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!

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.