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.

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.

Madame Widdershins Beltane Prediction

Saints preserve us! Not content with a simple Wiccan ceremony this Beltane, my elder sibling has insisted that this swaying, rolling-eyed, seventh-daughter-of-next-door’s-dog-of-a-psychic is foisted upon us all.
Aunt Gourd (pictured above) has gone extremely wispy and mystical at the first sign of a fat moon, and decided that she shall follow in the footsteps of our witch clan. She became all premonitious on Wednesday, and went to see Madame Widdershins McMunter (pictured below with Uncle Nancy, reading his palm and telling him he’s got Buckley’s chance of finding a bird unless he shapes up and moves out of his mothers). Shrieks and wringing of hands claim that the woman is a marvel and totally accurate. (I’m not so sure, as the neighbourhood urchins say – chinny reckon…)

Not content with this spectacle, Gourd invited her to my hedge, along with a plethora of others for a group reading. I shall be truthful, this was foisted upon me and I was not pleased. My plans involved ped-egging my chin, a good nettle bath and settling down with the bats on my lap to watch ‘Live at The Apollo’ via my twig router. I’d had a lovely tea planned, a fresh brew of goats rue tea, and a new weasel recipe from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, with some blessings, but that idea has been totally buggered. I’ve stepped out of the excitement to post this as I’m bored and frustrated, so my readers are carrying the great weight of being my comfort in time of stress. That’s both of you, by the way, so don’t either of you sneak off.

It started at six, when they all arrived. Aunt Vom reckons the whole thing is bollocks but she’s sitting on the bench anyway, just for a giggle (not on Aunt Bench, I might add). Folly is blessedly quiet at the moment, I’ve given her some hemlock and some dead stag beetles to play with. If she likes them, I might make her a gift of it for her 34th birthday next month. It’s either that or anything non-explosive or flammable.
Aunt Turgid is cross, as she couldn’t bring her lizards in, apparently lizards interrupt the mystical signals and attract negative deities. The lizards seem oblivious to this, but didn’t mind waiting in the motorcar.
Aunt Mary Jaffa is ok, there are no satsumas (I won’t even recall the Christingle service episode).
Aunt Bench is sitting worrying about whether she’ll ever have another child. God help us….
Cousin Girda isn’t here. She said, if they psychic was that good, she’d have known she couldn’t make it and would have sent her a telegram with any relevant bits.
Aunt Claymore is not impressed, and boycotted the event under allegations of ‘wickedness’ and ‘horror’.
So dear friends, my simple Wiccan ceremony of prayers, blessings and a little feast, has been hijacked and turned into a circus. The only genuine witch at the table is despondent, bored and can’t wait for them to go.
The toads are fed up, too, and are quietly playing ‘snap’ in the corner with my special edition ‘007 Quantum of Solace’ playing cards. They are so well behaved when Mummy’s busy.
Madame McMunter started by getting us all to place a personal object on the table that she could grope in the slim chance of finding any vibrations. I doubt this charlatan would find any vibrations from certain catalogues, but never mind. In my opinion, she’s all jingly bangles, rings, a woolly barnet, gin breath and bugger all else.
I went first, and put my wooden teeth on the table. Apparently, I am a woman, I live in a hedge, and I have a predisposition to living in draughty places. My two children are ugly (I suppose you could count the toads). My three lovers are warring for my affections (!), and I am about to win the lottery. I have a strong connection to ‘Albert’ (a bat who lives locally) and a yen for chicken bhuna. I hope she doesn’t know it was my bhuna that killed Folly’s tortoise, but she then lost credibility when she said I would be on the cover of Marie Claire having beaten Lea Seydoux as the prettier option. Hmmm.
Aunt Vom put a set of nunchucks on the table, and the mad psychic said she is about to be repaid for her kindnesses to the community, she is viewed as an angel amongst sinners. I suffered difficulty with this explanation, and nearly peed my sack dress – Vom’s only just out of the nick for nutting a copper.
Aunt Mary Jaffa put a thimble down, and it was said that she is ‘special’. Well, we knew that.
Aunt Turgid put her bicycle on the table, which really ticked me off as it’s leaking oil. She is about to get a degree in astrophysics, and pioneer research into the function of the nostril. I could believe anything where she’s concerned.
Aunt Bench put a Wankel Rotary Engine on the table, and the woman got lots of messages from it. Unfortunately, none were for her except that she is to only have the one child (we all clapped at this bit). Sad for her, but when Folly starts setting fire to your feet under the table, this is no joking matter. What made me laugh was Aunt Gourds ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ when Madam McMunter voiced quite accurately that the spirits told her that her name is Gourd. (It was on her name tag).
The upshot is, after a lot of guessing, and waving and wailing, was that the woman is a fraud. I did have a premonition when she arrived, which has proved to be correct. That was a hard earned £50 down the shitter.
I’ve booted them out, I’ve missed ‘Live At The Apollo’, but my ugly children are on my knee and we’re watching ‘Murder, She Wrote’. It will have to do.
Bugger the prayers and blessings, I’ve got a weasel steak on the hot plate…..

(By the way….Madame McMunter’s premonitions are not that good it seems. On leaving us in a clapped out motor decked with all manner of pentacles, gods, goddesses and owl talismans, she failed to predict an oncoming steam roller at the Trebollocks M5 roundabout and was promptly flattened. Rescue workers peeled her off the road, intact, and tucked her into a giant jiffy bag to be posted to the lab for investigation. With the postal strike, I doubt she’ll get there before next Wednesday.)

Beltane blessings to you all, and may your gibbon snibblings be fruitious for the coming Summer….

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.

Aunt Vom’s Poem From Worthing Nick

This is Aunt Vomica. She’s the next sister below me. I am posting on behalf of her as she has been writing poetry to pass the time in Worthing nick after an altercation with an MP. We’ve always been close, but her behaviour is volatile and trying at times. Vom doesn’t like our youngest sibling, Aunt Mary-Jaffa. Her distaste is due to Mary-Jaffa being weak-willed and delicate – and she has a huge satsuma fear. So Vom pelts her with them at Christmas and loves hiding them in her stocking. Mary-Jaffa faints, and the only thing that can bring her round is the smell of satsumas. Well, on waking, and being faced with a satsuma, she faints again. This goes on for months sometimes. It’s a pain in the arse quite frankly but we love her dearly, you see. However, I digress, the altercation came about as a local MP asked her for a certain kind of ‘favour’ in relation to a grand townhouse in Flange Street with lots of ‘benefits’. Vom kicked off, and left him with a flat bugle.
Anyway – this was the poem she sent me, apparently it’s called ‘MP Scum and Violence Pays’.

I’m stuck in Worthing nick,
After lamping an MP.
His manner evoked sharp anger
So his knackers got my knee.
He wanted special favours,
He got a Glasgow Kiss,
He also got a shooing,
And a crossbow bolt that missed.
Notwithstanding I was cross,
As he called in the Fuzz.
They dived and pulled us both apart,
I had an amazing buzz.
‘Shut yer mouth , yer poncy twat’
‘Who checks your expenses’, When the Rozzers are on your tail, however,
You run and jump some fences.
I pulled forth a chinese throwing star,
From underneath my skirt.
The constable didn’t clock it,
And fell and hit the dirt.
But here I am in Worthing Nick,
Paying dearly for my crimes,
But I’m breaking out at midnight,
As soon as the town clock chimes.
I’ve got some rope and semtex,
I have a blade or two,
I’ll be on my way to Bumstead,
And in Thrupp by half past two.

Aunt Claymore’s Visit

Oh rapturous Joy! A family visit! This is Aunt Claymore. Yes, she is as vibrant and jolly as she appears. I have to keep my face a picture of elation on the yoghurt-pot telephone when she tells me she’s coming or she knows I’m secretly thinking ‘bugger’ and kicks off.
Clay is a quandary, she’s the only woman in Thrupp with a Queen Victoria obsession that, frankly, has got out of hand. The woman is never amused. She’s evaded arrest twice for knighting people in a public place and almost decapitated a third. It cost me two and six to get her out, which I never got back.

The cause of her visit was to inform me that the wider family are concerned about Aunt Mary Jaffa (you’ll meet her later). They have petitioned her to see a hypnotist as her fear of satsumas is about to ruin her career as a taxidermist. Apparently there is an expert ‘squirrel stuffer’ who eats satsumas regularly which results in Aunt Mary Jaffa hurling salt lamps at him. After two verbal warnings, she faces the sack. Uncle Colobus feels she should be given a stern talking to, while Aunt Bench reckons it’s a phase brought on by man’s oppression and emotional labour. Folly doesn’t give a rat’s arse, apparently, and Aunt Vom fears a swift punch may do the trick. My presence at a family meeting has been requested, so naturally I wish the power of sudden invisibility.

My own thoughts are perhaps the seeking of some satsumic Shamanic journey may be in order. She could connect with it’s essence and adopt it as a Spirit Fruit. The woman is very segmented and makes your eyes sting when she sings, so they should get on. I found the address of Clementomancy Del Monte, who runs courses on such things for 15 guineas a day in Clacton-on-Sea. This man is legendary, he can read future events by gazing at a dog’s bottom by candlelight.

Anyway, I digress, I’ll keep you posted on the satsuma situation, until next time, toodle pip!