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  • John M. Campbell

The Royal Bureaucrat

I spent nine months in England, first helping write a proposal for new work, and later helping program manager Steve Hertz start up the new project. Initially, we shared an office until we opened up new office space to house our growing staff. This poem was inspired by a phone call I heard Steve make to inquire about how he could transfer his American pilot's license to Britain. From overhearing Steve's side of the conversation, I imagined how the British bureaucrat was viewing the phone call.


The Royal Bureaucrat


He called out of the blue, you see,

When I was busy making tea. “My name is Hertz,” he said to me. “It's spelled as H-E-R-T-Z.


“Like Hertz the rental company, “But no relation, sad for me.”

But as a Brit he would have said,

“It's spelled as Hache-E-R-T-Zed.”


I knew at once he was a Yank, But he sounded like a crank.

I asked in my politest way,

“What can I do for you today?” “I'd like a winning ticket to “The Lott'rey, if you have a few.” His barmy laugh made me afraid.

He said, “I'm teasing. I need aid “To move my pilot's license here “To England from the USA. “For since I'm staying for a year “I'd like to fly, if there's a way.” I spun for him my favourite fiction As a Royal Bureaucrat: “Sorry, not my jurisdiction,” And was not more help than that. Then “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year” Were his final words to me. It left me proud of what I do here, Keeping British airspace free Of crazy Yankees like this guy, Who think they have a special right To fly an aircraft in our sky. I'll die before I grant him flight!


John M. Campbell

June 2015


Click here for my previous poem, The Cat Herdsman

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