I've been having a simply marvellous time at the Tree Faction's Annual Unfortunates' Outing And Picnic. Considering the fact that this faction doesn't have a ruling mandate in the Witangemot – because it has to grudgingly share power with the feckless, magic mushroom-masticating Liberationists – it's surprisingly upbeat and optimistic. The mushrooms are certainly working: the Northumbrian economy is in tatters (if it exists at all), the long-suffering, overtaxed people are tightening their tunic belts, the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) is tightening its malevolent, vice-like grip on the Kingdom, drunkenness and crime abound – and all's well in the world. Ah, bless.
When I mentioned the other day about the new theme of Fashion, I had no idea that the Trees were going to pander to popular culture – but they have. And how..
Last night I sidled along to a little Picnic side event and was frankly astounded at the unfolding spectacle; it was a full-blown version of the Ð Factor. I parked on the lap of a cat-friendly elderly lady and watched, fascinated. I hope I didn't purr too loudly..
All the line-up of the present series was there; the panel consisted of Brendan the jovial Irish monk, and the three new songster judges: Tulippa of Constantinopoulos and Keldra of Roeland, two female singers, and Gaedrich of Baerleow – a bearded minstrel from a bygone age. The assembly hall was packed, and the audience was a motley assortment of young and elderly Tree window-lickers and knuckle-draggers.
The first act was May Trees – the Northumbrian Kingdom Home Secretary. She sang a tender ballad in an assortment of random keys about a criminally insane immigrant who – despite his heinous crimes - was allowed to stay to reoffend in the green and Elysian Kingdom of Northumbria because he had a faithful pet cat called Fiddles. The words of the song brought grunts of indignation from the audience; such was their emotional power. I wasn't sure what they felt about the performance: I thought it was perfectly awful, and in response, I dug my claws into the unfortunate elderly woman whose lap was supporting me. I had to apologise and go onto an excessive charm offensive to maintain my place.
The next act was by the Supreme Clerk of Justice – a rotund, bumptious buffoon with a dismissive, devil-may-care attitude to life and the price of fish. He sang a merry ditty with a variety of themes in all the modal scales imaginable; the first verse was a denial of the factual content of May Tree's previous song about the faithful moggy; he then sang about the glorious Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and how terrible it would be if the Kingdom were to leave its tender, loving embrace. The sound of massed, synchronised gagging and vomiting almost drowned the noise of the applause following his performance.
Following these terpsichorean attempts was a succession of acts by various Tree politicos, singing about Kindergartens (Dagwald the Willard) and Debt (Oswine). Caedmeron is set for a special performance tomorrow..
After these performances, the four judges quietly conferred together, and calmly but firmly delivered their verdict to each singer in turn.
The repeated issuing of the words "I'm sorry…(pause…).. but I'm going to have to send you home" followed by hysterical tears became monotonous after a while, so I leaped of my host's lap and headed for the buffet to root around for a nice fish supper..
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