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After watching the Euronews loop in its entirety thrice over, the cowardly Belgian was so inspired by ‘No Comment’ that he decided to do what those brutes in the ‘joined up countries’ across the channel do best, and went on strike. We immediately headed up to the Societal conference room and decided to make our annual accounts add up while he wasn’t there to balls it up. There was some debate about how to do so best. The President suggested we make good the shortfalls by debasing our coinage but no-one could be bothered. Then The Celio started proposing several elaborate schemes for fraud. Just as the debate got nicely heated up, and the Societal knife block was emptied, we were brought to our senses. The Treasurer walked in with April-Anne: he sat and cried, and hung his head, and said “the whole thing is bringing me down”. His gratuitous recourse to acting like a fictional character whenever faced with actual accountancy was becoming tiresome (it is after all his only real responsibility in the Society), much in the same way that a league table loses its originality after 20 odd entries.

Things were becoming needlessly self referential, and there really weren’t any jokes to be made there. The Secretary walked over and kicked me in the ball, keeling me over quite effectively. He spat on me as I lay there incapacitated and gave me a stern lecture about the Theatre of Representation, reminded me that we were all about the Oedipus lark and threatened to shave me bald. He gave me a swift one in the ribs, just to make sure I stayed down, and then stood atop the highest chair I have ever seen: it was higher than my head and had made me a little dizzy. “Gentleman, the only way to save the Society is with aggressive action. We stand on the brink of foreclosure The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words — will not only save Peregrine Society but that other malfunctioning corporation called The Tavistock Society.” The Society, being prone to accept the most aggressive solution, huzzahed in assent. I coughed a little bit of blood up, but I couldn’t summon up the strength to try and stop whatever madness was being planned. For once we were acting in a way entirely in line with Professor Wainwright, the founder of the Tavistock Society, who’s brutal darwinianism never really seems to fit in with the otherwise dominant obsession of the current membership with dramas of familial and interpersonal psychoanalytic disasters. My ball was aching quite badly, either from the impact damage caused by the Secretary’s foot, or the some kind of existential panic at the sight of this awful, balding, all too human manifestation of the death-drive standing on a chair above me and raving about his “irrevocable determination to settle the Havisock question for all time”. Who the hell decided that he was the most consistent avatar for this becoming-soldier? Most of the time he’s just caricatured as being a bit of a mentalist and a bit of a shit. I was less than sure of what was going to happen next, but figured out that in ten minutes I’d be able to re-read it and then I’d know, it was just a question of waiting.

The Secretary was furious that we had let the Havisocks best us for a number of years. We would have to make an attempt to tip the scales. The first piece of his plan was an Anschlussisation of the Peregrine Society, which would, as he rightly pointed out, gain the Tavs two extra members. The he argued we could incorporate our lost brothers in a neighbouring village, before finally demanding the return of the Corridor. At that point, it would be time for war. “The Havisocks are rearming at an alarming rate” he told the President, “and war after the 25th of January would be on unfavourable terms”. I could crawl around at this point, so I tried to get the hell out of there before the arrival of the Belgian, who had been the cassus belli in the last war we held with the Havisocks, when we had attempted to gain a quick victory by using his neutrality to bypass their defences. The Belgian was notoriously in favour of a attack on the Havisocks, who he believed to have illegally occupied a black tower which he had built in his garden to hold his vast collection of blind songbirds. I managed to get to the Treasurer, whose hand had found it’s way between April-Anne’s thighs. I pulled at his trouser leg, and made the lets go for a drink gesture, thinking that the best plan would be to pass out and hope that everything had just sorted itself out without my having to do anything. He replied in the negative, making a rather eloquent gesture which told me “I’m going to do bad things, and then I’m going to get into a fight, sod off and stop looking up her skirt”. I lingered for a second, but fearing another kicking, I inched my way across the room to the radiator, behind which I’d stored a test-tube or two of Jagermeister. It’s the only drink which the rest of the society don’t know about, and I told them it was the only medicine which could save me from ‘the sickness’. In a way, it is. Once I’d emptied three of them into me, I edged my way around the perimeter of the room, trying not to have to look at the rest of the Society, who’s pre-war preparations involved the removal of their shirts and trousers and forming a human pyramid (or ‘pile on’ as we sometimes call it).

I got downstairs to find the Belgian combing through the jetsam on the high-water line, looking for a lump of pure ambergris. It was curious that he too was without trouser or shirt. This was all becoming a little boring. I was close to coming up with the worst entry into the league table ever. I thought the easiest way would be to end the whole thing as quickly as possible, so I sent the Peregrines a message about joining the Tavs. They accepted. The rest of the Society went to ‘war’ anyway. I found them the next morning frolicking around in a public fountain. We had apparently lost 13 men in the struggle. They might have been Albanian.