PARTING SHOT: The drawbridge is up and the portcullis down at Gorge Road Castle as Queenstown’s council goes into defence mode.
Where did it go so wrong?
A few years ago, a white knight arrived on his big city steed promising good times for nobles and serfs alike.
And verily, it was so.
The castle’s tax collectors put a freeze on their work and there was much rejoicing.
Inevitably there was some unpleasantness.
As the castle’s gold dried up several barons had their heads impaled on stakes - to impress upon others the price for too quickly drawing open the purse strings.
But festivals were held and the townspeople were distracted by feasting and singing.
The tax freeze allowed little piles of gold to build - which were most beauteous. But questions started to be asked.
Hast thou seen the number of carts clogging the Frankton Highway?
Why dost even a privy or outbuilding cost so much?
And, I bid you, why after years of cutting spending (and heads!) is the castle taking the begging bowl to King John so a new Abbey of Conventions can be built, overlooking the town?
What say you?
The castle’s advisers, some of the kingdom’s keenest minds, issued proclamations.
Heralds ran to the street corners clutching freshly inked parchment.
The people gathered and hung on their every word.
Let us go hither, they said, but thou shalt not leave thy cart next to the castle.
Oooh, the crowd moaned in slight shock.
Farmland will become the new homeland, the heralds proclaimed. Let he who hath paddocks do as thou wilt!
The crowd respectfully mumbled and looked at the ground. Earth was shifted with the tip of boots.
The heralds would not be deterred.
Yea! Let us repave the footpath outside the Duke of Ferg _ and pay for half! There was a slight pause.
Thwack! A soggy burger hit a herald in the cheek.
The townspeople politely disagreed, saying choice phrases such as: “Nay, methinks not.”
Pigeons fluttered to the castle, with notes such as: “Prithee, why must thou give primacy to matters of economy and development? ‘Tis most splendid to think of a shiny new Abbey, but what about providing good roads, a decent privy and plentiful water?”
The castle acted swiftly.Archers were sent to the ramparts.
And the moat was patrolled by a mysterious monster known only as “Meredith Connell”.
Now the people pray for a hero.
Partly there’s a romantic notion about someone who can speak for the people, inspire the young and make women faint.
But most of all they worry about the energetic earnestness of those seated around the castle’s Round Table.
Naysayers shout: By my troth! This worship at the altar of Progress hath robbed them of their senses!
They sagely add: even worse, they have taken leave of their humour.