Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Questionable Question

I'm very sorry that I haven't sent any news from the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria lately; my only excuse is that I'm a Cat, and sometimes we moggies disappear into the bolt hole our own feline worlds, and simply shut the human sphere out altogether. To be perfectly frank, it makes for a pleasant change. The world of mice, fresh quayside fish, territorial intrigues, inter-cat disputes and patrols of my substantial empire is by far more engaging than the tedious drivel of human politics.

However, Feaxede - my fox friend - soon brought me back from my feline reveries when I met him this morning. With a jaunt in his loping, vulpine gait and a swish of his brush, he cheerfully greeted me and asked if I'd heard the latest news. My natural curiosity overcame my preoccupations, and I asked him to tell me about it, as I'd gone to ground for a while, and had lost touch with the airy affairs of Fairyland.

With a snigger, he told me that the Caledonian Kingdom - famed for its rugged, harsh landscape and lawless, unintelligible people known as Picts, was going to hold a Great Count of its people in order to determine how they wanted their nation to be organised. It had hitherto been my understanding that the Caledonians were a wild, uncouth and ungovernable people, whose preferences aligned more with the finer things of human existence like uisge beatha, drunken fighting and carrying our raiding parties south of their unkempt borders on the homesteads, herds and flocks of unsuspecting Northumbrian farmers. It was certainly therefore a revelation to me that they were minded to organise themselves and to lick their raggle-taggle wilderness into some semblance of order. We live and learn.

When Feaxede proceeded to tell me the question that Angus McTrout - the corpulent Caledonian tribal chieftain - was going to ask his people, I was most amused. Apparently, the wording of the Significant Question upon this Great Count was to hinge was: "D'ye nae wannae belong tae the bonnie Holy Roman Empire?" Since the question was couched in negative and nebulous phraseology and weighted in favour of the Unmentionable Evil Federation, the poor Caledonians wouldn't really know how to answer, since an 'Aye' or an 'Och Noo' wouldn't express a firm conviction one way or the other.

Angus has since been asked to reword the question which will decide his Kingdom's future. My guess is when he's spend considerable time and lots of Holy Groats on the matter, that it'll finally read, "D'ye nae wannae belong tae the Holy Roman Empire?"

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Bugrake's Big Day

The usual river of brackish drivel continues to flow sluggishly through the consciousness of the Northumbrian Kingdom - aided and abetted by the soothsayers, of course - and the politicos continue to practise the sacred arts of dissimulation, slobber and posturing. Meanwhile, in the as yet undiscovered land of Ultima Thule, word has got out that Bugrake O'Barmy - the silver-tongued despot of that distant outpost - has once more been elected to the coveted Chieftain's Seat. Hooray for De-Mockery-Cy and biscuit!

To the sound of trumpets and the tumultuous bleating of myriads of his adoring acolytes and assorted sheep and goats, Buggy was sworn in to his second term of office. The ceremony was attended by representatives of all the major tribal groupings throughout the unknown world, as well as legions of hangers-on, pigeons and mountebanks.

Having sworn his sacred oaths (in anglo-saxon Anglo-Saxon) in the presence of his high priests, druids and diversity coordinators, Buggy then proceeded to give an oration to the assembled hordes. Many people burst into tears, blew their noses and wept uncontrollably. This remarkable outpouring of raw emotion continued when Buggy opened his mouth and uttered sounds resembling words. In his usual fashion, Bugrake O'Barmy was the consummate orator; his phrasing was gilded with the finest eloquence and articulation; the tones of his authoritative voice rose and fell in soothing cadences. The sounds of snoring soon filled the air as people gently slumped and heads gradually rolled downwards.

As ever, the contents of Buggy's speech revealed what was in his heart and within his cranium. Sadly, no one was quite sure what it was he'd actually said. This Cat is of the firm conviction that Caddy Boy and his pals have a great deal to learn from this charismatic chieftain. For a start, everyone loves him - even though they have no idea what he actually says - or does..

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Meat And Right

I've been recovering from some earth-shattering news which has utterly shaken this Cat. The day started innocently enough with a routine patrol through my empire - catching the usual small rodents, fending off feline usurpers, scrounging scraps of fresh fish from the traders at the quayside and all that kind of stuff.

Suddenly I happened across my old friend Feaxede the fox, who - as far as foxes can appear thus - was looking ashen-faced, and in a state of acute distress. Ever anxious to help a friend and fellow creature in need, I asked him what the matter was. I wish I hadn't; when he told me the news, I simultaneously felt sad, sick and faint. I had to lie down.

It appears that reports have been filtering through the soothsayers of a truly shocking nature concerning the suppliers of rat and donkey pies throughout the Kingdom of Northumbria - including the renowned Caledonian enterprise McSpreaders, whose clownish chief executive - Ronald McSpreader - is a well-known icon, regularly venerated at their ubiquitous sacred shrines. Rat and donkey pies - as the reader will doubtless already be aware - are classed as basic subsistence fare to the majority of poor Northumbrians, and are bought daily at the various shambles and consumed noisily on the streets. The resulting crumbs keep the pigeons and seagulls in a regular supply of greasy sustenance.

Prepare yourself for this, reader. The horrible truth unearthed by Beeby See, Dellimell, Guardy-Ann and the Windy Pedant is that traces of cow and pig meat have been discovered by Butchery Administrators and Offal Coordinators among carefully selected samples of rat and donkey pies. Dagwald Caedmeron - the Senior Rat's Whisker and Dogbreath of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration - has made a statement to the Witangemot. To a hushed and sombre house he announced that lessons were being learned (by which I think he was informing the assembly that the children were at school). Edweird the Milliner - the nasal Archbishop if the magic mushroom-chewing Redistributionists - has called for a public enquiry. Very imaginative, Ed. Go back to sleep.

Meanwhile, here on earth, the inhabitants of Streonaeshalh are looking decidedly anxious - and not a little queasy. The flags are hanging at half-mast, and there's no sign of the seagulls and pigeons. I think they've been so appalled by this development that they've returned to their natural diets and habits.

It comes to a pretty pass when suppliers of offal and meat to the Realm's most trusted piemakers have to resort to such unprincipled skullduggery to make a fast Holy Groat. I think it's an indictment of Caddy Boy. After all, it all happened under his watch, and for generations to come he'll be referred to as the One Who Fed The Northumbrians Junk. Shame on him.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Story So Far - IV

For the sake of the uninitiated reader, here is a brief summary of the story so far. If you're confused now, don't worry: you'll soon be befuddled.

The lovely Kingdom of Northumbria is under the creeping paralysis of a sinister, contagious disease called Commonest Porpoise, whose putrid and miasmic vapours emanate from the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire), headed up by the Senior Rat Majesty Emperor Joe Borracho, assisted by Hermit the Rumphole, his half-witted henchman and pet mouse. This malady has infested the Kingdom - as well as many others - for years, leaving in its blight-ridden wake a legacy of diversity coordinators, equality superintendents, cat license administrators, pigeon psychologists and other Holy Groat-consuming classes. The politicos of the Kingdom - under the watchful ear of King Alhfrith - have all succumbed to this toxic pest, and have rewarded themselves lavishly with all manner of goodies and trifles while the rest of the population perishes under the crushing yoke of taxation and the hated, loathed and detested Public Expenditure Cuts. It's all so very sad - enough to reduce a puddy cat to tears. Consequently, the Kingdom is riddled by plagues, poxes, vomit and biscuit, and in its state of bankruptcy is unable to hold its head above water.

All the hopes of some of the Northumbrian people are invested in Dagwald Caedmeron - the fabulously wealthy Formaggio Grandi of the Tree Faction and Supreme Chicken of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration. Can Caddy learn to whistle the Northumbrian Anthem rather than the Holy Roman Empire 'Ode To The Taxpayer'? Can he pull the Kingdom out of the malevolent claws of the Emperor? Will he even bother?

Other hopes rest upon the sloping shoulders of Edweird the Milliner - the popular and opulent Man of the People, who heads up the magic mushroom-chewing cult known as the Redistributionist Faction. Will Eddy Boy declare his hand and lead the populace to the magic money trees of the Promised Land? Can he learn to speak through his mouth rather than down his nose? Will he take the King's biscuit and appear on 'Strictly Come Bake-Off'?

The most plausible hope rests upon the devil-may-care Nickwald the Forager, the frank and plain-speaking despot of the Northumbrian Independence Faction, whose sworn mandate (in Anglo-Saxon anglo-saxon turns of phrase) is to extract the Realm from the clutches of the Evil Empire? WIll he lance the boil? Will it hurt? Will it be messy? Will the diversity coordinators, equality superintendents, cat license administrators, pigeon psychologists and other Holy Groat-consuming classes shrivel up - or will the disease continue unabated?

There are more questions than answers; the only way to watch this narrative unfold is to stay tuned. All will come clear. Well, nearly...

Monday 7 January 2013


As this new year drags itself into some kind of motion, the posture-driven prattling and mindless machinations of the politicos and their faithful, knuckle-dragging soothsayers continue unabated by the peace, goodwill and biscuit that temporarily enveloped the lovely Kingdom of Northumbria.

The Redistributionists have recently emerged from their hidey-hole in their magic mushroom-fuelled fairyland to make solemn, straight-faced pronouncements about the content of honey in the breakfast gruel consumed by the majority of Northumbrian children and adults. Since these delightfully deranged politicos have suddenly observed that there are citizens within the Realm who are endowed with ample waistlines - which could (potentially, at least) cause a problem with their health, since they run the remote risk of fracturing the axles of carts, thereby occasioning injury to themselves as well as other passengers - they've decided that Something Should Be Banned. And such have been the heated debates in the Witangemot that even some of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration have readily agreed that this is indeed a Problem Which Must Be Addressed. Thus the edict has been mooted that honey is to be rationed and administered in homeopathic measures, in order the correct the burgeoning waistlines of the population. It's all so very sad.

Now, I may only be a Cat who doesn't think in the same way as humans, but this all strikes me as rather peculiar - especially when there are more pressing issues hammering on the gates of the Kingdom - for example, the amount of poverty, idleness, debt, diversity and fishpaste which is steadily dismantling the Northumbrian Realm and turning it into a manicured wilderness.

The other day, Dagwald Caedmeron - the Chief Chump Chop of the aforesaid Administration admitted to one of Beeby See's drones that Nickwald the Forage and his Northumbrian Independence Faction disciples were rather bizarre because they wanted to extract Northumbria from the foetid embrace of Emperor Jose Borracho, the Principal Primate of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire - no way) and his pet mouse Hermit the Rumphole. Since Nickwald and his pals would like to see Northumbria as a free realm, unshackled by the zillions of restrictions imposed by Joe and his cronies, I would have thought he was quite normal..

Tuesday 1 January 2013

A Northumbrian New Year

While the human world has been partaking in the festive season - and subsequently recovering from each day of it in turn - I've been carrying on with my usual business: patrolling my territories, fending off young pretenders to my feline throne, catching small rodents and hanging around the quayside in anticipation of a few choice scraps of fish from charitable and cat-friendly market traders and fishermen. For this exercise, my strategy is to engage in an intense charm offensive consisting of plaintive miaowing and rubbing around their ankles. It never fails.

Last night, the town of Streonaeshalh was awash with people who really should have been fast asleep, but who instead chose to gather together to partake of their sacred libations and carouse the New Year in. This morning, their heads and alimentary systems are relentlessly railing against them. For all that, their tenderised constitutions haven't inhibited them from continuing their Significant New Year celebrations this morning, and hairs from the backs of dogs are the order of the day. Fortunately for the dogs, they grow back.

The reason for their zeal at the beginning of this particular new year is that today marks the fortieth anniversary of Northumbria's absorption into the tenderly putrid embrace of the Holy Roman Empire (which unashamedly contravenes the Northumbrian Trade Descriptions Law, since it's neither remotely holy, Roman nor anything like an empire). Everyone is so excited about this, and the taverns are filled with happy people, ale, mead, music, retching, dog breath and flatulence.

For many Northumbrians, it's hard to believe that forty years have elapsed since the then Principal Fairy Cake and Tree Faction Chicken Supreme - Edweird the Sailor - sold the idea of servitude, drudgery and slavery to the Northumbrian people as a fun-filled trading party with jolly Franks, Gauls, Westphalians and Saxons. Ja, es war so gut. Pass the bratwurst, Hans. Thus at the stroke of a quill he thereby brought the Kingdom into the orbit of the Holy Emperor.

As the successive generations passed, it became increasingly apparent that the cosy trading arrangement that had been sold as Something Wondrous and Necessary was in reality a bag of ordure, as successive Important Treaties - signed by various principal politicos - steadily gnawed into the vitals of Northumbrian political life and culture and drained the last vestiges of Northumbrian identity. As successive generations have been gently beguiled by the hypnotic, magic mushroom-fuelled propaganda of the Holy Roman Empire's talking poodle Beeby See and the bilious rantings of Guardy-Ann and the Windy Pedant, so the Northumbrian's grasp on reality has been more and more tenuous. This has further been accelerated by the prolific output of popular distractions like "The News", the Ð Factor and "King Alfred's Great Saxon Bake-Off".

Dagwald Caedmeron - the present Leading Blight of the Tree/Liberationist Alliance Administration - has been anxious to defend the Evil Intergalactic Federation from the attacks of the Northumbrian Independence Faction, who - led by the charismatic and straight-talking Nickwald the Forager - have now overtaken the whining, sycophantically pro-Empire Liberationists in popularity as certain people throughout the Kingdom have realised that they've been taken for a ride. Caddy - beloved of all - has emphasised that to remain under the dominance of the Empire is in the Best Interests of The Kingdom. Which - according to this Cat's translation, really means that it's in in the interests of Caddy and his politico pals to remain where they are, as highly-paid vassals and placemats to the unaccountable, greedy and power-mad satraps of the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire).

Since most Northumbrians don't really know or care, the carousing continues. I've decided that it would be rather nice to sing some of them a song, so I'm going to organise some of my feline pals, and we'll have a celebration of our own outside their windows at three o'clock tomorrow morning. Happy New Year!