Maggie & Raymond Look At The Year Ahead

Great Britain


We have two guest columnists today: Raymond Kirkpatrick is a colleague of Arthur Bryant’s. The bear-like heavy metal-loving Professor of English is currently working at the British Library. Maggie Armitage is a Grand Order Grade IV White Witch of the Coven of St. James the Elder in London’s Kentish Town. In retrospect it was probably not a good idea to invite them to give predictions.

RAYMOND: Blimey, I’m the wrong bloke to ask about the coming year. In my basement at the British Library it’s still 1752, but I do have to stick my head out into the rain occasionally to buy a prawn sarnie. One thing’s bloody obvious for 2016; there’ll be more of everything. More economic woes, more destruction of the NHS, more slagging off Europe, more youthful disillusionment and more general misery. I like 1752. If we’d had the internet back then people would have spent their days running searches for Bill Shakepeare’s missing scripts, not Justin Bieber’s dick.

MAGGIE: I suppose London house prices will continue to rise.

RAYMOND: I read that a pair of knocked-through biscuit tins in Dalston sold to a pair of Russian mice for £750,000. I’m considering renting out the space under my sink to Italian students. London is now more expensive than living on Saturn.

MAGGIE: I bought my house in Highbury 35 years ago for £2,000. I wonder what it’s worth now?

RAYMOND: Ooh, about £2,150 I should think. It’d be worth more if you didn’t keep flooding the basement. Your gaff is subsiding, Maggie. There’s only the wallpaper holding it up.

MAGGIE: It is rather full of leftover spells. You can’t open the toilet door without getting spirit cleanser all over you, and it’s impossible to get out of wool. I see great conflict ahead in the coming year.

RAYMOND: For you, maybe, especially if you keep trying to score free bus trips by guessing the conductor’s birth sign. ‘Best out of three’ doesn’t count.

MAGGIE: I see great ideological conflict, more terrorism, more refugees fleeing repressive regimes. We must welcome everyone to London.

RAYMOND: I draw the line at the French. And Boris bloody Johnson. I suppose he’ll continue to treat London like his sandpit in the coming year.

MAGGIE: You mean digging it all up?

RAYMOND: No, randomly sticking pig-ugly tower blocks all over it. You think it’s bad now? Wait until you see what he’s got planned.

MAGGIE: He’s a Gemini.

RAYMOND: Like Dr Jekyll, except in his case we’ve two Mr Hydes. As Homer pointed out, being able to spout Latin doesn’t make you smart. Wren was good for London. So was Dickens. They didn’t get stuck on a zip-wire waving plastic union jacks.

MAGGIE: I don’t think we’re addressing London’s year ahead, Raymond.

RAYMOND: Oh sorry, the predominant feature of the year ahead? Charging more. I imagine the mayor will start charging people to walk along the sodding streets before privatising the Thames and putting £10 entry turnstiles on all park gates. He already charges for the New Year’s Eve celebrations we’ve paid for in our taxes. At least the congestion charge does what it says on the tin. You pay a tenner to sit in congestion. He’d make us pay for the air if its quality wasn’t so shit.

MAGGIE: Well, I just think we should all try to do some good in the world this year.

RAYMOND: Or get jobs in brand management.

MAGGIE: …So I’m heading to Waterloo Bridge to cast an urn of magical herbs upon the people. I won’t throw the actual urn this time, now that I know tourist boats pass underneath. And we’ll sing madrigals for London’s health.

RAYMOND: More like a funeral dirge over a corpse. You want a prediction? I predict London will become so expensive the only people left here will be exiled war criminals, Putin’s thugs and people in marketing. We can’t make the simplest decisions anymore; where to stick a runway, when the tube should start running, where to put a bloody cycle lane. That’s it, that’s my prediction, that London will fill up with more sodding quangos not deciding anything.

MAGGIE: I predict a year of working toward a common good.

RAYMOND: There you go. I predict another year of Heraclitian ghastliness, Maggie predicts a year of Eudaimonian joy. This from a woman who turns her fridge off at night in case of power surges and leaves her front door key in a flowerpot. How many times were you burgled last year?

MAGGIE: Four. They were looking for spiritual appeasement.

RAYMOND: They were looking for your credit cards. Come on, you daft cow, let’s leave this lot to work things out for themselves.

MAGGIE: That photo of Mr Johnson on the tube is unrealistic.

RAYMOND: Oh, why?

MAGGIE: There’s an empty seat.

RAYMOND: Ha ha. Nice one. Let’s go for a drink.

MAGGIE: Happy new year, everyone!


11 comments on “Maggie & Raymond Look At The Year Ahead”

  1. Jo W says:

    Happy New Year to you,Maggie,Raymond,Chris and all! I predict more excellent and enjoyable reading for Mr Fowler’s loyal followers!

  2. Vincent C says:

    Happy new year and best wishes to all for 2016.

  3. chris hughes says:

    Happy New Year to all our readers….and to Mr Chairman, the lad ‘imself.

    PS I always knew the British Library was a wonderful place but the basement sounds like the best place on earth…any jobs going?

  4. admin says:

    I’ve been down to the basement, Chris – and what I found there forms a clue in the next Bryant & May I’m writing…

  5. chris hughes says:

    Oh, you tease! More of my pension spent already…sigh…

  6. Richard Hovey says:

    I’ve visited London just once, years ago, but I do try to keep up with All Things UK by reading The Guardian and The Independent and the BBC webpage, so I ask . . hasn’t a photo of London Mayor Boris Johnson taken over your webpage? Just curious, probably mistaken.

    I was a bit sad to see Arthur Bryant in such low spirits in The Burning Man, but at 73 myself I can well appreciate his state of mind. I keep thinking, All good things must come to an end. And I keep hoping, Maybe not.

    Somewhere, buried in a dresser drawer, I have a tee shirt inscribed with the words Keep On Truckin’ beneath a silkscreen image of Robert Crumb’s comics character “stepping out”. The big forward foot “equals collective optimism,” Crumb explained. Seems like an appropriate talisman for our Mr. Bryant. If I can only find it in all this mess.

  7. admin says:

    You’re probably right about the Johnson overload this year, Richard – but the massive rogering he’s giving my city is unprecedented. I’ll dial it down in the coming year.
    Don’t fear for Arthur – I promise you he’s back in ebullient fine form in March of this year!

  8. keith page says:

    I have an idea what Arthur’s problem was; I remember you said there was a clue in ‘The Burning Man’. Not sure that Maggie Armitage’s house is subsiding, but there was a slightly worrying episode with a toaster.

  9. Lauren Williamson says:

    I know this isn’t really the right spot for this question, but forebearance, please. In Burning Man, why is John so taken aback by the Senior Officer being named Blaize Carter (chapter 8)? Sounds like a stripper … web searches aren’t turning up any plausible references.

  10. Lauren Williamson says:

    Oh, nevermind … Just found out Blaize is a FIRE officer. Thought she was a cop. I need to call it a night if I’m that foggy.

  11. After finishing ‘The Burning Man’ last night, I must cop to feeling rather sad. I kept hoping Arthur had some kind of vitamin deficiency that would readily respond to treatment, returning him to his lovable, curmudgeonly (not necessarily in that order) self. Will hope to see more of my two favorite detectives but no matter what happens, it’s been a wonderful ride. Thank you.

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