624 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 4 JULY 2019
Croquet Club as Championships Director and before that she had worked
on four Olympic Games and the London Marathon. One is driven to conclude
from this that she is endowed with no little administrative ability.
But now she has come up against the black birds—two pairs that have
decisively defeated her administrative ability, ceremonial black staff
College Green is the acre or two of grass behind Westminster Abbey that
abuts the Houses of Parliament. It has, for years, been the preferred site for
broadcasters to interview Members of Parliament. Those journalists not
endowed with a parliamentary pass have traditionally used College Green
to conduct interviews. It functions as a haven for backbenchers eager to get
on the airways, when they have limited ability to do so within the Parliament
buildings themselves. The green has ever been a serene and bucolic
location for broadcasters and journalists to ply their trade.
Brexit changed all that. The green has become a site for protest—constant,
energetic and angry protest. MPs, who used to stroll across the green
in peace, are now confronted by an array of angry anti-Brexiters. For two
years now, the green has swarmed with uptight citizens complaining bitterly
about the U.K.’s incompetent and disastrous attempt to leave the European
This forum for protesters has attracted a permanent troupe of broadcasters,
ready to pounce on any MP or other worthy who might have information
or an opinion to deliver about the latest disaster in the run-up to Brexit.
The BBC, Sky News and ITN have even built semi-permanent platforms
from which to transmit their broadcasts. The trampling feet of the protesters
and the news purveyors’ scaffolding have turned the grass into a mud
patch. Black Rod was naturally incensed about this and decided to have the
broadcasting platforms removed. To this end she drafted an encyclical
ordering the BBC, ITN and Sky News to remove their broadcasting platforms
without delay. The broadcasters had explained at some length their
need to keep the scaffolding. It was to no avail. Black Rod was adamant. The
platforms had to go.
But the actual order was never delivered to the broadcasting companies.
Towards the end of the first week in February, the BBC’s Canadian satellite
transmission engineer reported for work at College Green, half expecting to
find his transmission platform demolished in obedience to Black Rod’s command.
He was met by John Wilmot, the BBC engineer in charge. “Hey Kiffa,
guess what. We’ve had a blessing from the gods of broadcasting. We won’t
have to remove our platform.” “Why not?” came the puzzled response.
“Well, two pairs of black birds have built nests underneath our rig. You