The sun lances from tall, crystal clear windows illuminating in squares the beautiful marquetry floor. Hushed voices are dulled by velvet curtains and old tapestries as the impeccably clad diplomats, each attended by orbiting secretaries, resembling nothing less than majestic planets with their coveys of satellites (such are as visible through one of those new fangled telescopes) drift together into alignments, spend a few moments conversing quietly, and drift apart again.
These are the well schooled and impeccably mannered representatives of the Great Powers of Europe. By effort of their noble intellects will the fates of thousands, nay tens of thousands, be decided, for good or ill, for war or peace.
Of course, they really have nothing to do with us.
Accross town, in a scruffy hall used on weekends as a practice space for the local um-paa-paa band, a room whose accouterments are best not examined in good light (so its fairly lucky there is none), a room smelling of sweaty leather shorts and spilled beer, in this room is another group. These are the representatives of the feeble, futile, weak and in some cases outright insane powers of Europe. The men here fit right in with the powers they represent, and discuss matters whose importance is only apparent in good light, viewed from a certain angle, with eyes half closed.
Near the door we find Monsignor Claude Rochambeau de l’isle Tufté-fauvette, well known cock fighting aficionado and fixer for pugulism bouts, deep in conversation with Baron Freiherr von Faulenschweinespültrank (known for his success in breeding flightless swallows), on a matter of mutual interest. Monsignor is so excited that his wild swinging of his beer stein has slopped its contents on the floor and the feet of another nearby party, a older man in oriental robes.
One looks closer. What! Why that is the Emir of Rumelia, well known Ottoman emissary and man about the harem. What is he doing here amongst the assemblage of the small and the mangy (comments about the current state of play in the Sublime Porte are not welcome)? Well, even in it’s decrepit state the Porte is a real empire and the Emir is a real diplomat; a fact that is becoming more and more apparent as the Emir becomes more and more concerned as his translator insists that these disreputable pair in front of him are indeed talking, and getting excited, about the appropriate number of pfennigs to be applied to uncooked brined pigs trotters shipped along some obscure German stream with an unpronounceable name.
Maybe he was wrong about the directions, and his entourage correct; they should have gone left at the market square, not right. The more he looks around the room, the more uneasy he gets.
What happens next? No clue, but we shall find out “real soon now”.