Monday, 29 October 2012
In these tumultuous Dark Age days, the soothsayers seem to take untold delight in announcing yet more gloom and turbulence. In this last couple of days they've been excitedly informing the Northumbrian Kingdom about severe weather conditions which have been brewing over the eastern coast of that faraway (and as yet undiscovered) land affectionately known as Ultima Thule. The delirium generated by these announcements has been so intense that all shipping from these island shores has been immediately cancelled, and aspiring Viking discoverers, merchants, snake oil salesmen, privateers and maritime thugs have been advised to suspend their seaborne adventures until the adverse climatic conditions have abated. So terribly sad.
I was quite intrigued when I first heard this. As I ruminated over a mouse, the following question quietly insinuated itself into my feline mind: how do the soothsayers know this stuff, and why do they pretend to be so knowledgeable about this sort of thing? I decided to investigate. In my usual modus operandi, I went around to visit those friends who share an interest in such matters. Feaxede the Fox didn't have the first clue about it when I asked him, and didn't even offer any suggestion as to where I could pursue my line of enquiry. My humungous feline friend Leo (remember him? I still pay him a call from time to time) couldn't furnish me with any ideas either. I even visited Brockwald the badger, but he wasn't remotely interested in my question; I suspect he was preoccupied with his fellow-creatures' momentous decision, which has recently been postponed until next summer. At least it gives them time to formulate a workable strategy..
I knew that it was a complete waste of time to disturb my human master Caedmon over such things; if he's not out of doors, minding the herds as his paid employment, he's busy engaged in his pious poetic endeavours, and rhyming Anglo-Saxon couplets and iambic pentameters seem to be weightier matters in his estimation. I was about to abandon all hope of having my curiosity sated when I suddenly remembered my old feline buddy Lareow - the Minister For Rodent Communities in Caedmeron's Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration. Of course! He's the one to go to for valuable insight. I took a wander over to his luxurious dwelling (which is subsidised by the long-suffering Northumbrian taxpayers, of course) and arranged for an interview with him over lunch. Over a mouse hors d'oeuvres, I asked him my question. I was surprised at the detail of his answer, which I now submit for your edification and delectation:
The soothsayers discover such remarkable items of news as a result of chewing particularly strong varieties of magic mushroom, which, when they take effect, elevate their consciousness (or at least, what approximates to it) to an abnormally high altitude. From such a vantage point they're able to witness remarkable visions, which they babble excitably to (sober) scribes, who are on hand with their pens poised to scribble down their ecstatic gibbering. This is apparently necessary because all recollection of these revelations evaporates when their minds return to terra firma as the effects of the fungi subside. It apparently takes a very long time to obtain a coherent narrative from the resulting manuscripts..
As for the weather, it appears that a mighty storm is brewing as a result of two colliding masses of moving air. The one is a swirling vortex of hot and malodorous rhetoric which emanates from the foetid swamplands of the Redistributionist heartland. When it encounters the cooler - but no less vile - zephyrs of the Tree Faction, a violent reaction takes place, and the resulting cycle of wind and slobber gathers a frightening momentum, disturbing the normally placid existence of people, destroying their homes and communities as it twists its drunken way through the Kingdom, uprooting Trees and scattering ordure everywhere. The damage is incalculable, and the resulting smell is enough to make a dog heave.
It all sounds like a typical day in Northumbrian politics to me - although I didn't say that to Lareow for fear of offending him. He's a veritable fountain of knowledge, and I don't want to lose such a valuable source of information..