by Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley
Lionel Pervert, a stout and hardy son of the soil, surveyed his herd of two dozen cattle grazing uneasily on the slopes above the stream, his private shoal of twenty designer rainbow turbo-carp in the pond and the flock of fifty or so Long Shag sheep grazing nervously further up the hillside, and stomped deliberately over the muddy fields back to the farmhouse in his long Wellington boots, grunting with satisfaction at how well his sheep had felt and looked a few minutes before.
‘Arr...there be plenty o’ meat on them an’ their fleeces be real beautiful an’ white, an’ they be right shapely,’ he chuckled. He knew that he would be able to get a good price for them at Chippenham market the next day. Nonetheless he was not so certain that he didn’t consult his financial advisor friend ‘Big Swinging’ Dick in The Grinding Thigh ale house that night.
‘I was making 44 at 48 groats at the Swindon Cotswold Cutie Exchange just to test the market and my offer got lifted for five hundred head by some London lord in a tailcoat with some African girl as his manservant. I tried to buy back at 46 from Piers the Shears but it turns out there’s been a run on Cuties and I had to pay 47. Some shagger out there is wanting to go seriously long on Cuties and he’s making the markets very worried.’
Farmer Pervert was not sure that he understood all of this fast-talking prattle.
‘Now, I’m a simple man, meself, an’ I don’t understand all this financial gibberish, like, but it sounds to me like some bastard out there is buyin’ up sheep in a big way.’ He drew a long draught from his mug of ale and belched so loudly that all heads turned in the ale house. He then ordered another salted futtock in grimble sauce from Deirdre, the svelte barmaid, to divert their attention. But Farmer Hector, a stout and hardy son of the soil, standing in the corner of the bar, was not going to let this pass so easily. ‘Well you may belch,’ he started, nodding his head slowly and resentfully.
‘Well you may belch,’ he repeated. The others seemed to agree with this assessment.
‘Arrr...’ they said, "it’s all very well for Farmer Pervert to belch.’ It was widely acknowledged that Farmer Pervert had the best flock of Long Shag sheep on that side of Chipping Sodbury, and this was the cause of not a little ire and envy amongst the local farmers. Lionel turned again to Dick, a look of greed and cunning lighting up his eye.
‘Well, Dick, my son, if there be a buyer for sheep out there whose got to have sheep an’ doesn’t mind what he pays for ’em, then let’s let him ’ave ’em—nice an’ dear, like. I mean, like, let’s rip his fuckin’ face off.’
Dick gave Lionel a sidelong glance which seemed to indicate worry in case the latter knew more about finance than he was letting on.
At first Lionel was worried that the strange tail-coated aristocrat from London would not appear at the Chippenham market, but after twenty minutes of farmers and auctioneers shouting and animals bleating, and just when the disorderly din was settling down to the regular report of the auctioneers price calling, the alighting of a gilded carriage signalled that the aristocrat had indeed arrived. Farmer Pervert chuckled.
‘Thirty-eight groats...Thirty-eight groats...do I hear thirty-eight groats for these fine lithe-limbed little beasties?’ He turned to an outlandish farmer with red hair and a black cape.
‘Mr. Stevey at thirty-eight. Do I hear thirty-nine groats for these beautiful, rounded, soft, fleecy goddesses? Thirty-nine?’
‘Yes,’ said the London aristocrat contemptuously.
Mischievously, Farmer Pervert decided to get involved in bidding for his own fleece.
‘Oi bid forty-eight groats for these little darlin’s,’ he announced.
Farmer Pervert kept this going until they were at eighty groats a head while the other farmers looked on in disbelief. Meanwhile, someone leaned over and whispered something in the aristocrat’s ear.
‘Eighty-one,’ announced Lionel, unaware. The aristocrat’s expression changed quickly from one of disdain, nay contempt, to one of the uttermost anger and annoyance. He drew an ivory pistol from his belt and promptly dispatched two balls of lead into Farmer Pervert’s foot.
‘How dare you. How dare you, you cur! You rogue! You wretched little rustic! That will teach you to play games with the infamous lecher and so-called poet Lord Henrey! Eat lead! Feel the keen sting of my pistol’s balls! Limp away in ignominy, you charlatan!’
Farmer Pervert was too shocked to speak, but the aristocrat went on:
‘You dare try to rip the face that has sneered over a thousand inferior poetical works, that has beheld more underage Grecian beauties than you’ve had ghastly warts on your calloused hands, off!? Well think again, furrow-man, lest the wrath of the house of Brent blow thee away like the delicate autumnal tree-foil in the dreadful gales of the blustering November gods! Aye, strike thee like the pocked golf ball ’pon the St. Andrews sward well one-wooded!’
Such was the terrible majesty of Lord Henrey’s quivering visage, like unto the towering jellyfish full bent on the stinging oblivion that is its gift, that Farmer Pervert cowered submissively before him. Reaching into the saddlebags that his manservant Swordfish habitually wore round her neck, he nigh on buried Farmer Pervert in a mound of scropled groat pieces, sovereigns, guineas and silver shillings.
‘There!’ he exclaimed. ‘There’s at least eighty-two groats for each of your Long Shag here, so complain not, but thou shouldst remember, varlet, that thou shouldst think twice before taking Dan, 69th Baron Henrey of Brent to the cleaners!!’ He literally screamed the last words to the prostrate field-tiller, and then stomped off in disgust. ‘I stomp off in disgust,’ came the words of the exiting Baron above the clanking and bleating of the sheep market.
When Lionel’s foot was being treated by a witch-doctor usefully, if incongruously, placed by the Chippenham Sheep Market, he was visited by ‘Big Swinging’ Dick.
‘I went in at 45 for some Loch Lomond six month options and had to cut out at 57 when I found that Cirencester were short at 37. There was a rumour that Salisbury were trying to unload a long two-year position through the brokers, so I bought back my options on the September future.’
Lionel could make no sense of this, so just ventured the remark,
‘Looks like I got a good price for them Long Shag. This Lord from London nearly buried me in money. Trouble was, he shot my foot! Bastard!’