Tuesday 27 March 2012

Cover Up

I went down to the quayside on my matutinal rounds - as I usually do - and sidled up to the fishermen and their silver-tongued fishwives, who were busy preparing the latest catch for market. They all know me of old, and I always get a generous plateful of haddock, mackerel, cod - or whatever the catch of the morning is. This time, my breakfast was delivered to my dish in a paper bag, and Ædiðe - the fishwife who usually makes me a generous donation - looked around furtively before removing the contents and putting them on my dish.

I was most intrigued by this uncharacteristic behaviour, so I discreetly asked Ædiðe why she'd had to cover the fish up. It would seem from her reply that the Northumbrian Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration (bless their coarse woolen singlets) have recently decreed that all foods, drinks (including runny honey mead and flagons of foaming ale) and illicit magic mushrooms must be sold under anonymous cover. When I asked her why this had been decided, she told me that the Powers That Be - in their infinite knowledge and wisdom - have discovered that eating too much bread, eggs, meat and fish, drinking too much ale and mead is destructively harmful to the health of the consumer, and for the sake of the Greater Good of the other members of the impressionable bovine, knuckle-dragging Public, these vital commodities must henceforth be sold under cover, lest they should see the merchandise in the transaction and be enticed into purchasing it themselves. The penalties for non-compliance merit imprisonment (alongside elderly ladies who allow their pet dogs to deposit their colorectal savings on the streets) as well as a fine of ten million Holy Groats. Members of the feared Fluffy Diversity and Health Commisariat are stalking the shambles and markets in plain clothes, ready to pounce on unsuspecting wayward traders.

After my initial astonishment, I had to let this strange new information gently insinuate itself into my feline consciousness. Surely bread, fish and beer aren't so bad for humans, are they? As far as I know, homo sapiens has been eating and drinking these things since Adam was a lad and Pontius was a pilot. I don't see stacks of human corpses lining the streets as a testament of the evils of halibut and hake. For sure, the bodies of the deceased are taken by the undertakers for burial from time to time, but for the most part - excepting accidents, war or deadly disease - most people seem to live a healthy life. It simply doesn't make sense.

But it would appear that it's a wonderful opportunity for a new industry. Hooray for Enterprise! Now the Northumbrian Administration can recruit and employ legions of spies to implement and enforce their fluffy new policy, and these new minions of the State can go to bed ay night with the virtuous fuzzy assurance that they've thus saved some poor Northumbrian's life.

I've already arrived at the conclusion that the entire population of the Witangemot should be permanently concealed under paper bags and similar plain wrapping. They're seriously injurious to the Kingdom's mental health. Besides, they seem to get up to most of their business under cover...

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