Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Each According To Their Means Each According To Their Ability


Not since the children of Israel rose up to frolic and to play, indeed not since the Dionysian revels of that rebellious tribe have so many cast off all restraint with the blessing of a triumphant and hence charitable few. The unfettered success of an electoral fraud has spurred Master Eccles to declare an extra day of rest and unbridled festivities, and lo! The people discarded their tools, took up their Sunday best and bedecked themselves most joyously in Tory favours!

A triumphal arch of Laurel Leaves and Hawthorn Berries festooned with the Royal Insignia of the Essence of Gove has been erected before the town hall, and a Maypole now stands erect in the town square.

“Eh up our Alice, goest thou to the May Dance? There’s pleasure to be had there by such as bonny as thou!” Green eyed Alice, with her raven black hair and fresh complexion, Alice of the Dimsdales would stand speechless had she the will,”Wouldst thou dance this day?” she protests,”And on whose grave? Knowst thou not that the Potters and Stampers of Grodden Parnock Refinery are to be laid off? And what of the men of Brume Polder whose furnaces are to be shut down? Are they to dance and prance too? Nay mother, I’ll not dance whilst men are deprived of employ and their families left to starve!” there can be no more comely a lass than Alice, and yet so grave a lass is she that nought will court her! For though it may be said of many a lass that they harbour a populous solitude, whilst at work in the factory or the field, Alice’s mind nourishes one idea above all else ‘De chacun selos ses faculties, a chacun selon ses besoin’ which is to say, from each according to his means to each according to his ability. According to the tenets of Gove t’is a most heathen saying, t’is one devoid of that shrewd wisdom so typifying Tory thought. Yet tis all Alice chooses to ponder and reflect upon, small wonder then, that none intent upon their own social improvement will court her!

“Nay lass, don’t take on so! T’is only a May Dance and a bit of a celebration!” to this Alice makes no reply stood out as she is on the doorstep, surveying all the revelry going on around her and wondering how the townsfolk will rue it in the cold light of day. There goes Charlotte Dymond clad in a crisp white frock with a blue ribboned bonnet, hark at her laughing! Why who would think that her grand-da lay on his death bed without a pension to bequeath to his widow? Now look at Methuselah Gray! Dancing a caper along the cobbled streets with a quart of brandy in his grip, his shoulder length grey hair flutters in the wind as he celebrates the fact that today he may eat and drink to his heart’s content! T’will make up for all the months of short work he and his kith and kin have been forced to endure he is certain!

The town is a-riot dear reader! But not with the overthrow of its betters, much to the discouragement of Master Benjamin and his fellow Iron-Reformers who now sit, disconsolate in the Quaker Meeting Hall. “Comrades! Will you tamely submit to being deprived by a gross fraud of the whole value of a franchise conferred by the people of Molten Tussock Major upon thee?” the Union Rep asks, “Brothers! The undisturbed success of one fraud may act as a stimulus to renewed exertions of the same character! Would you have this most audacious of swindlers, this ruthless perpetrator of a most heinous act of fraud go unchallenged? Nay my friends! You must fight this result tooth and claw!” Those present at the meeting listen raptly to all he has to say but at the end of the day they are stolid northern men not easily moved by sophistry. They do however stand in awe of the Union Rep’s deeds and these alone have seeded in them a glimmer of hope as to their chances of restoring democracy to the town.

“Oh we have fought!” cries the Reverend Parnham mournfully,”We have fought till our eyes were red from lack of sleep and our voices hoarse! Why Master Turnham campaigned so hard he caught influenza and near died from it!”

“Yes” murmured the congregation in sympathy “Say on brother! Would that there were a God to smite Master Eccles and purge him from our midst!” a dire wish but what strength of feeling dear readers!

“Ah but there is!” declares the Union Rep “Have you not heard the story of David and Goliath? Yet comrades what was the outcome? This Goliath laid low in the dust! Think on that my friends! Think on it and rise up and fight!”

“But with what pray tell? Our resources are exhausted, all as could have, have paid their membership dues, the elections have took all we had!”

“Yes! Say on Brother and what of the end result? Nowt has changed?” cries Master Wendell his face flushed with anger, it reminds the Union Rep of the ferocious rage of the London chimney sweeps and of how it swept all before it! “Nowt has changed? All has changed! Democracy has been overthrown! It has been abducted by as villainous a rapscallion as ever graced this town with his accursed presence! My brothers we must wrest democracy out of his claws and restore her maiden honour! We have little by way of means though we all share the belief that what has gone on here cannot be allowed to go on for much longer!”

“Here here!” cries Lord Douglas “Bravo!” much to the surprise and terror of all present he has forced entrance to this meeting, determined to weigh in and do his bit. Until now the Earl of Grodden Parnock and Brume Polder has been unusually quiet and reflective, but now he feels he must speak up and speak up he does. “How many years has Master Eccles dwelt within our bodies?”

“Nigh on twenty year too many” is someone’s sour reply,

“In that time how much good has been done to our town?”

“Himself grows fatter and fatter whilst manpower is reduced and short hours increased!” is another’s equally sour reply.

“What words are there to describe the slough of despond into which the town has fallen?” exclaims the Reverend and as one the listening men sigh, only to have their audible discouragement cut off by a peremptory snort from Lord Douglas.

“Slough of despond be damned! cries he, the muscles of an iron-puddling practitioner rippling beneath his jacket,”We will have rid of this iron master you have my word on it! Now I am told that Master Francis serves up grand fair after these meetings, is that true?”

“Aye my lord!”

“Then” says his lordship to all and sundry,”May we eat?”


Hypocritical Cant, Satire, Social Justice

The Union Rep Takes Up A Righteous Cause!

The Union Rep MP

The Union Rep MP

Come dear reader, let us avert our eyes for a time from the bewildering hideousness of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum. Let us purge our souls and lustrate our hearts of its base and pernicious influence. Let us wander instead over croit and dale, over tulach and hillock, until at last, to the north of the village of Molten Tussock Minor, we come upon the town of Molten Tussock Major.

The northernmost fount of all fortifying commerce concerned with the mastery of iron; it is here the Goveen initiates abide, mastering the art of iron-puddling. T’is here the Goveen initiates abide, mastering the art of Iron-Puddling. T’is here they study and train for much of the day, within the sanctum of a newly opened Hesketh Ragged School. Once they were apprenticed Iron-Slitters, manacled and bound over in heart and mind by the sinister Reverend Tout-Puissant but no more! No more the terrors of an Industrial Academy long since burned to the ground! They are Iron Puddlers now and soon to be apprenticed if the Machiavellian hindrances of Master Eccles may be overcome.

“Master Eccles says as he’ll take none recommended by such as thou, thou rabble-raising loon! T’was thee as brought mayhem to the streets of London an he says he’ll have none of thee!”

“T’is the lads that need apprenticing not me, I wonder that he’d stand against such fine lads as these

apprenticing themselves to a living as would put bread in their families mouths!”

The Union Rep stands bemused and indignant,

“I’ll not regret those actions that have raised the wages of thousands and improved their working conditions to boot!”

Were it not for the melancholic results of Molten Tussock Major’s council elections all would be well. The Iron Reformer’s Party would hold the majority of council seats; Master Eccles hold over all iron commerce in the town would be broken, and the boys might apprentice with whom they wished. But, if ever democracy held sway in Molten Tussock Major, it has long since fled, chased out by the impious machinations of Master Eccles and his Tory Coalition.

A town council election was held, the first in which a viable (and popular) opposition has stood in in nigh on two centuries, but what of the outcome? The mayor is still a Tory, the bulk of councillors (bar Master Benjamin) are still Tories, yet all and sundry swear that they had cast their votes for the Reformer’s Party!

T’is often said that England’s peaceful governance lies in the English genius for compromise, in the stolid ability of all its politicians to agree a middle way. Alas then, that this impeccably flawless talent has long since been discarded in Molten Tussock where a vote may be cast only with the unction of Master Eccles!

“Will Master Rynders say nothing? Will he not intervene?”

Master Parnham and Master Knowham look to Master Benjamin of Polder Brum, who must give his report,

“Master Rynders has suggested we approach Gabriel Sydenham, im as runs the Elysium Iron Foundry. T’is well known that he cares not a brass farthing for Eccles. This I gladly did and was told to inquire of Lord Douglas at MacGregor House.”

“MacGregor House? T’is strangely named!” replied the Union Rep

“It has been renamed” replied Master Benjamin

“T’was known as Brume Polder Folly in the days of his ancestors, but his Lordship has proclaimed to all and sundry that he would sooner cut his own throat, than have his country seat hold a name that has been sullied by the taint of the brotherhood!”

At this news the Union Rep is elated,”Anti-Goveen?”

“Anti-Tory as well! He’ll have none of them! Why he took a bullwhip to the last Tory councillor to set foot on his land!”

“Terrible behaviour! When shall you approach him?”

“Tomorrow, the settling of farmers wages takes place then, I shall make inquiries of the estate steward, t’is certain he’ll agree to speak to the master on our behalf, his brother-in-law is a member of the Iron Reformers Party”

The matter settled, to his mind, Master Benjamin cheerfully took his leave of the company, heading off for the school stables whence his horse was being most wondrously shod, by an Iron-Puddling apprentice who had also seen some degree of training as a blacksmith, ere he had been palmed off onto the Iron-Slitting Academy.

Master’s Knowham and Parnham wonder that an entire town’s democratic liberties should be kidnapped and held captive by a solitary Iron Merchant such as Master Eccles.

“T’will not do!” declares Master Knowham

“T’is a less than farrantly state of affairs” agrees Master Parnham

“T’will cost a pretty penny or two to correct” exclaims the Union Rep with a steely glint in his eye,

“How much of a pretty penny?” asks Master Parnham, who in truth ought to know better than to encourage one who as the newly minted MP of Bow & Bromley has only recently embraced a genteel respectability.

“The kind of penny that only Lord Douglas might care to spend!”

Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goveeen Tenet Scorned!


How unlike the paradise of which Sweet Gove spoke is this place! Heaps of smouldering iron litter the school grounds like the litterings of that hound of hell, Cerberus. The fragrant countryside air has long since fled and in its place? Dense smoke billowing out of the Iron-Slitting furnace and wreathing the cold grey stone of the chapel in it’s choking embrace. The grounds of Molten Tussock Academy may be likened to the very bowels of hell wherein that great beast – the spirit of Mammon- is said to abide, mired in the slough of despond, that place which impoverished Iron-Slitting apprentices are said to endure.

A second beast has arisen from that selfsame pit dear reader, but he is not as the first. For this one is a half-burned facsimile of a reverend of the Goveen Brotherhood, and one whose unbridled love for the tenets of Sweet Gove have unmanned him! Goveen adulation has altered him dear reader, and now here he stands,transformed from a spritely but naive youth to a pitiful ego fixated degenerate! Hunched over and limping towards the bell tower in his soot covered cassock, the far-from-saintly Reverend Tout Puissant is the very embodiment of vindictive malice…

Indeed, one doubts not that once he has climbed the bell tower and surmounted its pinnacle, all who have forsworn Goveen Matins will rue the day they were born!

“Bar the door Obed Plum! Bar it! Quickly now! The rapscallion is almost upon us! Can ye not hear him?” they all can, for t’is the bellowing, braying, rage of a crazed fanatic intent upon first seizing and then punishing his prey! T’is a scandal dear reader,a scandal and a disgrace! But once humility has fled (dragging reason along with it) who may say what will take its place?

 Now rocked from pillar to post by one violent explosion after another and now choked savagely by the vast plumes of smoke wreathing the chapel like a shroud the Iron-Slitting apprentices are terror stricken. But amongst them there is one who is not swayed, and dropping to his knees in a newly acquired attitude of prayer he speaks these words,

 “I am not nor ever was a churchgoing man but if ever we need thy help god, t’is now! HELP!!”

 By the standards of the tenets of Sweet Gove, his, is a succinct prayer (mercifully!), and is soon joined by dozens of others “Help us God! Send swift deliverance!”

Help is not long in coming, indeed it is almost at hand for look you, here is the UNION REP! Wrapped loosely in a cloak that has been drenched in water and struggling valiantly across the school grounds he stops just short of the tower, looking up he cannot see ought through the smoke, but he can hear the dim cries of Master Parnham and the apprentices.

“If ever we’ve needed thee Jehovah it is now!” the faint strains of mournful singing float down from that dismal place and in such a place as this! Where the fires rage and burn at every crevice and corner of the chapel, except at this one where the bell tower lies. Time wasted,thinks the Union Rep, is souls lost!

“Master Knowham! Have you the grappling hooks and the ropes!”

“Aye! I have em! Dear God we have arrived just in time!”

“Then let us begin!!”

Throwing off their sodden cloaks and rolling up their shirt sleeves the men throw up their grappling hooks until the hooks are fast secured upon the wall of that great bell tower. Their climb is an arduous one, many times are they tempted to turn back as the flames leap high beneath them and grey smoke billows above. But the desolate wails issuing forth from the tower compell them to tighten their grips on the soot blackened ropes and keep climbing,

“How goes it Master Knowham!”  the Union Rep yells though his voice can scarce be heard over the raging flames,

“Climb sir! Climb!” comes the reply, “There is no time to waste, climb or the boys are for it!” roars Master Knowham as he climbs fist over fist, doing all within his power to reach the top of the bell tower and his son before the flames do.

How best to describe the infernal vista Molten Tussock had become, best not to describe it, but to give thanks to the farmers of Molten Tussock minor, that humble village on the outskirts of Molten Tussock major. For on spying the smoke some distance from their village,  the alarm bells are rung  and the fire wagons rushed out speeding towards Molten Tussock as if for all the world the devil is at their heels. Oh how the flames sought to drive them back as they rushed to and fro in a frenzy seeking well water and pump water with which to put the fires out!

And all the while the terrible sound of braying issuing forth from within the chapel, “Ere but don’t that sound like-” says one farmer as he fills his bucket at the pump for the upteenth time, “The madman whats burned down iz own school with them poor kids in it?” replied another glaring balefully at the chapel door,”best to let mad men lie if you ask me! We’ve enuf to be going on with,more water?”

“Drive that wagon closer to the chapel! Man the pump boys! Man the pump!” the more the fire crackles and rages, the faster the men move, driving the wagons up against the base of the church and streaming water up and around till the ground is sodden and the bricks give off a vaporous mist.

“Climb damn ye! Keep climbing! We’re almost there!” hauling themselves over the wall of the bell tower the two men seek those pitiful souls whose wailing cries have urged them onto the rescue. See there huddled fast against the hot bricks, two dozen tormented apprentices pleading so loudly for deliverance that they can scarce believe their eyes when it arrives. Bundling them towards the wall and over it, Master Knowham tries to rescue Master Parnham, but just as he is about to do so the bell tower door buckles inward, and the Reverend Tout-Puissant staggers out of the smoky darkness.

“Where are they? Where are my charges?” but his apprentices have been swiftly bundled up in warm blankets and the wagons carrying them gallop as far away and as fast away as the stamina of the horses will allow!

“It’s you! T’is your infernal inspections that have unravelled all my good work!”

“Not I sir! Look roundabout you!” the farmers have done all they can, the blackened ruins of a farmhouse, the dying embers of the iron furnace, these are all that remain. The fire has swept over all, devoured all, all but the Goveen chapel towering oppressively over the bleak landscape.

“What should I do? What will I do? They are gone, all gone! My darling ones!” and with that the Reverend, staggering towards the bell tower wall, hurls himself over it.

“Shocking simply shocking!” declares Master Parnham who was as he has said, deeply troubled and shocked.

“Shocking and scandalous!” opined Master Knowham as he prepares to descend the bell tower once more.

“A ruinous waste of a perfectly good school, the Bow & Bromley Board shall hear of it!” declares the Union Rep gleefully.

For the Bow and Bromley Education Board had accompanied him on the journey down from London. So that they might inquire as to the disappearance of Master Parnham, however as soon as  the coach entered Molten Tussock village they had observed the blaze. And desiring to avoid all association with yet another Goveen scandal, they had retired to the village inn for the night. How appalled they would be once they’d heard all that had transpired, and how eager they would be to redeem their reputations by funding another Hesketh-Elderberry-McTavish Ragged School!