The villagers watched Andrew Flair’s television broadcast with keen anticipation. He assured the nation that he had no intention of incorporating a new tax or indeed of raising existing tariffs. It was time, he suggested, the country reap the rewards his government had delivered to England, the prosperity that United Albion now enjoyed, rather than concern themselves with spurious comments made by the opposition or their media allies. In short there would be no ‘corn tax.’ This news was received with great delight by the members of the Anti-Corn Tax League who disbanded then went down the pub to celebrate.
Ruth, on Cybil’s invite, also went to the pub. As the two friends approached the Frog and Radiator Ruth was speaking.
“Well that bloody woman got it wrong didn’t she?”
“You mean Verity?”
“Yes Verity - God how I dislike that bitch, I went directly to Neil’s but he wasn’t there. He’s left me Cybil, gone off to
without me.” Winchester
Neither Cybil nor Ruth had seen the shadowy shape that stood waiting by the front door.
“Hello Ruth,” greeted Neil.
“Neil!” shouted Ruth a little too loudly.
“Sorry about the other day. I was out of order. I should have at least listened to what you had to say. Can we talk, maybe over a drink?”
Ruth’s face betrayed her emotions even though she tried to disguise her obvious joy.
“I’d like that, I’d like that very much.”
Cybil made her excuses and left. Her mum was looking after Jonah but now she thought it best to go home and let Ruth and Neil resolve their issues together.
As she went to walk away she saw Ralph and Verity approaching the pub. The couple were talking.
“Looks like the words you had with Neil worked,” said Ralph.
“He always was a good student, one who listened,” replied Verity. “Did our little ruse with Yue Wu work?”
“Like a treat,” said Ralph, spotting Cybil then calling out to her. “Hey, Cybil! How about having a drink with me and Verity? The break will do you good.”
Cybil smiled then took hold of the large American’s arm as he offered it.
“That would be lovely,” she said.
Inside villagers were crammed. The Frog and Radiator was creaking at the beams as folks stood at the bar or were seated at tables, talking. The fire crackled. Flames generated heat and comfort.
According to gossip the government had not only done a ‘U-turn’ with regard to the tax increase, they had uncovered an intrigue involving illicit arms trading. The Imperial Chinese Empire had been purchasing, over a number of years, weapons meant only for western and allied use. The weapons in question, Microwave bombs, were sold them by the world’s largest corporation, the East India Trading Company.
. Wynkin de Worde
head of the esteemed company had been removed from his post pending further
investigation. There was talk of him being sent abroad in virtual exile to
possibly Guernsey, Jersey
or even Sark It had been announced that the East India Trading Company was to
be broken up into manageable parts then sold off with all monies going into the
United Albion government’s coffers.
Regus Naslatwist had been implicated in the scandal and had been sacked as the Tory Chief Whip. Along with this news, revelations regarding the so-called Brethren, thought to be nothing more than a localised racist group, implicated them as being covertly working for the huge conglomerate. Police had been ordered to find and arrest anyone connected with this organisation.
The one positive to come out of the whole sordid business was that Parminter Fullcock’s star was flying high. Popular opinion suggested he had had a hand in getting Prime Minister Flair to reconsider his ill-advised new tax.
No one said much about Jarvis as few knew what had happened. His wife, fed up with his political views and the fact he had lost his job over them, sent him to sleep in the spare room. She still loved him in spite of what had happened.
It was hard for Ruth and Neil to say much as such a lot had happened of late and the voices around them were loud. However, they were not so loud that Ruth didn’t hear Neil’s proposal of marriage and definitely not too loud to accept.
Sitting in the snug in the Frog and Radiator, John Tuck and Tom Coppernob had been celebrating the safe return of Sally and Billy. The two farm hands were deep in conversation.
“You don’t look so good mate,” stated John to Tom.
“I don’t feel so good,” confessed Tom. “I haven’t been fer days.”
“Been where mate, the shops?”
“Football, Muckleford, the market?”
“No, no, no. I haven’t been fer days.”
“Where mate, where?”
“We’re talkin’ number two’s I take it? No poo from your yer old dispenser? You’re in a slump from not havin’ a dump.”
“I feel all bloated like, bloated ‘n ruddy uncomfortable.”
“It’s not good mate, not good at all in fact it is bad; very bad. How long has it been?”
“Maybe four days.”
“Four days without evacuating the old chamber? That is bad and no mistake. You need to take drastic action and sooner rather than later leastwise your stomach could implode.”
“You mean explode?”
“No mate, I mean implode. Go off inside you spreading muck all over yer innards, setting toxic waste up against yer liver and kidneys; against yer prostate and yer spleen; poisoning you from the inside out.”
“Oh Lord, what should I do?”
“Give me a pen and a bit o’paper and I’ll make a list of bits o’things you will need.”
Tom promptly left the pub and went immediately to Silvanus Pinchwort’s Apothecary in Muckleford. He purchased all the items John had itemised. When Tom arrived home he duly swallowed the contents from both bottles containing syrup of figs. This he followed up by shovelling twelve capsules of laxatives down his throat which he then washed down with a swig of peppered water. He felt sick afterwards but was aware that he had to follow John Tuck’s instructions to the letter. He then sat down with Violet, his long-suffering partner, where he consumed a bowl full of stew brimming with freshly cooked vegetables. He and Violet ate their dinner in silence before retiring to the parlour where they sat down, dishes left in the sink to soak, to watch their favourite TV programme ‘The Golden Shot.’
Two hours later Tom leapt up from the settee like a man possessed. Gripping his distended stomach he lurched out of the room groaning as Violet watched him stagger away. He reached the foot of the stairs where he unbuckled his trouser belt. He tried to climb the stairs three at a time but his trousers slid to his ankles preventing this so that he was forced, bowels filled to capacity, buttocks tightly clenched, to pogo his way up the stairwell like a demented frog until he reached the toilet. Throwing the door wide, and caution to the proverbial, as a roiling ferment assailed his insides, he settled with a crash onto the porcelain trumpet.
Downstairs in the parlour Violet listened to the noise created by Tom. She was slightly puzzled by the hullabaloo but continued to watch the television after all nothing took precedence over ‘The Archers.’ A momentary silence settled on proceedings before a loud rumble like that of a huge klaxon ringing an alarm threatened to shake the house to its foundations. This was swiftly followed by a noise as of elephants trumpeting their terror as they ran riot through fields of bamboo, desiccating and shredding the stalks whilst making the violent noise of a hurricane being blown through a large kazoo. Finally there came a strangled, muted gargle followed by the sound of weeping.
“Oh my arse, my poor, poor arse,” cried Tom.
One thing was for certain though; life in Fekenham goes on as it always does, as it always has.
End of Book Four
The next book in the series is Hand In Glove.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.