Just as Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell was enjoying a quiet retirement at his farm in Merrie England, growing potatoes and bigotry, and burning chaff and straw and Roman Catholics, a delegation of Puritans arrived at his humble 12,000 acre estate, to ask him for his assistance to suppress a new outbreak of civil disobedience.
'Sire', said their spokesman, Sir Henry Shortshanks, 'it has come to our attention that the Papists are once again acting like the devil-worshipping, pagan, abominable and monstrously vile people that they are.'
'What is it this time?', Cromwell asked, rubbing his hands in anticipation, as it had been a while since he'd led his local band of Puritan landowners on an afternoon's witch-hunting on horseback across the county of Cambridgeshire.
'They have openly and defiantly copied your work, sir, 'The Roundheads, London, Puritans and Parliament', that you published in 1642, and dared to call it their own!' 'What!', gasped the Lord Protector, 'muster an army at once, Sir Henry, there is no time to lose!', and 'ere the day was out the Roundheads were once again arriving at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Flying a white flag, one of the Catholics - 'The Plagiarists', or 'Cavalier Copyists' - rode towards the Even Newer Model Army to parley with them. 'Well, sirrah', Cromwell said to him, 'doth thee and thy troops wish to surrender now, or doth thee hasten to be vanquished by my brave Ironsides men, before being put to the sword for sullying the nomenclature of satire, the titularity of epistledom, and even the holy writ of Pythonia?'
Pausing briefly to translate Cromwell's words with his pocket edition of Dr. Johnson's 'Dicktionary of Moderniable Englicks', the Plagiarist answered 'Nay, sir, 'tis nought to us if thee and thy own presbyterian plebs should hath such scorn for the one true faith, the faith that verily is the faith of the Holy Pater of Latin Verbosity.'
'This can only be war, mine worthy and yet warty opponential adversary, so the die is cast, and now there is only the actual punching and kicking and chopping off of femurs and tibias to be got on with.'
Quickly borrowing the Plagiarist's dictionary to work out himself what that reply had meant, Oliver Cromwell then turned to his troops. 'Men! Are you with me? Are we united against the Copyists?'
'Do us Originals pledge to free this green and unpleasant land from such nefarious and blatant plagiaristic and unoriginal lack of neurons and scribular talents?', and had to wait half an hour before continuing with his speech, as his men passed the dictionary through the ranks.
'Let us defeat the accursed stealers of our ideas, our styles, even of our titles, and crush the Cavalier Copyists once and for all!', and soon the Battle of Original Ideas had started, fought across the Expenses Mudflats of Ratham.
At first the Puritans figured strongly, easily wiping out the Plagiarists' Boyle and Goody Battalions, and taking many prisoners, and it looked as if the battle would quickly be won by the Roundheads. But suddenly the Copyists' commander in the field sent in his carefully held back Jackson Fifth Division, and the tide turned in favour of the Copyists.
'For the Church, for Jade, for Michael, and for endlessly Copying and endlessly writing about one another!', the commander Prince Formerly yelled, and soon the battlefield had turned into a quagmire of fighting writers, the Puritans, the 'Old Originals What Have Read A Bit Of Stuff, Like', now heavily outnumbered by the Plagiarists, but it became very even, and as nightfall began to fall a truce was suggested by Oliver Cromwell, and accepted by Prince Formerly.
'For we know that our Originality and Puritanity, our independently-thought out ideas, and our careful parodial spooferistic-intelligentialism of the rich and the famous are for England and the English!', Cromwell said from his side of the field.
And Prince Formerly replied: 'And we know that our unoriginality and our Copyism of ideas and articles is England's true destiny. We shall never allow Original Sin or Originality to take over this nation, for that way a bit of a larf and vaguely intelligent satire lies!', and both sides of soldiers cheered and waved their swords and muskets in the air, and it was safe to go back to work again.
'Fancy a snifter at The Old Goat Scrote and Boat Race?', the Prince asked the Lord Protector, as they left the battlefield. 'Certainly', he replied, 'but not that place. Let's go to the Paris O'Lescent Fixated Whacko bar and restaurant.'
'Nah, not that dump, would bore the iron pants off you there. How about The Six Toys and Sniggers pub near Hampstead Heath?' 'I'm barred from there', Cromwell admitted, 'after setting fire to the barmaid for casting a spell on my pint of Throgmogglehurst's Snorklingham Brown Spotted ale.'
'You can't beat going to the Photocopying Would Save A Lot Of Time pie and beer emporium', a passing Copyist suggested, and a Roundhead added: 'My sister-in-law is the manageress at The King's Head On A Platter', getting dirty looks from Prince Formerly.
'There's always Mrs. Unfunny's Unread and Feeble Ale Shoppe in Chiswick', came from a Puritan, and 'The When In Doubt Steal tavern in Much Theftering High Street's worth a visit', a seagull squawked squawkily, and soon the armies and their leaders had all left the field. It is hoped that this will be the end of the wars between the Originals and the Cavalier Copyists, the Wars of the Proses, but time will only tell.
P.S. Pssst! Want to buy an idea for a story from the archives? I found it on the battlefield, it's only been used twice before. If you wait a few weeks you can call it your own. I had that Dr. Johnson's cat in my cab once. Didn't 'alf pen and ink!