ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant

On The Subject Of Chimney Sweeps

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“How long d’you think it’ll take them?” asked Bert,

“Oooh..not long” replied Boodoo, “Not long at all, the workers was already up in arms and what with that explosion, I wouldn’t fancy Lord Grid-Irons chances at all, he should have hiked it to the countryside but then there’s nowt so naive as the aristocracy” squinting off into the distance he could barely make out the orangey, pulsating, glow of the conflagration that had been St-Martin-In-The-Fields, dense grey-black smoke hovered above the spot. Boodoo felt exultant, with a little help from the Chimney- Sweeps this had been his best conflagration yet. And the fun wouldn’t end there, oh no, by this day’s end he would see the down fall of the one man who had parted him from his beloved sister, Emily LeFevre.

“Fancy a pickled bloater?”

“Nah”

“How about some fried tripe?”

“Nah”

“Well what about a roast potato pickled in turkey twizzler dripping? You can’t go wrong with some turkey twizzler dripping”

“Bloody hell Bert! Don’t you think bout nothing but food?”

“Oi oi! Here they come!”

Now, dear reader, envisage the scene at Grid-Iron square, the sombre and austere silence of three hundred smartly clad policemen, spiked helmets clutched tightly by grim hands, manning the barriers pop-eyed and expectant, and four dozen of her Majesty’s Huzzars, fresh out of the Crimean, sharpening the edge of their swords briskly, their eyes alight with unbridled glee, blood-shed was certain.

“Oi oi! Here they come!” Bert said once again and Boodoo, perched alongside Bert on the roof of Lord Grid-Irons town house simply smiled, “Ere Bert” he said serenely, “Toss us a Turkey Twizzler” munching speculatively on the cold and spicy meat they gazed out over the roof tops and down toward the preparations that were a-foot in Grid-Iron square. Overhead a pall of grey-black smoke hovered and undulated it’s way towards them from St-Martin-In-The-Fields, whilst on the ground all had come to a halt and the air was thick with expectant dread.

“There heeeeere” Bert declared shrilly, for not even his world weary gaze could quite take in the sheer enormity of the mob that had swarmed down from St-Martin-In-The-Fields and now seemed intent upon over-running Grid-Iron Square and tearing it apart, he thanked St. Gove he was perched firmly a-top a roof. And oh my dears! What a terrible sight! What a nightmarish spectacle for young eyes had they the wit to be terrified!

“Aieeeeeee! Aieeeee!” screamed the little chimney sweeps as they bore down like a roaring tide upon the hapless police officers,”Aieeeee! Aieeeee!” that shrill heart-stopping cry was as nothing next to the sound of the chimney scrapers they wielded, like a roaring tide of locusts devouring a cornfield, the chimney sweeps swept over the officers-of-the-law throwing themselves upon the Hussars. Then came the onslaught of the silk mill workers, who upon seeing their children joined in hand to hand combat with the Hussars, went to work themselves mopping up the leavings so to speak.

“Ere what Boodoo I didn’t know ‘erbert Wilkins was capable?”

Boodoo chortled, “E’s capable alright! Caught him trying his hand at badgering once, ‘ad to warn him smart” they both watched as little Herbert, a scarlet coloured band tied around his head, grabbed hold of a horse’s reins pulling himself up into the saddle behind the terrified Hussar. Plunging his fingers into the Hussars glossy locks he pulled hard, jerking the rider back, and causing the horse to rear, until all crumpled down into the ferocious millieux that would in time be known as the battle of Grid-Iron Square.

The two arsonists watched avidly, as wild looking women dipped beneath their skirts to remove their garters and then proceeded to use them as sling shots with which to aim and shoot bits of sharp edged debris at the enemies of promise. Here and there could be seen  police officers staggering under the weight of an enraged child, Hussars galloped to and fro caught in clear panic as chimney sweep after chimney sweep bit their noses, swung from their sword scabbards and gripped them fiercely by the hair. “A-ha!” shouted one Crimea Veteran triumphantly, ” I have you now!” as he gripped a child firmly by his soot-covered throat, ” Oh no you ruddy haven’t!” screamed another child as he flicked him aggressively in the forehead with the flat of his triangular shaped chimney scraper.

The sunset set at its usual pace as the workers and the forces of law and order grappled with each other, until at last only the workers (as well as those injured and near-comatose) remained. Those Hussars and police officers who could, had fled, and quite frankly who could blame them? For they had families to consider, “Its gone quiet for a bit” said Boodoo, “Pass me a spicy bloater” chewing speculatively on the meat his eyes passed over the crowd to a lady clad in a scarlet dress with a tri-cornered hat squarely a-top her head. Madame Guacamoley! It couldn’t be no other! He licked his lips with relish as the lady cantered briskly over the battlefield with the shrewd eyed union rep at her side,

“Comrades!” she roared, here eyes a-blaze with righteous indignation, “Our work is not over!Look around you! Does Lord Grid-Iron lie bleeding on the groud beneath your feet? Is it his loud groans you hear? Whilst your young ‘uns eat dried turkey twizzler mince, he dines on roast goose! Whilst you and yours warm yourselves by hearths heated by a single piece of coal, his face flushes with the warmth of a blazing log fueled fire! Comrades on your feet! Our work is not yet done! To Grid-Iron Manor!”

“To Grid-Iron Manor!” the workers roared their minds a-flame with thoughts of long hours and short wages “Avaunt thee Grid-Iron!” bonfires had been lit hither and thither by the workers who had tossed the various Hussar and Police officer’s uniforms upon them, in the midst of those alternately crimson, scarlet and amber coloured flames it seemed as though the workers had become the very denizens of hell, “Blimey!” said Bert as he prepared to dig into his fifth dried Turkey Twizzler, “They ain’t done yet!”

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Academies, Hypocritical Cant

Of Webs Well-Spun

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The Union Rep stared across a vista of pale, pinched, human faces, they were the familiar faces of his brothers and sisters in the struggle. In front, the silk mill workers, dark shadows nestling underneath their red eyes and all but a few of them eating breakfast (potatoes roasted in turkey twizzler fat), as they stood there. The match factory workers, mere children barely out of infanthood, scampered and skipped next to them, filling the air with screams of glee, clad as poorly as they were they seemed oblivious to the cold. There were some who could barely walk, let alone skip, white bandages wrapped tightly around crumbling jaws, a side effect of being repeatedly exposed to the phosphorus the match sticks were dipped in.

Behind them the chimney sweeps, their faces all ruddy from being fiercely scrubbed, they were as stolid as they were silent and had dressed in their Sunday best for this meeting. There was hardly a child amongst them not holding a scarlet coloured banner aloft, stolid they were and as silent, but the Union Rep could almost smell their rage. For one of their own had been made to climb up Lord Grid-Iron’s chimney whilst it was still burning, and had paid dearly for that cruelty with his life. As had the Master Chimney Sweep,Turple Sleath, he had been found dangling from that same chimney.

The cotton mill workers were stationed just behind them, whilst the ‘Nunnery’ keepers milled around everyone, for the most part they were ignored since theirs was considered to be a disreputable profession, but everyone had joined together in this dispute over pay and conditions. The Union Rep smiled sweetly at each and everyone of them, they had proved useful when it came to getting the better of a politician in the past, and should push come to shove he would need the help of them all and he knew he would get it. Then there were the music hall dancers swirling their skirts and tra-la-la-ing through the swarms of workers who made room for them and then closed around them and joined in the singing. Prime amongst them was the greatly esteemed Madame Guacamoley, she was clad in the bright red dress that had expedited her ex-communication from the Church of St. Gove; and to which she had added a tri-cornered hat,with arms outstretched she moved amongst the people singing ‘The Worker’s Anvil’ to the tune of ‘Down At The Old Bull & Bush’

” Strike! Strike! The worker’s anvil! Strike for the cause of freedom! For each friend and neighbour, strike for everyone! Strike! Strike! The worker’s anvil! Strike against the factory bosses! Strike against the dim-wit Grid-Iron! Then may we be free!”

A fine woman was Madame Guacamoley, her jet black locks flowing freely down her back and her face flush with the enjoyment of it all. The Union Rep noted with much satisfaction that none of the chimney sweeps were smiling, dancing or singing, their rage was palpable. Cantering back and forth on his horse he scanned the crowds looking for the union stewards who would marshall and direct the masses on the march to Grid-Iron Square, he waved his blue flag vigorously at them as he cantered to and fro. On that signal each produced a whistle blowing mightily on it until at last the comrades were quiet, the Union Rep cleared his throat, ” Brothers and Sisters” he said, “I was born not far from where you stand, at the workhouse of St. Gove the Martyr, raised by me Gran whilst me Ma worked for a pittance, as a cog-oiler at the Grid-Iron distillery”

Booes and hisses greeted the mention of St. Gove, but that was as nothing compared to the potatoes that went flying through the air when Lord Grid-Iron’s name was mentioned, (so far so good).”Torn from me Gran’s arms at the age of seven I were sent to the Industrial Academy at Spital Fields and t’was there I experienced the heart breaking oppression of factory life. Walking six mile each morning to the mole stretching factory, sitting from four in the morning to late at night, steaming and stretching suede gloves and mole-skin trousers. My little arms covered with blisters my little back scarred from the birch beatings I took, and my pay? One Shilling and six pence! One shilling and six pence! for being torn from the arms of my family, one shilling and six pence! For nought, but stale bread lunches and dinners! One shilling and six pence!”

The crowd shouted imprecations, it roared for blood, “Yesterday one of our dear brothers was murdered!” uneasy mutterings swept over the crowd, “Yes! My brothers murdered! Forced up a Grid-Iron chimney where he choked and burned to death! And d’you know what his wages where? One shilling and six pence!” Now the chimney sweeps howled and bellowed their rage, their little faces demonically contorted and flushed beetroot red. “My brothers! My sisters! It has been four decades since my birth, is it right that thirty three years on from when I was first apprenticed, the wages and the conditions should still be the same?”

“No!” roared the surging hordes,

“Is it right that we and ours should find ourselves stuffed into the same workhouses our parents endured when the bosses close down their factories for months on short time, to preserve their profits?”

“No” they roared again,

“Our grandmothers and grandfathers thrust onto straw pallets in a workhouse? No care in their old age? And us to follow them? After years of one shilling and six pence? Nay brothers! Nay sisters! I say strike! Will you strike with me?”

“Yes!” roared the multitudes, their banners held aloft, the crowds surged forward, eager to make their way to Grid-Iron Square and that is when it happened…

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