Monday, January 02, 2006

Stuart job

Justice of the peace
If you've got a tall, wide-brimmed hat and big buckled girl shoes, you'd better read on. Of course, you need to be a staunch Puritan, too, but if you're not, why have you got all the right clothes?
Anyway, after years of civil war, we find ourselves in the mid-1600s. Good old Cromwell has come over all jovial and decided to get rid of Christmas. You'll support the view that those lazy, good-for-nothing, papist folk who want to enjoy themselves should spend a bit of contemplation time sitting on spikes. You'll also need to be a dedicated backer of the banning of such Christmas Day festivities as eating nice pudding, having the day off, singing carols (forbidden in 1649) and generally getting a bit tipsy.
You'll be chief spoil-sport, in charge of making sure that shops remain open all the hours of Christmas Day, and you'll have an army of enforcers to help you do it. Beware of workers in their cups who won't take you seriously, and be prepared to use absolute force in the name of the law.
It may all be in vain, though. In December 1656, the Roundhead Major-General Packer announces in Parliament: 'One may pass from the Tower to Westminster and not a shop open nor a creature stirring' – not even a mouse.


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