As I sat reclining in the solid oak and beaver fur lined study chair so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, I found my mind wandering restlessly toward the subject of the church’s view of Halloween which Biffordshirians of all ages had been enthusiastically preparing for.
It is, of course, when all the souls of the dead are supposed to rise again to walk the earth and, demonic overtones aside, I must admit it is a season I rather enjoy.
I got very much into, and I am certain dear readers will excuse the pun, the spirit of the season by settling down the evening before to watch one of the latest horror releases on Nutflex, which Gumpert kindly installed onto my iPad for me.
Nutflex, my lithe South American home help reliably informed me, was free to view although I noticed from the account settings that he had only quite recently paid a fee for several Greco Roman wrestling films; a genre I know he has a great passion for.
However, before I could even choose a Nutflex film to settle down in front of, my evening was disturbed by my home help, who, in a state of clear agitation, had grabbed my iPad, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, and had shoved it to one side to gesticulate down towards the front door.
Already that day I had had to suspend my enjoyment of the Times crossword, four down had me in knots from before breakfast time – the clue was ‘Upstairs Lubricant’, KY something, e, l, l, something, and I was determined to crack it before supper.
The chance, however, of the crossword coming to a successful conclusion had been wrestled from my control by Gumpert who, as he was to do later that evening, had interrupted my musings to indicate that something was afoot in the household.
He grumpily mumbled to me that a parishioner had knocked at the door and that he had let them into the hall, a rare example of him dispensing one of his supposed duties as my home help.
There, looking rather forlorn on the hall Persian rug, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, was Mrs Crudité and her young son Arthur. Poor Arthur was hiding beneath his mother’s skirts and was trembling and crying in clear distress.
I ushered the pair through to the drawing room, where Mrs Crudité managed to bring the fruit of her rather overactive loins, Arthur, I should explain, was the 11th child she had borne in just over 13 years, to the front of her pleated skirt.
Mrs Crudité was not a regular churchgoer you understand but poor Arthur’s reputation did rather precede him. I believe the moniker ‘pumpkin boy’ had been rather unimaginatively given to the trembling youth by his peers and his condition, it would appear, had worsened.
Quite why Mrs Crudité had decided to dye the unfortunate youngsters’ hair green and tie it up in a tight knot was lost on me. Although I am certainly no expert in gourds and squashes it did appear to my untrained eye that her actions, if anything, had made poor Arthur with his bright orange and puffy leathery face even more pumpkin like than it perhaps could have been.
I had to explain to Mrs Crudité that the Lord had not blessed me with healing hands and suggested she tried Dr Woo the Chinese acupuncturist who had recently moved to the village from the foothills of Szechuan province.
I could recommend Dr Woo’s services with some gusto as over the past few weeks he had been a regular visitor to the parochial house.
Gumpert, I should explain, suffers terribly with his lower back and inner thighs and it appeared Dr Woo’s healing hands had worked wonders on my sinewy South American aide.
It had taken many sessions to cure the ailing Gumpert and his healing hadn’t been without its sacrifices and exertions given the slow moans and banging emanating from Gumpert’s room, often well into the small hours.
I would often bump into Dr Woo on the way to breakfast and the poor man had rather developed a limp of his own, due in part I was certain of the enthusiastic effort and interest he was taking in Gumpert’s thighs and lower back.
With Mrs Crudité dealt with my mind turned back to that four down problem, but as mentioned my evening was to be disturbed once more.
As I settled down to enjoy my Nutflex film Gumpert had burst angrily into my study to indicate that some small children were at the door of the parochial house. Peering down at them from the top of the stairs, I could see three children from the newly constructed Danny Dyer estate on the edge of the village.
One I could see had been wrapped in toilet paper, another had scrawled red lipstick all over his face, while a third appeared to be dressed as the Conservative MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg.
My heart suddenly lurched forward as I realised the trio were trick or treaters and knowing the Danny Dyer estate as I did I realised that without a treat the trick would likely to be pernicious on the household. Not having any confectionary to hand the threat of some beastly act being employed on us by the trio was becoming ever increasingly likely.
Suddenly from behind a cloud a solid beam of lunar light burst through the front door and iridised a pack of Gumpert’s rolling tobacco which he had left on the hall table after a particularly heavy acupuncture session with Dr Woo.
My path became clear. Catching Gumpert’s gaze I indicated that he should perhaps roll one of his foul-smelling cigarillos for each our seasonally attired guests who by now were menacingly eyeing up the hall of the parochial house, packed as it is with precious ornaments many of which were a gift from my parishioners, with larcenous intent.
My concerns that the hand rolled cigarillos would not slake their thirst for confectionary fell on stony ground as the trio happily accepted a light from Gumpert before trudging around to Mr and Mrs Knightly-Stain across the way, joyously puffing away on the Columbian tobacco.
Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
Local sleep-challenged writer, Walter Dample, reports on the recent Antiques Roadshow at Crunge Hall.
I confess that due to a fitful night’s sleep my rememberings of this glorious day are a little muddled, but never have I seen so much mahogany in both the offerings brought, in hopefulness of an heirloom that would make fortunes, or indeed the presenters.
The beautiful Crunge Hall – so scenic – was the venue for the BBC’s burgeoning celebration of old stuff, be that the visitors, viewers or indeed the presenters.
One of the first surprises of the day was local post-mistress Bufty Von-Giro, who brought in a tiny exploding universe packed carefully inside a turbot. Expert Robert Tilney, resplendent in a moustache made for twirling, advised Bufty that it was from the glory days of Woolworths, when tiny universes were obtainable with Green Shield Stamps. But more surprises were in store as Robert, shrugging off a tweed jacket of pure chips and a yoghurt waistcoat, transformed into a steam-powered automaton and levitated above the table. He spoke of wars, love and tragedy to a rapt Bufty who cried tears of multicoloured lamps and accelerated back in time.
I confess that I appear to have blacked out at that moment, only to be brought around by some kind TV producers. By this time, Mr Tilney had reverted to his human form and moved to the next hopeful in line who had a small porcelain cat.
Feeling a little wobbly, I moved towards a gasping crowd who had gathered around a wonderful silver snuff box that was being examined by expert Bunny Campione. The owner, Frant Shandybass from Great Panhold, explained that her grandfather had brought it back from his time in Kettering and it had been in the family ever since. Bunny explained that the maker had hidden a little surprise inside each of his snuff boxes and proceeded to pull out a giant broadsword that glowed in a colour that no one had ever seen before. And not a moment too soon as a wolf-shaped creature of purest black had swaggered into the hall challenging Bunny to a fight to the death. Bunny, who had in a split-second miraculously changed into a four-story high Japanese Gundam, speared the beast and held him aloft before bellowing “Is no one going to fetch me a bloody sherry then?”
Once again, the shock of this resulted in me blacking out again and I came around in a darkened side-room of the hall sprawled on a small camp bed. After a while, I began to feel better and ventured forth once again into the vintage throng of the hall.
My last and most memorable visit was to the station of ceramics expert David Battie, who was examining a fine Carltonware teapot in the shape of an abstract goose. David explained to its owner, Tring Pushkin, that these were fired in a facility on the star Wolf 359 by floating beings that fed on pure helium. It was at this moment that the hall dissolved into a dense jungle populated by fairy folk with a sharp look in their eyes. I cried out to expert John Sandon for help but he just started laughing and repeating the words “Frazzles are the jauntiest of snacks young chap!”
As a result of this, I ran, but the syrupy jungle floor hindered my progress and the fairies were encircling me. I realised that I was naked in assembly in front of my younger self. It was at that point that my teeth fell out.
For the third time that day, I lost consciousness and was brought back around by a kindly BBC floor runner who I presume had pulled me out of my predicament and returned me to Crunge Hall. I thanked him for rescuing me and fixing my teeth, for which he seemed a little taken aback. Truly a silent hero.
I left, somewhat befuddled by the day’s events, but I commend the BBC for the seemingly inexhaustible array of special effects they have for spicing up a posh jumble sale. It almost felt like a dream…
Right… we’re not sure how accurate that report is, but be assured dear reader that we’ll be ensuring Walter has a good night’s sleep before he’s back out in the community.
Each week we drop into Biffordshire general to get the inside view of their Digestive Department. This week, TV star and top 200 hit singer Shane Richie hopped up to Dr Vern’s table.
“An absolute joy, nice smooth oesophagus all the way down and a wonderfully tight sphincter preventing any acid reflux issues,” Dr Vern said.
Dr Vern’s rating: A very solid 9/10 for Shane
Next week: Paul Weller
Monster wasp – by Gent Thunderblanket and Franz Wotsit
An unbelievable beast it was rarely believed,
Brian’s pet wasp all his friends they agreed,
Such a good pet it was for a young buck,
Though the constant stinging yeah, that did suck
But the wasp was Brian’s for bad and for good,
He cared for it, paid for its education and food,
It wore the best clothes that could be provided,
For invertebrate tailors are often misguided
Stripy it was, bad tempered and surly,
Its owner, dear Brian still loved it most purely,
A habit of jam jars and pub garden cider,
Harsh buzzing of wings and its owner the rider
For Brian you see was a finger-width tall,
For him a matchbox was the size of a hall,
So a wasp was a monster to a man of his stature,
A brave choice of pet and tricky to capture
Yet one day Brian spied in a neighbouring field,
A similar bug but far better heeled,
It was stripy and fluffy so soft on his knees,
It seemed that he’d finally fallen for bees
The sort of pet you could show to your mum,
With it’s nicer demeanour and gentler humm,
All the advantages afforded to wasps,
But none of the stinging or tailoring costs
“I can’t keep them both for I am too little!”
Sighed Brian the height of a badger’s toy skittle,
“Can I abandon my overwrought wasp?”
“It’s not like I owe him. I’ve never been boss.”
So by nightfall Brian rushed out and ran to the hive,
So neat not like wasps nests that were always such dives,
He selected a bee the biggest he’d seen,
Not knowing he’d foolishly stolen the queen
It fought for a while but he resolute,
Tamed the queen bee and escaped with a hoot,
But bees are possessive of their majesty,
The swarm quickly roused and pursued with alacrity
It dawned on him quickly he’d made quite the blunder,
That bees were not pets and would tear him asunder,
The abandonment guilt for his old wasp felt funny,
But not as unpleasant as falling in honey
He’d fallen right off of his striped royal steed,
Into the stuff on which bears like to feed,
It closed round his ankles a sugary glue,
And closer and closer the angry swarm flew
The moral of this as the buzzing grew keener,
Thought Brian is that the grass is not greener,
A wasp is a wasp from cradle to grave,
Angry and surly but incredibly brave
But wasps feel abandonment issues like us,
Although they may hide it not making a fuss,
Too late this epiphany for treacherous Brian,
A thousand stings later he lay there just dying.
Good gardenstuffs! Is this site still limping along? Well I’ll be… More poetry possibly in the next decade only on MonkeyBroth.
The roughage grows dark – by Minty Boffle
Once it may have been true to a point,
That the roughage was rough and the flample was goint,
But when looked down on it’s true that you see,
The flample was pample and goadingly droit
It once looked quite pretty when viewed in the dark,
The roughage, the pample, hung out in the park,
For sitting on swings and going all weeee,
But the droit came upon them and cut them a’grark
The pample did stample and the roughage did yank,
And across the sandpit the pair they did sank,
To rid them both ever of the nether-seen droit,
They pitched up a coodle and had a stout plank
But the roughage not covered beneath the pitch coodle,
Was exposed to the droit right on to his noodle,
And the pample did peek out a safe word to utter,
But the roughage was lost with it’s memory a doodle
The proud, rural shire of Bifford is also home to a surprising number of local industries, doing and providing for the denizens of our fair corner of creamy England. But how do you know what you need without someone telling you in clear, calm tones? Well, put down that copy of Innovations and let MonkeyBroth point you to your perfect purveyor. Go on, we’ll be ever-so gentle poppet…
Pants on fire but not a liar? Then you need Crotch-Quench! We all know that burning feeling when nylon underwear creates a spark and ignites your favourite merkin. So why put up with it? Crotch-Quench puts out 65% of static-sourced undercarriage calamities meaning you can just get on with your day. A small CO2 canister reacts to a 45 degree change in temperature to ensure that your furry prosthetic remains un-scorched. Warning – sudden release of pressurised gas can cause momentary discomfort, unpleasant sensations and rapid frostbite.
Egan’s Vegans Appalled by animal products? Then Biffordshire’s newest vegan restaurant, run by 80’s suave ‘amuse me’ merchant Peter Egan, can cater for your vegetation requirements. Formal dress please. No steak boots to be worn in the premises.
Mike’s Brewers “Ooooold aaaght yor aaaand” and let us put a pint in it. Mike’s Brewers have been making Biffordshire’s finest ales for over 3 months and are holding an open day this coming weekend. Get your annnnds on our prototype new brews including the long awaited Malteaser Malt, Brewwoof, and Sapient Pony Allotment craft ale. Free admission to under 18s. Entry price highly negotiable. Mike’s Brewers is situated in Humpf-in-the-Hole next to Edd’s China.
Captain Corelli’s Mandarin Glump-under-Hill’s premiere fruit, veg and florists. Prefab sprouts, clockwork oranges, black grapes, peppers that are both red and hot always in stock. We also have some smashing pumpkins. Located just behind Egan’s Vegans in the High Street.
Finley ‘Handy squares’ Squirrel-Mash, born Scandal-on-Rye, Biffordshire son of Bunty and Dorf Squirrel-Mash sadly died of break-beat while fixing a leaky arial.
Finley was best known for his time in the Royal Agricultural Paramilitary regiment – having been awarded the green cross by the National Trust for bravery in the face of Japanese Knot weed during the great Boscastle Rocky Valley outbreak. His fearless and innovative approach to eradication involved donning a lightweight poly-tunnel, shouting a great deal and swinging a scythe like he was batting for the Biffordshire under 4’s team.
After service, Finley set his commendable mind towards the running of his father’s business, Squirrel Mash and Pye Inc – a business that was very much the fore-runner to the modern kettle descaler service that has become quite the fashion. Back in the heyday, it was quite unthinkable for a person of standing to have a kettle that was not SM & P Inc-cleansed.
His greatest love, as ever, was his collection of antique spaniels. He was oft seen capering across the Scandal-on-Rye broads with a motley selection of arthritic sad-eyed Cockers. He leaves behind Airfix, Leggy No-Legs, Afterthought and Merry Tail who have been provided for by the Slapton stiff dog rescue.
Green-fingered Hero, canine farther and occasionally faithful husband, he leaves behind his beloved wife Hollyoaks and two children, whose names we’ve forgotten. They’re rotters anyway.