Friday 4 February 2011

Berserkers and Bug-a-Boos

I was hunting mice within the blessed portals of Beeby See earlier today, when I heard yet more hilarity and cheerfulness from our beloved soothsayers: there are fresh warnings of a rash of attacks by Viking extremists in the Kingdom of Northumbria. This may be designed to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the accession of King Alhfrith to the Northumbrian throne. Or perhaps it's the forthcoming Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman, nor an empire) Games, which are scheduled to run in Yorvik next year. Or perhaps it's simply been decided by their astrologers as a favourable time for such activity: I don't know. Whatever.

This piece of disinformation propaganda fantasy information has been published by the secretive MCD (Ministry of Cloaks and Daggers) through the services of Beeby See, Guardy-Ann, Maelstrom and others. The clinking of groats into greased palms is audible from here. Somebody is going to be dining well tonight. For me it will be fish as usual – but I'm not complaining.

But – we're constantly advised – there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Everyone is being taken care of by our wonderful Witangemot, which is the best government that money can buy. No evil will ever befall us. They are our protectors. Whatever.

Whenever I hear warnings like these, I get a déjà entendu feeling. We've had these warnings so many times before, and nothing has actually happened. Occasionally solitary Vikings have been on the rampage. They've chewed magic mushrooms, thus working themselves up into a state of high excitement; they've then run through crowds of Anglo-Saxons in public places, wielding axes and screaming like banshees. Sometimes innocent people have been killed or maimed in the process – but the offenders are usually overpowered by the costumed thugs before this has happened. When such atrocities occur, no warning precedes them - like my bowel movements when I've eaten some bad meat – they're completely unscheduled.

Most Anglo-Saxons are suspicious and wary enough about the Vikings already – without such outbursts of unwarranted violence. Their Norse religion revolves around their gods and their heroic legends from the Eddas - their sacred writings. Their fanatical devotion to their traditions is something that the Anglo-Saxon character finds difficult to comprehend.

When the soothsayers issue advance warnings about such incidents, I wonder how their mysterious sources know this. Do they have a hold on the Vikings and their demented priests? Do they have a book where such incidents are scheduled like appointments? Or is it just that they want to keep the ordinary people of Northumbria in check by keeping them in a state of anxiety? After all – it's easier to manipulate those who are already worried. You can get away with all sorts of injustices if people are too worried to notice what you're up to.

I may just be a cat, but I can smell a rat from a distance of several miles because I have a refined sense of smell. And there's a fat rat here…

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