Academies, Hypocritical Cant

The Marquess of Muck Lane

SŁUŻĄCY

“What’s the good of ‘avin work as a scullery and kitchen maid for six years if you’re going to change you’re profession now? What’s wrong with you girl? Ain’t mucking out them grates good enough for you no more?!”

Emily LeFevre sighed, it had taken all of her nerve to apply for the job of Chef Patissiere, at the establishment of the Right Honourable Lord Tobias Grid-Iron, but she had done it, the job was hers. Nothing and no one was going to stop her from arising like a phoenix from the ashes of the St Bacchanalia Asylum, nothing.

” I wants to work in a refined establishment what has oil lamps, shiny bed pans and flushable toilets. I wants to wear a linen bustle under me petticoats and  button up boots on me feet, most of all I wants me own bed”

Madame LeFevre frowned, her eyes lit upon the black, leather bound testament of St. Gove which lay on a small table beside her bed, “I recall your Aunt Maggie wanting ‘er little girl to go into service, but she would ‘ave none of it! And now look at her! Swishing her skirts out of doors past midnight and knocking back laudunum like it was pump water.”

“The Grid-Irons are a refined and respected household, Lord Grid-Iron is a man of the people, be ‘appy for me mother, finally, this is a chance for me to improve myself.”

“Lord Grid-Iron..that wouldn’t be the man who reduced beer duty would it? Your Uncle Jim near drove his whole family to penury because of it, his wife is in the poor house still.”

Emily snapped the clasp shut on her carpet bag, she brushed the lint off her dress and wrapped a shawl around her shoulders and bosom tightly.” I wants to earn my keep by working for the best people there is, rich people, like the Tobias Grid-Irons, you know what they say, rub against gold a bit might stick to you.”

“Grid-Irons, that’s a familiar name that is, I think your father knows an Emile Grid-Iron, works as an Ostler down at the The Bunch O’ Keys, they say ‘is mother was in the buttock & twang game, a terrible woman of ill-repute” Mrs LeFevre looked troubled, “She never did tell who ‘is father was. Ow’ much are they payin you?”

“The hours is flexible Ma, it’s what they calls a zero-hour contract, it’s all the rage nowadays, I’ll dare say as I’ll manage.”

Mrs LeFevre smiled gently at her little girl, now a grown woman of eighteen years, it was a miracle she hadn’t died of Cholera, Typhoid or Scarlet Fever, she had even survived her brother. “Well girl if this is what you want to do I can’t see as anything I might say will stop you”

Emily LeFevre choked back a tear “Ma” she said, “Before I go, may we ask aid & succour of St. Gove?”

Kneeling alongside the family bed mother and daughter prayed.

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Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

Quoth The Raven Never More (Part 2)

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T’was a terrible day at Raven’s Industrial Academy, for indeed it had been a terrible night, t’was a night and a day of progressive betrayal.”Will the Headmaster be okay?” asked little Emily LeFevre her large brown eyes brimming with tears, her little nose all smeared with soot from cleaning the kitchen grate. Master Farquar eyed her sympathetically, “I shouldn’t wonder but he’ll recover eventually, they always do” as for the rest of them that remained to be seen. Discovered as they had been, attempting to fake year four’s mole skin trouser assemblage course work. But then who could have foreseen the reckless dedication to duty of the Slop Work Exams’ Inspector, who having clambered five floors up towards the Leather-Work Department (with the help of the infamous Boodo), using naught but a climbing rope from his expeditionary days,proceeded to break through the fifth floor leaden casement window.

They had all been thoroughly scared out of their wits by this sodden apparition clad in black, none more so than the Headmaster, who with an ear puncturing shriek and his hands outstretched, attempted to throw himself upon the recalcitrant Boodo. Alas the Exams’ Inspector got the better of him, thrusting Boodo behind his back with one hand and the Headmaster to the floor with the other. The Headmaster, reaching out to steady himself with one hand, knocked over a table on which had been placed a gas lamp, which in turn shattered, creating a sudden conflagration of gas &  flammable liquids which had been carelessly strewn on the floor earlier that night. The resultant bonfire would have done for them all had it not been for Boodoo, and the Exams’ Inspector.

Hefting the Headmaster onto one of his soaking wet shoulders, the Exams’ Inspector descended the rope. Boodoo meanwhile, made for the back office whereupon he clasped hold of Master Parnham, dragging and yanking him ferociously away from the course work he was attempting to fabricate, and towards the exit,followed closely by Arthur Farquar. Master Farquar had little time for Boodoo, but that night Boodoo displayed such mettle, such steely character, that Arthur’s estimation of him rose, and he determined to do all in his power, to see to it that Boodoo was successfully apprenticed.

St Bacchanalia’s Fire Service arrived in no time at all, however, there was no little confusion as to exactly when they would be permitted to put the fire out; being as they were on strike and all. “Should we put the fire out?” asked the Chief Fireman, “You asking me?” said the Union Rep, his yellow souwester dripping with rain water, “I’m asking you. Though from what I can see there is no fire as such, just a gradual smoking deterioration of the external fabric of the building, accompanied by the occasional flaring spark” he glanced at the Union Rep who nodded, “Brother” said he “I am in perfect agreement” and so it was that Raven’s Industrial Academy burned ever so slowly to the ground, in a sputtering series of occasional flaring sparks.

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T’was on a midnight dreary whilst I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of St. Govean lore,that all at once I heard a tapping as of someone gently rapping, whilst I lay there nearly napping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Who is it?”
“T’is I, Sir Nicholas, come to warm thy sheets”
“Enter”
Little Emily LeFevre shuffled meekly through the door, both tiny hands clasping the bed pan. Staggering towards the bed she managed somehow to slip it between the sheets. I couldn’t help but to reflect upon her prodigious fortitude. Rescued from a Lint Tweaking apprenticeship at St. Bacchanalia’s cotton mill, she was adapting to her new position as a scullery maid marvellous well.
“Is cook still awake?”
“Yes sir”
“Have her send something up. I shan’t be falling asleep just yet”
“Yes sir”
She made a deep curtsey, turned and left the room. Sighing deeply and reaching for my dressing gown I pondered the events that had led up to this distressing night. Who would have thought it? Our famed academy teetering on the brink of ruin, and all for a pair of moleskin britches. Slipping my feet into a pair of velvet slippers and taking care to wrap a thick woollen shawl around my shoulders before knocking back the remains of my brandy, I left my bed chamber and climbed the staircase leading to the Faculty of Leatherwork and Tailoring.
“St.Gove, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Warrior-King ‘gainst the enemies of promise I come to thee for aid…”
The higher I climbed the heavier my foreboding. Master Farquar had been there all night, Master Parnham by his side (the devil take him!) but I myself could see no way through this disgrace.Higher and higher I climbed, as the rain beat hard against the leaden window casements and the thunder boomed overhead, I clutched the shawl tightly around my neck and hurried on the creed of St. Gove upon my lips.
“Headmaster”
“Master Farquar”
“Headmaster”
“Master Parnham” his eyes slid sideways, he lifted a tiny pallid hand to hide a half-smile. I loathed the man and would gladly have opened a casement window and booted him head first out of it, were it not for the impending visit of the exam board, the reputation of the academy lay in the hands of this plebeian ingrate.
“It won’t work sir”
“Won’t?” in an effort to ease the throbbing in my head, I massaged my temples,
“We’ve tried and tried but it’s no use sir, the britches won’t come right, no matter how much we stretch ’em”
My eyes fell upon a heap of mangled silken leathery garments.Oh dear Gove! My throbbing temples! “But they’ve been studying leather work for at least a year! They should be able to stitch in their sleep! It’s hardly rocket science!”
Master Parnham coughed politely,
“Beggin’ your pardon sir but there is another way, remember 1847? Hemphill Skinner was Master of Leatherwork then, very fond of his opium pipe was Master Skinner”
I shook my head, my headache was easing somewhat,
“We’re an academy now Parnham. A cut above all the rest, spurning the onslaught of ignorance. Why last year we were rated as an Industrial School of outstanding reputation.”
“The written work’s no good ‘edmaster, not since they banned the phonics. If they fail the moleskin britches evaluation there’s no telling what might happen. There’s scarcely a garment to be made but what l makes, leave it to us sir.”
Tugging his forelock Master Parnham limped towards the back office leaving me alone with young Master Farquar who hopped nervously from foot to foot looking sheepish all the while, as well he might. For were it not for his own shortcomings, his students might have been considerably more able.
Lightning crackled overhead and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a tiny boot-clad foot and then a flash of white rather like the tail end of a night-shirt, just outside the window casement, but in this weather? No, it couldn’t be. Surely not?
“Master Farquar” I inquired, massaging my throbbing temples as I did so.
“Where’s Boodoo?”
A look of unease stole across his face and that is when it happened..

Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

Quoth The Raven Nevermore (Part 1)

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Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

Unions?! St Gove Preserve Us!!!

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And so it was that Arthur Farqhar found himself obliged to seek refuge in the smoker’s cupboard, the final bastion of all things to do with staying sane. And t’was there in that dank, dark, and exceedingly gloomy place that he thought he heard the sounds of someone quietly sobbing,

“Hello?” he whispered “Are you ok?”

A sniffle, a whimper, a rapid shuffling of feet,a sudden burst of light as the door to the smoker’s cupboard swung open and then closed, and all was silent again. Arthur Farquar sighed,he leaned against the wall puffing on a cigar and listening to the trickling of water through a nearby crack. He contemplated the teachings of Gove.This he found exceedingly wearisome for, in truth, had he enjoyed the affluent familial connections of his peers, his calling should have been dentistry.

Tossing the remains of his cigar on the damp floor, he slipped cautiously out of the store cupboard,heading down the corridor towards his classroom which was situated at the end of the Department of Religious Education’s corridor, “Tell old Pharaoh… Let my people go… Let my people go”

Strains of the baleful negro spiritual floated towards him on the cold, dank, air causing his spirits to plummet and turning his thoughts back to the glorious career that might have been his. Each darkened classroom interior he passed seemed a hive of activity, with teachers handcuffed to their desks (handcuffs to be unlocked punctually at 9pm) and hard at work, marking books and adjusting student achievement levels.

“Tell old Pharoah let my people go…” it was with great relief that he entered his classroom shutting the door behind him.

“Mr Farquar! A pleasure!”

Arthur shuddered, but alas and a’lack things had come to a pretty pass with his career and he had found himself obliged to seek the services of a Union Rep (dear God! the very term made him shudder!).

“Mr Farquar!” the Union Rep extended a surprisingly warm hand which Arthur, steeling his courage, shook,”Art thou ready sir?”

“Excuse me?”

“For the greatest endeavour ever undertook in the history of the trade union movement as it pertains to this school, namely the recovery of thy dignity and self-esteem”

“I am sir” he lied, for in truth he had hoped to make his escape by climbing out of the classroom window, using a rope ladder he had confiscated from Boodoo Lefevre earlier in the day.

“Then shall we proceed?”

Cigars, the Headmaster’s office was full of them and a decanter of Port,two chintz sofas and floor length velveteen curtains,the office was positively palatial.

“Smells like a knocking shop” the Union Rep muttered under his breath,

“Mr Farquar”

“Yes Headmaster”

“Have you marked your assignments, reset the student’s targets, completed an inventory of all the Maths books, Latin books,French books and made sure the Woodwork room is secure?”

“Yes sir”

“And have you completed the fourth and fifth year school reports?”

“Yes sir”

The Headmaster smiled thinly, his bony face was inscrutable, his teeth were pristine and Arthur noted how each seemed to end in a tiny sharp point.

“Then pray, gentlemen be seated”

Looking around him nervously Arthur sat down slowly and carefully on the edge of a sofa; the Union Rep on the other hand strode round the Headmaster’s desk, seated himself in his armchair and threw his legs up on the table.

“Well well Dumpy Durham!” He exclaimed thou hast done well for thyself! Others it seems have done less well, particularly in this school, but thou I see art in rude health!”

The Headmaster flinched, the Union Rep beamed,”Little Farquar here has a few concerns as I’m sure thou art aware,there’s the fact that he’s been saddled with excessive marking for starters, then there’s the matter of your drop-in lesson evaluations”

The Headmaster waved his hand impatiently seating himself on the edge of the chaise longue,

“Master Farquar I too would be panic stricken if I were in your shoes” he said, pointedly ignoring the Union Rep “You’re rated as requiring improvement in all five of the subjects areas in which you teach”

The Union Rep opened a box of cigars lit one and stuffed six in his pocket, Arthur’s jaw dropped to the floor, “Wilt thou never learn Dumpy? Thou canst not think I’ll abide thee shafting thy NQT! Who incidentally thou employed to teach thy apprentices leather work!”

“As an NQT he will from time to time be required to extend his teaching skills”demurred the Headmaster knocking back a glass of Claret. The Union Rep’s eyes lit up at the sight, reaching across the desk he snatched up the decanter, and proceeded to empty the contents into his hip flask, Arthur continued to gape open-mouthed at the Headmaster who was behaving for all the world as if the Union Rep were not in the room, leaning back in the Headmaster’s chair the Union Rep uttered only one word in Arthur’s defence but its effect was electric,

“Boodoo”

The Headmaster twitched,

“What of him?”

The Union Rep chuckled,”The lad is excelling wondrously in young Farquar’s leather work classes. One can only conjecture at the potency of his distress, were his favourite leather work teacher to leave the school”

The Headmaster shuddered, the burning down of the Maths Department may have passed into historic lore but there was no doubting who the ringleader had been, none at all. Rubbing his cravat nervously he glanced at the Union Rep “He wouldn’t!” the Union Rep smiled grimly,

“He’s union now, he’ll bloody well do as he’s told, I see young Farquar is no longer cuffed to his desk, unlike the others who are avoiding me like the plague,for the time being” he rubbed his hands together gleefully,
“Now” he said fastening his handkerchief about his neck in readiness for his fourth meal of the day,”Whilst we discuss the abolition of handcuffs and the restructuring of the school day so that it ends punctually at 3pm, how about ordering us some dinner?”

Arthur Farquar stared at the nicotine stained grin of the Union Rep, “So” he thought,
“This is how we negotiate”
Kicking off his shoes Arthur lit up a cigar and made himself more comfortable on the sofa.
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T’was late in the evening when I found myself comfortably ensconced before the fireplace, my pipe in one hand and the testimonies of St.Gove in the other. Puffing occasionally on my pipe and glancing at the pages of the good book (Gove be praised), it seemed to me that I was struck by two things. Firstly, the wondrous enlightening effect these testimonials were having upon my previously darkened thinking and secondly, the distracting wailing sounds being emitted by a cat or some such (a child? At this time of night? Surely not!) outside my living room window. Leaving my seat and opening my window I peered out into the darkness,there was nothing there,whatever had been making that infernal racket had gone. Sighing with relief I quickly turned back to my book,page twenty of Gove’s testimonials, on which were written these immortal words,
“One can only move from goodness, to greatness, by trusting the good and the great”
I was reflecting upon this when I heard it again, a high pitched caterwauling, this time from outside my front door. Clasping the testimonials of Gove against my chest (for spiritual protection), I crept towards the door and opened it. To my horror a strangely clad female lay across my threshold half-conscious,
“Fifty pence for a turkey twizzler” she kept murmuring over and over as I helped her to her feet and walked her into my humble abode. Quickly looking around I shut the front door (one must consider one’s neighbours) and ushered this creature of the night towards the fireplace, whereupon she collapsed upon the floor twisting her hands this way and that and wailing all the while.
“We can’t afford the smoked salmon ratatouille or the tarte aux poivre, turkey twizzlers, I made enough for two turkey twizzlers. That will carry him through the school day surely?”
The poor deluded woman whom I took to be a parent (though she was not dressed like the maternal sort), plunged a pale, limp, hand into her bosom and pulled out two sorry looking coins.Tears welled up in my eyes, the sorry fruits of a nights work amidst the fleshpots of sin no doubt, one could only wonder at the poor quality of this fallen woman’s decision making, at the impact this had, had on her finances, I turned toward the testimonials of Gove which lay upon the mantelpiece and my eyes fell on the following words,
“Think you that without central intervention, in the matter of school lunches, people will become wicked and evil and do the wrong thing? Of course not!”
Praise be to Gove! For these profound words made me think back to the days of state funded spam fritters, cornflake tarts and sausage in batter with chips, plum pudding and custard had always been my favourite. The revelation of St.Gove had brought Eton-standard education to all along with the certain knowledge that the provision of sausage in batter was wrong, our children deserved better.
“Turkey twizzlers at least he can afford two turkey twizzlers that should get him through the day”
Sighing heavily, I pulled the woman to her feet and seated her in my armchair (I pulled up a stool), turning to the first page of Gove’s testimonials I cleared my throat,
“My dear have you ever considered embracing the creed of Gove?”
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Academy status, Hypocritical Cant

A Midnight Feast

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T’was a freezing cold day outside St Paul’s Cathedral, though the dark and gloomy interior burned with all the fervour and passion that only the presence of St Gove could engender. Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows alighting on the shabby clothing of the supplicants and bathing their upturned faces in an ethereal glow.
“Oh Gove!” the congregation murmured,
“Oh Gove” Reverend Unctuous replied,
“Oh Gove!” they groaned turning 90 degrees and tugging their forelocks,
“Sweet Gove” Reverend Unctuous intoned, opening his copy of the Gove Testament, special Wendy Deng Edition, as approved & sponsored by the ‘CarpetRight’ Tsar Lord Harris. The tatty well thumbed pages were potent evidence of his total devotion to the Govean path to improvement as the congregation well knew.

“From bite-sized learning and superficial knowledge deliver us St.Gove”

“Oh deliver us, deliver us” throwing up their biro stained palms and swaying first to the left and then to the right the congregation tugged their forelocks anxiously. For they sensed rather than saw that there was one amongst them who was not chanting from the same ceremonial testament. Madame Guacamoley, once of Sibyl Vane Academy, glared at Reverend Unctuous, her lips rearing back from her teeth.

“A bridge too far is never far enough! Grant us clarity St.Gove, deliver us from the common sense of the age. Aid us in reshaping the academic bell-curve, grant us the succour of your goodness & greatness,the vigour & rigour of your moral purpose!”

Shuffling as one to the centre aisle, the congregants clasped their ink stained hands to their bosoms singing

“We do not expect children to know their place, but we know our place St. Gove! We know our place!”
Reverend Unctuous smiled at all those anxious faces, all those tear-stained cheeks. But there was one amongst them who filled his heart with grim foreboding, aberrant that she was. With her raven locks piled sumptuously upon her head and that infamous scarlet gown, she was the antithesis of suppressed creativity,Reverend Unctuous pitied her.

“Bow to the king of nip, tuck, retreat? Never! This is wrong so very wrong! Listen to yourselves!”

Hitching up the skirts of her scarlet gown Madame Guacamoley sprinted down the aisle snatching a copy of the blessed testament out of the hands of a sleepy novitiate. The congregation gasped with horror, as one they lurched forward, but before they could stop her she raised the book high above her head her bosom heaving, throwing it to the ground, she jumped up and down on it vigorously. Some members of the congregation screamed, others fainted, the rest rushed forward as one grabbing hold of her and hustling her aggressively out through the church doors. Her hair unloosed (Reverend Unctuous noted that it hung most appealingly on her shoulders), and gown torn, Madame Guacamoley remained unrepentant, “It’s wrong I tell you! So wrong! Academic brilliance is a marathon not a sprint! Our children deserve better!”

Reverend Unctuous cleared his throat and prayed fervently, “Cleanse us St. Gove, she was among us, but alas not of us”
From the rear of the cathedral a lone sob arose.
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Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Sunday Under Three Heads

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