Ilfracombe Women’s Fight Club

Since the christening of dear Ruprecht, the aunts and Folly and I have returned to Devon to continue our holiday. The christening took a toll on us that only the musings of Pluto could cast a darker shadow upon. The ambience in our little holiday hedge is a fraction from becoming maudlin. The aunts are restless, and I wish Bench had brought the storm straps for Folly, she needs to be restricted. But we decided to have a day out.

This descended into Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell when wandering around Ilfracombe, we finally found Aunt Bench (we’d lost her after the Limpet Festival) – she’d found a fisherman. We gently informed her that she need not be a fisherman’s friend. Especially not this one, he has a third eye, and I don’t mean in a spiritual sense. Vom put an end to it. So Bench is now moping about, still oblivious to Folly, who has found some deviants. But that is another matter.

The good news is that it’s Tuesday, and we go home tomorrow. I’m anticipating the arrival back to my hedge home and seeing the toads once again. But for tonight, we are on a ladies’ night, and there is an establishment in the harbour that is sensitive to ‘women of my ilk’. Apparently it is a pagan themed bar with symbolic imagery. I shall offer my patronage with an open mind….I’m as good an earthy pagan as anyone but if it’s full of bloody fairies, I’m off. Can’t stand them – they drop bits everywhere.

Well, we walked into The Wizard’s Sleeve at half seven, it was like a coven meeting after the discovery of a new cheese. They had wonderful musicians playing, who called themselves ‘Matted Thatch’ – the music was heavy metal and it was loud. Coincidentally, I put two cubes of emmental (the only thing it’s good for) into my ears to cope with the volume, so I could stand at the front for what the youth call headbanging. I discouraged Vom from bodysurfing, as she tends to over-egg and use it as an excuse to start brawls. We ordered pints of something called Druid’s Fluid. It sounded dubious, but it was a lovely dark pint with tones of treacle and dried weasel. Vom was a hit with the locals, comparing broken noses (or flat bugles) and they had a contest to see who’s had been broken beyond repair. Vom won hands down. We then found ten pints of Neptune’s Arse on the bar and suddenly, women were squaring up and bets were being taken.

Vom is on the right – she was already in fighting mode as the rules were no beards (it encourages pulling and unbecoming conduct). The woman on the left is Blanda Stent-Coddler, a trapeze artist from Aylesbury. She is a tough nut, and used to live in Plumstead where she’d fight anything with a pulse in an alleyway. Her skills are spitting, biting, and the Quarter-Nelson – she has that much attitude she can’t be arsed with the full half. Vom’s skills are slick, deadly and brutal – the woman could kill someone with a jar of Marmite in the blink of an eye. I was just sipping a fresh pint of Flaccid Bishop when the whistle blew and the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. It was a vicious fight, lasting only 30 seconds. Vom beat her hands down – with the nostril fling and a kick up the jacksy. The prize was 10 guineas, and a trip up Lynton Clifftop Railway (we gave the ticket away).

All in all, a marvellous evening. As we exited the Wizard’s Sleeve, a stool shattered through a window, and a woman punched a random man coming out of the public toilets. I wrote a rude word on somebody’s motor car window, and Bench uncharateristically told a seagull to f**k off. We stopped at the harbour as it was nearing the hour of high tide, and a popular time for people to stand near wooshy bits and get caught out. We were thrilled as four thick people stood low down on the slipway and were surprised by the ferocity of the tide. We left for the Hunan Palace and ordered a giant spring roll each, which was extra crispy, then flopped into bed for a dreamless sleep. Apart from Bench. She woke up at four, screaming about giant ants. Vom chinned her, and we all slept soundly.

Christening And Other Joys

Well, the day went off without any arrests, no ambulance and dear Ruprecht Widdy St. Vitus was named. Aunt Vom and I were a little crestfallen, to tell you the truth, it was a rather stuffy affair with ridiculous bonnets and snakes-bum-in-a-sandstorm smiles. So, to water down my ascerbic tone, I’ll describe the christening in verse. And hopefully it will come out ‘nice’.

Are we not the happiest bunch,
All dressed in black and grey?
All clipped and preened and washed and plucked
For a happy, jolly day.

Aunt Bench conditioned her little beard,
And I ‘Ped-Egg-ed’ my chin.
Folly brought along a dead hedgehog,
Aunt Bench put it in the bin.

Aunt Mary Jaffa fainted at once,
Aunt Turgid read a book to some dogs.
Cousin Girda threw an absolute fit,
When she shared my bath with some frogs.

Aunt Claymore thought the whole affair seedy,
Aunt Gourd did not come at all.
‘It’s the work of the Devil’ she cried down the phone,
And fled to a hole in her hall.

I finally nicked the christening robe,
Made of stuff of which I am vexed.
It’s all lace and silk and embroidery things,
I swear to god we’ll be hexed.

We walked to the barn with the phoney priest,
A one-man-band led the way –
Playing ‘Lip Up Fatty’ on harmonica,
And an excerpt of ‘Whip-Crack-Away’.

When the childs name was first read out,
A snigger came forth from Aunt Vom.
Then Aunt Blenny spun round glaring,
So she quickly sat up with aplomb.

Then, amazed I was at the Godmother –
As Folly’s name was called out by the priest.
What possessed this lunatic pair?
To entrust her with their beast?

Uncle Truss was snivelling proudly,
And wiped his nose on his wife.
And worst of all, on their family side –
Scrofula is awfully rife.

Mrs Stiff Black Hat with her earrings,
Called for a church, with one finger jabbing.
A knife then appeared from under Vom’s skirts,
But I stopped her, I couldn’t do with a stabbing.

At the end of the day, the photo’s were done,
But we were not asked to join in.
So the black suit pious-clan gathered,
Looking like they’d all sat on a pin.

Back to my hedge for some drinkies,
And their noses turned up at the door.
They weren’t comfy in my little hovel,
With the webs and the leaves on the floor.

Stiff Black Hat doesn’t do cuckoo spit,
And ‘the hessian crackers weren’t nice’.
But the Old Earwig’s Reserve went down lovely,
And stopped them all moaning about mice.

After six dreadful hours they left,
Ruprecht happily screaming away,
His beloved moustache was shaved off,
He’d pined for it most of the day.

Thank Heavens they’re going at last,
I couldn’t be polite if they’d linger.
As their car drove off into the distance –
Us girls held up one middle finger.

(For those unfamiliar with the product, a ‘Ped-Egg’ is the cheese gratery thing you use for extra hard skin on your feet. No affiliation.)

A Newborn In The Family – Ruprecht.

This is what happens when two people are attracted to one another from opposite sides of a crowded room…….
Last week, the yogurt pot telephone was ringing it’s string off, only to convey the cheery news (really?!) that there is a new addition to the St Vitus clan. That means I’ve got to go into John Lewis again and nick another christening robe. After the problems I’ve had with the filth, I fear they have a bloody cheek asking.

Aunt Blenny and Uncle Truss (pictured), met two years ago at a Wasp Hiding Course in Hemel Hempstead. Apparently their eyes met and, after his spastic colon pains subsided and Blen stopped singing, they got on like a house on fire. They married in a coal-hole three weeks later, overseen by fifty-six chimney sweeps (St. Vitus has the highest population of chimney sweeps per square foot,rivalled only by Frampton-on-Severn with seven every twenty yards). I was allowed to be bridesmaid with my bestest brown sack poncho thingy and pretty wooden shoes. I even had some goose grass fashioned into a lovely Sticky Bob ball to hold, and a plantain in my hair. It was rather sickly affair, they are both a bit wet to be blatantly truthful. And there is nothing manly about Truss. 

They had a bloody baby. A boy. They’ve already got one boy, Dimity Simba St. Vitus – a child with too much snot in my opinion. And now we have Ruprecht Widdy St. Vitus. Aunt Vom nearly choked when they announced the name, then cacked herself laughing. Aunt Mary-Jaffa thinks it’s sweet. I don’t know what Aunt Turgid made of it all, she was still faffing about with lizards. Aunt Weevil reckons the baby will turn out to be a deviant….? I must ask her on her reasons behind that thinking. Aunt Gourd thinks it’s unnatural, as there was no presence of a bread van to deliver the baby – thus, she’s written the whole affair off as the work of the devil and shan’t be attending the christening.

Great Uncle Colobus will be pleased as he often said marital couplings should involve BOTH parties.. He thought Truss wouldn’t produce a child as he always did it on his own, so that Blen wouldn’t have to down tools (pardon the pun) and stop cleaning.

The family are coming over from Crackton-on-Butt in the next hour, I’ve got 62 baps to butter and a vat of Old Earwigs Reserve. It will simply have to do. Aunt Bench is feeling broody apparently, and spent a lot of time at the docks in hope of something called “jiggy-jiggy”. My palms are slick with dread at the thought. Just as I asked if she could cope with another one, Folly managed to blow her feet off in the garden after playing with some cotton reels and some old semtex. I rest my case. The only time Bench ‘rode the hobby horse’ with anyone, she became infatuated, wrote him six love letters each day, and followed him everywhere until the old bill told her off. And that was thirty-two years ago.

But I couldn’t let you go without seeing Ruprecht. The little darling. We will be welcoming him to the town, by marching in a line behind a one-man-band. Then when we get to the barn, the backstreet bishop will perform the service. He’s not a real bishop, but he’s good at fishing, and Uncle Colobus slipped him a bit of bunce for his troubles. Ruprecht takes after his mother, with a fine moustache already in place. 
Born at three years old, he can already tie his shoes (which he came out wearing), and is a marvel with quadratic equations. I might ask him about the woodchuck question.

Lynton Limpet Festival

Good evening, my little coddled eggs. I am writing to you from a very plush holiday hedge in Devon, which is most satisfactory. Within the windswept twisted twigs, I have a USB socket and WiFi, a luxury bed and a buggered toaster. I’m staying with Aunt Vom, Aunt Bench and Folly for the grand event of the Limpet Festival in Lynton, North Devon. It’s been a mite fractious getting here, as Aunt Vom borrowed (later found out nicked) a motor car and drove us here at speeds that have lifted my eyebrows a whole inch. The upside is I look 15 years younger, but like a startled owl.

Lynton is a curious place, and should be famous for tortoises, as the pace is so crawly. I began to feel old just by looking at other people. There was, sympathetically, a Cobweb Shop, for the young at heart, encouraging people to slow down and mix with the general ambience. For those who have a fair walking pace and avoid dawdling in the middle of roads and pavements, or those who can decide what they would like for lunch within forty minutes, it’s possible to buy cobwebs to place over oneself in order to blend in.

The festival commenced this morning with a marvellous opening speech from a local Limpet name Gavin. Apparently he is marvellously clever, and his vocabulary is unrivalled even by Stephen Fry. He spoke passionately at length about the life of limpets in this area, their plight in facing the building of tidal defences and the certain evictions of rock families, and he touched on issues concerning the rise of flat-earth theory followers and the demise of good manners. This was all highly commendable, and apparently other limpets clapped loudly, but regrettably I noticed Aunt Vom clenching her teeth. It was about to kick off.

Local disgruntled limpets, they want justice not cream teas

The difficulty started when Vom began talking under her breath, someone came over and Shshshh’d her. Her top lip blanched beneath her beard (this is how you tell she’s really pissed), and she reached into her portmanteau for a Chinese throwing star (that’s the other way you know). Vom launched into a diatribe about how we’d all paid good money to travel to see this spectacle of wonder, only to find that because it’s a speech by a Gastropod, nobody has a clue what he’s saying. The organiser tried explaining that although you can’t hear the Limpet speaking, his words speak directly to the subconscious, so you walk away with an invisible gift to the soul. I quite liked this. Vom didn’t.

She chinned him. The organiser began shouting about abuse in the workplace and fished out a clipboard. That was the last straw. Clipboards are like a red rag to a bull where Vom is concerned, at which she swiftly flung her stool at him and the whole crowd whipped up into a brawl. There’s still a folding chair on the roof of the Rising Sun pub, and someone’s cockerel weather vane is well buggered.

Notwithstanding, we did have a very pleasant afternoon. We got Vom out of the nick by fibbing dreadfully about menopause and the effects on the female temper. The fact that it was recently International Women’s Day helped, I feel. So we decided we’d take the Cliff Top Railway which was like a bone-shaking water-powered lift with definite issues of altitude sickness and alarming perspective. I managed to keep things jolly while Vom orated that the whole system is designed to dupe the visitor. She claimed it’s solely for thick people to stand at the bottom, squint up with mouths open like dead fish, pay thruppence, then stand at the top only to squint down with mouths open like dead fish, then be conned out of sixpence for tea and a bun without the pleasure of ‘feeding dangerous gulls’. We almost avoided a fight in the carriage, when Vom stated nobody who lives in the Midlands should be allowed to travel outside the Midlands. Mr and Mrs Ivor Mirkin of Edgebaston were restrained while she rambled, and their sudden fall over the side will remain a mystery. All in all, it was a lovely view and all was going well. Then we had to get Folly out of the Poison Unit, as she’d eaten something in someone’s clifftop garden and began hallucinating and frothing. To be honest, I didn’t notice for twenty minutes.

Clattery thing that attracks people who say ‘Ooh look Stan!’

I am baffled as to three questions, however, which I feel need answering. With regards to North Devon, why are there fudge shops every ten paces? And why do people walking in front suddenly stop without warning to take a picture of something totally irrelevant? And why in the name of Saturn’s Arse do couples decide to walk like a one-man-band with heavy weather clothing, crampons and walking poles when they’re only moving 30 feet from the car park?

Oh, and one more. We were a party of four. Where in the name of Zeus’s nutsack is Aunt Bench?

SOS! I’ve Committed Torticide!

I must confess I made the gravest mistake today. Folly is jollying off on a Hiding Weekend with the ‘Nervous Branch of the Girl Scouts’. Bench became dreadfully fractious on the yoghurt pot phone and threw a total hissy. I was conned into aggreeing to look after Wesley.
Wesley is a tortoise.
Despite the name of my blog, I don’t fare well with these creatures. This particular shelled joy looks like Douglas Hurd when he’s pondering something very carefully.
It’s so frustrating, he doesn’t ‘do’ anything. Well, actually, that’s a slight untruth, he did at first. His head came out, he moved his mouth like an elderly man demanding sustenance, then retreated when he saw me. Now he is dreadfully quiet.
Aunt Bench should have kept him, especially as he belongs to her daughter. Unfortunately Bench is as a spa this week with Aunt Claymore and Cousin Girda. Aunt Claymore is being waxed (head to toe), Cousin Girda is being waned, and Bench is having some splendiferous conditioning jollop carded into her beard by a Tibetan throat singer.
So I’m lumbered with a sedentary tortoise. He doesn’t appear to enjoy entertainment.
I decided to ditch the ‘flinging’ idea at two o’clock due to his look of total disdain, in the
hope he might like some light music. So I put on La Tapatia radio from Mexico. But he didn’t move. I performed shadow puppets, I made a batman mask by turning my hands inside out over my eyes. Nothing. I did the classic – here is the church, here is the steeple – but the ungrateful little boggart gave me nothing to work with.
So I thought – food.
I had flageolet beans with goat’s rue and tree bark for dinner.
And thought he might like some……………………..

My shrieking classes start in a week, and I’ll be done for Torticide. I’ll be imprisioned for taking the life of a small dry thing (by mistake), and sentenced to community service. This is a horror, as it means being present in the community. I’ll have to sort jigsaws for a jumble sale (most have a missing piece and I just want to hurl a stool at the donator). I’ll have to make pleasantries (speaks for itself). Worst of all, I’ll have to ‘unwhelk’ myself and do ‘people’ – that could end in a fight, so I need to tackle the issue alone.
I can’t use the ‘hibernation’ excuse, as I did that with the last one. I can’t say he ran away, as he’s got a tracker built by NASA. I can’t say he’s dead because Bench will get Aunt Vom to get a Triad to kill me.
So I need options.
I have killed tortoise with either flageolet beans, goat’s rue or tree bark.
Or all three.

So I’ve blown the candles out, I’m sitting in my hedge with an emergency torch
and the Radio Times and some Bovril, because I’m in hiding until I
know what to do. I’ve also got my hands placed over my eyes so no-one can see me.
If any of you dear people have any suggestions, please share them with me – I’ve still got time on my side. Bench isn’t back for three days, and Folly’s weekend hiding thankfully only ends when someone finds her.

Yours in fearful imancipation,

p.s. If anyone could post some Twiglets I’d be well chuffed (just put my name, hedge, Trebollocks). Also, if you possess the newflangled contraption of a yoghurt pot phone and you are a solicitor offering free advice, my number is St Vitus 201.

Important Woodchuck Ratio – For The Mathematical Reader

I was pondering aloud a question which has touched the very depths of my brain for years. Just how much wood can a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?One of my readers, Heather, commented on the fact that I should not ask questions about woodchucks and their work ratio with out the backup of advanced mathematics.


Well, I’ve have the measure of this woman with her fancy ways. So, here is a very hard sum. I wore my twig spectacles and brought out an abacus and a sextant, which means I am very clever. This is the result –

I have calculated that 612 over 35-7 for the thing, needs to be timesed by a 4% drop in activity on a 16min tea break. Then times by a 124 degree bend for beak ratio over a wide angle of 631.444 doobreys, divide by Widdy, and add the number of wankel rotary engines in a seven mile radius over a log pile of 619.

The result is: A woodchuck can clear 6 logs, 4 twigs, and clear 2 piles of leaf litter when he’s almost finished.

(And yes, Heather, I have shown my workings)

Mr Buff Orpington-Brown

I will explain a few things about ‘Buff’,
He is known to many in town.
Trebollocks would be blander without him,
Mr Scrimpton Buff-Orpington-Brown.
His eyebrows sweep rubbish from the streets,
He’s erratic and changes directions.
He is a master woodworker, but strangely,
No-one wants to see his erections.
The smell of his clothing is legendary,
Like cats pee mingled with cloves.
He likes to break wind in the library –
And send out the public in droves.
Everything is labelled with Dymo,
Even the Dymo labeller itself.
It’s kept in a box marked with Dymo,
On a clearly marked ricketty shelf.
He knows when the freezer was defrosted,
By a Dymo label, he’s told.
But he doesn’t know the fridge-life of cheddar,
As the date is obscured by grey mould.
The man has pamphlets on everything –
From scrofula to chronic amnesia.
And he’s been up to Slimbridge ten more times
Than a Canada Goose with a Visa.
Proper poetry must always rhyme,
Or he’s totally unblattidly appalled.
Pam Ayres rules, Plath is pants,
and Spike Milligan had no talent at all.
To build his collection of objects,
He fishes strange things from a skip.
Then keeps them ten years for good measure,
And takes them off down to the tip.
Famous he is, and a legend in town –
He’s unbeaten in oddness by far.
And he’ll offer you a lift, when it’s raining,
If he remembers where he parked the car….

Grand Tortuga Flinging Festival

Hola! Mantequilla! Zapatos! Orificio Nasal!
‘Tortuga’ is Spanish for tortoise, I’m told, so it’s my new word. I’m home after a whirlwind surprise holiday in sunny Gran Canaria. I won a prize after entering a competition on a box of fly papers and answered the following question correctly….’When is it considered acceptable to electrocute a sleeping relative?’. And would you believe…. Jolly Dee! I won! (Weev is fuming as I tore up her entry and copied her answer, she’s now telling everyone I was in the nick – no doubt she’ll get me back…my wart insurance is due for renewal soon…)

I flew out from St Vitus on a sort of pedaloe with wings, and sat next to the gunner. It was a pleasant flight, with the bugs hitting my goggles and a crap view of the sea. I landed in Bahia Feliz in the early hours of Sunday 14th. The temperature was still very warm, and I found a new level of stench in my sack attire. Nice.
My company was fabulous, a collection of ten of us who enjoyed annoying other tourists, eating everything in sight, and drinking almost anything that was labelled (and some things that weren’t). We haggled in markets with the looky-looky men selling dreadful sunglasses, swam in crystal blue pools (a far cry from the ditch I live near), and poked fun a people changing under small beach towels.

Well, the bonanza was fabulous. Juan de la Vega (above) was there with his matador act. He is my hero. I got his autograph, and he shook my hand. I shall not wash it again, although he washed his very quickly after. He was mildly impaled by one tortoise, but it was only a flesh wound. We were hoping for something more, as the Arguineguin Tortoise Flingers were late, and the act was getting a little stale.

The Arguineguin Tortoise Flingers finally arrived, and broke not only a Canarian record, but a World Flinging record of 320.8ft. The longest fling in history since Edward II had a go, and fibbed about the result.
After tortoises are launched off the cliff, they gather at the bottom to come back up and take their places for the next flinger. The picture above is a birds-eye view of the lift coming back up after the first round. The tortoises pictured are multi-lingual, and are all sponsored by Speedo and San Miguel beer.

This was the picture I took of Juan de la Vega’s tortoise, after it went on the rampage. It is a particularly aggressive species and broke free of its moorings several times. It ate an old lady called Renata. The x-ray I saw clearly shows her in the beasts stomach, still knitting away. Bless.
Apparently it had been fed peanut kit-kat in addition to breakfast, and that is not a good idea.

Then we had music. First were the Fataga Reptile Orchestra accompanied by a small singing gecko from Sioux City. Next up was a variation on ‘Lip Up Fatty’ from the Maspalomas Naked Singing Troupe….nuff said – a little twee for my tastes. Then we were charmed by these two delightful children, Maria and Miguel Vileda, played the tortoise for us. Maria is pictured tuning the tortoise, while Miguel is on standby to hold the legs and begin playing.
Although this picture seems full of jollity, I was suspicious that it was a case of the children fulfilling the dream of the parents. Maria confided to me that all she wanted in life was a bloody Nintendo DS.
Miguel didn’t comment. His face says it all.

So, I finally flew back in to good old Blighty on Sunday, and they didn’t even bother to land. Just pushed me out over the airport with only my double chin as a parachute. Charming. Passport control below got very crabby when I ‘didn’t look like my photo’, and it appears that my unshaven appearance had fooled them. I usually keep a smooth chin (despite the odd habits of my sisters), and a three inch of growth like a pampas grass meant I was immediately whisked off to an office for interrogation as to the whereabouts of thirty pounds of semtex. At that point, I remembered last month that I couldn’t find my passport. At the same time, Aunt Vom had been on a ‘weapons run’ to somewhere, and I just bloody knew she’d stitched me up.
Well, after a bribe with some Honey Rum laced with cuckoo spit, and a naked picture of Jeremy Irons, the customs bugger let me in.

I hope to be back in good old G.C. soon, and take my perfected shrieking act to the Spanish masses. You never know, if you’re familiar with the island, you may well see a haggard, warty, stinking old bat shrieking professionally one day from the top of Roque Nublo. Pip pip and glad to be back with you all! Missed you like buggery….well, not quite like that.

Bench Of The Week

Today is Friday, and time to celebrate ‘Bench Of The Week’, so for those among you who may have missed earlier posts – here is Aunt Bench.

Aunt Bench is one of my elder sisters, and lives in East Bung, with her only daughter, Folly. Bench has never quite recovered from a difficult birth experience, as Folly was delivered by tractor pulling. Even now, the trauma has left Bench with a terrible addiction to licking fly papers, and we frequently find her slumped by the pantry cupboards, stuck to several sheets of it, in a state of delirium.

Folly is now 30, but I fear Bench will always feel the need to leave her under the beady eye of Mrs Coddy, who in my opinion is like the SS branch of neighbourhood watch. Bench enjoys several hobbies, including staring at people in public, beard shows, barking classes, quilling and looking at the letter ‘o’ (some folk really are odd, you know).

As a young child, she was a skilled competitor in our local dance competitions, and would frequently wow judges with her own slant on the St Vitus Dance, a regional favourite. Her fears and phobias include brown windsor soup, question marks, woad, and Folly, her daughter. She has favoured the more delicate beard, in contrast to Vom and Turgid, who do not like using the thinning scissors. Bench likes the feminine look, which also causes her to wear sleeves as she does not care to display her Navy tattoos in public.

As a member of the RSPB, she fosters abandoned wrens, which she allows to nest in her hair. The bun allows them warmth, shelter, and security. When on a bus into town, or in the vets to get her jabs, you could be forgiven for thinking she’s innocently adjusting a hairpin, when actually she is often posting in a mealworm that she’s stealthily taken from her handbag to feed her adopted brood. Also a member of Crow Lovers United, she has made an effort to learn their language. She is often observed on other people’s television aerials ‘kaaarking’ her head off, stealing chip papers from bins and rampaging across car parks to rip off windscreen seals with her ‘pretend’ beak.

A fascinating, odd, troubled soul. Many a time I could cheerfully take a plank of wood to her, but that’s family. Well, it’s mine, at any rate. But although, like Bagpuss, she is a baggy, and bit loose at the seams, Emily loved him. And we love Bench.

An Unexpected Diary Entry

I do not usually approve of such things as diary entries (in case one reads anything highly alarming or rude), but I thought I should include one today. My father never approved of diaries, thinking them crass and obscene items to be banished along with the egg whisk. This week has been a horror! My laptop is playing up, the socket at the base of the tree I use has blown a piffle-fuse, I’ve had raging Piddock Flu, and it seems my sister, Bench (above), has forgotten to come and collect her daughter who arrived for a week – over a month ago. I have written her a letter, and I’m posting the response I got this morning.

Dearest Bernard,
I am so glad you wrote, dear! Poor Folly! I’d had this nagging feeling that I had mislaid something. It was only when I read your letter that I realised that it wasn’t the pinking shears I’d lost, but my own darling child. Do send her back, dear, and I am so sorry to have been such an imposition.
You know it’s been a trial for me since she was born, and I honestly thought now she’d turned thirty that things would get easier. Tell me, has she grown much?
I await her return eagerly,
Warmest love and deepest apologies,


Well, I became a little exasperated of her at this point. Bench is a terribly selfish creature, and gets so absorbed in the Weasel Stretching Foundation that she doesn’t give a second thought to others. But I’m not entirely unsympathetic. Folly (pictured) is a treasure, but she’s dreadfully thick for a girl her age, and playing with traps and poisonous spiders in the garden is asking for disaster. Only yesterday, she set fire to her own shoes then pushed them into a letterbox (the public one – so you can imagine I’m wondering if my letter to Bench has been collected at all) Well, I can’t do much more about it this evening, so we’ll have a pleasant dinner before I take the spiders out for a last wee. I’ve got an adder or two left in the freezer and some chicory that needs polishing off so I’ll create something Marco Pierre White would be in awe of. Perhaps.