Close up the casement, draw the blind,
Shut out that stealing moon
The darts of the sun can’t be counted upon to penetrate the covering of cloud over London and the dirt-crazed panels of the Victorian dome.
Dickies arrayed on rafters réchauff the spindrift of halcyon dreams.
Heaven’s evening chorus sweeps in waves across the arc of glass panels and cascades the sweetest harmonic chirping. Tails a-wagging. Throats a-warbling. Calling to the fledgling prisoner who scales the last steps to the top row —
‘Wither goest thou?’
A glorious body of melodic hymning to accompany the musty mellow spirit of eventide.
Flaming June in London and the Block brrrs! Bliar-colder than a new new new Labour arms sales convention.
The Great Gate drags an iron curtain from Mother Earth. Lunar winds howl to the Ones Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Happy House. A local storm is strum when tormenting phantoms scoop paper and dust to form mini-tornadoes. You’d be hard-pressed to root your feet in the face of a freak-city cyclone. Flying kites whip and wheel a dance of death in the Underworld.
Down in the belly of the Restaurant at the End of the Ones Chef simmers in a foul mood the last of the regular peasants dispensed with. He pulls round a portly frame a favourite battle-encrusted uniform — canvas riot in the manner of Jackson Pollock — and waves a ladle as a mad artist might a brush, or a conductor a baton, and dreams of salad days when he served Queen & Country in the Covert Operations Chemical Warfare Division.
Hard-baked Committeemen and the Governor gasbag twenty to the baker’s dozen in the glass room Centrepoint.
The rusty bell peels six o’clock.
A steamy stormy stage the Ones to the strutting spooks and spirits of the night.
A coating of congealed slurry to protect the concoction Coq à la Grande Surprise du Chef de la Maison [sic].
The sensitive Reader recoils from the scraping of the barrel but four political parties flavour the gristle of Life in the stewpot of Springwood Gaol. Nazis form the meatiest rump fronted by Tosa-the-Man-Mountain. Revolutionaries vie for the favour of members with bribes of capitalist tobacco. Your liberals represent the greatest danger to peace and democracy of course. But no-one has viewed the constitution of a Pissman.
Your Pissman, fusion of Pessimist and Nihilist, is firm of belief that Life is so miserable your best course lies in topping yourself as speedily as possible. But so successful has been the recruiting of members and the implementation of policy that rarely may a Pissman be found to take minutes at meetings.
MINUTES OF MEETING OF CO-OPERATIVE COMMITTEE FOR CONSULTATION, UNDERSTANDING, NEGOTIATION AND TRAINING (CCCUNT), (ENFORCED R v JAMES  46 ALL ER 664), HELD WEDNESDAY 14 JUNE 4 PM CENTREPOINT HER MAJESTY’S PRISON SPRINGWOOD.
1. MEMBERS PRESENT: GOVERNOR JAMES (GOVERNOR & COMPANY CHIEF EXECUTIVE), PROFESSOR JASON KNEES (ELECTED CHAIR).
NAZIS: TOSA-THE-MAN-MOUNTAIN (OBERGRÜPPENFUHRER), GOEBBELS, HESS, BORMANN, HIMMLER, SPEER.
REVOLUTIONARIES: GONZALEZ-THE-BASQUE-BANK-ROBBER (STUDENT EXCHANGE PROGRAMME) , RED KEN THE MAYOR (POLITICAL WING), HANS BLIX (WEAPONS QUARTERMASTER), HARRY THE HAMSTER (FREEDOM FOR RODENTS), JIMMY ‘MILKY TRAY’ BROIL (ANTI-VEGAN LEAGUE).
PISSMEN: SEE AGENDA ITEM 2.
2. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: PISSMEN.
3. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING: Not agreed as accurate record. Heated debate. One broken nose. Members insist mass starvation imminent. Motion passed for Chef and Governor to enjoy similar diet. Governor vetoes motion on grounds Chair Jason Knees fast asleep and insensible of calling for vote.
4. MATTERS ARISING:
A) FOOD: Gonzalez-the-Basque-Bank-Robber and Tosa-the-Man-Mountain exchange fire in battle-debate for who has first cutting rights of Chef, and whether Chef should be cut across right check or left cheek.
Governor James demands minutes be exorcised. Governor James demands expulsion of Chair Jason Knees on grounds Chair Jason Knees insensible to confirm date, planet or purpose of committee meeting.
Revolutionaries red-misted and demand apology in blood from Tosa-the-Man-Mountain.
Nazis and Tosa-the-Man-Mountain not swallowing any adverse motion and threaten to sulk.
Explosive debate. Complaints of snoring from Chair Jason Knees. Chair thrown. Governor James threatens dogs and Riot Squad. Governor James suggests review of week’s menus and only formal complaints be recorded:
Thursday: Chicken Stew (green); Friday: Chicken Casserole (no chicken, no casserole); Saturday: Chicken Hot-Pot (cold, no chicken, boot at bottom of pot); Sunday: Chicken Ragoût (floaty bits); Monday: Chicken Lucky Dip (unable to prise from plate); Tuesday: Chicken Chowder (movement, fur coating, and only fur coating found of nutritional value).
Governor James suggests great improvement from last meeting and proposes vote of thanks to Chef.
Revolutionaries revolt and threaten to withdraw from pot unless Governor seasons apology with full eight pints. Nazis demand equal share of blood. Subject to guillotine. Meeting splits from being over-egged when Chef pops head round door and says if members don’t come out and get their dinners soon he is shutting up shop and members can go without.
Naturally the first port of call is the filing cabinet and the golden medicine dispensed therein. The Governor embarks on the planning of an attack on the enemy by leading a pre-emptive strike on the bottle. And in two shakes of a Gerbil’s tail he windward has veered to the bottom.
The country’s most precious asset, Mad Prince Charlie, expects every man to stand in line and do his duty. Duty hanging in potting a plan so cunning it will ensure the right man comes up smelling of roses and the enemy stinks to high Heaven.
Rude rheumatic blasts easily penetrate the steel barrier. Whispering vapours rise from the damp earth and faintly suggest revolution or dark secrets. Visions invade the mind. Ghouls blow cobwebs from the dungeons of your memory and scream grievances against Life. Medieval scenes of torture play for your private pleasure. Your soul is swamped by the urge to commit evil — cacoethes — a gift from your demon below.
Gentleman’s blindfold, black frilly apron and garden trowel stuffed in a trouser pocket, rodently scampers Governor Archibald Gerbil James for the Wednesday night meeting of Springwood Lodge.
The poor people of Springwood, pitched against the rasping winds of the promising storm, constitute a public nuisance as they ignore his God-given right of way on the Queen’s crack’d pavement slabs of Lower Springwood High Street.
Every scabby specimen is probably infected with some horrible lower-caste disease like Rickets or Scabies or Berry-Berry.
And a man in the Governor’s position should never be too careful.
Humph! High time Tommy Taxpayer coughed for a car. A Roller and a Jag more in the Governor’s line of thinking. Deserved. Way overdue. Walk walk walk wasting one’s nerves.
‘Aaaargh! Monster!’ Blue eyes of wild curiosity he greets with a scowl. Which cheers him immensely. ‘Shooo!’
And passing the oasis of an off-licence he fills hipflask at the pumps with dragon-fuel.
Were it not for the claret-red sign and the creaky lantern you might easily mistake the Rat & Rabbit for any bug-standard red-brick rabbit-hutch littering the Screws’ housing estate. Never likely to feature in any Good Pub Guide. Attracting visitors uncommonly from outside the closed inbred prison fraternity.
He rolls the stairs and rocks with the bulk of business sensibly turned out in stiff bowler hat, black frilly apron and lace suspender belt.
Oh but a massively tingling thrill to the loins to witness the blackballing of a young Stag from membership of the Lodge <—> The charge pending is pinching whisky from the stocks. But the Governor has a feeling in his water, and empty bottles out back, to suggest the condemned Stag, antler horns on top and with an olive branch protruding from his bottom, is probably innocent <—>
Swaying and dribbling, Governor Gerbil James marvels the bare nipple on show, swells with pride the feather duster and body harness, and becomes gooey-eyed when the Grand-Pooh-Bear (Chief Constable) unveils a silver salver of prunes <—> which makes for a splendid spectacle and goes down a treat to the entire satisfaction of every Water Vole, Beaver, Brown Rat, Buck, Stag and Wizard concerned.
The penalty carried out according to the book, and the young Stag carried out on a hospital stretcher, like a bolt from a Colt 45 the Governor is down the stairs, round the twist and bum-splat on his favourite bar stool.
The sort of bar you will find beside a backwater seedy South-African guest-house. Lord Lucan can be found brandishing a chequered towel, and branded to the sink by gold chain and blue cuffs.
The Governor growling in the long grass, down and dirty with the dead men, and scarlet flock wallpaper and hatching in the depths of a Hero’s imagination the cunningest masterplan. He slithers a slime-trail of dribble the copper-clad bar to dangle two shots of poison beneath the noses of demon dicks Pym and Whitelaw.
Butt-cherry nose of Whitelaw explores every redolent atom: ‘Blummy, you’re a dark horse.’
‘Cost yid be the last duffer I’d expect to find fronting a drink.’
‘What? Nonsense. You hen me hest been the best o’ muckers hooo ... donkey’s years.’