Academies, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Of Black Holes & Endless Rapture

5690T’is more than eight years since the Silk Mill Riots of Grid-Iron Square and the overthrow of Lord Montaperti and his cronies. T’is less than five years since, at the urging of its constituents, the Union Rep was first elected Member of Parliament for Bow & Bromley. In that time he has scaled many a mountain of Tory opposition and with the help of his enraged Liberal comrades righted many a wrong. And by god if there isn’t such a wrong to be righted here in the midst of this education board, if he might but be allowed to sniff it out! Clearing his throat and getting to his feet the Union Rep examines the placid countenances of the men sat before him.

The air is redolent with the fragrant smoke of their Cuban Cigars, paid for by the blood and sweat of their workers no doubt. And yet for all that, when it comes to the proliferation of Industrial Academies for the training of their workers’ children, these education board members have plainly shown they have a conscience.

“Gentlemen, I would speak to you all on the matter of Molten Tussock Academy”

A look of puzzlement alights upon the flushed faces of the Bow & Bromley Education Board. Molten? Tussock? Would that be the name of  one of their schools? Glancing across the table on which sit several decanters of port and the remains of a prodigious luncheon,the Union Rep can make out the indolent face of Lord Elderberry who yawningly replies,”Molten Tussock Industrial Academy I think he means. Yes and what of it?”

And at this, this acknowledgement that such a school exists the Union Rep feels his heart skip a beat, so far so good. “T’is ten months since Molten Tussock Industrial Academy was inspected and nigh on twelve since Master Parnham’s inspection report was due; where is it and where is Master Parnham?”

“Master Parnham? The Mole Trouser Stretching Master? T’is hard to say, I’m told that from time to time he resides at Bethlem Asylum”

“Bethlem Asylum? He has not been seen there for some time, in fact since he undertook to inspect Molten Tussock he has not been seen at all”. Does the smile on Lord Elderberry’s gaunt face seem a little strained? Or is that just the Union Rep’s impression? He continues,”Indeed it is almost as if Master Parnham has fallen off the face of the earth and I could almost believe this to be the case, were it not for little Monty Eckard”

“Monty Eckard?” replies Master Dimmott a concerned look on his face, for the child’s parents and grandparents are some of his best Iron Slitters.

“Aye! The poor child has travelled many miles (and in fear of his life!) over Bow Creek Way and Bromley Marsh on foot and with much troubling news of Molten Tussock”.

“How so?”

“T’would be best if I allowed Master Eckard to recount his experiences to you all” he looked at all gathered there balefully,”Mayhap thou mightst decide what t’would be best to do…in the circumstances. Lydia?”.

“Yes Sir?”

“Fetch in Monty Eckard will thou lass?”

“Yes Sir” curtseying smartly the serving maid leaves the room for a moment,briskly re-entering with a little pinch faced boy trailing in her wake and loudly singing an infamous little ditty.

“Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Up on the mountain Sweet Gove spoke,

Out of his mouth came fire and smoke!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray! ”

Master Dimmott’s gentle inebriation is soon dissipated by a surge of anger,of outright indignation that only the singing of such a song can provoke. Other board members are disturbed by the sight of this eight year old child swaying hypnotically from side to side, his eyes half-closed his left hand clasped to his be-jacketed breast as if he were swearing an oath to some unknown deity.

“Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Everytime I feel the plumb-line moving on my heart I pray!

Up on the mountain Sweet Gove spoke,

Out of his mouth came fire and smoke!”

The Union Rep fixes Lord Elderberry with a sour smile, his Lordship squirming uneasily in his seat daren’t speak. Reaching down to the child swaying gently at his feet Master Dimmott seats him carefully upon his lap encouraging him to partake of the slice of pie left untouched upon his plate.”T’is Master Dimmock! Gove be praised! Thank ee Master Dimmock!” but the poor gentleman is more dismayed and more horrified than when the child had first begun to sing! The Union Rep sitting down alongside him and in front of the child disingenuously asks,

“T’is a beautiful song that you sang for these gentleman here, pray child what is it called?”

“T’is called the litany of Sweet Gove sir”

“And who taught it thee?” he asked,

“Reverend Tout-Puissant”

“Reverend Tout-Puissant?”

“Yes Sir, t’was the litany what we sung to Master Parnham as he was running into the Slitting Iron Tower”

“Why was he running child?”

“Reverend Tout-Puissant called him an unpatwi’otik heathen and tried to shoot him!”

“The litany of Sweet Gove! Heaven forfend!” declares Master Dimmock clenching his right fist,and he is not alone for several other industrialists at the table are similarly incensed. Lord Elderberry however, seems as one struck dumb and the Union Rep favours him with a fierce look. “Molten Tussock is non-denominational is it not gentleman?” the Bow & Bromley Education Board nod vigorously,

“Then gentleman t’were time it were paid a visit and I know just the gentlemen to send!”

Mother's Last Words c1876 illustration

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Delectatio Morosa

nocharity (2)

“Is his Mibs doing the rounds tonite?”

“Just turned down Cobblers Row get a move on girl! You’ll catch him yet!”

Skittles plucks up her already too short skirts till her crisp white bloomers show almost to the knee and streaks down Bell End Rd turning into Cobblers Row. Hobbling along on his walking stick his Lordship has paused midway on his journey, to have congress with a drunken street walker and two little girls. Another eye rolling situation so far as Skittles is concerned, for his Lordship has an unnerving habit of taking up causes that he would do better not to trifle with, and this is such a one.

A drunken whore wending her way down an infamous street in the dead of night? And with two young silk mill workers? There can be little guessing what she has in mind for them! And has iz Mibs checked the darkened alleyways for lurking pimps? Az e eck! Blowing shrilly through her fingers so that his Lordship twitches and his back stiffens she shrieks “Oi! Oi! Lord Gladstone! Iz Lordship oi!”

There are many back roads to be found from the gates of the Houses of Parliament to Soho and this is his favourite. The Turkey Twizzlers are a delight to smell and taste, and the countless conversations he has had with bloater sellers, market stall holders, cabmen and road sweepers have proved highly informative. Particularly when formulating policy in the Palace of Westminster. The only poison tainting his unbridled joy at the highways and by-roads of London is that overflow of unbridled misery, prostitution. And tonight is no exception,”You would sell these children? And for what purpose?” he poses this question (with his hands softly clasped upon his cane) as gently as if he were talking to a fellow member of the house.

“Would you buy them? I can’t feed them no more, they’ve been laid off orf the mill, I needs must eat”. A cunning look passes over her raddled features as she says this for it is clear that she has not eaten in some time, gin being her staple diet. “Why you could live like a prince off their earnings…once they’ve been fed,will you take em?” asks the child-seller, her words afloat on a vaporous sea of cheap gin, “Thruppence for each of em!There’s plenty of work in em you won’t be disappointed!”. The Right Honourable William Gladstone, Member of Parliament for Newark shudders inwardly and, rummaging in his trouser pocket soon comes up with the ‘two sets of thruppence’ requested. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the two children are his. Sold to him with less warmth than an African slave upon an auction block.

“A distressing occurence!” he mutters to himself, “And what to do about it? They are too young to be taken to the House of St Barnabas and I don’t see how I can welcome them into my home with out inviting scandal, what to do, what to do, what to do…”

Skittles observing his dilemma thanks god for a cove as soft in the head as this one, she espies a large meal and a warm bed in the offin, if she’s congenial enough.

“How old is they? They looks to be about ten to me” asks she, staring intently at the drugged countenances of the newly purchased children. “Is the age of relevance?” inquires the naif-like politician as much out of irritation as ignorance. “Younger than ten and they’ll arrest you” she states matter of factly, “you may do as you wish if they’s older”.

“How old?”

“Twelve”

“Dear God!Thrust by the tidal wave of degeneracy, into the ocean of depravity, at so young an age? We must save them! Quick! Take them down Bottle Alley and up Bell End Road, I have a hansom cab waiting”.

“For ow much?” she replies, “Creepin roun them back roads with them two they’ll be wonderin’ what I’m a doin thin! There’s risk in it” and she that has spent many a night down in the police cells as punishment for iniquitous wanderings should know.

“Two shillings, a good meal and a lengthy talk against the dangers of prostitution once we arrive home”

“Done!”

It had been a warm summer’s night when first he had strolled out of the Palace of Westminster and headed in the direction of Soho. And yet it feels to him, as if all possible joy and warmth had leeched out of that part of the world that is Soho. “To be reduced to selling one’s children, how terrible!”

Skittles shakes her head angrily,”Hark at you! Sellin one’s children! What makes you think them kids is ‘ers? What makes you think this life is so terrible? I’ve known more Gonophs transported fore they was twelve, than I have Blowens imprisoned for plying their trade. T’is not nearly so bad as you’d make out!”.

“But why must the choice always be thieving or whoring? There are positions a-plenty in London why must the choice always be so morally bleak!”

“I goes to confession every Sunday morn at St-Tobias-in-the-North! I ain’t so morally bleak as you think!”

They walk on in silence tugging the two young girls along behind them down squalid streets awash with sewage; past half dressed women tugging drunken men in through half-open doors. The dark streets are lit up by open pub doorways in which affable customers lounge, they sparkle with the strewn shards of smashed beer glasses. Skittles and Mr Gladstone hurry on, stepping carefully around stinking puddles of gin and the various cross-eyed brutes immersed in beating rogue ‘customers’.

They walk quickly through the dark averting their eyes whenever it is expedient to do so, for there are only so many sin steeped souls a man can redeem on any given night. Striding quickly down Bell End Road they are soon safely esconsed within the Hackney Carriage that will ferry them to a neighbourhood of clean, well-lit streets and respectable homes full of vast well-stocked pantries. Mr Gladstone is elated, that is till he catches himself gazing a little too long at the laced up bows on Skittles begrimed ankle boots, there will he thinks guiltily, be more than one confession to make in his diary tonight.

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Academies, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Warped & Wove For Public Wear

404873

Dear Reader, you will be sensible of the stark contrast between the cherub cheeked child, frolicking on the lawn of Osbourne House and the severe looking man (the Baron Von Hassleburke) laying out his and the Prince’s plans for the little sailor boy’s future.

“He must be kept apart from all children of course and his mind and character moulded to the highest standards of moral and intellectual excellence! He cannot be indulged!You must use strict discipline from the beginning. Lest he become as disspitated and weak as his forbears!”

“Quite so,Europe is in tumult and the only thing that might save us is the creation of a race of highly skilled princes! Bertie’s upbringing is a matter of the upmost importance!”

The men exchange a brief smile for not unlike a comfortably married husband and wife, they are of one mind on this matter.The little prince must be subject to a rigorous and exacting education if he is to be (eventually) fitted for public life. The Prince Consort’s upbringing was little different and, as the royal administrator of affairs political it has served him well.

“I take it I have your permission to consult the foremost educational experts London has to offer,Your Grace ?”

“You have, concentrate on those specialising in Theology, French, German and Latin, Maths and Chemistry, Geography and History”

“And Rugby?”

“A bourgeois sport! Military drills will serve him far better”.

T’is the last days of summer and as a gentle breeze dances amongst the trees, little Prince Bertie skips merrily about the lawn.T’is the end of term at Osbourne Industrial Academy and, having proven himself proficient at Carpentry and Brick-laying he has been allowed one month off prior to resuming the next stage of his studies. Galloping to and fro upon the lush green grass he imagines himself astride a proud and handsome stallion, such as he has seen in portraits of Hussars fighting in the Crimea. “Huzzah! Huzzah!” he pulls hard on the reins of his horse causing it to rear and then trample a panic stricken Russian Tartar underfoot. “Huzzah!” he roars whilst the Prince Consort and his adviser look blithely on.

“He has a wondrous imagination” Baron Von Hasslebuke remarks mournfully,”T’is a pity we shall have to squeeze all such inclinations out of him!”

But the Prince Consort has no such regrets so certain is he of this method of rigorous education,observing his son’s animated rompings he replies,”He is destined to ascend the throne of England, what need has he of an imagination when his duty is all that is required!”

Champagne Charlie

Some people go for funny drinks and down ’em by the pail

Like coffee, cocoa, tea and milk and even Adam’s ale

For my part they can keep the lot I never would complain

I wouldn’t touch the bloomin’ stuff, I only drink champagne. For,

Chorus: Champagne Charlie is my name

Champagne Charlie is my name

There’s no drink as good as fizz, fizz, fizz

I’ll drink every drop there is, is, is

All round town it is the same

By Pop! Pop! Pop! I rose to fame

I’m the idol of the barmaids

Champagne Charlie is my name.

I earned my famous title thro’ a hobby which I’ve got

Of never letting others pay however long the shot

Whoever drinks at my expense has no need to complain

For everyone I treat alike I make ’em drink champagne. For,

Chorus: Champagne Charlie is my name

Champagne Charlie is my name

There’s no drink as good as fizz, fizz, fizz

I’ll drink every drop there is, is, is

All round town it is the same

By Pop! Pop! Pop! I rose to fame

I’m the idol of the barmaids

Champagne Charlie is my name.

 

Perhaps you think what I say now is just a bit of chaff

And only put into this song to raise a little laugh

To prove that I’m not jesting and the sort of man I am

I’m going to stand champagne all round and stand it like a lamb.

For,

Chorus: Champagne Charlie is my name

Champagne Charlie is my name

There’s no drink as good as fizz, fizz, fizz

I’ll drink every drop there is, is, is

All round town it is the same

By Pop! Pop! Pop! I rose to fame

I’m the idol of the barmaids

Champagne Charlie is my name.

 

 

 

 

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