The Commonwealth of Wellon
Culture and Society
The Detective Inspector finished vomiting into the neatly trimmed hedge that bounded the pristine garden. His guts heaved again, foul tasting bile rising into his mouth. The other policemen that clustered around the suburban house waiting for Forensic weren't laughing at him, most have them had done the same earlier before the detective's arrival. Only the DI's partner seemed blasé about the whole incident, as she leaned against an ART vehicle whistling.
The DI recognised the tune, 'I only have eyes for you' a stately romantic number popular a few years back.
'You sick cow,' he accused. The Detective Sergeant just shrugged, she'd been with the Mont Royal Met CID's special Section E4 with responsibility for the town of Vallon Ensoleillé for more than seven years and could justifiably claim to have seen it all. The DI ran his hand through his hair and the swilled his mouth out with lukewarm tea offered by a uniformed copper.
'So what is the MO? The same as before?'
'Down to the very last detail. I bet Forensic will find traces of the same anaesthetic as before, that and evidence of the stun gun.'
'Did they trace the batch number of the anaesthetic last time?'
'Yeah,' She pecked at her already non existent fingernails with the persistence of a reformed smoker under serious stress. 'Came from a batch written off in a surgery fire up in New Birmingham five years ago. A dead end.'
'How about genetic material, anything that didn't match?'
'Forensic sealed both of the previous sites and hoovered them all. Every bit of human DNA was accounted for.. whoever did it must have been wearing a clean suit.'
'But what does he do this for?' His question went unanswered.
The DI had transferred across from the Quinnell Met CID less than a month ago. Life back in Quinnell was slow and most of the serious crimes easily solved. Tired of the endless litany of drunken domestic violence he'd decided to try and make better use of his skills. The town of Vallon Ensoleillé was notorious for its concentration of bizarre crimes and cluster of serial killers and psychos. The town's reputation drew them, and the policemen that preyed in turn on them, like moths to a flame.
Now as he stood outside the crime scene he wondered if Quinnell Met would have him back. Inside the house lay a dead family of four. Their killer had stunned and drugged them so that they were unresponsive but still conscious. With surgical precision he'd then carved their eyes from their heads. Shortly after he'd then killed them by injecting a unique cocktail of euphorics and poison. This wasn't the first time it had happened. Four years before another family had been murdered in an identical manner two streets away, eight years before a couple had been slaughtered in a similar way across town. They'd never even got close to identifying the killer. They'd never found the eyes.
The Forensic wagon pulled up across the street and the DI rose to meet them. The Eyeman had struck again.
The character of the Wellonese can be somewhat difficult to pin down. From the outside they seem insular, pragmatic and somewhat hedonistic in their free-time, which indeed is a fairly good description of the stereotypical Wellonese. Like most colonial people they have a strong streak of pragmatism and bloody-mindedness, however this has long been tempered by an increasing sophistication across the breadth of the country. The Wellonese have had to work hard through their history to establish their country and consequently have always loved to play hard as well. This they do in increasingly flamboyant ways, the tabloid description of 'Wild Wellon' is not far wrong in most towns and cities across Wellon on weekends.
Wellonese insularity has its roots in the developmental patterns of the original settlements. The colonists were landed and sent to 'hubs' that grew into the major cities of today, the colonists identified themselves first with their local hub and area. As the settlements matured people began to identify with larger regions especially in the Cam Valley, the North Albion Plain and New Scotland. All of these regions have their own attitudes and stereotypes which are generally more powerful than the general Wellonese ones. For example people from the North Albion Plain are sometimes seen as grasping and commercially minded, those from Sterling Peninsular as sly and machiavellian.
Most Wellonese recognise their country is an amalgamation of ideas and people from a variety of places and that it has produced a nation that is stronger than its constituent parts.
Wellonese families are generally large in numbers, widely spread in geographical terms and closely knit without being overwhelming. When colonists first came to Tirane their mortality rates and average life spans dipped substantially, in addition infant mortality reached levels not seen since the aftermath of the Twilight War. Combined with the decline of marriage at the time and a unbalanced male/female ratio of colonists, this led to most families having many children, often from different fathers. Obviously this tended to create loose webs of relations across the early settlements, composed of siblings, half-siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts and so forth.
This initial pattern of relationships tended to die away after the first 30 years of colonisation as living standards improved, yet the stigma of illegitimacy (strong in Britain at the time) has never become particularly entrenched in Wellon. Nevertheless the life-long monogamous relationship producing 2.4 children is a rarity. (Civil Marriage in Wellon is little more than a formalised 'common law' relationship and is easily annulled.) Consequently the 'average' citizen will marry two to three times in their lifetime and produce three to five children.
The Wellonese have their own particular set of prejudices. Their free-wheeling lifestyles and social attitudes have largely overcome most institutionalised racism and sexism. However the split between the general attitudes of liberal and conservative Wellonese has grown to a level of mutual incomprehension which is starting to register on national politics. Religious based prejudice is uncommon except when targeted against aggressively evangelical sects.
One increasing prejudice common amongst Wellonese is that related to their place in the world. Wellon was the first major independent colony and is still the most influential of a small band of 'post-Terran' states. Most Wellonese are immensely proud of both this and their diverse Commonwealth of Nations roots. This unfortunately has led to a degree of smugness and condescension towards visitors of other nationalities. Fortunately the Wellon character generally finds boasting uncouth and these attitudes are not often revealed unless provoked.
Other prejudices have survived in amongst communities that retain their pre-immigration distinctiveness. As a result these attitudes have lingered on in part and often are at odds with more general Wellonese beliefs. The Masiran dislike for Saudi Arabians is a good example of this.
By and large Wellon is a secular society with a majority of people professing to be agnostic or atheist. Around 100 million Wellonese profess to hold religious beliefs and 25 million are regular attendees at religious services. The majority are Protestant Christians, whilst Roman Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other minority religions are present. The Jewish part of Wellon's population are mainly followers of Reform Judaism and like the Anglo-Jewry have almost totally integrated into Wellonese society.
As with most of the other Tiranean colonies Wellon has become home to countless religious sects, who range from the harmless to the downright terrifying. Some of these have gained substantial followings whilst others remain marginalised and regarded with suspicion by local communities and law enforcement agencies.
Notwithstanding Wellon's generally secular and pragmatic nature St. George's Cathedral in New Camelot is frequently used for national ceremonies of commemoration, remembrance and thanksgiving.
Unlike the United Kingdom, Wellon has two tiers of policing, one at the local level and another at the national. This is due both to the huge geographic areas covered by Wellon, and to the original colonial policing structure that has largely been retained after Home Rule.
Each shire and metropolitan area on Wellon has its own constabulary funded by the local government and maintained to standards laid down by the national government through the various Emergency Service Regional Headquarters. Senior officers are directly responsible for operational matters to the local Police Authority which consists of representatives nominated by both the local and national governments.
Since 2265 all local police forces have been trained at regional Emergency Services Training Colleges, a measure that has greatly increased the overall efficiency of the forces. It has also given great benefits in increased integration with other emergency services, such as Fire & Rescue and Ambulance Services. Local constabularies are covered by rules governing the requirement to involve all parts of the local populations in policing the community.
The quality of local police forces still varies across Wellon, with many having their own distinctive styles of policing reflecting the cultures of the areas they are drawn from. The Doorn Metropolitan Constabulary are renowned for their laid-back style, whilst the Shorncliffeshire Constabulary have a reputation for casual brutality in policing the frequently rowdy off-duty Anglo-Wellonese soldiery in their area.
In line with British practise the local police forces are not equipped with firearms, or even sonic weapons. Generally a baton is the only weapon carried, but most police forces train extensively in self-defence and restraint techniques. However when required, for example in case of rioting, the whole panoply of contemporary law enforcement equipment is available for deployment from most main police stations.
However in situations requiring the use of firearms most metropolitan police forces have Armed Response Teams constantly on patrol and these will be called in. ART's consist of pairs of highly trained police marksmen who patrol in normally marked police cars, but who have weapons locked in special compartments in the cars. In a large city several of these ART's can converge on an incident within minutes. Some forces, such as New Camelot and Point Sterling have also brought in dedicated specialist firearms squads to deal with larger incidents. Rural police forces normally have to call out firearms trained officers to deal with incidents and consequently have a slower response time.
Whilst the vast bulk of police are 'beat coppers' there also exists a range of specialist departments within most forces. For example most Metropolitan constabulary's have the following specialist sections:
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) CID is manned by plain clothes detectives and is responsible for investigating all serious crime within the forces jurisdiction. Amongst its responsibilities are narcotics, prostitution and investigating organised crime, all of which tend to be closely related.
Special Branch (SB) The SB role is one that has only recently been acquired by the local forces, previously it was the sole responsibility of the Royal Wellon Constabulary. However poor co-ordination and lack of local liaison in operations has led to the creation of SB units in all local police forces. Manned mostly by the cream of the CID, SB is responsible for supporting WI5 in its counter- espionage, terrorism and subversion roles. Some SB sections (especially Point Sterling's) are very large, including specialist surveillance and firearms units. Whilst other sections in rural areas can be little bigger than five men, with little to keep them busy.
Mounted and Dog Sections. These are specialist uniformed branches who provide support to the rest of the force. Mounted Sections are popular for general patrolling in cities, whilst proving essential in marshalling large events (such as football matches) and for riot suppression. Dog Sections provide search, tracker and attack dogs (and Burrowvarg's) to support a wide range of tasks.
Firearms Sections. As mentioned above some metropolitan forces maintain firearms teams, such as Point Sterling's Police Support Unit, which are essentially SWAT teams. Equipment and training levels are excellent.
Internal investigations sections are responsible for investigating complaints against individual officers, and corruption in departments. They are often manned by policemen recruited from other forces, and are hugely unpopular with most rank and file police officers. Unsurprisingly Point Sterling Metropolitan Constabulary, with its (mostly deserved) reputation for cheerful and rampant corruption has the largest internal investigation team, currently known as the Serious Crimes Unit.
Additionally the New Camelot Metropolitan Constabulary also has a diplomatic protection section which provides armed guards for embassies and consulates (Wellon does not allow countries to post armed guards at the doors of their embassies/consulates something it has often clashed with the US Embassy about).
Uniformed officers wear a dark blue uniform consisting of a short tunic and trousers plus black ankle boots. Under the tunic they can wear a dark blue sweater and/or shirt of a pale blue colour. Metropolitan constabularies sometimes allow officers of Inspector rank and above to wear white shirts. Whilst more practical clothing is commonly worn for special duties the traditional 'Bobby's' uniform is a reassuring sight to the general public.
In rural districts above Chief Superintendent the senior most ranks are Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable. In metropolitan districts the senior most ranks are Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner. Their ranks are indicated by a laurel wreath and one or two pips respectively
The RWC is Wellon's national police force which is similar to Canada's RCMP or America's FBI, and handles cross-jurisdictional and other large scale crimes. Obviously this often brings the RWC into conflict with local police forces who resent the interference of the more glamorous RWC. The RWC also contains several specialist departments which do not fall strictly within the 'law enforcement' remit.
The RWC was formed in 2241 with the creation of the Dominion of Wellon. Most of its personnel came straight from the British Tirane Police, the paramilitary police force previously responsible for policing the colony. The BTP had the sometimes difficult task of maintaining law and order in the colony's early years. They faced illegal settlements and piracy in the south, banditry further north and the Hibernia Society's Tax Revolt in New Highland. Often outnumbered and out-gunned the BTP often resorted to violent means and frequently called in military support.
The creation and proper training of the local police forces gradually took the pressure away from the BTP, however the legacy of its early days still caused resentment in some of the communities. So in 2241 it was disbanded and replaced by the RWC, designed to be much less of a paramilitary organisation and concentrate on law enforcement tasks that couldn't be handled by the local police forces.
Today the RWC operates entirely in plain clothes, (although it has a formal uniform similar in part to that of the Canadian 'Mounties' although in rifle green) and operates in every major city and town in Wellon. Headquartered in modest buildings in Baker Street in New Camelot the RWC is a remarkably small force noted for its absolute and sometimes humourless professionalism. It should be noted that all RWC officers are routinely armed.
Special Branch (SB) The RWC's SB is a elite sub-group within the force. Like local forces' SB its role is to back up WI5, and provide it with manpower and legal legitimacy. It's E4 branch is a specially trained surveillance unit.
Southern Task Force. The RWC's STF is the last vestige of the BTP's paramilitary remit and is in charge of intelligence gathering operations in the Southern Archipelago. It is quasi-military in nature being mainly composed of ex-soldiers, but the effectiveness of this body has increased with the recruitment of increasing numbers of Archipelagans. Whilst the STF operates closely with the Army and Navy it also has its own specialist firearms teams, and helicopters. However it often clashes bureaucratically with WI5 who have attempted to increase their involvement in the region in recent years.
WO 5 is the RWC's SAS trained specialist firearms team. It is readily deployable throughout Wellon and regularly operates in support of SB. From 2277 the RWC took over responsibility for 'Special Project' or domestic counter-terrorism operations from units of 24 SAS deployed on Wellon. However with the creation of 25 (Wellon) SAS in 2285 the RWC lost this role, but decided to maintain the unit it had created in a slightly different role. WO 5 frequently operates as back-up for 25 SAS when in this role.
WO 8 is the RWC's body-guarding unit, responsible for protecting cabinet ministers and the Governor General. It also receives training from special forces and in term trains the BG units of other police forces.
Corporate security forces are very restricted in Wellon, and generally are only used for general security of local facilities. Corporate security personnel have no more rights than the general public, and are almost never armed with firearms. However some small, elite corporate espionage and counter-espionage teams belonging to the larger corporations operate in Wellon, and it would be naive to assume that these cannot gain access to weaponry if required.
Wellon C&E is responsible for the investigation of smuggling and other attempts to defraud the Wellon Inland Revenue. This organisation works directly for the Treasury and is ultimately responsible to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. These agents are rarely armed, but can call upon RWC support if the situation warrants it. They always work in plain clothes.
In 2260 the Wellon branch of MI5 was separated from its parent service. It is responsible for preventing espionage, terrorism and subversion. It has no powers of arrest, if it wishes to apprehend a suspect it has to use the RWC. Ultimate responsibility for its actions lies with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary although the Parliamentary Intelligence Sub-committee can also call its officers to account.
The main targets of WI5 are still the settlements of the Southern Archipelago, the Neo Communist cells active in the city of Point Sterling and Émigrés in Mont Royal. The republican wing of the Progressive Party and the Tirane Party are also frequently targeted by WI5. They have recently tried to expand into anti-organised crime operations, but they have been constantly stymied by the RWC. WI5 remains a small operation, whose attitudes are somewhat at odds with those in mainstream Wellon society as a whole.
Wellon branch of MI6 became the WIS in 2277, although MI6 still maintains an on-world presence in its own right and rumours constantly point to the presence of the shadowy RSN Intelligence Service as well. WI6 is responsible for conducting intelligence gathering operations on Tirane outside Wellon. Like WSS the WIS is responsible directly to the Prime Minister and has its operations monitored by the Parliamentary Intelligence Sub-committee.
WI6 has greatly expanded in recent years, after the independence of Freihafen caught it very much by surprise. WI6 concentrates upon monitoring independence movements on Tirane and their possible effects on on-world stability. The work of the Tirane Party is often of interest to WI6. They also conduct routine military and commercial intelligence duties, naturally WI6 also has a relatively large presence at Tunghu.
Sieges: In the event of a siege by armed criminals/terrorists the local constabulary has the responsibility to bring the incident to a conclusion by use of negotiation. It is common for RWC members to be at the scene as well in case the situation requires their intervention. At this stage if the situation is serious enough a Special Projects team from 25 SAS will be put on stand-by.
If at any time the police have reason to believe that hostages or members of the public's lives will be at risk they can call in their own firearms teams, the RWC's WO 5 or the SAS. However once the incident is over control of the crime scene will revert back to the police. In common with British practise once a terrorist group has started killing the SAS will be swiftly sent in and very few terrorists will be captured alive.
Corruption: Most investigation of police is carried out by internal units of the force in question. However is systematic corruption is discovered then the RWC will be called in, with a wide remit to root out corruption. These methods have worked well in Riverside and Mont Royal, but have still to work effectively in Point Sterling.
Magistrates Court - panel of three local worthies who hear petty charges (driving offences, minor public order offences, petty theft etc.) They very rarely send people to prison. For some offences people have the right to either 'go before the Magistrates' or else opt for jury trial at the Crown Court. All criminal cases start off here with serious criminal offences remanded to the Crown Court.(Committal Hearing).
Crown Court - for more serious criminal offences - Judge and jury of twelve citizens.
County Court - for civil cases - judge and jury
Court of Appeal - panel of five judges - for sentences passed down by Crown or County Courts. Final appeal is to the House of Lords ('Law Lords'), a panel of five senior judges who also have seats in the Lords back on Earth.
Sentencing of crimes in Wellon has always been relatively liberal since the turn of the century especially since the repeal of Indenturing and Capital Punishment in the 2220's. Sentences noted below are only a guide as the trial judge or magistrate has discretionary powers to vary the punishment after taking all the circumstances into account. Plea bargaining is illegal in Wellon and regarded as un-ethical.
Fines are generally less than W£1000 in most cases. Community service obliges the offender to help out with local projects for a given period of time. Disqualification involves the removal of an offenders licenses and accreditation relating to the crime committed. Periods of imprisonment are served at one of Her Majesties Wellonic Prisons and are eligible for parole after half the sentence has been served. A life sentence in Wellon is actually for the duration of the offenders natural life and without parole. Consequently it is infrequently used. The death penalty was removed from the statute books in 2241.
Prisons on Wellon are all run by the Wellon Prison Service and they are located in every major city. Comparatively liberal and well run, the emphasis is on rehabilitation not punishment. However some prisons have a much worse reputations, with those at New Glasgow and Riverside being renowned for overcrowding and violence. The infamous, brutal HMWP Gillian near Point Sterling has been closed down by the last government with prisoners moved to the modern HMWP Stanley facility near Livingstone.
Whilst local prisons take the vast majority of prisoners, HMWP New Maze near Riverside is the only real high security unit on Wellon. This sprawling complex is located in the heart of the Army's Eastern Training Area, and soldiers can be called in to help search teams in the rare event of a break-out. The New Maze holds the bulk of Wellon's most dangerous prisoners, and the Psychological Wing holds several serial killers. The prison staff at the New Maze are specially selected to minimise their exposure to outside pressure by associates of prisoners.
Wellon has a system of universal free health care paid for by people's taxes. The Wellon Health Service is a central co-ordinating body which brings together the health resources of each metropolitan district and shire. In spite of this the quality of care available can vary quite markedly from one Health Association to another. Private healthcare is available and used predominately by the rich and those who want to avoid the waiting lists that are commonplace with serious procedures in public hospitals.
The predominant language used on Wellon is English and it is the everyday lingua-franca. Wellon English has obviously evolved through the years and is rich in its own slang and patois, but generally has not changed much from British English. This is generally though to be an effect of the large number of British media products in the Wellonese market. Although English predominates the Wellonese are far from monolingual and many are fluent in a range of tongues. Which languages are actually spoken varies from area to area and the total number of languages in use somewhere on Wellon is exceptionally diverse.
The main secondary language is French, which is a default language taught in schools in most areas of the country. However in Masira Arabic is widely taught, in Doorn Dutch and German, whilst in Point Sterling an array of languages are available and in Victoria a recent fad for Japanese has sprung up. For those who want to study other, more obscure languages the net based Wellon University has courses to suit. Many languages are retained by local ethnic groups and are in common use in their home lives, at community events and are generally important at retaining these communities sense of identity.
Schooling in Wellon is universal, free and compulsory to the age of 18. However most choose to continue their studies after this time at colleges and university, the vast majority of Wellon citizens have bachelor degrees and education is held in high regard in Wellon. Wellon schooling starts at 3 at pre-school nurseries and crèches, before progressing on to primary schools between 5 and 11. The next phase of schooling at Grammar (arts biased) or Technical Schools (science biased) takes place between the ages of 11 and 18. In their final year students take the Wellon Education Certificate, roughly similar to the French baccalaureate.
Local schools are run by metropolitan or shire authorities and usually provided as close to the students as possible. However in many rural areas with dispersed communities and low population densities many schools are boarding establishments. The vast majority of schools are provided by the government but there exist a substantial number of fee paying schools for those people who wish to send their children to them. Fee paying schools are marked by greater discipline, superior resources and often strange social attitudes. However the divide between public and private education isn't as marked in Wellon as it is in the UK.
Higher education in Wellon is of huge importance and some 340 colleges, polytechnics and universities exist across the country. In addition to which the nation-spanning, net-based Wellon University provides even more academic depth. A major part of the higher education system is the vast amount of research that is undertaken in almost all of these facilities. In fact so much is done that the results often swamp the ability of the academic community to actually analyse the results effectively, however many discoveries have been made retrospectively in the databases of the FPK Data Net by digging up old thesis. Needless to say higher education is something of an industry on Wellon.
The Wellonese as a whole have very few ceremonies that unite the country, although many local customs exist. Perhaps the biggest unifying event in the country are the twin secular celebrations of the Calendar New Year and Tirane New Year. On both of these occasions a good 50% of the population can be found inebriated and dancing in the streets well past midnight. Victoria and New Glasgow are renowned for the civic parties they throw and well in excess of 1 million people can be found in the central districts of these cities enjoying live music, entertainment and fireworks.
A more sober celebration is Wellon Day held every 21st of March, to mark the first landing of British scientists on Tiralbion. Remembrance Sunday held on the day closest to the traditional 1st Sunday in November and is a sober moment.
On Tirane as on Earth it is a common pastime for the French and others to find much entertainment in the state of British cuisine, however the reality is a little different. Wellon's national dish remains the Anglo-Indian style curry, this is a legacy of the original BAC survey team's extended stay on world, when they began to run low on food they started sampling local meats. Some members of the team found these palatable only when covered in spices, thus starting a tradition, although today as native fauna is more acceptable to human taste the spices are not so strong.
In keeping with the diverse nature of Wellon's population a myriad of foods are available in shops and restaurants across the country. These cover almost every known form of cuisine, with Neo-Provençal, traditional French and modern Chinese being especially popular. In other parts of the country other forms of cooking are more common, with Victoria being taken by a wave of Amaterasujin restaurants and Quinnell remains a bastion of the eternal Yorkshire Pudding.
Local delicacies have also developed, the east coast are renowned for eating local fish raw and fried p-squid tentacles. New Scotland's Tirane Haggis is definitely an acquired taste, as is the whole roast Jumbuck common in New Anglia and the Lion Cape.
Drink plays a key social role in Wellon as it does in most Anglophone nations. Beers and lagers are brewed in profusion, some like the renowned Cape Dread ales mix Earth hops with Tiranean analogues to produce unique flavours. New Capetown possesses many excellent vineyards many of which produce vintages superior to anything coming out of Nouvelle Provence, although the French will never admit this. Lastly spirits are also taken in great quantities, with the local earthy whisky along with Knightsbridge produced Northern Spirit vodkas and Livingstone Gin being immensely popular. Bottled highly alcoholic, fruit favoured mixers have become the drink of choice of the young over the last decade.
A peculiar strain of New Scottish native plant was found to be suitable for tea, and is widely drunk in Wellon, and in certain other parts of Tirane. Known as 'Char', Wellonese living off world have a devil of a time getting supplies of it, usually at a vast mark up of the Wellon market price. This desperation for Char has become a feature of the Wellon Expeditionary Forces and has spread to other nationalities fighting alongside them.
Work wear in Wellon is usually fairly formal and a degree of conformity is expected in most firms. Suits are the norm for both sexes although fashions are normally quite modern when compared to styles worn in the Alician business world.
Casual clothing is usually based on fashions popular for outdoor life and pursuits, even if the wearer has never left the boundaries of his home town in his life. For going out Wellonese fashion tends to split into two factions, either quite dressy or quite aggressively avant-garde. Although the effect of 'Wild Wellon' is often overstated, a night out in any of the cities can usually provide enough salacious photos to fill a raft of shocked articles and editorials in conservative media outlets.
One recent trend has been towards adapting military wear for casual fashions inspired by the Kafer War. Standard Wellonese DPM and the redder Alician DPM can be seen worn on the young in most city centres.
Wellon has a well developed domestic mass media which has started playing a much wider role across Tirane. Local public service media outlets were established very early in the colonisation effort in an attempt to foster community spirit and developed alongside each settlement. All of the initially colonised major cities had their own media outlets catering for the whole array of opinion and this strong localised base is the one of the pillars on which the Wellon media is built.
The other pillar is the Wellon Broadcasting Corporation a sprawling public service media outlet created from BBC Wellon's empire. The WBC is broken into a number of divisions including books, multimedia and broadcast arms covering the whole of Wellon and an International section. The WBC is best known on Tirane for its impartial and comprehensive news coverage, its similarly serious current affairs and high quality drama series. Most particularly its wildly popular and long running modern policier 'Inspector Singh' about an RWC detective on the mean streets of Point Sterling.
In addition to the public service media Wellon has a large number of privately owned commercial operations, these range from small local papers to the massive Albion/Sunrise Media Group. Wellon has laws prohibiting control of its media firms by non-British Commonwealth companies and rigorously applies these rules indulging itself in a certain protectionism. Most large media companies publish and broadcast across a whole spectrum of delivery methods.
Film production is fairly healthy in a variety of locations across Wellon. Point Sterling remains the most famous, but actually takes second place to film production in Victoria. Other major studios include the historical epics producing Taylor Studios of New Birmingham, and the myriad adult studios in Doorn. Cameron has recently seen an upsurge in low-budget film making fuelled by students and graduates of the university there. Small budget films are produced across Wellon such as the moody productions of the 'Black School' based across the Wellon Arctic Territories.
Book publishers proliferate in the Tiralbion with a vast array of specialist and mass market imprints being available. Perhaps as a result of Wellon's attitudes towards higher education most households have well stocked bookshelves.
Printed newsheets are key opinion formers and most people read one or more newsheets each morning. These are usually delivered electronically, printed at home and have a customised layout for each customer. Major newsheets include the Mercury and the Hermes, published nationally and with diametrically opposed views on just about every issue of the day. The Mercury is right wing, conservative and Unionist, the Hermes left-wing, liberal and Tiranista. The Victorian and Guardian of New Scotland are influential regional papers which have strong national readership figures. Newsheet readers often include sections from other major newsheets from across Tirane and further afield in their morning reading.
The fine arts are a niche interest in Wellon but are well funded by most tiers of government and by private philanthropy. Galleries are found in most major cities as are orchestras. Opera and ballet are less well represented but still available. The most prominent venue is the newly constructed King Christian Hall which is now a major feature of the New Camelot skyline. The King Christian Hall has played host to all the key companies and performers including the Bolshoi, Halle and Royal Symphonic Orchestras as well as noted individual performers.
Theatre is immensely popular in Wellon and amateur and professional drama companies are found at every level of society. Live performances in a range of venues take place constantly with some companies vying to perform in the most unusual places. The False Harlequin Company's four hour underwater performance of Hamlet in Point Sterling being amongst the most outlandish. Plays performed range from classic Shakespeare to the ultra-modern avant-garde including the disturbing works of the troubled New Scots playwright Alan Addison.
Wellon is as architecturally varied as most of the other nations and colonies of Tirane. The first wave of colonisation was housed in spartan domes or buildings rapidly thrown up out of local materials by Colonial Engineering contractors. However once the initial consolidation of the first settlements had been completed and the first flush of wealth came to the colony a more aesthetically pleasing course was pursued.
However a unified theme was never agreed upon or even discussed and so each area of Wellon tends to be architecturally distinct and drawing upon the styles common in the previous homes of the colonists. Consequently Masira is graced by minarets and towers, Dartmoor by looming, grey stone buildings and Point Sterling a crowded, teeming metropolis with vaulting skyscrapers. Rural buildings are generally rather more practical in nature.
Sports play a key role in Wellonese cultural life and a huge variety of sports have national, regional or local leagues which are well supported as both participatory and spectator terms.
Along with most of Tirane, Wellon's no.1 sport is Football. The Wellon Premier League (of two divisions) was created from the former regional leagues in 2254, and has been going strong ever since. The Doorn based FC Achilles has been the dominant force in Wellonese football for most of that time, but in recent years Canada Park United of New Camelot have become the top dog of the nations football scene. Although the more cultured football of Achilles has continued to enjoy success in the Tirane Champions Cup. The national team though has always been something of a disappointment with only a limited success in international competition.
Rugby is also a widely enjoyed sport in the northern half of the country, with its heartland in the southern Pendragon's and Cutter's Spur. Club competition is relatively parochial, but inter-district competition is immensely popular as are international matches. The first victory of the touring Wellon team over the New Zealand All Blacks at Dunedin, NZ in 2250 was a red letter day for Wellonese sport. Another key national sport is Cricket, this is a minority sport in terms of overall participation but most people follow it masochistically, resigned to another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the New Canberra XI.
Golf has become increasingly popular in the last 50 years as Wellon has become economically secure and most cities boast several courses. The rugged and challenging links of the Lion Cape are becoming the centre of a Golf-centred leisure industry. Field sports such as fishing and hunting are popular rural activities, although Fox and Reynard hunting with hounds is becoming a controversial pursuit. Hill walking and rambling are activities that the British colonists brought with them and have doggedly continued to do. Bank holidays in Wellon see many popular walks and parks crowded with citizens from the cities out taking the air. Flying (powered and un-powered) and sailing (on lakes, coast and ocean) are also widespread.
Horse and Motor Racing are popular spectator sports driven partly by the Wellonese love of gambling. Southern New Albion race meetings however often have a reputation of being vulnerable to fixes.