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Ronan's report

Friday March 21st, 2014

It had long been a comfort to the Ancient Order of the Slightly Burnt that they alone amongst the greater Orders of the Smoking Bishops of ZA had followed the doctrinal edicts issued by their forebears, whole, unchanged and unchallenged, for centuries. They had been able to pursue a ritual routine and muse on nothing very important, largely unmolested by facts, for time immemorial.

In the vast cinder block Cathedral of St Salvelinus the Charred, the cowled cathedral cenobites, perfectly aligned, perfectly spaced and rhythmically chanting the casters catechism, twice daily paced the echoing, smog dense nave at a steadily increasing speed and periodically stopped and turned to dip and bow their rods of office towards the ashen arcs of the casters covenant recorded in the intricately carved rood screen panels before the Choir of the Coughing Choristers.

Lit by the shifting smoked glass light of ancient window stainer Gasterosteus Aculeatus, the bishops sermon writers studied the gloriously illuminated "Castors Book of Clues", the "Lives of the Smoking Saints of Salmo" and "Visions of the Bulbous Dreamers" in the Scriptorium of Smuts. Here, the venerable volumes revealed ancient solutions to the great issues that blighted the sorry lives of their casting congregation which could be re-written and delivered from the Pipe Pullers Pulpit at weekends.

Sadly, whilst fallible belief had been gripped ever firmly to the soot stained surplices of these puffing piscatorial prelates, their mental equilibrium had been increasingly disturbed by the intrusion of base economics. There were too many bishops dipping in the communion bowl and the price of those aromatics required to fuel the ever burning thurribles, the pendulous censers and the belching pot mitres so beloved of their ancient orders, rose relentlessly.

Even with the lucrative branding deal struck with Mrs Bliss in the ZAPPP Ltd PR Dept that saw the great mediaeval Cathedral of St Salvelinus the Charred renamed the ZAPPP Ltd INDOOR CASTARENA, the costs steadily mounted. When maintenance charges on the concubinical coal mine refuge of St Beatrices finally overwhelmed the Slightly Burnt ZA diocese and threatened to wipe out the stipends, the Order instructed the Archbishop to close it. The angry ladies of St Beatrices, so long cruelly exploited and facing eviction from the refuges hermitic cells, threw down their short picks and shed their seam hewers knee pads and, after a brief discussion with Mrs Furtlesham in the Pink Pussycat Casting Parlour on the High Road, formed themselves into the anarcho-syndicalist therapeutic casters co-op, "Beatrixies Therapixies".

For a minimum wage, meals and board all found, they served tea and scones together, gave the Pussycat regulars casting advice and gently fomented neo-marxist revolution in the late morning sunshine.

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