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!”

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

The First Appearance of a Peculiarity

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Natural selection in microcosm, the estimable Darwin perceived that which the ruling classes had practiced for centuries, and was astounded by it. T’was the process by which our great empire and its worthy custodians had ruled the world entire!

Alas, little did they realise that whilst nature may be trusted generally to do its work, at times a vicious whimsy causes things to go astray. Hence the tragic demise of Lady Edina Pembroke, who upon sensing a genetic deficiency in Lord Henry, deemed it expedient to abandon him at birth on a Cornish cliff top. 

Alas that her sacrifice resulted in her own premature death from Pneumonia and the rescue of the child! The family of Lord Hesketh-Elderberry was far more discerning. Lord Wilberforce bore a most sadistic disposition and a minor physical defect, but this wasn’t deemed so debilitating as to necessitate his demise. His sister however, nursed an obsessive fondness for her servants, their children and their grandparents. 

To forestall this abhorrent and degenerative progression the family sent her to a Goveen Priory at the age of five. However having entered holy orders Wilhemina was hastily sent home for stealing the Abbess’s treasure chests. She had been caught in the middle of Molten Tussock Minor tossing the Abbess’s gold into the grimy hands of the poor. T’was obvious the child was not cut out to sit at the feet of Gove and so a family conference was called to discuss her fate. The Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry suggested the family watch the girl closely and wait. Mayhap further imbecilic traits would surface obliging them to consign her to St Bacchanalia’s Asylum, mayhap not.

A decade passed as both children evolved and their intellects burgeoned and flourished and then, one summer’s eve, the Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry disappeared. T’was a moonlit night, the night of the village ball, when the aged Dowager was escorted up to her rooms never to be seen alive again.

The estate would have passed to Lord Wilberforce in time, were it not for one inescapable fact, his deranged and obsessive devotion to taxidermy. Many such gory specimens of his flawless talents were to be found, scattered throughout the rookeries of London. Though, to be sure, the police were a little confused as to who to attribute his murderous handiwork to. The Dowager Hesketh-Elderberry’s cadaver was discovered a little after the rookery murders had mysteriously ceased. There she sat, propped up in a rocking chair in a corner of Lord Wilberforce’s study, unsmiling, grim faced as ever, decidedly dead and pristinely stuffed. Upon this discovery Lord Wilberforce’s manservant turned pale and fainted, the chamber maid ran off to fetch her ladyship who in turn sent for the Reverend Unctuous.

“Natural selection” he sombrely declared, “Has accomplished its work! Consign the loon to St Bacchanalia’s Asylum! Rest assured his further degeneration will be kept in check!”

Alas then that fifty years later he should have made his escape! And L’eauregarde with him! Oh calumny! Oh perturbation! But worse was to follow, for even amongst the aristocratic breed there is a tendency to revert back, to that most base and avaricious character lost during some former generation.

“Think what it is you do Edmund! Untie me!”

“You have strayed beyond the bounds of reason! I shall not!”

 “Set me free you wicked, wicked boy!”

“Recant your philanthropy!”

“Recant your beliefs! They are heresy Edmund! Direst heresy!”

Lord Elderberry chuckled softly to himself, a deliciousness stole over him at the sight of his aunt trussed up on the bed. Lady Hesketh-Elderberry sobbed quietly, the sheer devilishness of him daunted her. There was an unnatural gleam in his piercing gaze that betokened madness, t’was the same look his uncle had if he but knew it! A vicious whimsy urged him on to this, but she, in her naivete was to blame! She had welcomed him into her home and her heart, and the brute had seized his chance to depose her!

“You have tainted the sanctity of this family’s reputation with your incessant hankering after the poor! The honour of the Hesketh-Elderberry name is sacred to me! As sacred as my loyalty and duty to England! The ragged schools you have funded shall all be shut down and the poor returned (by force if need be) to their slums!”

“You are heartless Edmund!” sobbed Lady Hesketh-Elderberry “Heartless!”

“I’m pragmatic!” replied Edmund, “The family coffers can only stretch so far, I have my inheritance to think of! I am tightening the purse strings!”

“But you cannot!”

Edmund nestled up to his elderly aunt who had been forcibly tied into a strait-jacket. The sadistic gleam in his deep-set eyes seemed to blot out all sane and moral reason. Lady Hesketh-Elderberry flinched, she averted her eyes and tried to wriggle away, but like the relentless serpent he was he wriggled closer.

“In the event of your sudden descent into lunacy the inheritance the family bequeathed to you, passes to me”

Suddenly he leapt off the bed and enquired of one perturbed (a doctor no less),

“In your most considered opinion could it be said that Lady Hesketh-Elderberry is mad?”

“Yes, indeed, I do believe she is M’lord. If you might be so kind?”

 The bespectacled gentleman uneasily proffered an official paper, which his lordship quickly signed. Oh horror! Oh villainy! With an almighty groan her ladyship propelled herself off the bed and onto the carpet. Wriggling feebly along on her side she tried in vain to reach the bedroom door and so make her escape, but an asylum orderly dragged her to her feet and hauled her over his broad shoulders. Carrying her down the stairs of the family seat he flung her roughly into a waiting Brougham carriage.

“Help!” she screamed, “Help! Oh help!” but t’was too late! Away went the carriage and the lady with it! Off and away to the hinterlands of Grodden Parnock and the lunatic’s asylum of St Bacchanalia!

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Three Escape From St Bacchanalia or The Whimsy Of Lord Wilberforce!

 

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The banks of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum are deep solitudes, places of dark and sombre reflection. Yes dear reader, places in which many a Goveen monk, pondering the marshes of Grodden Parnock , whilst lifting his heart to the thunderous heavens, has leapt head first towards the essence of Gove and out of the abbey’ windows. Indeed the boglands of St Bacchanalia’s Asylum lie surfeit with the rotted skeleton of these devotees, who have, they say, ascended unto the essence of Gove! Sweet Gove! Oh that these acolytes might have found more prepossessing ways of embracing thy exalted munificence!

Here scuttle two such initiates now, red-eyed, cassocked and manacled. Manacled?! Manacled! Stumbling over bog and marsh, grunting and panting profane utterances, moving at such a speed that one might think the hounds of hell to be at their backs. As indeed they might be for hark! The alarums of St Bacchnalia’s Asylum shriek maniacally in the distance, t’is certain the farm dogs are not far behind!

“Faster damn you! Move faster Horace! Molten Tussock lies ahead, t’is but half a league I tell thee!”

Mah Lord I cannot! Me legs won’t take me much further, I’m tuckered aht!”

But Lord Wilberforce will not be thwarted, for murder most foul, accompanied by utter incompetence, has now thrust this angel of the apostasy forth upon this world and he will not be thrust back! Had anyone but Horace L’eauregarde hampered his progress! But t’is Leauregarde, co-partaker in his crimes and sufferer-in-kind of the horrors of St Bacchanalia.

T’was he who had freed them from that vast maw of madness! T’is he whom he regales with tales of murders past (bestial and depredatory)which they have committed and intend to commit. Murders which led to the abrupt termination of the life of debauchery they had so vigorously enjoyed! Shocking crimes which, whilst staining the family honour irrevocably, provoked no more than a languorous yawn of pleasure from his Lordship Wilberforce, hence St Bacchanalia!

Leauregarde, his strength renewed, hobbles on and soon finds himself entering a well-worn graveyard on the outskirts of Molten Tussock. Ah! Molten Tussock! Lately home of the deceased Reverend Tout-Puissant who now lies in that part of the graveyard reserved for unhallowed deaths. But now here lies a sight for which the wit of man cannot conceive an explanation, a boy, cherubic in appearance kneels before a gravestone, a worn copy of the Testimonies of Gove clasped to his little breast, a lone, forlorn presence in in this solitary place, he alone mourns the passing of the Reverend.

“Oh, but look your Lordship!Look!” dishevelled and devilish, Leauregarde his face awash with murderous glee, advances but the cold grip of Wilberforce Hesketh-Elderberry stops him.

“Oh Sweet Gove! Mystery of mysteries! Oh! Tueri of my soul! Have mercy upon me!” cries out Monty sobbing so quietly (that even these two fresh escaped inmates must creep closer to hear him) Monty Eckard plucks a sparkling white handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his flushed face with it.

So bereft, so heartbroken, once plucked like a brand from the burning and now plummeting back into that vast maw of Malthusian catastrophe some called London, for now his Iron-Slitting apprenticeship is past where else is he to go? The Union Rep had promised him a berth at the most prestigious ragged school in all of London, run by the most estimable Lady Hesketh-Elderberry, but what mean’t that to such as he? Severed from the succulent vines of the Goveen priesthood he must surely perish!

The poor boy sobbed and sobbed as if his little heart were as broken as his little neck might well have been, had Leauregarde (and not Lord Wilberforce) grasped it.

“Keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat!!”

“Oh don’t kill me sir! Don’t hurt me! You are a Goveen are you not sir? Does it not say in the Testimonies of Gove that none are so deserving as the poor?”

“Which sonnet?” asked Lord Wilberforce as he tightened his hold on the boy’s shirt front,

“The Patriarcha! As composed by Brother Filmer!”

“Recite it to me!” said he loosening his grip and the child did so, hand upon his shirt front as he swayed hypnotically from right to left and back again reciting the Sonnet of Patriarcha in the sonorous tones of the late deceased Tout-Puissant. T’was wondrous to behold and Lord Wilberforce little doubted that, with Leauregarde kept in check, the child would prove a most affable companion on his long journey back to London.

“Cor ad loquitur my child! Your utterances have flooded my spirit with such joy!”

Clasping the child’s small, cold palm in his, his eyes rolled heavenward and he sighed,

 “The last time I felt such ecstasies t’was at St Paul’s Cathedral, in the company of the Reverend Unctuous! Then stood I before the altar of Gove bathed in that sweet radiance which his presence alone exudes!”

“The blue light?”

“The bluer light my child! So smitten was I by his holiness that I prayed that he might take me up to the third heaven. To that exulted paradise whence sit all those who have attained a degree of spiritual perfection!”

“Where sir?”

“I’m hungry child, have you something I and my companion, Brother Leauregarde, may eat?”

“I have a little bread and some cheese sir, and a cold chicken stuffed with Turkey Twizzler compote”

“Dear boy!”

And as the two men fell upon the victuals ravenously was ever a boy more rapt with joy? Alone no longer, no longer bereft, but rapt! Rapt with joy and no longer alone! Seated upon the gravestone of the Reverend Tout-Puissant, swinging his dainty legs to and fro, he observed his two companions. He noted for the first time their manacled feet and hands and hesitantly asked,

“Shall I fetch an iron file from the blacksmith’s forge? Then you may cut your chains and we may be away to London!”

L’eauregarde favoured the child with a calculating look, does he mean to report them to a constable? But Lord Wilberforce clasped the child to his muddied cassock and bestowing kisses upon his head, sent him off with the unction “May Gove go with you!”

“Sweet Gove” replied the poor, deluded, acolyte, for acolyte he had become and to one whose fiendish crimes once sparked riots through half the slums of London!

Spencer Perceval(1762 - 1812) British politician; prime minister (1809-12). He is remembered mainly for his assassination in the House of Commons by a mad and bankrupt broker, John Bellingham. Copyright

 

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Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goveeen Tenet Scorned!

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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!

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

Descendit Ad Inferos

 

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“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…..

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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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