Holidays on the Chickenworld Pt 1

26 07 2010

It was Rear Admiral Voshal Hreen-Garlds’ idea. Amongst the officer classes of the more civilised Nuur Clans it was understood that such professional and glorious defenders of True Humanity needed to unwind in ways more fitting to their demeanour. So instead of debasing themselves with simple “civilian” amusements Worriunt lead his most trusted staff and some others who heard of the expedition out on what was boisterously known as a “Jaunt.”

Much of the preparation was just for show, the exercise and equipment maintence in the hanger, the bawdy fighting songs as they swaggered into the dropship and the cheeky sexual innuendos as they slipped into the individual landing pods. Some even felt cocky enough to joke on the way down through the atmosphere, the re-entry flames and jarring motions of the descent rockets so mundane for these hardened warriors as to be almost fun.

The planet they were falling towards like a drunken rugby team on tour was a secret, or rather an oddity that had almost been forgotten, far out beyond explored space. Halfway between the hellish Tarantula Nebula and the sphere of Humanity in the Large Magellanic Cloud lay that rare of worlds, a home for intelligent life that had evolved on its on. Those few humans that knew of it’s existence called this rare and precious thing “Chickenworld.”

It shouldn’t be named “Chickenworld” of course. The intelligent inhabitants of the world had many names for their planet, and should the day come when all the tribes that made up the tool using species became nations and those nations start to bicker among themselves as to who’s name should be used to refer to their planet in the wider cosmos they would choose a nomenclature less demeaning than that of a simple minded and somewhat comical farm animal from a planet they had never heard of and a species whose existence would forever be cursed amongst the short and colourful multilimbed bipeds.

The resemblance to chickens was passing anyway; chickens don’t have a sensor head linked to a brain deep within their own bodies for protection, nor four prehensile limbs where their wings would be. Nor do chickens wear shawls and adorn their bodies with beads and tools. The intelligent beings of the planet were the size of dogs anyhow, and no group of chickens (except that horrific experiment and art project at 37 Geminorium) could ever hope to create a wealth of culture and technology comparable to Terra in the 15th century.

Sadly when angry and about to attack they dance, wave their limbs around and squawk like an alien chicken, a sight which struck fear into the beasts of Chickenworld but which looked hilarious to the occasional human visitor to the world.

The Nuur Clans prided themselves on their notion of honour, fair play and honest humanity as they went about their business defending Homo Sapien affairs. Sadly, this was not a charity passed onto the other intelligences in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Anything which had the audacity to speak not through a human mouth or not to have been created by the wise hand of humanity was The Enemy.

It was The Enemy which had lead to the downfall of Humanity ten thousand years ago, The Enemy which had turned humankind’s machines against them in an orgy of megadeath and self destruction and therefore where-ever The Enemy cropped up (even if that particular species or culture had never even heard of the Tri’Ef’Fid and their war with the humans) they must be smacked down before they got a chance to strike first.

Sadly it was  this rapant xenophobia and genocide which kept the Nuur Clans such a viable empire throughout the millennia. Descendants of the Ashenar military forces that survived the Nanopocalypse which destroyed the first human civilisation in the Cloud, the Clans had cornered the market in playing up to people’s fear of the unknown and alien. Thousands of worlds, habitats and outposts had sworn fealty to the Clans in return for their protection form enemies real and imagined (though sometimes after a degree of coercion and gunboat diplomacy.)

More demons, from the sky” noticed Frontaar Eldestson and using his sensor head, gestured towards the shooting stars in a motion that sadly could only be described as “chickenlike.”

The King fluttered his neck dongles (a sign of his great age) which in most of the cultures along the southern coastline of this particular continent was considered a dignified and wise expression, much the same way an old human male would thoughtfully stroke his beard. “This day comes sooner and sooner as the years proceed ” the King consorted to his eldest son. “Why it was barely three seasons ago when the great port city of Efralm was smited from the land by the sky demons. I had always said they never hid themselves from the heavens as they should but it was so difficult to hide a city as large as that and the merchant classes just would not take head of the blessed teachings” said the learned being as he hung his comical head in dismay.

“You were right father, but we shall punish those wicked giants for their bloodlust with the new sciences we obtained from the Eastern Lands” replied the eldest son, his youthful neck dongles erect and clearly fired by the chance of vengeance. “The townsfolk will already be as aware of demons coming as we are, they need their king to lead them in their darkest hour and no doubt in your absence the nurse-brooders will be interfering as is their way these days.”

“And you, my most wise and passionate son must attend to your duties, remembering all that I have taught you about the sky demons and their thousand cursed ways.” The King’s throat dongles quivering with rage, he spat the words out in a rare display of primal emotion, of the sort not seen since his queen had died of the pox three years. Composing himself for the Masses he descended from the watchtower of his castle to where the chicken-like townsfolk were already extinguishing their fires,switching off their steam boilers and hurriedly flapping around in fear of the sky demons.

“Dawn is in an hour you fucktards so realign your assholes after that rough landing and lets break out the morning after pills!” barked Worriunt over the local net. The battlesuited Field Marshall enjoyed the lack of informality and casual vulgarity associated with Jaunts. So much of his professional life was an exercise in front, culturing his public image as a stoic and noble transhuman guardian of Humanity with the legacy of ten millennia behind him. Allowing the civilians of the numerous worlds the Clans “protected” to see this side of the Nuur would lead them to notions of running the show for themselves and should that fruitless exercise in democracy be allowed The Enemy could sneak up behind them in the night and slit their throats.

“Maybe Chorlee needs a bit of extra realignment from you, Worri” winked Psy-ops Squadron Leader Mysfitaa via a private message. Since their brief but passionate congress ninety four years ago during the Banfaald Cluster insurrection, Mysfitaa and Worriunt had developed an understanding that whenever their paths would cross they would always find time to consort and unload their personal troubles on one another out of sight of their contemporaries, the civilians they dominated and the secret police who made sure Clansfolk kept up appearances.

It was in these brief and private liaisons that both parties vented a lot of psychological baggage. Despite her cold and professional exterior (again, mostly a front) Mysfitaa was a deeply empathic individual who by now knew more about Worriunt than any Purity Council inquisition could find (or so he hoped) and she was more accepting than most of their rank about the Field Marshall’s predilection for young males whilst on the a Jaunt.

Corporal Chorlee was one such potential. To the casual observer his presence on the trip seemed to be the kind of astonishing opportunity to progress up the ranks by hanging out with the big boys and girls that the Clans liked to throw out to the lower classes once in a while. It was an example of how egalitarian the more progressive Nuur Clans thought themselves to be, no matter what a persons’ background (or their genetic heritage) if they had the strength of character and the talent they could still get as far in the Clans as any Clansborn transhuman warrior could (but maybe not quite as far, after all glass ceilings had to be maintained and the millennia old linage of the Clansborn had to be protected.)

Chorlee had been only recently fitted with the cybernetic and genetic upgrades as befitting a solider of his rank, a commission obtained on the battlefield during that most frustrating and troublesome insurrection in U Caendevibel (and to Worriunt’s weary eyes there seemed to nothing but insurrection these days.) Still recovering from his recent modifications at the Clans’ expense the harsh G-force of the drop from orbit had struck Chorlee the worst and he staggered out his landing pod like a sickly child off a rollercoaster.

Stifled chortles ricocheted around the group net as everyone else noticed Chorlees’ newbie state. Most stifled their amusement not so much out of respect for the Field Marshall’s rank but out of respect for an old friend with encourageable predilections. Knowing winky and smiley graphics were distributed across the Jaunts’ network as Worriunt guided his latest “special Jaunt friend” out of the smoking pod and helped him adjust his bio-rhythmic settings to the alien world.

“Thanks Field Marshall, I feel like a bit of an idiot” said Chorlee looking up to the Field Marshall with those piercing blue eyes. “Don’t mention it, why even the best of us can come a cropper from a Drop” Worriunt smiled fraternally back as the rest of the hunting party unpacked weapons and equipment from the landing pods.

“I am ready to get me some chicken-bashin you fuckers!” exclaimed Colonel Panthars as he  grabbed his crotch and fired kinetic rounds  into the dawn sky. His fellow members of Battalion XV yelled in approval and fired off a few rounds themselves in a cacophony of sonic booms and phallic abandon. In his youth Worriunt was as boisterous and arrogant as Battalion XV were today and after the psychological mindgames, memewarfare and cyberassaults of U Caendevibel he thought it refreshing to be around good old fashioned infantry soldiers. He reasoned that harking back to his glorious past in the lower ranks might have been just the tonic he needed to settle his troubled mind. In reality they were turning out to be just annoying, tiresome and unprofessional with the drunken Colonel arguably the worst of the lot. Their little fireworks display would have alerted the “chickens” in the valley of their whereabouts and no doubt the ridiculous creatures were relaying their position to whatever the freakish poultry called a leader.

Mysfitaa relayed a similarly disapproving emoticon to Worriunt and then announced to everyone “Now, we know there is a sizable chickenmen settlement over the bough of that valley so it’s a good old fashioned root march of 10 klicks which should get the juices racing and work up a thirst for beer.” Feeling the need to pander to the less civilised and sober members of the party she privately sighed and added  “Huzzah!”

“Huzzah!” bellowed the fellow Jaunters, lifting up their weapons in agreement. This new battle-cry was a curious expression to Worriunt and Mysfitaa which had seeped in (along with a lot of things) from the Community, apparently a reference to an age when the Terrans were all resident on that one planet in the Great Galaxy and happily knocking the hell out of each other with primitive firearms and swords. Around the time the Terrans were low tech savages trapped on a singular world, the Field Marshall’s great-grandfather, Worriunt The Redoubtable was leading the final and glorious cleansing of the traitorous Clan “Memory of the 7th Fleet” across twenty star systems, before the misguided maniacs could defect to the greedy and cowardly Federation. If the corrupt and duplicitous Federation were bad enough nothing about Community (of which the Terrans were a founder member) sounded good to Worriunt. From their blasphemous allegiance with all manner of non-humans, half humans, self aware machines and half animals, to their claim that Earth was the true home of all Humanity and to their almost laughable naivety in how civilisations should all just try to get along and live and let live, it all sounded like poppycock and balderdash to the respected Field Marshall. Scout drones were launched into the air to get a full view of the area and a path of destruction was plotted to the nearest large settlement. The Clans dropship which had fired the individual landing pods down onto Chickenworld was now meandering down the gravity well of the terrestrial planet to the prearranged “after match” rendezvous point to dish out barbecued meat and intoxicating drinks to round off a good days slaughter of alien abominations. Despite a flood of information now coming over the Jaunts’ local net about the plan of action for the day Worriunt was still pre-occupied with the Community. It’s genetically engineered talking animals, its deceitful and freakish xenos, and the thinking machines they dangerously thought to be “people” as much as flesh and blood meant that by rights they just shouldn’t be. In all the schools of thought that he had been educated in they should have descended into chaos and self destruction centuries ago, like all the ultra-tech perversions and horrors that came out of the Dead Core. Nothing quite so superficially benign yet insanely dangerous had been seen in the LMC for many thousands of years. Some amongst his peers even referred to the whole meta-civilisation as a Blight, a seething mess of rampant technology and social chaos almost as dangerous as the Posthumans of Prastoj or the Mazdan Fleets and threatened to pollute the rest of Humanity with its mental perversions. And by Great Ashenars Memory they were smug!

Frontaar held the seeing tube the ocean merchants used to view great distances to spy the landing site. Though the fireballs in the sky lead to this direction he couldn’t make out any smouldering craters. This could either be confirmation that the sky demons with their stealthy magic had come down or maybe he had miscalculated and the demons were in another valley. For a moment Frontaar was gripped by fear of failure. His father and his kingdom had so much trust in him since he proclaimed he would stand and fight the monsters that terrorised them that he on occasion became riddled with self doubt. That his noble (and perhaps hasty) pledge that coming of age he would bring a new dawn for his people could fail because of his own faults sent a chill to his three stomachs.

TWACK!, a distant clap of thunder echoed around the wooded valley.

TWACK, TWACK,TWACK, it went again and Frontaars’ dual food and sex orifice curved into what, for his species was a devilish smile. He flapped his little legs back to his trusted steed, (which on this continent was a creature the size of a pony and with the appearance of a furry caterpillar on eight deer legs) and led his trusted warriors down to the entrance of the valley, leaving no time to explain the plan formulating hurriedly in his head.

On the invigorating march out the valley (vehicles and levitators were tradionally eschewed on activities like this) the Jaunters amused themselves with AV footage and memory-cordings of previous Jaunters out “chickenbashin” The members of Battalion XV were clogging the groupnet with cruel laughter and de-humanising jibes as previous human visitors to the world slaughtered and tormented the ridiculous alien filth. A scene of a Clansman burning down a market town made out of mud-dwellings that were disguised as piles of rocks prompted one infantrymen to gleefully comment “man, I’m gonna cook me up some of those chickenmen with some old Granjee herbs and some baked potatoes and we’re gonna have ourselves some good old fashioned meat-fry!” Battalion XV rattled with callous laughter, Worriunt’s group could manage no more than polite smiles at the uncouth bravado. “I wouldn’t.” icily chided Mysfitaa over the group-net. “This whole planet is an Original, nothing here is edible. It all evolved without the Hand Of Man so don’t eat it and don’t fuck it!”

“It’s a bottleneck, like when the Enflaat Riders made their stand at Tempus Ridge in the old legends” explained an excited Frontaar, his arms flapping poultry-like. “We’ll use the new exploding power to collapse that narrow passage there and then while they are trapped we unleash a timely vengeance for Efralm and for all the times those sky demons have plagued us!” embiggened the King’s son. He stamped the ground in a manner which to his species expressed noble defiance but to humans could only be described as similar to a chicken scratching the dirt. His fellow countrymen stomped their feet in agreement and were emboldened not only by the dream of finally getting their own back for centuries of torment but by Frontaar’s charisma. These beings had trained with the prince since the beginning and many harboured memories of attacks by the metal giants from the sky. A sense of long overdue vengeance pervaded the air as they mounted their odd looking steeds.

In an interesting  co-incidence many of the “chickenmen” referred to themselves in their own various languages as “Children of the Soil.” This term related to their egg hatching nature where “Soilers” emerge from their fleshy birth-pod into a nest half buried in the ground. These days (particularly in Frontaar’s affluent and progressive kingdom) artificial nests warmed by steam boilers were becoming more common. This had led to a major societal change in for sexless “nurse-brooders” of the species. Due to the long gestation of the fleshy pods and the vulnerability of the young the asexual nurse brooders traditionally found themselves tied to their nests all day, rarely playing a part in larger affairs. But now, with the steam boilers allowing some escape from their domestic servitude they had suddenly become a lot more vocal in the running of the Soilers affairs if only because they liked to chatter and gossip, more than the males & females who had usually ignored them. Times were changing in many ways for the Children of the Soil and in the alien minds of Frontaar’s party this gave them inspiration that finally the tide had turned for them against the murderers from the sky.

“Am I right in thinking that my sensors show there are chickenmen and those weird horse like things along that ridge near the valley passage?” enquired an unsure Chorlee, eager to please the impressive Clansfolk. Worriunt smiled, despite what some had said (never to his face, mind) the young man was not just along to be Worriunts plaything. He had promise, as shown at U Caendevibel when Chorlees’ quick action in his native world of Betor Tipic had prevented his squad from being sucked out of a domed city and into the deadly atmosphere of his barely terraformed home planet.

Corporal Chorlee (as he was after that) had shown a lot more strength of character and loyalty to the Clans than many of his fellow people at U Caendevibel, the majority of whom seemed ambivalent to the insurrection going on in a dreary corner of their system. Worriunt’s eyes Chorlee was one of the few good points in the whole misbegotten mess of a campaign, the seven billion other ingrates didn’t deserve one such as he.

“That’s right, I spotted them about half and hour back but there’s nothing they can do at that distance. Even though the Chickenmen now have crude chemical projectile weapons they make as much dent in our armour as their poison darts did so nothing to fear” proudly advised Worriunt.

“They look even more stupid with guns than they did with the spears” laughed Colonel Panthar and fired an aimless shot towards the general direction of the Soilers, who were by now two klicks away. “Take that your alien fucktards! Whoo, YEAH!” heckled the Colonel who was gyrating his groin offensively, which his fellow battalion members found to be the height of wit.

Frontaar had forgotten how terrifying the sky giants weapons were close up. As Panthars’ volley hit the ground around them some were flung from their steeds from the concussion. Frontaars’ heart swelled with pride as his fellow warriors who had hidden themselves in the valley entrance kept their subterfuge and nerve despite the explosions around them. “When confronted with a more powerful foe, evade. Lead them into a trap, try and turn their own weaknesses against themselves” a wise old Soiler had written.

After announcing his intent to fight the demons that plagued his people the prince had spent years away from his family and his homeland being taught by the wisest and most experienced Soilers of all the lands (including some kingdoms which Frontaar thought only existed in legend) on how to possibly fight back against the sky demons.

For so long the Children of the Soil had thought the devils from the sky to be a mere force of nature or god, something only prayer or fate could deal with and not an adversary they could realistically do anything about. But a fateful day three centuries ago (as the stories went) one of the giants appeared to remove its head after destroying the city of Gra’heim. It transpired that it wasn’t the demon’s night-black skull but a helmet, protecting some kind of horrific fat-headed being of flesh and hair which then proceeded to stumble around un-godlike and vomit foul alien fluids over the charred remains of the Holy Gardens of Gra’heim.

The Priestess of Gra’heim saw this bizarre and un-godlike event and soon told all she could of it. Though the sky-demons were mighty and while in their armour impervious to all that the Soilers could throw at them it was revealed they were but of flesh and blood like the Soilers. If they vomited, then they could be killed.

“I think it’s about to kick off, they’re are  jumping about on the path ahead” commented Worriunt using his enhanced eyes to scan ahead.

“I’m going to run up ahead and kick the little fuckers to death” laughed Panthar as he threw a bottle of intoxicating beverage down and galloped up the path, his jet black and gold powersuit amplifying his slightly unsteady movements so it felt like a giant mechanical gorilla was stomping angrily towards the small aliens. His cohorts yelled battle cries and followed him in wild abandon like a group of young men about to set fire to public transit shelter.

Worriunt preferred strategy and cunning as opposed to the Colonels frontal assault, the chickenmen were hardly a terrifying or dangerous foe but they had their moments recently. Had Panthar bothered to read up on his adversaries before the group left the hunting lodge in orbit rather than debase himself with twenty replicant pleasure beings the oaf would have known this thought the exasperated Field Marshall

Panthar stumbled up a short incline into the passageway at the entrance of the valley. Out of the corner of his inebriated eye he noticed a chickenman holding some kind of flaming torch. Ignoring the messages  his suit’s sensors were relaying to him regarding something being afoot  he turned his maser pistol mounted arm towards the ridiculous little creature. The Soiler halted stared at the giant seemingly without fear. The Colonel paused for a moment at the audacity of the thing.

Just as Panthar noticed the primitive explosives that surrounded him one side of the valley exploded, catching him and the  suicidal chickenman in the blast. The dust from the bellowed down the passage to the rest of a stunned Jaunt and was quickly followed by Panthar’s cursing which had reached new heights of obscenity and vitriol. A second explosion went off, this time higher up the valley side and a massive boulder came down to trap Panthar which was then accompanied by a comical trombone like sound trumpeting  above the chaotic scene.

Frontaar wept for the death of his comrade, Wantsee Thirdson. Even though he knew his role was dangerous and he was given every chance to decline with honour the chance to get one back for his people  had fired Thirdson on. Frontaar sounded the mighty and noble horn his father had given him to lead other into battle, the sacred horn which had been handed down for seven generations. “Wantsee will be honoured” thought the prince, “ if there was a kingdom to get back to.”

Continued in Part 2

Pucker Oil

15 07 2010

The good people of Rochdale gathered in front of a stage in the town square on a bright sunny June day. The streets had been swept clean of straw and horse droppings, tattered and sun bleached bunting had been hung around the boarded up shops and lifeless street lamps and the citizens of the tired city had put on their best clothes in respect for the day’s events.

There was something in the air this afternoon, and not just the usual stench of biofuels and sewerage, for the first time in what seems like forever there was a sense of weary celebration. The years since The Collapse had been hard on the little Northen city, high up in the hills. When the oil ran out so did everything else, including that most important of commodities, Hope.

The economy had run dry, the supermarkets were bare and the takeaways closed. People had walked the streets, dazed, confused and hungry, unable to deal with the near apocalyptic events which had struck the world.

The crowd that had gathered before the stage were not the same people as they were since before the chaos. They were broken, stood hunched and seemingly using each other for support. They shuffled around the streets with heads hung, unable to look up into the sky or even into the eyes of others.

Many seemed gaunt, old before their time and some had suffered from lost limbs or other disabling injuries. But today all made their best effort, using up the last precious stores of pre-Collapse make-up and hair products. The battered citizens of Rochdale had dug out their finest clothes, in fashions that were at least ten years old and in many cases had been stitched up and repaired or altered to fit new, slimmer but more fragile frames.

The security guards, one of the few groups of people left in Rochdale that stood upright and with purpose, herded the residents towards the square. Troublemakers had already been dealt with the few days before, either locked up, threatened or exiled out onto the moors to suffer their fate at the hands of raiders and scavengers who prowled beyond the metal fences which protected the city.

The people of Rochdale gathered before the stage built in front of the Town Hall, a gothic building once admired by Hitler and now covered in glorifying drapes of the man who had “saved” their city from the horrors which befell so many other places in the North.

In the distance was a sound rarely heard in the days since the oil ran out, the mechanical flutter of helicopter blades. The Lord and Saviour of the town was fast approaching from his home down in the more prosperous and better fed South.

A brass band started to play, the Lord liked the little touches of local colour for his visits and it was a wise move to get into his favour. Most that had assembled before the Victorian-era municipal building that was the Town Hall harboured wishes of some gift, some treat to be handed out by The Lord for a year’s hard graft in the fields and food factories that were Rochdale’s primary industry now.

Children born after The Collapse gasped in awe as the helicopter thundered over the crowd to land in an old supermarket car park close to the square. The wee ones had never seen such a thing outside of television and were overjoyed that such a mechanical beast had flown to their lowly home.  The television of the future was carefully regulated so as not to give the residents of Rochdale any ideas of escape or life beyond the walls of their city. Aside from mindless drivel designed to anesthetise the population in the hour or two they had between work and much needed sleep programmes showing what the rest of Britain and the world were like now were forbidden, as was the troublesome Internet.

What need had the simple residents of Rochdale for dreams of a better life anyway, the argument went. They were lucky to have jobs and regular (but meagre) portions of food every day.  Other towns and cities in the North were not so lucky so what is a little bit of freedom and the surrendering of their elderly relatives (who’s selfish excess in the previous century were blamed for The Collapse) to the “reprocessing plants” anyway?

A golden Bentley, converted to run on ethanol and one of the last ever to be made and shipped over from China luxuriously ambled towards the gathered crowd who had now been lightly cajoled by the security men into waving flags and banners to welcome the saviour of their city. It was like the King himself was paying a visit (were it not for the fact he had been under house arrest for many years.)

Tears formed in some of the eyes of those who remembered what life was like before The Collapse. They remembered how most people had cars, went abroad on holidays, ate until they were fat, took everything for granted and had no care for the future or the loonies who protested and warned that the good times could not go on forever.

The Mayor of Rochdale and assorted dignitaries stood up to welcome The Lord as he stepped out of his golden Bentley. Their finery was worn and faded and their figures hunched in submission. Security guards formed a corridor to protect the Lord from the excited citizens who were holding out flat caps and cupped hands in hope of charity.

The gluttonous bulk of The Lord hauled himself out from the gold plated luxury car, it’s suspension easing off slightly as the chubby and jewel encrusted hand of the city’s benefactor launched him upright before the crowd.

Pausing for a moment to savour the adulation of a broken and needy people the Lord’s blonde locks flapped in the breeze from under his top hat. Caught in the rays of sunlight his face revealed itself to the crowd. As all who had gathered before him knew, the Saviour of Rochdale was none other than celebrity television chef and nutritional guru Jamie Oliver.

With his pudgy red face it appeared that the luxuriant cravat tied around his neck was on too tight but this was not the case, he always looked like that these days. His suit was the finest the tailors of London could create, cut of expensive fabrics shipped in from around a chaotic and dangerous world. He carried with him a cane allegedly made from the thigh bone of Bernard Matthews and ostentatiously topped with a voluptuous ruby cut into the shape of a shallot.

In his self-inflated mind Jamie Oliver strode through the crowd to the stage like a righteous messiah. To the good people of Rochdale he waddled past like a rather comical and self important penguin (not that any of them would dare bite the hand that fed them.) The Lord was followed out of the Bentley by some of his cohorts, questionably talented celebrities who had done well from the horrors of Peak Oil and the corruption and austerity which was now ingrained into public life of the New Britain.

The comedian James Corden, almost a twin in size with the engorged Oliver bumbled in a poorly executed and contrived prat fall.  Face now nothing more than an implosion of fat his nose was curiously out of place with the rest of his head. Rumour had it that it originally belonged to clean leaving individual from Harrow who had fallen prey to Corden’s lawyers in a case of libel and been forced to relinquish his nose in surgery in punishment ( the tubby funny man’s original proboscis had of course been desiccated by decades of cocaine abuse.)  The crowd were aware what could happen to them if they didn’t laugh and applaud at Corden’s lazy and attention seeking schtick and half heartedly rewarded the obese clown with the adulation his insecurity craved.

Dressed in a quadruple plus sized England kit he pranced around before the stage until a man on crutches was led out before him by the dead eyed security guards. Imagining the crowd were egging him on, he careered towards the unfortunate cripple and knocked him over.  This had become James Corden’s signature prank since the Collapse. He would pick on some oik from the jobless masses who would sell their dignity so their family could eat a decent meal (away from the government soup kitchens) and then use his horrendous and narcotic powered bulk to fall onto or barge into them like a drunken bull. Extra points would be awarded if the victim were to burst into tears or suffered from some physical disability which the private health companies of the time refused to help with.  After the debasement James Corden would then pause towards the “camera”, a single finger pointing towards the blubbery crevice in his face where his mouth would be as if to say “I am a naughty boy, but you can’t help but love me, yes?!”

As the ball of human fat tumbled around to “amuse” the crowd at the steps of Rochdale City Hall a shadowy and wizened figure slipped out from Jamie Oliver’s gold plated Bentley and skulked up to the stage almost unnoticed. Whereas the previous two occupants of the car were vast in size and in direct antithesis to the gaunt and malnourished workers of Rochdale the third was as thin and sickly as the rest of them. But there the similarities ended.

Dressed in a stained, laboratory style coat and with a hawkish, shrew like face of paper thin skin stretched over a balsawood frame was the Grand Health Chancellor, Priestess of AltMed, First Nutritionist of the State, Arch-Bishop of New Science, “Dr.” Gillian McKeith.

Existing only in the darkness, afraid to catch a beam of sunlight on her undead skin the good “Doctor” took her place on the stage next to The Lord and The Clown. Her beady judgemental eyes glowed onto the humble workers gathered before her. While the Lord continued to bask in the glory and the Clown pranced up and down the stage for that life giving attention he craved “Dr.” Gillian McKeith was skittish and uncomfortable. She played with something in the science pocket of her lab coat. Rumour had it the object that soothed her was embalmed severed finger of a noted science journalist from before The Collapse who had called her out on her lack of credentials and general quackery. As she fondled the digit an unsettling and un-human smile crept across her shrivelled face.

Jamie Oliver called on Corden to cease his antics, he was ready to speak. By now the temperamental oaf had worked up a fat man’s sweat, perspiration had soaked the comedian’s England kit to a diaphanous state and his fleshy man boobs were clear for all to see. Again, this was Corden’s intention. His glutinous figure was his best joke, some would say his only joke (although those individuals would never say that to his face lest they get a beating!)

Drinking in the (forced) adulation like a cat with a bowl of cream, Jamie Oliver took to the podium at the front of the stage.

“Dear sweet humble people of The North” he announced. “I have come here today to honour your hard work over the past year. You have sacrificed so much to help me and this good nation of ours, lost so many limbs to the infernal Chinese machines I’ve supplied you with, given up so many of the distractions of the old ways such as the Internet, new clothes, fresh water, meat and household pets and now I have come to reward you for your toil.”

Oliver paused for moment to wipe the spittle from his mouth with a £100,000 note (which due to hyperinflation was now only enough to pay a single tank of biofuel for his Bentley, or freedom from indentured servitude for a Northern family of four.)

“Y’see, since everything went to hell we’ve all suffered. Many of many restaurants had to be closed, I had to sell my house in the south of what used to be France and you’ve had to give up your beloved pets and elderly relatives for the good of the Nation. But we’re all in this together…” Oliver’s rosy cheeked and sausage meat filled face contorted into a patronising display of sympathy, the sort a Royal would give when presented to an African child during one of their official visits.

“Some of you may have thought the price was too high, the conditions in which you work too harsh. And I understand that…” (the security guards lining the front of the stage tensed upon hearing this, looking  from behind their intimidating helmets for signs of protest in the crowd.)

“…but y’see it’s all for the Greater Good. It’s to get Britain back on her feet again. I am but a humble man, I know my limits. I’m not an economist, a politician, a scientist or a messiah. I am a simple cook, I make food that in turn makes people happy and satisfied. All I ever wanted to do was to make food accessible to everyone again; to show that you can make mistakes – I do all the time – but it doesn’t matter.

(The slits in Oliver’s face where his eyes were started to well up with tears.)

“It warms the cockles of me ‘art to see all the good work we have done here. Now, after many years of hard effort against the odds I ‘ave brought this fair city back to some degree of it’s former glory and given you people the simple dignity of gainful employment again.” (Jamie’s jewel encrusted hand beckoned to the dark satanic mills which had popped up all over the city and which belched out noxious smoke from their chimneys)

“Now my exclusive range of ‘and cooked pucker grub is rolling out into the supermarkets of the South again. We ‘ave ‘ope, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can all enjoy the flavours of the times before the oil dried up. Well done Rochdale, good for you!”

Oliver paused for moment, to enjoy the round of applause being cajoled out of the workers assembled before him. These were people who had signed in blood to work in his food factories, slaving away on ready meals they could not afford for the meagre wages Jamie paid. Meals which in the absence of large quantities of meat being shipped in from abroad were partially made of household pets or the useless dregs of baby boomers who had cluttered up the streets after The Collapse and reaped the cost of a lifetime of excess and plenty during the 20th century. When the pension funds dried up and the housing market collapsed they were left on the streets, wondering why there was no more fuel to power their 4X4s and take them on Cruises round the now partially submerged sights of the world or to light up over-priced Rolling Stone concerts.

More tears trickled down Oliver’s pantomime face while the peasants wearily clapped and half heartedly whooped. The major, realising that next year’s food rations for the city might rely on how well The Lord’s speech was received goaded the crowd into putting more effort.

Meanwhile James Corden recognised his cue and waddled over to a large object at the left of the stage which was covered in black tarpaulin. Blubbery glee bubbled across his imploded face as he remembered what was under the sheets.

“Thank you, thank you. Your cheers are worth more to me than the billions I have in the bank… really, I mean that” Jamie clasped his hands to his heart to show how much he really meant that. Corden disappeared under the tarpaulin, chuckling to himself. McKeith’s cold, dead eyes stared into the unworthy bellies of the crowd and judged them for their assumed dietary sins.

The applause died down after ten minutes, Jamie Oliver was satisfied with the response his serfs had given him and wiped the last of his tears with another £100,000 note.

“So now, after you have given so much it is time for me to give back to you dear people.” Jamie pointed one of his silk wrapped trotters towards the “T” shaped object underneath the covers. Corden could be heard from within, barely able to suppress his mirth. A robotic grin arched again across the sour faced “Dr” Mckeith on the other side of the stage.

The comedian James Corden popped his head out from under the covers. “Now yeah?” he asked excitedly. Jamie gave a benevolent wink to his cohort and turned back towards the crowd.

“Children! Children are why we do this, children are why I’ve fought tooth and nail to bring the full spectrum of gastronomy back to the table. Did you know during the Collapse many kids could tell you about drugs but did not know what celery or courgettes taste like?” Jamie paused with mock horror on his blimpoid face.

As planed children were brought to the front of the crowd, their grubby little eyes alight with joy. Their little hands were ideal for filling pasta shells in Oliver’s factories but graciously they had been granted a day off work to receive a special treat from the Lord of their dystopic city. Being born after the Collapse and knowing nothing but hardship and struggle the little urchins felt their birthday and Christmases had been rolled into one.

The brass band played and the object underneath the covers fired up. It was some kind of machine which made a noise like a diesel engine. Corden was in hysterics by this point.

Oliver’s minions brought cages from a large lorry parked at the side of the Town Hall round to the stage. The children’s faces lit up with joy once they saw what was inside. Since the Collapse and the purchase of the city by Jamie Oliver’s company frivolities such as household pets were banned in Rochdale. The argument was they took much needed resources from a starving Britain (which since the fall of the global economy was unable to feed itself properly) So the youngest generation had grown up never having a puppy or kitten to play with, instead only hearing of such things from the older generations and seeing them on television with more wealthier, happy children down South.

Corden hopped out from his machine and tore the covers off, his face a ruby red of private hilarity and barely able to stand up straight with the spasms of laughter which riddled his body.

Jamie Oliver continued; “Kids, thank you for working hard to make food a joy again. For that I’ll give you..” Corden interrupted, “PUPPY CANON!”

The first cage was emptied into the top of the machine, the wee animals yelped and barked. The crowd barely had time to comprehend before the first puppy was shot out the front with the disturbing “phudd” sound smacked with a wet thud a still smiling and freckled child in the front row.

Corden turned and aimed the abominable machine to fire upon other children in the front row, his tongue licking the side of his gluttonous mouth with intent and purpose. Paralysed with horror the adults in the crowd were agog as cute furry balls of joy were launched into the crying faces of their unfortunate spawn. “Dr.” Gillian McKeith turned to scowl at the Brass Band who had stopped playing.

Keep playing you ill-fed scum, or I’ll have you colonically irrigated with chilli oil!” she barked. “I hate you, hate you, this is what you deserve you ignorant filth” she cackled. Forced to choose between losing what little livelihood they had or suffer the indignity launched upon them by the Puppy Canon most of the people of Rochdale took their humiliation with stoicism. A few broke ranks and tried to protect their children from the onslaught of airborne puppies but the security guards dealt with those accordingly and made sure there were plenty of youthful targets for a hysterical Corden to fire his obscene weapon at.

Amid the sound of children crying, puppies flying, a brass band playing and James Cordon’s demonic laughter Jamie Oliver stood proud and rich. So deluded and detached from the chaos taking place in front of him he took the tear strained faces of the kids to be expressions of joy at the gifts he was bringing them.

A Labrador puppy rebounded off a crippled child like a wet sack of meat and landed dead at his feet. Oliver wiped a tear of joy from his left eye, convinced of his own generosity and righteousness.

“Pucker,” he quietly said and sniffed a little. “Absolutely pucker.”

Like a broken record, human history repeats itself…..

10 07 2010

Norfolk in the year 2030

While I really should be getting ready to go to a BBQ I have instead been geeking out by reading about space warfare, future language and future history. Then I came across this excerpt from a book called Probapossible Prolegomena to Ideareal History by James Blish, written in 1978 which sent shivvers down my spine.

You can apply this to the current state of America, it’s effete and spineless lacky Britain, the West in general or the whole planet for apocalyptic thrills.

Civilizations may last for centuries and be extremely eventful; Imperial Rome is a prime example.

But autumn ends, and a civilization becomes a culture gone frozen in its brains and heart, and its finale is anything but grand. We are now far into what the Chinese called the period of contending states, and the collapse of Caesarism.

In such a period, politics becomes an arena of competing generals and plutocrats, under a dummy ruler chosen for low intelligence and complete moral plasticity, who amuses himself and keeps the masses distracted from their troubles with bread, circuses, and brushfire-wars. (This is the time of all times when a culture should unite — and the time when such a thing has become impossible.) Technology flourishes (the late Romans were first-class engineers) but science disintegrates into a welter of competing, grandiosely trivial hypotheses which supersede each other almost weekly and veer more and more markedly toward the occult.

Among the masses there arises a “second religiousness” in which nobody actually believes; an attempt is made to buttress this by syncretism, the wrenching out of context of religious forms from other cultures, such as the Indian, without the faintest hope of knowing what they mean. This process, too, leads inevitably towards a revival of the occult, and here science and religion overlap, to the benefit of neither. Economic inequity, instability and wretchedness become endemic on a hitherto unprecedented scale; the highest buildings ever erected by the Classical culture were the tenements of the Imperial Roman slums, crammed to bursting point with freed and runaway slaves, bankrupts, and deposed petty kings and other political refugees.

Remember this was written in 1978, one year before even I was born so it’s not a sly dig at the Idiot King George W. Bush and the rise of the NeoCons. It was also based on the works of Oswald Spengler who died before WWII and who talked of patterns of history so there is some academic study to back it up.

So yeah, based on events for the past 20-30 years it’s wise to start learning Mandarin, establish an isolated and self sufficient community to ride out The Collapse or just pretend everything is going to carry on fine and, oh look the football is on…..

The problem with Facebook and democracy…..

9 07 2010

The thing about using Facebook to ask the British public how this country should be run is that a fair percentage of Facebook users and therefore a fair percentage of the public at large are ignorant, homophobic, racist, barely sentient peasants who refuse to use a spell-checker or any kind of universally accepted grammar.
Now some may call me an elitist for saying as such and that everyone in this country deserves their say but when a citizen’s response to a question is “yur gay” or the usual “I’m not a racist but brown smelly people live near me and seem to be doing something with their lives rather than sit around all day on benefits and eating themselves to death and I want to punish them for my own failed abortion of a white trash life” then I stand up proud and say “I’m a fucking elitist”
Learn to spell, stop using bigotry as a justification for the half-arsed ideas that trickle out of your pink, heterosexual sphincter and then I’ll listen to you. There’s free speech and then there is just being a cunt.

A more civilised and British way for cannabis.

6 07 2010

Someday soon I’d like  home grown marijuana to be legalised. In this near utopia people would cultivate the weed in their back gardens or allotments then sell off their crop to suppliment their income (with the taxman taking only a reasonable amount.) People in jumpers would discuss how their crop is doing over the garden fence with their neighbours whilst smoking pipes.

I’d like to run a website where growers could sell their merchandise online and receive reviews on their product. It would help local traders, those organic people could sell their Soil Association weed to Guardian readers while a Real Ale movement for weed would be established with weed festivals alongside beer festivals where local musicians would play to a bonged out audience to a backdrop of far out visuals supplied by yours truly. You wouldn’t need police at such events, because who is going to start a fight when you’re nicely toasted with friends?

Is such a vision an appalling sign of the collapse of society or just a very British way to enjoy something which shouldn’t be illegal and which people shouldn’t be afraid of even if it’s not their cup of tea?

If you agree with me then spread the word, make the prohibition on Mary Jane so ridiculous and counter productive that those who still harp on in favour of look as reasonable as the Flat Earth Society. You can make this happen.

The Pharma-Wizard and his Apprentice-Monkey

4 07 2010

The Wizard and his Apprentice first met in a land of smiling beards, weaved magic from Lysergic Acid Diethylamide and danced like epileptic marionettes until the early sun.

But this was just the prologue, for they were to met up again some hot summers day in  Glastonbury Fayre. Amid the disposable domes and £10 gazebos two generations met to compare and contrast their knowledge and experience of the forbidden chemicals, the mysterious pharma’s that can accelerate the human soul to godhead or show the unwary the monochrome devil of the early morning come-down.

The Pharma-Wizard.His eyes having seen many things but still glinting with life, chin grizzled with half-beard but cornered with a knowing smile. He came with his wizard family in a chariot of ancient but sturdy design, built when machines were supposed to last and not designed to fail when the warranty ran out. Dressed in wizard robes and holding a book of knowledge within his polished head, he was an experienced psychonaut.  Nothing could surprise him anymore, he had sampled all the naughty treats from the forbidden tree. He was firmly in control of the situation.

The Apprentice-Monkey was like a big warm Sugar Monster. With the boundless enthusiasm of those who have yet to suffer the indignities of working life he bounced round the guide ropes and discarded sack trolleys of the fields like a hairy young teletubby. A wide beam of sunshine awakened across his face as he cheerily opened up his massive tin of narcotics, a pirates chest of inexplicably illegal goodies .

The Wizard and Apprentice looked at each other and understood what had to be done.

The friendly Spongebob Squarepants tin was held aloft in awe like the Ark of the Covenant. It contained all manner of baggies, pills, powders, rollies and crystals. Potions and spells for a journey into psychonaut Vahalla, the others in the camp stared on with a mixture of amusement and dread of what possibilities were to come.

Like two civilised Englishmen discussing a cup of tea the Wizard and his Apprentice downed the first enchantment, to be followed by a toke of that most benign of oddly illegal narcotics. Pupils dilated, jaws started to grind contentedly and the sun went down behind the hills of Glastonbury quietly muttering to its flaming self “uh-oh

The atmosphere turned to nitrous, the familiar burst of hippy crack inside tents. Like a pair of spaced out clowns the Wizard and his Apprentice inhaled from their flamboyant balloons and danced through an internal sonic landscape before landing back on Earth to a chorus of hysterical laughter underneath the gazebo of the camp.

Again, like genteel Englishmen on the far edge of reality they discussed the trip they had been on. “Well that went well didn’t it?”

“Aww man, it was like I was outside my body looking down and everything was cool!”

“Another balloon?”

Gas bags refilled, little fingers extended as if to sip earl grey from delicate china and “chin chins” all round.

The evening went on , others in the camp tried to keep up with the narco-sorcerers  but they were clearly pulling ahead into a league of their own. “Let’s go to the Stone Circle” someone suggested. Like a child who had just been told they were going to Disneyland the eyes of the Wizard lit up. The Apprentice, face as if he were chewing the largest ball of chewing gum rolled out from the gazebo like a happy teddy bear and screamed a youthful “YAY!”

They danced up to the top of the circle of stones, darting in and out of people and flames, cajoling the less enlightened in the group to follow and to keep up with their MDMA fuelled pace. For some the Stone Circle held the terrifying allure of the deep jungle during the Vietnam War. Amid the mystic ruins and primal flames lay self discovery but also unspeakable horrors. The tribal undercurrents which lay deep within all civilised 21st century humans ran strong amid the Stones, and the Wizard and the Apprentice were leading the charge into this intense dénouement of the first day of Glastonbury.

The view from the top of field was incredible, even without the accelerated consciousness which held the two in its merry dance. Hundreds of lights lay haphazardly stretched out before the group, like a organic city city of laughter, song and dance in the night.

Via magic the imaginary ball of gum in the Apprentice’s mouth came to reality but in his hair. The Apprentice marvelled at what his new found powers had done, curled a few loops of plastic goop from his long flowing locks and proceeded to chew (much to the horror and disgust of everyone else.) Tonight their pharma- kung fu was strong, thought was turning into matter. The magic of the Stone Circles had worked it’s Faustian charms again.

Wax candles were lit and the group gathered round to watch the two adventurers travel through inner space and beyond the infinate. Nearby a man in pink hotpants danced around his friends, singing songs of tits and ass. One felt this was not a normal state of affairs for him, his friends sat back and let him work out whatever he was doing by himself. He knew what he was doing and if he didn’t then it was probably best to stand back and watch.

For hours we sat, chatted about nonsense, sang songs of sexual adventure and personal shame. Strangers were invited into the circle in trusting way that outside the Superfence would be unthinkable. All the time the Wizard gurned like Alfred Steptoe and the Apprentice crafted biftas like a face chewing robot, mechanical paws a blur of skill and intent.

The crowds had thinned by the hour before sunrise; talk of nonsense had turned to deep conversations with the soul, people who hadn’t seen each other for months bonded again to make the world feel right. The group was joined by a young hippy, who was in a band and spoke of his easy going and non-materialistic view of life.

The Wizard and his Apprentice got more munted.

Just as the sun rose over the debris and detritus of the Stone Circle a delightful young couple came up to the group. By then supplies were low, maybe only a day’s worth of narcotics were left.  The couple took a drag on the bifta going round and trust was established.

“We can do a gram for £40 if you want” they offered politely. A gram would be more than enough for everyone left in the group who still felt the need. The early dawn suggested to many that a retreat to blissful slumber for a few hours to recharge for another day’s activities would be wise.

How much would I get for £350” commanded the Wizard throwing caution to the early morning wind. Somewhere beyond the Superfence was the sound of a bank account whimpering.

For that Wednesday night was only the first (but most coherent) chapter in the tale of the  Wizard and the Apprentice. After that semi legible beginning night and day blurred into one long stretch of time, traditional boundaries of hours, daylight and minutes were irrelevant in their brave new world.

They had broken through the Singularity of conventional reality. For breakfast they ate acid. For lunch were mushrooms and for dinnertime the doors of perception were thrown wide open and Charlie the Unicorn thundered out, bellowing rainbow smoke from this nostrils and singing Muse albums in a Russian accent.

By the time the rest of the group had grabbed a few hours kip, been woken by the hot sun around ten o’clock and enjoyed the first spliff or beer of the day our two heroes had shifted into a parallel reality. It was similar to our own but where the hills were a slightly different colour where sweet things tasted salty, where left was right and the moon had an incorrigible smile (while the other one was purple and the home of space nazis.)

Adrift in time and space the Wizard and his Apprentice went their separate ways. Sightings of them were passed round the camp as if they were mythical beasts or confused visitors from another world.

The Wizard was spotted in the Glade later that night, eyes sullen like he had seen through a black hole into a dimension of hell to find Sam Neil standing nude, eyeless and heckling the Wizard (all to the tune of old skool rave music from the early nineties.)

The Apprentice giggled in his tent for eight hours then became transfixed by a simple LED torch which he claimed could unify quantum mechanics with the Theory of Relativity, a feat which only the Large Hadron Collider was thought capable of.

The Wizard was allegedly spotted dancing in and out of the letters in the Glastonbury sign, dressed only in a toga and followed by a group of delirious students from the University of Hull who beat tambourines and blew vulva-horns. For an hour they had proclaimed him the new Messiah, though the Wizard was oblivious to all this, lost in a private world of mind eating imps on motorbikes made of human body parts.

The Apprentice was seen challenging a singing robot in the circus field to a duel of intellects. The game? “Cock,Muff,Bumhole.” The prize? The future domination of the planet Earth The robot won but hugged the grinning teletubby with his metal arms and promised to look after Humanity when his kind were in the ascendant.

The Wizard attempted to find the third door in the “Rabbit Hole”, an adventure playground for adults in the Park Field. To his later regret he found it and was not to re-emerge for another day (although he claimed to have spent over four days in the pocket dimension.) Asked as to what he saw he replied “the horror” and then proceeded to run around  the camp trying to find where he had left his face.

By the weekend the two had uncovered the secrets of universe, slain dragons and fire-breathing metal insects, lost the secrets of the universe and with it any sense of reality or dignity. Despite the gap between them in years they had become brothers in pharma, two warrior monks striding into the unknown with only a tin of enchantments and £350 worth of MDMA to ward off evil.

The Wizard had indeed taught his Apprentice much among the fields of Glastonbury but in return the Apprentice-Monkey had taught the elder sage much too. Despite their baffling illegality the drugs had not only broken down the barriers of perception but also the barriers between generations and souls. Totally free from the constraints of the outside world they had gone on a truly magical journey through mind and space, at the time the rest of us could only look on in wonder (and mild concern) as they rode glittering unicorns into the intoxicating Glasto night but they were better and more rounded human beings because of it.

The Wizard’s wife though, was not best pleased…….