The Tamworth Ranters’ Gala

Queen Anne's Bounty SAlmighty Cod created the universe and all that is in it. It created cats and men and tortoises. It anointed kings to enforce its laws and appointed bishops to interpret its words. And all was right with the world.

This proved very lucrative if you happened to be a bishop or a king, but was not necessarily regarded as a good thing by everyone else. Then after eons of malcontent, the English Civil War and Almost Revolution happened and the world turned upside down. The scum on top of the placid lake that was the class system within this sceptred realm lost cohesion, began to break up and loosen its grip. And out of the silt at the bottom rose up every kind of fanatical crank and loony demanding equality, emancipation, universal suffrage. Pacifists and feminists, naturists, atheists and suffragists felt empowered to speak out; compelled to cry from atop soapboxes and from the backs of carts the length and breadth of the country. Out of this turmoil emerged The Ranters. Almighty Cod, they asserted, was not an omnipotent being somewhere out there. A little piece of Cod (a piece of Cod that surpasseth all understanding) existed, in equal part, in every living thing. They reasoned, on the strength of this revelation, that no individual had more claim to represent the laws of Cod or man than any other. Every man, woman, cat or carrot had an equal right to rule, and therefore no right over others at all. Every man, woman, cat and carrot had sovereignty over its own existence and wellbeing, unfettered self-determination.

Over the intervening centuries The Tamworth Ranters came to believe that the Piece of Cod was not a thing in itself; it was a metaphor, it was the spark of Life. All living things were free and equal. They also embraced the golden rule of philosophers and prophets to do to others what they would have done to themselves, and to love one another as they loved them selves, enthusiastically and often.   They tended to throw a good party.

June had been damp and dreary. Not that this was noted to any degree by the people of Tamworth. In Tamworth June was almost always damp and dreary. However, on this festive day the sky was clear and the morning sun already warming the recreation ground, though the overnight drizzle was still puddled on the tarmac of the vehicle park, reflecting silver-cerulean against the dark grey clinker. Boz glanced back as the gang strode out across the disused landing strip. Several airships swung gently at their pylons. Lady Æthelflæda, freshly painted, was dwarfed next to the looming black vastness of Rotskagg Blenkinsopp’s brutal Queen Anne’s Bounty. The corsair’s flagship bristled with quick-fire cannon, rocket launchers and Gatlings, her canopy emblazoned with the crimson crowned skull (crowned with a papal coronet) that was the Blenkinsopp sigil. It even had a hangar and launch port for its complement of armed ornithopters.

“The pirate king’s here then,” he said to the others, “wonder who he’s brought with him.”

“I noticed Larry’s dirigible back there too,” replied Phoebles.

“I reckon we’ve missed the parade,” chipped in Ferdy, pushing his goggles up over his flying helmet. “Told you we shouldn’t have spent so long over breakfast.”   But the bird was wrong. As they reached the row of Portaloos and temporary litter trays by the road gate they could hear the trumpets and guitars of the Massed Zapatista Marching Mariachi playing La Valentina, and see the tops of wavering crimson union banners above the heads of the spectators. The annual Gala parade always drew a large crowd.


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