Page 4 of 6
Part Four - How to knock the General Election result off the front page
So, we'd mailed the second press pack, shown them the photographs, announced the Day of Action...
Would anyone bite?
The first inkling of a close encounter of the molar kind came the next day. I received a phone call from the Sunday Bastard reporter who'd twisted my words the previous month. 'Are you planning anything new for next week's Rag Week?' he asked. 'Anything major?'
I bit my tongue. I could feel a surge of cutting sarcasm approaching critical mass. I could have said, 'like gambling all the charity money on the favourite in the Grand National.' But that wouldn't have qualified as sarcasm as we had actually discussed the matter the previous week at a Rag meeting. Cedric, in a flash of non-train related thought, came up with the idea that we should put the lot on Escargot at 8-1. We laughed. Two weeks later Escargot romped home at 8-1 proving that not only truths can be uttered in jest but cunning plans too.
Anyway, back to the phone call. 'No,' I replied, 'just the stuff I told you about.' All this said with an air of casual indifference while thoughts of 'I am not a revolutionary freedom fighter' were beamed down the phone line.
He phoned the police next. Which brings me to note number five to all prospective revolutionary leaders - first, get the police on your side.
Something we'd done on Day One. Cleverly arranging a meeting with the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary to talk about Rag Week - the times, the dates, the route we were proposing for the parade of floats, the ... er insurrection.
Always a sticky moment I find - bringing up one's plan to ferment revolution, storm castles, seize bridges and commit the odd treason or two in front of the local constabulary. But they took it very well. 'It's just a small revolution,' I added. 'Only the one country.'
'And it is for charity.'
Not only did they sanction the revolution - as long as we kept them informed at every step - they agreed to play along - especially with the Press. They'd tell anyone who asked about the FCA that they were fully aware of the situation and an investigation was underway. Something told me they might have had similar experiences with the Sunday Bastard as had I.
So, on the Thursday there was this small matter of a General Election - Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, the miners - you might have heard about it. Close result, everything pointing to another election having to be called within months. You can imagine what the headlines would be the following Sunday.
Wrong! The Sunday Bastard had only one story on their front page - 'THE WEST'S SECRET ARMY' - and a huge picture of four masked freedom fighters charging over a hill. More on pages 2, 3, 5 and seven.
The nationals picked it as well - on the inside pages but prominent. Everyone loved the 'torches of freedom' sentence. But not many printed the photo. In hindsight - note number six to all revolutionary leaders - we should have sent the tabloids pictures of the FCA bare-breasted Amazon brigades. In which case we'd not only have received a front page spread but probably had them switching their allegiance from the main political parties in favour of those 'plucky buxom Cornish gals and their just struggle.'
But that's nit picking, for The Free Cornish Army had arrived. Stage One - credibility - had been achieved. We were headline news, the major topic of conversation on local radio and ready to implement Stage Two. The Day of Action.