Goodness! Spies, spies, we are beset by spies! The Jupiter reports sightings of scruffily bearded men in black slouch hats and voluminous opera cloaks bestriding the cobbled streets of Barchester in the swirling fog. Anarchists? Bolsheviks? Methodists? What do they want? Where do they come from? It is said the ringleader goes by the code-name of Agent Cobblers, a native of these isles who despises his fellow countrymen and is in the pay of the Bolshevik Bohemian Secret Service, a vicious and ruthless ideological organisation dedicated to the overthrow of all we hold dear. The true identity of this traitorous individual is as yet unknown, but there are rumours he is, in fact, a well-known wearer of bicycle clips and a pillock of the political establishment. Who would have thought it?
Well, the Archdeacon would for a start.
“Isn’t it obvious? Bearded, bandy-legged and sartorially challenged, it could only be Comrade Corbynov, a man who single-handedly scaled the north face of Mount Abbottopurna without crampons and a plank strapped to his derrière, whose common sense is lodged in a left-luggage facility two stops beyond Barking.”
“But Archdeacon, what sort of secrets could he possibly discover in sleepy old Barchester?” I asked.
‘Your hob-nob recipe, madam, what else?”
At Signora Neroni’s ‘At Home’ on Thursday we discussed ‘Women of Influence’. Turn on the electric magic lantern any day of the week and you cannot fail to be harangued by some banshee broadcaster promoting feminism, so we thought we’d have our own conversazione. My attempts to sing the praises of Miss Nightingale were somewhat overlooked, as the Signora, always one for a darker complexion, was determined to celebrate the accomplishments of the Divine Diane. Our not-quite-a-shadow-of-her-former-self Home Secretary-in-Waiting announced she intends to open the floodgates and repeal immigration laws, so current diversity becomes even more diverse. How very tribal, but that is, of course, her alpha and omega. I’m at a loss to understand why the Signora is in favour of such a cultural death-wish, but ever since she was taken up the Limpopo she’s had her eye on the Zulus for reasons of her own.
What to make of the machinations of Baroness Amos, who wants to de-colonise the university curriculum so that those dreadful ghastly white men like Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Byron, and Dickens disappear in favour of writers from Africa, Asia and the Arab world. Strangely, the said Baroness (don’t you think Blair’s titles are a joke? Baroness my bustle!) does not call for the de-colonisation of medicine. One notes there is no clamour for a return to shamanism, the witch doctor or voodoo juju, so her anti-whitism is rather selective. It seems to me that future students will pass through the august portals of Oxbridge only to emerge more ignorant than when they went in. Perhaps they already do.
I was accosted by Inspector Cuffem whilst giving relief to an old soldier under the railway arches. The Old Campaigner was so grateful for the couple of groats I gave him, dear soul.
“Ever charitable, eh Mrs. Proudie,” said the Inspector.
“One tries to offer a helping hand, dear Inspector,” I replied.
“Indeed, madam, indeed… I was wondering what you thought of President Trump’s suggestion that teachers should bear firearms to protect pupils from an intransigent deranged extremist bursting through the doors unannounced and letting rip?”
I was totally unaware the Archbishop of Canterbury was planning impromptu school visits.
Nobody expects the Carlile Inquisition.
“No, no, dear lady,” said the Inspector, “You misunderstand. I was referring to the dreadful shootings that take place from time to time in the United States. I wondered how prepared you were at Dr. Wortle’s School?”
My regular readers will know that I am one of the school managers, and have been for some years.
“I do not think arming Miss Clench-Tightly with a blunderbuss is the way forward, Inspector. She may be a demon with the embroidery needle, but I doubt she could hit the White Cliffs of Dover firing from six inches away. Mr. Slope may be a better bet however – his most recent passion is archery, and he regularly takes the boys down to The Green to inspect the butts.”
“Oh he does, does he?” said the Inspector, taking out his notebook and scribbling.
I may have dropped Mr. Slope in it. Oh dear.
We are still in the middle of the long goodbye to Berlaymont, though I wish something would happen soon. Tereason Dismay has asked for an indefinite transition period, which seems to cock-a-snook at those who voted to leave. It was less than heartening to learn she invited her Cabinet to a taxpayer-funded cream tea and caviar-fest at Chequers the other day where, after eight arduous hours of discussion, argument and counter-argument, they momentously agreed to ban plastic straws. Had they decided to ban Jack Straw there might have been some point.
Well, I have prattled on for long enough. I am expected at the Church of St. Spasm, Scratchley Gussett, this evening to listen to a talk on ‘The Female Eucharist’ by Dr. Germaine Greer. One only hopes she has shaved her armpits. So my dears, as St. Brendan of Cox lays hands on the foolish virgins of Labouria (thus descending to non-personhood) and the U-Bend of decency is clogged by the hypocritical effluent of socialism, I bid you adieu once more, until next week.