Wednesday, 14 May 2008


From Ben Trovato, Burrow Bucolic Independent candidate:

While on his morning walk, Prime Minister Gordon Brown falls over, has a heart attack and dies, because the Accident and Emergency Dept at his nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time. So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. "Welcome to Heaven," says Saint Peter, "Before you settle in, there is a problem. We seldom see a Socialist around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you." "No problem, just let me in; I'm a good Christian; I'm a believer," says the PM. "I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from God Himself. He says that since the implementation of his new HEAVEN CHOICES policy, you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity." "But I've already made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven," replies Brown. "I'm sorry, But we have our rules," Peter interjects; and, with that, he escorts Brown to an elevator which takes him down, down, down ...all the way to Hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The temperature is a perfect 22C degrees. In the distance is a beautiful club-house. Standing in front of it is Harold Wilson and many other Socialist luminaries who had helped him out over the years: John Smith, Michael Foot, Jim Callaghan, etc. All the former Labour Party leaders are there. Everyone is laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed. They run to greet him, to hug him and to reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of 'suckers and peasants'. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. The Devil himself comes up to Brown with a frosty drink,"Have a tequila and relax, Gord!"

"Uh, I can't drink anymore, I took a pledge," says Brown, dejectedly. "This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry and it just gets better from there!" Brown takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly bloke resembling George Bush who tells funny jokes like himself and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like the ones the Labour Party pulled with the European Constitution and the Education, Immigration, Tough on Crime ... promises. They are having such a great time that, before he realises it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Brown steps on the elevator and heads upward.

When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and Saint Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate. So for 24 hours Brown is made to hang out with a bunch of honest,good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or short-arse joke among them. No fancy country clubs here and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor. He doesn't see anybody he knows and he isn't even treated like someone special! "Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself. "Harold Wilson never prepared me for this!" The day done, Saint Peter returns and says, "Well, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for Eternity."

With the 'Deal or No Deal' theme playing softly in the background, Brown reflects for a minute ... Then answers: "Well, I would never have thought I'd say this; I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all, but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends." So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial wasteland, looking a bit like the eroded, rabbit and fox affected Australian Outback, but worse and more desolate. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the roadside rubbish and putting it into black plastic bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.

The Devil comes over to Brown and puts an arm around his shoulder." I don't understand," stammers a shocked Brown, "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a club-house and we ate lobster and caviar and drank tequila. We lazed around and had a great time! Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!" The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly, and purrs, "Ah, but yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us!"

Friday, 9 May 2008


The Beadle has just returned from attending a weekend study conference to learn more about the history and practice of his ancient office. He was mortified to learn that in their medieval incarnation, beadles were a forerunner of modern sanitary inspectors, and brought back the following report from John Kelly's The Great Mortality: An intimate history of the Black Death, the most devastating plague of all time [pages 70-71]:
London supplemented its sewer system with municipal
sanitation workers. Every ward in the city had a cadre of
inspectors, the Dickensian-named "beadles" and
"under-beadles," who probed, peered, sniffed, and
questioned their way along the medieval street. Was waste
being cleared from housefronts? Were alleys being kept
clean? Better-off Londoners often built indoor privies,
or garderobes, over alleyways, suspending them "on two
beams laid from one house to the other."  For the
garderobe’s owner, the privy meant liberation - no more
chamber pots on cold nights - but for his neighbours, it
meant piles of dung in the alley, a medley of frightful
odours, and swarms of flies (rats do not usually feed on
human waste). Beadles and under-beadles also investigated
acts of sanitary piracy. The year before the plague
arrived in England, two malefactors were arrested for
piping their waste into the cellar of an unsuspecting
Under the beadles were the rakers, the people who did the
actual cleaning up.  Rakers swept out gutters, disposed of
dead animal carcasses, shovelled refuse from the streets
and alleys, and hauled it to the Thames or other dumping
points, like the Fleet River.
The beadles and rakers not only had the dirtiest job in
medieval London, but the most thankless as well. In 1332
a beadle in Cripplegate Ward was attacked by an
assailant who, to add insult to injury, stole the
beadle's cart; a few years later, two women in
Billingsgate heaped such abuse on a team of rakers,
municipal authorities ordered the women arrested. Indeed,
judging from contemporary accounts, medieval London seems
to have been engaged in a low-level civil war sanitation.
On one side were miscreants, like the foul-mouthed
Billingsgate ladies and William E. Cosner, the garbage
king of Farringdon Without.  On the other side, the king,
Edward III, who thundered, "Filth [is] being thrown from
houses by day and night"; the nervous mayor, who tried
to assuage these royal outbursts with a flurry of widely
ignored sanitation ordinances; the much-abused beadles,
under-beadles, and rakers; and irate private citizens
like the murderous shop owner.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008


Another of Ben's gleanings:

Morris and his wife Esther went to the Yorkshire Show every year and every year Morris would say "Esther, I'd like to ride in that helicopter."

Esther always replied "I know Morris; but that helicopter ride is fifty quid, and fifty quid is fifty quid."

One year Esther and Morris went to the fair and Morris said "Esther, I'm 85 years old. If I don't ride that helicopter I might never get another chance."

To this Esther replied "Morris, that helicopter is fifty quid, and fifty quid is fifty quid."

The pilot overheard the couple and said "Listen folks I'll make you a deal. I'll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word I won't charge you! But if you say one word it's fifty quid."

Morris and Esther agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy manoeuvres, but not a word was heard. He did his daredevil tricks over and over again, but still not a word. When they landed, the pilot turned to Morris and said "By golly! I did everything I could to get you to yell out but you didn't. I'm really impressed!'

Morris replied "Well, to tell you the truth, I almost said something when Esther fell out; but, you know, fifty quid is fifty quid."

The Beadle wishes to make it quite clear that he and Mrs Malaprop never visit the Yorkshire Show, and do not like riding in helicopters.

Dame Barbara is currently concocting her latest airy romance Up Up and Away - a tall tale of thrills and spills.

Ben is kept busy supplying her with copious pink gins.

Anticant impatiently awaits the approaching pageant of summer.

Wooffie is wearing his second-best pearls.


Ben has been buying some new pictures for the Snug. Here's one of them:

"Having finished installing the anti-parking bollards, it's time to clear up before driving back to the depot...",%20bollards.jpg