Academies, Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them

sb_library_bookstore_lr

A council that temporarily closed two libraries just before the exam revision season as a supposed money-saving measure has spent up to three times as much per day on private guards to secure the buildings as it would have cost to keep them open, it has emerged.

Details of the security costs at the libraries, run by Lambeth council in south London, were given to the Guardian following a freedom of information request.

The money spent on guards at one of the libraries was inflated as it was occupied for 10 days by local people protesting at the temporary closure plans. However, the figures show that even at another library not similarly targeted, the money paid for private security was almost twice the usual running costs.

'Due to cutbacks, we've removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.'

‘Due to cutbacks, we’ve removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.’

The two sites – the Carnegie library in Herne Hill, south-east London, and the Minet library nearby – closed their doors on 31 March before planned works to turn each one into a “community hub”, a combination of a largely unstaffed library and a private gym. The Labour-run council said this was the only option to keep both libraries open amid massive central government cuts to local authority budgets.

When the libraries were closed no work was scheduled to begin for months. Opponents of the plans questioned why the sites could not remain open for longer, allowing students to use them for revision for summer exams. At the time the Lambeth cabinet member whose brief covers libraries, Jane Edbrooke, said this was impossible because the council needed to save money before the start of the new financial year.

995c91c75627fe1ee0877d36687fcc6a

The freedom of information response shows that from 31 March, when the libraries closed, until 15 April, when the request was made, Lambeth spent £35,392.68 on guards to secure both sites, a fraction over £2,212 a day. In contrast, the council’s 2014-15 budget gives a combined running cost for both of £874 a day. This excludes spending on books and computer services, but those are paid for centrally for all of Lambeth’s 10 libraries, and the council has said it has no plans to cut them.

Of the security costs, just under £25,000 was spent at the Carnegie, a figure made bigger by the occupation by several dozen local residents, which lasted from 31 March to 9 April. But even when this was over, the average daily security cost at the library was £1,382, nearly three times the daily running costs.

At the Minet library, which was not occupied, security costs averaged £677 a day over the 16-day period, almost double the £386 daily running costs.

26ab6894258c0c1bf14a8e726b414ee7

The Guardian contacted Lambeth council on Friday morning to seek its reaction, and to ask about current security costs at the libraries. The council has yet to provide its promised response.

Laura Swaffield, chair of the Friends of Lambeth Libraries, which opposes the library-gym hybrid model, said the group had long predicted the early closure would not save any money.

a72c1c02465a5ccae73c95104f441bb8

“It has been apparent from the very start that wrecking the library service would cost more than preserving it,” she said. “Now all the flaws in their plan are showing up, the council is panicking. It seems prepared to spend any amount of money trying to make this turkey fly.”

Under the plans, sections of both libraries are being handed to the social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited so they can be turned into private gyms. The council is promising that both libraries will reopen in early 2017, but building work has yet to begin at either.

6292d54dac9f42859959720f78278a2e

(Excerpt from ‘The Guardian Newspaper’)

Advertisements
Standard
ACCESSIBILITY, Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness, Transported

A Visit To Master Turple-Sleath

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Is that all?” silence met by a stolid face and a worst than indifferent demeanour,

“I say again is that all? Pray tell what do you stare at? Dommy Woodbine was an idle boy, an insolent lazy wretch not fit to dredge the streets let alone clean chimneys! D’you know how much I paid for that indolent swiveller? Two shillings! He has a sister you say? Mayhap I’ll be able to recoup my losses from her!”

Francis Page eyes the man as keenly as he has Lord Grid-Iron, for if ever there was a companion piece to him this man is it. A slaver of children, worst yet an educated slaver of children. Francis lets his eyes drop on the book case nearby the fireplace in which are lined up the works of Marx, Plato and Aristotle. The works of Shakespeare lie on a nearby wooden table with the page marked and open at the tale of ‘Timon of Athens’. Once a man of culture and of feeling then, now reduced to being nothing more than an ill-natured, alcohol soused, ruffian. Above the fireplace a plaque has been nailed to the coarse stone wall, it bears a coat of arms that is scarcely familiar to the gathered company, though Francis thinks he knows whose it is.

“That is the Elderberry coat of arms?” the master chimney sweep nods, a bitter look rests upon his face. “I was a Latin master once but no more, no more! I that taught the works of Homer and of Plato must now stuff brushes and boys up chimney stacks!”

“Latin master or no, at least you are alive!” Francis snarled,

“Alive? Alive? You call this living? Would a gentleman used to being master of his own fate and now mastered by it, think so? Would one used to having his opinions on the works of Cicero deferred to, say so? Living call you this? How I wished I had descended into the fires of hell that devoured that foolish boy!”

Bert, who had been sitting all the while in a murky corner of the lodgings, smiled grimly at Boodoo who with a curt nod got to his feet and left the room. Francis watched his departure then turned his attentions back to Master Turple-Sleath,

“So you admit to having stuffed young Dommy  Woodbine up a burning chimney?”

“T’weren’t burning when he climbed up it! T’was his laziness that rendered him into the crisp remnant that he became! Let us hope that his soul abides presently in heaven as mine can never hope to” throwing himself down upon a roughly hewn stool he drew up a tankard of gin, throwing his head back he bolted down its contents. He swiped his hand roughly across his mouth, reached once more for the earthen jug of gin on the table, filled his tankard to the brim and laughed. A series of hoarse, staccato sounds that made the hair on the nape of Bert’s neck stand on end. Is the man mad? Thought Bert, and if e is mad how can we justify murdering the varmint?

Francis Page pulled up a stool calmly and seated himself upon it, he pulled out his pistol, dismantled it and calmly cleaned it before putting it back together. He pulled out pristine bullet after bullet slowly and carefully loading his gun with them. When he had finished he looked up and saw that the villain now sat brooding in front of the fire. Glancing at the hunched ( and sobbing) figure of the Master Chimney Sweep, Francis had this to say,

“I have seen men reduced to brute beasts by their masters, but I don’t ever recall hearing of a child being burn’t alive by a master or even, by his own kind. Nor of a master deliberately withholding the means of his escape” he looked coldly at Master Turple-Sleath,”There is simply no profit in it” he whispered as he re-holstered his revolver. Seated there with his slender brown fingers clasped elegantly in front of him he waited, neither drinking nor smoking but simply observing the implacable, silent antagonism of Bert and the sullen man sat by the fire. The indomitable Francis Page would sooner have been at dinner, waiting hand & foot on the cursed Grid-Iron. For he had no love of blood-letting for blood-lettings sake, but as a Pinkerton agent it seemed clear to him that justice should prevail here.

But now, what was this? A series of sharp blunt knockings at the ill-hewn door till at last the door shudders, buckles inwards and a flood of begrimed, sooty faced boys tumble through the splintered wood and into the room. Indeed dear reader, one could think oneself mired in the cold depths of hell! What with the sooty begrimed faces of these belligerent beings, the gleaming, sharp edged chimney scrapers being held threateningly aloft, and worst of all that coarse and unbridled language, most foul in its utterance! Dare one sympathise with Master Turplesleath, who upon sighting these foaming mouthed imps cries out “No!” and then again “Oh God no!” before staggering back into a fetid corner of his room? Ah! But he tries to make his escape! Clambering up the chimney nook and reaching towards a recess carved into the side of the chimney, but like the hounds of Siberius they drag him down, falling upon him like a pack of wild dogs,for like Master Francis Page they too are ravenous for justice!

“So, we’ll be going then” says Bert dispassionately watching the chimney sweeps meting out that justice which they themselves had so plentifully experienced at the hands of their brutal master. “Yes indeed” replies Francis pulling on grey kid gloves and tilting his bowler hat upon his close shaven head. But Boodoo does not move, he has seen buildings crumble to dust midst a fire he has set, he has seen workers desperately flee a dynamited blaze. But he has rarely seen a sight such as this, enraged poverty devouring one of its oppressors, it makes him sad just as it makes him feel elated. Francis Page feels no sentiment what so ever, for there is still a terrorist conspiracy to be thwarted and an abduction to be carried out,”If we might be on our way gentlemen” whispers he, as he calmly steps through the shattered front door,”We still have much to do”.

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

A Forgotten Child Found (Part 1)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

T’was a mild autumnal day when Inspector Depta first happened upon the scandal brewing at Spitalfield’s Workhouse. Now the rain falls heavily upon the filthy cobbled streets, washing the mud and grime into the broken gutters. A brisk wind whistles through the trees sloughing the leaves off the gnarled branches. T’is a day conversant with all the murderous, predicatorial intent, a woman such as Birthe-Rugge could muster. What of her moral duty eh? What of that? He couldn’t prove it, but it had been whispered abroad frequently that an apprenticing with the woman, was akin to a month spent with the worst St Bacchanalia’s Asylum had to offer.

Her reputation for midwifery was impeccable, but when it came to apprenticing, why he had seen some of the worst bludgers in Spitalfields spit in the road, at the mention of her name. A woman that has successfully done away with so many, must be as cunning as she is devious. But Inspector Depta, undaunted by the challenge, instructs the Bow Street Officers to enter the workhouse from the rear. Master Deacon has agreed to accompany them and lead them to where he believes the girl lies. The Inspector has entered through the wrought-iron gates at the front, and had a quiet word with Billy Porter, who with a curt nod and a contemptuous sneer leads him to the offices of the Honourable Ethelbert-Smythe.

Inspector Depta of Bow Street yer Lordship! By your leave! Dapper and congenial keeper of the gates to the corridors of power. Treasurer of unpleasant truths and certain non-negotiable facts. Bearer of the scales of justice, shifting them this way and that, as an arbiter of laws, just and unjust. A reciter of statutes (when it suits him), and font of all matters pertaining to the unwritten principles of policing. Primum principium, never ever arrest a politician, unless you know  why you come and who it’ll inconvenience. Inspector Depta has nabbed many a starving gonoph, and hauled off any number of worn out blowens in his time. And the rules is always the same, t’is the politicians what az made the laws of the land, and t’is the job of all and sundry (saving the politicians), to be importuned by em.

The Honourable Ethelbert-Smythe sits calmly behind his mahogany desk, with his hands clasped loosely in front of him. His stony gaze sweeps haughtily over the Inspector, who notes with much satisfaction how very exhausted he looks. Behold those tiny bead-like eyes set in their hollowed out sockets! The heavy shadows beneath each eye! Oh that haggard face is haughty enough, but from time to time a lost look passes over it like a scudding cloud. He had heard from the butler that his Lordship was avin difficulty sleeping, that he seemed unduly troubled by the death of an orphan he’d leased out to Master Turple-Sleath (now deceased). A Whig politician labouring under a guilty conscience, fancy that! Removing his crisp kid gloves with some care the Inspector benignly proffers his card,

“Inspector Depta of Bow Street at yer service my Lord’

“Oh?” replies the Honourable Ethelbert-Smythe fingering the calling card gloomily,

“I am here with regards to the disappearance of an apprentice bound over to Mistress Birthe-Rugge your Lordship, one Bethilda Coram”

“Bethilda Coram?” the workhouse guardian affects an air of indifference, but the Inspector is quicker off the mark than he, and leaning forward so that his shoulders bunch impressively in his tailored coat he continues,

“Such matters as these (and there are so many such matters!) are normally left in your capable hands I know, but this matter is a little different”

“Different?” now the workhouse politician wavers between haughty indifference and alarm. He may not know Inspector Depta personally, but he knows of him, the man only materialises when there is scandal present.

“The girl is an orphan ward of the Foundling hospital Mi’Lord and has lately been apprenticed to a midwife here, a Mistress Birthe-Rugge”

“Indeed? Mistress Birthe-Rugge is principal midwife here, ministering to the peculiar wants and need of some sixty five pauper-women and doing so with admirable skill I might add. What is it you require of her?”

“The whereabouts of Bethilda Coram your Lordship, for it seems that t’is here she was seen last”

“Here?” asks the startled, workhouse politician, clutching nervously at his cravat, Inspector Depta smiles benignly once more and gets to his feet,

“Mayhap, the girl has ditched her apprenticeship and fallen into bad company, but since she is a ward of the Foundling Hospital, I must needs make my enquiries my Lord.”

His Lordship is dismayed, he feels distinctly importuned, nevertheless this is Inspector Depta of the Bow Street Police. “I will have somebody escort you to the infirmary” says he rising to his feet and pulling on a dusty bell rope. The Inspector notes that his eyes are red and bleary and also notes the smell of gin and Laudanum about his person, a man on a downward slope and no mistake!

Master Fluttock enters and they are soon on their way, past sparsely furnished pauper wards filled only with the smell of mildew and damp. Past one poorly lit fireplace after another, where the dense smoke smothers the warmth of the two or three pieces of coal meted out for each fire. Past the nursery (the only warm place in the building), where the elderly nurses totter to and fro, babes in their arms. Silence is what Inspector Depta notes here, the slumbering silence that only Laudanum can induce. Casting his mind back to the Foundling Hospital, he can think of no instance when the children there seemed drugged.

“You’re looking for Bethilda you say?” Looking quickly around him Master Fluttock mutters these ominous words but the Inspector ain’t impressed,

“You ever been to the Foundling Hospital?” he asks, for the hospital lies not far from the dung heaps of Spitalfields. Master Fluttock shakes his head, spent most of his life growing up in the rookery.

“T’is an orphanage and a school for babies what’s been thrown on dung heaps”

“There’s women as would throw their nippers on dung heaps?!”

Inspector Depta looks at him sharply,”There’s women as would murder their apprentices without so much as a by yer leave, and with the whole world looking on, you have such a one living here if I’m not mistaken!”

With shoulders bowed the raddled old man recounts his tale of midnight screamings and scratchings, of beatings and sobbings so audible they plum gave him nightmares. And still the Inspector ain’t impressed,instead halfway to the infirmary he stops, lights a cigar and lounging against a poor ward door he smokes and he waits, until,

“Oi! Oi! Here they comes!”  t’is two of the Bow Street Constabulary, handsome and smart of dress, and all of them grey of face,

“Well my lads how goes it?” the Inspector thinks he knows and calculates how much cleaning up this little scandal will cost his ‘Lordship’.

“We think she’s dead Inspector!”

 

Standard
ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

A Diminished Figure On The World Stage

Pretty-little-Victorian-girl-Children-postcardsThe Little Girl Found

All the nights in woe,

Lyca’s parents go:

Over vallies deep,

While the deserts weep,

Tired & wobegone,

Hoarse with making moan,

Arm-in-arm seven days,

They traced the desert ways,

Seven days they sleep,

Among shadows deep,

And dream they see their child,

Starved in deserts wild,

Pale, through pathless ways,

The fancied image strays.

William Blake

It is dusk in fairyland and gleaming carriage after carriage sets down its elegantly attired occupants outside the sparkling theatres and places of amusement London is famed for. See there, Madame Montaperti, extravagantly clad in a black silk gown trimmed with fringed beads and wrapped in a luxuriant Astrakhan trimmed shawl. Close on her heels follows Lady Elderberry whose large grey eyes sparkle quite as brilliantly as the Hesketh-Elderberry diamonds clustered around her pale alabastered throat.

She observes Lady Montaperti gracefully ascending the steps of the Theatre Royal and on the arm of some indubitably handsome but anonymous admirer, observes her but ‘cuts’ her dead. For t’is common knowledge that Lord Montaperti did attempt to burn his niece to death, indeed that he was responsible for the catalytic events that precipitated the Tooley Street fire, and so the Montaperti’s have become ‘persona non grata’. Cast out from the midst of respectable society they must survive as best they can.

Inspector Depta observes this encounter (amongst many others for fairyland is prodwigious bustling on such a night as this), and chuckles to himself. Inspector Depta, stalwart of the Detective Police of Bow Street, and keeper of the gates, to the open vault of the undisclosed secrets of half the swells in England. Inspector Depta, who, having observed the two ladies elegantly enter the Theatre Royal, also notes the maids trailing in their wake, Mrs Virgillia (an undisclosed Pinkerton employee) and Miss Demelza Thickett (an American secessionist’s daughter). So much intrigue trailing along behind such pretty skirts, t’is a wonder the aristocracy of England have held onto their rule for so long! But these matters can wait, for his is a far more pressing difficulty and one that if not soon solved may culminate in his demise.

T’is early in the evening, and so the hustle & bustle of carriages coming and going, may still be heard through the open windows of the palatial room Inspector Depta refers to most humbly as ‘his office after closing’. An ebony wood dining table, a decanter of brandy a finely wrought brandy glass, a gleaming cigar lit and perched most delicately on the rim of his glass. Inspector Depta, is a man of none too subtle tastes but this evening he is affecting to be congenial.

“Take a seat my fine fellow, please, sit down”

The ‘fine fellow’ in question,having been enticed out of a ‘nunnery’ in Whitehall by the offer of some stolen silverware, and then been bludgeoned into unconsciousness and flung into the back of a Black Mariah, can do nothing more than stagger into the velveteen armchair thrust before him. He has been dragged down stairs by the scruff of his neck and up them, he has been punched with some justification and none at all. In short his has been such a thunderous set of goings on for the last couple of hours that nothing Inspector Depta would care to demand of him would surprise him at all, nothing but this, “Where is she?”

“Eh? Where’s who?”

“Walt McKillen’s niece, Queenie McKillen’s daughter (God rest her soul!) what you done with er?”

A slow smile snakes it’s way across the fine fellow’s raddled face, both his blackened eyes light up and gleam, hard and sure like a rattlesnakes. Where’s he taken her? Where is she? Why no place else, than where they been took all these years! Did iz majestic care then? Did he eck! So what’s changed? The fine fellow thinks he knows. Snatching the glass decanter away from Inspector Depta and taking a deep swig from it himself he inquires slyly,”Walt McKillen’s niece,she important then?”. Inspector Depta narrows his eyes at the fine gent known to one and all as Billy Scroggins, he rubs his fists slowly over his bald head and sighs. Policing can be such a tiring affair, staying one step ahead of yer bosses and three steps ahead of such as sits before him here, a tiring, tiring, business.

Moving faster than a rodent with it’s tail dipped in tar and set on fire, the Inspector slides round the table catching hold of Scroggins by the cravat,”We’ve done good business in the past haven’t we my fine fellow? Bow Street has treated you well az it not? We az done you many a favour. Nah,Where.Is.She?”. What with the choke-hold on his windpipe, it is not possible for Scroggins to answer straight away, but perhaps that is best for t’is been nigh on a fortnight since the child in issue tumbled into his grasp, and since then there have been so many others, that it takes him a while to place her.”Queenie McKillen you say? The beauty wot took up with Bobbish Todger? An him a married man!”

The Inspector tightens his grip, till Scroggins is so blue in the face that it seems as if he has near slipped this mortal coil,”Where.Is.She?”. Loosening his fist a little Inspector Depta permits a choked reply to escape his blued lips,”Sold ‘er to Mrs Fard!”

“Amelia Fard?!”

“None other, a pretty penny she paid for ‘er, said she was pretty as a rose bud and well worth the price”. The Inspector’s face is a picture, t’is a long time since he felt any emotions remotely attributable to some moral sense of shame. But his face has hardened all the same, and t’is the lack of emotion on his reddened face that causes Scroggins to panic, for did he not wear that look on the day the Bow Street Detective ‘arrested’ his father, an he weren’t seen again neither.

“Inspector Qwinty” says he turning to the bullish looking gent hovering aggressively over the ‘fine gent’ Scroggins, “Let Mr Gladstone know we’ve found ‘er but don’t tell him where”. Nodding curtly Inspector Qwinty exits the office most relieved to be free of the corrupted and corrupting presence of both men, and most shocked to find that Inspector Depta does indeed have a heart (to be continued..)

work

Standard
Academies, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Uncategorized

Descendit Ad Inferos

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Oh my dear Sirs! In what raptures I was, when first I came to Molten Tussock!” cried Monty Eckard, clutching the Testimonies of St Gove to his worsted frocked chest. “T’was as though the very ether of Sweet Gove had fallen upon my senses! The first time I heard Sweet Gove’s voice I was in the Iron Slitting pond, wading through the muddy waters sorting mud from Iron slit. T’was on a day when all seemed heavy and burdensome, t’was before the days of the Reverend Tout-Puissant”.

The Bow & Bromley Education Board, listening with ever increasing ire, to the wan faced child’s ‘religious’ experiences, remains silent. T’is more out of practicality than inclination, since they are moving at break neck speed along bumpy country roads and, must therefore concentrate their efforts on remaining upright. But one there is who, seated outside the carriage, alongside the carriage driver, leans forward into the oncoming wind like a Greyhound sniffing out his prey. His greying hair flies loose in the wind, his blue eyes are narrowed to mere slits and his lips, bluish with the cold, are pursed thin with foreboding.T’is none other than the Union Rep, or should I say the Member of Parliament for Bow & Bromley,”Dare’st we go no faster comrade? The greatest evil ever to befall man has befallen the Iron Slitting Apprentices at Molten Tussock! I know not what disaster we shall find ere we reach there!”

“My little Obed Plum is apprenticed at Molten Tussock Sir, as well you know! Any faster and the wheels may fall off the carriage! Were the fiends of hell at my horses’ heels I darest not gallop any faster than I do now Sir!” And so the coach and its glossy coated stallions gallop on, over hill and dale and tussock. Light fails and yet ever onwards they speed,through mire and mud, and the nefarious mists oozing forth from the marshlands that surround them. “Where is this?” asks the Union Rep, a fierce and sullen look clouding his brow, “T’is the swamplands of Brume Polder” replies Master Knowham with an equally fierce look. “Thats not the place where?” Master Knowham nods his head,”The same, nigh on twenty apprentices drowned tanning moleskin leather  trousers in the bogs, and the rest, struck down by the Scarlet Fever, t’was a terrible scandal Sir!”

“And who, pray tell, was held responsible?” asks the Member of Bow & Bromley but he thinks he already knows the answer,”T’was the most Reverend Tout-Puissant! He as had the boys worshipping and meditating on the testimonies of Gove for so many hours that, their constitutions being quite run down, t’is a wonder any of them survived the onlaught of the Scarlet Fever. And now you may answer me Sir! How such a one as he came to be made Headmaster of Molten Tussock!”

“I know not! And t’is to my shame to say that! Can ye not go faster comrade?” and suddenly having recalled the tragedy of Brume Polder, Master Knowham finds he can. Faster than the speed of light, faster even than the frigid breeze caressing their faces, so fast that the horses’ hooves seem scarcely to be touching the ground they pass over. And so as the miles pass the spectre of Molten Tussock looms ever nearer.

So, dear reader, let us turn our attentions back to Master Parnham. He whom we left venturing forth from the Slitting Iron Tower, hand-in-hand with little Obed Plum. Into the twilight evening they slip, limbs a-tremble and hearts beating so fiercely within their narrow chests, that t’would seem as if the fierce palpitations warned against their imminent entry of that fearful heathen sanctuary known to all apprentices as ‘The Chapel’. T’is twilight but the skies above are alight with colours seldom glimpsed in this world or the next. For t’is twelve hours since the slitting works was last attended to. “All is not right Master Parnham” wails Obed, his eyes widening with fear at the sight of the scarlet tinged blue flames belching forth from the cavernous mouth of the overheated slitting furnace.

“Worry not child, I am with thee” murmured Master Parnham patting little Obed’s tiny, calloused palm with his wizened hand. Master Parnham is serene, indeed murderously so, and as a thunderous rage courses through his blood he rediscovers a burst of youthful energy he believed had long since fled his weary bones. With one swift, wiry, kick the oak doors are flung open and the incense wreathed scandal within is piteously revealed.Pew after pew of weary starved looking apprentices turn to look at him, their faces etched with exhaustion their trembling fingers nervously clutching at their leathern testimonies. And all the while as he draws ever nearer to the altar that terrible unearthly singing,

“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! “

The Most Reverend Tout-Puissant is deep in meditation, so deep that he does not see the outraged Inspector wrenching at his cassock until it is too late. To be one minute caught up in the ecstasies of Sweet Gove, and the next fending off an enraged School’s Inspector, well dear reader, is it possible to convey the degree of ignominious shame and humiliation which stole none too sweetly over the Reverend? I think not. But more was to follow for all of a sudden the ground beneath their wrestling bodies shook and trembled and a thunderous roaring noise ensued. “Look fast Master Parnham! Look fast! The furnace has blown!” bellowed little Obed his pale face a grim mask of horror. But looking up from the aisle floor Master Parnham smiled, leaping to his feet nimbly he grasped hold of Obed Plum shouting “Nay lad! But I have been here before! Apprentices of Molten Tussock to me!”. And so it t’was that the aged Mole-Trouser-Stretching Master rescued the apprentices of Molten Tussock.

To be continued…..

london-1666

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Academies, Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Glorious Luminaries & Songs of Loss

169

T’was a Mid-Summer’s Eve at the Molten Tussock Industrial Academy, but the glorious dawn has long since made it’s escape;and now a purgatorial twilight has stolen over that unhappy place. To the outsider t’would seem as if the vast and shadowy grounds of the school had been abandoned, as if the inhabitants were asleep.

But t’is not so,come closer dear reader, and behold the undulating waves of incense carried from the windows of the Goveen Chapel, on a gentle breeze. Behold the flames of crimson and violet that swirl around the grounds as the sun sets on the horizon! And the smoke! For the iron smelting furnaces belch such an abundance of flame as t’would cause Hephaestus, that blacksmith to the gods to leap and dance. See there in the distance cowelled heads bowed in deep contemplation and little feet walking in single file to chapel. And at the vast oaken doors thrown wide for their admittance, stands one whose burning gaze sweeps over them all with grim satisfaction. Father Tout-Puissant,who having satisfied himself that all are safely ensconsed within the chapel pauses only to glance skyward at the Iron Slitting Tower (where sits imprisoned one errant schools inspector) before slamming the doors shut.

But whilst the novitiates of the Iron Slitting Mill sit pondering the sweet testimonies of their deity, one in error, has slipped away from the tender path of enlightenment. One , who, having grown disgruntled with the unceasing prayer, undaunting praise and Iron-Slitting, has determined to overthrow the regime of Father Tout-Puissant come hell or high water. And so, disguised as a tender serving wench from the master’s household he has slipped into the the Iron Slitting Tower; seeking the aid and succour of Master Parnham. He, who having first fled into the tower in a frantic and terrified bid to save life and limb; is now pondering the malignant storms of life that have seen him tossed from spiked pillar to post, and then back again.

“I have been buried here for how long?”

I can’t tell sir, almost eighteen days I think

“Shall I let you out sir?”

“Is it secret, is it safe?”

Out in the courtyard? Yes sir, but I can’t say for how long”

“Where have they gone?”

“To chapel sir t’is choir practice sir!”

And indeed t’was as the child had whispered, for the sweet, simple, strains of young melodious voices could be heard midst the churning racket and bellowing smoke of the Iron Slitting Mill. “Oh every time I feel the plumb-line moving on my breast I pray!” the mill apprentices uttered each note of the Goveen hymnal with such melodic yearning, that it made his flesh crawl.

“Sweet Mother of God! I had abandoned all hope of getting free! Choir practice?!”

“Each evening sir, after Father Tout Puissant has cried out to Sweet Gove on our behalf, we utter such songs of praise and thanksgiving as would cause the saints themselves to weep if they heard it”.

“Such as would cause your mothers to weep if they could hear it! I’ve heard ye sing aye, and seen ye sway maniacally to and fro, with nowt but pitch forks in one hand and a hunk of bread in the other!”.

“T’was ever the Molten Tussock way sir, we donts welcome strangers easily”

“What? Not even your own mothers?”

“Father Tout Puissant says they are heretics sir, back sliders from the Goveen path, cunningly cloaked denizens of hell and as such, have no share in the pleasures of Sweet Gove”.

“And those pleasures would be?”

“To move fervently from goodness to greatness by trusting the good and the great! To avert our gaze from the visceral horrors of blobbish decay and embrace subservient matyrdom to his great name!”

“Whose great name?”

“Sweet Gove!”

“Dear me!The Creed of Gove spread under our very noses! The Bow and Bromley Education Board shall know of this! I must escape! Is there no way out of here?”

A sly look has crept over the face of the mill apprentice, for like any shrewd and cunning soul he knows that once Master Parnham has escaped it may be some time before he returns and in that time any number of undescribable horrors might commence.

“There is a way…”

And now Master Parnham glances at the grimy child clad cunningly in bonnet and apron, barely five years old, though with his sooty, stiffened hair and raddled face, looking considerably older. He stares and stares at him until it dawns upon him with horror that some negotiation might be required. And when he sees the yearning hope growing in the child’s face he cannot help but to reel back in horror.

“No, child! You can’t ask that of me! You can’t!”

“Nowt but you can save us sir! We’re for them Iron Slitting Mills at Grodden Parnock unless you free us!Slitting and shaving iron day in and day out, no rest but for the creeds of Gove uttered in chapel till the early morn and the constant singing!I cannot bare it sir! None of us can!”

Clambering up onto the window sill the little boy leaned out of the window in such a way as to cause misgiving to rise in the breast of Master Parnham, who taking hold of the grimy child and clasping him firmly to his bosom, asked,

“Child what is thy name?”

“Obed Plum sir” came the muffled reply,

“Then come Obed!” cried Master Parnham valiantly, clenching his wizened fists,

“Let us to chapel!”

To be continued…

oyster-shuckers

Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see,

In a rich and fruitful land,

Babes reduced to misery,

Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?

Can it be a song of joy?

And so many children poor?

It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.

And their fields are bleak & bare.

And their ways are fill’d with thorns.

It is eternal winter there.

For where-e’er the sun does shine,

And where-e’er the rain does fall:

Babe can never hunger there,

Nor poverty the mind appall.

William Blake

 

Standard
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

Standard