The island nation of Runovia welcomes all visitors, and kindly requests they shut the gate on the way out.

Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Kinsley Castle is a writer, musician, and certifiable nutter from Sydney Australia.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Knitting Patterns of Doom

The duties of the president of Runovia are many and varied, from vital international diplomacy to getting out and meeting his people...

It was a nice day in Beryl City -- which is to say, the rain held back to a light sprinkle -- and Prince Hector stood in the front of the parliament building greeting the people as the Annual Craftsman's Parade went by.

"Yoohoo!" called a woman with purple hair and waved at the president.

"Hello, and you are?"

"We're the Runovia Ladies' Knitting Circle, your highness." The Runovia ladies' knitting circle formed up in their ranks before Hector and giggled.

"Splendid. And what are you knitting for Runovia at the moment?"

The ladies of the knitting circle shuffled their feet and looked at each other. And after a moment, their spokeswoman said, "Well, we've been keeping it a secret, but seeing as you're the president..."

"I am indeed," said Hector.

"...We're knitting a nuclear submarine. You know, for Runovia's navy."

Another woman behind her said, "We heard that the Navy's rowboat had sprung a leak, and we just wanted to help out."

The president scratched his chin. "Is that even possible?"

"Oh," said the spokeswoman, "You can knit anything these days."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Nobody Expects the Empirical Inquisition!

In a secret office somewhere in Runovia, a grey-bearded gentleman in a white lab coat applied his ruler to the screen of a television set.

"Uhuh! They call themselves the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. It's a lie! That instrument on the far right is distinctly un-ukelele-like. This is a job for the Empirical Storm Troopers."

Oh, the fools. If only they'd used one of these...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lordi Lord

The parliament building at number 13B Pothole Street is a hive of activity, as the president and his public servants go about the business of running the thriving economy of Runovia. Even in the dead of night, its hallowed halls bustle.

Minister for Everything, Filbert Fogg, entered the presidential office and stifled a yawn. "You called for me?"

"Yes, indeed. You weren't busy were you?"

"No, Mr President, just sleeping... I was enjoying quite a pleasant dream, as it happens. And then Alf came along and fetched me out of bed. And I had to get dressed and traipse all the way over here in the rain. So now I'm soaked through. But I came in all due haste, because I said to myself, 'My president wouldn't fetch me out of bed in the middle of the night for no good reason, would he?'"

"You weren't watching the Eurovision Song Contest then?"

Filbert Fogg looked around the room urgently and saw the television set sitting in the corner. "Oh no, sir. You didn't borrow Runovia's official television from the community centre again, did you? You know how all the little old ladies complain when they can't watch their game shows."

"Relax. They'll get it back before morning. But first, I video-taped something I want you to watch."

The president bustled Minister Fogg over to the lounge chair and played the video. And three minutes later, he said, "What do you make of that then?"

"I'd say that was a nasty car accident, and I hope those accident victims are receiving all the medical attention they require."

The president stamped his foot. "No, no, no! Those are not accident victims. That's a band called Lordi, and they're from Finland."

"You mean, they're actually meant to look like that?"

"Indeed. And what's more, they've just won the Eurovision Song Contest."

Minister Fogg raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Really sir? Is that what it takes to win Eurovision? I'm humbled, sir, I truly am."

The president got up from the lounge chair and started pacing his office. "My sentiments exactly Mr Fogg. If Finland can win Eurovision, why, anyone can! Tell me, minister, we have young people in Runovia, don't we? And I'm sure I saw young Kevin Spume carrying a guitar the other day. We should have our own entry in Eurovision next year."

"Really sir?"

"Absolutely. If we can win the Eurovision song contest in 2007 that will be a massive boost to our campaign to put Runovia on the map."

Filbert Fogg nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, I understand. But I see two immediate problems. The first is, of course, we are not technically in Europe."

"Oh, a minor detail. What's the second problem?"

"Well, it's just... our nation, great and good though it is, just isn't in the same league as Finland. We are not nearly so prosperous, populous, and wealthy."

"Ah," said the president. "I see what you mean."


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Runovia National Flag

On a bleak peninsula overlooking the shipping port of Beryl, surrounded by chainlink fences and coils of barbed wire (because it was cheaper than the razor wire), stands Runovia's imposing prison, with its spacious cell and its partially equipped exercise yard. It stands as a warning to all those who would break the law.

One afternoon on Rec, three new prisoners stood in the corner of the exercise yard out of the wet and introduced themselves to each other.

The first prisoner said, "I'm here for robbing the Runovia National Bank. I timed it perfectly. After I spent a week casing the joint, I knew they left the key under the doormat for the cleaner. So I waited till they all left and let myself in. I thought I might have a bit more trouble with the vault, but it turned out the combination was the bank-managers birthday. So I was in. And I was just about to lay my hands on the piggy bank when I got a tap on the shoulder. The cleaner had arrived early. She'd called the police. I got ten years."

The second prisoner said, "Bad luck for you. And that's a bit of a coincidence too, because I'm here for tapping a guy on the shoulder."


"Yep. I got twenty years for tapping a guy on the shoulder, because I caught him interfering with my property."

"That sounds a bit excessive. How do they figure you deserved twenty years?"

"Well, the judge said I shouldn't have tapped so hard, and I probably shouldn't have used a machete."

"So what was the property?"

"My wife."

After another round of sympathising, they turned to the third prisoner and said, "So tell us what they did you for?"

The third prisoner said, "I got life for designing the Runovia National Flag."

After a moment of stunned silence, the first prisoner said, "That's not a crime, is it?"

"I should've kept my mouth shut at the unveiling ceremony, I can tell you that much. Last year they ran a competition to design the flag, and my design won. So I went to the big unveiling and stood next to the president, Prince Hector."

"Yeah, go on."

"Well, the president asked me why I'd chosen the blue ground. And I said it was blue because Runovia was cold and wet and miserable most of the year around -- except for a few days in summer, when it's hot and steamy and wet and miserable. President Hector didn't like that at all."

"He threw you in jail for that?"

"Well, not quite. After that he asked me what the two black lines represented. And I said it was tyre tracks."

"So he had you arrested for being perverse. Is that it?"

"Not quite. Because he had one more question. He wanted to know what the red circle symbolised. And I said to him, 'Oh, that's the pool of blood from where Runovia run over ya.' And that's when he caught me by the ear and dragged me down here in person."

The first two prisoners shook their heads and whistled through their teeth. "That's bad luck for you."

"Yes. And the funny thing is, President Hector didn't even notice the obvious Goatse reference."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Empirical Storm Troopers

Beryl University, Runovia's grand seat of learning, contains some of Runovia's oldest and grandest architecture. Of particular note is The Great Big Shed of Learning, which the architect built from carefully selected sheets of artificially aged corrugated iron, to achieve its distinctive, rustic look. It's a must see for any visitor to Runovia, and the progenitor of the influential rusty-shed school of architecture.

Carmel Musey, the professor of Runovian literature, sat at the head of the table in the Great Big Shed of Learning, where she chaired the annual cross-discipline seminar.

"Order!" she said, and banged her gavel, not because the meeting was disorderly, but just because she liked the feeling of power.

"Speaking of which," said the dean of the college of medicine, "when's the next course coming along? I'm famished. The starter was a little sparse in my opinion. I hope the next fifteen courses are going to be a little more substantial."

"It won't be for a few minutes yet," said Carmel. "So we might as well move onto the next item of business. Speak up, Professor of Mathematics, how have we progressed on the whole Pi controversy since last we met?"

The professor of mathematics shrugged. "Alas! Pi is an irrational number."

"Well," said Carmel, "You know my position. Whilever the Pi issue remains unresolved, we risk creating a culture of incompletion in this university. We throw ourselves into an existential limbo where nothing can claim to exist and no knowledge is possible. So, to avoid the evils of solipsism, and because mathematics is only a social construct anyway, I move that we declare the value of Pi to be three. Is anyone in favour?"

Everyone raised their hands except the professor of mathematics. Carmel smiled. "The motion is carried."

But as soon as the applause had subsided, there was a polite knock on the door of the Great Big Shed of Learning. Then a great crash unseated the door from its frame. It fell like a tombstone on the mosaic tiles. And a dozen little men with thick glasses and white lab coats came shambling into the room.

Carmel Musey banged her gavel. "Order please! If you really must break our door down in the middle of the seminar you could at least include it in the itinerary. This is most unexpected."

"Huh!" said a little man with a long gray beard and a sliderule in his hand. "Nobody expects the Empirical Storm Troopers! Put your hands up, all of you, you're under arrest."

The faculty all looked at each other, shrugged, and got to their feet. And the professor of mathematics said, "Why is that little balding chap pointing a compass at us?"

The little balding chap brandished his compass and stood with a hand on his hip. "You thought you could get away with it, didn't you? You said, 'Let's just agree that Pi equals three.' Well it doesn't. It equals 3.141592654... and a bunch of other numbers. We've heard and meticulously taken down every word in shorthand! In triplicate!!! And now you're in trouble!"

Carmel Musey shook her head in disbelief. "Who'd have thought? It's the Empirical Storm Troopers."


Friday, April 28, 2006

Big Stuff

Beryl is a thriving, international city and the capital of Runovia. And if we go to number 13B Pothole street, we will find Runovia's majestic parliament building (behind the fish shop). At the present, Filbert Fogg -- Runovia's minister for everything, and part time inventor -- stands in the waiting room, about to enter the presidential chamber where Prince Hector sits behind the world famous Oak Veneer Desk.

"Come in!"

"Ah, Mr President, I have not been able to complete my task. I have had no feasible ideas. It's entirely my own fault, and I take full personal responsibility."

"I said, come in!"

Filbert enters the presidential chamber. "The cat ate it sir... I mean the dog... I mean, I haven't finished the proposal because aliens abducted it."

"Aliens, Filbert?"

"Yes, that's right. Little blue buggers with big heads."

"Never mind all that now, I've been thinking..."

"Congratulations Mr President."

"Yes, yes. You see the problem we're facing here is that our country, Runovia, is not particularly known for anything. We need to do something notable Filbert, something that will put us on the map."

"We could invade Cantgetovia again. Or, better still, we could invent something!"

"Good thinking minister. Just as the Swiss have their Swiss army knives, we could have our own Runovia... thing. Any idea?"

"Big stuff Mr President. Big stuff always goes down well. How about we invent a Runovia pocket knife with a four foot blade?"

President Hector waggles a finger. "But that rather defeats the purpose of a pocket knife, doesn't it? Shouldn't you be able to carry a pocket knife in your pocket?"

"True sir, it might take some modification in the trouser department."

"Wouldn't the weight also be a concern?"

"...Perhaps some sort of outrigger arrangement, with wheels?"

"Are you sure about this, Filbert?"

"Absolutely! Big stuff is cool."


Welcome to Runovia


A land of natural beauty (viewable on request to the postmaster general, who opens the safety deposit box for our edification on Thursdays and Saturdays).

A land of sweeping plain (just the one).

A land of rich cultural traditions stretching back tens of years into the mists of prehistory (i.e. before the postmaster got his mimeograph machine and started the Runovia Herald).

The junior minister for tourism (and knitting) extends her warmest welcome to all visitors and hopes they have a pleasant stay (the fold-up bed can be quite comfortable, if you remember to stay away from the broken spring).