Smoke & Mirrors: A royal visit
This is an extract from How to be Normal: A Guide for the Perplexed by Guy Browning. The extract was found on this website and centres around the bodyguard of the princess and the earpiece they use to communicate with a significant character.
Marsha on reception is wearing a hat. That’s unusual for three reasons. Firstly, she works indoors. Secondly, she normally takes very little interest in her appearance.
Thirdly, it looks like the kind of hat you’d wear to a wedding or possibly the races. When I asked her why she was dressed up, she said it was a secret. I said if she wanted to keep a secret, it’s probably best not to look like Dame Edna. She clearly didn’t know who Dame Edna was so I lost the battle hands down and left her on reception applying her lipstick. She must have developed a peri-menopausal crush on a courier with a millinery fetish.
Something is definitely going on. David Eldridge, our operations director, normally wears a short-sleeved shirt with those weird buttoned sleeve turn-ups. I have no idea where you’d go to buy shirts like that unless there’s some kind of Bureaucrat Surplus store somewhere. Today he’s wearing exactly the same shirt obviously but with a bow tie. I managed to restrain my howls of laughter and asked him why he was looking so natty. He tapped his finger on his nose, which could have been an invitation to do a couple of lines of Charlie with him but probably meant that it was a secret. This was slightly galling as I am communications director of the company. We have several values around transparency and integrity, and I should know everything in the company down to a light cough in the mailroom.
We have an extraordinary board meeting today. I got in late because I was still trying to find out what the big secret is. There was one empty seat next to some woman I didn’t recognise. I was about to sit down when this woman waved me away as if I was some kind of IT spod come to fix the projector! Just as I was about to fill in a P45 for her (which I keep on my person for just such an occasion) another young lady strode into the room and sat down in my seat. Once I’d repositioned myself, I suddenly recognised a member of the royal family. Not a big A-lister but definitely royal. While we were all staring at her, the other woman, who had some kind of communication device in her ear, stared at us. Close protection, no doubt.
The Princess is on work experience because the royal baby has shunted her off the civil list. I noticed when we were walking around that her bodyguard was receiving instructions through her earpiece, which she passed on to the Princess who then said something quite perceptive.
I suddenly had one of my brilliant ideas. I popped down to the IT guys and had a chat with one of them who is a bit of an electronics buff. I bribed him with some brightly coloured cable and he hacked into the bodyguard’s earpiece. We listened in to the instructions being given and, I wouldn’t like to swear to this, but I’m pretty sure it was Her Maj on the other end. When the Princess was touring the marketing department and hearing all about digital marketing, we heard some choice language, which you wouldn’t normally expect from Prince Philip, let alone his missus.
Today’s board meeting started off with our bewigged CEO Lynton Spivey attempting to execute some kind of curtsey.
Even the Princess, who’s probably seen a lot of those in her time, couldn’t help giggling. I just sat back and waited politely. During the meeting, the Princess began to come out with all sorts of brilliant incisive ideas about increasing my budget for Corporate Comms and that some kind of large yacht would be a great idea for hospitality. Spivey was nodding and curtseying and I could feel my job getting infinitely more pleasant. Suddenly, the bodyguard took her earpiece out and for some reason looked straight at me. In the ensuing silence, the Princess made a few of her own suggestions, which were all embarrassing tumbleweed moments. Her bodyguard then hustled her out of the room. Bang goes my knighthood.