This piece, entitled Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, appeared in Hooting Yard three years ago today, on
Hark! The herald angels are singing the song of Stakhanov, the heroic worker. The herald angels are legion, but there are only two Stakhanovs. That’s right, two. One Stakhanov is busy at the forge, just like Felix Randal the farrier*, busy in his bellowing room, smelting iron or hammering a huge sheet of steel with implacable industry. The other Stakhanov is a pale aesthete. He has a bow tie, luxuriant locks, a thin Ronald Colman moustache, and is lounging in a buttercuppy meadow, propped on one immaculate elbow, reading a book of poetry. It is the collected lyrics of some forgotten noodling progressive rock group. What will become of the two Stakhanovs? Hark! Let us listen to what the herald angels are singing.
The hero worker at his forge / The aesthete in a meadow / Lampblacked one and the other in serge / But both end on the gallows
Gosh! So, according to the herald angels, both Stakhanovs will come to a sticky end. We must assume that they can accurately predict the future, being herald angels. When they had finished their song, we sent one of our reporters to interview them. They were not happy about this, but put forward one of their number, an angel named Angerecton, to act as their spokesangel.
Now you and I know that Angerecton is a fumigating angel rather than a true herald angel, so it should be no surprise that the interview was unsatisfactory. In any event, our reporter found that his tape recorder malfunctioned, and all he could hear when he played back the tape was the sound of mighty and glorious angelic hosannahs, not unlike Spem In Alium by Thomas Tallis. As Dobson once wrote, in another context, “Angels sing, and devils make a din, but the heroic worker pounds his hammer and the poet praises Stalin”. I think that before too long, you and I and both Stakhanovs will be deafened by the devil’s din.
* O is he dead then?