Daily Mirror, UK
Originally published in the Daily Mirror, November 4th, 1977.
ALL HAIL, FRESTONIA
BRYAN RIMMER reports on the state of the world’s newest nation
THE sign on the seedy cafe said: Champion Dining Rooms. But it was the one below that caught your eye. It read: Free, Independent Republic of Frestonia.
And inside, Hilary Anderson-Bramley, Minister of State for Cultural Affairs, was waxing lyrical – in between smiles.
She wasn’t talking about the Champion Dining Rooms, for it’s been many a year since they served up their last plate of egg and chips, but about her role as a cabinet minister of the world’s newest and smallest nation.
But she had to talk loudly to make herself heard above the clatter of the Tube train passing over Frestonia’s northern frontier – the railway bridge at the end of Freston Road, Notting Hill, London, W10.
Earlier this week, Hilary and her neighbour made a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain – and from the Greater London Council whom they accuse of trying to wreck the life of the community by redeveloping the area as an industrial state.
They sent letters to the United Nations and the Common Market asking for membership – hinting darkly that the UN might have to send in a peacekeeping force to repel invading hordes of council workmen.
The man who signed the letters is David Rappaport-Bramley, the pint-sized Foreign Minister of the pint-sized republic.
A sharp November wind raced up and down Freston Road (sorry downtown Frestonia) as Mr. Rappaport-Bramley addressed The People.
But many of the Foreign Minister’s defiant words were being blown away over the piles of rubbish that lay cheekily under council signs: No Rubbish Dumping.
Just then another Frestonia Minister rode by – in his pushchair: Francesco Bogina-Bramley, Minister of State for Education, aged four.
Veteran political observers say that this prodigy has formed a fine team with Frestonia’s Minister for Public Health and Street Cleaning, Caroline Yeo-Bramley, and the Minister of State for Animal Welfare, Marianne Yeo-Bramley, 11 and the Minister of State for Animal Welfare, Marianne Yeo-Bramley, 12 [sic].
It strikes most foreign visitors to Frestonia that the Braley family seem to have a tight grip on the affairs of state.
That’s only because its 120 citizens have all voted to adopt the family name Bramley to strengthen their unity against the GLC.
But already there are murmurings of rebellion. In Frestonia’s frozen north – the area around 114 Freston Road – His Excellency Geoff Gough-Bramley, the Argentinian Ambassador to Frestonia, was holding court on the pavement.
The trio of women around him were grumbling about all the UDI publicity clouding what they consider to be the real issue – keeping council developers from flattening the homes in which they squat, to make way for factories.
His Excellency tried to quell their fears, and then showed a visitor around his embassy – an old button factory where a ring spluttered noisily on a shelf.
“Oh, that’s my central heating,” he explained.
South of the border, down Mortimer Square way, I found 60-year-old Peg Trigging, who had just applied for honorary citizenship of Frestonia.
But as the only slightly silly burghers of Frestonia continued about their affairs of state and civil servants in short pants processed Peg’s citizenship application, the activities caused not a ripple in the beer at the Bramley Arms, which lies a few feet across another of Frestonia’s borders.
Said the barman: “Frestonia? Never ‘eard of it. But I’ve been off for a couple of days.”
POLITICS OF PAINT: His Excellency Geoff Gough-Bramley, Argentinian Ambassador, makes his mark.
SWEEPING REFORMS: Caroline Yeo-Bramley, Minister for Public Health, goes into action.