Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

What is that heavenly sound? Frank reveals all…

Hark! The herald angels sing! 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, as they are herald angels, that they can accurately predict the future. When they 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.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

3 thoughts on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

  1. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    December 21, 2012 at 09:51

    True, the devil is, as ever, din the detail.

    This is an allegory, if I am not mistaken, for post-war Britain. The toiler at the anvil-face would be Arthur Scargill, the other one, the poncy, bow tied intellectual will be Miliband Snr.

    Arthur, as we know, ended his days on the sticky end of Maggie’s spear. Miliband’s sticky end sired two haircuts.

  2. Worm
    December 21, 2012 at 10:44

    Just been on a googlejaunt: apparently Stakhanov’s record was bested by a serbian chap called Sirotanovic, who seems to have had some pretty big ambitions:

    (his) accomplishment was widely praised and publicised by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Josip Broz Tito is said to have offered to fulfill any wish Sirotanović had, but all Sirotanović is reported to have requested was a bigger shovel. Tito granted his wish, and the larger shovel that was designed for him was later named after him.

  3. Gaw
    December 21, 2012 at 14:53

    Attempts to create economic growth in those places was always about bigger shovels. Communist thinkers didn’t believe in the law of diminishing returns.

    The last sentence is fearfully portentous, Frank. Do you know something we don’t? Perhaps you have some inside Mayan knowledge?

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