Friday, 15 July 2016

The Bishop and the Green Dragon

From the diary of the Rev. Standish, Junior Chaplain to the 1st Loyal Ludlow Infantry Battalion, Ludlow Expeditionary Force (bivouacked somewhere around Brimfield):

"God be praised! The Bishop of Hereford is alive and safe - but only just! Reports confirm that he was being detained in the "Green Dragon" Hotel in Broad Street as recently as last week : the only news we have had of him since the Battle of Foy, the very first engagement of the Expeditionary Force in the VBCW.

And the manner in which this information came to light! But for an attempt to murder the Bishop himself, we should never have known! It appears that Lord de Braose had the Bishop under lock and key within the "Green Dragon", two burly guards at attention on the door, the corridor leading to his room covered by a fixed machine gun and crew, Broad Street and the grounds of the Hotel crawling with BUF undercover men. They couldn't afford to let the Bishop escape, and were taking no chances. And yet amidst all this tight security, Royalist Radio is suggesting that an unnamed fanatic - a "crazed anarchist" escapee from Burghill Asylum - somehow "broke into" the Bishop's room and "lunged" at the Bishop "with a kitchen knife" - before being wrestled to the ground by the Royalist guard. Poppycock! The only people who could have got through that kind of security without the alarm being raised (or being riddled by machine gun bullets) were none other than the senior Royalist officers in charge  - and who more senior than de Braose himself?

The Green Dragon Hotel, Broad Street.
Scene of the attack on the Bishop of Hereford.

I have the true story from the EIS Liaison Officer here with the Battalion. It appears that de Braose, driven to distraction by "L'Affaire Mustard", visited the Bishop in his hotel room, accompanied by Lord Grover, with the demand that the Bishop pronounce an immediate annulment of the marriage. There were no grounds for such an annulment demand, of course; not even a proposal that an Ecclesiastical Court be convened to consider the issue.

The Bishop refused. Seeing no way out of his political dilemma, de Braose lost both his reason and temper, and immediately attacked the Bishop with his ceremonial BUF dagger! Papers scattering, a chair overturned and broken, glassed smashed - the Bishop put up his best defence before intervention by none other than Lord Grover himself, who pulled de Braose roughly away, shouting that he'd never agreed to murder!

All this explains, of course, de Braose's comical media strategy, the subsequent denial of his own marriage, and the disappearance of those poor little de Braose boys. And the cover up - why, the cover up tied up a few loose ends. Someone had attacked the Bishop, obviously. But it couldn't be de Braose himself. Why not place the blame on an unnamed "anarchist", then - and have Sergeant Ellis play the role? The general factotum in charge of the de Braose boys at the time of their disappearance, and the man who knew de Braose's most guilty secret? No trial of course, no opportunity to tell his story, or even prove his actual identity - just off to Burghill Asylum with him!

"I'm Ellis! I'm no anarchist!!" yelled de Braose's batman as was being hauled away by the BUF."Call me bad - but I'm not mad! I'm just a patsy!" It is most unlikely that anyone shall see any more of him - at least, not until the LEF take Burghill itself - deo volente - and release all the political prisoners de Braose has stashed away there...

Hereford City and County Lunatic Asyltum, Burghill.
De Braose's holding area for "special" political prisoners.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Breaking News - That De Braose Statement in Full !

Lord De Braose, appointed "Lord Warden of the Marches" by Edward VIII at the outbreak of the VBCW, and nominally leader of the Royalist Forces in Herefordshire, had not been seen in public since the start of "L'Affaire Mustard" (cf. "Le Figaro"), otherwise known as "Mustardgate" (cf. "The Washington Post"). To the general astonishment of all, and much hilarity (at least initially) across Herefordshire, he recently broke his silence. The "Ludlow Leader", as ever, was first with the story:






In a tear stained - and whisky sodden - written statement delivered to the international Press from the steps of the Shire Hall last night, the Lord Warden of the Marches sensationally broke his silence upon the story that has gripped the County in recent days. As yet further scandalous photographs of an under-dressed Lady Cynthia Da Braose canoodling with the late Colonel "Sir Pat" Mustard circulated amongst the populace, Lord Da Braose delivered these supposedly magisterial words:

"What utter rot! It just goes to show how desperate these fellows are, to cast aspersion on a man's wife - especially when that man is not actually married! Silly b*s..."

With a stumble and erratic sweep of the arm (which may or may not have been an attempt at a Fascist salute), Lord de Braose thus delivered his first fusillade in a desperate attempt (aka "media strategy") not to divorce Lady Cynthia in the wake of the scandal, but to re-write and deny his entire marital history. Following her own flight to Paris, Lady Cynthia is rumoured to be authoring her rebuttal of Lord Braose's bizarre statement (provisionally entitled "The Wife who Never Was!").

Lord de Braose's statement was preceded by a new wave of arrests and "disappearances" within the occupied City of Hereford. Mr Wilkins, the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, was removed from his office in the course of the same afternoon by armed men - who conspicuously refused to identify themselves - together with all his relevant records. Neither have been seen since. BUF Stormtroopers threw a cordon around the Public Library in Broad Street ("official - closed until further notice") as others marched on the offices of the "Hereford Times" to seize both its presses and archive ("by order - all the news that isn't going to be printed"). Only one resident escaped the general sweep - Mrs Miggins, society confectioner of 17, Church Street and provider of the de Braose wedding cake. In a hair raising tale of derring do and a triumph for the Ecclesiastical Intelligence Service, Mrs Miggins was successfully spirited away from Herefordshire and into exile within the calm and peaceful episcopal enclave of Ludlow.

Oppression in "Royalist" Hereford. BUF Stormtroopers with billy clubs undertake De Braose's bidding.
But the truth is already out!
Such arrests and "disappearances" have been, sadly, an all too common feature of Hereford life since the start of the VBCW. Few, however, considered that de Braose would apply the same foul tactics to his own sons. Suddenly de-legitimised by the de Braose statement and a constant reminder of their own father's bizarre campaign of public untruths, neither little Horatio de Braose, nor his sweet natured brother Rodney, have been seen since the afternoon of the wave of arrests. 

Castle Green, with the River Wye in the background. It was here that Horatio and Rodney de Braose were last seen, in the charge of de Braose's batman and general factotum, Sgt. Ellis.
Hereford itself is awash with rumours as to the boy's fate. Some say they have been consigned to an as yet unidentified "Tower". Others claim to have seen both boys, pale faced and tousle haired, in the back of a BUF truck heading for Herefordshire Racecourse. Yet more fear the very worst, as the huge chalk letters on the side of the Shire Hall the following morning attested :