August 11th – The 190th Annual Meeting of the Wierback Mathesson Appreciation Club

It’s a strange thing to think that at one time Buentoillitants could live their whole lives never seeing who ruled over them. Nowadays, something in the region of 93% of eligible City-dwellers elect the members of the Council of Logistics each year, and most decisions that do not require a quick response are decided via direct democracy, so there is little chance of a similar thing happening. Hearing about political leaders must have been an exercise in imagination, similar to modern day listeners of the radio trying to decide the facial features of their hosts from the disembodied voices.

The now defunct ruling body, Parliament, would have only been visible through court cartoonists and private portraits, perhaps the occasional etching. Members were allowed to submit their own privately commissioned (and far more flattering) portraits to the papers and to accompany their permanent voting record. As such these images were generally deemed unreliable, treated with a pinch of salt. It must have been quite the revolution when photographs came into popular usage.

Weirback Mathesson had endured something of a slander before the advent of easily accessible photography, with many political enemies claiming that he was incredibly ugly, and that the images he had commissioned were a cover-up. Mathesson was part of the Liberal Alliance, one of the primary parties of Buentoille, which generally espoused more centrist values than its adversarial cousin, the Traditionalist Tendency. Whilst there were plenty of politicians who must have seen Mathesson’s face on a daily basis, they knew that the general public could not have laid eyes upon it, especially as the man was the treasurer and made few public appearances. The Tendency even went so far as to hire ugly actors to make fake speeches and disincline any voters against him.

This strategy hideously backfired on the opposing party when photographs were introduced, and Mathesson was not only revealed to be not hideous, but instead a phenomenally attractive young gentleman, who the crowds suddenly began to flock to watch speak. ‘The Dandy Politician,’ he was called, and even to this day Buentoillitants refer to him as ‘The Butterfly of the House.’ Soon street hawkers were selling his image outside Parliament and throughout the City, papers were obsessing over his attire, opponents were criticising him for his alleged focus on style over substance.

At one time, the Wierback Mathesson Appreciation Club would have discussed issues of policy and moralistic stands put forward by Mathesson, who was a stoic protector of the free press, an organisation that frankly didn’t need much protection. Nowadays, what with the man having been dead for well over a hundred years, these issues are barely mentioned, the modern appreciators making no bones about what it is they are interested in: Mathesson’s appearance. There is even an attempt to revise his politics, to see more progressive elements within it that simply weren’t there originally, and there is a semi-serious series of comic books that feature a modern-day Mathesson as their protagonist.

The politician’s dark visage, broad shoulders and frequently open shirts have long been obsessed over by the Buentoillitant citizens who will today (Mathesson’s birthday) compare their fan art: paintings, embroidered shirts, fancy-dress costumes, comic books and all manner of other forms of artistic worship of Mathesson’s semi-divine form. The group seems to have perpetuated itself over the years with the reproduction of these images, and with the mass production of those original, almost pornographic photographs (shirtless, lying amongst silken sheets, a hand through tousled hair), and the encouragement of the desire they invoke. There are those who have the temerity to declare that Mathesson isn’t actually that attractive, that he would be unremarkable were it not for the fact that the Traditionalists had depicted him as such an ogre, yet they are usually shouted down by the Club members.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Stuck Axe
  • The Tryst of Saint Hawile
  • Wine Wine Wine Wine Festival