Luke Upward and General Zia ul-Haq
One of the joys of being Luke Upward’s official biographer is that I sometimes uncover new information about the life of England’s premier but often elusive man of letters.
I recently discovered that Upward was a diplomatic correspondent in the 1980s, for the influential Noticias Esquitas do Sāo Tomé e Príncipe, while also contributing to Sirius, journal of Thinking Dogs For The Stupid, the charity founded by Beppo the Wonder Dog.
For reasons now unfathomable the two organs sent Upward to a Commonwealth leaders conference in Australia. Upward arrived in time to catch the arrival of Pakistan’s military ruler, General Zia ul-Haq. Recognizing the Terry-Thomas lookalike at a glance, Upward remarked “Ah, I see that General Zia’s here.”
At that stage of his rule, the General was accompanied constantly by a confidential adviser who guided his every decision, an eminence so grise that no one ever discovered his name. Upward saw this man scurry to his master and he commented “Ah, I see the man who has General Zia’s ear’s here.”
The eminence was in his turn guided constantly by a mystic with the purported gift of second sight. Upward noticed this figure come in and noted “Ah, I see the man who has General Zia’s ear’s seer’s here.”
The mystic was clearly beginning to feel the heat and in need of a drink. The Australian hosts seemed to be serving nothing but lager, forbidden to the mystic for religious reasons. However, Upward noticed that a kindly waiter had found the mystic a non-alcoholic version of the amber nectar, which he swallowed in a grateful gulp. This gave Upward the chance to announce: “Ah, I see the man who has the man who has General Zia’s ear’s seer’s near-beer’s here.”
Upward’s despatches were sent in a code so unbreakable that they never appeared in either organ.