‘…over the pathetic corpses of your newborn! These insufferable strikes and the economic crisis they have wrought, have forced the Government, against its will, to close Libraries, Hospitals and Old Peoples’ Homes! No longer affordable, fire-engines and ambulances have had to be offered on e-bay! This insurgency must not be allowed to continue – who are these unelected enemies of commerce, these self proclaimed assassins of Statehood? Sign up for action today – crush the subversive pandemic before it overwhelms us all!’
“I found this in the Press Tent, next to the Guinness counter.”
The gang were all gathered in Ginsbergbear’s bell tent behind the Literary Yurt, observing yet another single-sheet broadside. They were seated in campaign chairs at a green baize topped campaign table, intense sunlight through the painted fabric of the tent cast deep red stripes across the group, neglected mugs of half drunk, strong Yorkshire tea cooled and congealed. The Great Patriotic Festival was drawing smaller crowds since the strikes had begun to spread out from the East End, though the Steam Fair was still popular and Ginsbergbear’s poetry readings had a small, but faithful following.
“And it is being reproduced in all the national newspaper and on the television; I know it is Slasher again. The lefty stuff he was aiming at the workers has tailed off since the strikes began though.” Phoebles was frowning as his mind wrestled with complex and conflicting thoughts.
“Word on the street is that he was pivotal in triggering the ship’s cat strikes and has been seen in the company of several of Les Chats Souterrains.” Boz had been doing some serious investigating.
Ferdy appeared distracted, “But the Chats Souterrains are real wronguns, he can’t be in with them.” Ginsbergbear leaned over to him with a sympathetic gesture, stroking the tip of one wing.
“What’s the matter, old pal?”
“Oh, it’s nothing to do with all this. Aunty Stella is upset. No one has seen Googleberry since we left him sunbathing on the lawn and that was a couple of days ago. It’s not like him to miss meal times.”
Everyone agreed that Googleberry was not the type to get into any trouble and assured Ferdy that he would soon turn up, but the gentle dodo was not to be comforted.
“Les Chats have also been seen directing rats in the looting of the docks. There’s too much double-dealing for my liking. I can’t get my head round what’s going on,” continued Boz, returning to the problem in hand.
“I thought Les Chats Souterrains were just a fairy tale told by Les Freres Sombres. Do they really eat naughty kittens?” asked Phoebles.
Ginsbergbear sighed, “Probably not, but they are real and crave world domination. They are the pallid denizens of Agartha, the world below; and guardians of the tunnel network of the ancients.”
Strawberry was frowning. “Is Aunty Stella really worried? Googleberry’s my friend…”
“OK.” from Boz, “We need to focus. Ferdy, whiz Strawberry home in the Cierva and come straight back. Strawberry, organize search parties for Googleberry, there are enough cats back there to be thorough. But no one goes off alone and try not to lose anyone else. The rest of us are going to have to corner Slasher and ask him straight out what he’s up to. The whole situation is getting out of hand.”
“Does anyone else think contacting McGoogs might be a bit dangerous?”
Meanwhile strikes were spreading out from dockland. The Clerkenwell printers were out over the arrest of one of their own; there was a lock out at Billingsgate which was depriving the local chippies of supplies just when there was a flood of idle, hungry cats into the neighbourhood, and now there was pressure on long dormant socialists and trades’ unionists around the country to support the industrial action. For the baying Press the flying pickets were the last straw. Not that, for the most part, they did much flying. One group did have the use, where appropriate, of a Dragon Rapide loaned by a sympathetic pilot from Duxford, but mostly they were utilising a small fleet of ex- YANKEE COACH LINES INC. GAR WOOD Model EFI motor coaches, liberated from a stranded container ship in Tilbury Dock and reinforced against police truncheons.