Caught Between Baroque & Hard Place

Throwback Thursday – On 20th July 2015 this parody, relating to the inception of the Riot Act, made an appearance from deep within the recesses of my neurological corridors:-

On this date in 1715 the Riot Act came into effect in England. This crowd control legislation gave local authorities powers to arrest a group of twelve or more people, if they didn’t disperse within an hour of a magistrate reading them the Riot Act.

The Riot Act that was to be read to these mingling blaggards was:-

“Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies……… To summarise, shift your arses you idle shit stirrers or you’ll end up in the nick …………. Oh, and God save the King.”

riot act

During his 1715 world tour, German Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach and his orchestra became a victim of this new law. During their set at Ainsley Scragg Working Men’s Club, his audience were read the Riot Act but refused to disperse until they’d heard Bat Outta Hell. As a consequence, many were forcefully taken into custody.

Bach was understandably furious, as not only did it rob him of an opportunity to play his new songs live, but merchandising sales projections suffered enormously. He was scathing about Ainsley Scragg Parish Council’s pedantic interpretation of this act. Bitterly opining their actions had not only deprived his fans of an entertaining evening, they’d decimated sales of tour t-shirts, JS Bach dolls, caps and fridge magnets.


The local newspaper of the time, The Ainsley Scragg Rag, covered the story with the headline ‘Bach Caught Between Baroque & A Hard Place’

Bach’s management team eventually came to an agreement with the magistrate, securing the audience’s liberty in return a cut of the profits from Christmas DVD sales. The magistrate didn’t understand what the hell he’d been offered, but as it sounded like it would earn him a few farthings accepted the deal.

This furore over the new law put Bach off visiting England again, and led to him pulling out of a prestigious headlining spot on the Glastonbury Festival. As a consequence festival organisers were forced to bring in Antonio Vivaldi as a last minute replacement.

Bach was unrepentant, though, claiming his actions resulted from the idiotic and inconsistent crowd control laws in England.

The Baroque music era (approx 1600 – 1760), which included compositions from Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, was imaginatively split into three phases (early, middle and late) later in the 18th century.

History books record this momentous occasion for Baroque manifested when the Baroque Name project team lead was encouraged by a colleague to:- “Hurry up Wolfgang! The quicker you name the three Baroque eras, the quicker we can get down the pub………..Why not just call them the early, middle and late Baroque phases?…………. No one will give a toss”

The project leader responded “Good idea Franz; that sounds like a plan. You lads go ahead ……….Get me a pint of Becks and a bag of pork scratchings while I journal this epiphany……….I’ll meet you down there.”

Wolfgang and his colleagues were delighted at meeting their project deadline, and the inspired names of the Baroque phases were born.

With regards the Riot Act, in the 1960s/70s my mum adapted it slightly to suit her own brand of parenting. Much to her children’s chagrin, she reduced the minimum crowd allowable before the Riot Act was read from twelve to one.

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