Thursday, 1 March 2012
Sending The Clowns
As the morally, spiritually and financially bankrupt Holy Roman Empire (which can legitimately claim to be neither holy, Roman nor an empire) tightens its vice-like grip upon the cultural, economic and political life of the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria, yet another bulletin arrives from the playground where this cultural war is being waged.
News can come from such unexpected quarters; I was walking on my usual rounds this morning, sniffing the springtime air and surveying my feline monarchy with some measure of complacency, when my reveries were suddenly interrupted by the approach of a very large cat. This was no regular moggy, and his size was immense - even larger than my incarcerated friend Leo - and his coat was a shade of yellow, punctuated by irregular black stripes. When I saw him, I decided that it would be a good idea to speedily seek refuge in the branches of a nearby tree, since I couldn't be sure that he wouldn't recognise me as some kind of potential bite-sized delicacy.
He approached the tree where I was anxiously seated, and looked up. He'd evidently seen me. Drat! He then asked me my name, and I told him that I'm known as CC. I politely asked him what he was, where he came from, and where he was going. He told me that he was a tiger, descended from a distinguished line of ancestors from the distant shores of India. He'd escaped from a circus and was searching for his companions, who had similarly absconded. I asked him why he'd decided to leave the entertainment industry, and he told me that there are moves afoot from the diktats of the High and the Mighty to ban the employment of animals in circuses. The inevitable result of this draconian measure would be death for the existing circus creatures, and since he didn't find the prospect remotely appealing as a career change, he and his colleagues decided to vote with their paws. He was trying to locate his friends, who had all parted company at dead of night in a bid to elude their captors.
I told him I was terribly sorry to hear about this. For millennia, small children have been delighted by the tricks of circus animals such as horses who can count, acrobatic elephants, sea-lions, monkeys, dogs and the tame big cats; this was an unmitigated disaster. What then would replace the animals in these travelling shows? He told me that they would be replaced by human beings: trapeze artists, jugglers, acrobats and clowns. Boring.
I asked him if he was hungry, and what his customary diet was, and he told me that it usually consisted of large sides of lamb, beef or pork. One of his friends had once eaten a member of the circus staff, and he reported that the experience was most pleasurable. I was quite relieved to hear this, as this suggested that I wasn't likely to be a gastronomic candidate. He told me he was very hungry: could I help?
I told him that I would immediately send him a delegation from the Witangemot - I told him I was sure he'd feel at home, as there are plenty of clowns and wild beasts to choose from…