Monday, 17 November 2014

The Village tales of Fekenham Swarberry - UNPUBLISHED WORK - Book Four - The Politics of Turnips - Part One 'Arrivals' - Chapter 13 - "Wild Asses and Persons with Long Ears"

Parminter Fullcock was being harangued. He didn’t like being harangued. He didn’t like the sound of the word harangue. Harangue was an ugly word for an ugly act and Parminter liked neither word nor act very much. Harangue sounded like meringue but wasn’t crisp and crunchy and sweet. Parminter was being harangued by the crowd he had been addressing and even though under normal circumstances he liked the villagers of Fekenham at this precise moment he liked them as much as he liked the word harangue.
   The very mention of the Corn Tax, as it was called by the media, had been enough to tip the villagers over the edge. Their mood had turned dark, matched vociferously by their abusive language. At this precise moment in time Parminter cursed his political leader Andrew Flair, Prime Minister of England, for introducing the idea in the first place.
   The rationale behind the P.M’s proposal of adding a tax on producing vegetables was to enable the government to raise funds for what may be a second Great War. The fact that the proposed bill had not been written or placed before Parliament let alone The Houses of Assembly nor any of the four nations First Minister’s didn’t matter to the village folk. As far as they were concerned it was another tax and the one thing the people of Albion despised was paying taxes.
    Parminter had tried elucidating but his explanation fell on deaf ears. He tried reasoning with the crowd but they proved unreasonable. When this failed he tried pacification but all attempts at pacifying only acted as further provocation.

Unknown to Parminter was the fact that a small section of the crowd: Primrose Heathernip, the Sisters Merryfeather, Mavis Mufftickle, Ruth Buckshot along with Destine and Herman Cole had come armed. In an assortment of carrier bags was an array of rotten fruit which they planned to hurl at the Whig candidate for Warden of Wessex. Ted Sandpip, recently released from jail, was less than comfortable with another protest preferring to join in the Riddle Drum band practice. The Anti-Corn Tax League now numbered seven.

“The war is coming,” said Parminter, his large ears now flushed a vivid red. “We have to prepare. The only way to raise the necessary capital is through tax. Every one of us, each and every individual throughout England and Albion will have to tighten their belts. Successive attempts at trying to find a peaceful resolution to the Imperial Chinese threat have failed. China is now standing on the borders of Burma. We may be forced to fight and if we do we will need a military might to match that of the Chinese.”
A sad truth is that all too often people cannot see beyond the ends of their noses. The only concerns they have are those directly in front of them. From the audience Will Hamfist raised his voice.
“What’s Burma got t’ do with us? Bugger me if’n they ain’t half a globe away. If’n the Chinese want to come and try and take Albion we will give ‘em what for but what has a foreign country got t’ do with us? I mean, why should we go ‘t war for them?”
A chorus of voices joined in agreement.
“Not our business.”
“Let ‘em fight their own battles.”
“What have the Burmese ever done fer us?”
A hubbub of general consensus bubbled over into a cacophony of garbled conversation as everyone tried to talk at once. The chairman of the meeting was Brigadier Largepiece who hammered on the table calling out for silence. Eventually the voices calmed down.
Parminter thought he would try a different approach – patriotism.
“Folks of Fekenham, subjects of England, lions of Albion; it is not our nature to cower when the enemy approaches; it is not our way to stand idle when a fellow nation of the commonwealth cries out for help. We must raise our flag and stand together against this common foe for only by observing the articles of war can we remain free men.”
Will Hamfist was having none on it. He bellowed like a comedy store bullock.
“You can shove the tax right up your articles!”
At this point a shower of decomposing fruit flew toward the podium. A banana skin landed upon the Brigadier followed by a courgette that attached itself to the military man’s forehead. He looked like a horned garden elf. A tomato landed square on Parminter Fullcocks chest. The industrialist tried to walk away but his foot slipped on apple peel so instead he fell onto his rump. More fruit followed amid a hullabaloo of laughter. Brigadier Largepiece stood up with all the dignity he could muster for someone with a banana skin sitting like a carnival hat along with a member of the marrow family firmly fixed to his forehead.  
He walked away and out of the church hall, glaring at Mavis Mufftickle as he left. He had never liked that woman and now he knew what an aim she had he liked her even less.
The shower of fruit subsided as the group of seven Anti-Corn Tax League members ran out of ammunition. Will Hamfist, who had been so vocal in his opposition to yet another tax now turned on the throwers of fruit.
“What on earth is wrong with you all? We don’t chuck fruit about like chimps in Fekenham. Parminter may be wrong about plaguing us with more tax but he is one of us. G’wan with the lot of yer, yes you too Rose Buckshot. As fer you Pippa ‘n Tilly, I thought you had more sense and decency than to act like chumps.”
Will strode up to the podium where Parminter sat in a soup of rotten tomato juice. He looked very morose and dejected. Will held out his hand. Parminter looked up shaking his head but accepted the farmer’s assistance.
“Thank you Will,” he said. “Don’t blame them. The tax proposal is wrong. I should have the guts to say so to the hierarchy of the party but being new and wanting to impress I kept my head down and got on with the job in hand. My duty as candidate should be to the people I represent, or at least want to represent. Tomorrow I shall make my opinion known and to the PM himself mark my words.”
Will Hamfist smiled. And when I say smiled a short caveat should be added for Will’s smile, with one or two teeth missing is enough to make large lions quake. When he smiled he looked like an unhappy troll who has just found his wedding tackle trapped in a vice
“Let’s go t’ The Frog. With all that tomato juice you’re carrying I take it you want a bloody Mary?”

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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