Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Phobia Of The Day

There's no doubt in my feline mind that the frequency of horror stories promulgated by Beeby See, Guardy Ann, the Windy Pedant, Dellimell and the other soothsayers is increasing. Exponentially. Each day that passes uncovers yet another issue to arouse anxiety in those members of the Northumbrian populace who are either unreflective or obtuse enough to take them seriously. These are usually tales of terror concerning the Northumbrian's dietary and drinking habits, as well as the many herbs used to treat common ailments in the Northumbrian Herbalist Service. These new revelations of distress, woe and business are usually accompanied by a learned discourse from some serious-looking, white-coated shaman who always (miraculously) manages to maintain a straight face while passing on the benefits of his or her professional opinion.

Today, it's the turn of Red Meat - which - if I understand it correctly, refers to meat that's red when it's freshly cut from the carcass of the unfortunate animal who is providing it. If what Beeby See et alia are telling us is correct, Red Meat is Bad For You if you eat it. And if you do persist in eating it, then there is a distinct probability that you will die, and the odds are that it will be sooner than you think, and it will, of course, be a horrible death. It has to be a nasty death rather than a nice one, otherwise there would be little point in feeding the story to the hungry soothsayers. Dramatic impact matters, children.

There have been similar tales recently about milk, cheese and cream, bread, honey, cakes, cabbages, St John's Wort, mustard, custard, rhubarb and splints used to bind up broken limbs. Oh - and the stories about alcohol are particular favourites. Mead and ale are powerfully destructive forces which must be tamed by the Tree/Liberationist Administration - for the good and the happiness of the long-suffering, overtaxed Northumbrian public, who (they fondly believe) will one day thank them for their wise decision to price it beyond the average day labourer's pocket. I suspect that when the opportunity presents itself, they'll thank the politicos with well-appointed swords and spears..

When I saw him the other day, I asked Lareow - Caedmeron's Rat Supremo and Senior Rodent Officer - where these scare stories come from, and his explanation was most revealing. He went wandering around his territory recently, and chanced upon a committee room where civil servants were seated around a table, upon which was a large dial with a rotating arrow at its centre. One of the men present was spinning the arrow, and in enraptured fascination was waiting for it to stop and settle on the dial. Another drudge wrote down the inscription which appeared at the end of the arrow point. The inscription that day was 'Butter.'

That at least explains the seeming randomness of these tales. When I told Caedmon about this, for some reason he wouldn't believe me. But I find Lareow's explanation a great deal more plausible than the tales the soothsayers tell..

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