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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloucester, here I come!

A plethora of local children bathing at the Cow’s Drink. Thank God Folly wasn’t born here……

Well, after the bizarre predictions evening, I had word from the Gloucestershire witches that my hedge is ready to move into. And not before time – the rozzers are still investigating the theft of the Library Trolley, and there is a manhunt afoot. It seems an old and buggered librarian was out walking her ball of wool, and managed to describe me perfectly, so I’ve packed up and done a runner. After a fifteen hour carriage journey with a travelling magician and half an assistant, I am now within the confines of a sympathetic county. Thank the Lords!

The local sisterhood have found me a new hedge, with a twig router (4G), and I can get Netflix. It’s not too draughty, and it’s near the pub, which will please Aunt Vom when she visits. I now reside in Hedge 2, at the Cow’s Drink, near the smelly bit of the ditch. The bats have settled well and are fraternising with the locals quite happily, and I’ve enrolled them in the local school. Aunt Claymore is dubious about the move, she’s anxious for me to keep the toads away from the local toads, she fears they may pick up an accent. They croak with an extra ‘R’. Aunt Gourd fears the canal may bring about unwanted tendencies, such as swimming and pointing at things.

I have discovered, in two short days, that most things in this county revolve around three things: bread, cheese and beer. Not necessarily in that order. Most local witches have a romance for cheese, and people with beards are marvellously skilled at baking bread. The bigger the beard, the better the bread.

Aunt Gourd rang on the yogurt pot telephone before I left. She is alarmed by the lack of beards among women on the canal. Her stern warning came with the claim that they are either satanists or deviants. It transpires that the Canal and River Trust issue a separate license to women with beards, amounting to £2,568 per year. Moustaches on men, however, is discounted at £2 for life. Typical. I’ll keep ped-egging my chin.

I am most happy to live closer to the Quedgeley Toad Balancers, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. They are very clever and skilled folk, but I need to pass an initiation into their clan. I must think very carefully whether I want to embrace ‘toad’ for a night on the Frampton Green, and eat flies. Mystical journeys are never an easy path.

I am also interested in the Saul Weasel Copiers, they are fascinating. They venture out during different hours and impersonate weasels running across the road. There is a talk on next week on how to run like a pencil on four legs. It really is the hub of excitement here. I may overlook the Berkeley Badger Feelers Group, badgers can be pretty crabby at the best of times, and if felt too much, may incur injury. A gentleman called James, who runs the society, is smattered with plasters and bandages.

Thrupp Medical Society piqued my interest, until I realised it’s a society dedicated to treating people with Thrupp and raising awareness. It sounds deeply unpleasant. A local boater told me that it’s a local illness and the only cure is a change of diet and cold compress to relieve the itch and burning. Thankfully, as a chimney sweep, she is immune.

I have joined Fretherne Cowpat Club, however, as I am very interested in their annual Frisbee Day. They have a monthly meet in the local hall, and an important man comes to talk about cowpats every bi-month. The hikes through local farmland sound good, with the possibility of bringing something home for the ‘finds table’.

So, I’m sitting in my little hedge, writing these words on my wooden tablet to you. I do love Gloucestershire – it’s the most odd county of all. Anything goes here, and nobody cares. It will certainly do for me. The view is beautiful, all is quiet. I just hope the county can cope when my relatives visit……

Lazy Witches

My tiny hedge is now quiet after being invaded by these four. They are witches from Gloucestershire, the noisest witches in the land. They arrived from their home on the Gloucester/Sharpness Canal, and unannounced, walked right in with a blunder of suitcases and bats and clompy heels and battered books. I know Gloucestershire witches, my cheese, wine and freshly baked bread had to be safely locked away, along with the rest of the neighbourhoods’. A witch from these parts will sell anyone’s soul to the devil for a glass of Chilean Merlot and some port salut on a poppy seed cracker. Well, it’s been a traumatic week, apparently my hedge-home has a ley line running through it, so they’d come armed with dowsing rods, pendulums, charts, maps, 5 bottles of gin, 12 bottles of Cotes Du Rhone, twiglets and some wine. I’ve been moved to vent my spleen in this poem, as a move toward positivity. Axe throwing is always a good back up option.

Stop watching Netflix at once!
And get those toads off your lap!
At least chip in with the cleaning –
And stop dropping off for a nap.
Tidy up your cloaks from the floor,
And wash up the cauldron I say,
There are runes all over the garden,
And you’ve barely stopped drinking all day.
That broom can be used for sweeping,
It’s not that you’re able to fly.
I’m sitting here thinking of weeping,
You’ve polished of a home made pork pie.
Bloody witches! All the same,
Whether student or ancient crone.
You habits continue to vex me,
While you noisily take over my home.
Old and young, you are so alike,
You both have the telly too loud.
Your hearing is very selective,
And you bang on for hours about ‘Stroud’.
The elders think I’m too modern,
The young think I’m too square,
I can’t do write for wrong at the mo,
And a moment of silence is rare.
The chanting goes on at all hours,
The discussion of magic is deep.
But I listen and pick up some things,
So I do them while you are asleep.
Banish visitors spell, here I come,
So take down your bats, and away.
I’ve brought in ingredients aplenty,
And your books have led me astray.
So take yourselves back to Gloucester,
Where noisy witches are allowed.
Leave my hedge silent, my cheese unattacked,
And get Shshshh’d all around Stroud.