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.
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..
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