Good evening, my little runcible spoons, I trust my adoring readers are well? (Both of you?) It’s been a strange year, with few postings, as the wifi in my hedge is beyond the realms of adequate function. It’s also shite. Here in the sleepy village of Clopton Mandrill, we’re still in the throes of a third lockdown. The plague has claimed very few, too few for my liking as there are a plethora of what my mother would have called ‘bellends’. Nonetheless, I’m fairing well, I spend my days harvesting poisonous herbs from the canal bank, being abusive to cyclists and perfecting my aim with my axe when local deviants pass my hedge.
Good evening, my little runcible spoons, I trust you are keeping clear of this common plague and keeping indoors. I consider myself blessed, as a local Witch, as many come to me for salves, balms and charms to heal and bring fruitfulness. Despairingly, this area of my work has tailed off somewhat with this plague, but fate was on my side. Since the plague began, many have approached me to deal with ‘difficult family members and neighbours’, and left me a handsome fee and a free reign to choose my methods. Amusingly, this has resulting in a surge in business which means I’m now considered a key worker and I can roam where I please.
A local woman approached me just before Christmastide, claiming that her rotund and vocal husband is getting on her wick to intolerable levels. She announced payment of 4 groats and a crossbow if I could work my magic. I was thrilled, but admittedly, I fibbed a little as my murder magic has a tendency to go awry. Rather than the standard hemlock infusion and a summoning of the Dark Spirit of Fatal Musings, I decided instead to rely on three stout whacks with a tyre iron which I found far more favourable. It worked – the fractious old bugger drifted past me in the canal at 10:46 this morning, and everyone thinks he fell in after a skinful.
Well, I digress. This morning, a contemptable woman who I shan’t name, wished me to bump off her neighbour after he trimmed her bush unlawfully. After carefully checking this wasn’t a coy euphemism, I set to work. It was clear the woman had been in curfew too long and needed some excitement rather than tackle her offending clippy neighbour with. I needed some special mushrooms. Not button mushrooms, you understand, the proper moody kind. And there was only one place to find them.
This morning, I set off down the track from my home in the hedge and waddled down the windy path, admiring the bloody thwacking twigs that battered me as I went. In the midst of the clearing, I saw an interesting character, secluded in the woodland. There was a naked man in front of me. I would have covered my eyes but I am not ladylike, so in the true spirit of an intrepid walker, I copped an eyeful. His reputation locally, was rather colourful. His name is Phineas Beerbaum-Tree, he’s synonymous with streaking across the village green and upsetting cricketers on a Sunday. There is also a rude word tattooed on his bottom. It’s so incredibly rude, nobody will speak of it’s meaning.
He was standing within a dying oak tree, twice struck by lightning two summers ago. He was what polite society call ‘in the bollocky buff’ and reading Edward Lear poems to a wood pigeon that looked thoroughly bored. This curious fellow captured my attention, so I scuttled forward in the shrubbery and took a closer look. I was transfixed. It seemed he’d fashioned a home in the bark of the tree, and lived solely on some kind of local mushroom I’d not found before. Interestingly, this diet furnished him with very grand ideas, he began telling the pigeon that on Wednesday he’d invite the Grand Mushroom Druid of Sharpness to a powwow, where local visionaries sit and share their notions with one another. His latest idea was dog trousers. Well, bugger me……
I ventured back to my hedge and telephoned my sister, Aunt Bench, on the yoghurt pot phone. It was a mistake. Not only does the woman have a penchant for sailors, but the mention of a gentleman in the nude sent her into a spin. She made a 120 mile trip in half an hour, which is not wise during a plague. The horse-drawn plague guards are monitoring the roads for naughty people travelling unnecessarily, and worse still, a bearded woman travelling with her deranged daughter was bound to attract attention. Her daughter Folly has a simple mind and an adoration for explosives, she’s been known to blow her own feet off before. An hour later, the three of us were in my hiding spot, hearing the naked tree man talking to some woodlice about the plight of the Indigenous People’s of the Americas. Folly was busy wiring up some Semtex she’d brought with her fuzzy felts, Aunt Bench was lusting after the tree man. I was getting bored and needed a wee.
We witnessed a woman near the tree, standing next to the biggest mushroom I have ever seen. This woman had been a librarian before the plague, and a very straight-laced sort too. She clearly wasn’t straight-laced today, she was singing a song about penguins and the dietary habits of matadors – in other words, she was totally off her tits. My dilemma was, how do I take a piece of this mushroom and get away?
Thankfully, nature intervened. It seemed Phineas had, in addition to his mushroom diet, had imbibed a plethora of imported ale known as ‘Wizard’s Sleeve’. I don’t know how many he had, but the resulting fart knocked out not only Phineas, but the librarian. Even the mushroom wilted. I seized my chance, scuttled through the shrubbery and hacked off a piece, stuffing it into the pocket of my hessian dress. I noticed the gathering cloud lingering a foot above the grass, it was quite green and alarming. I covered my nose and mouth with my plague mask while I saw woodland animals warn each other and show the slower ones where the exits were.
This gave me a grand idea. I took out a bell jar I found in my other pocket, and stepped forward into the clearing. The gas was so noxious, I saw the brass buckle on my old leather shoe bubble and turn a strange shade of lime. I rarely turn down an opportunity, and an interesting idea began to play out in my mind. Local sanitizing stations were feeble at stopping the spread of plague, and I wondered if I could catch some of the fumes and dispense them for a reasonable payment.
After one week, I am quite splendidly furnished with money. Phineas Beerbaum-Tree has has a 15% cut of my business. I’m going door to door with his dreadful fog and cleansing everything in sight (nothing could sustain life in that stench), and the rewards are good. However, all was not well in the woodland. Folly had blown up the tree Phineas was inhabiting. He became very cross indeed and cursed her to eternity and stole her left shoe. The librarian was still off her tits and didn’t notice.
Aunt Bench had disappeared. I found out later, through the Clopton Mandrill Police Station that she’d been found wandering the length and breadth of Sharpness Docks looking for the Grand Mushroom Druid in a bit to marry him. Alas, the man was already wed to eleven shrieking trollops in white floaty gowns, all clutching cow parsley adorned with cuckoo spit. Aunt Bench flew into a rage and caused a terrible scene at which point she was arrested for acts unbecoming a woman in her late forties. But, for now, my mushroom is in tact, Phineas is still on the Wizard’s Sleeve and providing valuable fuel for my business, and the plague deaths are lowering on a daily basis. Until next time, dear readers, stay safe (both of you). Toodle-pip!