17 OCTOBER 1998, Page 66


Patagonia rules OK?


RECENTLY the self-styled King of Pata- gonia, a Frenchman, with an army of four `marines' formally occupied an uninhabited islet for a day. In Competition No. 2055 you were invited to provide a newspaper account of his next annexation of one of Her Majesty's territories.

For those of you who overlooked the details of this Gilbertian moment in British history, the invader was a 73-year-old nov- elist, M. Jean Raspail, who claims to be the diplomatic representative of Antoine Tounens, a Frenchman who had himself proclaimed King Orelie-Antoine I of Pata- gonia by the resident Indians in 1860, and died in poverty in France 13 years later. The only building on the islet was a shack with a plaque nailed to it declaring the place to be the southernmost part of the British Isles. This was replaced by one announcing that it was now the northern- most region of Patagonia. The islet was recaptured by an intrepid counter-invasion by inflatable rubber dinghy on the part of PC Graeme Fitchett and two members of Jersey's honorary police force. The situa- tion is now under control.

In your scenarios the territories seized included the Clifton suspension bridge, the eighth hole at St Andrews and even, horri- bile dictu, 56 Doughty Street. The prizewin- ners, printed below, get £25 each, and the bottle of The Macallan The Malt Scotch whisky goes to Nick Syrett.

`Well, it was nice and close,' said the self-styled Emperor of the Floes, 'and we didn't think any- body else would want it.' Sadly for the Emperor and his invasion force — his brother-in-law, a man they'd met in a bar in Rio and a reporter from Tierra del Fuego radio — a humiliating repulse awaited them on the South Orkneys island of Laurie. A party of forestry students from the University of Loughborough on an extended field trip objected first to the raising of the Patagonian flag and then to the fact that the visitors hadn't brought any beer. 'It was an unpleasant half-hour,' said the Emperor, 'and the sea was very cold, but in the end the students calmed down and gave us back our trousers.'

'It made a nice change for the lads,' said Ron Truscott, expedition leader and former Harle- quins lock, 'especially with so few trees around.'

(Nick Syrett)

The King of Patagonia has been at it again. Complete with an army of 15 Argentinian con- scripts and wearing a crown derived from the horns of a Falklands ram, he last night laid claim to the town of Milton Keynes, hoisting his flag in the town centre and broadcasting seditious pro- paganda throughout the night in place of Open University programmes. A concluding episode of a series on particle physics was disrupted, throw- ing the aspirations of many assiduous students into the melting-pot. This morning, however, he has encountered a formidable obstacle: govern- ment resolve. Mr Cook, citing the principle of ethical dimension, sent the new King a fax, offer- ing Milton Keynes in perpetuity. Nonplussed, the King's only response so far has been to form a trio ('Los Malvinas') from his followers, and to woo support by having them play Patagonian

Pan-pipes outside Boot's. (Bill Greenwell) Lord's cricket ground is now in the hands of the Patagonian army. At first light yesterday the King of Patagonia, speaking from the Long Room, announced that his flag was flying over the Tavern and that all existing contracts and memberships had been terminated. Now mem- berships would be open to Patagonian citizens

only. Naturalisation papers had been taken out by Trevor Bailey, Fred Trueman and Bill Frin- dall, who would advise His Majesty on the selec- tion of a Patagonian Test team, to restore the primacy of Lord's over the rest of the world. The concept of Patagonia, His Majesty concluded, was no more ridiculous than that of Marylebone. Cricket needed fresh air, and he would provide it. Buckingham Palace sources have cautiously welcomed the move. The Prince of Wales is said to have quoted his great-uncle: 'Something had

to be done!' (Paul Griffin) After moving to the mainland, the King of Pata- gonia has secured an urban stronghold. There was little resistance at the medium-rise estate in south London. Most inhabitants had fled a long time ago and those still there were in a drowsy, even narcoleptic, state, although the King and his men arrived in mid-afternoon. The police say it will be difficult to dislodge them because heavy steel doors had already been fitted to the occupied flats. Officers are confused by their ability to move from block to block on the raised walkways. A small transmitter found in a top- floor bedroom flat is being used to broadcast appeals to surrounding residents to join them. The residents, however, are in favour of an artillery bombardment which would flatten the estate for good. The Prime Minister has said that he won't at this stage send armed troops but he will withdraw the estate's Urban Regenera- tion Grant immediately. (John Taplin) The government surprised MPs yesterday by its restrained response to reports that the royal flag of Patagonia had been hoisted above the Millen- nium Dome. 'Pending clarification, we are treat- ing this as an unscheduled state visit,' Robin Cook told the House. He added that the Secre- tary of State for Trade and Industry was in urgent discussion with the visitors.

In a later statement it was announced that the King and his entourage had agreed to move to the Spirit Zone, where he would sell Patagonian titles to visitors. Proceeds would go to causes to be nominated later. Commenting on the agree- ment, Mr Mandelson said, 'It's an excellent solu- tion to a troublesome problem. Raising revenue from the wholly meaningless is an appropriate symbol of the place of spirituality in the New Britain.'

Later unconfirmed reports suggested that Lord Irvine of Lairg may lend the King a throne