Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Empire Strikes Back

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to declare yourself a king and start your own empire? Well if you have, you've probably already visited and bought his book. But if you haven't, then there's always 'How to Start Your Own Country', which began tonight on BBC2. It features Dave Gorman's former flatmate, Danny Wallace, who began by stating that "a little over six months ago I decided to start my very own country".

Of course, a little over six months ago, King Nick's website was already up and running, and his book was at the printers. But I'm sure that's just a happy coincidence. Danny's probably never even heard of Nick. Although he does seem to frequent the same clothes shops...

... and, interestingly, has the same publisher.

But putting aside these spooky (and purely coincidental) similarities, we followed Danny on his quest to set up an empire of his very own - a quest which began with a visit to 'Sealand', a derelict fort in the North Sea, the residents of which have declared independence from Britain, and whose nearest neighbour is... well, me actually. It's about seven miles east of my flat. So if the government ever decide to retake it, they could launch the invasion from my kitchen.

From Sealand, Danny headed to New Jersey to meet Erwin Strauss, author of a book entitled 'How to Start Your Own Country'. Hang on, that sounds familiar... Anyhoo, I'm no medical expert, but our Erwin was clearly barking, although a quick search on the internet reveals that he's also written a book called 'The Complete Guide to Science Fiction Conventions', so frankly the clues were there. And once he started playing the theme from 'Star Wars' on the electric organ, there really was no room for doubt. Although clearly 'The Empire Strikes Back' would have been more appropriate.

Next stop was The Lunar (possibly short for lunatic) Embassy, where Danny met Dennis Hope, an American who makes a good living selling real estate on the Moon. He might sound insane, but Dennis has successfully sold plots of moon land to over three million people, so ask yourself who the stupid ones are. It turns out that George W Bush has bought an acre. Not a huge surprise, that one.

A quick visit to Ireland to view a castle, and Danny returned to London, where he attempted an impromptu invasion of Eel Pie Island. A brief chat with a policeman later, and he decided to change tack, heading for Salisbury Plain to enlist the support of the army and propose the invasion of France. Frankly I was with him on that one, but sadly the Major General wasn't.

Back home at his flat, Danny took stock of the situation, before finally settling on a course of action. With great flair and originality, he boldly decided to set up a website, call himself King Danny I, and claim his own home as his empire.

So nothing at all like King Nicholas I,, or an empire based in a caravan.
You couldn't make it up. Well, clearly Danny couldn't.