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.

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

The Great Woolrash Outbreak

Hello, my dear tea cosies. I do hope that you are well. And kind thanks for reading my blog, both of you. Life in my hedge in Gloucestershire is splendid, and I adore the canal activities. I have found a new job at the Alternative Thinking College of Thrupp, where I shall be teaching Shrieking, Advanced Hiding, and Pointing for the Unconfident. I’m overjoyed.

This week has been a trial. There has been a strange occurrence in our community, people began scratching and itching in a random fashion. I feared my hessian sack dress would soon follow this trend, but no, I am all well. It was a mystery. Farm hands and boat people were rendered incapable of moving machinery and craft due to the incessant itch. I asked where has this come from? Some agricultural mite? A spaceship? Swindon (wouldn’t surprise me)?

This is a pictogram, drawn by a local gentleman, Mr Dave Epiglottis. We don’t have cameras in this neck of the woods so he quickly sketched a throng of local boaters clawing at themselves to relieve the dreadful itch. Either that, or it’s an orgy, I’m not quite sure. Most look distraught, but Mrs Vileda Toller at the back, has that “look” of a woman in the throws of, well…..something.

Anyway. I did some research. I googled itchy things, and no information was forthcoming. So I invoked the Sheep God and asked her advice. Baaarbara. An ancient woolly deity, with eyes the wrong way, and a killer kick. Amid a fog of incense smoke, she told me the itchy plague was wool rash. And….dun, dun, derrr, the root of the issue was a man from Worcester. A bloody buggery weidron of a man who decided to plague Gloucester so he could step in, render the inhabitants incapable, and absorb the county in his own in preparation for world domination. Shocking. But world domination, as we know, often starts in the Cotswolds.

This is he. His name is Rabularia Stanton McFrog. He’s a ruthless git. He really does plan to take our lovely county. I trod the worn floor of my hedge wondering what to do and elegantly wringing my hands in a suitable Jane Austin manner. Then I ditched that and began swearing and cursing him for eternity. However, to curse a man fully, you need to sacrifice toads and have enough mugwort to mug a wort. And I didn’t. And I like toads. Satan once again is a seagull shitting on my breakfast flakes.

So, Plan B. I rang Aunt Vom, on the yoghurt pot telephone. She’d heard the news already, the canal bridges were shut as the bridgekeepers couldn’t keep still. Half the boaters were marina locked for the same reason. The other half were in the nick, for getting lairy and kicking off over substandard wool.

Aunt Vom arrived, with her crossbow and took him out. She’s on the run but she’s ok, I had a carrier pigeon saying ‘All good, in a B n B in Temple Cloud. Quite at home, they’re all mad. Love you lots, don’t tell the rozzers. Love Vom x’.

The rozzers are dubious. though thankful. A county domination has been averted, and the Army has air dropped a plethora of calamine lotion for the itch. We have thwarted his plans, and I do love a good thwart. So all is well again, and I will say goodnight. It’s a schoolnight, and the toads are up past their bedtime. Pip pip, my dears, and may you tunics always be starched, and your coddlers ever be warm.

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….