Few experiences in life are as rewarding as being part of a mob. And of all mobs, the baying mob is the best, particularly at nightfall, on the outskirts of the village, holding aloft flaming torches and pitchforks, surrounding the hovel of a witch or an oddball, forcing them to choose between fleeing or being burned.

As a veteran of several such baying mobs, I find it exasperating that the witch or the oddball so often elicits sympathy. If one were to give credence to the witterings of the biens pensants, the do-gooders, and the chattering classes around their sophisticated dinner party tables, one might think that there is something wrong with brandishing a burning tarry torch and baying for the blood of a social misfit. What planet do these people live on?

If you are going to be an oddball, a mild eccentric, or a witch, then you have to take the consequences. And the consequences, rightly in my view, are that me and many many like me, simple credulous peasants though we may be, inarticulate and ignorant, will gather in the village tavern and grab our pitchforks and torches and march, as dusk descends, towards your shabby insalubrious hovel, baying. You may then choose to stay put and burn, or make an attempt to flee, bearing in mind that you may not succeed, given that we will chase you and overpower you and tear you limb from limb and chuck what’s left of you into a ditch with a stake driven through your heart. That is simply the way of the world or, in contemporary jargon, social cohesion.

There is much talk of the so-called “madness of crowds” as if, in allying oneself with one’s fellows in a baying mob, one somehow loses all reason. Let us not forget that it is the witch, or the oddball, who is the enemy of reason, sitting in their hovel with their toads and newts and books, plotting dark and devilish deeds. Give them free rein and who knows what foul world they would have us inhabit. Better by far that they be stricken with terror at the sight of our pitchforks and our flaming torches, at the sound of our blood-curdling baying.

So come and join us. We meet in the village tavern. Bring your pitchfork and your torch. Be part of the mob. It’s an experience you won’t forget.

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