Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

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, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

The Curate’s Egg

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I must dedicate these the humble fruit of my undertakings to that king of kings and lord of lords which dwelleth in the heavenly firmament, St. Gove (sweet Gove!). Since t’is the first attempt I have made to be a public writer there can only be one to whom I might dedicate such a delicate undertaking. T’is he whose benificent gaze shines ever downward upon us (miscreant or otherwise) and whose divine goodness urges us to ever greater heights of quality and rigour the Sainted Gove. The subject of my account is such that were it not for the sake of moral instruction it should not be regaled ‘cept in company so disreputable as to be beyond all redeeming, save at the end of the hangman’s noose.

On the fourteenth day of February, 1876, the Albatross sailed, with full compliment of men and provisions, from the East India Docks in London. The ship was cheered the harbour cleared and merrily did they drop, it did seem, off the face of the earth. For when the ship had run six days out of the harbour the crew were spirited up to an act of piracy by a shipmate on board, one Robby Farthengrodden. An experienced sailor and the only son of a wealthy industrialist of Sloane Square, who had once given into his care two industrial schools (the value of which and its students he had squandered away in profligate degeneracy,drunkeness and riot).

The aforesaid Robby Farthengrodden and the crew having ditched the ship’s officers in a long boat on the high seas, went on a six month long rampage of terror, taking many prizes (amongst them the younger daughter of the governor of Windeypoole) before dropping anchor at the Isle of Hispaniola. Once there and having thoroughly quenched all his wicked and delusive desires he betook himself aboard the Beleaguered Watchman from which he was rescued (it having sunk mid-journey).

Having disembarked at the Royal Docks in London, he was identified by a cabin boy as that depraved miscreant whose wickedness had led to the hanging of the Albatross’s quartermaster. And once taken into custody it was further revealed that this dissolute and hell-bound soul was none other than the ‘Crinoline Jerker’. A licentious being who having taken to diving beneath the skirts of the gentler sex, proceeded to tug violently at their petticoats jerking them to and fro, till at length the fainting women would awaken to find themselves stripped of bonnet, and purse. This evil man had been indicted many times for this offence and had served three years at Newgate Prison as a result and, was to have served a further four, but he absconded having been permitted a day’s release from prison to attend his mother’s funeral. 

Having been indicted for trial Robert Fathengrodden’s defence was this, that whilst Headmaster of St Tobias-in-the-North Industrial Academy, he had run up gambling debts to the sum of some four hundred pounds. Seeking some means whereby he might repay the debt, he had come upon that sum in the form of monies supplied for the purchase of a brass lavatorium and had stolen it (the monies not the lavatorium). Attributing his current predicament to that first misfortune he made his apologies and sought the forgiveness of the court for all offence caused whilst at sea. The court having been made aware of certain elements of his dissolute past (the deflowering and probable murder of Mary Parnham being among them),determined to send him to the gallows.

Indeed, had it not been for the testimony of the Most Reverend Father Antecletes the accused would have been for the long drop ere he departed the Old Bailey! At the place of his execution he stated that his would have been a joyous life devoted solely to the pursuit of ecstatic Goveen reflection had not several industrial schools and, the provision of a brass lavatorium fallen into his care. And that he knew there were many young men there, who followed the same evil course of life that he had done, and hoped they would take warning from his sad fate, and become in time honest and good men.

Reverend Amos Vanderbilt,

Ordinary of Newgate

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Academies, Academy status, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire

Of Ionian Enchantments

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“Obsculta! O fili, praecepta magistri,et inclina aurem cordis tui,et admonitiem pii patris libenter excipe et efficaiter comple!”

“Listen! O my son, to the teachings of your master, and turn to them with the ear of your heart, willingly accept the advice of a devoted father, indeed act upon it!”

“ut ad eum per oboedientiae laborum redeas a quo per inoboedientiae decidiam recesseras! “

“Thus you will return by the labour of obedience to the one from whom you drifted through the inertia of disobedience, St. Gove be praised!”

“Sweet Gove!”

T’is Spring and Father Anacletus thinks that the vast metropolis that is London, seems so much darker, pungent and, putrid,so much more depraved than is normally the case. The Brotherhood of St Gove Imperator Angelorum, has convened for the service of Compline, at the newly annexed parish church of St Tobias-in-the-North. A new Chaplain has been installed,and with the aid and succour of members of the order of St. Gove,they have funded the construction of  another Imperator Angelorum Industrial School. Five hundred supplicants alone are immersed in the testimonies of Gove and the virtues of labour for labour’s sake. And their numbers are growing, soon, all of London will embrace the Industrial School revolution, the beneficent gift of the Goveen Brotherhood.

Lifting up his work worn hands and raising his heavy lids towards the rafters of the humble chapel, Father Anacletus offers up the following prayer.”Sanctify, oh sanctify us, to thy purposes Lord Gove. As we restore unto this empire the very days of thy perfection, when man frolicked midst the gardens of paradise, wherein all knew their place in the scheme of things. Oh Lord Gove, in thy flawless altruism, grant us an unblemished revelation of thy ways. And grant us, pray grant us fresh and bounteous visions of thy intent. Hear this, my prayer St.Gove!”

Father Anacletus slowly lowers his hands to his sides and turning his palms downwards proffers a blessing on the gathered congregation. He scrutinises the monks and priests who stand before him, all deep in prayer and all with their eyes upturned toward the statue of St.Gove. All except the Reverend Arthur Farquar who is looking deeply troubled. Turning his palm upwards Father Anacletus catches his eye and beckons him forward. The Reverend Farquar pales, but since none dare decline an order of the sainted Father, he tiptoes hesitantly down the aisle.”Go my brothers” the sainted father chants in a sing-song voice.”Go my brothers! And may joy surround you, as you teach the testimonies of sweet Gove!”

The humble chapel like most places graced by the presence of the Goveen Brotherhood has taken on a much lighter aspect. The marble altar sparkles and glitters in the cold morning light. The new installed stained glass windows shower the grey stone columns with a kaleidoscope of bright colours. There is an air of freshness, of newness which that place has not seen in centuries. And yet even Arthur is disturbed by what has most recently transpired.”Speak my son speak” urges the gentle father once the very last of his supplicants has departed the chapel,”What ails you?”.

“T’is the appointment of the Reverend Farthengrodden Father, I am most perturbed by it”.

“Why pray tell?” asks the sainted father with a smile,

“T’is not my place to vaunt corrupting gossip, but, he has been suspected  of murder Father!”

“But, he has been acquitted Reverend” replies the sainted father calmly.

“I know father, but he has been most recently brought before the Bow Street Magistrate, for the embezzlement of work house funds”.

Father Anacletes smiles benignly and makes his reply,”He was acquitted of that also my son. Do you doubt the wisdom of the Goveen Brotherhood in appointing him Principal of the new industrial school?” placing a warm hand on the sleeve of Arthur Farquar’s robes he looks up into his face wise owl that he is and smiles.” My dear child, his family have been great benefactors to our cause for many, many, years. Pray tell, is thy old headmaster still resident at Bethlem Asylum?”

The Reverend Farquar blushes and nods, Father Anacletes continues,”And Master Parnham, how is he?” now Arthur’s face grows pale for t’is well known that since the burning down of Ravens Industrial School and the murder of his daughter, Master Parnham has fallen (direly) to drink.

“Whereas you dear Arthur go from strength to strength a giant amongst maggots! The Reverend Farthengrodden has fallen down before the feet of the brotherhood, confessed his sins and bitterly repented of them. He has left off all profane associations and now resides at the Imperatur Angelorum Monastery. He is a brand plucked from the burning, you need have no worries so far as he is concerned.”

Arthur Farquar is mortified, is the burning stench of Raven’s Industrial School never to leave him? “Tell me how goes it with your congregation? I’ve heard tell they struggle to embrace the ways of Gove”. Heard tell? Who could possibly have tiptoed off and told him? Reverend Farquar pales even further, he looks as though he might faint,”I am told that you have had considerable difficulty reining in Master Liquorish’s taste for the old religion“.

“M-m-my lord!” still smiling the sainted father waves a be-ringed hand before him dismissively.”No matter,Master Liquorish has fallen ill”

“Indeed?” Reverend Farquar strives desperately to affect an air of outward serenity. “T’is feared he may never leave his bed, in fact it is rumoured that he has had the last rites read over him, by the former priest of this parish naturally”.  

Having his competency queried the Reverend Farquar lacks the confidence to suggest a replacement for the dying man and so he asks timidly,”Who is to take his place as church warden and treasurer?”

“Why who else?” responds the sainted father with a triumphant smile,”Reverend Farthengrodden!”

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T’was a freezing cold day outside St Paul’s Cathedral, though the dark and gloomy interior burned with all the fervour and passion that only the presence of St Gove could engender. Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows alighting on the shabby clothing of the supplicants and bathing their upturned faces in an ethereal glow.
“Oh Gove!” the congregation murmured,
“Oh Gove” Reverend Unctuous replied,
“Oh Gove!” they groaned turning 90 degrees and tugging their forelocks,
“Sweet Gove” Reverend Unctuous intoned, opening his copy of the Gove Testament, special Wendy Deng Edition, as approved & sponsored by the ‘CarpetRight’ Tsar Lord Harris. The tatty well thumbed pages were potent evidence of his total devotion to the Govean path to improvement as the congregation well knew.

“From bite-sized learning and superficial knowledge deliver us St.Gove”

“Oh deliver us, deliver us” throwing up their biro stained palms and swaying first to the left and then to the right the congregation tugged their forelocks anxiously. For they sensed rather than saw that there was one amongst them who was not chanting from the same ceremonial testament. Madame Guacamoley, once of Sibyl Vane Academy, glared at Reverend Unctuous, her lips rearing back from her teeth.

“A bridge too far is never far enough! Grant us clarity St.Gove, deliver us from the common sense of the age. Aid us in reshaping the academic bell-curve, grant us the succour of your goodness & greatness,the vigour & rigour of your moral purpose!”

Shuffling as one to the centre aisle, the congregants clasped their ink stained hands to their bosoms singing

“We do not expect children to know their place, but we know our place St. Gove! We know our place!”
Reverend Unctuous smiled at all those anxious faces, all those tear-stained cheeks. But there was one amongst them who filled his heart with grim foreboding, aberrant that she was. With her raven locks piled sumptuously upon her head and that infamous scarlet gown, she was the antithesis of suppressed creativity,Reverend Unctuous pitied her.

“Bow to the king of nip, tuck, retreat? Never! This is wrong so very wrong! Listen to yourselves!”

Hitching up the skirts of her scarlet gown Madame Guacamoley sprinted down the aisle snatching a copy of the blessed testament out of the hands of a sleepy novitiate. The congregation gasped with horror, as one they lurched forward, but before they could stop her she raised the book high above her head her bosom heaving, throwing it to the ground, she jumped up and down on it vigorously. Some members of the congregation screamed, others fainted, the rest rushed forward as one grabbing hold of her and hustling her aggressively out through the church doors. Her hair unloosed (Reverend Unctuous noted that it hung most appealingly on her shoulders), and gown torn, Madame Guacamoley remained unrepentant, “It’s wrong I tell you! So wrong! Academic brilliance is a marathon not a sprint! Our children deserve better!”

Reverend Unctuous cleared his throat and prayed fervently, “Cleanse us St. Gove, she was among us, but alas not of us”
From the rear of the cathedral a lone sob arose.
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Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Sunday Under Three Heads

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