As I sit reclining in badger fur backed solid oak chair so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, my mind cannot help but to wrestle my be-trunked consciousness over the canvas pass the referee and onto the ropes of one of the most contentious issues ever to loom large over the peaceful villages and cul-de-sacs of Biffordshire. Not, as more local readers might expect the hullabaloo which had engorged at the Harvest Festival evensong last Sunday when Mrs Arbuthnot’s contribution to the altar display of a small tin of marrowfat peas was deemed below par by Mr Handcuff the organist. Mr Handcuff, I should explain, is a proud grower of both marrows and peas and he seemed to take Mrs Arbuthnot’s contribution as a personal slight as to the greenness of his fingers. Willy Arbuthnot, Mrs Arbuthnot’s asthmatic husband, had taken great delight in ribbing Mr Handcuff, between wheezes, for his distinct lack of plump vegetables at last year’s Harvest Festival following a season where my organist’s charges had been attacked and eaten by a rare strain of Tsetse fly, which had escaped from the nearby Whoft Tropical Diseases lab.
I was certain that Mrs Arbuthnot had not meant to flagrantly remind Mr Handcuff of that summer’s vegetable failings by placing the tin of marrowfat peas so prominently at the front of the altar, but it did make for a rather frosty rendition of Plough The Fields and Scatter later on during Harvest evensong.
No, my thoughts were rather less on vegetable-based ecclesiastical matters and more on the dreadful shadow which has been hanging over our once great nation for these past three years; Brexit. I was granted an audience with Boris Johnson once, just after he ascended to be Mayor of London as he stopped off in Cum-on-the-Wold for a book signing. He wasn’t a book he had wrote you understand but rather the day centred on him signing other people’s books. Something, he seemed to think, which would ingratiate himself to his growing army of rural fans. His gait and general demeanour did appear to me as if someone had plucked the largest and ripest damson plum from the garden and had fashioned some hair from a shredded wheat biscuit before putting it on a stage and calling it Mayor.
Not that Mr Corbyn was any more of a statesman. He had visited Whoft Working Men’s Club many years before when I had been a lowly parish priest. My work in helping fallen women from the county back on their feet had not gone unnoticed in the corridors of power it seemed, and following his visit he asked to see the shed I had converted into a dormitory to house these poor harridans. He was impressed with the stacking system I had devised allowing me to comfortably accommodate up to 80 fallen women at any one time. However, I noticed with abject horror that throughout his visit he had been wearing carpet slippers and in breaks during our conversation had been petting a Pipistrelle bat which appeared to have made a nest for itself in his jacket top pocket.
Of course, for many of the young whelps of the village, it has also been back to school time. And as I sat reclining, I noticed poor Mrs Buktu from the recently constructed Danny Dyer Housing estate trying to get her son Tim off to his first day at big school. I had prayed for the poor afflicted soul. Having been born with smooth emerald-green skin and being quite limbless would be a challenge for even the doughtiest characters among us. I know the impoverished Mrs Buktu had had a terrible time trying to find a suitable school uniform for the lad and had improvised by sewing his school badge onto an old hessian potato sack. At least the young Tim Buktu was a now a little more mobile thanks to the skateboard his loving mother had managed to strap to his stump. I did fear for the boy, knowing full well how cruel children can be when presented with someone whose characteristics might only, in a very small way, differ to their own.
My train of thought was interrupted somewhat by Gumpert, my lithe South American home help who was seeing his house guest of the past two nights to the front door. I have to say I had been very proud of how my taut domestic had welcomed the new Gary Lineker Comprehensive School Headteacher, Mr Groan, into the parish. Mr Groan had moved down from the Scottish Island of Buttock to start a new life in Biffordshire and had struck up an instant, if a little unlikely, friendship with my muscular aide. Gumpert had certainly thrown himself eagerly into helping Mr Groan devise some lesson plans for the forthcoming Michaelmas term, judging by the whoops of near ecstasy and the late-night thrashing about emanating from Gumpert’s quarters.
Gumpert had by now completely derailed my train of thought by moodily stomping into my nook, as he did so dripping water all over the Persian deep shag rug so kindly provided to me by my parishioners. Following him downstairs, I could see that he had been attempting to hammer a picture hook into the hall wall. Clearly, he had been attempting to hang a portrait of his country’s much revered military president, Dr Oetker. I had thought the good doctor had been one of the reasons why Gumpert fled to Biffordshire in the first place, but with water pouring out of the pipe which Gumpert had struck I didn’t think it was perhaps the time nor the place to discuss the recent political turmoil so afflicting his native lands. Suddenly, a beam of ethereal light shone through the kitchen window and iridised what appeared to be a brass tap under the sink. The stop cock! Why, of course! By turning the stop cock a few centimetres to the left I could temporarily close off the water supply to the parochial house saving the ornaments and the Egyptian rat hair hall rug, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, from a sodden downpour. Verily, the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
Archbishop Robert Carolgees will be appearing on Good God! the biblically-based Channel Five game show on Monday afternoon at 3pm. Regrettably, asthmatics will not be permitted into the studio.
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!
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
Here at Monkeybroth Towers, Christmas has come early, much like Mike from accounts if the graffiti in the ladies toilet is to be believed. That aside, our festive feelings have been in full overdrive this week with a cornucopia of messages offering items for sale. It would appear Biffordshirians from across the county are clearing out their garages, lofts and, in the case of a Mr G Whippet from Saggy Hole, his underground concrete-clad nuclear bunker.
Mr Whippet wrote to us personally to say his collection of Margaret Thatcher merchandise was up for grabs as part of his massive yuletide clear out so we despatched Rodney to Mr Whippet’s house for a look-see. Rodney tweeted to say he liked the look of the Margaret Thatcher toaster and the coasters, but drew the line at the Margaret Thatcher coal fire. Rodney is the office budgie we should point out, so it was probably out of respect for his got-shoved-down-a-mine-to-see-if-there-is-gas ancestors that he turned his little beak up at the fossil fuel guzzling heat-providing centrepiece.
To his credit Rodney did try and bring back the Margaret Thatcher toaster back from Mr Whippet’s bunker but he got eaten by a cat on Marshmallow Road, just a few metres from the office. The toaster doesn’t work either.
BORDER COLLIES – are your existing collies bored enough? We’ve got border collies. They are so bored they can’t even be bothered to watch the television and instead will spend hours in your bedroom looking out of the window. Our top of the range Border Collies will also roll their eyes at you while picking at their nails on command. Don’t just have bored collies, get border collies. Call Spitonme 334422 and ask for Gavin Hastings.
CHEGGERS PLAYS PLOP – I once saw Keith Chegwin at Whoft’s Otter and Marmalade Summer Roadshow. It was back in that hot summer of 1976. Anyway, I followed Keith into the portaloos and when the park ranger’s back was turned collected some of his faecal matter. No, I would have waited until I got home too. Anyway, as Christmas is approaching I thought I would…wait, how much are these per word? Oh blimey. Keith Chegwin’s 40 year old plop for sale. Call Bangles-on-the-wrist 45333322 and ask for Maggie Philbin
JESUS JONES – Remember them? Well I’ve got 43 Raleigh Mudflaps for sale. Ideal for the cycling mudlap enthusiast and with Christmas around the corner what better time to say that you want your loved one to be mud free in 2016 and beyond. Due to acute angina I am unable to split this collection, so it’s 43 mudflaps or nothing. Call Rashybuttocks on 5444553.
BAND MERCHANDISE – If you are a fan of local rock music then you ought probably to readdress what you are doing with your life. That notwithstanding and havingsaidthat I’ve got loads of merchandise from Biffordshire’s top band ‘Missing Cat’ for sale. You’ve probably seen their posters up and around Rashybuttocks, Climp, Flange and Tittyhole. They won’t play Spitonme or Wheft since the great Salvation Army riots of 1989. Anyway I have five ‘Missing Cat’ posters up for sale, including tabby, ginger, black and white and the rare tortoiseshell. Call Barry Sheen on Fingle 544545 and ask for extension 78. If it rings out, redial and ask to be put through to Charlton, off of Charlton and the Wheelies.
THESARUS FOR SALE – What do you give the man in your life who may also be lost for words as well as being in your life? A thesaurus, that is what is what. It’s awful unfortunately. Really awful and furthermore it’s awful. I had a look through it for inspiration but it is awful, just awful. Call Ed the Duck on Fortiscue 546363633
COCONUT SHAMPOO – Thanks to a recent fire at Austin’s Fish and Sock Bar in Wheft (Mr Clang left the fryer on again!) I have 78 bottles of luxurious coconut shampoo for sale. It brings up the little straggly hairs on a coconut a real treat and will help you get your coconut ready for a night on the town. There’s nothing worse than getting to your works Christmas do with a coconut with its hair looking all unmanageable, so cure your coconut hair concerns by calling Arthur Northern-Ireland on Flimp 78787878855
WHELP LIBRARY – Don’t forget to pop into Whelp Library over the festive season. We’ve got books on kittens, books on turtles and even books on salamanders. Since all our shelves were stolen during the great Salvation Army riots we are having to use animals instead, so catch them while they are not looking in your direction! Be quick though because some of the kittens are looking decidedly weary having to balance all those books. Ooo, talking of which my husband runs an accountancy firm from the cupboard under our stairs. So if you need any accounts done in a very small cupboard under some stairs give me a call. We’re based on Calculator-on-the-rim so we are bound to be local to you.
CALL ME – Please call me, call me, baby, baby call me now. Call me , call on me (baby, baby) Do, do , do it Baby please. Having trouble naming your baby? Don’t know what to call it or him? Call Spagna on Rome 78789090 for all your baby naming needs.
Your weekly horoscope with our resident stargazer Moonman the Apocalyptic….
Oh there you are my little cosmic angels; look at you, looking at this page just like I predicted you would last week. Well, you would, wouldn’t you because I predicted it last week and I shall predict again for next week too. I would wish you a lovely week ahead my little star benders but I am afraid that’s not looking likely for all of you. Especially you, Sagittarius. You know what I am talking about; it’s dirty and prehistoric so stop it before it falls off. But now, let us join hands and begin our mystical cosmic journey together into the week ahead…
Nope, don’t even think about it. The bank will say no and what do you need a conservatory for anyway? Yes, I know Marjorie thought it might spice up your love life but the moon is rising over cancer on Thursday and the hoover still remains broken. Priorities Aquarius, priorities. Shush now, shush, sleep little Aquarius, sleep.
Lucky horse: The one off of the Lloyds Bank adverts
On Tuesday, you’ll fancy crumpets for your tea but don’t go to the store in your slippers, as trouble awaits. Instead fetch your Crocs from the shed and shuffle down there in your dressing gown. You’ve given up anyway haven’t you, Pisces. And no, don’t bother with your hair. Mr Right won’t be in the Budgens crumpet aisle on a Tuesday evening
Lucky rain: Light drizzle
With the moon high over Taurus you’ll be eating a lot of cheese this week Aries. Still you like cheese don’t you so that’s going to be okay then isn’t it?
Lucky ball: Tennis
With the moon high over Aries, you’ll be eating a lot of ham this week, Taurus. Still you like ham don’t you so that’s going to be okay then isn’t it?
Lucky meat: Mole
I had a twin once, Gemini and this week I predict that you will too. On Thursday afternoon I see you standing in front of a silver board, its surface will be as that of mercury. It shall be then when you see your identical twin, sweet Gemini
Lucky cat: Turkish Van
These are desperate times aren’t they dear Cancer? Your amazon prime order went over the road to 57 by mistake on Thursday and this week your Sunday newspaper will go to number 43. Mr Spume lives at number 43 doesn’t he and you won’t want to retrieve it. I shouldn’t worry dear Cancer, I predict that absolutely nothing will happen on Sunday and that all the pages of the newspapers will be blank. Hah! Take that Mr Spume! Cancerians ONE Mr Spume ZERO!
Lucky yeast based spread: Marmite
Don’t spend all week lion around Leo, get up and be the mane man. Take your hands out of your pants while you are at it and go and wash up. It will fall off if you are not careful. Things pick up on Friday when a naked cheerleader will ignore you in the park.
Lucky invertebrate: grasshopper
Ah Virgo there you are, the sweetest of all the signs. Be a lamb, and make us a cup of tea would you Virgo? Of course you will, you are lovely. It’s a day for staying under the covers on Tuesday though my stellar superstar – eek! there are bears about in the High Street and they love a juicy Virgo!
Lucky Chegwin: Keith
Feel me for I am there, see me for I am here, touch me, touch me, I want to feel your body
Lucky page three model: Fox, Samantha
Your new harmonica stroke toilet roll holder will arrive on Wednesday, Scorpio, so just chill in your crib. Well, you should have gone for next day delivery shouldn’t you?
Lucky leg: right
Don’t bother putting on a long playing vinyl album on Wednesday Sagittarius. It’s not looking good. Oh and that tricky thing at work you have on Thursday morning? I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Lucky cereal: All bran
The mystical runes are singing your name dear Capricorn this week and an unexpected voucher to redeem against Mr Kipling products before the closing date of 31/8/15 will keep you in with the sisters at the Abbey that’s for sure! Don’t be late for evensong on Sunday and it will be iced fingers all round!
Lucky nun: The one off of Sound of Music
As I sit reclining in my solid, oak backed chair in my conservatory-cum-nook I can’t help but think of the impact our Lord Jesus Christ has had on the humble Brussels sprout. The poor, rather rotunded vegetable, is conspicuous only by its absence from our dinner tables for 364 days a year. And yet, on the day of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, the humble brassica is presented to kith and kin all smothered in butter, often arm in arm with some nutty chestnuts in a veritable vegetable feast for the eyes. I often wonder the damnation we would all be suffering if Herod and his evil flying bats had managed to extinguish the life of our Lord and Saviour before he had even managed to get into a pair of short trousers. Perhaps the diminutive sprout would never have been invented, perish the thought. Our festivities would be ruined although, as my friend and colleague the Very Reverend Malcolm Powder pointed out, there would be no festivities to be ruined had Herod’s hordes managed to snuff out the infant Lord Jesus before he had even done his first standing up wee.
As I began to prepare my evensong lecture on that very same subject my vegetable musings were rudely interrupted by what can only be described as a high pitch shriek emanating from the garden outside. Gumpert, my lithe South American live-in help had rather uncharacteristically offered to tidy up the garden log pile that morning which had rested lazily against Mrs Arbuthnot’s side of the fence for many years. So long had the logs lied undisturbed I would often joke with my guinea-pig eating live-in help that perhaps it had become some sort of portal to a lost miniature world inhabited by tiny dinosaurs. I was, of course, trying to interest the tanned domestic in garden invertebrates and hoped that my Jurassic jokings would encourage him to investigate further and become amazed by the woodlice and molluscs that he would surely find within.
My ploy was to divert his interest away from his late night carpentry hobby about which I was starting to receive complaints from my normally insouciant neighbours, dear Mrs Arbuthnot and the rather wild Comely-Smythes. I say late night carpentry hobby as I must confess I have yet to see the results of Gumpert’s nocturnal banging and scrapings which are beginning to irk my dear neighbourly friends. He certainly spends many a sweaty night in his room with a couple of builders from the village, so one can only assume that getting wood to join is the object of their perspiratory endeavours.
That notwithstanding, Gumpert’s clear shriek had jolted me from my thoughts and, deciding that my giraffe fur lined slippers were not the best mode of propulsion across the muddied garden, I reached for my pair of Indonesian rubber gumboots which I keep by my conservatory-cum-nook door in case of emergency. The boots, I should explain, where a gift from one of my parishioners, Huxley Stout, who had fetched the rubber for the boots himself during a guided BMX tour of the Indonesian uplands. Huxley was delighted to be able to present the boots to me after worship one Sunday and had even tied a purple ribbon around each one. To match, he gleefully informed me, my ecclesiastical gown. Huxley was quite the adventurer and as he handed me over the ribbon entwined footwear he enthusiastically explained that there would be a gap on my pews next Sunday as he was off to Lima that next weekend. All he asked in return for the thoughtful gift was the chance to pump Gumpert for information about the sprawling dense continent Gumpert called home. My taut domestic was only too pleased to help and judging by the banging and thumping coming from his quarters the pair had a lively debate about how best to explore dark jungle recesses.
Reaching the garden I saw that Gumpert had now decided to slump against Mrs Arbuthnot’s fence and was squeezing and pawing at his right index finger. His pain had not prevented him from lighting one of his foul smelling cigarillos, which, I noticed, was smouldering dangerously close to his right flip flop. With a face as red as beetroot, Gumpert motioned to his swollen digit and I could clearly see a large splinter from the casually slumped log pile had clearly embedded itself deep into his flesh. With the blood draining from my face I immediately began to prepare my journey to hospital which, given recent NHS cuts, was now located in a shed off the A458 near Whump. Suddenly a strange beam of ethereal light bathed a slightly opened drawer in the kitchenette. There, glinting in the glorious divine light was a pair of tweezers. My path became clear. Why, just utilising the small cosmetic device to pluck the splinter from Gumpert’s dainty finger would save me from hours of highly stressed shed-based medicinal care. Verily the Lord doth move in Mysterious Ways!
The Very Reverend Dr Robert Carolgees will be officiating at the Cum-on-Wye Women’s Institute Otter Hunt next Thursday. Please bring 50p for the Hawiian Luau and a bag of mints for the fish. Asthmatics are asked to book in advance.
By Jordan Drysponge-Wetsponge
A decent buffet is really all a chap wants,
Wotsits, sausage rolls and mushroom vol-au-vents
Add in pints of strong continental lager,
And your average Joe will be in a heavenly lather
But for the love of arse don’t just lazily tip out a bag of twiglets,
And expect THAT to constitute a buffet, I’d rather nosh on piglets’
Buttocks or electrocute myself in the bath with a hairdryer,
Or immerse my whole body in a turned on chip fryer,
Or throw myself in front of the 8.46 from Waterloo,
Or stick a fork in my eyes and give myself a Chinese burn. Oooo
It makes me mad these twiglet loving idiots whose brains are clearly dead,
Just going around pouring them out and calling that a buffet instead
of taking some time and care about their savoury presentations
Running around all evil and weird with their nasty twiglet machinations,
I’d rather shove a piglet, yes another one, in my ear than gracefully concede to friggin twiglets PLEASE!
Hello? People? What’s so wrong with a decent bit of pineapple and cheese?
You bunch of howling apes with your stupid savoury trees,
Except they’re not trees are they, Mmmm? They are made of erm, actually…
I’m not sure what they are or what they could be
Marmite? Oh marmite did you say?
I quite like marmite, but I’m still going to stick forks in my eyes anyway
Hah! That will teach you, Mum, for
Not serving me a buffet for my 43rd birthday
As I sit reclining in my solid oak-backed chair so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, my thoughts whirl around me like a big earthworm might coil and buckle in pain after it has been sliced in two by the sharp metallic blade of a heavy spade. Coming somewhere from next door’s garden, the sharp barking cough of Arbuthnot rudely jolted me from my creative daydreaming. Arbuthnot I should explain had been hired not two weeks hence by our good neighbours, Hector and Agnetha Flump, to tend their garden and carry out general household chores while they were away visiting their son Grifter in Southern Florida.
I have to confess I was full of admiration for the Flumps when they decided to press Arbuthnot close to their bosom and entrust him with looking after their 18th century sprawling manor. Arbuthnot hadn’t been shy in regaling me with tales of his rather murky past as way of introducing himself to our little community when I bumped into him outside the newly opened Budgens in Moistbury. A former merchant seaman, Arbuthnot had spent many a day and night cramped in a tiny cabin pressed up against his fellow rugged shipmates. I recall Gumpert, my lithe live-in help, had been particularly interested in the on-board conditions Arbuthnot had so vividly described on that blowy autumnal day. So enthralled was Gumpert with Arbuthnot’s tales of tossing on the high seas that he immediately invited the salty former sea dog up to his room to help him fill in his oft thumbed maritime scrapbook which I had acquired for him as a treat from a local bric-a-brac store.
Arbuthnot’s life experiences were certainly rich and varied and I thought poor Gumpert’s eyes would fair pop out of his head when the burly handy man had shared stories of his time spent at her majesty’s pleasure. Apparently, Arbuthnot had been wrongly accused of stealing a kestrel from the local manor house and had had to endure nearly five years of imprisonment among all manner of ne’er do wells. Bunk sharing in order to keep warm at the height of the winter’s frost was not uncommon by all accounts, and poor Arbuthnot told us he often had to spend long evenings in the embrace of his sweaty cell mate just to keep the nip at bay. I could see Gumpert’s eyes widen at the horror of it all.
While I was naturally delighted that Gumpert had a new playmate and, I hoped, someone who could perhaps offer some much needed paternal guidance – my ecclesiastical affairs unfortunately precluded me from playing such a role – Arbuthnot’s rather gruff past life did fill me with trepidation. However, buoyed by the Flumps’ Christian confidence and trust in the man, I decided to let sleeping dogs lie and allowed Gumpert to spend as much time with the muscled gardener-cum-help as he liked. They would often chat for hours up in Gumpert’s room, and I was particularly pleased when Arbuthnot helped my South American assistant recreate the Saucy Calculator, Arbuthnot’s last vessel, up in his room using his bed as the poop deck and pillows for sails. At least, given the banging and moaning emanating from Gumpert’s quarters, that is what I presumed they were doing.
Arbuthnot’s coughing from next door’s garden reminded me that I had some errands to run, including, rather pertinently, the purchasing of some cough drops for Mrs Dropkick’s spaniel, Tony. At Sunday’s Evensong, Mrs Dropkick, who is not as mobile as once she was, came to me in the vestry in tears, claiming poor Tony’s hacking cough and heavy throat was keeping her up at night. As part of my pastoral duties I felt it only right that I should offer to pick up Tony’s drops from the veterinarians in Cleft High Street. It was a fine sunny day so a trip on the bicycle seemed a splendid way to reconcile Mrs Dropkick’s teary request.
Gumpert had moodily taken himself off to his bedroom that morning complaining of a pain in his thighs so I felt it best not to enquire if he wished to join me in my trip. I picked up my helmet from the rather splendid mahogany table in the back passage, so kindly provided to me by my parishioners, and stepped out into the bright sunshine to retrieve my trusty two- wheeled steed. Unfortunately I immediately noticed that the tyres were both flat and sagging heavily. Instinctively I went to call out to Gumpert to assist me, but remembering the great delight he had taken in showing me his purple and blackened inner thighs earlier that morning, I imagined that my beckoning of him would be met with even more of a duller mood than he was in currently.
Suddenly a beam of ethereal light bathed the table on the open shed door. I could just see that this divine light was glinting off a dusty tool resting against some old copies of Hymn and Hers magazine. Squinting against the light I could see that the object was indeed a bicycle pump. Suddenly my path became clear. Why, by just simply pumping the tyres I could resurrect the pneumatics from their slumped torpor and fetch Tony the spaniel’s cough drops as planned. What would have taken hours of panicked bicycle repair man searching had been cured with a few sharp pumps. Verily the Lord doth move in mysterious ways!
The Very Reverend Dr Robert Carolgees will be hosting ‘An evening with Gary Glitter’ at Cleft Village Hall next Thursday. Please bring a change of shoes and a bag of toffees for the llamas. Asthmatics are asked to book in advance.
Rock stars in the morning…
Number 288: Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
CARTER’S MUM: Carter! Carter love? Are you getting up today?
CARTER: Nah, not today mum!
CARTER’S MUM: Oh, haven’t you got school today love?
CARTER: No, free period!
CARTER’S MUM: Oh, I see
CARTER’S MUM: What are you doing up there love?
CARTER: Having some sex Mum!
CARTER’S MUM: Oh…. Are you going to have some breakfast dear?
CARTER: Sorry Mum, can’t stop
CARTER’S MUM: Oh, okay then
More rock icon morning nincompoopery next time folks!
“Ken, Marigold! Come through, we’re on the patio” I don’t think they heard me or if they had they chose to ignore my beckoning as I heard the side gate go before my old friends appeared at the patio from the side garden. Looking back I think it was perhaps Marigold who had been most shocked by my nakedness on that hot summer afternoon. Earlier that morning, spurred on by a most fortuitous weather forecast, I had spent at least half an hour rescuing a pair of sun loungers from the shed at the foot of our two-acre garden. They were stacked up behind my shovel, homemade noose and a rather tatty bag of birdlime, but by moving the bicycle to the side of the wooden- framed building and repositioning my Dionne Warwick vinyl collection I could just about create enough space to rescue the plastic, slatted garden chaise longues.
How pleased I was that my sweaty efforts were now being rewarded as the sun beat down on our, my wife Maureen and I’s, small patch of rural Biffordshire. Dear, loyal Maureen had been a little concerned that my nude sunbathing would perhaps cause some discombobulation with our neighbours for the past ten years, George and Umbinga. However, George and Umbinga had decided to spend the hottest afternoon of the year at the Biffordshire Steam Falcon show, so I felt emboldened enough to go as our Lord Jesus Christ intended. Umbinga, hailing from rural Ghana, had not witnessed steam driven falcons before, so I felt sure they would be away for most of the afternoon if not into the early evening, as she wondered at the steam-powered bird of prey technology on display. Maureen and I had visited the show last year, although poor Maureen vowed never to return having lost an eye in an unfortunate accident with a piston-powered Kestrel. Fortunately, we found her eyeball in amongst some discarded candy-floss and although the team at Biffordshire General were professional and courteous, poor Maureen has never really been the same since.
As I stripped to enjoy my naked sun worship, Maureen quite correctly pointed out the dangers of sunbathing in this way and was, she admitted, fearful that I would get ‘myself’ caught up in the slatted seats of the now wiped clean and fully restored sun-loungers. To protect the ‘colonel’ from such an unfortunate mishap, Maureen had spent most of her morning creating a little rest for the old chap, from an old egg-cup and a pre-used pin cushion. As I sipped a refreshing cocktail, Maureen donned a pair of medical gloves before delicately, and with no great skill, positioned the colonel up and across so that his skinny hood was posed neatly on top of the homemade construction. I couldn’t help but think that the good colonel rather looked like a fleshy pink bridge leading to some dark entangled forest, perhaps with a muddy and swollen Asian river churning and billowing below.
The pin-cushion and egg cup combination did a fine job of stopping the colonel from falling to the plastic surface of the sun-lounger and becoming mangled in the slats of the chair. Marigold, judging by the hot flush coming to her cheeks, was perhaps not as comfortable with the homemade willy bridge as Ken appeared to be, who was by now loudly slipping his gin and tonic and regaling me with the tale of when he took five wickets and made a fifty against Flange CC just last week. I think perhaps Marigold’s embarrassment was heightened when the sun was rather unexpectedly obscured by a bank of heavy cloud. Reacting to the sharp drop in temperature, the colonel had suddenly recoiled and had lazily lopped off his perfectly comfortable egg cup rest to fall almost silently to the slatted chair below. As Marigold rather nervously sipped her cup of tea, I vowed to ensure the colonel, now becoming quite red after nearly three hours of hot sun exposure, would be back on his perch as soon as the clouds passed. It wasn’t long before the sun peeked out from behind the wispy white cotton and with a small cough I managed to reposition the colonel back onto his podium, confident that he would not escape from the cushioned comfort of the egg cup again.
Marigold asked for another cup of tea and a few moments later, dear Maureen returned to the patio area with it. Unfortunately, a few cubes of sugar escaped from the bowl she had been carrying, clumsiness being a cross she had had to bear ever since the loss of her eye. The spillage forced Maureen to place the hot cup down onto the garden table before bending down to retrieve the sweetened cubes. Given Maureen had decided to join me in my nakedness, it was suddenly Ken’s turn to flush hot red and another loud slurp, this time sufficient to drain the last remnants of ice and gin from his glass, indicated to me that perhaps he had decided that their afternoon with us was at an end.
Normally I would have risen to bid farewell to my two old friends, but given the colonel was in such a fine and comfortable position I was reluctant to disturb him. Instead, I allowed Maureen to undertake the hostess duties, which she performed admirably by giving our departing friends a big, fleshy hug farewell. It had been an absolutely marvellous day, especially I suspect for the colonel, who later that evening I noticed had turned a most glorious, nutty mahogany brown as he rested contentedly on a big hairy bag of conkers.