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Artillery Row

The Age of Twee

Line up and clap for the NHS, wankpuffin

It is most strange in this year of 2042 to look back upon earlier decades and try to understand how we got to where we are now. As with any period of history, you might well think, the key is to look behind the official narrative and go deeper than the powers-that-be would encourage. Doing this in 2042, however, is difficult because different groupings all have their own unofficial ‘official narratives’ – and the sheer volume of these accounts, combined with an unmanageable level of intense contradiction between them, makes finding any cohesive account impossible. 

Let us focus on the official “official narrative”, narrated by the British state, the City, mainstream consumer advertising, the BBC, and the publication all of the employees (a term now replaced by the phrase “constructive partners”) of these official organs read: The Guardian

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The ground zero of our time is of course the Age of Realisation, begun in May 1997 with the victory of Tony Blair, and thought by most historians to have ended tragically on June 23rd 2016, with The Event. That what happened on this date is referred to as “The Event” tells us much about the current regime: it was chosen partly in homage to two guiding lights of the current age, but also because of the term’s apparent neutrality — it being a happening the original name for which still cannot be made publicly due to the depth of the rupture that surrounds it. (“Constructive partners” of the regime all refer to The Event behind closed doors as “Brexshit”, but, to their bewilderment, it was decided this term was too divisive to be the official nomenclature). 

Sometime after The Event we entered this current era, known by official historians and cultural commentators as the Age of Twee, wording which some believe has its earliest usage in a piece from late 2023. Constructive partners tend not to cite this article, however, because it appeared in a publication deemed too divisive to be acknowledged by the regime. 

As should be evident already, the great ethos of the Age of Twee is avoiding division. If one were to step behind this official ethos, however, it might seem that the real ethos is to avoid an acknowledgement of the divisions which any honest commentator cannot deny. Again, the sheer numbers of contradictory tribal groupings is too large to be listed, but the regime simplifies things by having umbrella terms that name two main sides, the first being “right wing populists”, or “culture warriors”.  

Those deemed “culture warriors” include critics of what was once known as “immigration”, but what is now officially termed “the Great Welcoming”, a process of “population improvement” which began taking-off in the Age of Realisation. It also includes various religious groups, who have bizarrely archaic approaches to sex, as well as a myriad of others sharing common points of reference toward gender, culture, diet, or the arts. 

It is a truth never publicly acknowledged that all constructive partners of the regime come from the ranks of the advocates

The second umbrella term for the other half is “advocates”. This grouping is preferred by the constructive partners of the regime, but in order to maintain any kind of national provenance this preference is hidden behind their external accoutrements of the Age of Twee. “Advocates” include those identifying as left-leaning, although they no longer have any interest in class, for social class is said to have ceased to be a useful category during the Age of Realisation. There are many others who campaign (that is, share things on social media) for, among other causes, the celebration of the gender non-conforming, arrivees in the Great Welcoming, and any other beneficiaries of diversity and inclusion. 

It is a truth never publicly acknowledged that all constructive partners of the regime come from the ranks of the advocates, and that any hint of activity pertaining to the other side immediately precludes someone from constructive partnership with any organisation. Never acknowledging this fact is part of the training for the process of becoming an apparatchik of the Age of Twee — after which only what they term “unified messaging” is allowed — and here we can understand why the word Twee is so important for those in power. 

The centrepiece of this unified messaging is the annual public holiday and pageant known fondly among the populace as “Rally McRallyface”. It takes place every year on 3rd April, the date of the first voyage of that great national vessel Boaty McBoatface. It is usually led by a parade into Horseguards Parade led by guiding lights of the regime, which can involve a great many figures who sum-up all those things which make our kooky and quirky nation so great. Regulars include David Tennant, Richard Osman, Mel and Sue, David Mitchell, Victoria Coren, and Noel Fielding. 

After the parade, there is the revealing of a new piece of national art — for which the main contributor is that great revolutionary artist, Banksy. Last year’s wonderful work displayed the logo of the NHS as a bomb of flowers landing on the head of an angry looking culture warrior who looked like a slice of gammon. Then there is usually a speech about the correct interpretation of current events — from, say, Stephen Fry, Ian Hislop, or Paddington Bear. After this, dancers dressed in red, white and blue make the shape of a giant tea-cosy, out of which the monarch appears from the spout to speak about worthy causes, to rapturous applause. 

Picture credit: Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images

Visitors from all over the world speak fondly of Rally McRallyface as continuing the tradition of great British pageantry which goes all the way back into history, i.e. the opening of the 2012 Olympic Ceremony. It is probably one of the Age of Twee’s most well-known features — although there is another that should be mentioned: a distinctive approach to public messaging. 

Before the Age of Realisation, unenlightened citizens had to endure straightforward signage saying things like “No Smoking” or “No Littering”. Ever since a moment of genius which redefined the notion of a sign in a Virgin Train’s toilet, the no littering sign will now say “Don’t be a wallybramble, pick-up your litter” with a GIF of a wrist being slapped by Stephen Fry, speeding signs now read “Only spunktrumpets go over 20 mph” with a GIF of the Tardis gliding slowly over a rainbow coloured zebra crossing, and even signs directing you to what bins to use will admonish against putting nappies (“No soggybottoms, thank you”) in the wrong place, and so on.   

It’s very important that no readers misunderstand this piece as being in any way ironic or satirical or otherwise surreptitiously critical of the Twee regime. Certainly not, for such activities would amount to professional suicide for most would-be constructive partners, and indeed — it is well-known that any who make this mistake can receive what used to be termed a “punishment” but what is now known, more accurately, as “a cheeky spell in joshing camp”. 

A visit to “joshing camp” is prescribed by our beloved NHS on anyone who lets their divisiveness, impassioned concern, or just plain sincerity get the better of them. It is run by those who are trained in what is now the Queen of the Sciences in the universities of the Age of Twee — Human Resource Management. Run like a work training course, the inmates (sorry, welcomees) undergo intensive processes designed to stop them being “silly moo-moos” (for mild infringements), or “daft wankpuffins” (for more serious offences). They are then forced to watch hours of old episodes of British Bake Off, Have I Got News for You, QI, Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, or the film Shaun of the Dead. So please don’t misinterpret this piece as in any way criticising the Twee regime. I can’t go back there again.

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