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

Glorious Luminaries & Songs of Loss

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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

 

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Academies, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant

An Odyssean Education

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The fangs of the serpent are hid in the bowl,
Deeply the poison will enter thy soul,
Soon will it plunge thee beyond thy control;
Touch not the cup, touch it not….

– A Temperance Hymn

And as he stared at her intently he was struck afresh by her beauty, for it seemed to him that he had never seen her so attired. For her extraordinary yellow and black outfit was so befitting her handsome figure, and serene countenance, that she ought always to dress in this manner (weather and police constables permitting).

“I” she declared, “Am an ant! Indeed” said she fastening her bright yellow souwester firmly under her chin, “I am one of a legion of constituent ants! I ” she said, pointing one pale tapered finger heavenwards, “Am part of a veritable spiritual hive of battle-ants! Invulnerable to fire and impervious to flood!”, she buckled her yellow sailor’s waterproof tightly around her waist, pulled on a vast pair of black, oil-skin breeches and stepping nimbly from the boat anchored to the docks, waded into the shallow waters of the River Thames. Almira Fielding was not alone, for upon hearing of the Toolley Street conflagration, the entire temperance society (armed with yellow souwesters and oil skin waterproofs),hailed several hackney cabs, and sped round the corner from the ‘The Sozzled Maidshead’, to the source of the roaring conflagration. Indeed, they would have buckled on their waterproofs and sallied forth much sooner, had it not been for the river engines rendering the waterways around the back of the Tooley Street warehouses impassable.

“What does they thinks they is doing?” exclaimed Jakes Monmouth, the owner of the Rye Street distillery, “Don’ts they knows that there’s a fire a-roaring out of control but seventy yards in front o them?! They’ll be burn’t to a cinder crisp if we ain’t careful! Gilly! Gilly! Get afta them! Bring ’em back or so God elp me we’ll swing for it! There’s five amongst em at least listed in Lord Swansby’s who’s who! Get after them!”

Gilly Croft shrugged, there was blazes sprouting up all over the shop, his hands were full, besides which them temperance ladies could be marvellous spiteful if they was messed with, he’d near lost a toe on more than one occasion round them! “You seem them axes they’s carrying? Ever seen them in action over a bar? I ave and I ain’t touchin em!”

“Sister ants! Fix thy courage to the sticking place! And let us march forth!The Parnham Industrial schools lie just ahead! Our little charges lie in the path of a monstrous, devouring conflagration with none to defend them! ” drenching his cloak in the foul waters of the Thames, Lord Harry Pembroke wrapped the heavy garment around his head and shoulders and followed in their wake. In truth Lord Harry had meant to risk what little vestige of reputation he had at the Nag’s head, but the beauteous ferocity of Miss Fielding had left him smitten. He would have followed her to hell and back, indeed he was about to…..

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“Wake him up! Somebody wake him up!”
Donny Doyle his pant’s legs swishing just above his ankles,went sauntering down the aisle to sir’s desk, he flicked his plastic ruler against sir’s forehead,then he skipped back to his desk and sat down. Mrs Fetter glared at him,but Donnie met her stare unflinchingly. Everyone new that sir suffered from chronic narcolepsy, he hadn’t taken a lucid lesson in years.
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Donny’s mum, uncles, cousins and brother had all passed through sir’s classes, becoming autodidacts of the first order. Why Uncle Denny owed his car mechanic’s business to sir, and Aunt Maggie would never have qualified as a maid at the age of twelve had sir been awake.
Donny was different to the rest of his family in that he wanted to join the Rouge Bull Posse and be smashing it up in the neighbourhood innit. Instead of which he found himself forced to sit through fifty minutes of snoring three times a week alongside every other form of bullshit this school had to offer.
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“Donny Doyle outside my office please, this minute! I asked you to wake him up! Not assault him! Shameless child!”
“But e was asleep miss!”
“Nonsense Donny! Mr Tuffy was merely taking five minutes to reflect upon the plenary”
Mrs Fetter continued to glare at him as he slid off his chair and shuffled out of the classroom. She made the sign of the DfE,running her fingers over the pearls around her neck and muttering the creed of St Gove under her breath as she did so,
“Blessed be St Gove, who leadeth us towards aspirational ethos by way of stringent performance evaluation, relentless observation and moral rigour. Scatter thy blessings upon thy flock I pray,deliver us from the spectre of required improvements and lead us in the way outstanding”
Behind her, his head in his hands sir groaned,
“Mr Tuffy-Milton! Rouse yourself!”, Boo Doo’s parents are in my office”
“Boo Doo who?”
The students sniggered, everyone knew Boo Doo.
“Mr Tuffy!”
“Yes alright, ok, I’m coming”
He clambered to his feet
” What time is it?
“It’s 10.30, your students are half an hour late to Spanish!”
Boo Doo’s parents had been seated for well over an hour when Mrs Fetter finally re-entered her office accompanied by Mr Tuffy. Just glancing at Mrs LeFevre’s expressionless face made her want to cry out for aid & succour before the throne of Gove, but she suppressed the urge, unclenching her pearls she took a seat.
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“Good morning Mr and Mrs LeFevre” Mrs Fetter extended her hand but then as Mrs LeFevre hissed whilst Mr Lefevre rolled his eyes she quickly withdrew it. Coughing ostentatiously, Mr Tuffy strove to conceal a smirk.
” I think we all know why we are here” Mrs Tuffy began,
“No we don’t! We really don’t! I should be taking in washing, Emily’s just finished her night shift at the cotton mill, I should be cooking her breakfast!”
Mr Tuffy stifled a snore, the urge to fall asleep was really quite overwhelming.Mrs Fetter smiled thinly,
“Quite. And once this issue is sorted you may proceed with your day, I only have one question to pose, why is Boo Doo still here?”
Mrs LeFevre raised a quizzical eyebrow,
” Pardon me?”
“Why is Boo Doo still here? I was under the impression that you had made alternative educational arrangements for him to apprentice with a professional chimney sweep”
Mrs LeFevre narrowed the eye beneath the monocle,
“This school is an academy is it not?”
“Yes”
“Aspiring to educate the great uneducated under-class are you not?”
” Well…yes”
“Aspiring to provide them with an Etonian infused education?”
” Well…”
“Then Boo Doo stays!” Mrs LeFevre proclaimed triumphantly,
” For I am a parent governor, I too have read the works of the great Gove, and according to him the customer is always right, and WE ARE CUSTOMERS!! ”
“Yes but-”
Mrs Fetter’s objection was cut short by the loud snores of Mr Tuffy, who had curled himself up on his chair and fallen asleep. Mr and Mrs LeFevre exchanged glances,
” Still ere is he?” Mr LeFevre said,
“He taught me English or rather I taught me-self, we’d heard as how you’d promoted him, made him an assistant head or some such, Boo Doo STAYS”
As the LeFevres swept out of the office Mrs Fetter clutched the edge of her desk, visions of Tuffy clambering out of windows and across window ledges swept through her mind, dear sweet Gove…
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Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant

The Curious Case of Boodoo Lefevre

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