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'Publish & be Damned!'
'The Suppressed (& Depressed) Edition'
by John Whitbourn
‘Oh yes they will!’
‘Oh no they won't!’
‘Oh yes they will!’
‘Oh no they won't!’
I was too young and cool to appear in panto and so desisted. Let Disvan be content with contradiction. I had the written evidence. It was waved in his face.
Then temptation overwhelmed me—as it so often did.
‘Oh yes they will!’
Now I also had the final word. For once he had no reply—save to read out my coup de grâce. The Argyll clientele listened avidly. If Mr D truly had been bested then they wanted to drink it in and acquire the details to tell their grandchildren.
‘"Ash-Tree Press presents,"’ he read from the flyer, ‘"The Binscombe Tales: Sinister Saxon Stories by . . . this other Binscombe is a place rich in history, where strangers are welcome . . ."’
‘I dunno about that’ said the Landlord, who made some outsiders about as welcome as rabies in a guide-dogs' home. ‘I mean, there's strangers and strangers. There was this lawyer once, right ? Comes in here, just like a normal human and . . .’
Disvan waved him to sullen silence and pressed on.
‘". . . but not always safe. We see Mr Disvan and Binscombe life through the eyes of Mr Oakley, a newcomer whose family has long had roots there . . . "’
‘Don't look at me !’ I protested—as everyone did. ‘Nothing to do with me!’
Happily, that got Disvan's backing, thus defusing the hostility bomb.
‘No’ he told the Wicker-Man extras. ‘This is nothing to do with Mr Oakley. Apparently it's quite intelligently written.’
‘Oh, thank you!’
‘Don't mention it’ smiled Disvan, and then—sort of—softened the blow by recounting some of the high praise heaped on the book.
‘"Advance reviews of The Binscombe Tales: 'Bloody well buy it, you bastards !' Would The Times really say that? Even nowadays? 'As sleek and stylish as a supermodel's bottom': The Catholic Herald." Honestly !’
He'd really got them going now ( to quote his favourite band, The Kinks ) and was barely ahead in the outrage stakes.
‘"To be published on St George's Day". Oh will it now . . .’
‘Oh yes it will.’ I said to annoy him, retrieving the grievously scrumpled brochure and passing it round. This was where we'd come in. ‘It says so here and there's nothing you can d—’
The mid-syllable skid was caused by hearing myself boast I knew what he could and couldn't do. And I knew I didn't. Like Judge Jeffreys when his gall stones played up, Disvan was capable of anything.
Meanwhile the news was getting ever wider spread, the leaflet snatched from hand to hand.
'They're going to release it in America!' cried one. Eyes widened, barboured shoulders clenched.
‘There's a map on the front’ lamented another ( 'one's brother-in-law ). ‘To here!’
‘That'll be the end of us: tourists! PhD students!’
‘It'll all come out—Cromwell's head, the Concrete Fund, Reggie Suntan's Doomsday plan: everything!’
Disvan didn't rush to comfort them—which was a very bad sign.
‘Kindly say who is this . . . author?’ asked Mr Limbu ( former Gurkha Havildar ), silkily calm—and knowing him that boded ill.
‘Yeah, do tell’ echoed Bridget Maccabi—ditto squared.
Mr Disvan said and the lynch mob got out their me-no-understandee looks.
‘Never-'eard-of-'im’ snapped Mr Patel.
‘"Nevererdovim"?’ queried the Landlord, contentedly puzzled. ‘Weren't he a Russian shot-putter? At the last Olympics? But what's that got to do with any . . .’
‘You know what I meant’ said Patel, the irascible Immigration Officer—and then in mind-you-don't-cut-yourself crystal-clear BBC English: ‘I have never heard of him.’
‘No, nor me’ agreed the Landlord, back up to speed again and as though that settled the matter. Not to be 'heard of' was to be beyond whatever's beyond the Pale.
‘Unless . . .’ muttered Dr Bani Sadr—and stilled the hub-bub. His razor-sharp intellect was highly rated—in marked contrast to his morals.
‘Yes . . .?’ A Greek chorus from around the polished bar.
'Recall that mystery chap ? He was Whiteburgh, wasn't it? Or Whatsburn? Always sat over by the charity pile of pennies. Quiet as a mouse; unstable looking. Kept himself to himself. Drank lager . . .’
‘Oh yes,’ said the Landlord. His lip curled to quite extraordinary extent, better than the 1950's Cliff Richard. ‘I remember him.’
‘He was always scribbling in a little book’ recalled Ms Maccabi. ‘Said he was doing his accounts.’
‘A lager drinking accountant’ wondered the Landlord aloud. ‘How did he get in here?’
‘It's worse than accountancy’ said Mr Disvan in deadly earnest—and that raised some eyebrows. ‘It's publicity!’
‘No publicity is bad publicity!’ I quipped—and there's nothing sadder than the humiliation of an entire room passing over your comment in pity.
‘I know the man’ Disvan pressed on, as though someone hadn't just courted social suicide. ‘Should be ashamed of himself . The Whitbourns are old blood: the oldest—and coldest too, as it turns out. Good job he left for that military attaché job at the Cornish Embassy: otherwise . . . Wait till I see his mum!’
To thine own self be true. I've always had defective brakes—that is my trouble. In the City or in bed—or indeed, in The Duke of Argyll—the red lights installed by society for our safety seem invisible to me. Likewise, whether raiding vulnerable Third-World currencies or mounting the boss's wife at the office Christmas party, I can't help but burst that Biblical 'triple tied cord' of family, church and country which seems to keep the majority within bounds. So I said some more.
‘Does it really matter? I mean, so what? This bloke sits in the corner for years, eavesdropping; taking notes, and now he's turned Judas. Well, big deal ! No one will believe him anyway. Let this Gnash-Tree bunch . . .’
‘Ash, Mr Oakley. Ash.’
‘Whoever. Let them publish. Relax ! Stop being so English. Loosen up. Go with the flow!’
I blessed the Landlord for injecting words into the horrible silence that followed—even his kind of words.
‘I went out with a girl called Flo once’ he told us—though our indifference knew no bounds. ‘And my oath, she was a goer . . .!’
Lottie the landlady, who he'd momentarily forgotten, clipped his ear.
Also and unhappily, the great script writer in the sky chose that moment for someone to audibly flush the pub loo. I was getting all the wrong 'flow' references.
‘That'll serve as better comment than any I could make’ said Disvan, regarding me with genuine compassion. Now, whilst Mr Oakley makes amends and gets some drinks in, I'll just sabotage this book. . . .’
* * * * *
I feared and hated Mr Disvan’s 'quiet smiles of satisfaction' more than I did redundancy notices and letters from clinics. They always attended his modest pleasure at 23–0 victories over my world view.
For the umpteenth time and by popular demand, the Landlord crowed aloud from the 'Ash-Tree Update':
‘"We regret that due to printing problems the projected Binscombe Tales volume has been postponed until further notice . . ."’
I—silently—deplored the applause and the free drinks which flowed like . . . well, drinks. They and the news earned only a pout from me. Though I now kept it to myself, I'd been rather looking forward to seeing my adventures in print. I felt confident that my constant moral victories over Binscombe's pre-Enlightenment values would be faithfully depicted, my dogged defence of the modern world vindicated. The author, plainly a sympathetic soul and fellow rebel against Binscombe mores, would surely skip over the occasional minor embarrassments. . . .
Also, truth be told, the notion of casually dropping the tome in some desirable lap had more than once entertained my commuting hours. 'Hey, baby; read the advertisement'. Then: 'come to Oakley . . .'
‘I expect you're relieved’ said Disvan, handing me a Babycham I hadn't ordered. ‘Imagine if it had come out about when you tried it on with Linda Disch!’ 
‘Yeah,’ laughed Mr Patel, ‘first time I've ever seen a fawn suit go dark with sweat.’
‘Or that time you wore make-up and wrote poetry . . .’
‘Bloody grim poetry’ said the Landlord—as if he were any kind of perceptive critic.
‘. . . and hit Mr Bretwalda’ continued Mr Disvan.
‘And he didn't notice !’  chortled Dr Bani-Sadr.
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah; all right, all right.’ There had been trifling incidents, I freely admitted. I just didn't want them broadcast round the tribal campfire unto the fifth generation—and particularly that last little slip. The Bretwaldas—all built like King Kong and about as forgiving—were in tonight.
I released one of my to-understand-all-is-to-forgive-all sighs, a magnanimous concession that usually appeased the barbarians—for a spell. The chanting of some less flattering sections of my c.v. ceased. I took advantage of the conversational lapse.
‘So, Mr D. Why? No, no, forget that: that one always leads to tears—of frustration, mostly. Try how? How did you?
‘Oh, easy’ he replied, amplified by a it-was-nothing shrug of the shoulders. ‘No subtle or arcane forces, I assure you. Just the good old '52-card shuffle' of the proofs on the floor immediately before printing. Then a distracted page checker: that sort of thing. Effective, untraceable, 'accidental': just like the best assassinations—or so Reggie Suntan  tells me. Anyway, it worked. You can't sell a book with transposed pages, can you? They had to pulp the lot.’
I felt sorry for the poor, put-out, Asphalt-Tree people. It was so unfair. I cloaked my outrage in pointless questions—just to inconvenience him and see how he liked it.
‘How did you arrange it ? Who do you know in Canada ? Have they got the Mafia out there?’
Disvan looked offended—which was a small—well, petty, actually—result.
‘Certainly not. And if they did I wouldn't . . . No, we've good friends out in Free North America. I—I mean we—did favours for them after the war . . .’
By now I was attuned to such things: in Binscombe that wasn't necessarily a plain statement.
I interrupted. ‘Which war?’
It put him on the spot. Disvan wouldn't downright lie—not to blood families anyway.
‘Oh . . . um . . .’ he huffed, colouring up. He didn't like being caught out in acts of kindness or holding knowledge he'd no business to. ‘Well, not the last one. A long while back. The colonists rebelled or something. Loyalist English moved north.’
‘50,000 of ’em’ expanded the Landlord, whose random, unsolicited, historical wisdom often disturbed me. ‘The Americans stole their property, leaving just the clothes on their backs, poor devils. It seemed only brotherly to help.’
‘Yes, yes’ Disvan curtailed him: taking his turn to be the urgent abortionist of discourse. ‘Anyway: there's still people out there with honour and long memories. I'd refer you to what that Welsh friend of yours wisely said, Mr Oakley.’
‘Just before he was sick over my doorstep’ growled Lottie.
‘And ripped my skirt’ added Ms Maccabi.
‘Professor Griffiths?’  I hazarded, warily. ‘He was under a lot of stress at the time . . .’
‘"Under stress"?’ queried Bridget, a stickler for accuracy, however untimely. ‘More interested in getting me under him, I reckon . . .’
‘He said,’ Disvan gamely persisted, ‘"when debts of honour are forgotten, then we are all diminished and ever after the stars shine less bright."’
‘Commie windbag’ commented Mr Patel, in bile-ish tones. His lovely daughter, Lucretia, had gone awol with the visiting professor ( 'mushroom picking' ) and returned all shiny-eyed.
‘Well, I thought it was an admirable sentiment’ answered Disvan—and then spoilt it. ‘For a Celt.’
‘So then,’ exulted the Landlord, throttling the top off another bottle of champagne ( Hascombe 'elderflower champagne' )—which always cheered him (and his profits) up, ‘that's the end of that.’
‘Amen’ chorused the Binscomites and raised their glasses high.
I kissed literary immortality goodbye.
Disvan brow was furrowed—and not just at Patel's profanities. He handed the print-out back to the Reverend Jagger, our appointed Internet spy.
‘I'd no idea colonials could be so dogged’ he lamented.
I snatched at both paper and joy, to read it again: aloud.
‘"Ash-Tree proudly present 'The Binscombe Tales'— a first edition that's a second printing! Undeterred and only a little late, we can again offer entry to the world of Binscombe— a place rich in history, where strangers are welcome . . ."’
‘"But not always safe"’ recited Mr Bretwalda, lumpenly. ‘Well, they bloody well wouldn't be if they show their faces in here, I tell you!
He was volcanic at the best of times, but also had a lot to lose. If news got out about 'The Binscombe Scholarship' and a certain chatty—and deceased—severed head, bang went Vladimir Bretwalda's precarious place at Cambridge. 
Mr Disvan mused over his untouched Guinness.
‘They're persistent: I'll give them that.’
It seemed a tribute but his already sharp profile had hardened. My backbone ( which I do own, whatever Bretwalda says ) chilled. There was more. There always was in Binscombe.
‘And I'll give them something else as well . . .' he added—like some hanging judge
I'd no idea what it might be but could be confident I wouldn't like it. It'd be the sort of thing that involved Interpol and not getting into heaven—not that I believed in either you understand, but on the 'just in case' principle . . .
The field mouse squeaked its protest before the combine harvester.
‘But . . . but . . . but . . .’ I said. The best I could muster at short notice.
‘But me no buts, Mr Oakley’ quashing my timid litany. ‘This is Guy Fawkes time . . .’
I puzzled. ‘November the fifth? Bonfire Night? No it's not—that's miles off.’
Mr Disvan was patient with me—and I was grateful for that. The rest of the faces in the bar had suddenly became thinner, less familial.
‘My reference is to the great English patriot—and should-be saint, by the way. I speak of his famous words to King James I.’
‘What?’ queried the Landlord, concerned at finding himself adrift, ‘"I wished to blow you and all you Scottish beggars back to your mountains" ?’
‘No, not that one’ answered Disvan, although plainly pleased to hear it spoken. ‘I mean what he said when asked about his methods.’
‘Oh, yeah’ roared the Landlord, glad to be back on track, delving yet again into his incongruous larder of erudition. ‘That one !’ He fixed me with a basilisk stare, enjoying every second.
‘"Desperate situations,"’ I was told—and one by one the regulars chimed in, turning it into a tribal hymn ‘"merit desperate remedies."’
I'd wrestled with my conscience (after locating its hiding place) and was resolved. If they proposed anything in the bomb line then I was reporting them to the authorities. I would actually grass—and so cast myself and all my descendants till Doomsday into the outer darkness.
Happily there was no need. I drew from my repertoire of bird impressions and watched them like a hawk. A letter was posted to Ash-Tree but a slim one, incapable of holding anything more lethal than a stiff letter.
Imagine my surprise then when Disvan freely admitted its rigidity arose from an enclosed cheque. My jaw hit the knot of my silk tie. It was not in their nature to pay Dane-Geld —or so he'd always maintained. The lessons of King Alfred the Great and Rudyard Kipling  were supposedly well absorbed over the last millennia. And what allowed them to assume the Slash-Tree people could be bought off ? I had doubts and let them out to play.
They ought to have stayed safe at home in my head, thus saving a grin-fest at my expense. It transpired the only thing being bought was a copy of the book. That envelope-of-much-concern contained only an innocent order-form.
It got prompt reply. Next Saturday lunchtime in the Argyll, Mr Disvan dragged the bound volume from its jiffy-bag and held the thing aloft.
Everyone else in the bar seemed to be treating it with excess caution, so I saw opportunity to salvage some bravado points.
‘Let's have a butcher's  then.’
For once, Disvan forgot to feign ignorance of Mockney. I should have been warned, I really ought to have guessed. He let me have it—in more ways than one.
‘Ah, nice cover’ I mused. ‘Green binding—very ethnic. Looks good.’
I waved it at them. They shied back. I worried.
‘I expect you wonder what all the fuss was about now, eh?’
They didn't look terribly reconciled or relaxed. The book and I were the focus of all attention. Sometimes I like that. There were memories of scoring the winning runs at prep school—and also the incident with matron ( but that's another story ). Right now I was less enamoured.
‘Let me have a read over lunch,’ I said, hoping that would fend them off. Eating was one of those times when Binscombe lore respected a wish for privacy and my ordered Argyll 'turbo-curry + poppadums' was on its way. ‘Then I'll let you know what I think.’
They seemed agreeable and turned away to their darts and tall-tales and whatever else it was they did when I wasn't watching. Right on time and convenient, Lottie the landlady turned up with the piping plateful.
‘Um . . . what's this?’
Lottie smiled. Part of her life destiny, her 'wyrd' as Disvan called it, was the 'feeding-up' of people deemed in need of it. She couldn't abide 'skin and bones'.
‘Venison curry, my love. Fresh in, courtesy of Reverend Jagger's gun. Eat it up: do you good.’
‘Um . . . right. Only, um . . . I really wanted vegetarian, you see . . .’
‘That's okay, sweetness’ she 'answered'. ‘Deer are vegetarian.’
I . . . couldn't answer that. And I was hungry: not just for the poor deer lately poached off Binscombe Ridge but also references to myself in the pristine volume. I revel in reading about myself and hadn't had much chance since my old school's sports reports. The growls of my stomach and vanity combined to drown out ethics. 'Grub first, then morals' as Berthold Brecht said ( and lived ).
Propping the book up before my meal I tucked into both.
'Binscombe Tales—Sinister Saxon stories by . . . Contents: page xi "Introscript" . . .’
For a second I had the overwhelming urge to take a walk or a woman—or anything. And then I took a little holiday from the world.
‘Funny how curry burns and stains, isn't it?’
Mr Disvan meant both funny strange and funny ha-ha. I failed to appreciate either.
‘There, that's got most off’ said Lottie, wielding the last of a whole pack of 'moisty lemon wipes—for those sticky moments' over my face and front and hair. Her voice lacked all conviction. Expert maternal hands fingered my suit lapels. ‘It might come out—with a few dry-cleans . . .’
‘Your fringe has gone two-tone though’ said the landlord, observing me like a side-dish he'd didn't recall ordering. ‘I don't know whether to suggest dyeing the rest red or that bit natural mousy . . .’
They'd left me face-first in my curry for far longer than necessary: I was convinced of it. Did they really think I ate like that—however famished ? Even starving men don't try to get nourishment by osmosis.
‘What . . .?’ I spluttered—and everything tasted of revisited dead deer.
‘We believe in freedom of speech’ said Mr Disvan, answering a question I hadn't posed. ‘It's a right and triumph dear—no pun intended, Mr O—bought. People from here gave blood to see it won.’
We'd been through this before: the role of Binscomites in the struggles for Liberty, from Cromwell to the Falklands. I just couldn't see the relevance to my recent guillotine-descending coma. My curried face conveyed that.
‘And so,’ Disvan continued, in his bear-with-me-I'm-getting-somewhere-with-this mode, ‘Ash-Tree can print anything they like and good luck to ’em.’
‘They'll need it!’ rumbled Mr Bretwalda. Even his laughter sounded like death threats.
Disvan evidently agreed but wouldn't phrase it that crudely. He hid his hesitation in a sip of black beer.
‘Like I say, Mr Oakley, they can print what they like but they can't make it read. "You can drag a horse to water . . ." and all that. Post-composition interference isn't so wicked . . .’
‘How . . .?’
First 'what', now 'how'; I was progressing up the evolutionary chain of interrogatives.
‘Doubtless you know of Leech, Bore & Co. ?’ Disvan seemed to say the words speedily.
‘No. Should I?’
‘Perhaps not, on reflection: they're hardly the most flamboyant of locals. An accountancy firm, Mr O, up the road in Goldenford; been there donkey's years.’
‘If you say so.’ Actually, the name did now—dimly—call to mind a brass plate beside an office block—and grey-suited, slope-shouldered, men and women traversing its portals.
‘They handle my accounts’ volunteered the Landlord. ‘Ever since I arrived. And the man before me and the one afore him I expect. Very efficient: shave tax off like mad axemen, they do—but dull, very dull. "Do my books" I says to 'em "but, please, no conversation . . ."’
‘Me likewise’ agreed Disvan. ‘Collectively, we've put a lot of money their way over the years—and covered up a few dry scandals. They owed us a favour.’
‘Really ?’ The idea was to inch towards that prince of questions: 'why', meanwhile keeping it staccato to deny Disvan's grappling hooks of prevarication any purchase. Also, every syllable was stale curry tinged. I had powerful incitements to brevity.
‘Books need paper, Mr Oakley’ replied Dr Bani-Sadr, stating the obvious—which was suspiciously unlike him. ‘Without it they're just electronic dreams in a word processor.’
‘And likewise, accounts need paper,’ added Disvan, ‘if they're to spring into life.’ He re-considered and repented his words. ‘Not that they really can, you understand; they more sort of march at a sensible pace rather than stroll or dance, but you get my drift: you see the connection?’
‘Nope!’ I was damned if I was going to use my intellect and make things easier for them: not after they'd curried me.
‘Paper, Mr Oakley. Paper. Leach Bore & Co. carry a heavy stock: "just to be on the safe side" as one partner told me. It's there piled up in their basement: great pale mountains of the stuff. And, of course, you know what people are like—even accountants. They take the easy way every time: the top pack from the pile. Some of the stuff at the bottom has been there since the fifties!’
‘Picking up the vibes’ grimaced Mr Patel.
‘Absorbing decades of their office atmosphere into its pores’ expanded Bridget Maccabi.
‘Deadly stuff’ summed Sigismund Maxted, the bookie. ‘I went to help fetch it and caught a whiff. Couldn't shake off dreadful lethargy for days—the world went banal.’
‘It was easy to place it with Ash-Tree's printers. Their management never knew.’
‘Friends . . .’ I snapped and supposed. ‘People in place . . .’
Mr Disvan couldn't or wouldn't perceive my disenchantment. He was still rapt, describing the glory of it all.
‘S'right’ came confirmation. ‘We're myriad: legion even—like the stars of the sky: a debt here, a descendant there. Wherever England went Binscombe rode tandem. I tell you, Mr O, we're human Plantain-herb: "Waybroad" or "English Man's Foot" as the Indians call it out there. Just like that herb our seed spreads stuck to history's boots!’
I saw it more prosaically.
‘What you mean is you've more corrupt contacts than the Masons!’
Courteous as always, he declined to press the point on an unwilling public. There was a verse from his precious Koran he generally chucked at me when we reached that stage. For once I was spared it.
‘Anyhow,’ he continued, ‘the deed was done and here we have it.’
He handed the book to me but I shrank away.
Disvan nodded sagely. ‘That'll be the usual reaction amongst the more sensitive or once-bitten. The aura will deter them. Stronger souls might penetrate a few pages in but we'll still be safe. I reckon some'll just rave and praise it to the skies rather than read it. Doesn't matter. We can live with good reviews. Readers will be lead-eyed or compelled to do something else long before they've learnt anything of us. It's only the hard-core persistent who'll be stunned to sleep. I just hope they'll be in company—to rouse 'em after. I mean, what if there's a solitary type and he flakes out direct into his soup . . .? Well, it doesn't bear thinking about. Heaven knows, we don't want fatalities but . . .’
‘"Desperate situations,"’ I recited, ‘"merit desperate remedies."’
Disvan beamed upon me: a slacker who'd learnt to sing the company song.‘Exactly, Mr O. We're all of us driven by necessity—and she can be a harsh old boss. I reckon it's enough just to try and not harm too many people, don't you?’
I damned well didn't. I also didn't want him to win. I'd really looked forward to reading about my exploits and victories over Binscombe life. Now I'd never know—and nor would anyone else. If I dropped it in some girl's lap she'd just nod off—which had possibilities of its own, granted—but was way off my hopes and plans. I rebelled. I wouldn't have it. Or her.
‘There'll be some who'll finish; you see. You rate people too low.’
Again Disvan swerved the feeble thrust. The prospect failed to daunt him.
‘Doubtless’ he agreed with me—the swine. ‘Though it'll take high intellect and indomitable will. Those who glimpse "The End" will have to be titans of the imagination. How far did you get by the way?’
‘There you are then. My point exactly.’
I clenched my curry-coloured teeth.
‘Yes, thank you so much.’
That supplied the iron-in the-soul to still try and blow out the candles on his cake before he got to them. A mean-spirited impulse I admit—but I was getting to believe that was the way the world was.
‘They'll arrive’ I tried to crow, ‘you mark my words. ‘Your cover's blown. There'll be those who can read and learn!’
‘Good.’ he said—and again floored me. The trouble with these bouts was the lack of a referee to stop the unequal punishment; no Marquis of Queensbury to enforce some humane rules.
‘Think about it, Mr Oakley. There's some we don't mind knowing . . .’
I put down my drink. It tasted of you-know-what anyway.
‘'Don't you ?’ At long last I got there and posed the ultimate question, even if only in negative form. ‘Why not?’
‘I've got just one word for you, Mr Oakley’ said Disvan, and raised his glass to me in mockery or triumph. "Recruits!"
 For which dangerous liaison and seduction scene, see Binscombe Tale #18: 'Hello Dolly'.
 See Binscombe Tale #25: 'I Could a Tale Unfold . . .'
 A Binscombe expatriate, gun-runner, folk-philosopher, and bon vivant encountered in Binscombe Tale #8: 'Reggie Suntan'.
 For the wisdom of which 'Classicist, Celtic-Marxist, and bon-viveur' (and patron of the Binscombe Tales) see his gracious Introduction to Binscombe Tales: Sinister Saxon Stories (Ash-Tree Press, 1998).
 For which see the shocking—shocking—revelations of Binscombe Tale #14: 'No Truce With Kings'.
 Tax levied by some Old-English kings to provide protection money against Viking invaders.
 'We never pay any-one Dane Geld / No matter how trifling the cost, / For the end of the game is oppression and shame, / and the nation that plays it is lost!' — 'Dane Geld', 1911.
 'Butchers hook' = 'look'. City financiers employ Cockney and its 'rhyming slang' as their demotic, tribal, language. Hence 'Mockney'.
 Sura 109 'Al Kafirun'—‘The Unbelievers'. 'You have your own religion, and I have mine.'
© John Whitbourn and Ash-Tree Press 2003
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