(This audio piece was recorded a couple of years ago as part of a soundscape to the exhibition A Parliament of Rooks at the Assembly House, Norwich, which ran during the 2010 General Election campaign. I thought I'd dust it off for next week's local elections).
n.1 a large Eurasian bird, with black plumage and a whitish base to its bill. 2 a swindler and a cheat. vb 3 (tr) Sl. to overcharge, swindle or cheat. [OE hroc]
There are three collective nouns to describe a gathering of rooks: a clamour, a building, and perhaps most appositely in light of recent events, a parliament.
Rooks and politicians have much in common; both species are gregarious, loud and raucous, and prone to quarrelling amongst themselves. They generally appear dishevelled and unkempt, and there is an air of the ridiculous about them. Both are hated by farmers, who consider them to be vermin, and to the general public they are the epitome of dishonesty, and not to be trusted. They are often cited as the reason why things go wrong, or misfortunes occur, and suffer the weight of public opprobrium accordingly.
Society is broken.
It is our job to fix it.
We can't go on like this.
We need answers to the social problems we face - answers that will come from Big Society, not Big Government.
From social responsibility, not state control.
Under the new government, we will redistribute power and control from central state to individuals who can do the job better.
The new government will create the opportunity for people - the right people - to take responsibility.
This approach is in line with the spirit of the age -
the post-bureaucratic age...
the post-governmental age...
the post-political age.
The new government will improve our schools.
The new government will improve our health.
We will kick out all the politicians and bureaucrats with the wrong ideas.
We will be tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime.
We will install CCTV cameras inside and outside every building.
We will encourage citizens to spy on their neighbours.
We will give police officers smarter uniforms.
We will condemn a little more, and understand a little less.
We will provide a fast-track two-tiered justice system, where those who can afford it can opt into a judicial process tailored to meet their needs.
The new government will outlaw crime.
The new government will provide education, education, education, education.
We will encourage duty and responsibility.
We will give people more power.
We will not treat people like children.
We will encourage marriage, especially between consenting adults of different sexes.
The new government will shake things up.
The new government will make things happen.
The new government will create a Big Society.
We will galvanise social renewal.
We will work directly with unaccountable people in order to provide social programmes in communities with the greatest needs.
We will encourage activists, curtain-twitchers and do-gooders to meet in front rooms to discuss ways to improve the neighbourhood.
We will be all things to all men.
We will pass legislation to ensure that only photogenic people are elected to serve as members of parliament.
We will change the system of voting from the outmoded and unpopular model currently in use, to one based on the systems used in talent and reality TV shows.
The new government will ensure that this country will get the government it deserves.