In order to delete the word "And" and substitute the word "Or" in the clause of a Parliamentary Bill, the whole legislative machinery of the State, involving mace, wig, ushers, Sergeant-at-Arms, et al, was set to work this week in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.
Be-wigged and gowned, the Speaker frowned, And his frown was ill to see. "Oddsfish!" he spake, "Do I mistake? Stands 'And' where 'Or' should be? Be such the case, this land's disgrace Shall shame our House no more. Gadzooks, and by my halidame! Call members hence, so our fair name Be purged and shriven of ill-fame And 'And' give place to 'Or'!" From divers nooks, with guilty looks, The mumbling members came; With wimpering wails they gnawed their nails And slunk in snivelling shame; From party rooms, as from dank tombs, From crypt and corridor. The Speaker boomed, with beetling brow: "Yours was the sin! And, here and now, I bid ye kneel and make the vow To change yon 'And' to 'Or'!" They bore the Mace from its resting place In the dungeon 'neath the stairs; Silk-breeched, but game, the Speaker came And set the carven chairs. Then the great Black Rod, at the Speaker's nod, Waved o'er them as they swore By this and that, by book and bell, That one and all, what e'er befell Would take the vow, and keep it well; To change the "And" to "Or". Now in his place, with chastened face, The Premier rose and spoke. They harked to him in silence grim While tears they strove to choke. With tembling hand he seized that "And" And cast it thro' the door. And now, amid subdued applause, The brave upholder of our laws, Square in it splace withn the clause Enthroned the rightful "Or". Sighs of relief replaced their grief As members breathed short prayers. They bore the Mace to its resting place In the dungeon 'neath the stairs. Honor to these, our bold M.P.'s! All patrots to the core! With bated breath the tale unfold To your son's sons when you grow old. Their fame uphold ... The cost, all told, Was twelve pounds, eight and four! And we poor hacks who yield the tax Should we not be content With these whose task was to unmask That word malevolent? Alas, who knows what weary woes Might have best us sore Had not that adamantine band Upheld the honor of their land By plucking out the craft "And," And substituting "Or?"
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-05|