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!