Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Politics, Satire

Scandalum Magnatum

Augustus_Clifford_Vanity_Fair_11_October_1873“Tally ho! Tally ho! To hounds! To hounds!” the roar of the huntsman’s bugle echoes off the ancient walls of Westminster Hall, whilst the hunters careen, wheel, and gallop after the fox who having leapt down the stairs ahead of them is now bounding frantically towards the Member’s Lobby. “To hounds!” Lords Ruckle-Smoot, Clare and Elderberry rear resplendent in the saddle folllowed closely by the Reverend Unctuous of St Paul’s and his esteemed pater, Sir William Unctuous of Bacchanalia . Their highly polished boots reflect the terrified faces of anxious civil servants and outraged porters, “What does they thinks they is doing?” complains one, “What they always does” murmurs another pausing to dive behind the statue of Lord Gordon of Umbongo Bongo, “Flaunting the rules and trampling on us wot wants merely to be of service! Well this time I ain’t avin it, fetch the gentleman Black Rod!”

The cobble stones tremble beneath the spark and clatter of iron hooves and the Hunt Master’s eyes gleam psychotically as he scents the earthy smell of terrified fox close by. “Is he near Master Brandt?”  hisses Lord Unctuous, Master Brandt raises himself up in the saddle and sniffs the air, his muscular thighs tightly gripping the taut flanks of his hysterical stallion, “Ja, e’ is near, veree near! The bugger is be ‘aynd them curtains!” the roaring gallop slows to a sneaky canter through the member’s lobby as the feral peers sniff out their prey. Little do they know it but they have been out foxed for their terrified victim has bounded into the arms of a little house maid, a country girl widely renowned for her fierce defense of woodland creatures and she in turn has indignantly approached Black Rod (fox in arms). The venerable Black Rod, (Usher-in-Chief, Personal Attendant of the Sovereign and Representative of the Administration and Works committee), lends a sympathetic ear and then, with mace in hand, gleefully strides forth to encounter the galloping lords as they canter through the sacred realm of the Members’ Lobby.

“A good day to you gentlemen! Pray tell, what misguided practice is this? What dearth of industriousness prompted you to desport yourselves here? My Lords have you forgotten where it is you ride? T’is mean’t to be the very seat of democracy, t’is the place from which her majesty extends her scepter toward the entire empire! T’is a disgrace! Nay an outrage to see you attired thus! T’is a scandal gentlemen!” Monsieur Black Rod is exultant for as the overseer of all security pertaining to the Palace of the Westminster, he knows that this breach of ettiquette is a grievous one. Long has he dreamt of the departure of Lord Elderberry, but he will settle for a suspension next term of the entire hunt (Chief Whip permitting). “What does e say?” asks Brandt the Hunt-Master casting a crazed look upon the gentleman Rod,

“We can’t hunt here is what I think he’s saying” replies Lord Elderberry. His bottom lip is trembling and his face has taken on a petulant look, such as was apt to give his Mama disabling migraines many a time and led to her confinement within St Bacchanalia’s asylum (eventually).”I’ll do whatever I ruddy likes Black Rod! Tally Ho!” but Black Rod is not to be nay sayed,”Westminster Porters to me!” as if from nowhere a legion of servants of the palace step forward, taking up position with the various implements of service used by them to maintain the house. A more muscular, purposeful, eagle eyed set of men have yet to be found in any other place in the realm, it is an impressive display and to anyone with half a whit’s worth of sense it would signal an end to the festivities.

But, a’las, his Lordships labour in their delusions of profligate entitlement, and incensed by this plebeian interference in their fun, they attempt to ride down the opposition laying about them with unfurled bull whips as they do so. Black Rod smiles grimly, for the stories of Lord Elderberry’s fondness for the whip have reached him and with mace aloft in one hand he strides forward, a porter who last worked as an Ostler by his side,”You shall not pass!” he shrieks black breeched legs akimbo. Distracted, indignant, outraged, Lord Elderberry raises his whip once more for he is determined to flay the hide of the Brigand Rod, but his act is pre-empted by his swift unseating. One by one the porters stride forward and one by one they unseat the profligate peers, determined as they are to exercise their right to keep the sacred corridors of Westminster pure from debauched entitlement.

“To your feet gentlemen! Porters escort them to the doors!” His glittering eyes seem  closely to resemble those of a rattlesnake as his gaze moves swiftly from one reddened face to another,”The Chief Whip shall here of this! Yes! Indeed he shall! And he will not be pleased!Five peers and six commoners treating the most esteemed, the most revered seat of the realm as if it were a bawd’s establishment! What the emminent politician will have to say I can only conjecture” Black Rod smiles thinly, for it has now become common knowledge that said gentleman is desperately ill and is to be replaced by the more severe Lord Smarsby, a porter coughs politely,

“Begging your pardon sir, which set of doors should we escort them out of?” a sweet smile graces the thin, severe lips of Black Rod and striding to and fro with one thin finger pressed upon them he ponders and makes his decision. “The rear ones! As well away from the front of house as possible, I will not have them defame this house with their profligate dress! Fox hunting in the palace! Whsst!” Striding off briskly a spring in his step and without so much as a backward glance, the gentleman Black Rod is gone. For there are other more pressing affairs to attend, to such as the need to notify her majesty of the debauchery of five of her lords.

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