It is said that in her hour of greatest peril, various heroes from England's history will fly to her aid. Although that didn't happen during, for example, the Blitz or Euro '96, this was because in the first instance Churchill was alive, so they didn't need to, and in the second, King Arthur is hopeless at penalties.
With Sir Francis Drake, apparently, the equivalent of sending out the Bat-Signal would be to beat a drum he left behind. I think Lord Nelson is also willing to get involved. (Ideally, our hour of greatest peril is going to occur somewhere at sea).
Amidst the many grubby consequences of the phone-hacking affair, there stands a single, dazzling, source of hope. The evidence that this tradition still thrives.
Out from a Pandora's box of venality, an Augean Stable of corruption, gallops Hugh Grant - our finest living Englishmen. Assailing the Murdoch empire both in the New Statesman, with a transcript of the conversation between himself and a former News of The World features editor, and then again, last Thursday, with his performance on Question Time.
There have been few more stirring images than that of our floppiest living Englishmen, astride College Green, denouncing News International as "morally bankrupt". I thought it might prove instructive to scroll back through the annals for previous occasions when, but for the star of Music and Lyrics, we might all have found ourselves speaking German.
The Spanish Armada - 1688
Plymouth Hoe, Vice-Admiral Hugh Grant, our finest living sailor, is enjoying a game of bowls. An officer, perhaps a captain, dashes in.
Captain: Admiral, admiral, why are you still playing boulle?
Hugh Grant: Bowls.
Captain: No need to swear.
Hugh Grant: I said bowls, you idiot, I'm playing bowls.
Captain: Sorry, admiral, bowls - why are you still playing bowls? The Spanish Armada is invading in five minutes.
Hugh Grant: F**k! F**k! F**kity! F**k! B***er! F**k!
The captain tuts. Hugh Grant tries to get into his boat. It won't start. There isn't any wind?
Hugh Grant: F**k it! Let's take yours.
The Battle of Waterloo - 1815
The battlefield. Things are not going well.
Duke of Wellington: (folding up a telescope) Where the blazes/devil are they? Those Prussians were supposed to have arrived an hour ago. The French cavalry are attacking us on the centre right, and the Liberal Democrats are squeezing us on the left. We can't hold out for much longer.
Another General: I say sir, isn't that them over there?
He points towards a swiftly advancing cavalry column. At its head, Prussia's finest living English horseman, actor and soldier, Field Marshal Hugh von Grant.
Hugh von Grant: (Dismounting his horse) What-ho, chaps. Whoopsie-daisies! (He has accidentally fired a pistol at his horse. The horse dies).
Duke of Wellington: Grant, thank the devil/blazes, you're here at last. We needed you to charge the enemy lines an hour ago. Why are you so late?
Hugh von Grant: Late?! F**k! F**k! F**kity! F**k! Balls!
Tries to remount his horse. It won't start.
Hugh von Grant: F**k it! Let's take yours.
The Crimean War - 1854
Selimiyle Barracks in Istanbul. Row upon row of sick and dying soldiers, crammed-in like sardines. The air, heavy with the stench of sweat and urine. An underscore of laboured breathing, periodically broken by an anguished wail. A gas-lamp flickers in the entrance to the dormitory, and then starts to float down the aisle. It is carried by England's finest living nurse, Hugh Grant - 'The Lady with the Lamp'. She trips over an amputee.
Hugh Grant: Whoopsie-Daisies! Sorry about that. Now then, what's the matter with you?
Amputee: My right leg was blown-off at the battle of Sevastapol.
Hugh Grant: Pathetic effort to hog the brownie.
Her lamp goes out.
Hugh Grant: F**k it! (turning to her assistant) Let's take yours.
The Troubles - 1996
Northern Ireland. There are some terrorists. Wearing balaclavas. Their voices are dubbed.
First Terrorist: Let's begin planning for our next bomb (someone else wearing a balaclava enters - we presume he is a terrorist - and leans down to whisper in the first terrorist's ear). Unfortunately gentlemen, it has been brought to my attention that this cell has been infiltrated.
Second Terrorist: No!
Third Terrorist: When did you find that out?!
Fourth Terrorist: Who?
Fifth Terrorist: Cripes!
First Terrorist: What did you say??
Beneath the fifth terrorist's balaclava, you can make out some muffled cursing, along the lines of, "f**k! f**k! f**kity! bowls!". The first terrorist tears it off, revealing, over the fifth terrorist's yelps of "steady on!", that he is none other than Her Majesty's finest terrorist informant, Hugh Grant. The other terrorists gasp. It is still dubbed.
Second Terrorist: Seamus! I never would have suspected.
Fourth Terrorist: I'm Seamus.
Second Terrorist: Sorry, it's confusing with the balaclavas.
Third Terrorist: Who's he, then?
Hugh Grant: I'm Hugh Grant, and I've recorded every word you said! Hiyyyy-ah!
Hugh Grant then knocks out all the terrorists with his karate, paving the way for the Good Friday Agreement.
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