Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Part 2: Somewhat Like A Campaign Manager

What Ho Proles!

As soon as Tony Blair gave us the off that fine day in April 2005, I knew I had to gather around me some of the finest political brains that the country had to offer. I say ‘offer’, of course, meaning ‘inflict on a constituency for the period of six hellish weeks of fierce electoral campaigning’. There would be no place for proleish incompetence in my campaign team. No room for sentiment. Not even space for men unwilling to wear a collar and tie for the full 24 and 7. I wanted chaps with backbone and a steadfast determination to win. In other words, I needed men after my own heart.

That is why I had My Man bring out the Bentley and rush me to my club in London. I knew the feasting hour would soon be at an end and I’d be sure to find plenty of Tory brains reposing after their meals and liquor. There are few things as eager in this world than a Tory high on spirits and, particularly, gin. I’m damn sure we’d win every election if only we could be sure of the supplies.

My first target was to find myself a campaign manager. I’d decided to ask my old friend Lawrence ‘Bomber’ Harris, who has known a few general elections in his time and was instrumental in some of Maggie’s finest hours during the 1980s, including personally manhandling Arthur Scargill’s combover during a protest in Leeds. Some people think that Bomber’s nickname is all a bit too much given the whole hoo-ha over Dresden and the like, but since Larry wasn’t there, I don’t think there’s much call for complaint. We only call him ‘Bomber’ because he has one of the most fascinating medical conditions you’ll ever have the good fortune to witness. He’s narcoleptic, which means that he can drops asleep at a moment’s notice, or even less if the wind’s in the right direction. Hence the name ‘Bomber’. Being with him is like standing on the wrong end of high explosive ordinance dropped from altitude. As soon as you hear the faint whistle issuing from that gap in his upper set of teeth: beware. It’s usually followed by a whooshing sound and then you’re struggling for air as a vacuum forms around the point where his body hits the ground. It’s astonishing to see and to hear. I once witnessed him sleep through a bowl of pea soup, and it was only through some quick thinking of Yours Truly, that he was prevented from a very green and messy drowning.

When I found him in his usual armchair at the club, he wasn’t asleep but reading The Guardian, though to be perfectly honest, I can rarely tell the difference. His face was contorted into a sneer as he muttered oaths against carbon footprints. Then he turned his big ruddy face up at me and uttered another oath which was far less ecological in nature.

‘What ho Bomber!’ I said. ‘I suppose you’ve heard the splendid news?’

‘I was wondering when you’d turn up,’ he said. ‘That’s the usual way with bad pennies.’

‘Bad pennies are preferable to good Euros,’ I assured him. ‘At least they proudly carry Her Majesty’s face and aren’t made from recycled Norwegian plastic and stamped with the holograms of Belgium potentates.’

‘I suppose,’ he said, folding his paper away. ‘Anyway, what do you want? Did your locals finally burn down the Hall and chase you from the village?’

‘Not at all,’ I said. ‘I was wondering if you’re up for a bit of campaign management. You did such as good job with Peter Smythe Whatsit, I figured to give you a chance to help make a real politician’s career, vis-à-vis, me.’

‘You?’ he said, leering at me as though I’d declared my intention to wed a Liberal Democrat. Then he laughed.

‘Oh, don’t be so narrow-minded!’ I said in my defence. ‘I’m perfect for C---- N----. The people know, love, and respect me. Maybe not in that order, and perhaps fear should be in the mix, but certainly, they know a good thing when they see one. And though I say it myself, Bomber: I’m a jolly good thing.’

He scratched his chin for a moment as he gazed out through the window. ‘Why not,’ he said, finally seeing the light. ‘I suppose it’s better than watching from the sidelines, though the chances are you’ll blow it with one of your usual stupid remarks.’

‘Stupid remarks!’ I exclaimed. ‘Have you been back sipping from the fount of ill-founded gossip again, Bomber? What stupid remarks would those be?’

He shrugged. ‘Oh, you know… Like the time you told the newspapers you said the Tory Party was inviting so many working class trolls into its ranks you feared the party conference would be held under Waterloo Bridge.’

‘I was trying to be funny,’ I explained.

‘Well, what about the time you suggested that the unemployed should be neutered and hunted in the place of foxes?’

‘A mere jest!’

‘Okay. And the time you suggested that Michael Howard should go the whole hog and wear fangs and cape since people seem to like horror movies so much?’

‘You know how it is, Bomber! Sometimes we have to go out and catch the headlines. It’s called developing a winning strategy.’

‘Well if I’m going to be your campaign manager,’ he said, ‘you have to agree that I decide the strategy. Is that clear?’

Now it was my turn to shrug, but at least I had my campaign manager. I left him scribbling out his initial ideas for a battle plan, though as I left the club, I do believe I heard a heavy whoomp sound from upstairs. Windows shook and dogs began to yap. Still, I could not begrudge the poor fellow his sleep. My campaign would soon start in earnest, and he would need his energy. I, on the other hand, would need an electoral agent. And for that role, I had a certain person in mind.

My Story: Somewhat Like A Beginning

What Ho Proles!

Having taken advice as to how to begin this little narrative of mine, I’ve decided to dismiss the whole business of beginning in medias res, as the classical chaps call it, in favour of the more Christian virtue of having a good old fashioned beginning. Consider it a blessing, since what could you really gain by setting out on a journey with, let us say, a man with his arm down a champion racehorse’s throat in a desperate attempt at retrieving the keys to his Bentley? All that will come in good time. If starting at the beginning was good enough for God, I’m not one to go arguing with the great novelist in the sky. Even he saved the best stuff till last.

As to my beginning: I was born in 1965, on the family estate at C---- N----. My father, William, is one of this country’s great economists; my mother, the frugal daughter of a notorious London blackguard. I, myself, feel like the happy conjunction of these different palates; a colourful bricolage of the high and the lowly, the rich and the austere.

Present at my birth were my mother (naturally), Miss Drake (the local midwife), my aunt Primrose, and Dr. Clegg, who at that time was still registered with the Medical Council. Nobody knew about his thing for ether, his nocturnal habits in the graveyard, nor about the seven wives he had spread across Lincolnshire. All we knew was that he took the title of the official Murgatroid family doctor and had a profitable sideline in doping my Grandfather’s racehorses. It was he who had the privilege of first slapping my rump, hearing me yell, and, calling on his vast medical expertise, declaring to my father that he’d been blessed with a fine daughter.

I only tell you all of this in case you think there was anything ordinary about my birth. Although I was born in the nineteen sixties, I’m neither tree hugger nor hippy with dreadlocks and a taste for ill grown weeds. I’m a Tory gentleman, and though my sins are plenty, the variety is quite dull. You must see: I am a Murgatroid; some say the Murgatroid of this age, the Murgatroid who will fly the family flag, promote the crest, write the family name in the annals of history. I am the Honourable Jacob Peas Murgatroid and you do well to remember that.

By all accounts, the world was less than impressed by my first few weeks on this earth. The Hall seemed to fall quite indifferently to the new pattern of life involving the child of the misdiagnosed gender. All I know is that I could not have been a handsome baby or my aunt would not have fainted on first seeing me. Nor could I have been much of a handsome child since my aunt continued to suffer dizzy spells whenever I was left in her care. What I was, however, was quick witted and with a keen eye always ready to form hasty judgements. It has been said that there have been none more able to take an immediate dislike as the young Jacob. As a four year old, I dismissed my first governess on account of her smelling of humbugs. At six, I citied ‘a certain shiftiness about the blighter’s eyes’ when I dismissed the gentleman tutor called to the Hall to teach me Latin. At eight I caused a scene at the local country fair when I demanded a public flogging for a rascal who had clipped my eye for something I had said about his mother. You might say: the qualities of the man were there in the child and that I was a Tory through and through.

By the age of eleven, I had grown into a youth of some elegance. Stick thin, though blighted by a slight ocular deficient in the right orbit, I refrained from all sports but for my beloved cricket in which I excelled as a student of the leg break.

Eton only advanced my love of the sport whilst providing the education suitable for any child born into the English gentry. My House Masters were clearly impressed with my talents and had me marked down as a potential Head Boy. It was a station to which I never aspired, believing that in a system ruled by adults, the role of Head Boy is too much work for far too little glory. Besides: I had my eyes for finer prizes, which at the age of thirteen, began to include bonneted members of the local Catholic girls school. It was during this time that stole my first kiss from Annabella Smythe Patterson, who unknown to me, was the niece of a local timber merchant back home in C---- N----. How the news travelled! I recall a difficult weekend when my Father had me home to remind that we Murgatroids must be careful in forming assignations with members of the manual class.

After Eton, I progressed to the University of Oxford where I read Economics. My days were wasted on less scholarly pursuits, I suppose, but that was only befitting a gentleman for whom a career in the city was already decided and arranged. I came down with a rather rotten third class degree and landed a fine job with my father’s company. The subsequent years passed with much adventure, none of which has much bearing on this story except to say that with each passing birthday, I became more resolute in my determination to serve the nation and, one day, to become the highest servant of the state.

Then came the wonderful news that an election would soon be called. The year was 2005. It would be a good year for people with the name Anthony Charles Lynton Blair; less good if the name was Murgatroid. It was the year that this poor nation of ours was set back by five years, consigning one of its brightest stars to the backwoods of political life. It was the year I lost an election and gained my notoriety. It was the year that my name became linked with a sixty nine year old school traffic warden called Mrs. Millicent Granger. It was the year that I learned that succeed, you have to beat the rotten Labour supporting proles at their own game.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Future of a Political Blog

What Ho Proles!

My, my… This blog is over now three weeks old and I’m still driven to fill it with something of the same gusto that once saw my Great Uncle Seymour fill the wine cellar with milk maids. To be honest, I think I’m doing rather well given I made my resolution to blog when my alcohol content was higher than that of some Australian wines I’ve knocked back in anger. I’m certainly impressed by the look of envy that now occupies My Man’s eye for much of the day. I think he fancies himself as something of a writer and refuses to admit that a man of my financial genius should also be a wordsmith of the highest order.

Indeed, sitting here in the study late at night has had me pricking a literary bunion that has been troubling me for a while. It is time I made something of my very great talents, and, if you’ll forgive the image, I intend to make use of this bunion full of creative juice before the thing begins to scab over. I’ve often considered how Winston Churchill managed to combine politics and literature. It makes me ask: then why not I? It must be time that the proud Murgatroid name is known for producing something more literary than Aunt Primrose’s Guide to the English Parsnip (Oxford, 1972). So long as I don’t expect to reach the heights of my old friend, Lord Archer, I’m sure I can reveal a few tales that won’t embarrass too many incumbent MPs.

The more I think of it, the more I settle on the idea of using this blog to describe some of my past adventures. I see it forming a novel in serial form; beginning with the reasons for my failing to win a seat at the last election, working through my current rise to the Tory ‘A’ List, and moving on to my undoubted victory in the next election.

No doubt my resolution will fade in the morning, but I intend to work a little harder this week getting my story down before my country gives me the call. As it is, the church bells tolls twelve yet my mind stills reels with wonderful thoughts.

The villagers will surely lie uneasily in their beds tonight.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Watching Prole TV

What Ho Proles!

Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday. I was in the city all day and came home late. I was then caught up in a rummy scheme I’ve discovered for making easy money!

As you know, I occasionally suffer from a bit of insomnia, when even an extra brandy with my supper fails to bring the dreams descending. My Man tells me that there’s talk in the village that when the lights are on late in the Murgatroid mansion, the Master has got a taste for blood, but that’s just silly superstition for you. The truth is: my mind sometimes can’t rest, especially when I’ve spent a day working the financial markets. Last night, for instance, I ended up watching the TV. I’m glad that I did. I discovered an even better way of making money than anticipating shifts in stocks and shares.

I remember a time when late night TV meant some old black and white film, reruns of old comedy series, or the chance to watch countless documentaries about jet planes, paper mills, or how to tan leather. These days, you’re lucky to get away without losing your house. ITV’s ‘Mint’ is a show perfectly calculated to earn the network a fortune paid for by the least fortunate in the country, often without the wits to see how they are being exploited. It’s fantastic stuff! And talk about fools and their money being easily parted… Proles across the nation ring up the premium rate line for the chance to win forty five grand and they pay seventy five pence a shot. The genius of the scheme is that the show limits each contestant to making only 150 calls a day. In old money, that’s one hundred pounds a day in telephone charges. God bless them!

What’s so clever is that this isn’t one of your cheap satellite channels, but ITV. The damn clever chaps have the whole country to tap. Today I’m going to see if I can invest some of the Murgatroid fortune in the business since it seems a winner to me. Not least since the bitter pill of each lossed 75p is covered in some lovely butter. A lovely young thing comes on, smiling and pouting, flicking hair from her large alluring eyes, encouraging the male proles to ring in and give it a try. ‘It’s only seventy five pence, lads,’ says she. ‘What’s that? Less than a pint? Just think, you could be a winner. What would you do with fifteen grand? Just think about it. You. Fifteen grand. Not bad for a night’s work…’ And so it goes on for hour after hour. I’m no prole but even I fancied my chances.

I suppose some regulator or watchdog will come along and put a stop to it at some point, but I hope not before I make my fortune. If proles are so damn stupid to ring up in their many thousands, who hasn’t got the God given right to exploit them? We Murgatroids have been doing it for centuries and, by God, if I have any say in the matter, we’ll be doing it for centuries more.

With great plans for the future.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Documentary Feature Film

What Ho Proles!

Fiction leaves me colder than last week’s smoked salmon. ‘Give me facts!’ is a simple rule which accounts for many of my enjoyments: I prefer to read non-fiction, carry newspapers with me wherever I go, and only ever sit down to watch the TV when it’s tuned to the news or documentaries. All of which explains why I took up My Man’s suggestion that I go and see a new documentary feature that has just hit the cinemas.

The film’s full title is ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’, which is a bit of a mouthful but I prefer it when filmmakers go to this sort of length to tell you what you’re about see. The last time I went to the cinema, I saw Titanic, which would have been better if it had been titled ‘Ruddy big ship full of pretty boys and chubby girls and far too few stiff upper lips’. Not my sort of thing at all and I was the only chap in the audience who cheered when the damn thing hit the old ice.

There was no cheer last night, however, for what I saw was an intriguing mix of social commentary mixed with elements of cinéma vérité, and to be quite honest, it opened my eyes to much that I didn’t know about our friends in the old Soviet bloc. The lead character was a likeable sort, not completely at home in front of the camera, but with an honesty that was refreshing. We need more chaps like that on our screens, fellows of the Jeremy Paxman school of journalism who say exactly what they see.

I’m just glad that I had the cinema to myself – another perk of owning the land the place is built upon – which meant that I did away with the usual proleish muttering that can ruin a film. As it is, I’d recommend it to all, so long as you can clear the theatre. I heard a dreadful report of a local village where the whole documentary was ruined by the screams of laughter coming from the audience. Terrible.

Until anon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The School Lecture

What Ho Proles!

I’ve just spent a morning at the local comprehensive school, here in C---- N----; an adventure that was every bit as frightful as I might have imagined it.

The invite had come by way of Maurice Jones Lewis, an old school governor friend of mine, who shares my love of firing heavy-duty ordinance in the general direction of wildlife. We’d been on a shooting party a few weeks ago when he asked if I might lecture his sixth form about real life. Before I knew it, the lecture had become a seminar series and the sixth form had become the whole school. Today was the day when I was due to give my maiden speech to four hundred children. My subject was the question of courage in modern life, thinking I might give to the many the sort of advice which is harder to give to the few. Not a bad plan, I thought, though I wouldn’t say it went 100% as expected. But then, what can be done about sensitivities of children these days? They lack proper backbone and get upset over the smallest thing.

For once, I left My Man at home where he had to oversee the cleaning of the chimney in the drawing room. I’d parked the Bentley down in village and was preparing to nip into The Boar’s Tusk to have myself a quick tipple to steady the nerves. My plans were interrupted when the local butcher came out of his shop and called me over. It tends to be the way when you’re such a popular member of the gentry that tradesmen will occasionally slip you the odd present in order to remember them the next time a planning proposal crosses your desk or the local council requires a large shipment of beef. Usually it means I don’t have to pay for a meal or I escape a traffic ticket, but this morning, I was presented with multiple packages of neatly wrapped organs of a bull that had gone under the knife that morning. Not knowing what to do with the packages of meat, I put them into my satchel, and by the time he'd finished telling me about state-of-the-art hair removal from pigs trotters, I had to ankle it pretty quickly to the school.

The school is typical of many in the country, overwhelmed by a tide of children. They cram them into every cubicle, cupboard, and bicycle rack, which of course, says much about the government’s claim to be spending spending spending on the schools. When you have to walk on the walls to get to a classroom, you tend to think the spending goes somewhere other than on floor space.

As it was, I had a brief but cramped tour of the school before I was led into the main hall where the school quickly gathered to hear some wisdom from Yours Truly. My lecture went rather well, spending forty minutes briefing them on the need for this nation to learn a bit of courage, and then I told the young tykes a few anecdotes about my time in London and gave them my usual warning about keeping their feet off foreign soil. I think they took it to heart and there were murmurs of appreciation when I mentioned my suspicions about Germany’s plans for the European Union.

Feeling quite good about myself, I sat back down as the headmaster came up on stage and began to explain how I’d agreed to hand out the school prizes. Not that I had, of course, but prize giving is one of those staples of being a Tory candidate. One must simply grit ones teeth and get on with it.

And on with it, I certainly got. Processions of eager young things came up and grabbed my paw. And things were rummy until one young spike comes running up on stage, eager as anything to get his prize for heavens knows what. I handed it out, shook his sweaty mitt, and off he runs again. I don’t quite know what happened next but I do know that my chair had been near the top of steps leading up to the stage. The tyke must have got his foot looped around the strap to my satchel because the next thing I know: he and said bag are ten feet below me, coming to rest in a group of first years. There was the usual happy yells of children in a shambles, and the typical thrashing about of juvenile legs. It was followed, moments later, by one of the loudest scream I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It was then that I believe a teacher fainted.

I did not understand at first but it would appear that the packages of meat had spilled out from my bag and, caught in a maelstrom of youth, been torn open. There was blood everywhere and the hall was soon a seething mess of meat battered beneath children’s feet. What I believe made the teacher faint was the sight of the young spike from the stage standing up with a bull’s glistening heart in his hands. It was like the school had decided to re-enact a scene from Lord of the Flies and the only thing missing was the pig’s head stuck on a pole.

Eventually, calm was restored and two dozen bloodied children (all unhurt) were taken away for a good scrubbing. I apologised about the meat but I didn’t see what fault it was of mine. I’m due to give another speech next week but we’ve agreed to postpone it until the children have had some psychological counselling to help them get over the ordeal.

It’s been an odd day so far. The good news is that the meat won’t go to waste. Cook believes she can save what bits I retrieved from the school floor and intends to make a stew for the stable boys. I now need a large whisky to calm my own nerves. I imagine my morning looked a little bit like the Somme on a bad day.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some Men Called Morris Dance For Me

What Ho Proles!

As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I’m the prospective Tory candidate for C---- N------, a lovely rural seat in the heart of England’s South East. Being a political animal, as it were, full of bright ideas on how we might improve this great nation of ours, I’m not one to hide my dislikes particularly well. Rarely does the Murgatroid lip becalm a sneer when a sneer is justified. Today, I experienced one of those mornings that had me sneering until sneers became passé. I also doubted the things we are asked to do in order to become elected officials. It made me wonder if the electoral commission might not consider election based upon birthright as it might get me out of some of my more odorous duties.

It was this morning that the town played host to the South East Morris Dancing Championships, and I was there in my official capacity to present awards to a procession of men dressed in their best cotton whites and smelling heavily of real ale and Old Spice. I was attending in the place of the sitting Labour Member of Parliament., Mr. Neville Small, who, as you might recall, I prefer not to mention in this blog on account of his taking the seat with a majority of eleven at the last election. It always astonishes me to think that the locals could have responded so selfishly to my Bentley clipping the town’s most popular nursery nurse, but, needless to say, respond they did, and never have eleven votes cost a nation as dear.

Now, unless you have been a spectator at a traditional Morris Dancing festival, then you can’t know what it means when one admits to preferring to have your leg gnawed off by one of Bill Oddie’s highly trained combat squirrels. Unfit overweight men were never meant to skip whilst waving off-white handkerchiefs and the whole thing looked both fantastically silly and unhygienic at one and the same time. Nor could I establish that every kerchief was straight from the wash but I made damn sure that if the Environmental Health are called in, I had already lodged an official query. I swear that a few of those pieces of cloth cracked a little more snappily than is normal for clean cotton.

I had to stand there for a whole hour, a grin stretched across my face, and applauding every time a fat man had finished doing is thing in the centre of a circle of other fat men, before he skipped to the side where he proceeded to clap as another fat man began to jig, whirl, whoop, and otherwise cause a ruddy nuisance. I was quite glad when my stint was up and the locals disappeared off to the local pub. It meant I could come back to the Hall, where I’m about to write a proposal to have the Championships moved out of town next year.

Until tomorrow.

Louts and Lots of Them

What Ho Proles!

It's the end of a quiet weekend and my power cells are yet to reach their full recharge. Last week contained more than my usual number of adventures, which perhaps accounts for the lethargy I'm feeling. I don’t have much planned for the days ahead but I suppose I should nip into the city and pop my face into the office at least once.

My Man is in a particularly sombre mood this Monday morning, and it has taken a good half hour of my giving him dressing him down before he admitted that he has been writing another of his infernal plays, which he claims to have finished in the early hours. The man’s pretensions know no limits, though I'm quite thankful that he's refused to allow me to read it.

On an altogether more pleasurable note, I read in The Times this morning that we’re being encouraged to be kind to hooded louts, which as you might know, has not always been a Murgatroid principal. In the village, there’s rarely a week that goes by without my having to sentence one of the gothic crowd to the stocks. Oh, some of you might think it all a bit draconian, but I sincerely believe we’re doing a service for those young boys wearing eye shadow and listening to their droning idols. I know that it’s only natural that a youth will want to rebel against the world and, as a nipper, it was not unknown for Yours Truly to drink whisky before breakfast. But it’s even more natural that the world should want to tie one of these overly sensitive types into a wooden frame and throw rotten fruit at them. It’s called ‘nature’s balance’ and I’m all for it.

Apologies for the lack of action. Just to give you something to read, I might go out and bag myself a peasant tomorrow.

Toodle P.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Day With the Cricket

What Ho Proles!

Thunderstorms, gales, and rain are rather spectacular when seen from the top of a hill. The old village is getting a bit of a lashing, this year, and from the window in my study, I can see how the banks of the river have burst again and many of the cottagers close to the breech are struggling to get their property to dry land. I had to close the curtains. Watching their struggle made me feel rather cold, which rather spolit my enjoyment of the cricket from India.

Further afield, I see the government are beginning to find a little sense and are about to follow the Murgatroid advice of using prison ships to make up for their woeful lack of jail cells. Now if only they agree to the rest of my plan and scuttle the blighters out in the North Atlantic during winter, we might see an end to this prisons crisis. Your common thief would soon reform their ways when faced with a few ninety-footers bearing down on them. And if they’re too darn lazy to learn a trade by swimming to Cornwall, then I say they deserve whatever fate they get.

Not much news from here. My Man has retired to his room from where I can hear the rattle of his typewriter. He has always says that he’s typing up his journal but I never get to see a bit of it. Tomorrow, I’m spending another day watching the cricket. With all the gale force winds, today, the picture was terrible. I don’t think My Man fances another day on the roof, trying to hold the satellite dish steady, but then again: he has a habit of winging about everything. He must learn to make sacrifices for the noble game. After all, that’s exactly what it means to be English.


Friday, October 20, 2006

I Finally Make My Report

What Ho Proles!

The last two days have been something of a loss to me. Last night, I went straight to bed after I’d returned home very very late and a damn well colder than when I set out. Yet, oddly, things had begun so well…

Noon yesterday saw the Honourable Jacob Peas Murgatroid deciding to follow the example he'd set himself earlier in the week by pressing the legs into action for the mile or more march into the village. I suppose a good walk is called a 'healthy choice' in the parlance of this prissy age, but I prefer to see a good ramble as an opportunity to find many desolate spots with a plentiful supply of stout sticks should you run into any of those fitness nuts who might try to get us running.

As it was, I made The Boar’s Tusk in good time and the innkeeper appeared pretty sharpish by the time the knocker had fallen for a fifth resounding time. I asked if the Professor was in and was directed to the church where she had apparently been at roost all morning.

Now, you might like to know a bit about the Church of St. Cuthbert on the Cusp before we get there, as it happens to be one of the oldest churches in the British Isles. We locals pride ourselves on having kept alive centuries of tradition by continuing to edge the bets of our forefathers by leaving a corner of the church dedicated to the pagan fertility gods. Where else could you go to see a christening and the sacrifice of oxen taking place at the very same time on different sides of a nave?

As for Saint Cuthbert, he was born somewhere in the area – peasant stock I imagine – and the legend of his encounter with the spectre of a voluptuous maiden is a popular folktale often portrayed on biscuit tins for tourists. It’s said that so seductive was the maiden that Cuthbert (doing his stint as a monk) was sorely tempted to bed her, only he was foiled in his attempts by his prayer beads which had become accidentally knotted around the horns of a wandering heifer. Try as he might, he could not deknot himself from the beast and was dragged across the county never to see the ravishing maiden again. Hence, Cuthbert is said to have been on the cusp of sinning but the fact that he kept his purity is now considered a miracle. For this reason, in the Catholic tradition, St. Cuthbert on the Cusp is the saint of all who have remained virtuous despite their best efforts otherwise. I suppose he was a medieval version of Peter Mandelson, if you see what I mean, but if you ask me, that heifer also sounds just a little too New Labour for my liking. Cattle should not be given the task of telling people how to behave. It’s a job that’s best left for us Tories.

That’s probably why I had a certain virtuous air as I entered the church. We Tories share a natural affinity with religious types on account of our possessing a wonderful ability to judge people. I know I’m never happier than when censoring a prurient prole. However, any willingness to be chirpy disappeared as soon as I heard laughter coming from a side room. The name ‘Murgatroid’ seemed to be at the centre of some jape that ended with mention of ‘generations of imbecility’.

From the tip of the toes on one foot to the tips of the toes on the other, I crept forward until I came to the heavy studded wooden door that led into the room used to store the church records. Inside, sitting at a table, were a small band of scholarly types. At their head sat the Professor, ruddy faced and looking like not unlike the proverbial feline in a vat of the semi-skimmed.

‘Room for one more to join your happy throng?’ I asked.

Professor Kipling glared at me with the acumen of a professional darts player going once around the board and ending with the bull.

‘You!’ she gasped. ‘What do you want here?’

‘Can’t a local member of the parish come and take a gander at his family history?’ I asked, stepping into the room. ‘And some of my people are boxed up down there,’ I added, with a stamp of foot on the stone floor.

‘So you’re suddenly interested in your family, are you?’

‘Oh, I’m interested in lots of things, if I’m honest,’ I replied. ‘They invented the word “nosey” for people just like me. I just can’t stop getting involved in whatever’s going on.’

‘You’ll find nothing here,’ she assured me. ‘But, of course, I know what you’re up to… You’ve come to see what we’ve discovered!’

‘We?’ I asked, looking around at the bright faces. ‘But we haven’t been introduced.’

‘My post graduates,’ she answered, shortly.

‘Oh, you’ve brought in troops,’ I said, pondering the proud faces.

‘These are some of the finest students in Oxford,’ she said.

‘What Ho scholarly types!’ I replied, cheerfully maintaining my élan towards faces that did not seem to know whether to sneer, scowl, or offer run-of-the-mill defiance. By this time, I felt that the general air of unpleasantness had gone on long enough and I turned a reconciling smile to the Professor. ‘Look here,’ I said, ‘don’t you think we’re in danger of overdoing it on the eggs and leaving the toast to cool? I mean, can’t we just have a quiet word and resolve this without any more trouble?’

‘I’m not open to bribes,’ Kipling bellowed and readjusted her woollen hat which had responded to her voice like an over eager spaniel sitting up on her head.

‘Perish the thought of bribes,’ I said, biting my cheek. ‘I meant to say we might cleanse the air with a bit of honesty. I’ve never wanted anything less than the truth.’

‘You ran from the truth the other night,’ she reminded me. ‘Then you refused to talk to me, trapped my coat in your car door, and ordered your man to drag me down the street!’

‘It was all a misunderstanding,’ I assured her. ‘A breakdown in the line of communication.’

‘And then that oaf of yours punched me.’

‘He punched you?’ I exclaimed, this fact having completely passed me by. I made a mental note to speak to My Man about it and, if it’s true, I’ll reinstate the shillings he lost after posting communist dogma on my blog the other night.

‘Listen here,’ she said, getting to her feet. ‘Listen to the truth, Mr. Murgatroid…’

‘It’s the Honourable if you don’t mind…’

That seemed to spur her on, and she rushed towards me and was soon poking me in the chest with large calibre fingers. ‘The records do not lie, Mr.Murgatroid. I’ve been on your family’s case for months and I intend to see it through.’

‘You can’t have proof,’ I sneered.

‘But I do.’


‘Would you like to see it?’

I could not believe she could be so naïve as allow the defence to see the prosecutions case so early. ‘Of course,’ I said, trying to so almost uninterested. The problem was, while I was trying to look calm, I should have been taking notice of the sly look that came into her eyes. She walked over to a door in the corner of the room. ‘Come on then,’ she said, and lead the way out to a set of steps, leading down into the darkness of the Church’s undercroft.

‘This way,’ she said, ‘and mind your head. Some of this stonework is a national treasure. Hate you to damage it with that thick head of yours.’

Which is, I know you’ll agree, a terrible way to talk of another national treasure: the Murgatroid brow.

At the bottom of the steps, she pulled out a large ring of keys, each the size of a badminton racquet. ‘Come on,’ she said, unlocking another heavy door. ‘Just through here.’

I stepped into a vault, which like most church vaults, lacks charm if you’re anything larger than a spider or you're into brass rubbing. Various stone tombs filled the place and my imagination was captured by the familiar sight of Murgatroids looking as though they’re lying in bed, waiting for their breakfast while they’re inspecting the racing form in the papers.

‘Funny place to find proof,’ I commented. It was then that things went pretty black, I heard the door close behind me, and a key turn in the lock.

‘Let me out of here at once you… you… you ruddy odd type!’ I screamed, though all I could hear were retreating footsteps whistling the theme to The Great Escape.

Unless you’d like to hear about how I came to appreciate and catalogue seventy three different shades of pitch bloack, there’s not much to say about the Hon. J.P. until sixteen hours later, when My Man finally located a well dressed body. By that time, the village had been roused to find me, but in the end, my rescue came down to the excellent work of Geoffrey, the Murgatroid bloodhound. Except for a bit of cold and a ravaging hunger, I was no worse for my confinement with at least three generations of Murgatroids buried in the vault beneath the church. In fact, they'd all appeared before me and had given me tips for the races. Only now in the clear light of day, can I admit that I was probably suffering from mild hypothermia and brain had cooled a little too much.

I can report, however, that the Professor and her students have left the village, though the police say there’s very little they can do to press charges. That must wait for another day.

I’m not planning anything for the weekend but the hope of some peace and quiet. Oh, 'Wally's Whallop' won the three thirty at Exeter today, just like great great great uncle Joshua said it would.

Update about the next update

What Ho Proles!

I'm afraid an evening spent seeing to my correspondance has delayed my getting around to typing up the rest of yesterday's business, though rest assured, the truth shall be told and I care not a hoot about legal challenges threatened by hirsute professors of history!

I've just noticed that David Beckham is to be made a knight. It makes every one of my artistocratic cells shiver in disgust,so I'm also off to write a quick memo to the College of Arms to suggest atheletic rub and jockstraps as motifs for his eventual rise to an Earldom. I doubt if the man would even know how to give a dressing down an underling. Shocking.

Hectic regards.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Clear Headed Business

What Ho Proles!

There are two things we need to clarify before we move on for the day.

Firstly, there was a little misunderstanding over the nature of wine, last night. My Man maintains that I was drunk, but I’d like to describe it a quite normal reaction to the toxins that occasionally find their way into a bottle of plonk via a bad grape. Secondly, I’d like to apologise for My Man’s behaviour. You give him an inch and he legs it with the full 1,760 yards. I asked him to update the blog; not to spread his vile form of communism writ in gravy. For some people, he said too much, and, for others, too little. I hope this serves to teach him Abraham Lincoln’s famous dictum: you can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but prolish pseudo-intellectualism will leave you a shilling short in your wages.

To make up for yesterday, I thought I’d give you an update regarding everybody’s favourite educated moustache, Professor Alice Kipling, though I can’t promise you that it will give you any more cheer than another of My Man’s tedious reports on Iran. In many ways, this is much worse since I’ll be talking about a fundamentalist historian and unlike the Iranians, they're not known for having much of a sense of humour.

For a detailed spec of the professor, I refer you to an earlier adventure of mine titled, The Hirsute Lady of the Institute, but here are the basic facts and figures: Kipling. Female. Approx. 45. Professor of History. Suspected Oxford Greek wrestling champion. Likes to wear a woollen hat but heavy tash makes it look more like a balaclava. As you might recall, I’ve suspected the Professor of sneaking around the village, researching the Murgatroid family history with the intention of uncovering some ancient skulduggery, call into question the whole Murgatroid inheritance, and make some Yorkshire ferret fancier the lord of the manor.

My Man came back from the town yesterday and said that he’d spotted the Professor playing darts in The Boar’s Tusk. He was quite full of admiration for her skill, describing how she produced a nine dart finish with only eight darts or some such nonsense. It gave me cold shivers to think the woman is adept in yet another martial art; darts being one of the most misrepresented yet deadly that emerged from the Shaolin school when bald-headed chaps with glandular conditions and a love of meat pies became all the rage after 1732. You may scoff as much as you wish, but I have it on the advice of a friend who travels that Jockie Wilson is still worshipped in parts of rural China.

Be that as it may, I have decided to go and have a word with the Professor and see if I can’t resolve this business amicably.

In the immortal words of R. F. Scott: ‘I am just going outside and may be some time...’


A Senseless Ramble From My Man

What Ho Proles!

… for each of you shall have your moment. And if you don’t know what I mean, let me explain that I’m sick in bed again. I’m suffering from a terribly heavy head so I’m allowing My Man to have his moment. Until the room stops reeling, please humour him as best you can…

My Master has asked me to write something for today’s entry in his blog. He’s confined to bed with what gentlemen call a ‘heavy head’, though if the truth were told, I fancy he overdid it on the red wine last night. If I might paraphrase one of those poets he’s always too keen to quote: ‘he wrote that reeling, / Having got drunk exceedingly to-day, / So that he seems to stand upon the ceiling’…

It does give me an opportunity to let me talk about a piece of commentary and its comments I read yesterday, which caused me to consider the nature of individual freedom and the internet. It may well have been the Honourable Master’s mention of what he called ‘rustic rebellion beyond the fog bank’, but I did start thinking about Iran and America, and the why people live the way they do.

The piece mentioned that that the Iranian leadership is trying to stifle use of the internet in the fear that it breeds unrest amongst their citizens. At the same time, American senators want to stifle the internet because it breeds a different kind of unrest: radicalization.

The simple understanding I have is that the web empowers those it enthrals. With this unusual freedom comes a means to action. Some people use it to act wisely, many use it to act foolishly, and a few use it to act maliciously. Of course, some might say that the actions we define by each of these terms – ‘wisely’, ‘foolishly’, ‘maliciously’ – depends on your point of view. Light may rid us of darkness but we have a preference depending on whether we’re a bat or a bird. I make no bones about it. I choose to be secular. To enter into any kind of religious debate would be to admit (albeit unconsciously) to the possibility that another competing set of (unproven) values may take precedent over your own.

Ignoring Christianity or Islam, this question of faith versus reason has relevance to a different kind of religion that is spreading rapidly through the world. The internet breeds a type of faith not founded upon any idea of Heaven, but rather a very clear notion of ‘Hell’. It is a religion in which its devotees proselytise paranoia and a common, generally unquestioned hatred of America. For these people, fear is wonderfully seductive. This new religion manifests itself in the belief that the world is somehow larger than we are ever capable of knowing it. As science has cracked the problem of geographic distance and peering into the dark corners of the world, then we must look elsewhere for the ‘unknown’. We need a new sense of what remains hidden from us. The heart of darkness has moved from Africa to the corporate boardrooms of America.

I might lack the education of a Murgatroid, but I have travelled the world. I know there are no nations where all individuals are condemned to be fools; just fools who condemn whole nations of individuals. The world feels stage managed, not by secret oligarchs and their secret plans and rituals, but by the very activity of civilization itself. Great art binds people together, not by some rich media baron wishing to control our minds, but minds that find common delights in the structure of the universe.

Paranoids see patterns in apparently random events. Scientist see patterns because there are deep-lying patterns in our very nature. The internet need not be an unlimited descent into anarchy, but a chance to open ourselves to the eternal shared experience of what it is to be human.

I believe the Honourable Jacob will me well enough to resume his log tomorrow. I must get to bed in order to have the Bentley clean before he wakes up.

Returning to radio silence.

‘My Man’
The Hon. J.P.M. here, on the way to the bathroom for some more aspirin. Hope MM lived up to billing, though if you ask me, it all sounds like a yard and a half of pretentious twaddle, fit only for the undergrad study room at a third rate cosmopolitan uni.

Toodling until the morn.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Olympics for North Korea?

What Ho Proles!

A lazy day so far: slippers, dressing gown, newspapers, toast and tea. The weather has drawn in around the old Hall; so much so, that from my bedroom window, I can barely see the lights of the village. There’s something faintly disquieting about being unable to watch what the locals are up to. As if to remind me, to the east, the crossroads are less obscured and the old unused (but perfectly maintained) gallows form a cold and desolate spectacle, recalling tales of a noble forefather who once hung there for six weeks after the village rebelled against the ill-fated laird’s ban on their buying mead for the village idiot.

I’ve sent My Man out to reconnoitre the town and to report back any loose talk of rebellion. I’ve also told him to make sure that Barney Lloyd is well supplied with his favourite tipple.

Otherwise, I don’t know why I’m feeling uneasy. The weather’s turn to true Autumnal gloom is a comfort, a respite if you will. It is the perfect time for me to turn my eye to international affairs.

As I made my way to the kitchen, this morning, I caught a glimpse of the TV and some footage of North Korea’s PR stunt yesterday. Mighty fine show it was too and just the sort of thing that I’d like to organize in the village. Those followers of Juche Sasang know how to get everyone behind the cart, pushing in the same direction, and they certainly have a flair for these big ceremonies. And it got me to thinking that there is a nation perfectly fit for doing nothing else than hosting every Olympic Games. Think about this for a moment. It may be one happy balloon-filled solution to the whole sorry mess.

By bringing the pariah state back into the international fold by promising them the Olympics for perpetuity, we get none of that nonsense we have with the French and their surrealist turns. No more dancing fig trees symbolizing earthly peace, fruity flavours, or the Age of Aquarius in one easy bowel movement. No more Barry Davies getting overexcited when a bucket of doves turn into a man’s homburg. and matching Calabash gourd smoking pipe. And, to be honest, as I watched the pictures coming out of Pyongyang, I felt a throbbing in that place in my soul I have for flaming torches. Dilly Cameron can keep his new logo. Maggie’s torch burns brightly over my heart. And seeing all those thousands of flame wielding serfs being led with vision, it rekindled my own ambitions to one day lead out great nation.

I’m now going back to bed to read the rest of the papers. My weekend bout with the fever and exertions since, have left the Honourable Jacob feeling not a little fragile.

Still toodling but with less of the pip pip today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Slurry With A Fringe On Top

What Ho Proles!

If you can read this, then you really are one of the pure people with access to my ‘all blest secrets’.

Well, how’s that for an opening? A compliment wrapped in a bit of Lear. And not half as cryptic as it’s meant to sound. My Man informs me that he’s enabled some mysterious doodad on this blog to ensure that my compromising details are not cast out to any old chum sitting astride the blogosphere. My Man’s a good sort, I suppose, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling you some of the things I gab about, if it weren’t for his diligent work ensuring that we keep this ‘in the family’, so to speak. ‘Mater’ is certainly the lexical unit of the day.

Herein, you will find the final episode of the remarkable little saga that has been occupying my week. As you may remember, after some tough negotiations, this morning, along with YT and My Man, we were on our way to see Siegfried Randolph-Kelly. He’s an old friend from Oxford, and possibly the only man to unite a mature study of Nietzsche with a childhood devotion to Blue Peter. Should you not remember him, simply think of a Shropshire farmer, handy with a spade, no good around badgers.

We found him, just before tea, racing his tractor across one of his fields in some extreme-sport version of muck spreading. As My Man went and parked the Bentley away from the farmyard smells, I waved Siggy into the paddock, as it were. He brought the tractor to a halt and the spray of Shropshire’s finest effluent came slip-slopping to a stop.

‘You delivered the money?’ he asked, a little too gloomily for my liking. If you remember, My Man had taken a beating on this fellow’s behalf and I thought Siggy should sound a mite happier about it than he did. I told him as much, as well as the full lowdown on the morning’s tiswas.

‘Oh, that’s what happens when you Tories involve yourself with gangsters,’ confessed one extremely poor spirited ubermensch sans spade. ‘You want to watch the people you associate with, J.P., or you’ll earn yourself a reputation as a troublemaker.’ He wiped his hands on his rustic smock and then absently began to pick his teeth with what I can only describe as a quiet air of melancholic nonchalance.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ I asked. ‘Is this what happens when a committed Nietzschean spends his days spreading manure?’

‘I prefer to call it dung,’ he said.

‘And I say that’s a pat answer.’

He shrugged, never having been the sort of fellow to enjoy a good pun. ‘What’s wrong is that I feel terrible about what I’ve done. I never realized it before, J.P., but old Friedrich was wrong. We can’t escape our compassionate souls.’

‘Remember what you’re saying, Siggy,’ I warned him. ‘Remember I’m a Tory!’

‘Surely Tories have compassion,’ he said, very matter of fact.

I felt my face redden as if he had physically slapped me. ‘Do you realize what you’re saying, Siggy? Beware of that kind of thinking. That way only madness lies. Madness and pamphleteering for the Lib Dems.’

‘But it’s true,’ he said. ‘We can’t escape our compassionate souls.’

‘Pah! to your compassionate soul,’ I spat. ‘You’re rambling mad, man! Mad!’

He threw his muddied hand up to the horizon. ‘I suppose you call that rambling.’

I followed the line of his brown fingernails. Across the lower field, beyond a hedge separating Siggy’s estate from that of his neighbour, the first touch of smoking was besmirching the clear October sky.

‘No,’ I said in all innocence. ‘I call that a bit of smoke.’

‘Arson,’ came the reply with another forlorn look. ‘I thought I could act with a will unclouded by Christian compassion,’ explained Siggy. ‘But I guess Biddy Baxter still has a hold on my soul. Which is why I feel so dashed rotten at what I’ve done, you see… That’s what the money was for. I was going to give Greasy Smith a bit of his own medicine. He stole my field. I paid men to burn down his house. I acted rashly, J.P. Rash, rash, rash…’

Remembering my Hamlet, I said: ‘Well, this is not the day for rash and bloody deeds, and all is not lost. We might still rectify the situation.’

I leapt up into the tractor’s cabin and gunned the engine out of neutral.

‘What are you doing?’ shouted Siggy, through a cloud of diesel smoke. He jumped up beside me as I moved off and I nearly lost him as the heavy trailer slew the tractor around.

‘We’re going to put out a fire,’ I said as I notched the gear into second.

He looked to the sky where smoke stood like a black column out of Greek fable. ‘We’re too late,’ screamed Siggy, now more like Siegfried in Wagnerian pose, which, as you might imagine, only encouraged me to add more weight to the throttle. ‘We need water,’ he shouted. ‘I’ve got a hosepipe in the barn. We can pump it up from the pond.’

‘Spare me your ponds, Siggy, old boy!’ I roared, gritting my teeth as we bounced across the lower field and ramed through the fence that separated the tilled soil from Greasy Smith’s immaculately smooth lawn. ‘I’m a Tory with a tractor!’

Swinging the tractor around the garden furniture was harder than I’d anticipated and I took out at least two ornamental bronzes with the full drum of liquid effluent that kept dragging us back. But rather than disconnect the trailer, I pressed on with more throttle, the tractor’s tires reponding by cutting ever deeper swathes through the plush turf.

‘What are you doing?’ shouted Siggy, a note of desperation in his voice. We turned a corner and bounced onto a patio where the flames were licking out from the window of a small extension. The fire had yet to catch hold of the main arm of the house and I could see that all was not lost.

Swinging the tractor around, I backed the trailer until it was facing the expensive extension and pulled the lever that set the effluent flying.

Never has a foam, liquid, or man-made fire retardant consumed flames quite like Siggy’s slurry. The damn stuff should be bottled and kept on oil rigs. Bullets of fire-eating goodness had coated the house in less time than would take a fireman to unfurl his hose. Ten minutes later, as I listened to the approaching sirens of still distant engines, the door at the end of the house opened and a large paunch of man came waddling out, his face covered in a mixture of soot and manure.

‘Who the bloody hell are you?’ he demanded of me and then seeing Siggy, he froze where he stood. ‘Not you again!’

‘We saw your fire,’ I explained. ‘You friendly neighbourhood muck spreader leapt to the occasion, vanquished the flames, and saved your property.’ I smiled one of my special canvassing smiles. ‘I’d normally make a quip here about being up a particular creek but this time you seem to be in possession of a paddle so large it might be called a spade.’

He looked at the muck coated veranda, the manure daubed walls, and the place where the fire had stopped advancing towards the main house.

‘Mr. Randolph-Kelly? You did this?’

Siggy, for all his sins, blushed, and even Greasy Smith looked a little torn by emotions.

By the time My Man and I departed this evening, I’d enjoyed a copious meal and a fine bottle of plonk as the guest of two of Shropshire’s newest and firmest friends. I left them in the local tavern, where Siggy was explaining to Smith the legal requirements of a good badgering spade.

I knew that all was well with the world and I couldn’t wait to get home, in the old study, and type up the events as I remember them.

As recommended in the comments to my last piece of drivel, I mentioned to My Man that he might try some theatrical make-up on his black eyes, but I think he’s proud of them in a perverse fashion. Besides, there are many things I expect of My Man but accepting a recommendation for him to apply blusher is not one of them.

Tomorrow, I’m promising myself a quieter day. At this pace, I could be worn thin before the next General Election.

Toodle pip pip.

A Simple London Gangster

What Ho Proles!

Advice needed, PDQ. Does anybody have a good cure for a couple of black eyes as I’m loath to waste prime British steaks on somebody as ungrateful as My Man? Would a couple of rashers of bacon work as well? The fellow has a lovely pair of shiners, blacker than any Lancashire blood pudding.

He received them from a pleasant fellow we met in London, who goes under the sobriquet ‘Johno’. As you might remember, I’ve been into the city delivering a wad of cash to the aforementioned chap in order to settle some land deal up in Shropshire for my friend Siggy Randolph-Kelly, he of the badger bashing claim to fame.

As favours go, it was one of the easiest I’ve ever done for a friend. The Bentley made speedy work of the lanes and byways, clipping only a couple of ramblers as we went. Then we hit the city, which unlike the aforementioned hikers, did not bounce from the bumpers with points added for artistic merit. I’ve often wished that London would adopt the traffic policies of China and Russia where the better cars are given lanes of their very own. Perhaps there could be a point at, let us say, around 75,000 pounds, below which you are restricted to the prole lanes with their lines of cheap BMWs and much, much worse. Needless to say, anything less than a FIAT would be moved into the cycle lanes and cyclists would be forced onto the footpaths. Long experience has taught me that pedestrians are a resilient bunch. Most jump out of the way and those that don’t are hardly in a position to read your number plate. I’m sure you see how sensible the whole scheme sounds. It’s one of the only Lib Dems' plans I’ve ever agreed with. I believe Simon Hughes championed it in their last manifesto.

Despite London’s lack of foresight regarding its roads, we made good time to ‘Reggie’s Resting Place’, a fashionable theme bar in the East End with a pleasant nostalgia for the days when gangland violence came with a certain sartorial flair. I felt a mite underdressed in my best city pins, as the place was crammed with more camelhair coats and Italian suits than a Fellini film festival. The walls were covered with beautifully reproduced photographs of all the great bruisers, looking their best in smart collar and tie. There was Sam ‘The Butcher’ Lewis, Johnny ‘The Fingers’ Wilson, and the notorious Tony ‘The Cheerful Colon’ Anderson; memories of a bygone age and style, sure to turn the eyes a little misty.

It was a modern successor to those fine standing gentlemen I sought in order to deposit the thick bundle of notes smelling slightly of slurry.

Johno ‘Don’t call me John’ Johnson stood a good foot below me but was wider than My Man, who is himself built as solidly as a Luton underpass. A rather flamboyant scar ran the length of Johno’s face and terminated, quite aesthetically I thought, at his forehead where it met a neatly rounded whirl that looked not unlike a bullet hole. The effect was much more pleasing than you might imagine and I thought it delightfully baroque.

‘You’re a gorilla short,’ said this fine example of Britain’s underworld. He’d finished counting the money by giving his fingers a rather odd sniff but I thought it best not to mention the unusual places Siggy tends to hide his cash.

‘A gorilla?’ I repeated, looking over my shoulder and seeing only My Man who, I admit, when the light is easterly, can look a bit simian around the proboscis.

‘You know…’ he explained. ‘Two monkeys?’

Now, I was truly lost.

‘Look,’ he sighed, ‘you owe me another thousand quid. You going to hand it over or what?’

It was then that I grasped the man’s rather oblique meaning.

‘Ah! Well, I’m afraid I don’t have two monkeys on me!’ I explained. ‘Would you accept a cheque written out for a gorilla?’

‘What do you think I am?’ asked Johno. ‘The Bank of bleedin’ England?’

‘Not with that attitude,’ I assured him. ‘You’re much more like the National Westminster.’

‘Look, sunshine,’ he said. ‘You’re not leaving here until I get all my money. I’ve used expensive resources on this problem and I expect proper compensation.’

‘Then I’m afraid we’ve reached an impasse,’ I told him, firmly explaining the lay of the land deal. I then repeated what Napoleon once said in similar circumstances, but I don’t believe the man without the monkeys cared a hoot -- or indeed, whatever sounds a monkey makes.

‘Listen, I’ll do you a deal,’ he said. ‘You look a little out of your place, a city gent and all that, so I’ll be fair. You don’t have to give me the grand.’

‘Don’t I?’ I said. ‘Then that’s terribly decent of you.’

‘It is,’ says he. ‘And I’ll let you leave here, only I need some form of payment.’

‘Such as?’

‘Your suit.’

‘My suit?’ I said, looking down at well over a thousand pounds worth of Lakeland wool. ‘I really don’t think so…’

‘Then I can’t let you walk out of here without some pain. Is that what you’re after?’

‘In exchange for a gorilla, two monkeys, or my suit?’ I asked, having heard about people who made such deals with the devil and always thought it a most practical way of doing business. ‘What kind of pain would we be talking about?’

A terrible cast came over his features. ‘You trying to be funny?’

‘No, no,’ I assured him, knowing that I had a wonderful ace up my sleeve. ‘Let’s suppose I did owe you a gorilla. What retribution would you mete out before you considered the debt cancelled?’

‘A grand’s not much in my book,’ he said after some considerable thought. ‘I’d let you off with a severe roughing up.’

‘So,’ said I in the tone I reserve for some of my best business decisions, ‘so long as you get to inflict a roughing up, we can walk out of here and we’d both be happy as the day’s oblong?’

‘Precisely,’ said the gangster.

I clapped the Murgatroid hand on Johno’s shoulder. ‘Then if I might introduce you to My Man. He’s taken a few poundings in his time and I’m sure he’d be willing to accept any punishment on my behalf.’ I turned to My Man. ‘I’ll be waiting in the car,’ I told him. ‘Don’t take too long. I want to be at Siggy’s for tea.’

Ten minutes later, I congratulated My Man on the way he’d handled himself. But, as I told him: that’s why I pay him such handsome wages. Oh, he uttered a few choice oaths, but that’s to be expected of a man who spent so many years in the army. And all that training has paid off quite handsomely and I could only congratulate myself — and not for the first time — on having the foresight to hire a man fully trained by H.M.’s Special Forces to withstand hours of torture.

This afternoon we’re driving up to see Siggy, but first, I must really do something about My Man’s shiners. It gives his eyes an almost rebellious cast and I don’t like the way they make him stare at me.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Reynard the Fox

What Ho Proles!

Back from my morning stroll, I looked out of the study window this afternoon and saw a damn fox running across the lawn. Normally, such a sight would have me reaching for our old friend, Double Barreled Bessie, but Billie Oddie has been in the neighborhood this week, filming one of his rotten wildlife documentaries about the Throttled Greeb or some such nonsense. As a prospective Tory candidate looking for a little love from TV license payers everywhere, the last thing I want is to be seen on the next Autumnwatch blasting a fox into the next county. With the cockeyed ways things are in this country, I’d be fare much better being caught pelleting Bill Oddie himself; foxes outranking Goodies in the current scheme of things.

With hindsight, I believe the fox was an omen of trickery, warning me to consider the day a done deal and go back to bed. As it was, jam had barely been laid upon the afternoon scone when my old friend Siegfried Randolph-Kelly arrived looking a little worse for wear. Reynard the Fox was clearly working his pesky magic.

Siggy is one of those rosy-cheeked country types that rarely smell of anything more alluring than freshly spread manure. I met him at Uni where he was a bright spark in the Philosophy department, writing fanatically long papers on the Nietzschean undercurrents at work in the Blue Peter garden. Since then, he’s returned to his roots and now combines his admiration for the nasal hedge of a German madman with the philosophy of the hedgerow. He once stood as an independent candidate in a Shropshire by-election, and, being a farmer, a man born and brought up in the countryside, and with a deep affinity for nature based on a life-long working relationship with his environment, he stood on the single issue of whether he had the God-given right to pound a badger over the head with a spade. And by an astonishing quirk of nature, which amazed us all and changed the political landscape for a generation, he lost by a landslide. It positively turned Siggy against his fellow men and I rarely see him these days. He tends to keep to himself up there on his Shropshire farm, reading his beloved Nietzsche and polishing his spade for the day when all humane laws are repealed and the season reopens on badgers.

There’s not much to tell about his visit, except to say, he had come for some of the Honourable J.P.’s sagely advice regarding an ongoing argument about land. Some devilish property developer has wangled a compulsory purchase order for his lower field and it was my task to advise Siggy that the law does not look favourably on property developers being bashed over the head with a spade.

To calm him, I promised go visit a chap in London with whom Siggy has arranged payments of certain funds to, and here I must quote, ‘help get the bloody problem sorted out, once and for all’. It’s all very hush hush, you understand, but a wad of cash has been deposited with YT and I’m to deliver it on Tuesday, in person, to a character named ‘Johno’, who is to be found well off the beaten track in one of those parts of London town that tourist maps prefer to colour red.

Oaths bound by blood and manure stop me from explaining more until the dastardly deed is done.

So, cryptically, until anon.

When Frying Pans Meet Fire

What Ho Proles!

Perhaps bright Monday mornings in October aren’t the best time for quoting my favourite dour Scot, but on this particular day, I put myself in the shoes of the old ruin and came to the conclusion that ‘if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly’… In other words, I took a moment to have a quick word with Mrs. My Man regarding their damn adoption of this Malawian child.

She took my advice surprisingly well and the subject quickly moved on to a discussion of the dogs. To be honest, I had lain awake last night wondered what need have Dobermans for rubber bands, but her explanation left me feeling a little light headed. I always thought the beasts looked a bit highly strung whenever I’ve seen them running across the lawn. They often pick a fight with the ornamental fountain beneath my bedroom window. Now I know why. The sound of tricking water must drive them positively crazy. I know it would turn me into a monster, should I be faced with their predicament.

Anyway, the adoption matter is settled and I need not make any apologies. The mystery of the rubber bands is also solved.

After two such snappy and effortless successes, I thought I’d make use of the first day back on my feet to take a walk into the village. It’s not often I venture beyond the estate’s electrified fence without my Bentley, but I thought the air would do me some good, get the heart pumping, and rid me of any of the more resilient bugs that have yet to heed the eviction notice telling them to leave my system or face the consequences.

The little village of C----- N---- is typical of all English shire towns that have escaped property developers, yahoo councilors, and local action groups demanding drop-in centers for everything from unwed mothers to doped-up Bulgarian hitmen on sabbaticals from the KGB. This is mainly thanks to the manner in which we have retained something of the old feudal system here, where men, such as I, rule with fists dressed in well pressed iron. It also means that we can expect a certain respect whenever we deign in to mix with those of the low brows and hairy knuckles.

My cheeks responded admirably to the walk, emitting a healthy glow, yet even as I pondered whether things are finally turning in my favour, I had a lurking suspicion that I should have listened to My Man’s warning of yesterday. My worst fears were conformed when I nipped into The Boar’s Tusk to steel my weakened system with a quick sherry (on the house, naturally). It was there that I heard some quite disquieting news about Professor Kipling. It would appear that she’s taken rooms at the inn and devoted her whole weekend to inspecting parish records in the company of the local rector with whom, it is said, she has struck up an immediate friendship. According to one heavily browed local, 'they seem to get on like a house on fire on account of some shared interest'.

Think of that one for a moment. Kipling and the vicar in cahoots? As you might remember, the Reverend and I do not always see eye to eye, most recently over the subject of his son’s devotion to my apples, and I can well imagine the pleasure he will take in reopening old wounds.

I can see this matter may end up in the hands of my lawyers. It’s making me a nervous wreck and I’m seeing Yorkshire men lurking around every corner. I nearly choked on my sherry when I though I heard somebody say ‘nowt’ in the bar.

Keeping the faith.

A Dispatch From Under the Sheets

What Ho Proles!

Writing about Catherine the Great, a supposedly immoral poet once wrote of:
The shudder which runs naturally through
Our veins, when things called Sovereigns think it best
To kill, and Generals turn it into jest.
Having taken to my sick bed over the weekend, I decided to take a volume of this chap’s verse with me and try to get a handle on what the fellow was on about.

Now, those of you who know me will admit that I am a man who does not shrink away from the concept of military sacrifice. ‘A strong army is a resolute army’ is a cornerstone of the Murgatroid creed; which is why I’ve decided to come out and declare where I stand on the whole rummy issue of Iraq. Call it one too many sniffs of my Vicks Sinex, if you wish, but I think it’s time the Honourable J.P. thought through his official response to the whole blasted mess. We Tories will soon have to tidy up it up, so why not have a quick peek around the corner and see what we’re letting ourselves in for?

As I understand the current situation, it is akin to the hokey-cokey. We need to either put more troops in, or take all troops out. In, out. In, out. And, if I might say so, shake it all about… Which takes us neatly back to the poetry. Lord B. knew all about putting things in and out, especially during his time in Greece. And he also died before he got chance to shoot his flintlocks in anger. And that is just my point. Even George Gordon had confused messages over the concepts of love and war. Read his collected poems and you’ll find it to be a pretty little treatise on the subject of violent death and sexual excess… So mixed are his feelings towards war, he may well have been some modern action movie star, lambasting the poor President before demanding the UN to send troops into Darfur. And, might I say, nobody complained when the Paras went into Sierra Leone and dealt with the West Side Boys.

So, you see, we can all succumb to wish to exert power when we’ve not been brought up to handle the responsibility. I could have guessed that Tony Blair would give in to the fundamental instinct to use his army. He had one lying around and they’d only be gathering dust in some aircraft hanger… Every leader has an itchy trigger and every human soul harbors a dictatorial spirit hoping to burst out.

Which is why we aristocrats should always be left in charge. We’re well used to having dangerous weapons around the house. I fired my first shotgun in anger when I six years old. I think I can be trusted with a few divisions of mechanized cavalry. Don’t you? And as a solution to the Iraqi crisis: call me unpopular, but I think we need a man with the determination of Richard Nixon to lead us you through it. He makes a few peaceful overtures to the Chinese Iranians and the troops would home before the end of 1973 2008. Then, as they say, a man called Robert will then be your father’s sister’s husband.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Matter of Adoption

What Ho Proles!

Being confined to one’s sick bed isn’t good for one’s health. Every bit of trouble knows exactly where to come and stick its beastly beak.

This afternoon, as I tried to get my thick head into Le Carré’s latest, representation was made to me regarding My Man’s proposal to adopt a Malawian child. As you may know, I’ve been against the whole silly business since it was first proposed a few months ago, but now things have reached such ridiculous proportions that the whole affair would not seem out of place in Ionesco. I’m given to telling him to drop the whole matter, but, of course, that would mean my speaking to Mrs. My Man, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m slightly afraid of the woman. She domiciles in the estate lodge and has the responsibility of training and feeding the Dobermans that patrol the grounds at night. It can’t be much of a life, I suppose, and she spends most of her time complaining about needing more elastic bands. What she uses them for, I really have no idea, but I guess she thought an infant would bring her some companionship. Realistically, it can only end in heartbreak.

Today, I had a phone call from some Malawian High Commissioner with whom I’ve been pulling strings in order to get My Man on the list for one of these little chaps. As I understand it, some pop star has first dabs, but now it appears that the Malawians are a bit upset with something I said on TV last week and are demanding an apology before they’ll consider My Man’s case. Well, I say: let them wait. There are plenty of young tykes in the village and if Mrs. My Man wants a child, she has my blessing to take her pick. I can’t help but feel that the whole thing reeks of poor taste.

Until later.

The Fever Lifts

What Ho Proles!

And ‘What Ho!’ indeed.

At half-part two this morning, my man came to check on me. The fever was at its height and the Honourable Jacob was suffering more than an English cricket team stuck in the middle of the Indian subcontinent without a decent spin attack. If nothing else, it proved, once and for all, that, as Lear would have it, ‘I am not ague-proof’.

Nevertheless, through my delirium, I recollect My Man informing me that there had been some more comments to this blog, including saintly Eliza’s recipe for a promising flu tonic. With no more ado, I set My Man to gathering the ingredients. Naturally, we had hot whiskey by the tubful and sugar by the bag, but neither a clove nor lemon in the house. Nevertheless, I dispatched My Man to the village where, at three o’clock, he woke the local greengrocer who, under the threat of eviction, quickly provided the missing items. Within the hour I was quaffing the magic elixir and I immediately fell into a deep sleep.

And what can I say? This morning, I bounced from my bed, full of the joys of spring, or should I say, mid-Autumn. I’m still not firing on all cylinders, you understand, but well on my way to making a recovery. I’ve already read the Sunday papers (including Mr. Appleyard’s excellent piece on book publishing in The Sunday Times), signed a notice giving the greengrocer permission to extend his shop (it was the least I could do), and then informed my rent collectors that they should immediately begin to take an extra five pounds from him each week. My man also tells me that he saw Professor Kipling in the village, which immediately brought back the cold shivers, but I refuse to allow that woman to spoil an otherwise good morning.

Toodle pip!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Curse of the WI

What Ho Proles!

There is terrible news from the home front. A bug has invaded my system. All the symptoms are there: the hot throat, the cold feet, an ache in the small of my back. I blame the WI who, despite their reputation for clean living, were coughing and sneezing last night with no regard for the spread of germs. This is a salutary lesson to all of us who tinker with these fringe groups. We may think of them as a harmless institution but they’re actually a walking munitions plant, full of bacteriological warheads cloaked in knitted wool and mentholated hosiery.

The good news is that My Man has recovered from his concussion and his memory has returned. It couldn’t have happened sooner given that I am now about to retire to the four poster from where I will demand constant aid and supervision.

More when the lurgy lifts.


The Hirsute Lady of the Institute

What Ho Proles!

Last night, I promised to tell you about my evening with the ladies of the WI and though today's is a bit of a lengthy update, the family honour demands that I give a full account of my actions.

The WI, for those of you not up with the lingo, is the Women’s Institute, also known as the finest body of heavily corseted womanhood the world has ever known. I should add, however, that I do not use the word ‘known’ is any biblical sense. Perish the thought. Perish the thought indeed…

The Bentley arrived at the local village hall a little before seven. I told My Man to park it in full view of the adjacent police station and then ankle his way back to the hall where I wanted him to stand guard by the doors, ready to eject any troublemakers should trouble ensue. Not that I expected the event to be a sea of rebellious matriarchs, but I saw what the blighters did to Tony Blair and you can’t tell me that he’s been the same since that day. Friends tell me he faints at the merest whiff of a Werther's Original.

The evening began well enough. I was presented to the assembled grand dames and they gave me a rather insincere round of applause. Even though I say it myself, I think my monograph went down surprisingly well. Such was my confidence that I almost gave My Man the all clear signal to instruct him to go and collect the car. Yet, for some reason, I hesitated. I think it’s the same reason cats know when it’s going to rain. There was a frisson of something running down my spine. I knew, you see, that I had yet to endure the Q&A.

As I told the police officers later that evening: the trouble was sparked off by a woman in the third row who looked rather like Bernard Manning on steroids. Her bulk was distributed evenly beneath a fine black moustache and matching tea-cosy hat. She’d been glaring at me all though my speech, slowly caressing her tash as she did so, but when the moment came to ask questions, her thickly-biceped arm shot up and figured prominently among the throng of slender reeds.

The moment was perhaps fated that the chairwoman would pick out the thicker arm and when she did, the behemoth slowly gathered herself, adjusted a pair of glasses as thick as a welder’s helmet, ran her finger one last time through her lip’s hedge, and then looked at me as though she had taken offence at every one of my Uncle Cyril’s misdemeanors.

‘May I ask,’ she barked, not at all unlike a hound on steroids, ‘are all your family criminals or of criminal extraction?’

There may well have been at least two gasps that echoed through the hall, though you would not have known it given the thunderous round of applause. I didn’t know what to say and was forced to rely on the old Oxford trick of ‘trying to look at the broader picture’.

‘As a historian,’ I smiled, ‘I can assure you that historical perceptions of moral behavior do change quite radically between the ages. Does that answer your question, Mrs…?’

The woman stood up again. ‘It’s not Mrs. I’m a Professor. Professor Alice Kipling, lately of Christ’s College, Cambridge. And quite frankly, sir, you answer does not satisfy me in the slightest.’

At that moment, I was stricken by the thought that I knew only two Kiplings and I was an admirer of neither the pastries not the poems. This woman seemed to complete an unholy triumvirate.

I mumbled one of those apologies that don’t come easily for either Murgatroids or Tories, and proceeded to defend the family name as best I could. That wasn’t enough for Professor Kipling. She stood up again.

‘Genealogy is my expertise but, in particular, all disputed hereditary claims,’ she said, her voice softening a little until she sounded not unlike a Welsh male voice choir (who may well have been on steroids). ‘You see, I’m particularly interested in the landed gentry and how, shall we say, they landed their land.’

There was a chuckle around the room, but the Honourable J.P.’s lips were not for twitching. You see, what I failed to include in my monograph of the family are details of my great great grandfather, Felix Murgatroid.

Felix was a bit of a sheep whose wool was so off white to be almost black. In his youth, he used to travel the length of the land following the horse racing as it moved between Ascot, Cheltenham, Haydock, Chepstow… There wasn’t a track he didn’t at some stage call his home. It was during one of these tours up North that rumours first began to emerge of a brief marriage and progeny. The story sometimes turns up in the newspapers, claiming that a son was born on the east side of the Pennines and that the odd vagrant with the Murgatroid forehead and narrow jowls can still be found roaming the Yorkshire moors. There has yet to be any positive proof offered, of course, but we incumbent Murgatroids always live in fear of a claim to the family estate by some misguided ferret handler from Bradford.

All I knew at the time was that I could allow the Professor to go on no longer. So I picked up my papers, folded them into my case, and turned to the audience. ‘It’s been an absolute pleasure, ladies,’ I said with a crust of a smile so thick on my face that I believe it would have even made Mr. Kipling shed a tear. Then, without any further ado, I took to my patented leather heels and ran for the door.

My Man had the Bentley going by the time I threw myself in the back seat, yet barely had Murgatroid hide hit Bentley leather than a shadow loomed at my side.

‘You ran away without answering all my questions,’ said the Professor, who must have done the hundred in less than ten seconds. From beyond her, the ladies of the WI had begun to warble ‘Jeruslem’ and I felt not unlike poor Albion in William Blake’s illustrations, struggling under the weighty gaze of Urizen.

I pulled the door closed, pulled the blind down over the window, and ordered My Man to thrash every single one of the Bentley’s horses.

What happened next is more of a blur to me. The car sped forward and then came to a shuddering halt. I remember My Man jumping out and being immediately dragged to the floor by large hands that grabbed him. It would seem that in my haste to escape, I’d trapped Professor Kipling’s dress in the door and we’d proceeded to drag the poor woman the length of a football pitch. What this says about the torque delivered by a Bentley’s power unit, I’ll leave for another day. What I will say is that it had resulted in a peculiar change in Professor Kipling’s manner.

I need not recount every detail, but needless to say, blows were struck and My Man was left with severe concussion. Yours Truly was lucky to escape with a bloodied nose and bit of blurred vision.

By the time the police arrived and we’d been escorted to the station, I’d regained a little of my composure and, being a local magistrate known to the local constabulary, it took only a contribution of ten pounds to the Christmas box before they listened to my advice and agreed that the Professor would be well served by an evening under lock and key.

And there you have it: my evening in all its potted glory. Not much of an arc, as stories go, but it is all absolutely true. I also fear that this whole episode and recent comments left on this blog have reaffirmed my worries about the Murgatroid heritage. I’m quite sure this isn’t the last I’ll hear of Professor Kipling and I now must prepare the right ammunition for her return. I should arrange the relevant documents, get land deeds and birth certificates in order, but one can’t help but feel that Uncle Stanley's elephant gun might also come in handy.

Ah well… I had hoped for a quieter weekend but must now see to reeducating my man whose concussion has left him believing that he’s Tsar Nicholas II.

Do the troubles never cease?


The Casualties of World War WI

What Ho Proles!

Just a quick update before I make an attempt at slumber. Needless to say, I'm back from the police station and my monograph to the Women's Institute didn't quite go according to plan. I'll fill you in on the details tomorrow, but at the moment, I have to dash to find some ice to lay upon My Man's brow. His concussion is quite severe, but as I told him earlier, this is what comes from trying to mix it with a matriarch of the WI.

Until the morn.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Preparing for the Women's Institute

What Ho Proles!

I spent the afternoon in the library in our East Wing, completing my monograph (see the previous post, below) on my family history which I shall be delivering to the local Women’s Institute tonight. I’ll tell you more about my evening once I’ve debriefed myself, tomorrow morning. I’m reprinting the full text of the monograph for you, my dear proles, complete with a few of the saucier details I shall be omitting from the presented text.

In the future, when I’m asked why I take such pride in my family name, I might well present the following. I think it clearly demonstrates why the Murgatroid name respects much hush and considerable awe.

Tally Ho!

A Monograph on the Family Murgatroid

Here's the full text of my speech, this evening. J.P.M.

Monograph on the Family Murgatroid
By the Honourable Jacob Peas Murgatroid.

The ancient family Murgatroid is one of the oldest landowners in England. The name is recorded in the Doomsday Book, smudged slightly by what experts have now proved to be virgin blood. Church records describe the family as being descended from the earliest Britons, but with some Viking blood coming from invaders who, through poor navigation, landed in Cornwall believing it to be the most easterly of the Hawaiian Islands.

The first famous Murgatroid is the feudal Baron, Havelock Murgatroid, who was born in 1442. Known as the ‘Black Toenail’, Havelock was a cruel man but with a passion for music. He was given to treating his servants to impromptu performances using the tightened guts of pigs stretched across a plank of wood. Since the guts were still in the poor animals at the time, the sounds they produced were said to be truly excruciating. In recent years, he has been acknowledged as one of the early pioneers of English folk music.

His eldest son, Drake, was an explorer who wasted most of the family fortune in search of America. His treatise, ‘On My Search for the New World’, details his explorations and belief that the New World would be found somewhere in the area of Lemmington Spa. He was killed by locals who grew tired of his declaring their gardens property of 'Her Glorious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth'. He left no issue and it was Havelock Murgatroid’s second son, Maurice, who carried on the family name.

Maurice was the most artistic of all the Murgatroids, and it is his skill as an architect and engineer that produced the Great Murgatroid Gates. Standing one hundred feet tall, they were erected in the family grounds in the year 1512 and stood until the year 1513, giving twelve months of glorious service. Nobody knows why the gates collapsed but fifty seven peasants, employed to support them with long poles, were crushed under the rubble. In honour of the peasants' sacrifice and to save money, the bodies were left where they lay; a fitting tribute to one of the greatest minds of the Elizabethan age.

The next interesting member of the Murgatroid family was Lawrence Murgatroid, the novelist. Born in 1723, he was a contemporary of Daniel Defoe, and some say, one of the greatest plagiarists of his age. His nineteen novels include ‘Tristram Cider’, ‘Tim Jones’, and the now classic text, beloved by all school children, ‘Ronseal Crusoe’. He is the only person to be sentenced to death for the crime of plagiarism. After fleeing to the West Indies, he became a notorious pirate, nicknamed ‘Laughing Larry’, but was still producing novels well into his eighties, including the classic gothic novel, ‘The Castle of Oregano’.

In 1732, Lawrence’s sister, Lady Charlotte Murgatroid, invented the whalebone corset and thereby set the world crazy for harpoons. A special ivory ring was given to her by the Association of Whalers to commemorate the day they made a fourteenth species of whale extinct in 1754.

One of the greatest figures in the Murgatroid history is the warrior, General Hector Peas Murgatroid. A notorious gambler and womaniser, he fought in countless wars until he lost his right lobe of manhood to the Boars. From then on, he dedicated himself to reforming his life and became one of the early pioneers of stitch craft, influencing the great Victorian aesthete, William Morris. He is also believed to be the person who first coined the word ‘chintz’.

The family had no significant ancestors until the beginning of the twentieth century when Captain Hugo Murgatroid excelled himself by killing nine German soldiers in a single day. That was in the year 1913 and if it had only happened twelve months later, he might not have been convinced of murder and executed a week later.

On the more recent generations of Murgatroids, Cyril Murgatroid stands out perhaps the most interesting. A notorious cad and bounder, he gave issue to twenty-seven bastard progeny: Mavis, Maurice, Harvey, John, Winkle, Simon, Gandalf, Gladis, Antony, Declan, Michael, Michelle, Ian, Hardy, Russell, Horace, David, Cameron, Peter, Paul, Mary, Bob, Fred, Elizabeth, Victor, Heinz, and not forgetting tiny little Tim. More remarkable than the twenty seven children is the fact that parish records list thirty two different mothers.

The current family Murgatroid is now led by the patriarch, William Peas Murgatroid. Born in 1925, he achieved his own fame by writing a series of books on political theory. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the formulation of ‘The Murgatroid Doctrine’, which posits the complete overthrow of all foreign governments in favour of colonial rule by the British. His next book, ‘Damn All Foreign Muck’, will be published in the New Year.

His son, Jacob – the author of this monograph – has been identified by Forbes Magazine as one of the 10 figures in British political life most likely to achieve greatness. He is currently a prospective Tory Party candidate and makes oodles of cash by playing the markets.

© Jacob Peas Murgatroid, 2006.

Why God Made the Tory Party

What Ho Proles!

I love being a Tory! What’s more, I love declaring how much I love being a Tory. You never hear any of the other mobs saying the same of being Labour activists or (may the good Lord bless their innocent souls) bunting stringers for the Liberal Democrats. The thing with being a Tory is that it’s the only political affiliation where you can wear good quality cufflinks and know your electorate won’t try to pinch them the first day on the hustings. Being a Tory says so much about the man as well as the men who voted him into power, don’t you think?

Take today, for example. I had quite the jolly time going around the village and reminding people who I am, what I stand for, and how much I’ll put up their rents should I not get in at the next bean count for Westminster. And in the whole, people seemed to appreciate me. They nodded at all my jokes, deferentially tipped their hats when I asked them a question, and stood quaking in their boots as I trampled their little cottage gardens. They instinctively know that with a Tory in control, they’re better off in their beds at night. What I don’t understand is why every house had strings of garlic wrapped around every door and window. I must ask My Man to investigate.

In the whole, though, it was a very pleasant morning. This afternoon, I’m putting some finishing touches to a monograph I’ve been working on detailing the history of the Murgatroid family. If updates are late, you can blame my Uncle Cyril and his twenty-seven bastard progeny.


On Tanners and Shillings

What Ho Proles!

Just a brief update tonight as I’m out early in the morning to do a little work at the local Tory Party HQ. You wouldn’t believe the demands they make of me, but I suppose these are the sacrifices one makes to be a prospective Tory M.P. I hear the local Labour Party lot demand blood sacrifices for their candidates so I suppose I get away quite light really.

The point of this post is, however, to recount something that happened as My Man was bringing me my nightly Ovaltine. He has a way, as you know, of creeping around the house. Tonight, his nocturnal lurkings meant that he caught me in a compromising position with my dressing gown. But before I had chance to reprimand him, he came out with a saying that had me immediately reaching for my copy of Nigel Rees’ A Word in Your Shell Like. He told me that I was looking like I’d ‘lost a shilling and found a tanner’. Of course, I may still be feeling a mite down on account of England’s lamentable defeat at the hands of the Croats yesterday. My disappointment, you understand, would be the same if England had lost at netball, hockey, or even synchronized knitting: an English defeat is an English defeat. I care little for the sport, but love the country.

But that is not my point. I was intrigued by the saying since, surely, if I had indeed lost a shilling and found a tanner then I would simply have kept looking for my original shilling. A shilling can hardly turn into a tanner, so it is a tanner gained. The shilling must be still around where I lost it and so, when I did eventually find it, I’d be a tanner up on the whole deal.

It’s an explanation I offered to my man, but the clear logic of it seemed to pass him by. I bewail the slow intellects of proles everywhere. Shillings must amass under every hedgerow in prole shires across the land.

Okay, must get into the four poster. H.Q. awaits the Hon. J.P.M. in the AM.

Toodle pip pip.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Noblest Glory

What Ho Proles!

My Man tells me that they call this is called ‘mobile blogging’, which means I’m sitting in the middle of London, picking all of you up across the wireless, though where the wireless is located I could not tell you. We’ve been attending a conference about government and the internet, though I confess, My Man (he’s now insisting on the capitals in lieu of an extra shilling a day) seems to understand more of this than I. He’s like a sponge at times, whatever virtues that entails. As for the Honourable J.P.M., he skipped out pretty early and spent his morning in a local hostelry, where he happened to bump into an old friend from Eton who has just come back from a tour in Afghanistan.

I should say at the outset that we Murgatroids have always been a family of great warriors, though a slight ocular deficiency in my right orb happens to make me a mite dangerous with firearms, as My Man’s many battle scars can attest. Although I never had the pleasure of going into battle against anything more vicious than a pheasant, I don’t believe this prohibits me from speaking up with some authority on the nature of warfare and the kind of men who stand in the face of gunfire when many would lie, or at the very least, squat.

In particular, I find it astonishing what I’ve just been told about the government paying taxes back to our armed forces. It surprises me that people even bring up the subject of taxation when we should really be speaking of the red mist, blood lusts, and valiant rampages. The government has got it all wrong if they think battle hardened soldiers care a hoot about compensation. I’m speaking, of course, about British officers. I know very little about the habits of enlisted men, but I’m sure there are, even among their lot, warriors still up for a good bash and damn the expense. Are these not the same British troops of whom Siegfried Sassoon spoke of their dying 'with due regard for decent taste'? Then, surely, they cannot care a jot whether they’ll receive their taxes back at the end of the campaign. They are engaged in the higher callings of bravery, sacrifice, and esprit d'corps.

I know I always go on about my Great Grand Uncle Hector P. Murgatroid who lost his right lobe of manhood to the Boars, but did he come back and demand 10% back on his net annual income? I think not. Nor did he expect compensation for his loss. A cigarette, a quick grope of a nurse, a painkiller if he was lucky, and he was bright as sunshine; less of a man but no less a gentleman.

So I trust we can put all this nonsense behind us. When I eventually find myself in a position to form Tory policy, I’ll see to it that we reintroduce National Service in the hope that many more men will learn the same lessons as my Great Grand Uncle Hector. Until his dying day, he swore that his injury was the best thing that happened to him, so who am I to disagree? Instead of talking about tax, the government should be looking for more trouble spots where we might send our brave lads. A nation is only as great as its warriors, so I believe it’s up to the government to prove that our troops really are the best.

‘ten shun!