Monday 6 December 2010

Wintry Discontent

The cold spell continues apace with temperatures plummeting. It's all good industry for Beeby See and the other soothsayers, who are telling us that this is the worst winter we've had - at least since the last one.

One thing that causes a great deal of complaint is the roads. They're usually gritted with salt, so that the horses and carts can pass through without difficulty - thus allowing the business of trade to continue. In the previous winter however, the various local towns and villages were caught out by an extended cold snap and ran out of their salt supplies before the winter was over. The furore from the public was understandable, and local aldermen were upbraided for their sloppy management. This year the local municipalities have been prepared; vast quantities of salt have been brought through the year by pack mules from Cheshire, and stockpiled for the snow. Though this is the case, most of the roads are still not gritted, and carts are getting stuck on glass-like ice patches - much to the annoyance of the travellers. The aldermen are doing what local officials always do - denying that there is a problem. We have plenty of salt. All roads are being regularly gritted. Services are able to continue without let nor hindrance. Whatever.

I'm only a cat, and we don't normally take an interest in the affairs of human beings, but for some reason I was born with an extra degree of inquisitiveness, and I can spot bull turds when I see and smell them. Things are not running smoothly any more. I've noticed it in the limited span of feline years I've already had - and the ordinary working people also know it. The old men who drink mead and play dominoes are forever lamenting the passing of better days. And I know that this isn't merely a longing for the 'good old days.' Things are getting worse - I can feel it in my water. But the illusionists are doing their utmost to reassure us that things are getting better all the time.

Why is it getting worse? I have a sneaking suspicion that the nobles and the big money men are behind it. They pay for the Witangemot puppet show, where displays of theatrical behaviour are put on to entertain the doltish masses - and to perpetuate the illusion that there is something happening and that they have the peoples' interests at heart. The soothsayers are being paid handsomely to entertain the people with lies, distractions and scare stories.

When I wander out to take the air, I see the children, excitedly sliding on the ice. That's what's happening here: Northumbria is on the slide. Downwards. And I know why - but nobody (except Caedmon) believes me; after all, I'm only a cat. What do we know?


  1. Unobtanium is the rarest metal in the World, so scarce it is, that it cannot be found by man. And it turns unto vapour in an instant unless it be kept in an airtight bag made from a saint's bladder.

    But we have no need unobtanium to melt ice, we need only salt - chloride of soda, the stuff we humans put on our chips. Here in the Kingdom of Mercia, a bag of 25kg can be purchased for £5 – not exactly a kingly ransom. So many folk wondereth mightilly why children might still skate upon our streets.

    So should this happen again (as no doubt it will in not many months to come), to shame the Aldormen, I intend to purchase a bag and salt the street myself.

    And, no doubt be summoned before the magistrate for having done so.

  2. Dear Mr Anonymous,

    Thank you for your helpful comment. There is no shortage of salt here in Northumbria - least of all for the humans to liberally sprinkle over their deep-fried vegetables (*potatoes haven't been discovered yet), but there lacks the political will to fairly distribute it among the roads and lanes that are strewn through our beautiful kingdom.
    I applaud your sense of initiative and community spirit; it is certainly lacking here in Streonaeshalch (except in the Abbey of course - which is a model of proper community living and mutual care). I do hope you're not hauled up before the Moot for your endeavour - it would be a gross injustice. If this happens, please let me know, and I'll see if I can get my mate Leo to pay a visit. He gets hungry this time of year because of the cold, and he regards officials as a delicacy.

    Kind regards


  3. PS

    Can you pick locks? Leo's cage is secured by a huge key..