All right, mate? Mind if I sit? Costa del Sol’s so bloody crowded this time of year—can’t find a seat at the bar even at 10 a.m.! That’s why smart blokes like us get here at 9:30, right? Sorry, bit rude of me, haven’t introduced myself. I’m the British Empire. Well, used to be. Hard to shake the name. Might remember the “old me” from the early 20th Century section of your history book. I was the big map. The sun never set on me. Bit exhausting really. And dangerous, especially with my complexion. Got a couple funny spots I have to have checked out. See this on my neck? Shaped a bit like China.
What’s that look? All I said was China! Wait a minute; I didn’t recognize you right off. You’re America! The new me! Or the new “old me,” right before I had my fall. I didn’t imagine I looked so knackered. But maybe you were just up late doing midnight karaoke at the timeshares. Nice condos those—all mod cons. Perfect for retirement. Persian Empire lives there. Just had his powder room done over in travertine. He does a mean “Don’t You Want Me” in Farsi.
What’s that you’ve got a pitcher full of then? Sangria? “Sangre” means blood, you know. I’ve learned a few words in the native tongue—never used to have to do that back when I was subjugating entire civilizations. Keeps the mind sharp though. Thanks, don’t mind if I do. Cheers. Hair of the dog. Hair of “el perro.” Good Lord man, you can barely lift your glass you’re shaking so much. But we all know you’ve spread yourself as thin as a head of Guinness drawn by a Chinaman.
Bollocks, I’ve said it again! Sorry. Look, I’ve been there. Coffers empty. Troops everywhere. Economy sour. Your empire’s finished. But just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I can’t be useful. Here’s how you get through it.
First off: lean on your family. And by that I don’t mean the hearth-and-home sort, I mean royals. Make the office of the president of the United States more regal. Pomp and circumstance distracts you from the fact that you don’t matter anymore. Have guards stand outside the White House gates in some kind of regalia. Celebrate the president’s birthday—not just the dead ones, the one you have now. What’s his … Bomama … Obama, yes, yes, the Kenyan.
Ah, Kenya. Mine once. Moment for Kenya.
Anyway, that Bomama family would make for a nice series of collectible portrait plates. We do them for all our kings and queens and jubilees and palaces and parades and authors and, oh, the list goes on. It makes us feel special. Softens the blow. Do up a lot of collectible plates of princesses Masha and Sally and maybe that Twain fellow. Fallen empires love commemorative coins too. Why d’you think archeologists find so many Roman coins? Commemorative—issued for the end of empire, if you ask me.
Next thing you do: get obsessed with celebrities, even more than you are now. What gaping hole inside myself was I trying to fill that I had to bend entire nations to my will when I just could have lain by the pool all day reading the tabs? That’s what my spiritual advisor Angelica—her office is over the chip shop—made me realize. Don’t even miss the bloody battles with Raj followers anymore. I’d rather speculate on what’s going to happen on Dr. Who or look at pictures of Billy Piper on holiday.
Yeah, she’s bloody worth crying speechlessly over isn’t she? Oh, you’re shedding tears for your lost ideals? You say you pissed away your Manifest Destiny? Yes, yes, I understand. All right then, if it will make you feel any better I’ll, as Angelica says, share. Don’t tell the Persian Empire this but when I first retired, I used to flat out bawl for hours. I’d whinge on about England and pith helmets. Didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt as scattered as those tapas plates they serve here instead of a proper meal. Used to sit in my room in the dark and order Chinese.
Oh, bollocks. Sorry. Don’t moan. You’re not the only one hates those Mandarin bastards. Heard of the Boxer Rebellion? That empire tried to kill me but now if I want a good pool noodle I’ve got no choice but to buy it from them. Those buggers have import/export locked up. I know. I destroyed nations so I could ship tea to Europe.
But what I’ve found as time has passed is I’m mostly grateful. Relieved. By God, who wants to be the example for the entire world to follow? And I think you’ll like it here. I’ve been looking for a fourth in golf and I’m happy to let you in on the bribery action if you want to help judge the yummy mummy bikini contest on Thursdays.
Oh that’s another thing—end of empire means a nation even more obsessed with breasts. No breast is too massive, too bouncy, too tan, too exposed for the British. You in America think you love boob. But you really have nothing on us. If you’ve never seen Jordan, go directly to the internet café by the scooter rental and log onto the Daily Mail!
Ah … there’s that famous American smile. Enjoy it; the teeth will go soon enough. But for now, a toast. To fallen empires. I wouldn’t trade retirement for all the tea in China. Oh, bollocks.