The Naked Tree Man, Some Magic Mushrooms and Anti-Plague Fogging

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!

The Spy, The Crumpet, a Bedpan and My Triffid

Good day, my little sackbuts, I trust you’re all well and behaving yourselves. I received the most intriguing set of instructions through the hedge mail this morning. It’s left me completely flabbered. It’s come from a relative of mine, pictured below. This is Cecile Stealth Bum-Trinket, a member of the more intellectual side of the family.

Cecile is the most glamorous of the Bum-Trinket clan, favouring nights at the symphony, flying planes (despite it being illegal for women), and international travel. She’s had many an interesting tryst with mysterious, cultured gentleman and constantly receives flowers, wine and gifts from Kings and the wealthy elite. She never has a hair out of place, her ensemble is immaculate (even when skydiving), and was the first woman in the family to shock by adopting the goatee over the full beard. Very modern and very, very chic.

Well, as I said, I received instructions. The note was delivered this morning by a crow, which waited in the tree while I read. The note was written in her beautiful copperplate script, and said ‘Meet by the canal bridge at 9pm, wear dark clothing, and bring the triffid. Now eat this note’. I did, and belched as elegantly as I could manage. I’d always suspected her a spy, her glamorous lifestyle and they way certain news would follow her visits. One family holiday to London resulted in a death by poison in Claridges. She used mascara laden with strychnine, and lent the brush to a foreign dignitary in the ladies. Occurrences like these make you wonder….

I fetched out my sack dress from the back of the hedge, I was the filthiest one that wouldn’t stand out. In fact, the aroma was so bad I could even convince a badger that I was a relative. But then, a dilemma. Where the buggery bollocks would I find the triffid? I had one somewhere, but it kept wandering off down the towpath. I set off with a length of rope (the bloody thing is 5′ 9” now, and built like a fell runner). After twenty minutes, I heard a scream and saw it boarding a dutch barge moored up on my side. Thankfully, it hadn’t started spitting, so I lassoed it and dragged it away from a lady threatening it with a teatowel and some tongs, and retreated with apologies saying ‘Oh he’s friendly, just a bit exciteable’.

At nine o’clock, I was by the bridge, hiding and telling the triffid to be quiet. He makes these clicking noises when people approach and nearly blinded two cyclists. Cecile whistled from the shrubbery, and we found each other. She looked so elegant in the moonlight, all in black, carrying a machine gun and a grappling hook. I passed her the triffid, who started pining for me but she tempted it away with the promise of the cyclists so he trundled off with her quite happily. That was that, or so I thought.

The next morning, I switched on my wooden laptop, and there, on a news headline was a picture of the woman below with this information: WOMAN FOUND DEAD FROM VIOLENT TRIFFID ATTACK NEAR YURGA! BRITISH ESPIONAGE SUSPECTED! Apparently her name was Uvula Bumova.

I clutched my wattling chins in horror. Was I now to face years of guilt as an accessory? To claim ignorance would not alter the fact. The shock was so much I let the toads stay home from school and we watched Netflix all day. Then just as I was about to clamber into my hessian pyjamas for bed, there was a knock at the hedge door. Another note. It read ‘Do not leave the hedge, you will be contacted – listen for the phrase ‘The moorhen has not returned his library books’. At first this made no sense – we’re in lockdown, the library isn’t open. Then I realised it was some sort of code.

The next morning, there was a dark figure lurking by the towpath and I heard ‘pssst!’. I ventured over and heard the magic phrase. It was Cecile, disguised as a cheese rolling competitor. After a long conversation, I had the full picture. Uvula Bumova was one Cecile’s counterpart spies, and had upset a wealthy businessman in Vilnius. While amid the throes of pleasure in a hotel room, she’d nicked his 100 year old family recipe for crumpets. These were easily more light and fluffy than British crumpets, and a well known British firm, and the government were appalled by this.

Then, while Uvula pretended to be visiting an elderly but dreadful folk trumpeter in a home, the secret recipe had been placed in a bedpan, for collection by a trapeze artist masquerading as a bread seller. The bread seller then hid it in a walnut and sesame loaf, who sold the loaf to Cecile, who’d flown it back to the UK to present to the well known distributor of crumpets. Uvula had become unstable and had to be ‘taken out’, hence the triffid, on the orders of the British Secret Service. I was at least, exhonorated for my part in keeping crumpetry alive and wonderful. I was given 6 packets, but told ‘jog on, love’ when I asked for a medal. However, Terry (the triffid) was returned to me alive and well. And spitting.

Cecile had had her light aircraft impounded after it was discovered on an abandoned airfield. She never used the same one for security reasons, so she’d cleverly managed to make herself another plane on the kitchen table out of a Boeing 747, components of a Dyson and two penny farthings. I was quite impressed.

After clearing the mess off the table and putting the larger components in a skip, we had a lovely afternoon of tea and crumpets. She fled at dusk into another mysterious foreign adventure.

I wish to extend my thanks to my readers (both of you), and wish you well. Enjoy the glorious weather, and please be careful of triffids on the towpath. Pip pip!

The Great Accordion Shortage

Good evening my little scallops. I am in my hedge, in isolation. To clarify, I often am due to my interesting collection of aromas, but now some bloke at No.10 has told me I have to. So I’m happily whiling away the hours making a wig of nettles (excellent for protection) and some hemlock pants for my neighbour (the curse of Mars didn’t work, so I’m hoping this will do the trick). This is generally how folk are dressing now, which is taking some getting used to. This is my apothecary, Mr Gavin Codslap. As plague masks are in short supply, he’s prescribed us all to wear a dead stoat on a thong around the neck to ward off infection. Stoats are few and far between, and Mr Codslap was arrested yesterday for selling deceased weasels for fifty guineas a pop, and fibbing about them being stoats. The judge passed sentence from the confines of a beekeeping suit painted with vodka. He’s been fined five pounds and been publicly humiliated by being called ‘very naughty’.

The shopping situation is now beyond ridiculous. Folk have been doing something called panic buying, a concept I was unaware of until I visited the local music shop last week. I wanted a triangle. Well, my ghast has never been so flabbered. One shelf was empty. It seems a rumour has been circulating that accordion music is the most effective way to stay well. Not content with listening to the radio, people have decided they must have accordions in the physical sense, to boost immunity.

The frightening thing about this, is that France is now being targeted by gangs of thieves in an attempt to illegally import them on the black market. Bulgaria and most of the Eastern Bloc are in the same predicament. Morris dancing is now illegal in England. Any person with a folk leaning is being stopped by police and searched, followed by a swift chinning if needs be. Apparently the ones with the hankies are the worst offenders, and really kick off when challenged.

This young man above, is an utter berk. He started the rumour. Coincidentally, he is the deranged child of a local businessman whose company manufactures accordions. The little sod is lining his own pocket. Aunt Vom got wind of this, and decided with the help of Aunt Gourd, that she would sort the little shit out. Unfortunately, Aunt Gourd was of no use whatsoever, and sat in the motor car reciting nursery rhymes to a nearby gull.

While lurking around the premises, Vom spotted the matriarch of the family, Mrs Cressida Tungsten-Girth. There are few who would trifle with her, she has a reputation so volatile that people from Cerney Wick cross over the road to avoid her. There was a rumour that she cut a man in two for looking at her funny. That’s lengthwise, by the way, not across the middle. She was happily playing away in the sunshine, sitting on an old crate, while Vom crept into the house through an open door she’d just kicked in. In no less than 40 minutes, she moved heaven and earth to shift 4,690 accordions onto the front drive. Then, using a small cannon she’d secreted into her underskirts, she fired on the pile of instruments.

It blew a hole straight through the foremost accordion, then all hell broke loose. It caught fire, and spread rapidly to the rest. Bizarrely, the heat surge caused the pile to begin playing themselves for a several minutes, and Vom marvelled at the cacophony of the most ridiculous music known to man.

The upshot was, the matriarch stormed out to see what the commotion was. She used very rude words (far too rude to write them here), and challenged Vom to a duel, saying their family business was legit and run by gentleman. Vom being Vom, didn’t even wait to accept, but twatted her with a garden shovel she had in her pocket. Her parting shot was ‘A gentleman is a man who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn’t’.

The tricky part came getting rid of the evidence. Vom hid the canon back up her skirt, and buried the shovel by digging a hole with a different shovel. When the cozzers arrived she avoided arrest by twatting the copper with the second shovel. She found a third to bury that one in case he’d called for back up.

So the rumour was quashed. No more dead stoats, no weasel mis-selling, and no bloody accordions. the only frustrating part was that by the time Vom got back to the motor car, Aunt Gourd was rattling on about ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and hadn’t noticed the gull had become somewhat fractious. It had crapped all over the car and stolen Vom’s last toilet roll.

Stay safe, my little dung beetles and I’ll keep you posted. Cheers and that. x

Apothecary for the New Era

Good Evening, my little blennies, I trust the Yuletide season has treated you well and is passing without event. I felt I was blessed this year, for upon Christ’s Eve, there was no invitation from strange family, nor announcements of arrival from the even stranger arms of family. My lucky binman’s shoe had done the trick – I thought myself free. Then on the day they call Boxing day came a rapping knock on the hedge (more a rustle actually), when I flung back the shrubbery, I saw Aunt Mary Jaffa standing in a quivering state.

I think I have mentioned before, her unexplained terror when confronted with the satsuma. No doubt her arrival meant an overload after repeated Christingle services over the Christmas calendar. Nonetheless, I was armed and ready. My dear friend, Mrs Fuschia Cowdung-Bletchley gifted me the most marvellous and intriguing book. I’m thrilled, it’s all about local Gloucestershire remedies from the canal and riverside plants. I’ve been aching to try them.

Aunt Mary Jaffa clearly has a case of the Tetters. In my tradition, it the book states she needs a soothing with a balm of wattle yeast, stewed gin and the nasal excretion of a fine sheep. I tried to harvest this with difficulty. I know it’s Veganuary, but Mr Sheep was getting rid of it anyway. Good friends of mine who communicate with the secretive Sheep Nation (a thing I am not initiated into), told me this was acceptable. Sheep gribly is at a premium, yet does not hinder the beast, and they are grateful of a nose blow on a chilly morn. All is well. Or so I thought.

It didn’t work. The Tetters persisted, and the toads became unruly and petulant with the upset.

I went back to the drawing board. I’d been hanging the boiled roots of a Loss Adjuster for hours over the Yuletide period, but they have little substance, and fall apart when you try to hoik them out of the pan. Yes, hoik, it’s a word, you know. I gave up on that and realised I needed wisdom. I visited the Fretherne Apothecary, run by Mr Gavin Codslap, a very tutored man. There is simply nothing he can’t cure, and he’s quite a dish with the ladies.

I ventured in and asked him some questions about satsumas, shaking and general gubbins. He is so handsome and so clever, he made me blush, even the wart on my chin quivered a moment. Apparently, I need to make a salve to calm Aunt Mary Jaffa’s privities in case hollow fistulas ensue wreaking havoc with the tunicles of her brain. I also need to beware of using Calendula as it may upset the balance of her clefts to the fundament, I must use Violet instead. She may have hot swellings to the matrix, for which Violet is a marvel, yet the fistulas must have Teasel applied to them (not whole, I feared, as they are prickly, and the woman cannot face a satsuma). Then onto the nerves, for which Senna procures the mirth (it certainly did in Carry on Cleo), followed by a fumitory which loosens the liver and spleen. Last on the list was Old Man’s Beard, to be rubbed on the earlobes thrice daily for calming effect and to encourage equilibrium within the soul. Hat on Biccy! All is simple!

Alas…..The last ingredient I needed was the sweat of the most diligent chimney sweep in the county. Gods! Is there no end to this labour!

After five exhausting hours following two of them near the canal, I pounced with a cloth of muslin and wiped their brows. The woman sweep was a mite annoyed as she was getting ready to venture out, and in fairness, looked lovely in her finery. The man was deeply frustrated as he was practising the violin, while waiting for the bathroom. I was sent off on my way with an interesting volley of comments and the most expressive eyebrows.

I finally got home to find Aunt Mary Jaffa sprawled on the moss bed, watching something suitably gloomy on Netflix. I was annoyed, she probably had not considered a thing called data allowance. I only have a twig router, which restricts me to five minutes of Upstart Crow per evening. The bloody woman had not only eaten this up, but no doubt incurred a massive bill. Note to self, find more twigs in the morning and bypass the connection.

However, I concocted my brew, adding and stirring while the bats nodded their appreciation of my efforts. The toads rubbed their webbed hands in glee as it poured into the mould to cool. I chanted over it while it cooled, and let the full moon shine through upon the whole process. It was epic.

Unfortunately, although the mixture was marvellous, I had another visitor that evening. Mr Fogus Brap, an unruly individual who sells fruit and veg at the market. He’d noticed Aunt Mary Jaffa and cat called her earlier in the day. She’d apparently smiled and they’d struck up a rapport – him calling her ‘totty’ and her smiling coyly. Match made in heaven…

As I walked in with my stinking salve, he was holding her hand promising her a proper life, with stolen bread, diamonds and a share in a wooden leg company. I strode forth trying to stop his babble of riches beyond her comprehension. But, to my horror and relief simultaneously, he produced not an engagement ring, but the luxury of a satsuma.

She went off on one good and proper.

And that is when, for the first time, I called Aunt Vom….

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year. I’ll post again after the cozzers have left….please don’t worry, I have a good left hook, and my nose is alright.

Tales of Witches and Other Curiosities

Good evening, my little chinstrap penguins. This weekend has posed most interesting, with the arrival of a distant relative from Scotland. This is Aunt Agnes of Ecclefechan. She is Grand Witch of the Trossachs, and is well trumpeted within the pagan community of Gloucestershire. She is a fearful woman, and, in all honesty, one does not want to be caught by the Trossachs.

On Friday morn, by the hour of seven, I was carefully stirring my pot of cajun adders, and checking that my hemp stockings were dry when I heard a whooshing sound. As I opened the hedge door, this impressively smart woman landed her broomstick and announced she would be staying. We made small talk awhile, over a cup of pig stubble tea, and chatted amiably about the weather and death. It transpires that she is to perform an exorcism at a local house, where dark things be gathering. (If you know the house, you would be not surprised by this, the family have more ghostly figures floating about than the Tower of London. In addition, the maid doesn’t dust, and I swear on St. Swivel that half these sightings are large cobwebs. They do like to dramatise).

So, on Saturday, we visited the cobweb menagerie in search of ghosts, ghouls and other ghastly apparitions. The first sighting of a ghastly apparition was in the doorway, when Mrs Studley-Constable opened the door. Never have I witnessed a more worthy label of the informal noun ‘munter’ before. Secondly, her husband appeared – Mr Studley-Constable is one that I find unsavoury. He was imprisoned for five years for poking flageolet beans into a hole. The newspapers never stipulated the whereabouts of the hole. We all shuddered. Now he stood halfway up the stairs in his longjohns. I felt my eyes were being murdered when he turned away to reveal the trapdoor still open. I was beginning to regret tagging along, and wished myself home with the toads on my lap, and Strictly via the twigless router. Alas, no quiet night for me, no plantain crackers, and no Bruno Tonioli.

We sat and discussed using a Ouija Board to contact the restless spirit and isolate the issues within the house. There were a couple of locals present, the Reverend from the Church of Holy Frowning sat beside Mrs Studley-Constable. Mrs Prestley-Bismuth was there also, just for the sake of collecting gossip. A vapid woman, with an annoying twitch, brought on by woodworm. Having waited for five minutes, the only thing that happened was a small fart from the Reverend which he failed to cover with a feeble cough. The mood blackened, and Mrs Studley-Constable fell into deep melancholy. When her husband, Wayne, finally entered the room, the table tilted violently, and the spirit spelled out ‘For the love of Mary cover your arse, boy!’. It went downhill from there.

It seems two Aunts from Mrs Studley-Constable’s family, had been wandering the rooms of their home in a state of desperate frustration. Both women in their lifetime were puritans, and became enraged at the sights they never saw when visiting. It seems Wayne would ‘dress up’ for company. Yet, since the Aunts’ death, his arse being bared to them on a daily basis was too much to bear. They’d smashed mirrors, windows, crockery, and glassware. They’d pelted him with trousers during the night. They’d placed sheets over his naked area, resulting in him wandering blindly down hallways and hitting his head on protruding lamps. They’d even managed to mix a Plaster of Paris and poured it into his crevice, to be finally rid of the offending sight. This resulted in him fearing he’d endured the most dangerous wedgie, and we all recalled the night he’d jumped into the canal, blaming his doctor again. (None of us have booked an appointment with the Dr Jenkins since).

Aunt Agnes called to the spirits in a most dramatic manner. She asked of them to be free of the bonds of human existence and free themselves from the shackles of this world. The answer came back ‘Not ’til the house be free of this vision of horror’ After pleading with them further, the reply came back ‘Jog the feck on’. The curtains blew, the house rattled and shook. Mrs Prestley-Bismuth had an attack of the vapours, and the good Reverend cacked himself. Aunt Agnes summoned Wayne and made him put trousers on (with the zip at the front). The house settled.

Just at that moment, three pointy women strode in. Locally known as the Ecclefechers, these three are capable of coping with the most fiesty and dangerous of spirits. From left, Priestess Annunciata of Fort William, High Priestess Tracey of Bristol, and Priestess Morag of Hamilton Academicals. They advanced with wands, pointed towards a gathering mist above the dinner table. I wasn’t entirely sure this was wise, as the spirits were gathering above us, but the good Reverend had broken wind in quite an epic fashion. It is unwise to banish a fart with a wand, there is a spirit in methane than becomes most angry.

Amazingly, they banished the unsettled spirits. Unfortunately, they blew the windows out completely. However, all is well again – Mrs Prestley-Bismuth has plenty of gossip and enough remaining eyebrows to pencil in. The Studley-Constables are happy with their new ‘trousers always’ rule, and something new-fangled called double-glazing. The Reverend is banging on about Ouija boards and how marvellous they are, which has sent his flock flinging themselves at Baptists in hope of salvation. Aunt Agnes and her ladies left after a slap-up tea of toadflax crumpets and henbane scones. I, happily, have found strictly on catch up telly, and recline cheerfully in my elm bark nightdress. Thankyou for reading, dearest followers, may your weekend be blessed with green beans without stringy bits, and may you always have enough cheese. x

Clopton Mandrill Inventor’s Extravaganza

My dear coal scuttles, I do hope you faithful readers are hale and hearty (both of you). It’s been a while since I posted, but a great deal has happened. I have had the plague, but recovered with the assistance of some new fangled inoculation and the sweat of a black toad in my morning tea. Folly is safely contained in, well, a container (Aunt Bench has restricted her movements to an underground bunker for the good of the community). Aunt Vom is in the nick again, the dear woman decided to pick a fight with her local MP. We’re unsure why, but apparently it kicked off after the rugby.

Well, exciting news! Clopton Mandrill is a hub of boffins. There are many bearded clever folk here, not including the women in may family. We are hosting our annual inventors extravaganza, and people from as far as Murmansk and Dursley are coming. It really is the most thrilling thing, as you will see from the photographs, we are at the forefront of technology in Gloucestershire.

On the shortlist for a prize is Professor Gaston Seagull-Trumpet. He has invented the ‘Rocking Bath’. It’s the most marvellous idea, though he is unable to deliver his pitch to the crowd as he’s repeatedly having his sinuses drained from the backwash. When he sneezes, a cacophony of scents from the Body Shop fly from his ample nostrils at a speed previously unrecorded.

Our next idea (one that I’m quite fractious about), is the Square Tandem, invented by Wayne Trismegistus and his pious assistant Annunciata Copulata. This, in my humble opinion, is not an invention. Firstly, it offers nothing to improve the bicycle. The unique selling point is that it may be parked on Coopers Hill and not roll away. The pair are dreadfully thick and deserve no platform for their nonsense. I’ve pleaded for their disqualification, but my shouts are unheard, in favour of ‘reality novelty’. Odd really, neither has had a relationship with reality for years. Not after a talking cowpat apparently related secret information from the Chinese Government regarding the strict law on sock pairings and the use of egg whisks resulting in immediate death.

Mr Todd Bunce from Shurdington (I still think that sounds like a dog dragging it’s arse across a carpet), has invented a quaint little quadracycle with a mounted gun. He claims this is for the good of mankind, when faced with aimless wanderers on something called ‘cellphones’. This is a man of the future. He has visited the cathedral, and been observed shopping in West Gate Street. Mr Bunce says that people have these communication devices in their hand, and dare to wander without looking where they venture, bumping into all and sundry. These folk are often too dazed by technology to apologise. The shocking gall of this astounds me. Well, his invention is able to mount a small missile which he can launch into oncoming bellends. There is room on the apparatus to store five of these missiles – this is ample within Gloucestershire county boundaries. I worry, however, that if he ventures into Bristol, that he may need many, many more.

Next we have Culloden St.Michaelmas Trout Farm. This bugger has ideas above his station. His proud invention is locally known as the ‘Roundy Thing’. It’s a unicycle of sorts, but the bounder is too lazy to pedal it sitting up. If it wasn’t for the starch in his shirt, he’d be horizontal. The son of a wealthy landowner, his principal duties have included the receivership of a manicure, and picking out his own outfits, with Mummy’s help. However, he dresses down for these occasions, and pretends to be a self-made man. That is, until Dowager Countess St. Michaelmas Trout Farm arrives and brings his sandwiches and favourite clothie. Note the rugged angle of his nose – Aunt Vom’s handiwork.

Last, but by no means least, is the invention of Aunt Mary Jaffa. The Methane Mask. So offended by the stench of others breaking wind in the workplace, she came up with this clever idea of a full head mask and breathing tank. The darling girl wants to campaign on parliament to have these installed in every work environment containing a woman. This has been booed dreadfully in our village, since most of the female workers belong to the Flagrant Buttock Society and are immensely proud of their heritage. I do not wish to damage her dreams, but I do wish she’d stick to worrying about satsumas.

So, there is the line up. I will report the winner when it is announced. Frankly, the festival poses a marvellous excuse to don my best woad, put on my twig couture and hobnob with the elite. Since I am feeling better, I may try my new hair preparation, made from seagull guam and the phlegm of an old boater. It holds in the highest wind, I tell you.

Good night for now, sleep tight and wishing you dreams of the best cheeses and really soft socks. And above all, avoid the traffic cones, in this county, you really never know where they have been.

Folly – And The Druidic Order…

Well, it’s been an eventful few days, I’m posting this from my temporary hedge accommodation provided by insurance, as we’ve had a little disaster. The company have been very nice, keeping me wrapped up with lovely itchy blankets, and provided a special box for the toads. I get fed three times a day (no hessian crackers here, though, and no Lungwort soup) but it’s better than an iron boot up the arse.

It all started two days ago…..

Aunt Bench, in a desperate plea, left a note, pinned to her daughter, on the doorstep of Mrs Coddy, who lives in the village. Bench is suffering episodes of ‘funny ideas’ and ‘wistful notions of sailors’ again. Apparently she needs a break. So at 6am yesterday, she put Folly on Mrs Coddy’s doorstep and with the note saying ‘Wait here until she opens the door, darling, and don’t be impatient and ring the bell’. Mrs Coddy finally surfaced and opened the door at 1pm, and found Folly eating the cow parsley. Of course, she was reluctant to take in a renowned disaster magnet, so she tactfully came to my hedge on the grounds that ‘family is better’. I could quite cheerfully kick Mrs Coddy up the arse…but she’ll keep for now. No-one will look for her under her own patio.

I managed to keep Folly entertained and out of trouble for the first night. While she was distracted in destroying a perfectly good piano with grandfathers’ mace, I had time to hide the matches, flammable liquids, and anything that could be set fire to or detonated. Once my task was completed and I’d taken the bolt cutters off her for the third time, I tried to teach her counting, which failed after she ate the flageolet beans I was using for demonstration purposes. Then I decided a game of Ludo would be nice, but she’s eaten four green counters and two yellows, and Lord knows where the red one went. So I switched tack and we watched ‘Snatch’ on my new wooden DVD player that Aunt Weevil made for me. It’s marvellous, a little grainy in the picture, but great for what I need. And Brad Pitt was in his most handsome, hunky role….I digress.

The following day, Folly became bored and wandered. It transpires that she stumbled upon a ceremony in a field, and became engrossed in the proceedings. The group she found was none other than the Order of the Golden Woodlice, a local Druid grove, whom I’m cursing with the Square of Mars as they’ve bloody taken her to their bosom. Pictured below, is Grand Priestess Uvula and her two sprogs, Tristan and Crispin. There are many others, including local Simeon St. Gribble, a wealthy financier and general shit.

Folly came back after dark, covered in twigs and stinking of Prinknash Abbey incense, claiming to have ‘found her path’ and ‘realised life’s true meaning’. Part of me was encouraged, if this meant she’d stop blowing her feet off while playing with semtex, maybe there was a glimmer of hope? She did appear to be speaking sense for once, harping on about the death of the Oak King and making way for the darkness once more. She even spoke about the value of hemlock in tea for unwanted visitors. Had we finally turned a corner?

It seems I am rather naive. We hadn’t. I went to bed happy……

I slept fantastically, putting Folly’s new found spiritual path out of my mind, and only vaguely remember noises in the kitchen first thing. As soon as my subconscious shouted to me to get up and check on Folly, there was the most almighty ‘BOOM!’, followed by a cold wind and a rushing sensation.
The rushing sensation turned out to be my bed-bound airborne journey from my hedge, across the fields and byways of Clopton Mandrill, and onto the roof of St Crapulent the Martyr’s church in St. Grundy, seven miles away. If I hadn’t looked down on Aunt Vom fighting a bloke outside the Nun’s Chuff in Stroud, I would have thought I was dreaming.

According to the police, the fire department, and the bomb squad, a unique chain of events happened that defies human comprehension. But they gave it a title, and my heart sank when I read the heading of the report. It just said….’Folly Made Breakfast – NATO Class III Alert’.

Forensics said the damage was caused by three things:

1. Trying to cook a gas bottle in a pan on a gas cooker (she’d even seasoned it with Jamie Oliver’s Lemon & Thyme salt mill)

2. Poking dynamite into the toaster.

3. Baking some petrol soaked halibut in the oven at gas mark 8 for 30 minutes. (The fish had a chilli and flat leaf parsley rub, and was garnished with roasted shallots and peppers – all of which she claims were the real culprits).

Apparently, her Druidic experience had an elemental side to it, they said Folly is too ‘Water’, and needs to balance herself with ‘Fire’. I’m mildly curious as to their vetting process. Apparently she’d set fire to two of them with a flaming torch before they’d opened the Quarters, and they still let her in. It just goes to show some groups will take anybody. As for the fire balancing, my neighbour, Mrs Coddy, is still wailing about her eyebrows.

I now have to find Aunt Bench and tell her that Folly is being ‘counselled’ by a nice lady with a big cardie, chunky beads and a tasselled skirt. She’s informed Folly that ‘there are no real Druids’, at which point Folly had to be restrained as she became dreadfully fractious and totally kicked off.

The police have also told me that Folly is a death trap and must not be let out into the community again, at which point I was hopeful, until the social worker whined on about her rights. I was gutted. She’s been released into my custody, even after licking the face of two policemen. This is why I never spawned my own kind. The dear bats are so easy to care for.

Aunt Vom turned up and took her way, thankfully. When Vom got her home, she hung Folly up on a coat peg by the loop in her school blazer, and is leaving her there until the morning. I like to picture her like this, with her little feet dangling below. I’m so grateful to Vom, but furious with Bench. My hedge is ruined, Mrs Coddy is livid as the blast flattened six of her geese. They’re unharmed, but you can only see them when they turn side-on.
Clopton Mandrill has issued a state of emergency, and tens of people are homeless or living in dangerous conditions. The Royal Marines are being called in to clear up the mess. The mess was so scary, the Coldstream Guards ran away and told their Mums.

The Home Secretary and the Ministry of Defense are monitoring Folly, and instructing Aunt Vom on her care. the Russians have already been on the blower to Number 10 and said whatever the bribe is for Folly, they don’t want her. Even Donald Trump, who labelled her misunderstood in his Tweets, now claims ‘America is Full’, and won’t take her. The social worker popped in with advice on sharing and issues. Vom showed her her knife collection, gave her a Glasgow kiss, and the woman retreated with apologies.

So, no Fawlty Towers omnibus for me, no quiet teas by the canal, no crackly leaf carpet, no more hedge until it’s been checked and sealed by men in plastic suits with ‘creaky things’ that read radiation. I’m only able to write this thanks to the emergency dongle, kindly provided by Major Ponsonby-Goppin, of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. They play nice music as well. As I was being airlifted off the church, they did a drum display to keep us entertained. We all clapped, except the Vicar, who’d lost a hand in the blast.

Sadly, most of my spiders didn’t survive, but the Marines rescued Peadar, my best spider, and have housed him in a little box of his own. They also rescued Leopold and Erica, the tortoises, although, in their escape they’d only moved two feet in six hours.

I will report more when Clopton Mandrill is a little better restored, and I’m safe in the knowledge that Aunt Vom has nutted Aunt Bench for her stupidity. Meanwhile, any ideas on how to re-decorate my hedge? Do I go rustic again, or street chic? Hedge chic is very fashionable, but I do like to buck the trend. Maybe I’ll go post-modernistic punk/flapper. With cushions. Peep peep to you all, and sleep well, and may your week be filled with really nice upholstery.

Clopton Mandrill Village Fayre

Good evening, my little pogo sticks! I trust you are hale and hearty (both of you). Today has been a grand occasion. Since moving to my hedge in Gloucestershire, I am now accepted as a local within the village of Clopton Mandrill. Today was the Village Fayre, we all attended in our best finery (I wore my best sack dress which I nicked from the docks, and wore cow parsley in my beard). Aunt Gourd visited for the day, and brought stories to read to the cattle and sheep. I just let her crack on with that….

It was a marvellous sight by the canal, men and women flocked to the waterside and pointed at things. Some people stood on the bridge and pointed at the people pointing at things. The spotty youth in the foreground became fractious about the woollen bathing suit he was wearing (the Wool Rash has only just gone). He dispersed the crowd by shouting. He’s a frightful boy, with breath like a boar’s arse.

On a high note, we gained entry into the fayre in the big manor house by handing over our worldly possessions, in exchange for very little information on the event timings, and no social graces. This pleased me no end. It seems this yearly extravaganza is popular with folks (not local) who are as thick as month old cowpats. Apparently walking straight at someone while not paying attention is a marvellous sport here, as is stopping in the middle of a thoroughfare without warning. Both sports require vacant eyes and mouth breathing. I must look into the health benefits of this.

I did encounter a problem at one of the minor arenas. Cotswold Morris Dancers. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, every man with his hanky and long socks needs an outlet for the rage and misery of working in accountancy. But behind this band of leaping buggers there is a far greater threat to my sanity. The Accordionist. A gentleman, in my opinion, is a man who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn’t. I shall post further about this problem, as I don’t feel it prudent to vent my spleen on an otherwise joyful day.

It is a well known fact that every single dog in the UK attends this event. Aunt Gourd was thrilled and read Hansel and Gretel to seventy-four labradors, ninety-two spaniels, two thousand and fifty one Jack Russells, and the Berkeley Hounds. I’m not convinced they were all listening, although it was nice to sit with them, as they were intellectually more stimulating than their owners. Later in the day, she tried reading The Little Match Girl to an Irish Wolfhound, who ate the book then yacked it up on the path to the beer tent.

In the Crafts area these charming children were selling jars of poisonous things and all manner of noxious plants and substances. Part of their sales patter was reeling off the efficacy of their wares by listing the number of people who’d dropped off the census since they’d begun making them and ‘disappeared’. The display was fascinating, I purchased two jars of hemlock preserve and a spike imbued with digitalis (I have an awkward neighbour). I do champion industry in the youth of today. Sardine (on the left) is of French origin, and is hoping to find a career in holistic medicine.

On another stall were the Quedgeley Toad Balancers, who in my opinion, have become very elitist. They now have a uniform of white suits and have an air of superiority they’ve not earned. By the time they performed in the arena, they were too far gone on pints of Matted Thatch to balance themselves, let alone toads.

After wandering for hours, taking in the marvels, we visited the refreshment tent. I wish Aunt Vom was here, she would have enjoyed the company very much. On the above left photo, is Blandula Flap, a local woman who prides herself on holding two cups full of vodka on her bosom. She can do this even when running for a tram. The dear woman is using it as vital medicine, as she has politicians boarding with her. The woman on the right is Gert Sponk, and her sole aim in life is to turn her eyes a full 36o degrees, just by staring inwardly. Curiously, she also seems to need a good deal of vodka.

At the centre arena, we found the marvellous six-headed woman. Her name is Mary-Ann-Bette-Penelope-Violet-Colin. She’s the only six-headed woman in the UK with one male head. Bizarrely, the one thing that makes her unusual, is the head called Colin who saps the living energy out of you just by talking. Colin is a bellend. Thus, the other five heads drank the refreshment tent out of vodka.

Well, I’m back in the hedge now, the bats are asleep. They’ve enjoyed hanging about at the fayre with their local friends, but I don’t like them staying out too long. There’s a local gang by the bridges, and they are quite rebellious. It’s an early start for me tomorrow, I’m going to teach Shrieking Grade 1 at Gloucester College as a trial for a new teaching position. Wish me luck, and may a local goat stare at you for a long time.

The Great Woolrash Outbreak

Hello, my dear tea cosies. I do hope that you are well. And kind thanks for reading my blog, both of you. Life in my hedge in Gloucestershire is splendid, and I adore the canal activities. I have found a new job at the Alternative Thinking College of Thrupp, where I shall be teaching Shrieking, Advanced Hiding, and Pointing for the Unconfident. I’m overjoyed.

This week has been a trial. There has been a strange occurrence in our community, people began scratching and itching in a random fashion. I feared my hessian sack dress would soon follow this trend, but no, I am all well. It was a mystery. Farm hands and boat people were rendered incapable of moving machinery and craft due to the incessant itch. I asked where has this come from? Some agricultural mite? A spaceship? Swindon (wouldn’t surprise me)?

This is a pictogram, drawn by a local gentleman, Mr Dave Epiglottis. We don’t have cameras in this neck of the woods so he quickly sketched a throng of local boaters clawing at themselves to relieve the dreadful itch. Either that, or it’s an orgy, I’m not quite sure. Most look distraught, but Mrs Vileda Toller at the back, has that “look” of a woman in the throws of, well…..something.

Anyway. I did some research. I googled itchy things, and no information was forthcoming. So I invoked the Sheep God and asked her advice. Baaarbara. An ancient woolly deity, with eyes the wrong way, and a killer kick. Amid a fog of incense smoke, she told me the itchy plague was wool rash. And….dun, dun, derrr, the root of the issue was a man from Worcester. A bloody buggery weidron of a man who decided to plague Gloucester so he could step in, render the inhabitants incapable, and absorb the county in his own in preparation for world domination. Shocking. But world domination, as we know, often starts in the Cotswolds.

This is he. His name is Rabularia Stanton McFrog. He’s a ruthless git. He really does plan to take our lovely county. I trod the worn floor of my hedge wondering what to do and elegantly wringing my hands in a suitable Jane Austin manner. Then I ditched that and began swearing and cursing him for eternity. However, to curse a man fully, you need to sacrifice toads and have enough mugwort to mug a wort. And I didn’t. And I like toads. Satan once again is a seagull shitting on my breakfast flakes.

So, Plan B. I rang Aunt Vom, on the yoghurt pot telephone. She’d heard the news already, the canal bridges were shut as the bridgekeepers couldn’t keep still. Half the boaters were marina locked for the same reason. The other half were in the nick, for getting lairy and kicking off over substandard wool.

Aunt Vom arrived, with her crossbow and took him out. She’s on the run but she’s ok, I had a carrier pigeon saying ‘All good, in a B n B in Temple Cloud. Quite at home, they’re all mad. Love you lots, don’t tell the rozzers. Love Vom x’.

The rozzers are dubious. though thankful. A county domination has been averted, and the Army has air dropped a plethora of calamine lotion for the itch. We have thwarted his plans, and I do love a good thwart. So all is well again, and I will say goodnight. It’s a schoolnight, and the toads are up past their bedtime. Pip pip, my dears, and may you tunics always be starched, and your coddlers ever be warm.

The Grand Gloucestershire Cheese Roll and the Women’s Anti-Picture Protests

Good morning, my little tuning forks! It’s my birthday this week, and I have been truly blessed with an invite to England’s most prestigious and solemn sporting event – The Cheese Rolling.  This splendid tradition dates back to the times of the Venerable Bede, and possibly as far back as a gentleman called Reg, who lived in Morocco, circa 23 AD.  It involves a huge cheese being flung off a grassy precipice, followed by people running after it.  Those short on wits or secure screws, plummet down the hillside like Catherine Wheels in the slim hope of winning the 8lb Double Gloucester.  They also have the opportunity to win a variety of fractures and abrasions, and perhaps death for the unskilled runner.  We had a marvellous time.

Aunt Vom entered, and caused an uproar.   She refused to enter the Ladies’ Race (for blattidly obvious reasons).  On the start line, she heard man call another man a rude name.  So she pushed him.  Another man pushed her, and called her a rude name.  The line up suddenly descended before the signal in a ball of arms and legs, bumping their way to the bottom.  I was impressed that during the descent, Vom managed to lamp the original offender and issue a swift kick to the chibleys.

After some debate by the Cheesemaster, it was a contentious issue that actually, more than one woman (even a bearded one) had entered the man’s race.  It was agreed that she had no right to the 8lb cheese.  While important, waffly men discussed this, Vom nicked the cheese and hid it in her beard.  The second woman, pictured below, was still on her way down, wailing that she’d left the iron on. The police were summoned, and she was accosted in the crowd.  The tussle resulted in the cheese falling out of her beard and breaking a constable’s foot.  No charges were pressed after Vom offered a three-way split with the cheese and a good time in a nearby rhododendron bush.

This altercation distracted me, during which time I lost all sight of Aunt Bench.  She’d entered the Ladies’ Uphill race, and didn’t see the finish line.  She can be blessedly thick at times.  A lone hiker in the Malverns found her babbling about cheese and realised she’d wandered slightly off course.  After wrangling her to the ground and reading her name tag, they made contact and all was well.

On an interesting note, the Women’s Lib Movement is just as active within Gloucestershire as in Trebollocks, and I am thrilled.  There is a tendency to glamorise women at sporting events, and urge them to look pretty for photographers.  In my new county, a group of women have rebelled against this rampant exploitation, by posing for the camera in the style of long dead corpses.  We all clapped at this, as one woman fell to the floor just as an oily representative of local the local Rennet Society sidled up for a photo.  The ‘death shot’ is to commemorate the lost time that men have stolen from women for hundreds of years.  For centuries, women have not achieved their potential in favour of ‘standing and looking pretty’ or fruitless searches in cupboards that men can’t be arsed to look in. I am posting these photos as a testament to their stoic fight against repression and widespread arsery.

After the excitement of the day, I ventured back to my hedge.  It’s a beautiful spot and I am feeling very lucky indeed.  The bats are enjoying school in Clopton Mandrill, and I am giving a talk to the Frampton W.I. (Witches’ Institute) on the healing and culinary uses of the cow pat.  But first, I shall relax at the waterside with a pint of Cuckoo Spit.  May the Gods of Unneutered Cats shine upon you all.