On defying death, and peasants
Last week, on finding myself unable to dump a couple of old sofas in a lay-by like normal people, my brother-in-law and I were forced by irate wives to pile them into a hired van and take them to a council tip, somewhere on the Berkshire/Hampshire border.
As death-defying experiences go, we both count ourselves lucky to be alive - not juat from the horror of driving a high-sided van through Force Ten gales - but from the events which unfolded as we did our level best to kick the comfy chairs into small enough pieces to fit them into the skip. For we arrived at the same time as the man from the Surreal IRA, delivering a van-load of supposedly empty propane gas cylinders.
You would have thought they might have some specialist equipment or procedure to dispose of these things. And you would be wrong, for they have Lance.
"Lance!" shouted the boss man, from his prime scavenging position in the metal-and-electrical-goods skip, "Sort 'em out!"
And so Lance - clearly the works experience boy - in ill-fitting boiler suit and tellingly reversed baseball cap sorted 'em out.
With an axe.
In these parts, they deal with highly explosive gas cylinders by hitting them with Lance's big chopper until they are split asunder. It appears that the sole reason for this is that they hate his guts and want to kill him to death as quickly as possible, claiming the insurance, and disposing of his still smoldering body parts inside and old fridge.
We fled, crying with laughter.
On reflection, this begs the question: What is the worst, most dangerous job ever?
My recent researches have led me to conclude thussly:
a) Lance at a local rubbish tip,
b) Leader of a peasant revolt
It is not the actual revolting that is dangerous. I am pretty sure the whole rising up is a roller-coaster ride of fun, laughs and slaying your master - it is the hideous end-game when the boss's well-trained armed forces finally catch up with you, your ramshackle workers' army mysteriously disappearing back into the fields muttering "Nuffin' to do with us, knew it would end badly".
It's at times like this you realise that the Tolpuddle Martyrs actually got off lightly with transportation to the colonies. This was a new departure, and a refreshing change from the usual, where history is full of peasant leaders cooked, peeled, dismembered or simply hung out for the killer bees. Being a peasant leader is a bad thing. Just ask these guys:
* Matija Gubec: Cooked
* György Dózsa: Cooked and eaten
* Jack Cade: Dismembered
* An Gof: Head on a spike
* Jade Goody: Publicly ridiculed
Peasants - Know Your Place. And that goes for you, Goody.
I dare say you lot will tell me they were mere lightweights.
I am not mad.