Friday 29 July 2011


Little rays of sunshine
beam through the leaden cloudscape that shrouds the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria, providing welcome shafts of light in an otherwise gloomy and doom-laden existence. As I mentioned the other day, the Most Esteemed Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach appeared before members of the Witangemot to give an account of himself in the light of the recent Great Eavesdropping Scandal. During the proceedings I related how a young buck delivered some fast food to the Prince with the intention of feeding it to him personally. This was an act of profound humility and obeisance that is almost equal to the act of washing someone's feet - and here in Northumbria, that's not a task undertaken without considerable personal nasal discomfort, and by virtue of my relative height from the ground, I can attest that I know what I'm talking about...

Anyway. The young man in question appeared before the Moot today, to answer to the charge of assault - a result of a misunderstanding by the Costumed Thugs, who in a leisurely fashion apprehended him following the event. This wasn't before he received a devastating blow to the jaw from the delicate but deadly fist of Rupie's spouse, the inscrutable Princess Wilma. It seems to me that if any person endeavours to perform such an act of service as this young noodle, he or she should prepare to weigh up the risks beforehand. By definition, service involves a high degree of sacrifice on the part of the servant. And for his trouble, he faces the likelihood of a custodial sentence, where lice, fleas, bread and water are served for breakfast. Since he's a magic mushroom-chewing devotee of the pustule-adorned Guardy-Ann and admirer of the poisonous sentiments that seep from her twisted mouth and pen, it's unlikely that he'll be enjoying the transient delights of fungal hallucination during his incarceration. It's all so sad, but I can't help a little chuckle at times; it must be the catmint.. ;-)

And tomorrow we have the Greatest Royal Wedding Since The Previous One in the untamed regions of Caledonia, where the invited guests will witness the joining in marriage of the aristocratic horsewoman Princess Ziggurat and vulgar commoner Mebeverin Of Tinwald, a professional pursuer of oval pigs' bladders. The Pouring Of The Sacred Potion will follow, and the dancing of slip jigs at the Ceilidh afterwards will be followed by The Thumping Of Many Heads the next morning. Sounds like fun. I wish I were going - I positively adore Arbroath Smokies. And I rather fancy dancing on heads myself...

Thursday 28 July 2011

Taking A Break

After the gloom of these past few days, it's so gratifying to hear some good news like the forthcoming Royal Wedding, for example. We certainly need cheerful tidings here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria. And to our relief, help is on its way; now that the Witangemot is closed for the duration of the summer, we're in that time of year referred to by the soothsayers as The Silly Season. In the absence of political news, the soothsayers – those bastions of measured objectivity, impartiality and sweet reason - turn their unwelcome attention to less worthy items of news and gossip for fresh material with which to entertain, stupefy or terrify the bovine masses.
Thanks to this annual non-event, we now know that Dagwood Caedmeron – the Reverend Leader of the Tree Faction and Chief Cock and Bluebottle washer of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance administration - is Taking a Holiday. (For the benefit of ordinary Northumbrian labourers and my fellow four-footed creatures, a 'Holiday' is a period of time spent away from the tedium and backbreaking drudgery of daily toil – usually spent in exotic places.) Bless.
No longer pressured with the arduous responsibility of breaking electoral promises, changing fifteen policy decisions before breakfast, telling porky-pies and pretending to have the very best interests of the Northumbrian public at heart, he's gathered his wife and family, and at considerable personal cost (drawn from his substantial public taxation-funded salary) and has boldly set sail for the warmer climes of Italy, where he will doubtless cavort in numerous tavernas with his ancient Roman counterpart, the priapic and corrupt Silvius Burlesquonius, who's renowned for his decadent parties and the pond life he chooses for company...
I wish Caedmeron well; he deserves a long break from the duplicitous business of Northumbrian politics. He deserves it far more than the lowly, long-suffering masses he leaves behind in poverty and deprivation. I hear that the wines of Italy are particularly fine; he may be tempted to drink far too much in the sweltering Tuscan heat. His head will serve him the due punishment – if his wife doesn't do so beforehand..
Another piece of news to delight the Northumbrian populace is the other Revered Leader, Edweird The Milliner. Flushed with his astonishing recent political successes (I forget what they were: I've been to bed since then), Eddy Boy has decided to take a break as well. But unlike his Tree rival, he won't be taking the family. He's going to a Redistributionist Health Farm, where his nose is going to be broken by expert hands at considerable (public) expense. The reason for this is that Eddy is a skilled snorer – much to the annoyance of his unfortunate spouse. I've heard it said that he can snore Redistributionist political theory in seventeen different languages – no mean achievement – but the poor woman has reached desperation point because of years of sleep deprivation. Enough is enough. So his nose will be lovingly excavated and reshaped by dexterous Redistributionist hands. I wonder if they gave him a chart of nasal shapes to choose from?

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Getting Knotted

Since my rather sober posting yesterday, this Cat has found something to be more cheerful and chipper about! Despite the growing shadow and creeping stranglehold of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and its power-crazed, venal and impudent political lackeys, another bright light beams in the encroaching darkness. We are going to be the happy witnesses of yet another Royal Wedding. Hooray for His Majesty King Alhfrith! Three cheers for the monarchy! We are so privileged. Where's the holiday?

Princess Ziggurat, who is the three hundred and thirty ninth in succession to the coveted Northumbrian throne, is due to marry her childhood sweetheart, Mebeverin of Tinwald - a player of a rough and tough form of football called 'ragger', where huge bull-shaped players collide with each other at high speed in pursuit of an oval bladder. This happy occasion - which will signal the melding of vulgar royal and refined peasant families - will be taking place this coming weekend in the wild and untamed realms of the uncouth and uncivilized Scots, who - so far - have failed to be inclined to adopt the niceties of Anglo-Saxon life and culture. It's their loss, boys and girls..

I asked Caedmon if he had any idea why these persons were going to be joined in Holy Matrimony in such a mountainous, windswept and desolate place. He knowledgeably told me that he hadn't the first clue, and suggested that I ask one of my friends. After all, they all seem to be more interested in these ephemeral matters than he.

So I sought out Lareow, Caedmeron's appointed Rat Czar and Mouser - and the principal source of intelligence for matters political. Surprisingly, he didn't know either, but he suggested I speak to Dellimell the hysterical soothsayer. So without further ado I sought out her dwellingplace - a large barn which is usually a hive of frenetic industry. The place was deserted, except for a course-tongued Anglo-Saxon maiden called Tressy, who was on duty to receive messages from Dellimell's secret legions of minions who invent the bizarre stories and tales of woe she tells. I politely asked Tressy where everyone was, and she curtly told me as she filed her dirty fingernails that they were all out, eavesdropping on the conversations of distressed gentlefolk around the four corners of the Realm. When I asked her if she knew why Ziggurat and Mebeverin were marrying in Scotland, she politely told me to go away. She used some very Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon language. So I quickly deposited a slimy hairball on her neatly folded cloak and hastily departed.

Later on, I met Feaxede the Fox, who was on his way home with some freshly-excavated chicken carcasses. I told him about my fruitless quest, and he told me that I was a silly cat: I should have gone to see him first, as he already knew the answer to my question.. he could have saved me the time and the trouble.

It appears that the happy couple are tying the knot in the uncouth land of the Scots because it's the only place where the fiery beverage called whiskey is to be found - and Ziggurat and Mebeverin want a right royal Caledonian-style lash-up - and this stuff beats ale and mead hands down.. I await the post-festal bodycount with interest...

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Felix Infortunatus

Now that the Summer Recess is upon the venal posers of the Witangemot, the soothsayers have been obtaining their thrills and indulging their obsessions elsewhere. There's something altogether unholy and unwholesome about the kind of issues that soothsayers love to croon and crow about. As a four-footed creature born without the curse of Original Sin, I find it very difficult to comprehend the depravity of the human condition; for example, there's been a terrible series of events in the Viking Land of Norway, where a deranged Viking ran riot and cruelly took a lot of young Viking lives, leaving the Kingdom is a state of sorrow, desolation and bewilderment. Like vultures awaiting a fresh corpse (are they ever fresh?), Beeby See and her raggle-taggle friends have swooped upon the issue and have been talking about this atrocity with great relish, confidently talking random drivel about the Viking terror threat. There are reports of terrible droughts and famines in Africa; the soothsayers gravely harp on about those suffering people, but having sailed the seas to visit their distant lands so that they can inform the longsuffering Northumbian public, they don't lift a finger to help the hapless victims themselves. They seem to expect everyone else to do something about it - especially the goodhearted but impoverished ordinary people. Meanwhile, politicos are enjoying the substantial benefits of their various kickbacks, and moneylenders are making shedloads of groats for themselves. Business as ususal, then.

Frankly, I've been so sickened by the politicos and soothsayers (and their devilish predisposition to capitalise on the sufferings of others for the sake of their magic mushroom-inspired social and political agendas) that I've felt sorely tempted to turn my back on the human world and revert to my natural tooth-and-claw existence. Were it not for the compassion and kindness of my master Caedmon, the Abbess Hilda and the monks of the Abbey, I would have gone on a permanent leave of absence and retreated to the wild. I thank my Creator for them.

Friday 22 July 2011

Rinses For Princes

I think I've had enough of the Grand Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach Eavesdropping Scandal to last me all of my nine lives. The soothsayers are still talking about it as if it were The Most Important Thing In The World, but I suspect that their loquacity on the subject is really a veiled admission of their own complicity in the dirty and unfruitful works of darkness of their Merodachian fellows. It's all a conveniently useful distraction.

Meanwhile, the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) - under the dynamic and hallucinogen-fuelled leadership of the crackpot Emperor Jose Borracho and his trusty half-witted henchman Hermit Rumphole - has been busy plundering the hapless provinces, twisting the arms of the Franks, the Westphalians, Danes, East Saxons, West Saxons and the Northumbrians to cough up yet more groats to throw at the benighted Greeks - who are already drowning in an ocean of debt they haven't a hope of honouring. What these power-crazed idiots have failed to understand is that there isn't an infinite amount of money to go round - and as it is, the remaining provinces in the Evil Empire are experiencing solvency issues of their own.. But in their magic mushroom-addled mental processes, money is never a problem. After all, you they always thieve it from the pockets of hardworking citizens under threat of death, and spend it on self-serving frivolous projects and lavish lifestyles for themselves and their fellow illusionists. They need an ice-cold bath in reality - but somehow I believe that they're so detached from it that they'd be unable to recognise it..

Talking of idiots, I hear that one of the sons of King Alhfrith (all hail) and the potty-mouthed Queen Hillida has been causing trouble. Prince Agbert is the one hundred and twenty seventh in line to the coveted Northumbrian throne. Having dressed in a soldier's uniform as a young buck and subsequently become bored with the constant posing, he's been spending considerable time gadding about, sailing the seas to visit foreign potentates with unpronounceable names and sampling roast camel kebabs under the desert sky. This - I understand - has been described as furthering the Kingdom's trade interests. Unfortunately he hasn't been too fussy about the company he's kept, and has eagerly sought the attentions of shady psychopathic kings and hideously wealthy eccentrics who pull the wings off butterflies. Since Caedmeron is terribly anxious to project Northumbria's image as an 'ethical' province (despite the fact that the very concept is foreign to both him and all the other politicos), Prince Agbert has decided he ought to hang his boots up. Discretion is the better part of valour.

I know where he could do a splendid job. I gather from the Abbess Hilda that the latrines at the Abbey need some intensive cleaning; the monks already have too much to do. The exercise could be a valuable means of grace spiritual cleansing for the Prince.. and it can't be any worse that what he's already been up to...

Thursday 21 July 2011

Fessing Up

It sounds as if the Abbess Hilda has been busy since I told her about the vile smell. On my morning rounds today, I visited the Abbey as I often do; I regularly catch mice around there, and the monks are grateful for my services, so I have the status of a welcome feline diplomat. With lots of fuss, attention and a goodly plate of fish! Result.

When I got there this morning, the place was a hive of activity; small side rooms off the nave were being cleared out and tidied up by the monks. I asked one of them what was happening, and he told me that they were under orders from the Abbess to prepare the place for an unprecedented number of confessions. That certainly puzzled me; only the regular, faithful Catholics would attend the confessional, and there aren't hordes of them by any means. When I asked the monk why this was anticipated, he couldn't give me an answer, so I went to ask one of the others. He didn't know either.

In such circumstances, one has no option but to go straight to the top, so I went to see the Abbess Hilda, who was reading through some Latin liturgy. I apologised for my intrusion into her meditations, and promptly asked her why there was so much activity, and she replied that she had been given a dream in which she saw a vision of legions of soothsayers, politicians and Costumed Thugs streaming into the Abbey to confess their sins and misdemeanours. In her dream, Beeby See and her pustule-pocked mate Guardy-Ann poured out their hearts in confession of their deceit, their mendacity, their hypocrisy and their devilish high-mindedness; they sought absolution with tears. Other soothsayers did likewise.

The politicians from the Witangemot joined the throng, and confessed their lies, their dissimulation and their superior attitude over the people they purported to represent. They also confessed to the monks that they were living in a fly agaric-fuelled fantasy land of their own making, and that they had treacherously betrayed their Kingdom into the hands of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and to the evil grasp of the power-crazed, magic mushroom-chewing Emperor Jose Borracho and his half-witted sidekick Hermit Rumphole. They also confessed that they had deliberately led the people away from the ways of righteousness, and into godlessness.

In the Abbess' dream, the Costumed Thugs also streamed into the Abbey and owned up to their brutality, their openness to bribes and their love of money and power. After these confessions, the awful stench of sanctimony disappeared.

It was such a dramatic and a vivid dream, and remembering the visions that Joseph had while languishing in the Egyptian prison, she thought she ought to act on it. After all, it would be foolish to be caught out if such events actually happened.

I paused for a while and considered what she had told me. I then asked her what she had eaten in the evening before the blessed revelation. She told me that she had some of Brother Aelric's cheese. It's a particularly robust and full-bodied cheese from his herd of goats. I told her that I hated to take the shine away from the experience, but late night cheese stimulates dreams. It was a testament to her piety that the dream was one of penitence. These people certainly need repentance in oceanic quantities, but I can't see it happening anytime soon...

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Cast Out

After the Abbess Hilda's diagnosis of my olfactory complaint, I feel so much better. Not that the smell has suddenly dissipated - it hasn't. But it comes as a comfort to be able to identify what it is that bugs you. I told my other four-footed chums what the Abbess told me, and they were equally pleased and relieved to know what the source of the evil smell was.

But I've noticed something - the greatest concentration of the aforesaid infernal stench comes from the Witangemot and the Soothsayers - especially from the Redistributionist Faction and their staunch supporters, Beeby See and Guardy-Ann. It occurred to me that I'd very much like to see an exorcism performed over them all, to drive out the legion of demons responsible for the stink - but that would pose two problems. For a start, it would require someone of considerable spiritual stature to be big enough for the job. Even people with the piety of Caedmon, the Abbess Hilda and the monks at the Abbey have inherent faults that would make the task very difficult, not to mention dangerous. And if such an exorcism were to be performed successfully, where would the newly-displaced evil spirits go? When in the Gospel account the Master cast the spirits from the Gadarene demoniac, the demons entered a herd of pigs and promptly sent them to a watery death. I'd hate to see the same phenomenon happen to a herd of cattle, swine or sheep here; they're such lovely creatures, and they don't deserve such vile occupants. I think the demonic host should simply stay where they are. When this rumpus about Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach's Soothsaying interests and associated Eavesdropping Scandal passes, the foul odours will subside, and life will become tolerable again for we quadrupeds.

Yesterday was the Great Day when Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach appeared in full regalia with his family before the Witangemot to explain themselves and grovel to a host of slavering politicos. It was as theatrical as Feaxede and I expected it to be, but came as something of a disappointment; we were both dismayed to observe that Rupie was very measured and calm, and didn't publicly serve the dirt on some of his assembled accusers and detractors. One young noble appeared from nowhere and served the Prince with a pie at high speed, and for his trouble was apprehended by the Costumed Thugs in a leisurely fashion, after receiving a mighty right hook from the Princess Wilma. His jaw was broken in seventeen places. Rumour has it that the aspiring waiter was a member of the Redistributionist Faction, but Jedweird The Milliner has disassociated himself from him and has cast him into outer darkness. It seems that the Redistributionist cause isn't ready to adopt such random acts of service yet. Feaxede suggested that this pie delivery was a sign that the Redistributionists have lost the argument, but I'm not convinced that they had one in the first place..

From the way things are going, I think the smell is going to hang round for a while yet..

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Smelly Vision

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging for a few days, but the fact of the matter is that I've been plagued by something which has been bothering me for several days now. Let me explain.

We cats - like other four-footed predators - are blessed with a very finely-tuned and acute sense of smell. After all, such a faculty is essential for our survival in the wild; we need it to seek out our prey - especially in the dark - and also to detect reactions in other creatures like fear, for example.

The fact of the matter is that I've been troubled with a bad smell which has been saturating my nostrils - and it simply won't go away. It would be a minor annoyance if it were merely a constant smell of wood smoke, Beeby See's halitosis or rotting vegetation, but this is an odour which is far worse and more acrid to my snitch than that. Even rotting meat is fragrant by comparison with this continual, savage assault upon my nasal passages. I've been getting sick to the back teeth of it.

In my desperation I went around my other four-footed associates in turn to ask them if they could smell it, and each of of them expressed some considerable degree of relief that they weren't the only creatures who were experiencing this annoyance. Feaxede the fox, Leo the big cat and my other feline companions all can still smell it. Even the neighbourhood dogs can smell it - and while they normally seem to delight in the vilest scents, they're certainly not enjoying this..

I asked Caedmon if he was aware of it when it first assailed my nostrils, but he wasn't even aware of it. He unhelpfully suggested that we were suffering from excessively sensitive olefactory senses. Gee, thanks. Now tell me something I don't know..

I went to see the Abbess Hilda for some advice and perspective, since this smell was an issue that was causing me some perplexity. Although she's a force to be reckoned with, the Abbess has a heart of gold, and is particularly fond of God's creatures. When I told her what we creatures were experiencing, a light of recognition crept over her face. She then told me that there is such thing as the Odour Of Sanctity; it's a spiritual fragrance that is present in certain humans who enjoy a particularly close association with the Almighty, and are in tune with His ways. Perhaps this was something that was the exact opposite? She then asked me what had been troubling me, so I told her about the Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach Eavesdropping Scandal - and the subsequent fallout from recent events. I told her about the posturing, the shouting and the constant finger-pointing of the soothsayers, the politicos and the Costumed Thugs.

She then asked my if there was a sulphurous edge to the smell, and I told her that there was. "Ah," she said. "You've been blessed with a greater insight into the wicked ways of the world than we humans; you can smell what we can only discern by our reason and understanding. You can smell the Odour of Sanctimony. It comes from the mouth of the Devil."

I thanked the Abbess and went my way to share this insight with the other friends of mine. It all makes perfect sense to me. After all - who else do they all work for...?

Thursday 14 July 2011

Cat. Petal. Block.

I'm so excited! These are such interesting times for this Cat, and the Great Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach Eavesdropping Scandal is starting to come to the boil, after simmering and releasing unsavoury odours into the atmosphere for several years.
Yesterday we had the rare and unexpected pleasure of a special guest appearance in the Northumbrian Witangemot of the beloved psychopath Guffmund The Brown – the previous magic mushroom-chewing Redistributionist incumbent of the noble seat now occupied by the uliginous Caedmeron.
Guffmund – an easy-going Scot with a ready wit, a sparking intellect and a talent for cheery banter and badinage – has been absent from the Witangemot for most of the time, leaving his parishioners stranded and unrepresented like orphans. The reason why he continues to draw a substantial politician's wage while absent from the House is unknown, but a little bird has told me that he's been so exhausted after saving the world from the ravages of solvency, that – like the Prophet Elijah of old – he's retreated to a cave, where he's been brought a daily supply of Arbroath Smokies and a bucket of the best hallucinogenic fungi for inspiration. Whatever.
He arrived at the Witangemot yesterday to Give A Speech. Rumour has it that it was meant to be about the Great Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach Eavesdropping Scandal, but owing to the effect of years of fly agaric chewing – coupled with a heavy Caledonian accent – nothing coherent could be discerned. But he looked angry as his bristling brow swept the floor. Feaxede the Fox told me that he was actually damning the Prince for allowing his soothsaying minions to listen in to his private conversations and intercept his personal correspondence. This happened sixty five years ago, when Guffmund was wearing tartan tweed nappies. But during those distant times, Guffmund was perfectly content to sit on Prince Rupie's lap and listen to bedtime stories and receive flower-pressing lessons.. It all doesn't quite add up.
Anyway. It's now come to our attention that the noble Prince has been summoned to the Witangemot (in his full regalia) to give an account of himself and the soothsaying empire under his charge. The other soothsayers who aren't under his banner will be baying like wolves, and the Redistributionist politicos and soothsayers will be cackling with delight at the dawning of their day of Vengeance.
But I suspect Rupie has some surprises up his sleeve; he didn't get to be where he is today by sheer charm. I think heads are going to roll in all directions. Feaxede and I have already booked our tickets for the show… We can't wait!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Why Should The Cat Care?

As I walk out on my feline rounds through this lovely realm of Northumbria, my eyes and ears are greeted by the now all too familiar sight and sound of politicians and soothsayers slinging accusations at each other, protesting their own unsullied innocence and integrity. It's very touching to see that this Anglo-Saxon kingdom - now reduced to a mere provincial backwater and vassal state of the fly agaric-led Holy Roman Empire (which has no rightful claim to either a Roman heritage, holiness nor the dignity and greatness of an empire) is busy arguing the toss about the activities of the Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach soothsaying empire while the remaining serfs, yeomen, farmers, artisans, bakers, spinners, weavers and every other specimen of humanity are struggling to keep flesh on the bone - and the Grim Reaper is gadding about with a permanent smile on his face.

But why should I care? After all, I'm a mere cat in this grand scheme of things; at the drop of a hat I can forage for mice and birds, go feral like my ancestors, prowl, climb trees, spray marker scents on trees and gateposts and fight territorial battles with trespassing fellow felines.

True enough; I have enough of my original instincts to make my own way through life without being involved in the sordid and terminally stupid affairs of fallen human beings. But the fact is, I have good human friends like Caedmon whose company I enjoy, and having an innate propensity to idleness and an easy life, I know which side of my bread is buttered. The fact is, I Care. The Latin name for a cat is 'felix', which means 'happy.' We're happy and purring when we have the attention and the affection of humans, can chow down into a hearty bowl of fresh fish and curl up in front of a fire on a cold winter's night.

And when humans are happy, then so am I. But the politicos and the soothsayers don't want the ordinary humans to be content or self-sufficient. They want them to be desperately poor and permanently dependent on the scraps of rotten food and disinformation they condescend to throw them - which is why the Redistributionists - under the inspirational leadership and tutelage of witty psychopath Guffmund The Brown - kindly brought the Kingdom to a state of bankruptcy and indebtedness to line the coffers of the poor Moneylenders. And his ideological cousins - the Trees and Liberationists - are determined to make sure that the ordinary people pay dearly for all the colossal debts for which they're neither responsible nor liable. Bless.

I have a feeling in my bones that people are starting to realise that the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) is something we neither want nor need - especially when the feckless puppets and clowns in the Witangemot have voted to sign away even more of our Kingdom's debt to offset the debts of the poor, benighted Greeks..

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Named And Shamed

Aside from all the arrests and the ongoing discussions colorectal statement-slinging of the politicos and the soothsayers concerning the Great Prince Ruprecht Evil-Merodach Eavesdropping Scandal, I've a great piece of news to share which will doubtless bring some welcome beams of joy to our present dark and foreboding landscape

The new baby daughter of Dagwald Baecern – the inarticulate but fabulously wealthy former mascot of the renowned Madcaster Untied football team has been named. Hooray for Bekkers! What a great day for such auspicious news! 

Ever since word got out that the latest addition to the substantial Baecern tribe had entered this vale of tears, the entire Northumbrian Kingdom has been anxiously waiting for an official pronouncement concerning the name of the new mite. Moreover, the iconic Baecern name is widely known beyond these shores, and in the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and even within the distant, legendary shores of Ultima Thule, people have also been eagerly listening out. 

Dagwald Baecern exemplifies everything that makes our lovely Kingdom of Northumbria and its politics and its entertainment so great and desirable. It's a story of rags to riches; born in a bakery in the East Saxon Kingdom, Dagwald dazzled his contemporaries by his formidable control over a pig's bladder, and his ability to propel it through the air in a curved trajectory has earned him a fearsome reputation as a penalty kicker. Many a time he has rescued Madcaster Untied and the Kingdom squad from ignominious defeat by a well-aimed kick. Many shins have permanently suffered as a consequence. 

But Baecern is a modest, uneducated and simple man, who quietly married a shy prima donna entertainer called Viradecthis – a girl of equally humble origins and wildly expensive tastes. They live modestly in a palace, surrounded by servants and their formidable tribe of children. The soothsayers have found them to be an endless source of interest – despite Dagwald's inability to string two coherent sentences together. What has provided the soothsayers with a significant amount of material to disseminate through the Kingdom is their bizarre choice of names for their progeny. 

And the name of the latest addition to the Baecern clan is called Wade Eleven And Three Quarters. A pretty name, isn't it? I believe she was named after Dagwald's footballer colleague Wade Rune

Nevertheless, I expect the little mite will grow up to be ashamed of her name – along with those who inflicted it upon her. My prediction is that when she's grown up, she'll change it to something anonymous like Winifred – or Ethel. Such a pity…