This season’s king lives at number forty-seven Malcroft Road. He must rely on favours; his bank accounts were frozen on inauguration. Of course, there are many who would offer favours to a king, but they are seldom the favours he desires: hot, salty chips, with the right mixture of crunch and softness, the better part of a good bottle of New Zealand pinot, an uninterrupted couple of hours to watch the Swans.
Of course, for his sins, he must hold court. Anyone, but anyone, is allowed to petition him, not least the other residents of Malcroft Road who have genuine concerns about road congestion and noise.
Janelle from number forty-nine sneaks in the back door and makes him a cup of tea much as she has always done. It is her right to do so.
The King has some powers, of course, but even in this small kingdom, bureaucracy is a slow, ungainly thing, easily sunk, and too often aimed in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, he manages to find the homeless somewhere to sleep at night. He grants everyone a living wage. Not much. Enough. He turns banks into gardens and taxes into community service obligations. He encourages barter.
He can’t do anything about the Jorai’s missing cat, or the sadness of Arjun Bahti.
He can give Mrs Winardi an easier death; he can make sure the Bancroft’s children have proper meals and enough to pay for school excursions.
He revamps education funding. Public schools no longer have to beg for payments. He gives whatever money is left to libraries, to hospitals, to wildlife corridors.
He marches in the pride parade; he welcomes refugees. He makes sure everyone can see a tree wherever they might be. He champions climate scientists and shuts down as many coal mines as he can.
Two years in he is exhausted, but at least he tried.
Janelle thinks so too.