Every year around this time, the ethnic Norwegians who live in the Snotting Hill area of Barchester hold their carnival. It is, I assure you, a most colourful and vibrant event, drawing in crowds from all over Barset, eager to taste the salted herring once again. National costume is much in evidence as the crowd processes through the district, dancing in Nordic unison whilst a Sami nose flautist provides the music. Of course, it does attract some rather unsavoury elements, and this year I understand from Inspector Cuffem that the crime figures actually doubled – to whit, one stolen window box of geraniums and a broken window pane at Number 27 Wurdle Street, the result of a flying smorgasbord; assailant unknown. My Lord the Bishop and I enjoyed it all immensely. We did invite Ms. Diane Abbott to come and enjoy the diversity, but she replied it was obviously an all-white event and therefore not inclusive, adding that it should be banned.
Our weekend houseguest, Vice Admiral Sir Rodney Bilgewater, RN, an old school chum of the Bishop’s, proved to be most entertaining. He has so many stories about life-below-deck that we were all agog at dinner, especially Mr. Slope, who regularly donates to the Navy’s ‘Save-a-Cabin-Boy’ charity fund (though he tells me he has yet to receive one through the post). Perhaps it was a mistake to serve scallops, for the Admiral suddenly delivered a verbal broadside aimed at the French, who have been throwing rocks and insults at some of our fishing vessels off the coast of Normandy.
“They’re at it again,” he declared, moving the salt cellar and pepper pots around to demonstrate the finer points of the French attack. “No good asking where the Royal Navy was in all this – we are down to two tug boats and a pedalo thanks to Mrs. Dismay’s kow-towing to Brussels. There is talk of recommissioning HMS Victory, but where would we put the helicopter landing pads? We do, however, have thousands of Admirals to make up for it, which has revitalised the gold-braid industry – so it is not all bad news.”
(I was going to ask what a helicopter was but decided it was probably one of the War Office’s secret weapons, and thought better of it).
The Archdeacon, who had listened to all of this in silence, could contain himself no longer.
“Lord Nelson must be turning in his grave!” he burst out, “Brave British seadogs being chased off by a bunch of… of… plume-de-ma-tantist mollusc-scoffers with their Charles Aznavour throat-gargling and ridiculous Marcel Marceau waving… it is nothing less than an act of war!”
“We just can’t do it,” sighed the Admiral. “As I said, we have no fleet, and all our money has been shipped over to South Africa to help facilitate the coming Black Mischief.”
“Ah yes,” said the Archdeacon, “the drums of war are sounding across the veldt even as we speak.”
At this point we ladies retired, leaving them to curmudgeonitate on their own. We so wanted to discuss which foundation and lipstick Monsieur Macron uses, for his skin looks flawless in those glossy magazine photographs. So slim, too… they say he favours the basque, but I think he is more globalist than nationalist in his inclinations, don’t you?
Signora Neroni, fluttering her fan, thought that Mrs. Dismay should immediately sign up for dancing lessons, having seen pictures of her attempt at Bantu dancing in the Heart of Darkness.
“Rhythmic wobblings at her age, I mean really! She looked like a fish out of water,” giggled the Signora.
“Nonsense,” I replied, “a fish would have made a better job of it. To my mind she resembled a live shrimp on a griddle – and I’m sure that’s how her audience saw her.”
“You mean…” began Lady Arabella Gresham.
“Supper,” I interrupted, “will be served shortly.”
“Is she really in favour of land redistribution without compensation, as reported in The Jupiter?” asked Mrs. Grantley.
“Only if done legally,” said the Countess de Courcy, knowledgeably.
“The Highland Clearances were done legally,” I sniffed, “but that does not make them right.”
“I wonder what the reaction would be if legislation was passed here to take away the property of our ethnic fellow citizens,” said Mrs. Quiverful.
“One can only imagine the outcry,” said the Signora.
“I fear it is all going to end in terrible bloodshed,” muttered Mrs. Bold.
“Of course it is,” I replied, “for that has always been the plan.”
We ladies twitted on as darkness fell and the lamps were lit and the coaches were sent for. As the last of our guests departed, my thoughts drifted towards the gathering storm: we live in strange and dangerous times, and those whom we entrust with our welfare and defence are not our friends.
I could not resist buying a copy of The Tablet to read about the papal visit to Ireland.
“Crossing the Tiber are we, Mrs. P?” chortled Silas Nosebleed, the lobotomised news vendor, rattling his groats.
“Imbecile,” I responded pleasantly. Always good to leave a tip: in Nosebleed’s case, it was ‘Bathe more often!’
Well now, it seems Old Frankie did not get as warm a welcome as his late predecessor, for the Emerald Isle is a little more ‘over the rainbow’ now, and the Wet Taoiseach a friend of Dorothy. Many took offence that the Bishop of Rome did not go the whole hog in his apology for the wickedness of some Catholic clergy over the years – the physical and sexual abuse of young people we hear so much about – and over his criticism of the recent referendum on abortion. I was not surprised, though sadly the disaffected are not flocking to the Church of Ireland. However, the number of people attending his open-air mass was considerably lower than was prayed for. All in all, I suspect Frankie couldn’t wait to leave and get back to reading Das Kapital in the Vatican Library.
One respects decency in politics, even from the ‘other side’. I read this morning that Mr. Frank Field MP resigned the whip over the Corbynovites’ antisemitism, a most wicked ideology that Britons should have no truck with. When folk of his experience and calibre decide enough is enough, it should be a wake-up call for the party leadership, but I suspect they are too busy rewriting the definition of antisemitism and reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion while Comrade Alibaba-Brown warbles on about the rise of the Far-Right in a classic case of leftist deflection. Well done, Mr. Field, you have shown decent folk everywhere the way, and it is not the Third Way! Like Pontius Pilate, we should wash our hands of Labour, which no longer stands for ordinary working men and women. Having said that, I look toward the Conservatives with equal horror, for they too are not what they seem.
At the exquisite Romanesque church of St. Masochi-ad-Vincula near the Bondage Warehouse, Mr. Slope and I joined the incumbent, the Revd. Cornelius Whyplash, for their summer charity bazaar, which this year has the theme of ‘Do it Yourself’. I am told this is quite the rage amongst middle-income families passionate about ‘make-overs’ and who get all sorts of thrills from knocking things up. How kind of people to donate such a gallimaufry of useful items (many of them incorporating galvanised rubber) which the general public leaped upon as soon as they were spread out on the counter. All the money raised will go towards shoring up the vicar’s buttress, which is sagging in several places (as is the Church of England in general, but I digress).
So, my dears, as the last day of summer is upon us and autumn waits around the corner, may the leaf-blower of common sense scatter the Green Party into the mulch-pit of history and the bonfire of the quangos be re-ignited by the park keepers of Liberty.
I wish you a joyous and fruitful weekend.