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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Wrapping It Up

Although the title of this post might convey the idea that I'm intending to pull my claws in (and the absence of recent posts would go far to nurture that idea), This is not actually the case. Your Cat has been delighted and thrilled to hear of the next hare-brained scheme planned by the Northumbrian Tree/Liberationist Administration.

Water is a commodity that is necessary to the well-being of all Northumbrian humans - as well of course as all members of the animal kingdom. Naturally, it has its own merits and demerits; the average fisherman, artisan, soldier or street trader will find little advantage in this elemental fluid if he (or she) wishes to temporarily forget about the cares, woes and worried foisted upon their shoulders by the politicos and other species of vermin. Good foaming ale - or a stout flagon of mead - is far more helpful in conveying one to the banks of the river Lethe. Furthermore, water can be potentially hazardous; it can drown the hapless individual who falls into a lake, and even when gently babbling crystal clear though the brooks of the Kingdom, it can bear toxic and brackish substances that can bring the poor drinker to death's door - or at least, seriously ill.

In view of these potential dangers (and also in a bid to protect the children), some politicos have decided that Something Must Be Done. What is proposed is that all water within the Realm should be packaged in plain wrappers. This may seem absurd, but given the intimate relationship between the politicos and certain members of the Northumbrian business community whose company they perpetually seek and nurture, this is a most creative and ingenious enterprise. The task of the operation is vast, since the storage of it in barrels and butts - not to mention its manifestation in brooks, lakes, streams and wells - is a fearsome undertaking. The task of covering up some glass bottle or jug doesn't compare with the feat of shrouding an entire lake in some bland blanket. But, as you and I will agree, it's worth it for the sake of the younger generation, who could so easily fall foul of its dangers.

And think about the benefit of the businesses who gladly agree to execute such a decision at the Administration's behest. The financial benefits are little short of miraculous. And who will be paying for all of this? Look no further than the pockets of the average Northumbrian artisan, fisherman and street trader...

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Honours Among Thieves

In my morning rounds, it's my custom to wait by a particular fence for a few minutes; I've found by observation that there's a particular hole underneath the aforesaid fence providing a convenient route for passing mice, whose footprints have steadily worn a small trackway. And I'm never disappointed if I wait there, since some hapless rodent is certain to pass by.

In a similar fashion, my annual routine at this time of the year is to join with my vulpine friend Feaxede the fox in the blessed anticipation of the Northumbrian New Year Honours. We eagerly listen out to the ramblings of Beeby See and other soothsayers to catch news of the eagerly-awaited Awards. We can hardly contain our excitement as the names of the nominees is put forward, and our hearts simply burst for joy! Happy days!

These Honours are awarded by the Supreme Monarch of Northumbria, the ancient King Alhfrith, although I shouldn't hestitate to point out that the Great Chieftain doesn't actually play any part in the selection of those nominated to receive these awards; such labours are infra dignatem for such as he. Fortunately, he has a legion of politicos, diversity co-ordinators, pigeon psychologists and sociopaths to take up the menial process of selecting the recipients.

There are three separate categories of awards: Distinguished Order of the Northumbrian Kingdom [DONK], Hero Of the Northumbrian Kingdom [HONK] and Bachelor Of the Nothumbrian Kingdom [BONK]. Each individual nominated to receive such an honour is supplied with a reason for his or her award; this is usually prefaced with either the phrase "For services to.." or "In recognition of..."

Most of the recipients are names unknown to the Northumbrian populace, since most of them are people who don't actually exist, but whose inclusion provides some measure of proof that the selectors have actually been doing something to earn their Holy Groats. However, some are awarded (with fanfares) to leading celebrity drunks, homeopaths, luvvies, vermin, politicos and criminals. Those servants of the public who've managed to set one particular community at the throat of another (for example, Vikings against Caledonians) are granted an honour in recognition to their services to the Great Goddess of Diversity. And so it goes. On occasion awards are even granted to ordinary members of the public who've given their time in the service of others or who have performed some outstanding act of courage.

Such excitement for these awards as ours isn't restricted to members of the animal kingdom, either. I went on a fact-finding mission to find out what the average Northumbrian thought about these New Year Honours, and I was suitably impressed by the response I found. One fisherman I asked was so animated about it that he spat; fortunately I wasn't within the trajectory of the fluid utterance. A market trader I questioned look blankly at me, leaned over to one side and sent a noisy explosion from his hind quarters, accompanied by a noxious invisible cloud of colonic gas.

I can emphasise enough how exciting these awards are; even the humans have a visceral affection for them!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Pox Docks

Your Cat hopes that you've had a very good Christmas; mine was spent in the usual territorial wanderings, but none of the usual threats to my Kingdom could be bothered to stir their idle bones to challenge me, so it was a relatively peaceful day, with a respectable catch of mice and a haddock supper to make it complete. All that remains now is the forthcoming festivities for the New Year, which, in the Northumbrian Kingdom, is a suitable pretext for excessive mawkish sentimentality and drunkenness. Your Cat will go to ground; I value my peace and quiet.

Not so the soothsayers, who are currently very excited at the sudden arrival of the Wibbler Plague – the latest illegal immigrant to these shores. As your Cat is given to understand it, the Wibbler Plague is an exotic friend of Guardy-Ann, the self-awarded Soothsayer Of The Year for the thirteen thousandth time in succession. With a shared hatred of the human race, and being no respecter of godliness, creed, colour or biscuit, Guardy-Ann and the Wibbler Plague have a great deal in common, although to be fair, at least the former commands some loyal following and affection among the bongo-playing unwashed, yogurt weavers, arty luvvies, magic mushroom-chewing Redistributionists and the kindergarten educators of the Realm, whereas the latter is no man's friend, piggy-backing its way around the places it infests, hopping aboard the hapless humans who unwittingly carry it over to their social circles. In this manner the Wibbler does its grim work.

Dagwald Caedmeron – the Principal Nosedrop of the Tree/Liberationist Aliance Administration – is wringing his hands and wondering what to do, since the constant jabbering of the soothsayers seems to strongly suggest that the pestilential pox will engulf and overwhelm the entire Kingdom within a few days, leaving a trail of death, dog droppings and destruction in its wake. Various incantations and herbal remedies have already been tried by physicians in specially woven gowns in order to combat its malign influence, but these have so far failed to bring its nefarious activities to an end.

However, your Cat has already come up with a solution to the Wibbler Problem, and its execution is both simple and elegant. All that Caddy Boy needs to do is to have a quiet chat with Ruswald the Brat and ask him nicely to give the Pox a ride to the self-styled Valhalla Viking Republic of the Levant, who are running berserk in that neck of the woods in an orgy of throat-cutting and bloodlust. He'll do the most valuable service to Northumbria. After all, Guardy-Ann needn't be told a thing...


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wintervaltide Greetings from Northumbria

Everything is grinding to a halt here in the lovely Dark Ages Kingdom of Northumbria as the festive season fast approaches. The labourers have returned to their hovels - or, in most cases - to the inns, where ale and mead flow down their gullets in industrial quantities; the fishermen and market tradesmen have similarly retreated to the aforementioned haunts, leaving their wives to prepare bread and seasonal dishes for the forthcoming Christmas feast.

There's an eerie air of stillness upon the Kingdom which is only occasionally punctuated by the grunting of assorted beasts in their barns and the distant bleating of politicos and the braying of soothsayers. Such relative inactivity affords your Cat a well-earned break from the relentless daily chore of maintaining the territory and defending it from young feline pretenders, who are all probably curled up in front of their home fires, bellies replete with chicken dinner leftovers.

The Abbey of Streonaeshalh is preparing for the midnight mass tonight and the services tomorrow, and the monks and priests are making all the necessary preparations for the throngs who will doubtless be filling the place. My master Caedmon is composing some verse to mark the season. It's not a good idea to interrupt him when he's in creative mode; I value my continued existence too much.

At the darkest time of the year it's quite appropriate that humans celebrate the entrance of the Light of the World into a stable in Bethlehem. Admittedly, all of the leaders of the church acknowledge that the feast of Christmas has been superimposed over the ancient Roman pagan feast of Saturnalia; the precise date of the Redeemer's birth isn't known, and no traditions exist to suggest its chronology. Suffice it to say that this doesn't really matter, since the arrival of the Eternal into the realms of time and space are the occasion for rejoicing and reflection at any time.

A very Happy Christmas to you all!

CC

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Brat Droppings

There's been very little to disturb my existential ennui since I last posted, and I've been quite content to patrol my substantial territories, chase and catch mice, rats, politicians and other kinds of vermin. Life rolls on here in Dark Ages Streonaeshalh, and the human population are - as ever - captivated by the footballing prowess of Madcaster Untied, not to mention the assorted ramblings and scare stories about Viking fanatics and noxious poxes and plagues from the soothsayers, most especially Beeby See, who's regarded with a touchingly misplaced veneration by the majority of the Northumbrian Saxons. One of Beeby See's favourites at the moment is a shambolic character who answers to the name of Ruswald the Brat. The aforesaid has been promoted by the aforementioned soothsayer to an embarrassing degree, and he's been wheeled on at every available opportunity to pass on the Delphic oracles that drool gracelessly from his loosely flapping chops.

Ruswald the Brat – a professional imbecile aged fifteen – has made a great deal of his fortune by appearing in public and pretending to be a court jester. His notoriety comes from his ability to insult, offend and poke fun at various groups of people, and to write books that buyers pretend to have read for fear of not appearing hip, cool and trendy.

Ruswald the Brat is a man of unfathomable profundity whose vacuousness threatens to swallow him entire; his impressive mastery of the Anglo-Saxon language is only equalled by his inability to understand the individual words he uses - along with the meaning of those phrases randomly strung together like beads from them. Nevertheless, this hasn't failed to impress Beeby See, and such erudition (or whatever passes for it) has also endeared him to scores of window-licking admirers who desire to emulate him.

The Brat's popularity with Beeby See owes to the fact that he isn't averse to airing his abundant ignorance on matters political, and since his blurred thought processes are the result of the consumption of industrial quantities on Magic Mushrooms over the greatest part of his life, his sayings find a certain resonance with some Redistributionists. He's even urged the Northumbrian population not to vote, this being for the alleged reason that all of the political factions are owned by the same cartel of greedy merchants, thus rendering the political process pointless. To add to his impressive list of achievements, he's also criticised the Tree/Liberationist Administration for its imposition of the so-called Pantry Tax – a charge for those tenants of hovels and A-frame houses who use the spare room as a food store rather than a bedroom for a needy mendicant. His fulminations against those who take measures to preserve their fortunes from the clutches of the Northumbrian Exchequer have also carved him a place in the diseased hearts of the Redistributionists as a Champion of the Poor.

When challenged by a soothsayer's lackey about his own sumptuous residence – which he's rented in order to avoid paying taxes on his substantial fortunes – the poor Champion of the Poor has resorted to choicest Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon turns of phrase against the hapless questioner, followed by the swift projection of horse manure.

The sophistication of his arguments is manifesting itself; your Cat predicts that a life of obscurity awaits him...

Monday, 10 November 2014

Who Wants To Be A Milliner?

Ever since the Redistributionist Faction assigned me the task of coaching Edweird the Milliner to improve his standing in the political life of the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria (didn't I tell you about that? – I thought I had…), I've noticed some considerable improvements in his standing before the electorate, and I'm certainly pleased with the outcome so far. Please pardon my modesty.

Naturally, it comes as a complete mystery to me as to why the Redistributionists should elect to choose a common-or-garden moggy to groom their Great Leader for stardom and greatness; perhaps it's because I'm endowed with a measure of astuteness and impartiality that evades the stock-in-trade human contenders for the post. Needless to say, the rewards from my work are lavish, since they've been redistributed from the Northumbrian public purse into their treasure-chests. If Dover sole, smoked salmon and caviar are good enough for a Redistributionist politico and a trade guild baron, they're certainly good enough for me!

One fundamental priority I've implemented is to seriously attempt to make Edweird the Milliner look vaguely human and sane when under the public eye. This has been a severely difficult task for me to achieve, but in our daily coaching sessions (one hour, full fish expenses paid) I've managed to accomplish a breakthrough; Eddy Boy now knows how to pull the correct face when presented with a hedgehog pie, and also how to appear when he starts to attempt to eat it.

Part of the syllabus I've set for Eddie is also eye and mouth training. This has also been something of an upward struggle, since these two features of his physiognomy have habitually struggled in mortal combat with each other on the arena of his face. One mark of the improvement that my training has managed to accomplish is that now, his eyes roll inwards while his mouth is closed, and conversely, his mouth contorts into its customarily peculiar shapes while his eyes look ahead. This is by no means the fulfillment of my training sessions, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Such is the measure of my success thus far that already Eddy Boy's popularity has already soared in the esteem of the electorate, and among his colleagues, only a few thousand voices are now raised in dissent and in favour of a replacement Chieftain. He is being groomed to be the next Principal Minister!

All that remains on my list of outstanding objectives is to teach him how to not call for an independent public enquiry every five seconds. Now that's a tough call, if ever there was one…

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Revolt Of The Water Fairies

To break the torpor which has overcome this Cat has been one serious challenge. For weeks now, I've been so occupied with the maintaining of my kingdom - fending off pretenders to my throne, administering a salutary thick (or torn) ear where necessary - along with cleaning its precincts of mice, rats, politicians and various other species of vermin. Such activities have been sufficient to occupy my paws, claws, teeth and intellectual powers. While the soothsayers have regaled me with tales of woe about the Great Wibbler Plague - which reputedly attacks the fragile constitutions of human beings and renders their brains into a gel-like mush while transmuting them into gibbering clones of Edweird the Milliner and Dagwald Caedmeron -  I've chosen to turn my ears and eyes into a more parochial direction.

Nevertheless, I've been re-animated by the excited reports from Beeby See and other soothsayers about the forthcoming collective action announced by the Water Fairies in response to the harsh strictures imposed upon them by the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration.

For the sake of my uneducated readers, the Water Fairies are a mythical species of human being who live under rules, terms and conditions of their own. In a parallel universe, to put it another way. Their function is to sit together in communes, play cards and tell jokes among themselves until their daily responsibilities are fulfilled, and then to go home, once they've been succeeded by the next shift. Occasionally they are called to drop their cards and suspend their stories in order to dash elsewhere to administer water to house fires, thus extinguishing them to the relief of the hapless householders. For thousands of years this comfortable arrangement has existed, and the Water Fairies have happily drawn their wages and their old-age stipends from the public purse.

Other services however have been less favoured, and have been customarily obliged to spend their working days dashing to and from in the interests of public health or civil order. Naturally those transporters of the Sick and Ailing to the witch doctors of the Northumbrian Herbalist Service have been resentful of their water-bearing peers, and have failed to understand why they should enjoy such lavish benefits while they have to endure all manner of woes in the routine execution of their duties.

The forthcoming weeks are going to prove to be quite interesting while the Water Fairies play cards and tell jokes to each other outside their communes around their braziers. Their day isn't going to be vastly different from the one they spend in harness. Their replacements in the case of emergency are yet to be selected...