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‘Vote now! Vote often!’

Oh, the ways of the world! Though there are local elections being held up and down the country I’m relieved to say this time it is not our turn – Barchester remains quiet and calm this bright May morning, no hustings, no flags, just Barchester folk going about Barchester business. The road sweepers are out and about, and the night-soil man homeward plods his weary way, followed by a swarm of flies. Not a politician in sight, no babies being kissed and no soap-box lies being swallowed by the gullible.

But will the political landscape shift?

Will Corbynites seize the town halls in a bloodless coup?

Is Ms Abbott in charge of counting the votes?

The ID scheme being tested in some constituencies has sparked cries of vote rigging and unfairness – honestly, what’s the fuss? You have to prove your identity to so many different folk and agencies these days, why not at the polling station? Admittedly, some of the old gentlemen at Hiram’s Hospital are all too keen to drop their trousers and display unusual birth marks as a means of identification, but they don’t have the relevant documentation (and it always worked for Lord Boothby).

Whilst ‘Vote now! Vote often!’ is the watchword in some enriched pocket boroughs (statues of Justice, sadly, are not the only things in the kingdom turning a ‘blind eye’ to furtive goings-on), and Imodiumentum cadres work ceaselessly to tunnel into the very bowels of this septic isle, one would hope for common sense and patriotism from the Conservative Party. Alas and alack, this is not the May Way, for that is the path of the ‘fellow traveller’. I read of a candidate in the London election being dropped like a hot potato by the Tories for daring to have a contrary opinion about the ‘Religion Which Must Not Be Named’, and the Labour lot are howling at ‘Windrush’ incompetency in an effort to distract attention from their vile antisemitism, and I wonder how on earth do they get away with it? Has this country gone to sleep? Who removed the nation’s backbone, and where do they keep it?

“It doesn’t matter which of the three main parties you vote for, dear lady,” said the Archdeacon on Thursday when I met him at Much Flushing-in-the-Meadows for the annual St. Cascara’s ‘Spend a Penny for the Foolish Virgins’ Rogationtide fund raiser. “One must realise they are three cheeks on the same posterior, douched by the Holy Engels and the teachings of St. Marx. Waste no time on them, Mrs Proudie.”

“I certainly will not,” I replied, “Especially as Barchester is not voting this year.”

“Then bear it in mind for the future,” he sniffed.

“Do we have one?”

“Debateable…”

I note Herr Drunker plans to attend the 200th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Karl Marx. Do you really need to know any more?

My Lord the Bishop, the gentlest and noblest of creatures and a stout upholder of Walpole’s maxim, ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, has been somewhat troubled by a recent debate amongst Cranmer’s communicants about hierarchy: is it biblical or an invention of mammon? The Puritans under Cromwell swept away episcopacy and look at the mess they caused – Praise-God Barebone and Swipe-Me-Vitals Satterthwaite and their ilk. Urgh! That should be warning enough. However, for those sceptics amongst us, I would draw your attention to ‘The Church’s one foundation…’ and state, once again, that I am wearing it.

The Church of England has recently opined that pupils should be taught in school that abstinence and celibacy are ‘positive life choices’. To my mind this is rather ‘monkish’ and smacks of the New World Order to reduce the ethnic population, but I digress. Mr. Slope has been tasked with rolling out this initiative in the Barchester diocese and consequently has been making several school visits. I’m told his rainbow cassock has brought colour and diversity into many a dull schoolroom (though Drag-Queen-Storytime was a step too far for us). To add stimulus to his inspiring talks, he has put together a box of visual aids – to whit, a provocative hand-coloured daguerreotype of a bombazine-clad Yvette Cooper flashing an ankle, Comrade Corbyn’s cast-off one-piece long johns with riveted flap, a tin of bromide granules and a hot water bottle. If that doesn’t counter the urges, nothing will.

The House of Lords is in deep disgrace with Brexiteers over its rejection of the government’s proposals for leaving the clutches of the Eurocleptocracy, a vote led by the Insufferable Hogg. Well, as it stands it is a Blairite creation bearing little resemblance to the peerage of old. Some are calling for abolition, and I fear that time has come. I asked the Duke of Omnium for his opinion and was not altogether surprised by his indifference.

“The Lords cannot block the will of the people,” he explained, “And those who think they can will reap the whirlwind. I’m just glad I don’t have to sit with the Barrowboyocracy, the Adonises and the Sugars, the Warsis and the Ahmeds. An absolute shower! Let it go, let it go!”

I tried to put in a good word for the Bench of Bishops… but couldn’t find one.

Oh well…

Whenever one feels down or under the weather, one can always turn to the pronouncements of the Bishop of Rome to cheer oneself up. I love a bit of Papal Bull. His latest whiz-bang had us rolling in the aisles – ‘Governments should ban all weapons’ (or something like that). His logic is quite simple: no weapons, no violent crime and no wars… but this logic is serious flawed. As he is a firm believer in the Church leading by example, perhaps it is only a matter of time before the Swiss Guard are given their marching orders and P45s. Ah… of course… just like the ‘No borders, no walls’ declaration, none of this applies to Vatican City. Silly me.

Should the confessional be sacrosanct when it comes to child abuse? Signora Neroni is of the opinion that it should, but then she has much to conceal. The view from Rome is also that it should. Not so long ago, the Archbishop of Melbourne said he preferred a prison sentence to disclosing ‘chorister explorations’ to the police. I believe it all stems from a misinterpretation of the words, ‘Suffer, little children…’ (which is not an imperative) but in any case, thanks to Archbishop Cranmer and other reformers, auricular confession is not an Anglican sacrament and therefore not an issue here. Anglican clergy fond of ‘under the chasuble’ furtivity should face the full rigour of the law.

Goodness!  I was completely wrong! The royal babe is not Albert, Alfred or Leopold, but Louis. I shall send him a crochet romper suit and some specially-iced hobnobs wrapped in tissue paper. On second thoughts, given the chosen nomenclature, it had better be a tin of bourbons.

A word of caution – when visiting Scotland, leave your potato peeler at home. If they find one about your person you could face four years in the McClink. One wonders if there are other household objects now on the offensive weapons list? If only the boys in blue would spend more time on catching paedophile grooming gangs and the real terrorists who cause mayhem, but I suppose that requires effort.

I shall end with a word of praise for President Trumpelstiltskin. He may not be the sort of chap one would like to see around one’s dinner table, but credit where credit is due. His unorthodox style of diplomacy has brought North Korea to the negotiating table and secured the release of US prisoners into the bargain. It is far more than the Obamamessiah achieved in his eight years of golfing.

So, as the market gardener of insanity harvests the poisoned apples of cultural Marxism and the boy scout of neo-liberalism ties a sheepshank around the throat of free speech, I bid you au revoir until next time, when I shall once again endeavour to remove the lid on the Pandora’s Box of modern absurdity.

(‘Mrs. Proudie’s Portrait of the Week’ is brought to you by the Zuckerberg Online Double-entendre Redaction Service, Ltd. – “Working for a Government near you”).