Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Guardy-Ann's New Daily Workers

The soothsayer Guardy-Ann is a very peculiar institution in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria. The darling of the Redistributionists and the illiberal liberals, she bears messages of love, sweetness and beneficence for the world - and special reserves of it for those who don't share her magic mushroom-fuelled view of the world, governance and the price of hake. Of course, being somewhat idiosyncratic by nature, she wraps up her terms of endearment in the most venomous of sentiments and intemperate language. I blame the mushrooms: it's my own belief that centuries of mastication have had an irreversibly deleterious effect on her psyche, not to mention her powers of communication, leaving her like some demoniac who rails against invisible foes, and utters sweet nothings couched in flowery anglo-saxon Anglo-Saxon language at high volume. Sadly for Guardy-Ann, unlike the Gadarene demoniac of the Holy Gospels, redemption isn't in prospect...

Dear old Guardy - like her kinswoman and soul-mate Beeby See - has been intensely interested in the empire of His Royal Highness Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach, the proprietor of many fine soothsayers and entertainers, and she hasn't hesitated to share with the world her sadness and sympathy at the moral lapses of Rupie's soothsayers, thus demonstrating the innate goodness of her heart. Many pay court at her house, believing her to be the embodiment of goodness and virtue; others dismiss her as an embittered old witch. I think she's very odd - but strangely fascinating.

Recently there's been a lot of furore about Caedmeron's aim to encourage unemployed people to take on temporary periods of unpaid work, thus acclimatising them with the workaday world and giving them new areas of experience to help them for the future. Several market traders had shown an interest in such a scheme - until Guardy-Ann, Beeby See and the armchair generals of the Trade Guilds ventured the opinion that these unemployed people were simply being ruthlessly expoited by cynical employers who wanted some free labour.

Caedmeron and his fellow politicos - showing their cast iron resolve - dropped the proposal like a hot stone.

Guardy-Ann in the meantime has been quietly recruiting for volunteers to help her. They must be of non-Anglo-Saxon stock, and preferably disabled. If the latter quality is missing, I'm sure the disability can be easily arranged. The won't be paid, of course..

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Meeting Of Minds

Your Cat has been most excited about new thrilling developments in the political arena here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria. The winning of hearts and minds to the Redistributionist Cause achieved a new standard in quality yesterday when one of the rank-and-file honourable members of the Witangemot - a certain Redistributionist - Eric the Joystring by name - met one of his Tree counterparts for a reasoned debate within the sacred precincts of the Witangemot's own ale and mead house (finest ales, meads and the nectar from the vineyards of Charlemagne are joyfully subsidised by the taxpayer, of course).

The Mother of Witangemots and Paradigm of De-Mockery-Cy is the natural place for such grave and august people to meet and to exchange their opinions regarding the future of the Kingdom and the price of halibut; no area within those hallowed walls is exempt from the process of reasoned debate; the refectories - places of quintessential refinement and culinary excellence (subsidised by the long-suffering taxpayer, naturally) are places where ideas and opinions are frequently exchanged between politicos, aided by the beverages lovingly supplied for the purpose. How terribly civilised.

Sadly though, the venerable Redistributionist in question, not having been in possession of a reasonable argument with which to defend his ideological position, saw fit to resort to the ultimate method with which to convey his message: he used his head. Of course, it can be argued that the cream of the political elite should always devote their cerebral powers to the vexed matters of State - after all, that's what they were elected for - especially by thumb-sucking, knuckle-dragging members of the Northumbrian populace who lack the mental finesse to form their own conclusions.

But this meeting of minds was entirely a cranial affair, and the accompanying crunch could be heard by the carousing hordes in the tavern. It was a real conversation-stopper for all of thirty microseconds.

Edweird the Milliner - the Dear and Beloved Leader of the Redistributionist Faction - has found it necessary to distance the Faction from such a fellow, and the Costumed Thugs are carrying out their preliminary enquiries, which will reach their heady conclusion at the end of thirty thousand years. The offended Tree politico is currently wondering how his head came to hurt so much this morning...

This Kitty is rather puzzled. Why has Edweird kicked the Joystring out of the camp? Was he being too honest? I'm going to give this some thought. But first, I must go for my lunch. Mackerel is very good for the brains..

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Drought Turn

As I emerged from the crypt, I was greeted by my good friend Feaxede the fox, who'd grown increasingly concerned during my absence from the scene, and whom - I suspect - had missed me. (He'd never tell me that, of course.) I assured him that I was fine, and that it was a cat's prerogative to go on occasions to discreetly visit a crypt and to leave a small offering. It goes with the territory.

Feaxede then briefed me about the latest developments in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria. I sat fascinated as I heard him tell me about Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach's new solar Sunday soothsaying project to replace the dead and disgraced Nus Utherworld. He then told me about the joyful Greek people, who were welcoming their new austerity and debt-ridden poverty with open arms, not to mention the privileged opportunity to become a southern province of the Westphalian Kingdom. He told me about the ecstatic welcome that Andhun the Landslide's new reforms of the Northumbrian Herbalist Service have received from the pitiful, the deluded and the unreflective. Other members of the happy-clappy Redistributionist community have yet to comment.

But the main piece of hot news he informed me about was the Great Northumbrian Drought. It appears that this year has seen the very worst drought since the last one. I was staggered, perplexed and horrified when Feaxede told me this. It had seemed like a good winter, and snow had fallen; there had also been some rain. The River Esk was still flowing languidly into the sea, and everything appeared to be normal. The grass was its various shades of brown, and the usual sheep and ox skulls littered the streets. Vultures circled above in their customarily menacing fashion.

I thanked Feaxede for the update, and went on my way with his words still resounding in my feline cranium. A drought? This was terrible news, but so far I hadn't seen any evidence of it. As I walked along deep in thought, a robed figure loomed into view in a slow, bouncing gait; he was riding a large animal, which didn't remotely resemble the usual horses or donkeys I see. It had a large humped back, large feet and a long neck, at the end of which was a head with a strange nose, heavily lashed eyes and mouth bearing a supercilious expression. The figure grunted and spat ominously, and the animal did likewise. As he approached, he asked me in a heavy foreign accent if I knew the way to Timbuktou. I told him that I he'd probably missed a turning: he should head off in the direction of Skarðaborg - a coastal Viking settlement some miles down the coast. He issued some guttural exotic valediction and departed.

Later on I met Feaxede, who told me that the Tree/Liberationist Administration had appointed a new Minister For Drought and Plague Business, so the problem was going to be solved. Hooray for Caddy Boy and his honourable friends! Where would the Kingdom be without them? I shudder to contemplate. You can't begin to imagine my relief on hearing this news. Feaxede and I will be celebrating later with a feast of fresh chicken carcasses. I can't wait! As soon as the new Ministry is established (at taxpayers' expense, natch), the drought will mysteriously disappear from the landscape.

When I told him about the strange traveller and the weird animal he was riding, he told me that others had also seen him, too. The rumours are that it's His Holiness Georges Moonbat (the High Priestess of the Global Warming Cult), who's still trying to make his way to the next Climate and Magic Mushroom Conference in North Africa. He was reported missing from the previous conference six months ago..

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Cat Crept Into The Crypt...

From the Catmeister

As this blog heads for the magic figure of 10,000 pageviews, I thought it might be a good idea once again to thank my loyal readers (some really do exist!) for faithfully visiting the blog site to read my latest outpouring of cynicism, sarcasm and good, old-fashioned bile. In the 16 months or so that I've been doing this, I've come to love the Cat; he's my virtual pet. I've gained many valuable insights into his ways by observing the moggies we've had at home over the years. The great thing about cats is that they're incorrigibly cool; they come and go as they please, and if they don't feel like human company or attention, then they simply don't look for it. They're their own creatures, and they have their own agendas, without reference to anyone else. I like that.

The frequency of the postings isn't consistent; for this I apologise; the output of blog postings in any given week is dependent on various factors, the least of which is the abundance (or absence) of any new external point of stimulation for the Cat reflex, which is mainly triggered by some new moronic development in the fantasy world of politics and other debased forms of culture. I could risk repeatedly regurgitating the same old themes, but I'd soon get bored with that, and I'm sure you would as well. Output also depends on my own personal circumstances, too. This last few months have been challenging, especially for my wife, who has had to deal with her remaining parent's decline in health and subsequent death.

I could have chosen my own home turf in the East Midlands for the historical backdrop of the blog, but I preferred to choose Caedmon and Whitby because I admire what little I know of the man, and love the place (although I haven't been there for years), and I'm also fascinated by its place in the history of the Christian Church in the British Isles. The Venerable Bede's 'History Of The English Church and People' has been very useful in providing the background. Like Holy Island, Jarrow and Iona, Whitby (Streonaeshalch) holds a significant place in the development of the Church in this country, especially so because it was the setting for a significant synod in 664 AD, which settled existing conflicts - cultural and theological - between the existing Celtic church and the newly-arrived Catholic import from Rome, which came to Canterbury through Augustine.

My influences are varied. I've been particularly inspired by the 'Way Of The World' column in the Daily Telegraph that the late Auberon Waugh used to write; many a time I would laugh out loud at his acerbic offerings, which were superbly illustrated by the late William Rushton; there are things Waugh wrote 20+ years ago that wouldn't be published today, for fear of setting in motion the Great Diversity Machine of Death. I have to mention Private Eye, which has always been impartial in its swipes against the Establishment and its lackeys. As a youngster I was an avid reader, and I owe a great deal of my love for the richness of English vocabulary to - believe it or not -  Leslie Charteris, whose Simon Templar ('The Saint') novels were as linguistically educational as they were exciting and entertaining. I could also go on to mention Voltaire's 'Candide,' and the works of Stephen Leacock, but I have to stop somewhere. If there are any deficiencies in my style, spelling or punctuation, please forgive me. I'm usually quite punctilious about these things, but a hastily-dashed off missive in a lunch-break will always result in lapses and oversights.

Thank you for your continued support; if there are any issues you think are worthy of a Cat's eye view, please drop me a line through the email address above. I'd be highly delighted to hear from you - especially if you share my high regard for the machinations of the political elite.. ;o)

The Cat will return from the Crypt soon - Deus Volente.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Drink Up

Today, boys and girls, we're going to be talking about the Northumbrian National Drink Problem.  Yes, that's right. Now sit up straight, extract your fingers from your noses and listen.

Just by way of explanation, this Cat hasn't raised this issue, but it's one that has been announced by the soothsayers, who faithfully pass on the latest wibbling obsessions of the politicos to those bovine and knuckle-dragging enough to accept them as Gospel Truth. (I hear say that such people do exist; many of them swell the ranks of the political Factions, where they practise their earnest - but useful - idiocy to perfection. I've found them very easy to identify; their eyes glaze over, and their voices assume a droning monotone as they repeat set words and phrases as though half-asleep.)

The consumption of liquids of an alcoholic nature has been covered elsewhere in your Cat's ramblings, and I don't want to revisit the matter in any depth. But without doubt, the excessive consumption of mead and ale is a feature - yea, a hobby - of the Northumbrian. From the callow yoof to the doughty old soldier, a stomach full of the finest foaming best is the best way of blotting out the sordid and nasty realities of Dark Ages life, as they stagger in packs through the streets, bawling incoherent hymns from Madcaster Untied football matches. It's part of the recreational activity for men to be involved in inexplicable accidents and drunken fights over insignificant trivia; many a morning discloses black eyes, cut heads and swollen mouths, as the carousers struggle in vain to recall their previous evening's entertainment - as well as the reason for their mysterious injuries and pains.

The problem is that this is costing our lovely Kingdom dear; the Northumbrian Herbalist Service is spending vast amounts of Holy Groats and expertise on attending the injuries of the drunks; this is naturally at the expense of the treatment of the suffering and infirm, whose illnesses are not the result of their own actions. Furthermore, the Costumed Thugs are having their resources stretched to the limit in attempting to keep the fragile peace of the streets and the towns - resources which should be better spent apprehending violent criminals and elderly ladies who allow their pet dogs to beautify the paths of the realm with their curly colonic creations.

In view of this, the Tree/Liberationist Administration has decided that Something Must Be Done. Enough is enough; there's not enough (negative) money swilling around, so the expenditure incurred through attending to the Northumbrian Drink Problem must be cut. Drastically.

Therefore Caedmeron - the magic mushroom-chewing Most High Priestess and Chief Cock and Bluebottle Washer of the Tree Faction Adminstration and Principal Minister - has set up a working committee of several million highly-paid public servants to investigate the problem and to produce a Working Document with advice for the Administration to deal with the vexed issue. It will cost trillions of Holy Groats - at taxpayers' expense, of course. By the time the document is produced and the illuminated letters are completed, I predict that most of the Northumbrian population will be in their graves. Some of them as a result of alcohol poisoning..

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Isle Of View

Tensions are starting to rumble once more between the Northumbrian soothsayers and one of their all-time favourite bogeymen - the accursed Goths.

Ever since the Holy Island War over three thousand years ago, things have been embarrassingly tense between the Northumbrians and the Gothic people. When the Goths cheekily invaded and occupied the island - a sacred place where the Most Blessed Aidan set foot and built an Abbey, thereby raising the standard of the Christian Faith - a flotilla of Northumbrian longships loaded with soldiers and experienced bowmen went to the rescue of the hapless islanders. The ensuing battles and the heroism of the fighters have dissolved into the stuff of Northumbrian legend. The Goths were soundly defeated after five minutes of fierce fighting and countless deaths, and they were sent limping joyfully home in disgrace.

Since those turbulent times, a new resource has been discovered on the islands which has aroused the envy of every other nation in the civilised world. The soil on the island is very lush and fertile, and is ideal for sheep farmers; the resulting ovine droppings are - when matured - a valuable source of fuel for the winter fires of the world. The place produces tons of the stuff, and it's wonderful business for the enterprising farmers. Consequently there's a steady stream of boats coming into the harbour to be loaded with the precious material, bound for the four corners of the globe.

Now that these millennia have passed, the Goths are starting to take a renewed interest in the Holy Island, and they've restated their territorial claim on the sacred isle. After all, they're only six hundred thousand leagues away from the place, so it must be theirs by right. Well, the Northumbrians got there first, and established Civilization there, so their argument is somewhat flaccid. I suspect that they don't want the island for pious reasons - they have their eyes on the sheep dropping industry. But I could be wrong.

But no matter: a lank, evil-smelling and scruffy thespian called Short Bent (who was famous three thousand six hundred years ago) has weighed into the controversy, claiming that the Northumbrian Kingdom has no right to continue to occupy the island: it should go to the hard-done-by Goths, who have paid him thousands of ducats to play this particular starring role. Shorty is abundantly qualified to speak on the matter; Gothic mead contributed significantly towards his character development and made him the person of obscurity he is today.

My feline mate Lareow - Chief Mouser and Rodent Czar of Caedmeron's royal residence and my eyes and ears in the corridors of impotence - has told me that Caddy Boy is very frightened. My own reaction - and I've shared it with Lareow - is that Caddy should give Shorty Bent an invitation to visit the island himself. He'll soon find himself in one of those boats with the cargo..

Friday, 10 February 2012

Prayer Flay

As the Northumbrian Kingdom reels drunkenly from the body-blow of Flavius Capellus' departure, yet more desolation comes rolling in from the soothsayers to pollute the air of public cheerfulness.

It's usually the custom in the Witangemot meetings - nationally and locally - to start their proceedings with a prayer, usually administered by any monk or priest who happens to be in the vicinity. The ensuing business after this moment of humble spiritual reflection is usually turbulent and unedifying - often coming to godless blows between rival politicos; it's even been known for Redistributionists to engage in brawls with those of the Tree and Liberationist factions, but their best energies are reserved for their internecine squabbles. For all this brouhaha, the act of prayer before these sweetly reasonable and objective debates has been an accepted part of life for the political elite for thousands of years.

However, one village Witangemot has been assailed by the formidable fighting farce of the Northumbrian Secular Club, following a complaint by some Mortally Offended former councillor, who objected to this form of theistic tyranny, and referred to it with the damning indictment of Inappropriate. (Following his demise, the funeral is to be attended by hundreds and thousands. Sprinkle liberally, and serve with a flourish and a stick of celery. Serves 4.)

Consequently, the Grand Moot has been called to deliberate over the principle of prayer before political business. Is is appropriate for Modern Day Dark-Age Northumbria to continue these barbaric and outdated traditions? These solemn deliberations have taken place between the Legally Learned Few, costing millions of Holy Groats (at taxpayers' expense, of course), and after a three thousand year wait, they've finally decreed that the practice of an opening prayer to the Almighty isn't a legally binding obligation or categorical imperative.

For a more quick-and-dirty way of resolving this issue, I'd have immediately referred the entire matter to the High Priests from the Sanhedrin of the Northumbrian Football Council. Their decision on the bone of contention would have taken a matter of seconds, there would have been no further disputation, and the policy - whatever it was - would be ruthlessly executed with immediate effect. End of story. What's for tea?

I've heard it said that there's a custom that the football players meet for prayer in the dressing room before each game, so that they can sanctify their genteel sporting endeavours. And then they proceed to knock seven bells out of each others shins thereafter..

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A National Disaster

I hate to have to be the harbinger of bad news, but this last few hours has been one of the saddest and most tragic I've ever had to experience. And I share the grief with countless Northumbrian humans, who are currently sitting in a stunned and bemused silence as they attempt - in their feeble way - to absorb the implications of the news, which was joyfully presented to them by the soothsayers yesterday.

Flavius Capellus - the manager of the Northumbrian football team - has resigned.

This fine son of Northumbria - among whose credentials was an inability (or was it an unwillingness? - I'm not sure) to speak the native Anglo-Saxon tongue - has put an end to several years of glory as the Supremo Grandisimo behind the Glorious Team of the Realm; under his inspired tutelage, the team has achieved glory and prestige for the nation - and not an insignificant quantity of Holy Groats. Its success in the face of its other national rivals has been a triumph of paucity over potential. But considering the overpaid and highly-strung raw material he had at his disposal, this isn't altogether surprising.

As I write, I see the flags and banners of Streonaeshalch, hanging, limp and frozen at half mast as a public response to this devastating development. Doubtless this sight is replicated in every town, village and hamlet in the land. The inns and mead houses are calling the faithful to silent prayer with the questionable solace of Caedmeron's watered-down ale and mead. If I weren't a Cat, I'd be blinking back the tears. But I'm thinking about lunch.

The shlock-and-awe resignation follows - if we're given to understand it correctly - a series of internal squabblings between the High Priests of the Northumbrian Football Sanhedrin over the erstwhile Captain of the squad, Ivor the Terrible, who was reported to have referred to a rival Viking player in a league game against Madcaster Untied as a blond-haired whey-faced pansy. Although he strenuously denies this scurrilous accusation, the overwhelming forces of the feared Fluffy Diversity Commisariat have kicked into gear, leaving him with no option but to resign - despite the fact that his innocence or guilt haven't yet been established in the Moot. But Flavius stood by his man, and as a matter of principle, refused to accept the decision made by the High Priests.

And now, the Beloved Team stands in the perilous position of having neither Manager nor Captain. Certain victory in the next tournament against the Franks (or is it the Westphalians? - I forget) beckons. It's all so terribly sad. A lump comes to my throat. I think it was the gristle from my breakfast.

Unless.. Wade Rune can step in to save the day - when he's finished defeating the dark forces of Redistributionism, that is..

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Story So Far

This Cat believes it's always profitable to take stock of the evolving narrative that unfolds before our Northumbrian eyes and ears; if we don't, we run the risk of losing sight of where we are - not to mention where we came from. The whirl that spins around us is pretty confusing at the best of times.

To sum up:

The lovely Northumbrian Kingdom - governed (in theory at least) by His Majesty King Alhfrith and his potty-mouthed Queen Hillida - has been hijacked by a large and influential criminal mob, organised into three distinct gangs who - for the sake of popular entertainment - feign a bitter rivalry between themselves. This unholy congregation has so far managed to obtain the keys to power, and is perfectly content to efficiently and joyfully milk the Kingdom of all its diminishing financial resources, which are now expressed in terms of vast negative figures. Terrorising the ordinary bovine masses through their appointed mouthpieces the soothsayers, they're continually concocting cock-and-bull scare stories with a view to raising the population to a state of high anxiety and neurosis. By this means they're then capable of imposing new laws and taxes as ready solutions to their invented problems, thus burdening the people with the triple evils of criminality, slavery and debt. The resemblance between the Kingdom and a debtor's penal colony or oubliette is becoming more uncanny by the day.

Behind this web of sinister intrigue is the malign hand of the Emperor Jose Borracho, aided and ably assisted by his glamorous assistant, the half-witted Hermit the Rumphole. These characters are the linchpins of another larger criminal cartel who have managed to dominate the lands of the Franks, the Westphalians, the Bulgars and various other tribes and kingdoms. It's all so very sad.

Into the scene emerges our hero. His demeanour is fixed, his physique is small but powerful and his words are few. Nevertheless, upon him hangs all the quickly-dissolving hopes, dreams and aspirations of the captive nation. Can he restore the lost honour of the noble Earl Frederic Goodwibble? Can he keep the uliginous and malodorous forces of Redistributionism at bay? Can he defeat in intellectual battle the magic mushroom-crazed wibblings of His Holiness Archbishop Georges Moonbat - the high priestess of the sinister Global Warming Cult? Will he - by valiant endeavour - prevent the Witangemot cadre (headed up by the suave and malicious Dagwald Caedmeron, the Chief Cock and Bluebottle Washer of the Tree Faction) from watering down the Kingdom's ale and mead, thus necessitating double the consumption of liquor by the impoverished masses at twice the price?
Will he be able to dismiss the forces of incompetent evil and usher in a new Golden Age for a free people? In short - will Wade Rune be able to save the day?

Stay tuned, people..

Friday, 3 February 2012

Horehound On Toast

Once again, this Cat is becoming dizzy with the relentless onslaught of developments here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria. I thought that the de-warding of Earl Frederic Goodwibble and the stink about Edweird the Millner's bonus were enough to last me for the week, but they say that things happen in threes..

His Holiness, the Most High Archbishop Húne - the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Politburo Climate Commissar and exotic dancer and traveller (at taxpayers' expense, of course) - affectionately referred to as 'Horehound' (for that is what his name signifies), has been summoned to appear before the Grand Moot, charged with the crime of passing onto his erstwhile wife the buck for a chariot offence he committed seventeen thousand years and six months ago.

As I recall, he'd just returned from foreign shores, having gone to the land of the Franks (or was it the Westphalians? - I forget) to watch a football game, featuring Madcaster Untied and their star performer Wade Rune. This was under his Official Remit as Climate Czar and Chief Apprentice to Pope Georges Moonbat - the magic mushroom-crazed high priestess of the bizarre Sacred Climate Change Cult. His wife of that time obligingly arrived at the quayside with a chariot and four horses, ready to convey her hubby to the luxurious comfort of home. But on that fateful night, Horehound took the reins, and rode with all the speed and fury of a Jehu at full pelt. This did not escape the notice of the Costumed Thugs, who skilfully pulled the chariot over and said 'Hello' three times in succession.

From that legendary evening - obscured by the mists of time and the garbling effect of mead-fuelled storytelling - the story emerges that Horehound (probably) volunteered his lady wife as the culpable charioteer, and his spouse (possibly) agreed to appear before the local Beak to answer the charges of dangerous and reckless charioteering at the speed of seventeen thousand handwidths per second - thus rescuing her husband from the ignominy of losing his shiny political career as a crooked politico.

Of course, the story could be completely mangled and mashed, and the patient excavation of the facts by legions of scribes and learned investigators may have presented the Prosecutor with a bag of colorectal treasure. But they say that - like diarrhoea - the truth always comes out.

At any rate, Caedmeron and Horehound's mentor Clegge have assured him of their full and unqualified support. In other words, irrespective of the outcome of his forthcoming trial, he's toast...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


I was greatly pleased to hear from the soothsayers that the former moneylender Earl Frederic Goodwibble has been denuded of his earldom. This privilege was in recognition of his substantial services to the Northumbrian financial industry, not to mention his significant contribution to the Great Credit Catastrophe that has blessed the Realm for six trillion years.

Earl Frederic has worked very hard to obtain this removal of his title, and the myriads of other nobles will now be looking on in jealousy. What was his secret? This vexed question is also preoccupying the soothsayers, who currently have nothing better to agonise about.

The award of an Earldom in our glorious Kingdom is a mark of disgrace and ignominy, reserved for those members of Northumbrian society who are either megalomaniacs, bullies, cheats, sycophants, deluded crackpots or the criminally insane (or any combination of the aforementioned qualities); the extent and intensity of their respective foibles or criminality determines the rank of the award; a mere fief or squire doesn't have such an ignoble track record. Life's so unfair.

The removal of Freddy's title was the crowning achievement of the politicos, the soothsayers and the bovine soothsayer-heeding Northumbrian public, whose sage and well-informed opinion on anything is eagerly sought after by all. Under substantial and relentless pressure from all of these parties, our beloved King Alhfrith buckled, and the Palace issued the announcement yesterday. Feaxede the Fox and I danced for joy on hearing this, and we had a celebratory chicken carcass. Happy days.

In this mere Cat's opinion, the process of earldom-stripping should be incorporated into The Ð Factor and thus become a long-established and eagerly anticipated event. I'll have a quiet word with Father Simon the Cowl; he has a ready eye for a business opportunity..