Up on the pyramid stage The Kittens of Chaos, accompanied by Consuella Starcluster the tambourine virtuoso, were performing a selection of their favourite bits from ‘Prestupleniye i Nakazaniye the Musical’, in which the nihilist Raskolnikov is encouraged to get out more and is introduced to vodka and fornication by the 6th Form students of Madame Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova’s Academy for Young Kittens. Following on from the conclusion of their act the bemused audience was subjected to a poetry reading by Ginsbergbear.
“I have written a haiku,” he announced:
Cake out in the rain.
Prince Albert teapot; it nev
Er reigns, but it pours.
…and, oh so much later:
Your Mum and Dad
They muck you about
With a bottle of stout
And a pig in a poke
Like the funny old bloke
That Mummy said to call uncle
And Dad with his fags
After nocturnal shags
They’re wondering why
You’ve contracted a sty
Or forged on your bum a carbuncle
“The fault isn’t ours”
Your old pater glowers
“We had parents too
Addicted to glue
And fans of the songs of Garfuncle”
After a long and embarrassing pause there came a dramatic fanfare from the recently bruised Massed Pit Bands of Federated Nottinghamshire joined by the Brick Lane Zapatista Mariachi Walking Wounded, and Larry stepped up to the mic.
Before he could speak he was surrounded, silently, by the serene men of the Himalayas, their yak skin coats dragging on the floor. The group moved to the front of the stage, parted and revealed, to everyone’s astonishment, Mad Jack Belvoir (Bart) with his ward, the fair, and now heavily pregnant, Pricilla. Gone was the up-tight uniform of the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars, his once magnificent handlebar drooped into a bushy Zapata mustachio and he wore a loose, grubby Kurta shirt over baggy candy striped trousers. He appeared unkempt, undernourished, and yet he was fire-forged steel, tempered in the acid bath of global perambulation.
“Friends, we have all come a long way since you and I faced off against each other on the Cable Street barricade. Pricilla and I have travelled far, crossed desert and mountain, swum in turquoise seas, basked on crystal beaches, begged in shit-strewn shanties. We have studied at the feet of masters. I want to talk to you about the future. We are (most of us, I hope) groping towards an ill-defined anarchist utopia, an earnest utopia with co-ops and federations and communes and unions and autonomies and endless discussions at the Street Moot and the Factory Moot. It is a worthy utopia for born-again socialists, reformed capitalists and the recently oppressed. But remember, just a short stride across the green from the Moot Hall is the Mead Hall. The sailors and ships’ cats and corsairs and doxies, these Ranters and punks, won’t be content with such seriousness alone. There must be fun, and dancing and a little mayhem too. One day when we have our Anarchy, modified and reshaped from our earliest visions, when we have our justice and fairness, we will look out towards a new utopia, a utopia for anarchists, for men (and women and cats) who are already free, already fulfilled. With joy as of little children and unfettered imaginations we will lust for a glorious future without limits; what a vision that will be.”
As Mad Jack paused for breath Larry stepped quickly back up to the mic. He was still somewhat put out and prickly.
“Comrades. It is possible that Citizen Belvoir has a point… or two. I was about to suggest that we representatives of diverse groups, many of whom have travelled far to hammer out our differences, adjourn to the Ranters’ Moot Hall and forge a concord that would guarantee peace and prosperity for all time. It is what we had planned, why we are here. But I, for one, am having too much fun. Who cares about differences? It is a glorious day; let us celebrate our commonality. Return to the beer tent and the dance floor; strike up the Mariachi. Sod tomorrow, we are surrounded by friends.”
A great roar of approval from Captain Rotskagg Blenkinsopp caused several small children to burst into tears. There had been little in Mad Jack or Larry’s adjurations that had not rung true to the philosophy of the gaily-coloured Tamworth Ranters. They began to saunter away to continue enjoying their gala. The Scots and Corsairs however had travelled a great distance, prepared to argue forcefully for their ancient and traditional right to pillage. They had come down with the intention of arguing long and hard, winning concessions and drunkenly conceding as few privileges as possible. Were they really going to go away and just get on with each other? They hung around in small groups shrugging and mumbling.
‘Well, it sounds good enough to me,’ boomed Rotskagg. ‘Gué fatu, Camaradas? You Reivers be masters of animal husbandry, though in the past they have tended to be someone else’s animals. You will prosper. And us corsairs will find noble outlets for our seafaring bravado. Here is ale and women and I shall have exhausting of both. Vadu dal lavutana, fetch me a fiddler, I have a mind to Hornpipe. Anna, wildling, put those matches away and teach me Stripping the Willow.’