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!
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.
MonkeyBroth’s own life-style guru, agony aunt and part time goat hunter, Simon Thrombosis helps you with those tricky life decisions and problems. And with no formal training too!
Darby Dale of Flab Corner writes: Dear Si, I’ve recently started having panic attacks when presented with mushrooms and other fungi. For most, this wouldn’t be a problem, but my work with the Forestry Commission means that these things are part and parcel of my day. It’s become so bad that during the scoping of a fire break project in Ashdown forest, I came face to face with a plate fungus and ran for over 4 hours to get away from it, eventually taking up a hiding place under the table of the Red Lion pub in Chelwood Gate. I laughed it off as a prank to my colleagues, but I’m not sure they bought in to my explanation. Please help!
Si writes: Hey Darby, irrational fears are so named because they are both fears and irrational. That’s a fact! But, we have to trace the fear back to its nucleus. I suspect that you had an occurrence such as a break in by burglars disguised as Toad from Super Mario or some such. Without that centre, it’s difficult to help, but can I suggest that you tell your colleagues? You may run the risk of being forever ridiculed, losing your job and the respect of your peers, but needs must eh? You’re welcome.
Dekin Dumpvalve from Leaky Grange writes: Since I was a boy, I always feared that my thumbs are plotting with my spleen to take over my cognitive functions and cause carnage. I swear that I can hear them whispering to one another just before I fall asleep. Does this happen to other people or am I special? I’d love to be special.
Si writes: OK Leaky, this may sound a little strange to you, but usually in these occasions, it’s your bladder that is the puppet master and the thumbs and spleens are just henchmen doing its bidding. I’d say go with it. The bladder is actually quite an astute character and I know number of high-profile celebrities that gave over control and never looked back. They do tend to spend quite a lot of time in the lavatory, but you have to take the rough with the smooth. Happy to help.
Jervis Practicalmouse from Skive writes: Last month, I lost my entire collection of Roy Hattersley signed prints in a house fire caused by a faulty cheese grater. Somewhat understandably, I’m distraught as the collection was both irreplaceable and implausible. Last week, I physically harmed a man who was loudly talking derogatively about Roy’s time working under Dennis Healey whilst shopping in Budgens. I feel it’s now somewhat out of my control. Stop my grief. Make the pain go away…
SI writes: I’m very sorry for your loss Jervis. I’m afraid that the grieving process has to be carried through before you can feel better. But in the meantime, can I suggest you avoid situations that are likely to present Roy as a subject of everyday conversation? Your trip to Budgens was particularly risky when viewed from that perspective. I’d also avoid steelworks. Glad to have been of assistance.
Well, that was concise and well advised as usual. Si will return mainly because we believe he’s found somewhere to live in the heating system and maintenance has been unable to flush him out.
Many of you will remember Keith from such genre-leading TV shows as ‘How long is your guttering?’ and ‘Changing rooms changed’. A pioneer in the development of the self-leveling-level and the automatic gate mangle, Keith has been at the sharp end of home DIY for at least 6 months. An enviable CV indeed! Here, Keith takes you through some seasonal ‘must dos’ for every home tinkerer.
Hello everyone! Keith Dynosheet here with some top tips to keep you busy on those long and sultry summer days.
When the sun is shining bright, the living’s good and the temperature is nudging the high 80’s, there’s nothing I like more than insulating the loft. Many consider this task to be madness at this time of year but ask yourself this – where would you rather be? Having a cold cider in a beautiful country pub garden or up in the loft wearing protective clothing and laying thick glass-fibre between your joists? Quite! Get up that loft ladder! It is important to utilise your full face mask to protect your eyes and your lungs from the hazardous material. It also helps to have a nice thick pair of trousers (a sturdy cavalry twill or jumbo cord for preference), a long-sleeved fleece to protect the forearms and a thick pair of gloves. I find that it’s best to lay your insulation at around midday although I don’t know why.
Another fantastic job during this fair season is cleaning the inside of the greenhouse windows. Remember that, because of the extreme temperatures, the glass will streak very badly meaning you need to take your time to achieve that sparkling finish. Set aside a minimum 3 hours without breaks to truly do this job justice and remember the full complement of thick, heavy protective clothing when working with glass.
My final top DIY job for a balmy July day is putting down Lino in the cellar. ‘But it’s cold down there Keith!’ I hear you cry! But worry not as you’ll be wearing the full complement of heavy, think and stiff protective clothing including the most important garments – the safety scarf and luminous mittens. Also, your Lino will need to be kept warm to make it lay properly, so a large space-heater set on full power will be a necessity. A hairdryer on the hottest possible setting is also recommended for precision laying. Remember not to bring any cold drinks or refreshments into the cellar with you during this task as you may spill some on your lovely brand-new floor. Allow between 4-6 hours to complete this depending on the area you’re covering. A great time-saving tip for this is to not have any fluids for 24 hours beforehand thus saving trips to the toilet.
Until next time everyone, stay safe and most of all, stay safe!
Wonderful advice there to avoid wasting those precious summer days! Keith will be back in the future to explain why roofing is best done during lightning storms. You can also purchase Keith’s new book -‘Building a swimming pool during a drought’ at all good booksellers.