Sir Horace Whimple Butterfinger, Second Assistant to the Under-Secretary of State, finished writing his weekly memorandum to the P.M. on the state of British foreign economic relations. Looking over the foolscap, he signed his name with the usual flamboyant Renaissance flourish he affected and admired the quality of his penmanship. “Yes, indeed. Public School education always shows”, he admitted to himself. Just then his Public School sapphire-colored pen (clearly showing his school’s coat of arms) dripped blue ink across his signature. “Damn! That school was always too cheap to purchase good pens!

Sir Horace had nicked a box of pens from the school’s inventory when he graduated. Some 40 years later, he was down to his last 5 pens. “I shall send the school a letter and take them to task for the shoddy quality of their pens.” Irony was lost on Sir Horace. “Alas,” he thought to himself, “I shall have to rewrite this blasted report. Wait. No, I’ll have my secretary make a copy. Then I’ll sign it.

Sir Horace Whimple Butterfinger picked up the phone and pressed a button. “Sarah, I have a memo that I need you to redo for me. And please send in my one o’clock appointment.
I’m sorry, Sir Horace, they did not arrive.”
Oh, damn. What shall I do until my two o’clock?” he replied.
Sir Horace, your two o’clock appointment also canceled. In fact, all of your appointments have canceled.”
By the Lord Harry, what is going on?!

Sarah, his private secretary, responded in a sympathetic but firm voice:
Sir Horace, if you’ll excuse me, I have reminded you before about adding personal comments to official Whitehall memoranda as well as making extemporaneous remarks in the Cafeteria. Last week you referred to the German envoy as a puffed up sausage not fit for a dog’s plate. In that report on English-Russian trade options you added a gloss noting that the Russian trade representative was a drunken sot who ‘couldn’t get it up for a Cockney tart’. On that memo to our Foreign Office earlier this week you referred to the French diplomat as a perfect example of what’s wrong with Europe. And most recently on an inter-departmental report about progress in International Relations you noted in the margins that the Italians were just a bunch of oily spaghetti-bending criminals who should be castrated.” Cultural sensitivity and decency was also lost on Sir Horace.

“Harumph!” Exhorted Sir Horace, “All true, as everybody knows. The I-Ties used to do that to their own singers, after all. What’s all the fuss about, anyway? Europe is run by a bunch of nancy boys and everything is going to hell. Well, it’s not as if I put the boot to every inbred foreign ruler over there. Did I insult the Arch-Dupe? Or the Turkish Taffy? Gawd, if only our country had the balls to---

Excuse me, Sir Horace,” interrupted Sarah. “Looks like you suddenly have a two o’clock appointment, after all.”

Sir Horace sat up, beaming with self satisfaction and vindication. “Oh, splendid! I knew that those blasted foreigners would see the light. Which one showed up first, Sarah?

None of them, Sir Horace. It’s the Prime Minister. Shall I confirm?. . .Sir Horace?. . .Are you there, Sir Horace?” Sarah heard nothing but some intermittent choking. “Stiff upper lip, Sir Horace, I’ll notify the Dispensary.” After another minute of silence, Sarah hung up the phone and smiled to herself. She looked forward to her assignation tonight with that tall, handsome Venetian count. And the extra money was good, too.

Confidentially submitted by

Sarah M. Jones

Private Secretary to
Sir Horace Whimple Butterfinger,
Second Assistant to the Under-Secretary of State
Whitehall, London