The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

25 December 597

It was past closing time at the Gallows and Glockenspiel, but the morbid Anglo-Saxon slumped over the bar showed no sign of preparing for departure, or for anything else. He was a middle-aged man, clean-shaven and with his hair cropped in what he called the patrician style and Melon Head Myrtle called a burst pudding-basin. Aside from the morbid Anglo-Saxon, Melon Head Myrtle was the only customer at the bar; the others had long since become bored and drifted off into their corners.

The morbid Anglo-Saxon sat perched on a stool with his elbows on the bar and his head in his hands. Every so often one of his elbows would begin to slide and he would blink blearily and stir, and put his head back a little or perhaps shift a buttock or two; but within a few minutes he would nod and return to his accustomed posture, except when both elbows gave way and he banged the bar with his chin.

"Twenty-fifth of December, five ninety-seven. Past closing time," said Hooligan Motts, wiping around the morbid Anglo-Saxon's elbows yet again with his tired washcloth.
"Don't remind me, please," the morbid Anglo-Saxon said. "Don't keep on saying the date. It is a date that will live in infamy for as long as time is reckoned."
"I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that," said Hooligan Motts.
"Don't you know what day it is?" demanded the morbid Anglo-Saxon. "It's the twenty-fifth of December, five ninety-seven."
"And past closing time," agreed Hooligan Motts.
"It is the day," continued the morbid Anglo-Saxon, "when we give up our sovereignty, our national identity, our very history. It is the day when time itself becomes something standardised, bureaucratised and foreign. It is the day when we are forced to bow to the will of Europe, and use their reckoning instead of our own."
"I'm sure it's not the end of the world," said Hooligan Motts. He knew what the end of the world looked like, having served last orders there more than once.
"It's worse than the end of the world," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon; "it's the end of Britannia. It's the end of our identity as a nation distinct from Rome. Do you understand that? We are no longer a nation distinct from Rome."
"Of course we're still a nation distinct from Rome," consoled Melon Head Myrtle; "you can tell by the lavatories. And there's France in the way, as well."

The morbid Anglo-Saxon rotated his glass and stared morbidly into the dregs. "Not that I have anything against the idea of Rome, you understand," he said.
"Of course not," said Melon Head Myrtle, who didn't.
"Much that is good and noble in this land has come from Rome, and our security was much improved through co-operation with the Imperium. It is not too much to say that the Roman empire in its day was one of Britannia's oldest and most trusted allies."
"That's what I say," said Melon Head Myrtle. "If you're going to conquer the world, make certain you're shoulder to shoulder with the Italians."
"It was in alliance with the Imperium that our calendar was forged. We have reckoned time by that calendar for six hundred and fifty years, and it has served us well."
"But it's buggered the equinoxes or something, hasn't it?" said Melon Head Myrtle. "You can't conquer the world if your equinoxes are buggered, can you? You'd never know where you were."
"From that point of view, this new calendar is hardly better," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon. "I have heard that it will develop exactly the same anomaly in four hundred years, or even less. And all at the price of adding ten days to the year and abolishing the mensis intercalaris. It scarcely seems worth the trouble."
"I know exactly what you mean, dearie," said Melon Head Myrtle sympathetically. "The trouble I have remembering when the clocks go back, and which direction they go in when they do - make your toes curdle, it would."
"And all because Pope Gregory has a thing for little blond boys," said the morbid Anglo-Saxon. His face creased in a sneer. "Not Angles but angels, Pope Gregory said, and sent that monkish meddler Augustine over here to interfere with the rest of us."
"Nothing wrong with Popes liking boys, though," said Melon Head Myrtle. "It's only natural, after all."

The morbid Anglo-Saxon's eyeballs rolled up into his head, though whether from exasperation or inebriation it was difficult to tell, even for Melon Head Myrtle who had seen plenty of both. The elbows of the morbid Anglo-Saxon skidded outwards, beginning at a stately pace and then picking up speed as the weight of the morbid Anglo-Saxon's head bore down upon them. The morbid Anglo-Saxon's chin hit the bar again, but this time he did not raise it. More or less of their own accord, the morbid Anglo-Saxon's arms folded themselves beneath the morbid Anglo-Saxon's head, and the morbid Anglo-Saxon began to snore.

"Past closing time," said Hooligan Motts, in case anyone else might be listening.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home