The CardinalSouthern E Group discussions are not heavily regulated - indeed there is no moderator as such - although if matters get seriously off track, which is vary rarely, there is provision for an officer of the group to intervene (see the "About the Southern E-Group and Rules of Etiquette" for further details). More often than not the group is self-regulating. If a correspondent goes significantly off topic it is likely that a fellow member will light-heartedly invoke a visit from "The Cardinal" to the transgressing member. This is usually all that is required to get matters back on track.

There follows two learned texts for the benefit of SEmG members both old and new to explain the origin and function of "The Cardinal" (....also known as "Cardinal Fang").

Here beginneth the first lesson according to Brother Cliff Hutton:

Members old (i.e. members of good and not such good standing) would perhaps benefit from perusing what follows because there have been strayings from the path. (Oh baby! big time)

Members new, obviously need a thorough grounding in the Group's Guidelines. Be it remembered that "Guidelines" and "The Cardinal" are synonymous.

The aim of the Group: To glorify the name of the Southern Railway, those railways that went together to form it and that portion of British Railways which replaced it. Seems simple enough eh? Well, there are those that choose to squirm and writhe their slimy, despicably, serpentine ways around this lofty ideal. Others seek to glorify other, lesser railways, whose names be legion and unmentionable.

It was nothing short of miraculous that one day, The Cardinal appeared and we all fell to the ground in great fear and trembling. Since then the Group has been a purer and better place. Many have reformed their ways, others have quietly disappeared (well, not usually too quietly).

It has been suggested that The Cardinal has His origins with Monty Python. Of course the exact opposite is true. Nonetheless, watching of the Monty Python sketch relevant to The Cardinal can do no harm. It gives some good ideas regarding His appearance and that of His accomplices. Also featured are useful phrases such as "Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition" ....... this is a good thought to have tucked in a corner of the mind when tempted towards non-Southern thought, word or deed. Diabolical "re-education methods" are also mentioned. These range from flaying, burning (medium rare to very well done), racking, through to hanging/drawing/quartering (0.25 x 4 in metric) though not necessarily in that order, impalement ................. and that's for lesser infringements. There is of course the (hushed pause ........) comfy chair (another hushed pause.........). This last has claimed several members who strayed.

(It may be thought at this point that I have lost my thread ...... thoughts of the comfy chair oft disquiet me.)

It is generally accepted that His Eminence The Cardinal is a genial and gentle gentleman who has seen fit to take our Group and our Railway under His wing. He hovers somewhere in the wings of our electronic stage forever alert and aware of our thinkings and writings. Omnipotent and omnipresent. Woe unto he who strays from The Way.

There is a list of words and phrases to be avoided but of course I can hardly use them here lest He turn my way!!!! To be safe, mention not, railways to the North or Northwest or Northeast and above all the railway whose stuff was chocolate and cream. This last is an abomination, a curse, a devilish work ........... a pox upon them and theirs, yeah unto the tenth generation.

Let me welcome you to the Group. My E-mail: Note the "scarlet", note it well ..... that is His colour. I'll be happy to answer questions or refer you to those who are better qualified so to do .

Be it known to all comers, we exist for one purpose only, to glorify The Southern. Long live The Cardinal.

Here followeth the second lesson according to Brother Michael Gale:

In the past, his eminence the Cardinal has been a useful tool. A metaphorical arbitrator regarding the content of our postings. He has allowed any member to raise a concern regarding the contents of any particular message without causing a direct affront to the individual. For the most part, the caution could be issued in good fun, usually accompanied by a humorous,witty or sarcastic comment and perhaps the email smiley face short hand. However, it is apparent that sometimes the humorous approach to limiting the wayward members of the group is not appreciated. This may be due to a lack of familiarity with the origins of the Cardinal, and the fact that none of the new members to the SEmG have in the past been appraised of the potential for a visit from the Cardinal until it happens....shock, horror....

It is obvious that not all members of the group know the exact origins of the Cardinal. For greater certainty then, I should state that the SEmG Cardinal is based on the humorous skit, sketch, or spoof from the Monty Python comedy series featuring Michael Palin.

At times our e mail conversations seem to revolve around the colour of someone's bloomers, and pros and cons of certain British actresses in railway related films. Perhaps, one day someone can capture this discussion in a single posting for me to understand. I noted that on this occasion, and also on more recent postings which reference the red bloomers, the Cardinal was tellingly silent. I'm not sure of the implications of this, but one thought that occurs to me is that it appears that for the SEmG at large the G*R is held in less regard than red bloomers. So where is all this leading? I do not care if members want to mention the G*R in their postings. However, I reserve the right to summon the Cardinal to attend to anyone that does, and if I do, I hope that you will remember that it is done in the best traditions of an illustrious vain of British humour ....Monty Python, the Goons, QX, Q6, Q9, Fawlty Towels, BA goes 4th, M&W..........and to ensure that the SEmG maintains its SR focus and sense of humour.

"By the way, Michael Palin is a railway buff, isn't he?" "Yes he is. See Confessions of a Trainspotter. An original anorak."

On the subject of "red bloomers".......

Maybe it is something to do with the male menopause reflecting their teenage boyhood obsessions, but it has become customary for male members of the SEmG publicly to declare themselves ardent followers of Jenny Agutter (for it is she who waves the infamous red bloomers in the original film of "The Railway Children") or of Lesley Anne Down (who stars in the film "The Great Train Robbery" - an incident supposedly on the SECR). It is these two actresses that divide SEmG members far more passionately than any of the constituent railway companies that are valid topics for the SEmG (and also of those companies that are not...)!

For the sake of the SEmG - long live "The Cardinal", Jenny Agutter (with or without red bloomers) and Lesley Anne Down! :-)

This page was last updated 30 December 2003

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