Wednesday 31 December 2014

Honours Among Thieves

In my morning rounds, it's my custom to wait by a particular fence for a few minutes; I've found by observation that there's a particular hole underneath the aforesaid fence providing a convenient route for passing mice, whose footprints have steadily worn a small trackway. And I'm never disappointed if I wait there, since some hapless rodent is certain to pass by.

In a similar fashion, my annual routine at this time of the year is to join with my vulpine friend Feaxede the fox in the blessed anticipation of the Northumbrian New Year Honours. We eagerly listen out to the ramblings of Beeby See and other soothsayers to catch news of the eagerly-awaited Awards. We can hardly contain our excitement as the names of the nominees is put forward, and our hearts simply burst for joy! Happy days!

These Honours are awarded by the Supreme Monarch of Northumbria, the ancient King Alhfrith, although I shouldn't hestitate to point out that the Great Chieftain doesn't actually play any part in the selection of those nominated to receive these awards; such labours are infra dignatem for such as he. Fortunately, he has a legion of politicos, diversity co-ordinators, pigeon psychologists and sociopaths to take up the menial process of selecting the recipients.

There are three separate categories of awards: Distinguished Order of the Northumbrian Kingdom [DONK], Hero Of the Northumbrian Kingdom [HONK] and Bachelor Of the Nothumbrian Kingdom [BONK]. Each individual nominated to receive such an honour is supplied with a reason for his or her award; this is usually prefaced with either the phrase "For services to.." or "In recognition of..."

Most of the recipients are names unknown to the Northumbrian populace, since most of them are people who don't actually exist, but whose inclusion provides some measure of proof that the selectors have actually been doing something to earn their Holy Groats. However, some are awarded (with fanfares) to leading celebrity drunks, homeopaths, luvvies, vermin, politicos and criminals. Those servants of the public who've managed to set one particular community at the throat of another (for example, Vikings against Caledonians) are granted an honour in recognition to their services to the Great Goddess of Diversity. And so it goes. On occasion awards are even granted to ordinary members of the public who've given their time in the service of others or who have performed some outstanding act of courage.

Such excitement for these awards as ours isn't restricted to members of the animal kingdom, either. I went on a fact-finding mission to find out what the average Northumbrian thought about these New Year Honours, and I was suitably impressed by the response I found. One fisherman I asked was so animated about it that he spat; fortunately I wasn't within the trajectory of the fluid utterance. A market trader I questioned look blankly at me, leaned over to one side and sent a noisy explosion from his hind quarters, accompanied by a noxious invisible cloud of colonic gas.

I can emphasise enough how exciting these awards are; even the humans have a visceral affection for them!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

The Pox Docks

Your Cat hopes that you've had a very good Christmas; mine was spent in the usual territorial wanderings, but none of the usual threats to my Kingdom could be bothered to stir their idle bones to challenge me, so it was a relatively peaceful day, with a respectable catch of mice and a haddock supper to make it complete. All that remains now is the forthcoming festivities for the New Year, which, in the Northumbrian Kingdom, is a suitable pretext for excessive mawkish sentimentality and drunkenness. Your Cat will go to ground; I value my peace and quiet.

Not so the soothsayers, who are currently very excited at the sudden arrival of the Wibbler Plague – the latest illegal immigrant to these shores. As your Cat is given to understand it, the Wibbler Plague is an exotic friend of Guardy-Ann, the self-awarded Soothsayer Of The Year for the thirteen thousandth time in succession. With a shared hatred of the human race, and being no respecter of godliness, creed, colour or biscuit, Guardy-Ann and the Wibbler Plague have a great deal in common, although to be fair, at least the former commands some loyal following and affection among the bongo-playing unwashed, yogurt weavers, arty luvvies, magic mushroom-chewing Redistributionists and the kindergarten educators of the Realm, whereas the latter is no man's friend, piggy-backing its way around the places it infests, hopping aboard the hapless humans who unwittingly carry it over to their social circles. In this manner the Wibbler does its grim work.

Dagwald Caedmeron – the Principal Nosedrop of the Tree/Liberationist Aliance Administration – is wringing his hands and wondering what to do, since the constant jabbering of the soothsayers seems to strongly suggest that the pestilential pox will engulf and overwhelm the entire Kingdom within a few days, leaving a trail of death, dog droppings and destruction in its wake. Various incantations and herbal remedies have already been tried by physicians in specially woven gowns in order to combat its malign influence, but these have so far failed to bring its nefarious activities to an end.

However, your Cat has already come up with a solution to the Wibbler Problem, and its execution is both simple and elegant. All that Caddy Boy needs to do is to have a quiet chat with Ruswald the Brat and ask him nicely to give the Pox a ride to the self-styled Valhalla Viking Republic of the Levant, who are running berserk in that neck of the woods in an orgy of throat-cutting and bloodlust. He'll do the most valuable service to Northumbria. After all, Guardy-Ann needn't be told a thing...

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Wintervaltide Greetings from Northumbria

Everything is grinding to a halt here in the lovely Dark Ages Kingdom of Northumbria as the festive season fast approaches. The labourers have returned to their hovels - or, in most cases - to the inns, where ale and mead flow down their gullets in industrial quantities; the fishermen and market tradesmen have similarly retreated to the aforementioned haunts, leaving their wives to prepare bread and seasonal dishes for the forthcoming Christmas feast.

There's an eerie air of stillness upon the Kingdom which is only occasionally punctuated by the grunting of assorted beasts in their barns and the distant bleating of politicos and the braying of soothsayers. Such relative inactivity affords your Cat a well-earned break from the relentless daily chore of maintaining the territory and defending it from young feline pretenders, who are all probably curled up in front of their home fires, bellies replete with chicken dinner leftovers.

The Abbey of Streonaeshalh is preparing for the midnight mass tonight and the services tomorrow, and the monks and priests are making all the necessary preparations for the throngs who will doubtless be filling the place. My master Caedmon is composing some verse to mark the season. It's not a good idea to interrupt him when he's in creative mode; I value my continued existence too much.

At the darkest time of the year it's quite appropriate that humans celebrate the entrance of the Light of the World into a stable in Bethlehem. Admittedly, all of the leaders of the church acknowledge that the feast of Christmas has been superimposed over the ancient Roman pagan feast of Saturnalia; the precise date of the Redeemer's birth isn't known, and no traditions exist to suggest its chronology. Suffice it to say that this doesn't really matter, since the arrival of the Eternal into the realms of time and space are the occasion for rejoicing and reflection at any time.

A very Happy Christmas to you all!


Tuesday 16 December 2014

Brat Droppings

There's been very little to disturb my existential ennui since I last posted, and I've been quite content to patrol my substantial territories, chase and catch mice, rats, politicians and other kinds of vermin. Life rolls on here in Dark Ages Streonaeshalh, and the human population are - as ever - captivated by the footballing prowess of Madcaster Untied, not to mention the assorted ramblings and scare stories about Viking fanatics and noxious poxes and plagues from the soothsayers, most especially Beeby See, who's regarded with a touchingly misplaced veneration by the majority of the Northumbrian Saxons. One of Beeby See's favourites at the moment is a shambolic character who answers to the name of Ruswald the Brat. The aforesaid has been promoted by the aforementioned soothsayer to an embarrassing degree, and he's been wheeled on at every available opportunity to pass on the Delphic oracles that drool gracelessly from his loosely flapping chops.

Ruswald the Brat – a professional imbecile aged fifteen – has made a great deal of his fortune by appearing in public and pretending to be a court jester. His notoriety comes from his ability to insult, offend and poke fun at various groups of people, and to write books that buyers pretend to have read for fear of not appearing hip, cool and trendy.

Ruswald the Brat is a man of unfathomable profundity whose vacuousness threatens to swallow him entire; his impressive mastery of the Anglo-Saxon language is only equalled by his inability to understand the individual words he uses - along with the meaning of those phrases randomly strung together like beads from them. Nevertheless, this hasn't failed to impress Beeby See, and such erudition (or whatever passes for it) has also endeared him to scores of window-licking admirers who desire to emulate him.

The Brat's popularity with Beeby See owes to the fact that he isn't averse to airing his abundant ignorance on matters political, and since his blurred thought processes are the result of the consumption of industrial quantities on Magic Mushrooms over the greatest part of his life, his sayings find a certain resonance with some Redistributionists. He's even urged the Northumbrian population not to vote, this being for the alleged reason that all of the political factions are owned by the same cartel of greedy merchants, thus rendering the political process pointless. To add to his impressive list of achievements, he's also criticised the Tree/Liberationist Administration for its imposition of the so-called Pantry Tax – a charge for those tenants of hovels and A-frame houses who use the spare room as a food store rather than a bedroom for a needy mendicant. His fulminations against those who take measures to preserve their fortunes from the clutches of the Northumbrian Exchequer have also carved him a place in the diseased hearts of the Redistributionists as a Champion of the Poor.

When challenged by a soothsayer's lackey about his own sumptuous residence – which he's rented in order to avoid paying taxes on his substantial fortunes – the poor Champion of the Poor has resorted to choicest Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon turns of phrase against the hapless questioner, followed by the swift projection of horse manure.

The sophistication of his arguments is manifesting itself; your Cat predicts that a life of obscurity awaits him...