September 0004



One time, I was a-brandin of a herd of steers, an I guess I must've been gettin kinda bored, 
cause I started thinkin, an I reckoned that salvation is like bein branded. I figure once you 
get saved you get a brand on you a-sayin that you belong to the lord. An that's why I called 
my ranch the Khi-Rho ranch, cause I reckon that's the brand the big boss is a-usin of, an the 
same brandin iron's good enough for me. An I reckon if any varmint tries to rustle any o the 
lord's steers, he just says “Hold it right there you no-good cowpoke, this here brand says this is 
my steer, so I'm a fillin you fuller o lead than a church roof!” An that's what I do if anyone 
tries to rustle any o mine too. 

One thing I just don't understand is what the Lord is a-wantin' of with all them sheep. Take it 
from me, sheeps is no good. I don't figure the Lord'n his deeciples were no shepherds, them boys 
was regular cowpokes, same as you an me. An'they rode round that Jordan place, I mean, can you 
imagine them boys a-walkin? They wuz a regular posse, the way I figure it, under sherrif Jesus.
They may've bin broke, but that don't mean they couldn't steal no hosses.  I figure some no-good 
shepherd took a haind a-writin' o that there holy book, an he just plumb changed it to suit himself,
an he's gonna get hisself plunged into some fiery inferno, sure as whiskey's better 'n water.

An another thaing: Why'ze the good book never talk about whiskey? Everyone knows you die of 
thirst if you ain't go no whiskey. What I reckon is that low down shepherd'd got hisself a whole 
mess o bad beer, and he was plannin ta unload it on those there multeetudes that was forever comin ta hear old man JC a-holdin' forth, an he wuz a-tryin ta cover his tracks by callin it wine an water an all manner o thaings no ones ever really a drinkin of. That there shepherd may've fooled the rest o them, but Jake here's too smart for him, that's f' sure.

Great Handymen of History

Everyone knows that Winston Churchill was a keen amateur bricklayer, and indeed built a magnificent and substantial wall around his palace, oops sorry, house at Chartwell. What many people do not know is that he was following in a long and respectable tradition of serious craftsmanship by leading political figures. Marie Anatoinette famously loved to play at being a shepherdess, but not many people realize that she was deft hand at shearing them to. On one occasion she observed that keeping King Louis firmly in his place was excellent practice for trapping a sheep between your knees and removing its hair, and was greeted by titters that were not merely sycophantic. Again, we often hear that William the Conqueror built a lot of castles, but it is not widely understood that this meant that he built large parts of them with his bare hands. If you go to the tower of London, and examine the White Tower, you will find something interesting on the third stone above the ground, 2 metres to the right of the main entrance. There is a just-visible mason’s mark on this stone, and it is believed that this mark was Williams’s personal one.  

Queen Victoria had one of the most remarkable of these part-time careers. She was actually an enthusiastic coal miner, and frequently did her shift at the Windsor Number One Drift Mine. There was nothing symbolic about her role. When the miners at the pit struck in 1874, she joined them in downing tools. It is also said that shortly after Albert’s death, she attempted to commit suicide by inhaling fire-damp, but was hauled to the surface by her ankles. It is worth remembering that when Victoria inherited the throne, there was a very strong republican movement in the UK, and her relations feared that she could shortly be deposed. Accordingly, she was trained in this useful craft in case she needed to make her own living. Here’s a picture of the Queen drawn in the main gallery of Number One Drift, by Ezekiel Hunter, the famous Victorian subterranean steel point artist.  

Over the next few months we will look at the handymanning activities of lots of other famous people, including Harold Wilson’s tripe shop, Edward Vll’s betting agency and the present Queen’s Ann Summers franchise.