Once the month of August was the month of lassitude and ‘man bites dog’ stories. Any politician worth his salt was out of sight and out of mind, the Tories on the Grouse Moors and the Socialists at Butlins or under whichever stone from which they had crawled.

Meanwhile the following communiqué has been received.

Lt. Col. Cameron has, for reasons that have much to do with wounds received in action earlier in the summer, has come back from leave bent on mounting a Big Push to try and dislodge Herr Oberst Macavity from his top billing in the opinion polls.

Sadly the Big Push has already petered out. Lt. Col. Cameron has had to go back to the Casualty Clearing Station just behind the lines so that some pieces of shrapnel may be removed. Then he will go to Battalion HQ to raise a rumpus as to who it was whose poor staff work sent him over the top without the right kit. Meanwhile Major Lansley lies out in No Man’s Land, exhausted after twenty-four hours of continuous counter-attack by the Nulabour Fusiliers. All that is known is that he is badly wounded, but whether his wounds are fatal or not, none knows. All hang on for the sound of the single pistol shot that will indicate that he has decided to end his suffering.

On the other side of No Man’s Land, Herr Oberst Macavity has found himself faced with a Soldier’s Soviet, or rather two such. The first wants him to reinstate ‘forty weeks leave for the front line’ rule which has been abrogated by Army HQ in Brussels: Macavity is sure they will see sense and will loyally give up their campaign when they understand the true benefits of letting HQ run the show. The second comes from the awkward squad, the grumblers and the moaners. They recall something about being able to vote on whether to let their own commanders command or to let a foreign power have full control of the army. Even as we speak the Feldgendarmerie is fanning out over the countryside ready to hold summary courts-martial just behind the lines, at the end of which a few will be shot to make the point that Herr Oberst Macavity does not do democracy.

Fresh back from leave in the North, Herr Oberst Macavity has convinced himself that the Painted Picts can be held at bay, though he did notice that they seemed to be everywhere, whereas on his last visit in May it was his own troops who occupied all the key points. Clearly change was needed, so he has appointed himself a new Commander of the Northern Armies who, he believes, will soon drive the painted ones back. The old Commander asked to be relieved of his duties but, for him, all is not lost: instead of being retired on half-pay, he has managed to wangle himself a cushy number behind the lines as Liaison Officer to one of the smaller Allies.

The Emperor’s Reichskanzeller, Hausfrau-General Merkel, has just been to visit the Front and she dropped in to see Herr Oberst Macavity. She was gratified to hear him confirm that these little local difficulties will be put down with a firm hand and that his staff have ordered a ratissage to scour the countryside forthwith to deal with dissenters. Whilst she was in the Oberst’s bunker, however, she looked out and was appalled to see how they were in fact surrounded by the enemy. She is wondering now whether Herr Oberst Macavity has perhaps been telling a few porkies about how the war is going. Still, just to encourage him, she reminded him that if he should happen to fail, he too will be shot, for the Emperor brooks no failure. What she did not mention is that when the war is over, his promotion will be rescinded and he will go back to being a clerk in the Paymaster’s Corps, handing out small amounts of cash to the troops as pocket money.

Over in the Yellow Camp, all is sweetness and light. This is because they are all on leave, which they are assiduously spending harvesting nuts.