An eery silence has descended on Cumbria. The people are edgy, suspicious. Violence erupts in odd little bursts – a chip-shop owner advertising ‘deep fried anything’ is publicly flogged as a sympathiser; a man is stoned for telling a Billy Connolly joke.
Thousands are fleeing to the safety of Carlisle’s walls. Others are on the hilltops, eyes scouring the horizon, preparing to light the beacons at the first sign of ‘Men in Skirts’.