With the sun a little lower in the sky with each passing day, the Autumn conference season is upon us. Hot on the heels of Threadtech comes the DHRA's major late season meeting - held this year at the Grand Hotel Organford, scene several years ago of the infamous Organford Hotel stink-bomb incident in which a number of delegates - including Mr Threadbone (whose untimely demise may not have been wholly unconnected to the event) - were left in a "soiled and unsavoury" state as a result of a callous premeditated act of civil disruption. The perpetrators - widely believed to be the IRA (Independent Romance Association) - a radical movement seeking greater autonomy from the then highly centralised DHRA - were never apprehended. The hotel had to be completely re-odorised*.
The theme of this year's conference is Romantic Renewal and the chosen anthem - the Righteous Brother's Classic "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" - is filling the bars and lounges of the The Grand Hotel as more than two dozen delegates debate the hot topics of the day: Who will top this year's Christmas Romantic Fiction List? Will Mrs Threadbone turn on the Festive Lights at BIshop's Caundle? Is Rowena Lake a post-feminist sabbatarian or a tool of global-imperialist messianic millenarianism? And, most critically: "Who will run for Association PM (Photocopier Maestro) next year?
Describing himself as the candidate "for the many and not the few", firebrand left-leaning-on-a-lamp-post candidate Mrs Jermyn Street has lost none of the reforming zeal which so marred his candidacy in June, refusing to back down over his claims that "in what amounts to corporate murder, toner supply contracts have been fraudulently awarded to their capitalist backers and associates (believed to be Toners 'R Us, The High Street, Charmouth) by DHRA Chair Mrs Doris Endersley-Kindersley and Secretary Mrs Marjorie Billington-Marjorie". Readers will recall that Mrs Endersley-Kindersley (79) was forced to re-appoint Mrs Billington-Marjorie (84) as DHRA Secretary after her narrow victory ("defeat") in June and that the two arch rivals have managed an uneasy truce ever since. Supporters of the current regime believe the idea of them collaborating in a highly sophisticated fraud to be highly improbable ("they are just not competent enough to do that") and have accused Mr Street of populism, posturing and "effective gutter politics that work".
An unrepentant Mr Street, who is believed to represent the views of the younger members of the Association (60-72 group), was again denied a platform in the main conference room and so used his famed command of the twitter-globe and interweb to get his message across: "Have cabinet in waiting #**###" he tweeted "light cream, would suit cottage or small semi ###*#", "£10 o.n.o #####". The tweet was later removed after one of Mr Street's technical advisors noticed the mistake: "That was intended for another audience" a red-faced Jerry Berry explained: it was supposed to say "Jermyn for PM" and it now does. The Conference continues. Mrs Threadbone (Honorary President for LIFE) has yet to make an appearance.
* The re-odorisation was a triumph for Threadbone Re-odorisation Services Ltd who continue to be the re-odorisers of choice for the hotel, office and commercial premises industry. For details contact TRS Ltd, Great heaving, Dorset.
Scenes from the DHRA's Autumn Conference in Organford. LEFT TOP: Excited delegates prepare for an exhilarating few days (Col. Billington-Marjorie (back row right) has his hand on "friend" Mrs Pruce-Dennington's shoulders, both are proactive Prostrate Taekwondo enthusiasts); LEFT BOTTOM: A conference coffee-break sees several delegates "boning up" for a session; RIGHT: Jermyn Street supporter, Miss Enid Plebb, makes her views known outside the Hotel. Security staff excluded her on the grounds of "wearing attire ill-befitting an Historical Romance Association Conference" (DHRA Rule Book Statute 3b.a.1 and 19f.i.12).