Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Northumbrian National Faction

As I observe the present day with my feline eyes, I never cease to marvel at the sheer idiocy and unreasonableness that is rapidly engulfing the human institutions here in Streonaeshalch, and in the Kingdom Of Northumbria as a whole.

As I've previously mentioned, it came to my realisation (and I don't miss a trick - it's a feline thing) that the political landscape of this 7th century kingdom is dominated by the wealthy and powerful - although by a hidden hand. The instruments of government through the Witangemot talking shop are constructed to create the illusion that the ordinary people have some measure of say and control over their governance. In reality, the representatives of the people are no more than stooges of their wealthy paymasters, and they put on a wonderfully theatrical display of political animosity to fool the populace. They are paid well for their show, but most people don't even see this..

I've also mentioned the Vikings - a generally peaceable minority group over here, who stubbornly stick to their own religions and customs - despite living in a largely Christianised Anglo-Saxon community. The soothsayers have regularly spread scare stories about them. These state that the Vikings pose a clear and present threat to the Anglo-Saxon way of life; allegedly there are those among them who'd think nothing of going beserk and killing innocent people - and themselves - in the cause of their god Odin. Supposedly they believe that they receive a hero's reward in Valhalla when they die as warriors for their cause. At the same time, the Witangemot are passing laws in the name of 'equality' and 'diversity' that actually favour the Vikings more than the indigenous residents.

The hysteria about Vikings has been intense; as a reaction against this, some Northumbrian people have formed their own factions in the interest of preserving the Anglo-Saxon identity and culture. The main group is called The Northumbrian National Faction; they've existed for a few years. Caedmon tells me that when they first came into being, they were tolerated by the soothsayers and the people as a whole - rather in the same way that a parent might indulgently or patiently tolerate a noisy or disruptive child. But in recent times the mood towards them has changed. They are now demonised as a group of bigots; their views aren't given houseroom by most people, and they're dismissed as Anglo-Saxon supremacists without so much as a discussion. This caused me to wonder. Why have attitudes changed so much in a comparatively short time? Why are people not even willing to listen to them? Is it really true that they aren't worth listening to?

With this in mind I hatched a plan; I told Caedmon that I would be away for a few days, and I left the hovel and wandered through the town, attracting attention from cat-loving children who stopped to give me the obligatory fuss. Of course, I obligingly purred to their satisfaction. I hung around the street corners and listened to people in the fish market until I found someone whose views I could identify as being consistent with those of the Northumbrian National Faction. It was a large fisherman called Ulric; he was grumbling about the Witangemot -  and the factions who were caving in to the demands of the Vikings for more concessions. Summoning my charm-offensive strategy, I rubbed against his ankle and miaowed loudly. I laid the 'poor pussycat' act on as thickly as I could. He naturally relented and took me home to his own hovel - much to the delight of his children. I made myself at home, tolerated the benign but rough treatment from the youngsters, and listened to conversations between Ulric and his wife Freda. After a few days of eavesdropping on their conversations - and those with visiting friends - I had a clear picture of what they thought. There was something of a hostile edge in their attitude to the Vikings, but for all that, they were reasonable and God-fearing people who were aggrieved that their thoughts and feelings were dismissed out of hand by the majority because of the prejudice that had been spread against them. They'd reached the same conclusions as I had; the Witangemot was rigged - like a loaded dice. They also suspected the hidden hand of the nobility.

After a few nights of free board and lodging (and fish suppers), I caused an upset by scratching one of the children and in view of my unpopularity took the opportunity to slip away and return to Caedmon's place.

For some reason those words '..divide and rule' still come into my head. I think I know why.

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