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«Web Site Story», Robert Rankin

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BRENTFORD AND BEYOND

It was joy, joy, happy joy.

Happy, happy joy.

A big fat smiley sun rose up above the rooftops and beamed down its blessings onto the borough known as Brentford.

In the memorial park, the flowers awoke in their well-tended beds, yawned open their petals and grinned at the sky. Sparrows chorused in their treetop roosts, fussed at their feathers and made their plans for the day ahead. A milk float bumbled up the Baling Road and stopped before the Flying Swan. Where Mr Melchizedec, cap upon his red-faced head, placed two pints of the finest gold-top onto the well-worn step. He tousled the head of a snoozing tomcat, returned to his float upon unfashionable footwear, whistled a tune of his own composing and continued on his way.

It was good to be alive upon such a day as this and Mr Melchizedec knew it.

Others knew it too. Others who chose to stir from their cosy beds, throw wide their curtains and gaze out upon such a day.

Such a day was a Monday, the third of Rune in the year 2022. And it was a very good day indeed.

It was a very good day for at least three reasons. Firstly because the sun was shining, which always made for a very good day.

Secondly because it was the first Monday in, the month, which, under the new administration, made it a bank holiday. All first Mondays in the month were now bank holidays. And thirdly, because this was Brentford, where it is always very good to be, no matter the day or the weather.

The folk of Brentford were happy folk. They had always been happy folk. And, if left alone to be it, they would no doubt always be happy folk.

Not that being left alone was an easy thing to be. The world that lay beyond the great triangle that enclosed the borough – a triangle formed from the Great West Road, the ancient River Thames and the Grand Union Canal – had a tendency to encroach at times. Fads and fashions tried, mostly without success, to elbow their wicked ways within. The good folk of the borough were ever alert. Ever vigilant. Ever prepared to defend what was theirs. Because what was theirs, was special.

It didn't look much, Brentford. Just rows of terraced Victorian houses, a single outcrop of flat blocks, some shops and pubs and thises and thats and whatnots. It simply seemed suburbia. But it wasn't. It was more and it was special.

How special? Why special? Ah.

There was a magic here. A magic that was hard to put a name to, hard to quantify and pin down. But it was there, in the brickwork and the slates, the paving slabs and cobblestones. It slept and it dreamed, but its dreams reached out to the folk who lived there and touched their lives and made them glad.

Beyond the great triangle was another world apart. Here things moved at speeds that troubled the glad Brentonians. Here was technology and change. Ever change. And change can be a thing to fear. For change for the sake of change alone, is rarely change for the good.

So to speak.

And change in that big wide world beyond had been quite plenteous of late. And how this change had come about and what it would mean to the folk of the borough has much to do with the telling of our tale and so should best be touched upon here.

So let us touch upon it.

 

Beyond the boundaries of Brentford there now existed a world peopled by folk with sprained ankles, grazed knees and skinned elbows. Folk who walked upon strange shoes. Folk who tottered and oft-times fell. Folk who avoided high winds and low bridges. Folk who had taken to speaking a language that consisted of just forty words.

But folk who, like their Brentford cousins, were happy.

Why?

Well. It happened in this fashion. And fashion is surely the word.

For it came to pass in the year 2020, that the British voting public declared that enough was enough was enough.

Fed up with more years of government misrule and mismanagement than Black Rod could shake her ornamental stick at, Britain's voters agreed that at the forthcoming general election they would withhold their vote in a people's protest. And so they did.

The high muck-a-mucks of Westminster, caught with their well-tailored Jekylls [1] truly round their veiny ankle regions, were thrown into a state of dire confusion. There was no precedent for this sort of anarchic behaviour. There should have been a law against it. There definitely would be in the future. But as this wasn't the future, this was now, they didn't know what to do. Someone had to run the country. Someone had to be Prime Minister. Someone.


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