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From Cult Tidbits 


Issue 31,526 January 2022

Golden Beaver Shunned!

Distraught celebrants drowned their sorrow for a full five hours at The Lion following Bartleby Legge’s blunt rejection of the first Golden Beaver Award to be made in four centuries.


Reinstituted into Cult doctrine in response to the return of endogenous beaver to the locality, the fully 1-carat gold 'masterpiece' was denounced for the poor alignment of its plinth.


A message from the revered spiritual leader of the Zimmerman Institute read out to the crowd said simply: 'Begone with your benighted bent beaver'.


But initial jeering turned quickly to a collective warm acceptance of the profound irony and justice of the situation.


The spurned emblem had been awarded to the great genius by the Cult’s Aesthetic Sub-Committee for his years-long work updating the complex iconography of the Cult Air Force.


How fitting therefore that the great man’s integrity should have so easily outweighed any venal desire on his part for the treasured award. Instead

our illustrious and ethereal guide put principle first, seeing no alternative but to reject the sculptural abomination and denounce the committee’s shoddy work.


The offending object has been returned to Twite’s Manufactory, and the future of the award is now in doubt again.

A short history of beaver devotion

In 1622, when catching sight of native beaver was a thing only of myth, the Cult reluctantly suspended its ancient powers to grant Golden Beaver Awards for exceptional aesthetic achievement.


Over the years, celebrated winners faded from village memory. The ancestors would not have imagined the community could forget the 1173 winner,  Sir Montaigu Hirsute Curlycue 'The Bald', who performed a re-enactment of Lady Godiva’s ride atop a large and boisterously intact boar. 


Or again, who nowadays mentions the year 1208,  when the locally-composed and mystical aria 'Greensplease' became a prize-winning hit at Henry’s court. Transcribed in real time by his long-suffering wife, the spontaneous efflorescence of melodic inspiration by Cult rebec player Thomas Bletherworp is marveled at today only by experts.


Bletherworp uttered his agonisingly sublime stream of notes having consumed an 'excesse of ale, onions and the cauly-flower' and then collapsing at an unfortunate angle on a garden bench where he had just propped up his instrument. A physic was eventually called for, but not before 27 minutes of exquisite virtuosity was written down for posterity. 


Betherworp’s spouse Regina indicates several episodes of duet in her manuscript – a voice moving between basso profundo to high falsetto accompanies stuttering phrases on the rebec. 


Recent performances by the Early Music circuit have adopted the view that the composer was in genuine discomfort for much of the piece. It is not known how long the surgeon had to wrestle with the ill-lodged item before its final notes were emitted. In a page margin in Cult archives from the period, an unknown hand has written against his name: 'Ne’er again didst he play so melifluous'. A notable attempt by Maurice 'Wheelnut' Clinker in 2008 to replicate the original performance had to be called off before the first coda.

Abbot Ludovic’s tumble with ivy recorded for posterity

Abbot Ludovic the Misericord could be said to have simply stumbled upon his Golden Beaver in 1237 – when he fell into ivy behind the church vestry. As he sat concussed, with leaves trailing from his head and mouth, villagers believed him to be a Green Man risen from the ground – his depiction so perfect as to warrant an award and subsequent celebration in local churches.

The final GBA of the Middle Ages was made in 1507 to one 'Goody Elsbeth Cantworp, alekeeper', who had taken home one of the increasingly rare creatures as a pet. 


She was immediately assailed with innumerable and unwelcome requests from her clientele for a better view of the animal, even when it was in plain sight – often curled up asleep on the bar.


She arranged a set of mirrors around the taproom walls, and then surrounded the furry quadruped with candles so that drinkers could see the beast at all times. And while they gawped at its bewhiskered aquatic form, she set about them with a copper-headed warming-pan retrieved from the upstairs accommodation.


The resultant 'son et lumiere', from which the modern phrase comes, not only won the award, but is still part of Cult ritual activity. The second exercise of the modern Bessie’s Betwattelage ritual attempts to recreate the flickering illumination and loud gong sounds of the historical episode – a remains a paeon to her valiant attempt to discipline the irretrievable scallywags often found in local alehouses.


Should the award survive its recent scandalous re-introduction, let us hope it will inspire future generations of Cult artists to the high standards of their esteemed medieval forebears.

Note from our Wildlife Correspondent: The species castor fiber is often the target of crude and ignorant abuse, but in my experience the common or EuroAsian beavers, along with the beavers of the Americas, are delightful creatures as they go about their daily tasks – preferably watched from a professionally-constructed hide, such as The TwitoTwitcher easy-assembly hide and telescope pictured.

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