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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