Rattler’s Tale #9

by Anthony North
Friday Fictioneers
Poets & Storytellers United
The Sunday Muse
in association with

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart


‘You never got involved in Nam, did you?’ said the US veteran.
The Brit veteran said: ‘No. We were too busy.’
‘Doin what?’
‘Giving back our empire – and fighting the Commies who tried to take over.’
‘Where was that, then?’
‘Malaya, Borneo, as well as parts of Africa and the Middle East.’
‘How come we never heard much of them?’
‘Because in the main we were successful.’
‘How? Did you have some secret weapon like bombs or Agent Orange?’
‘Of a sort.’
‘What was that?’


And here we are at Ad Hoc County Launch Site.

We’re all excited by the turn of events.

Following many false starts and redesigns we’re ready for blast off.

Indeed, Eton Must is piloting the prototype himself.

We asked him if the new fuel would be powerful enough.

‘Of course! I went back to the beginning for the idea.’

He elaborated: ‘But we don’t need as much hot air as Poe’s balloonist.

‘The only danger is it may be too explosive.’

We asked him what he meant.

‘Well, it was collected from the President’s breath during his speeches.’

83 comments on “Rattler’s Tale #9

    1. By pressed I assume you mean national service, which most western countries indulged in at the time. Yes, they got very dirty indeed, I agree. But bit by bit the British strategy of Hearts & Minds, befriending and helping villages, denying the communists of the ‘sea of humanity’ to assist them, won the day.

  1. The benefit of hindsight. Of course the trouble now is that we Brits still think and act like we have an Empire when the rest of the world has moved on.

    1. We’re an insignificant island with a medium population, but just a few of British achievements and ideas, or Brits, that have become globally iconic. King Arthur, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Doctor Who; Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontes, Agatha Christie; liberal democracy, inalienable rights, separation of powers, empiricism, penal reform, the English language, modern capitalism, industrialisation, the two Elizabeths; universal gravitation, natural selection, DNA, proof of relativity, the world wide web; the Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zep; the NHS is the world’s 5th largest employer and the Commonwealth covers a 3rd of the world’s population. And yes, we have much to be ashamed of (the world’s largest slave trader and drug trafficker), but with such an inheritannce, I think we can be allowed a touch of conceit and arrogance.

  2. Having lived and travelled in ex-Empire countries, you are quite right, Anthony. Whatever history may say about the ‘rightness’ of the British Empire – or any of the many other countries which ruled over others – at least the British did their best to help ‘their’ countries return to independence. You only have to look at the Commonwealth to see how many countries wanted to maintain strong links with Britain which says it all really.
    Nicely done!

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    1. Indeed, but all volunteers. Rather than bomb villages, we treated their sick, provided food – starved the communists of the ‘sea of humanity’ they thrived on.

  3. Very interesting, Anthony. My dad was called up for Viewnam out of the lottery we had here in Australia. However, he was injured in a car accident and was medically unfit to go. I often wonder how different things would have been if he’d gone.
    Best wishes,

    1. Colonialism, I definitely agree with you, but personally I think it was right to stand up to the likes of Napoleon and Hitler, and do what we could to help the old colonies.

  4. England and America do indeed have a great deal in common–including the slavery thing. I have a son who lives in England, and enjoyed visiting him and has wife last summer. England has always called to me. We’re related, after all 🙂

    1. Strangely enough, the first administration in the region after WWII was British. As the region was known as French Indo China, when the French got their act together, we handed it over. Whereas the British resolved to work for independence of the colonies, the French decided to keep theirs, resulting in the tragedy of Vietnam, and later their other major colonies, Algeria and Syria.

  5. I think the American never heard of them because they were not involved… They only know about the countries they fought (I am generalising, I know).
    Well done, Anthony

      1. I enjoyed your tongue-in-cheek irony in both pieces, Anthony. That’s the joy of British humour, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But seriously, for a tiny island, we’ve had a lot of debts and guilt, but we’ve attempted to support the countries that were part of the Empire to get back to independence. It’s just as shame that the current government can’t see that, now this little island is on its own, it does need allies. Sadly, there remains a vein of Empire mentality and arrogance, which makes some people behave like we still have one. But you are right, Anthony, about British achievements and our global icons. I chuckled when I read the name ‘Eton Must’, ‘we don’t need as much hot air as Poe’s balloonist’ and ‘it was collected from the President’s breath during his speeches’. And I’d like to reiterate that Led Zeppelin is an English band, as are Black Sabbath, Free, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream, and so many other great bands that set the tone of the sixties and seventies.

        1. Thanks for that, Kim, and as I was a 70s rock guitarist (just a local band), I’ll add to the list – The Who, The Kinks, The Hollies, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Queen, Pink Floyd …

          1. How on earth did I forget Deep Purple? Oh, and I also forgot the Hollywood Brits – Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, 3 of the 4 main stars of Gone With the Wind, Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock and Ridley Scott.

  6. And still in many many countries rulers fight to maintain control, maybe it is human nature. Even many doctors build empires these days. But I did enjoy the dialogue

    1. Yes, this tends to happen when a country is Top Dog. Britain had a very similar attitude in the 19th century when we were the only super power.

  7. I like your “Blast Off” write, Anthony. I am not a trump admirer and his hot air is made up of lies and exaggerations. Those might sink your flight craft.

  8. This was a ride…thanks for the laugh at the end–although it seems less and less funny that his rhetoric should continue to blow up others rather than himself.

  9. I loved the final satirical reference to the sorry excuse we have for a leader at a time when we need a man of honor and integrity the most! Great write.

  10. I smiled at the president’s breath. I was seriously reading before that part
    Happy Sunday, thanks for dropping by my sumie Sunday today


  11. Anything taken from our president’s breath would be poisonous, and too flat and sterile to explode. I would think. Love this witty exchange full of history and snark.

  12. haha i liked the exchange between the US and the British soldier. i have often been involved in such conversations but this time not related to military feats but with personal activities. I always would lose, haha. great write, great work!

  13. We are quite myopic when we look through a prism of our own making. Thanks, Anthony for sparking that thought and a brief history lesson. My ancestors left the empire more than two centuries ago. They may have been driven out, I’m not sure.
    I’m a bit partial to Manfred Mann Earth’s Band. In particular the song “Stranded (In Iowa).” I’m sure there’s a reason why…

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *