerful country and it was planned that those who currently occupied positions of power or influence, or those who were moneyed and landed, or those who were successful professional people, would still occupy the same positions in society after the changes that the Plan would help to manage as they had at the start of the process. Simply put, he explained, the semi-autonomous Muslim enclaves would be expanded gradually until they covered more or less the entire country. Beloved churches would be converted to mosques, important museums would gradually edit their collections in accordance with Islamic law, art galleries would slowly die as their grants were shrunk and then withdrawn, but the changes would be gradual and seen by most as inevitable and necessary. The scourge of terrorist violence would, in this way, be kept at bay in Britain and, with the minor adjustment to an Islamic way of life, things would go on pretty much as usual.
The Lancaster Plan was the best provision that could be made for managing the process of the inevitable change of the U.K. from a successful secular-cum-Christian country to a successful Islamic country. At least, that’s what he told us and I think that he truly believed it. He stressed repeatedly the inevitability of this change. It’s irresistible, he said frequently, and the last three governments of Britain have clearly identified that Islam is winning in the west and we must make sure that the U.K. is preserved as best we can and, if possible, comes out on top. That’s what good government is about, he told us, making plans to ensure that we continue to survive in some way and with minimum disruption. The best way to make sure that we survive the approaching Islamic conquest was to encourage and manage the process of Islamification, and that should ensure that the U.K. remains a successful, independent, homologous, united political unit, albeit a Muslim one, he added, but still successful and still the U.K.
I remember quite clearly that at this point he lifted his scintillating, almost empty glass of Armagnac up, smiled at us and said, “I shall miss this, of course, as shall we all, I don’t doubt.”
We sat there stunned as he finished his part in this disquisition. It had, and has, the ring of truth about it. I remember that someone asked him about the human rights implications and that he replied that, naturally, the Lancaster Plan allowed for the formal adoption of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam at the appropriate and necessary moment, and that that should sufficiently muddy the waters and confuse people for long enough to allow the process envisaged in the Plan to continue smoothly. The important thing, he said, the one thing that people must never lose sight of, is the survival of Britain – it doesn’t matter what religion dominates, Islam, Christianity, secularism, they’re all as bad as one another. What matters is that the U.K. survives. The Lancaster Plan practically guarantees our survival, he asserted, and it’s a great Plan. We should be thankful that we have had governments far-sighted enough to see that and to draw it up.
It must have been obvious to him that though drink had been rather liberally taken and that most of us were undoubtedly slightly squiffy (a polite technical term, you understand) that, as a group, we were not entirely sympathetic towards the Lancaster Plan as he had explained it. We were not, and are not, stupid people and we could, and can, see the attractions of managing and controlling any type of change that is obviously inevitable. It’s just that we didn’t, and don’t, believe that an Islamic conquest of the west is inevitable – well, leastways, not yet inevitable. He disagreed and, if my recall is correct, did so at some length and quite cogently.
However, the argument that he made, as our host (may the Good Lord bless him forever) distributed the contents of the third bottle of Comte de Lauvia ’29, was based on one simple proposition that remains untested – to wit, that the western peoples are not prepared to fight to defend their secular, liberal democracies against Islamic encroachment because war of any kind for any reason is now anathema to them. Applying modus ponendo ponens to that proposition inevitably leads to the conclusion that formulating a Lancaster Plan, and executing it, is absolutely necessary for the survival of one’s country. However, the proposition itself is unproven, so the conclusion may be faulty. He disagreed.
Furthermore, we argued back at him, the very existence of the Lancaster Plan in itself undermines any attempt to rally our peoples in defence of our secular, liberal democracies, for anybody who tries to do so will immediately be perceived as a threat to the orderly transition that the Plan seeks to bring about. The people executing the provisions of the Plan will have no alternative but to try to stop, by any means possible, anybody who chooses the path of resistance over the provisions of the Plan because he, or she, will represent, as they would see it, a serious threat to the continued existence of the U.K. In other words, we argued, the very existence of the Lancaster Plan guarantees that Britain will become an Islamic state, whereas without it we might have had a chance to remain free. Anyway, we added, the U.K. would not survive; all that would be there in the end would be one more Islamic hell-hole that looked like the old U.K. but had none, not one, of its values and certainly none of its rich and ancient culture.
He continued to disagree and the discussion, perfectly friendly, perfectly polite and punctuated by shafts of wit and wisdom on both sides, went on for some time. In fact, it went on until the contents of the fourth bottle of the Comte de Lauvia ’29 had been well and truly discussed.
I can’t recall at what time I sought my bed, but I know that it was very late, or, more probably, quite early. I didn’t get up until after mid-day and after bathing I staggered downstairs and was offered, and consumed, a hearty brunch. Rather wanting to continue the discussion of the previous evening I asked whether our friend of the Lancaster Plan had come down yet. It transpired that he had got up and left several hours ago.
Naturally, I wanted to check with him that what I recalled of our discussion was accurate, for I had already formulated the idea of using it as the basis for an article here at NER, but, since he was obviously a government functionary of some sort, I didn’t want to get him into any type of trouble if I could avoid doing so. My hosts kindly gave me his home ’phone number, which, after several more cups of tea, I dialled.
A lady answered the ’phone and I discovered that she was his mother. When I asked to speak to him she politely said that he was not available. I assumed, stupidly, that he must have gone into work (cotton wool for brains stage of a hangover in operation there) and said to her that I could easily ring him at his office if she would kindly let me have the number. She chuckled (she had a rich and infectious sounding chuckle) and informed me that her son had resigned from the Civil Service a couple of months ago and at that moment he was on aeroplane to Indonesia to take up a new, and far more lucrative, post there with a private company, and would I like the number of his mobile ‘phone. I said yes and she gave it to me.
I called him on the Tuesday of the week following and, after much good-natured conversation about things that I will not bore you with, I told him of my plans for this article. He laughed (his chuckle is much like mother’s I noted), and I can give you, verbatim, his reply:
“Publish and be damned,” he said, using the very words that the Iron Duke famously used to the pornography publisher, scandal-monger and blackmailer John Joseph Stockdale in 1824.
It was my turn to laugh. I took the implication simply as humour and we were still on friendly terms when we hung up some time later. I did promise, among other things, to send him a link to this article.
I’m still uncertain as to whether or not I have met a great story teller. I don’t know if such a plan as the Lancaster Plan really exists. Others who were present in that library that night believe that he was telling the truth. On the ’phone he stuck by his story and face to face on that fateful evening he was, I have to admit, immensely plausible. If what he told us in that cosy library in the home counties is just a made up story designed to while away the time in good company then I can only say that he is a brilliant, a world class, actor and story teller.
But if what he told us is true… “aye, there’s the rub!”
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