If Malcolm B Duncan were still alive, I’d be asking him to direct his attention to Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. As – unfortunately for us – he is now seated at the heavenly bar with Tom Lewis (when Claude the White Persian isn’t trying to resume its rightful position on the Leather Armchair), we will simply have to endure another excursion to the Land of Nadir …
(Image Credit: Steppin’ Up)
As the three, Peter, Amanda and Little Lucy, walked along warily with the Beavers, their feet became increasingly wet in the burgeoning slush as the snow melted around them – a bit like Good King Wenceslas without the Page, thought Amanda to herself. Peter was walking with a funny gait, having had the Field Marshal’s baton which he had always carried in his back pocket wedged firmly up his … well as this is a children’s story, let’s just say that sitting down was now a painful process, made all the more galling by the fact that it had been an own goal.
Further into the Land of Nadir, the Dwarf and the White Queen were gaining on the children as they came closer to the teak table. Ruddock, now incarnated magically as a wolf, loped along beside them, fondly recalling the interview he had sat in on with Mr Patel. Why the boss was having renovations done when Patel wasn’t even in residence remained a mystery to him, but he supposed at least it meant that Patel couldn’t object to the DA. Corder was off somewhere doing whatever it was that Corder did.
In a fashion which need not be described but could only happen in a magical land, the Lady Jadis had become aware through Alexander of a scheme to supply Australian wheat to the land of Nadir. A huge amount of it was now available as a result of a shooting incident in a place called Mesopotamia or something like that – and the terms were extremely favourable.
A scheme had been devised by Little Johnnie, the Cabinet Secretary, the Head of Treasury and a frighteningly clever accountant – the modern Nugget Coombs, A W Board. It was top secret and known only to its devisers as quadruple entry book-keeping whereby the wheat deal could go ahead to everybody’s advantage. As a young solicitor, Little Johnnie hadn’t really understood double-entry book-keeping and he’d left the running of the trust account largely to the book-keeper but this new system looked – well – almost too good to be true. Mr Board would supply the wheat to the Lady Jadis, who would then pay for it twice-over by way of Fruits of Office. Half the Fruits of Office went to Mr Board (after the deduction of a handling fee) and half went to Little Johnnie who could then offload them on office holders, friends etc., at whatever he could get for them. A number of boards were already interested and suddenly retirement was starting to become an attractive short-term option on his horizon. He’d even put in a DA on the house. Because it was an offshore deal, there was no taxable supply and no GST. The Lady Jadis sold the wheat in Nadir for faery gold which she then stored in a pot at the end of a Swiss rainbow in Jeanette’s name.
Mr Board’s crucial role, however, was to ensure that no-one was ever told about the scheme or knew anything about it. He was vastly experienced in these things, having already been sent on trade missions about which he knew nothing to places as far afield as Mesopotamia and Persia. Little Johnnie thought it was a pity that we didn’t have Imperial Honours any more, because Mr Board definitely deserved a knighthood for this one. The Treasury Secretary said it would be sufficient reward to put him on the Board of the ABC and make him a Governor of the Reserve Bank. Mr Board liked that idea very much as he hadn’t been sacked as a CEO for a long time and could do with the cash. He wondered whether the job at Telstra might be coming up. It should be, he thought – they’d appointed the last one months ago.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the cabinet, there was terrible trouble brewing because of some documents that had fallen off the back of a trolley in the Federal Court. The Coalface was flintier than ever, as a consequence of which Mr Board had been asking about the possibility of a position with Macquarie Bank. The last one had been taken by an actor named Booth who did incredible impersonations of Abraham Lincoln. His wife never liked the plays, though. That didn’t really matter, because it wasn’t actually his wife he was interested in.
Back in the land of Nadir, Sir Alfred Deakin was giving himself some advice (he had been Attorney-general, after all) and he thought, on balance, that there had to be some accounting. Unfortunately, he couldn’t count so he wandered quietly into the Otherworld and looked up Sir Garfield at the Club. Sir Garfield couldn’t count either, which was why he’d gone bankrupt although it wasn’t really his fault but, as this is a children’s story, we don’t really have to discuss the vexed question of whether barristers can continue to practice after they’ve been bankrupted. As they were pondering what to do, a terrible thing happened: Red Ted Theodore walked into the Club bold as brass as though he were a member. Before the shocked assembly at the bar could call for him to be thrown out Sir Alfred suddenly had a brilliant idea: if anyone could count it was Red Ted. In fact, if he remembered correctly, Red Ted could count to 12 just using his fingers. To avoid the inevitable nasty incident, Sir Alfred threw his arms around Red Ted and said, “Sir Edward, how delightful to see you. Will you take a little air on the terrace, and a pint of porter? I keenly want to seek your views on Wheat.”