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.

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….

Ilfracombe Women’s Fight Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Newborn In The Family – Ruprecht.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lynton Limpet Festival

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

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

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

Local disgruntled limpets, they want justice not cream teas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bench Of The Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unexpected Diary Entry

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

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


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

A Letter From Aunt Bench About…Well…Folly’s Mood.

I received another letter from Bench this morning, dated two days (!) after Folly’s departure. The cheek of the woman exasperates me so I apologise for the clipped tone of this post but I really am as dreadfully mad as a cut snake.

Why she comes to me I know not, perhaps I am a soft touch? Are the luxuries of my draughty hedge-home too inviting? My hessian crackers and gin breakfasts too tempting? Whatever it is, I shall stop at once. My mother once said – Family are the most precious things, Bern, but remember they won’t ALL fit under your patio. Dear woman, rest her soul.

This is the letter…..

Kindest Dearest Bestest B,

I need to ask a favour, dear. Folly is really trying my patience – I’ve had to call in some lumberjacks to tie her to a dining chair as she’s had one of her heads on. To cut a long story short, she’s poured custard into all my shoes and hidden small incendiary devices all over the house. Aunt Weevil and Doctor Prong have suggested I get away, so I will come to stay if the idea does not rankle with you?

Notwithstanding, it is quite doing my nut in, dear. I can’t go to Aunt Vom as she’s still in the nick, and Mary-Jaffa is still. So I’m coming for a few ——– (typically, this part was illegible). As the carriage journey is so long, I’ve written this six days before I leave so I should be with you in ten minutes.

Folly is being observed by our neighbour, Mrs Coddy, a dear soul. She can see our house from hers, since Folly stole the 7ft hedge last month. Well, see you shortly, pop a gin in a glass for me and I’ll bring the hemlock shortbread.
Pip pip, and tatty bye

The woman is absolutely the limit. Folly should have been encouraged to move out now that she’s finished playgroup. For a girl of thirty-two, she should be doing normal things – vandalism, fighting and shrieking. I will write to Aunt Vom in Worthing nick – she is the fiesty one and will know how to advise. She sorts out a lot of her problems with something called Chinese throwing stars and Colt.45’s, and swears by them. Perhaps she can put one in the post.

It’s a pity about the mix-up with the cozzers, she’s so unlucky – it’s the eighth time now. Well, no doubt it well get sorted out, they’ll find she was pushed to her actions, and the MP’s flat bugle will….puff out and…possibly resemble a nose once more. He shouldn’t have put in that £3,487 claim for a platypus sanctuary that doesn’t exist, anyway. Bleeder.