Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Wanted, dead or alive.

ONCE upon a time there lived a man known as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Whenever he came out of his castle to talk to the poor people he smiled and said nice things, but always had some of his servants with him to make sure the poor he saw were not too dirty and that they did not get too close.

He was a man who liked to have lots of money, so he charged his friends to eat with him and made sure he only ate with the richest people.

He decided the poor had too much money, so he taxed their food and their cheap holidays.

He thought poor people were bad, and rich people were good. So when rich people put up rents he let them, and told the poor people who could not afford to pay them they needed to all live together.

He left the very poorest people alone, so that he could have his portrait painted helping them later. But the everyday poor - those who were watching the pennies, waiting for pay day and being as good as possible so they did not lose their jobs - he decided were of no use to him.

So when each family was due a small copper penny on the birth of a new child, he very carefully gave it to them before taxing their pay to the tune of one small copper penny. He did this even if they were looking after children who were not their own and they had not been given the penny in the first place.

He let rich people keep their pennies.

He gave less money to the hospitals which looked after the poor people when they were ill, and he sacked police officers who helped the poor people when they had trouble. He gave less funding to the people who put out fires in the poor people's houses, and when he realised his private army was filled with people recruited from poor areas he sacked 20,000 of them.

He said it was all the fault of the person who was sheriff before him, and said there was no money left for unimportant things. So charities which helped poor people who were beaten by their partners, poor people who wanted to work but were disabled, poor people who were old and poor people who had lost their jobs and wanted help to find another one were all told they would have to do without.

When the poor people marched and said they wanted jobs so they could earn and pay more taxes for him, he said they were being silly.

He was mean to all the maidens, and when they were angry he told them they were frustrated and to calm down and while there were always a couple sitting behind him in public he didn't promote too many.

When the poor people were bad and disrupted his holiday he locked them up for a very, very long time. When his friends were bad he said they shouldn't have to resign and were a credit to the government and a long life of public service spent helping the poor people.

His money-collectors were heard at the castle gate calling the peasants names, seen careering through Sherwood Forest in a gold-covered coach laughing loudly while watching a comedy DVD, shooting badgers, and being called incompetent by the very nasty Sheriff of Chingford.

He did not order a public inquiry into allegations lots of rich people had been sexually abusing poor children for decades, and when all his cost-cutting of public services meant he'd have to take a smaller pension himself his toadies suggested he be paid more to make up for it.

Meanwhile the bishops who said they were men of faith and believed in peace and forgiveness and that bum sex was bad unless they were doing it made money from men who sold guns to kill people all over the world.

The one person lots of poor people thought might help them and rob from the rich to make their lives a little easier turned out, once inside the castle, to change his mind.

Then a wandering minstrel arrived in Nottingham, and was appalled at what he saw.

He said: "It's Sheriff-of-Nottingham times: 'What do the working classes eat? Pasties. Let's tax those. Where do they go on their holidays? In static caravans. We'll tax them.' I didn't notice a tax on polo mallets. I loathe Cameron; I loathe Osborne. We didn't vote them in and yet here they are deciding for us. I'd like to see their heads on spikes on Tower Bridge. Seriously. I'd sleep well."

He said: "The Catholic Church has no right to wag the finger at gay people. How can we respect a church that has encouraged paedophiles by moving them from one parish to another, free to carry on again?"

He said all the things the poor people had thought for several years, but because he was just a minstrel the sheriff laughed at him from a high window in his castle and it didn't matter a damn.

And what happened to the sheriff in the end? Well, a good man dressed all in green who had lost his home and wealth and knew what it was to be poor came along and helped the peasants to rise up. The sheriff put up WANTED posters, unaware that Robin was precisely what everyone did want.

The only problem is, he's not here yet.

 And wouldn't we be merry if he were?