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!

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.

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.