The public gallery of the Panopticon was crowded with curious spectators, but seats on the very front row were reserved for the wife and the mother of the Lord High President. Marion and Aineytta de Lœngbærrow were escorted to their seats by purple uniformed presidential guards.

They recognised many of their friends in the gallery – Lady Dúccesci was still recovering from the shock of the attack on her own home, but nothing would keep her from coming here today.

They also counted some of their enemies among the crowd – those who supported that movement that had caused so much distress in recent weeks. Lady Oakdaene was there, and Madam Charr. There were also quite a lot of students and lower members of the civil service who seemed to have been rallied to the cause of opposing unGallifreyan activities.

Speculation about this special session of the High Council had been growing since Kristoph had issued the summons to members – a summons that could not be ignored without risk of expulsion from the Council. What emergency measure was he going to enact? Would he accede to the demands of the movement? Would he oppose them? Would a new kind of censorship come into effect on Gallifrey? Would the borders be closed and all forms of extra-terrestrial culture banned.

Would it mean the resignation of the Lord High President himself with his foreign wife? Marion had overheard that being whispered in the foyer as she arrived – whispers quickly silenced, of course, though it was possible the conversations continued telepathically.

Here in the gallery that was not possible. There were shields preventing telepathic communication in the Panopticon. The whispers had to be out loud. But remarks about the Lord High President and his First Lady were only made by those brazen enough not to care about the scorn of others – the Oakdaene, Charr, Ravenswode contingent, mainly.

There was no procession or ceremony to this session, unlike the special sittings that Marion usually attended. The ordinary councillors took their seats below the public gallery. The High Councillors took their places on the dais opposite. They all wore official robes in the vibrant colours and their high collars. The Premier Cardinal and Chancellor both carried their seals of office.

Kristoph wore his own magnificent formal robes as well as the Sash of Rassilon. He carried the Rod of Rassilon to further emphasise his high position among his fellow Time Lords. Marion looked at him proudly. Even though she still thought the Sash was the ugliest piece of regalia ever designed, he always looked so very presidential, his head erect and his shoulders squared. Then again, it was hard to do anything else with those heavy, stiff collars. They forced a man to look dignified.

He stood behind the Throne of Rassilon, traditional seat of the Lord High President and the whole of the Council, high and ordinary, rose up from their seats and recited the oath of allegiance to Gallifrey with him.

Then the Lord High President sat and the others quickly followed suit, making as little noise about it as possible with steel tipped chair legs on an obsidian floor. Even before they had settled Kristoph nodded to Gold Usher who rose and called Lord Ravenswode to re-present his private bill for the banning of all unGallifreyan activities which had been dismissed two weeks ago in the ordinary sitting of the Council.

There was such a murmur of surprise among the Councillors that Gold Usher had to strike his staff against the floor to gain their silence.

He repeated his call and Lord Ravenswode rose, clearly disconcerted. He walked to the great table before the High Councillors and cleared his throat three times before beginning to speak. He obviously had not expected to be called. He didn’t have a speech prepared. He was halting and awkward as he opened his remarks.

Lord Dúccesci stood during one of his hesitations.

“In the interests of clarity, might somebody fetch a text of Lord Ravenswode’s Bill. Or if he wants to filibuster perhaps there is a cookbook lying around that he can read from. I’m afraid his ex-tempore remarks are only likely to send us all to sleep.”

Lord Ravenswode scowled at Lord Dúccesci. Talitha Dúccesci, in the public gallery, giggled into a lace handkerchief discreetly. Marion suppressed her own mirth because there was obviously much more serious matters beneath this pantomime.

A text was found by one of the Panopticon clerks. Lord Ravenswode composed himself once more and began to read in a voice that, at first, lacked conviction. He was still shaken by his summoning and his failure to present his case without relying on a prepared speech – to say nothing of Lord Dúccesci’s mocking tone.

As he got into his stride, though, he began to command attention with his assertion that offworld culture was diluting the unique and ancient culture of Gallifrey. He cited the case of the Opera House which had, in the past season, only presented a Gallifreyan saga once. Every other performance had been of ‘foreign’ opera. On eight separate occasions, ‘foreign’ opera companies had come to Gallifrey to perform.

“Next season, a ‘foreign’ company is coming to perform the Gallifreyan sagas,” he announced. “What in the name of Rassilon is that about? Are we not capable of presenting our own culture for ourselves? Is our Gallifreyan Opera Company so used to performing the works of dissolute composers from worlds such as Ventura or Exollis or even Earth that it is incapable of performing the Gallifreya Jubilatis or the great Tragedaia Omega?”

“Perhaps some of us are BORED with the Jubilatis or the Tragadaia,” commented one of the Councillors as Ravenswode paused for dramatic effect after his rhetorical question. “They ARE twelve and sixteen hours long, respectively. Some of us have other things to do with our time than sit in a theatre that long.”

“Laziness is hardly a Gallifreyan trait,” Ravenswode retorted. “Nor is lack of attention. Our great sagas were never a problem for our ancestors. Why are we so enervated, so dissolute, that we cannot appreciate our own great works?”

This time nobody bothered to interrupt.

“Because we are contaminated by lesser works from offworld. We are fed a cultural diet of pap. And when we seek food for the body as well as the mind, what do we have? Restaurants in the very shadow of this great building serving foreign food. We are being poisoned in mind and body by these degenerate imports from lesser cultures.”

He didn’t dare pause this time before somebody objected to the word ‘poison’ used in conjunction with the restaurants of the Capitol. He knew that it verged on slanderous to suggest that there was anything wrong with the food. He continued on another tack.

“Our ladies are wearing clothes not only made from foreign fabrics, and in foreign styles, but very often made offworld. What is the point in the recent efforts to improve the pay of our own seamstresses if they are going to be out-priced by cheaper imported goods?”

“Point of Order!” Lord Gyes said, standing as quickly as a man of his great age could manage. “Almost all fabrics employed by the Fashion Houses of the Capitol are imported. We have no tradition of lace-making. Silk is impossible to produce here. The Silk Worm is banned under the laws governing general importation of animals and plants from offworld. This law was imposed, as many of us older Time Lords will recall, after the spread of green grass to the detriment of our native red grass. The fear that the silk-producing worm – which I believe is actually misnamed as it is in fact a kind of moth – would be bad for our own moth population. Therefore, ALL silk is imported, whether it be for gowns worn by our ladies or our own robes. I know mine are purest Venturan silk.”

Lord Ravenswode frowned and for a moment looked down at his own robes. They were silk, of course, and therefore could not have been entirely of Gallifreyan make. He was forced to concede as much.

“The most serious issue is the spread of offworld literature, especially amongst our womenfolk and the Caretaker population. THIS is entirely the fault of the Lord High President’s foreign wife who funded the building of ‘free libraries’ for the dissemination of such literature. Can it be denied that our ladies would never have heard of the works of….”

Lord Ravenswode looked at his notes carefully before continuing.

“David Herbert Lawrence, whose works promote dangerous intimacies between aristocrats and their servants and put about notions of egalitarianism in which servants and lower class workers claim to be equal to their betters: Faronocl of Jodaroi whose poetry is one long exhortation against the ruling monarch of that world: The Unholy Gauntlet, which is a prose work about the popular revolution on Krol-Z: the Kama Sutra – another lewd work produced on planet EARTH – the home world of the Lord High President’s wife.”

“Gold Usher!” Lord Dúccesci rose to make a point of order. “I would like to point out that the Kama Sutra is NOT a work kept in the free libraries of Gallifrey. The only volume on this planet belonged to me. It was a gift to my father from the Duke of Xenia V, a renowned collector of rare literature more than three hundred years ago. It WAS kept in my personal library until my home was broken into recently and a number of valuable books stolen.”

Lord Dúccesci paused to let the outrage of a house burglary sink in before adding a very pertinent remark.

“How, Lord Ravenswode, did you come to know about such a book since it has never left my library until the night of the burglary? How have you even HEARD of this rare work? And WHAT made you think it had anything to do with the free libraries?”

Lord Ravenswode was disconcerted – as he was meant to be. He could not admit to any personal knowledge of the book without admitting that he knew something about the attack on the Dúccesci mansion. He glanced at his notes and skipped over a section which everyone remembered from the first time it was read as an attack on foreign marriages, with particular reference to the Lord High President’s wife, and instead came to his proposal for a Bill outlawing any form of culture or custom not originating on Gallifrey.

Lord Oakdaene seconded his motion. For a moment afterwards there was an awkward silence.

Then the Lord High President himself rose to speak.

“My Lord Ravenswode has made some valid points about our culture and the dangers of losing some valuable traditions to newer, offworld ideas. Perhaps we DO need to be more aware of our own great works of literature, art, music, philosophy. But before we make a law enforcing the study and appreciation of such things let us consider what ELSE might be unGallifreyan.”

He had everybody’s attention. Was he really going to support Ravenswode’s Bill? Was he about to add to the list of activities that might be considered unGallifreyan.

“Lord Dúccesci has already mentioned the attack on his home two nights ago,” Kristoph continued. “I would like to propose that breaking into the private homes of our citizens and stealing property from them is UNGALLIFREYAN. Burning libraries, making bonfires of books deemed unsuitable for women and servants is UNGALLIFREYAN. Harassing hard working men and women for cooking food in imaginative ways is UNGALLIFREYAN. Rudeness towards women who happen to be wearing gowns made of imported lace is UNGALLIFREYAN. Protesting outside of theatres and littering our streets with badly printed leaflets is UNGALLIFREYAN. The COWARDICE of those who have promoted the unGallifreyan movement is UNGALLIFREYAN. If such activities are included in the Bill proposed by Lord Ravenswode, I will gladly support it.”

He paused to allow a wave of murmurs to rise and a number of ‘ayes’ to be called out in support of his amendment. But he had more to say, yet. He pulled a book out from within its robes. It was singed around the edges but more or less intact. With a wave of his hand, the front cover of the book was displayed in a large hologram above the High Council table. It revolved slowly so that everyone could see it.

“This is a book saved from the ashes of one of those unGallifreyan bonfires. It is called York Notes on Arthur Miller’s Crucible. These Notes and the actual play by Mr Arthur Miller can still be read in three of the Free Libraries that escaped the unGallifreyan arson attacks if anyone is curious. But I should like to draw the attention of the Council to several passages from this book. They deal with the whole question of censorship, and of the mass hysteria that can be caused when a small group of people make too much noise about what is or is not a part of their culture and customs. Specifically it talks about a movement against un-American Activities. I don’t think I need to explain to anyone here what kind of activities were considered un-American, but you might like to consider the harm that such narrow-minded thinking brought.”

He waved his hand again and the Council was shocked by a series of still photos of that notorious time in German history known as Kristallnacht, followed by a march by the Klu Klux Klan and a rally of the British National Front, before scenes from several other worlds where concerns about racial purity had come to a dangerous flashpoint.

By the time the images came to an end Kristoph was sitting back on the Throne of Rassilon with the singed copy of York Notes on Arthur Miller’s Crucible before him. He waited for the shocked silence to turned into anxious murmurs and then for those to subside as Lord Ravenswode stood and withdrew his Bill against unGallifreyan activities due to lack of support for the measure.

“That is your prerogative, Lord Ravenswode,” Kristoph told him. “While we are all gathered here to discuss the matter, I would like to share with you all the preliminary report into the burglary at Lord Dúccesci’s home and the arson attacks on certain public buildings. The Castellan, Rassilon bless him, favours long, detailed reports, so I will just give a short digest just now. Copies of the report ARE available from his office. Suffice to say that he believes all these incidents were carried out by a group of misguided senior students and young graduates in the lower levels of our civil institutions who were badly led astray by an – as yet unknown – member of this very Council. The Castellan intends to investigate further in order to find out whether that Councillor directly instigated the acts of violence, vandalism and public disorder or if his words were simply misconstrued by impetuous youths. We await the outcome of that investigation, but that aside, and the prosecution of those foolish individuals caught in the act of vandalism, the matter is now closed.”

Murmurs followed. Everyone was wondering if Lord Ravenswode had narrowly escaped a treason charge.

There was one more matter, though. The Chancellor nodded towards a clerk hovering near the door. A box was brought to the Council Table.

“This was left in the foyer of the Citadel just before this session was convened. It appears to be the books stolen from Lord Dúccesci’s home – including the first edition works of David Herbert Lawrence and the rare copy of the Kama Sutra which his lordship was so concerned about. They will be returned as soon as full forensic tests have been performed to try to ascertain the identity of the thieves.”

Lord Dúccesci nodded in satisfaction. In the public gallery Talitha was happy to see that her precious books were safe. But she was far more pleased, as were so very many people in the gallery, that the question of unGallifreyan Activities had been settled for the foreseeable future.