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BOB WAKEHAM: The throne speech that never was

Judy Foote was installed as the province's 14th lieutenant-governor during a ceremony in the House of Assembly on May 3. - SALTWIRE NETWORK FILE PHOTO
Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote. Her husband, Howard Foote, is in the background. In his column, Bob Wakeham writes the speech that Foote never gave. — Telegram file photo

Back by popular demand — or, if that’s not entirely true, then as a means of exploring a selfish agenda of irreverence — it’s time for our regular alternative version of the throne speech, the government public relations document that usually breaks records for syrupy platitudes, empty pieces of verbiage compiled by subservient flacks, and delivered, syllable by syllable, by the local representative of that soap opera crowd across the pond in London.

 

I’m sure every single soul in the province was paying rapt attention the other day to Judy Foote, the chief resident these days of Government House, as she played puppet for Minority Man Ball and his crowd of uptight MHAs. But here’s another rendition:

Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Assembly:

First of all, I bring you greetings from Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen would have loved to have been in St. John’s herself, to have escaped the British tabloids and to have rested her weary white head on a four-posted bed in her Oldest Colony, but she’s been busy keeping her two daughters-in-law from scratching each other’s eyes out. Mr. Speaker, I was talking to Elizabeth just the other night (we’re on very familiar terms), and she sounded quite exasperated.

…it’s time for our regular alternative version of the throne speech, the government public relations document that usually breaks records for syrupy platitudes…

“My God, Judy, the two of them are like Veronica and Betty from the Archie comics,” she said. “When they’re not making god-awful headlines, they’re hen-picking my two fine, balding grandsons.”

Elizabeth also confided in me, Mr. Speaker, that her recent audience with U.S. President Donald Trump was the visit from hell.

“It was like conversing with one of my corgi dogs,” she said, “except my beloved corgis have better manners at the dinner table.”

Elizabeth said Mr. Trump tried desperately and fruitlessly to sound like a world leader.

“He referred time and again, for instance, to our ‘Biscuit’ problem,” she told me. “And I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was ‘Brexit,’ not ‘Biscuit.’”

As for Mrs. Trump — the First Lady — according to my friend Elizabeth, said absolutely nothing during her time in jolly old England except: “Yoo-hoo! Does everyone like my hat?”

Before hanging up abruptly (realizing I had reversed the charges), the Queen summed up her present state of mind: “Any time Charles wishes to end his environmental causes, ridding the globe of plastic bags and the like, to head up this monarchy, he’s welcome to it.”

I could have sworn I heard her mumble something along the lines of “take this job and shove it.” Quite unqueen-like, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I digress. I’m afraid I have strayed dramatically from the script.

Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Assembly:

This is a strange lot I see in front of me, Mr. Speaker. If I had my band, the Burin Buckos, here with me, I’d be tempted to belt out: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I got carried away again. But you have to admit, Mr. Speaker, that we’ve never seen the like of this in a long time, a government ordering me to encourage all of you to “work together and find common ground.” Good luck with that, Mr. Speaker. The first twinge of weakness on government’s part, Mr. Speaker, and they’re toast.

“Be vewy, vewy careful,” as Elmer Fudd would put it, Mr. Speaker.

Oops, sorry again, Mr. Speaker. I’m off on another tangent. But while there, Mr. Speaker, I may as well take advantage of this exalted post and express public outrage with the insinuation that I may have compromised this highly paid ceremonial job during the recent election. Look, Mr. Speaker, I know I’m a former Liberal MHA and MP, and that people say I got this appointment because of my political connections, but it was just a coincidence that I was in my old district during the election campaign. I was doing the business of the Queen’s representative. Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it, all you critics out there, especially that saucy Mr. Crosbie. Oh my God, I’ve lost it again, Mr. Speaker. Won’t happen again.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

As you all know, this lieutenant-governor’s job of mine has an itinerary in which tea and crumpets are a common denominator, but lest you forget, I could be playing a significant role in the very near future, a role in all your futures, in fact.

Because one day soon I may look out my lace-curtained bedroom window and see Minority Man Ball trotting up that long driveway of mine, perhaps sobbing a bit, his appearance uncharacteristically dishevelled, with Ches (the Moose Man) Crosbie walking just behind, laughing like a crazed hyena. And hiding among my rose bushes might be Alison Coffin — she of the instructive clamour, “It’s Alison-with-one-i Coffin, that’s my name, damn it all!” — along with Paul Lane, the floor walker, and Eddie Joyce, the job facilitator.

Oh my, Speaker. They may all wish to bend my ear. I may have meaning.

I can’t wait, Mr. Speaker. Please, b’ys (and girls), bring it on.

Oops! Off script again. Big time.

But I’ll end the way all throne speeches do here in Newfoundland, with an invoking of God’s blessing. Not that that’s worked for little old Newfoundland in the past, Mr. Speaker.

Our mascot, after all, is now the muskrat.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Assembly.

Bob Wakeham has spent more than 40 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador. He can be reached by email at bwakeham@nl.rogers.com


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