Monday 30 July 2012

Game On

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
- I've been up to London to look at the Queen.
Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there?
- I frightened a little mouse under her chair.
(Nursery rhyme)

The arrival of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) Games to the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria must surely be the greatest historical event since the last one - whatever that was. The other day saw the formal opening of the Games, where the Sacred Flame (all hail) was brought with great pomp and ceremony to the Great Octopus Brazier, which was duly lit after a span of several years to solemnly signify the beginning of the Feast. It was a truly pseudo-religious experience. Your Cat went along to Yorvik to witness the spectacle.

In the Great Amphitheatre (originally built by the ancient Romans), crowds of men, women and children - attired in the obligatory Addy Dust attire, with fists wrapped devotedly around MuckRodents pies, waited for the spectacle to unfold.

What followed was what could best be described as a circus without animals, which presented a spectacular series of tableaux whose primary purpose was to educate the knuckle-dragging hordes of humanity in the finer (and subnormally simplified) points of Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian culture and history. It was an unashamed celebration of Redistributionism, which in typical fashion disembowelled the true historical narrative, and from the remaining entrails pieced together a selective pastiche or parody of Anglo-Saxon history in line with the grossly deformed (and ever-so-slightly skewed) Redistributionist meta-narrative. Hooray for reinvented history! The scene migrated from the green and pleasant fields of pristine Northumbria in its bucolic splendour to the building of workshops and forges - and the inevitable smoke. The initiators of these developments were booed and hissed by the crowd as they paraded themselves in a grotesque dance. Following this bizarre presentation was a series of pictorial representations commemorating the establishment of the sacred Northumbrian Herbal Service - a monolithic triumph that the Redistributionists doggedly claim to be their finest achievement. There was the sight of Good King Alhfrith playing in a sketch alongside a sleb actor and comedy hero known and loved by the Unwashed as "Guthlac the Bone - licensed to skew". There were modern caterwauling minstrels and an ancient musician in advanced state of decomposition known affectionately as Pull Muck Heart Knee, whose performance suggested a glorious future behind him.

The King - like all of his entourage and the other visiting monarchs, world emperors and despots - looked distinctly bored. And so was I. So I decided to play a game of my own of cat-and-mouse with the Monarch's shoe thongs, and in so doing I untied them - and deposited a hairball before his feet. He didn't notice, and I had a great time...

Friday 27 July 2012

The Cat's Catalogue of Clangers

This Cat is in a high state of excitement about the imminent Holy Roman Empire (which is nothing like holy, neither remotely Roman, nor even a caricature of an Empire) Games. Hooray!! I can't wait for its conclusion. As a Great Event, these Games hold out all the promise of a seamless festival of disasters. And so far, my expectations haven't been disappointed.

To begin with, there is general public resentment about those special chariot lanes (which have been lovingly prepared at the expense of the cheerful taxpayers of Yorvik) to expedite the speedy and efficient transportation of politicos, big cheeses, the self-important and certain athletes to the Sacred Place, while crowds of long-suffering members of the Northumbrian public trudge their slow and weary way to their workshops in the mornings, and their homes at the close of the day.

There's been a lot of uproar about the stringent rules concerning the dress code and the food intake of the crowds of knuckle-dragging spectators, who are (for it has been decreed) forbidden to wear any food other than that supplied by the rat pie supplier and sponsor MuckRodents, and are not allowed to eat any costume that has not been lovingly sown together by the sweaty seamstresses of Addy Dust.

The preliminary game of football - an ancient and barbaric pig's bladder game inherited from the Romans - was marked by a delightful gaffe, in which the team from the oriental rogue state of North Goryo was introduced with the ensign of their bitter enemies, their neighbours and kinsmen from the Kingdom of South Goryo. Such was the offence that the entire team marched petulantly from the hallowed turf of the Madcaster Untied stadium (bequeathed by the ancient Romans, of course), and commenced their synchronised sword drill in eager expectation of a war. After profuse, snivelling apologies were offered to the team by some grovelling politicos (and a random spectator was seized, denounced as the culprit and summarily hanged to the sound of trumpets), the game proceeded. So far so good.

The proceedings were further enhanced by a visit by The Midge of Rumpey - an elderly and decomposing statesman from the as yet undiscovered land of Ultima Thule, who is hoping to depose Bugrake O'Barmy as their Clan Chieftain in a few months. On a fact-finding courtesy visit, the Midge politely ventured the opinion to His Cheeseness Dagwald Caedmeron - the Faery Queen of the Tree/Liberationist Administration - that the Northumbrians couldn't even organise a lash-up in a brewery, let alone organise the Holy Roman Empire Games. He greeted Edweird the Millier as "Your Chiefship" because in fifteen nanoseconds he'd already forgotten his name.

And Hieronymus the Hunter - the hapless and feckless Culture Officer of the aforesaid Administration - had assaulted a woman by furiously shaking a bell, which flew off its handle and gave her a thick ear.

Yet another in a series of clangers. I can't wait for the opening ceremony...

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Super Fish Morality

Things are looking up here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria! One glorious piece of news has emerged of late which is guaranteed to mitigate the rain-sodden tedium of the forthcoming Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) Games. The soothsayers (bless their rough, woollen hose) have animatedly informed us that the politicos of the Witangemot (for the sake of the uninformed reader, that is the talking shop of the pompous and posturing parasitical class) have assumed a new responsibility in their role as Inspirers, Exemplars and Leaders. They've taken upon themselves the grave and weighty task of Moralists over the Great Unwashed Masses. Hooray!

Upon hearing that announcement, the entire Kingdom went into paroxysms of orchestrated joy and delight, and the bells throughout the Realm resounded with peals of unadulterated jubilation as Te Deums were offered in the churches. Everyone is so terribly pleased and excited at the prospect of being lectured and patronised by politicos who command the deference and respect of the Northumbrian people in degrees and quantities which are best expressed with a prefixed minus sign.

One such politico - a gawky princeling who languidly adorns the inner sanctum of the Great Cheese Dagwald Caedmeron's Alliance Administration has already begun to enthusiastically exercise this new ministry to the Poor and Unfortunate Underclasses. He's already stated ex cathedra that for the ordinary simple, hardworking fiefs of this realm to pay their tradesmen in pennies and Holy Groats in order to avoid the eager - and ever dissatisfied - grasp of the Tax Revenue collectors is Morally Repugnant. This Cat is most impressed. I've been sharpening my claws for several hours.

I'm particularly impressed that a politico - a mountebank, unpopular entertainer and a skilled, talented and dedicated expert in the fine art of Tax Avoidance for his friends - has decided that he's divinely qualified to lecture, harangue and hector the long-suffering Northumbrian public about the evils of saving their local carpenters and builders a few bob in untaxed revenue - an activity in which he is consummately accomplished to the tune of millions of Holy Groats.

But why should this Kitty be surprised? The big pike criminal syndicates don't like any competition from the tiddlers and sprats, do they?

Thursday 19 July 2012

The Cat's Climate Report

Here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria, this must surely have been one of the worst seasons since the previous one. For an interminable number of weeks, the animal and human populations of this glorious realm have been subjected to showers and deluges as the sky's countenance has rapidly changed, subsuming the light in a pall of dull greyness.

The sheer volume of the wet stuff has been a constant source of anxiety on the part of the humans, and soothsayers like Beeby See and her sociopathic bosom pal Guardy-Ann have been more than happy to fuel the general unease with copious stories of Great Disasters, doom, thrice woe and whatever. Such has been the ferocity and persistence of the downpours that on many occasions, people have returned to their hovels after a day's hard work in their fields and workshops to find their dwellings inundated in several feet of filthy and malodorous liquid, giving forth noxious vapours as the cesspits have been disrupted, spreading their happiness over a considerable area. There have been tears in abundance.

Furthermore, the temperature has been uncomfortably high - although it has to be said that there's been far more heat than light. The Great Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) Games Torch Procession (all hail the sacred flame) has been an unmitigated disaster, as the prevailing wind and barrage of wet have - on many occasions - overcome the burning brand, causing it to fizzle and splutter to the point of extinction. It's so terribly sad. What's for lunch?

But that's enough about the foetid hot air and vacuous outpourings from the politicos, pundits and soothsayers. The weather here hasn't been too grand, either...

Thursday 12 July 2012

Games For A Laugh

As this Cat hears more about the unfolding plans for the Holy Roman Empire (which is as Roman as a Moor's tagine, as holy as Beelzebub - and as close to an empire as Guffmund the Brown's quips are to humour) Games, the more he's tempted to wonder for whose benefit this Great Dark Age Sporting Event exists. The soothsayers - as obsequiously reverential as ever - are holding out this travelling circus as The Great Morale Booster to the unwashed, knuckle-dragging hordes in these days of austerity, poverty, deprivation, hardship and biscuit. However, I hear it on good authority from my feline mate Lareow - the Rodent Czar and Eminence Grise behind the throne of Supreme Archfairy Dagwald Caedmeron - that the arrangements for this bean feast are quite bizarre.

For a start, the majority of seats at these Games are reserved for the esteemed special guests of the legions of business empires who've financed the show an a bid to raise public awareness of their rat-pie, magic mushroom, ale, sorcery, moneylending and goats' cheese interests. Special chariot lanes have been lovingly constructed in Yorvik to convey the Privileged to the Games as quickly as possible while the hapless and feckless majority trudge their way through the streets to their daily drudgery on Shanks' pony.

Furthermore, in these straitened times, where the cash-strapped Witangemot has been obliged to reduce expenditure by reducing the number of Costumed Thugs and the standing armies, it's been deemed necessary to employ thirteen million foreign soldiers and mercenaries, who will be tasked with the job of mingling with the crowds and eavesdropping on conversations, oppressing and terrifying any unsuspecting members of the public who grumble against the corporate riff-raff and inconvenience that these Glorious Games are destined to occasion. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to be caught is likely to be affectionately dismembered. This is held out in the name of Protection Against the Viking Threat, but somehow I can't imagine that any Edda-clutching religious Norsemen will be remotely inclined to attend with a view to running berserk and killing several hundred thousand Unfaithful Enemies of Odin. They - I'm sure - have more profitable and constructive things to do.

It's going to be a barrel of laughs, people. But as for me - I'll stick with the mice, if it's all the same to you..

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Rain Games

After all the recent excitement about the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither remotely holy, Roman nor an empire) Football Competition and the Liberationists' vain bid to reform the House Of Earls and turn it into a sandal exhibition centre and rest home for failed and retired politicos from the Witangemot, the Northumbrians are excitedly preparing for the next Big Event. This year has been a memorable one in the history of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of this island, and the advent of the Holy Roman Empire Games is a once-in-a-lifetime event, as the Great Sporting Bandwagon visits this lovely Kingdom once every thirty thousand years.

Already the entire Northumbrian realm has been treated to the sight of the Venerated Holy Roman Empire Games Flame, and on cue, the crowds have crawled out of the darkness of their hovels to gape in awestruck wonder and business at the passing flame as it passes through their hamlets - or simply to catch flies.

The adulation and devotion to this pagan emblem of vanity and rhubarb has been remarkably intense; when I commented about it to my master Caedmon, he opined that the worshippers were in desperate need of a Christian education, since those who abandon the worship of the Almighty are condemned to honour silly and worthless things instead. My own take on it is that they simply require a thick ear - as do the corporate enterprises like rat pie sellers, brewers, moneylendersmaster bakers and sorcerers, whose hard-nosed beneficence is sponsoring the vainglorious show in these perilously bankrupt Dark Age days. But never mind.

I'm so looking forward to the Lighting Of The Sacred Bonfire and the underwater sprinting; it hasn't stopped raining for the last fifteen months..

Thursday 5 July 2012

A Done Deal

Dearie me! There's a right furore going on here in the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria, and everyone is agitated; the conversations of the citizens of the beautiful settlement of Streonaeshalch are dominated by the One Great Burning Issue.

Some time ago, the Witangemot - headed by Dagwald Caedmeron, the Mother Superior and Chicken Supreme of the Tree/Liberationist Administration - announced to the watching world through the faithful offices of the soothsayers that they'd unveiled a Great Plan which would stimulate the ailing economy, which - owing to the onward roll of the Great Credit Catastrophe - has left our Kingdom in penury, poverty, bankruptcy, debt and dogbiscuit. The result of this Wondrous Initiative would be a meaner, leaner, keener, cleaner, greener environment and Lots of Jobs for the people of the district. Hooray for those little drops of hope! Of course, for a Cat like myself, I couldn't give a rat's receipt.

In a nutshell, the Significant Decision involves the building of myriads of new hovels, thus allowing the homeless legions of feckless exiles from the exotic dominion of Chavvostan. The local builders and joiners will do a roaring trade. On the surface, this sounds wonderful, but the Great Northumbrian Unwashed are most unhappy about the idea - especially when they're going to have to live cheek-by-jowl with people whose personal hygiene and social behaviour, diet and customs are quite different from the expected Northumbrian norm. The prospect of midnight rubbish burnings, burglary parties, flatulence concerts, arson workshops and spitting competitions does little to ingratiate the average Northumbrian to the idea. Furthermore, it's a widely recognised truism that the likes of Caedmeron, Edweird the Milliner et alia certainly wouldn't countenance the idea of living next door to people of such idiosyncratic ways. Never, never.

But, since the Witqngemot are Terribly Concerned about the good people of the Realm, they're going to have a public consultation, allowing distressed members of the population to air their views, reservations and downright hostility to the ready ears of their representatives.

Naturally, it goes without saying that having heard the overwhelming views against the Plan, they'll implement it anyway. It's De-Mockry-cy, folks.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

An Intercepted Letter

I was having one of my recreational evenings recently - joining in with some of my peers in a few feline shanties outside Edweird the Millner's place. It was a great sing-song, and we were all in fine voice. I hope Edweird was enjoying the serenade. Anyway - that's by the by. While we were singing lustily away, I detected a familiar outline approaching me in the darkness: it was my old pal Feaxede the Fox, who'd been engaged in his own vulpine pursuits. He'd been engaged in his usual habits: patrolling the streets, poking his long nose through open doors and windows, and liberating chicken carcasses and loaves of bread that had been carelessly abandoned on tables. A fox has to eat, and that's how he gets his entertainment.

He was carrying a piece of vellum in his mouth this time, and having apologised profusely for interrupting my soiree, he wondered if I could kindly read it to him. Now, I must state that on several occasions I've tried to teach my fox friend to read, but unfortunately, he has the attention span of a gnat, so I'm still obliged to help him when he comes by literature in his researches.

We separated from the ensemble, who were continuing the anthem with gusto. When we found the light from a nearby window, we stopped so that I could read the contents of the page. It was a private letter, signed by Dagwald Caedmeron, addressed to His Infernal Majesty Emperor Jose Borracho, the Head Honcho of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor even resembling a child's definition of an empire). I immediately realised that this was Very Important, and although my own gut instinct was to instruct Feaxede to return it to whence it came, the curious streak with which I'm cursed overcame caution, and in fascination I read the following words:

Your Royal Highness

I am writing this epistle to you to assure you that in my loyalty to you, I intend to carry out my duties to the Holy Roman Empire wholeheartedly. Please be assured that I will not rest until I have reduced the Northumbrian people to the exalted status of serfs and paupers under your reign. We are working with the moneylenders to deprive the folk of all their Holy Groats through a multitude of taxes and fines, and to gradually accustoming them to poverty by bringing increased cuts to public expenditure. The moneylenders have been working very hard to make shore that they get the most out of it for themselfs. We are good friends with them and we make an excellent partnership.

We have a lot of opposition from various corners of the Realm, but we're quite sure that with some gentle persuasion - through the Soothsayers, or failing that through the good offices of the Costumed Thugs.

Blessings and peace to you and all at the Royal court. Please send my greetings to Hermit the Rumphole.

Your humble and obedient servant

Dagwald Caedmeron

PS My companion and colleague Edweird the Millner asked me to send his greetings.

When I read it I immediately came to the conclusion that the letter was a fake. Caddy Boy can't spell for toffee..

Monday 2 July 2012

The Story So Far - III

For the benefit of those readers who have either arrived too late or already lost the plot, here is a resumé to lighten the darkness and clear the fog:

The lovely Kingdom of Northumbria - jewel of the Known World - has been hijacked and commandeered by a secretive, slimy sinister cult, headed up by Dagwald Caedmeron - the Twinkling Star and Principal Fallen Angel Cake of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration. Their business is ostensibly to steer the Beautiful Realm into the Elysian Fields of prosperity and plenty.

To propagate the illusion that this is indeed their stated Glorious Purpose, the high priests, gurus, executives and apparatchiks of the aforementioned uliginous, demon-worshipping sect have painstakingly constructed a sophisticated propaganda machine, using the soothsayers Beeby See, impetigo-bespotted Guardy-Ann, the Windy Pedant, Dellimell and the Echo of Sunderland as their mouthpieces. Most of the Northumbrian serfs, nobles and squirrels are unaware of this gross deception; besotted by the bedazzling skills and oratory of twinkle-toed Madcaster Untied football hero Wade Rune and the scintillating and charismatic charms of Father Simeon the Cowl, the good folk of the Kingdom are being robbed, fobbed, lobbed, mobbed and slobbed out by the intoxicating fumes and assorted foul odours of the secret cult's apparatus. Meanwhile, the Great Malicious Work carries on behind closed doors...

Behind this mise en scène lurks the malevolent, shadowy figure of His Holiness Emperor Jose Borracho - the King Ratbiscuit of the Holy Roman Empire (which is as holy as Wade Rune's feet at half-time, as Roman as a Bactrian camel and an empire in name only), accompanied by Hermit the Rumphole, his court jester and pet mouse. Having dominated all the tribes of the Known World with their foul business, Joe Boy is consolidating his grip on the Northumbrian Realm and is secretly issuing commands to Caedmeron in order to bring Northumbria into line with his fell purposes.

Can straight-talking Nickwald the Forage foil this dastardly plot and awaken the Northumbrians to the reality of their perilous plight? Can Edweird the Milliner walk and chew the Sacred Mushrooms at the same time? Is it lunchtime yet?

Stay tuned...