ELDERFLOWER AND BAGMOUSE- from Worzel

On this, my 5th summer visit to Wales , I put off meeting with Alice, Godfrey’s older sister until last. Beatrice, fearing a ruse by Alice ,would not leave Sonsie Farm, fearing the prankster may double back, to tease her goats, or goad elderly tenants Adelaide and Benny into painting her puce cottage yellow. 

Alice would only meet me at a “Little Chef” roadside diner, she had been barred from every other cafe for miles. Alice and Godfrey’s doughty Ma filled one side of a booth, hands oddly lean and strong, knitting me a cardigan. Alice’s partner, “Nudge”, and stepfather Arthur crowded a table, counting a hat full of money, they had been down the market, singing war songs, Nudge keeping time on a length of rubber hose.  

Alice, as had Godfrey, considered no meal complete without peas, and was devouring a trencher full. A cranky, harried waitress slobbed a stained mug of tepid tea, the bag a wodge at the bottom, before me, and Alice the drinking straw she requested. Alice used the straw to fire peas at an innocent toddler two booths over….

Ma still refused to talk about Godfrey- even when I showed her our thick manuscript, even when I told her how he thwarted a robbery. “We heard screaming outside a pet shop, saw a youth running from the parking lot clutching a carry bag, the thief actually tripped over Godfrey’s big manly feet, headlong into a pole. Godfrey knelt and talked to the bandit about apples, until the cops arrived. The stolen goods were recovered, a bag of Gecko Food, he declined the local news interview…”Twer the beets turned him odd..is all I got from Ma.  

   I turned my attention to the packet of writing Alice brought along, delighted it seemed less “Alice” than usual.. from his old teacher, Mrs Kromplak, something of a “Tippler”.  

ELDERFLOWER AND BAGMOUSE- From Mrs Kromplak.

Godfrey never knew it, when very young I called him “Bagmouse” like the kangaroo, noble marsupial, he hopped about in baggy knitted horse sweater, with a pouch, long mane and tail behind to. His friend Beatrice was my “Wild Welsh Elderflower”, shyly sliding in late, wet and cold, the pair oft brought apples pinched from the market, or a stripy June-bug beetle for me to hold.

I had seen elder flowers bloom from cracks in old stone, tiny yet determined to endure against all odds and grow….and recall the mob of gray kangaroos, I met on main street of a dusty, distant town in my girlhood long ago.

In my desk I kept a flask, for all who asked why “Medicinal Whiskey” for my nerves not the same since the war, Elderflower and Bagmouse, to my dismay once sneaked a swig, perhaps more, found the two gagging halfway to the outside toilet door. “Your medicine burns like Oobleck, Godfrey, the only child I knew who could at the same time, speak in rhyme, laugh cry and spew…Now I am old as, “The Old Ladies’ Home “snores about me- I trust Alice will give to you this packet, remnant of Bagmouse’s story….

EIGHT PIRATES- From Godfrey-  aged ten- eight nasty pirates, in their dirty socks, out late drinking grog, falling from the docks. Seven  nasty pirates now, eating pickled herring, six fell ill, one pirates past caring.

Six nasty pirates, all with peg legs, made them late for mug-up, five got the dregs. five nasty pirates, swabbed the slippery plank, one fell overboard, into the deep he sank. Four nasty pirates, on a night so dark, when at dawn the storm eased, was one lost to a shark.

Three nasty pirates, all in one bed, slip of the cutlass, bad dream, Raoul lost his head. Two nasty pirates left, eyes on the horizon, missed the rogue wave from the aft, now there’s only one. One nasty pirate relaxing in the sun, conked by a coconut oer the head, no more pirates, all dead…From Godfrey.

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE- From Godfrey- At Grandma’s house when I happen to wee, I look up at her painting above the loo, “The Golden Hind” ship of sail, out on the oil paint blue. Sailors hang on the lines so bold, the cook peers out on deck grizzaled and old, the better the light of dawn to see, bugs in the mutton, and gruel so cruel and weevily.  Magesticley see the Galleon ride, see the back end of Ralph heaving over the side. And the fins of sharks above the wake, and no sign what so ever of Sir Francis Drake.

WALNUT DOWN- My  sister and I stayed up awake, when Ma prepared the Christmas cake, with fruit and nuts she kept hidden all year, and expensive sugar.We crowded her elbow to make a wish and stir, I recall Alice’s cry of Walnut Down! , if nut or raisin should jump from the basin.  We dove in unison for the treat, her great thick head bashed  my noggin, “Godfrey hit me in the head with his skull!, cried Alice, as under the sink I crawled, it may be cracked!. Alice bonked me on the head with hers, Ma, I bawled. We learned to stay well clear of Ma, at eve when she chose to bake, for our Ma had reflexes quick as a snake, snatched up the walnut as we rowed, threw it back in the cake with the cry- Walnut Down!.

CHOCOLATE COVERED SALT- From Godfrey-  Twas Alice in creative mood, oft tried to ruin my day with food. Knowing full well I abhor all beets, yet can not turn away from pastries or sweets. Melted chocolate did Alice, with tender care on the stove. Filled them with fondant, tied with a ribbon, “Happy Birthday dear Brother with Love”. I ought to have known, the first two sweets had a cherry inside, the third a cherry pit, the 4th sweet was a cube of salt, sent me racing outside for to gag and to spit. When I am bigger, and get up the daring, shall make Alice Bon- Bons filled with herring..

RUNNING- From Godfrey- Running, I ran across the far meadow.  Was chased by the bull, all snot nose and bellow. I cleared the stone wall with room to spare, chased by the bull on Alice’s dare.

Ran, I ran quick home from the shops, biscuits and cream sent to get. The biscuits were reduced to crumb, the cream by my jogging churned to a clot, Ma wacked me across the bum, and boxed my wee head a swat.

Ran, I ran from bullying louts, armed with beets and frozen sprouts, were times I truly wished that I, could summon a dragon from the sky. Flames green and gold, scales of brass in the sun. Tenbrooks Smythe The Third, his cohorts “Heavy” and “Whet”, would drop their beets in defeat and run…

He was an odd young man who disliked beets, he was my friend for 28 years..and  childhood defined his well developed love of the absurd.

THE ABSOLUTE AMOUNT OF JOY- From Worzel

I will share one of those simple city moments…homeward bound on a Friday afternoon, spat bug like from the humid maw of the #50 bus, and hitching up my drawers on the curb- observed two, seemingly “challenged” young men arguing over a rubbish bin. They were pointing into the trash, where one had dropped his bus pass, and working out what day tomorrow was,   “Verne, tomorrow’s Saturday, then Sunday, then tomorrow’s Monday and you need your bus pass…there  was joy in the working it out- as the two friends retrieved the grimy pass and hurried off- as I did, thinking of joy on my trudge home.  

My long suffering husband, Garnet reckoned talking to Godfrey about joy was “Akin to being handed an empty ice cream cone,” and happily munching on what he was given”. Godfrey never feigned joy, he truly disliked beets, had his share of blue/gray times, he grieved for an angry world, yet could create three scoops from an empty cone, and munched on life’s joys.  

I recall the last winter Godfrey spent with us- deep in my turquoise chair, with his journals, wrapped in a quilt against the chill. We had cinnamon scones in the oven, coast gobular snow falling wetly, darkening the days by 3;00. Peaceful, it was, knowing all I loved would always be with me in this small flat. Here are some of his writings on childhood joy. From Godfrey..

When my parents were not bickering, not shouting at each other, they would dance. Down the streets, pushing me in the pram  my sister Alice ran after, I recall their laughter, dad dancing Ma down the cobbles of Batley, down the foreshore to the sea.

We had countless aunts, all buxom in build, they wed men named Hugh, one after the other.  In the dim, smoky halls, pickled beets on trays of silver, shrill singing and tatty frock of my grandmother, an odd little boy, who disliked beets, learning the absolute amount of joy- so to I danced.

Cross the cow crowded paddock, I leaped chasing swallows, pirouetted  over dragons with the beets I was slaying, danced past my Uncle Lou, back of the pub when his band was playing.

With older sister Alice, at a slow, solemn funeral knee high in a sea of black. We got into the tea-cakes, (Sponge with cream fill)  I was quite ill, but Alice sicker, over the robes and shoes of the Vicar. There was yelling and calling on “Vim” for the stain, Alice grabbed up beets, and chased me round the graveyard again and again. I danced out of her reach, beyond range of the beets, laughing as I hid in the coal hod’s dark corners, was dragged out still laughing by the undertaker, and a large mob of disgruntled mourners.

Learning the absolute amount of joy….Racing down the sand on a sturdy pony, bonfire on a summer birthday, quiet riverbank to read by winding through our valley, bakeshop in the tiny village where everybody knew me. Doing, on occasion what I was told- “Godfrey shut up, go play in the road” ordered Alice- brought home coated in tar, first ever ride in a police car.

That icy swig of fizzy drink that Worzel grew up calling “pop”. Oh the joy of belches, long car journeys, racing off to wee when Ma chose to stop. I survived all, and grew bigger and danced kilt a twirl, yet too awkward ever dare speak with a girl.

The absolute amount of joy- that one friend who ate beets for you, crossed a pool of manure when you were in need of rescue. carried knapsack nimbly to  the Tor of high stone, stride for stride, twas Beatrice laughed at our squashed lunch packet, taught me to milk and goat and how to ride.

Windblown hair to your shoulders, sun warmed boulders, smell of wet, clean flannel, from the hike up, icy water in my hands cup, view over Sonsie meadow land, joy in new book open in my hand. And though Beatrice, you loathed it- would dance at the receptions of those oft married aunts.  There is absolute joy in you- solid as your puce cottage, dear as the memory of evensong on the pathway through the tall grass to your loo.

There is joy in the compiling of Godfrey’s story, even after five years. Beatrice, home in Wales still refuses to consider a “Computery thing” . Her letters come on valley time, today in her 1939 Royal Visit biscuit tin with what may be Neenish Tarts, now a sweet buttery wodge, I will post the tin back filled with Nanaimo Bars, which Beatrice’s tenants  Benny and Adelaide adore, and Alice claims expertise at concocting. Alice teases the pastry loving old pair by putting walnuts in every thing she chooses to share, knowing walnuts give both of them hives.

Beatrice writes- I am rarely invited into the yellow painted sleep out Benny and Adelaide occupy here on the farm. Only large enough for their bed of books, plaid steamer trunk, berry pails for chairs, and plank table, all cooking is done over a fire in the yard. On the wall hang framed photos of The Queen,( Adelaide’s former employer,) a view of the Yarra River dated 1956, and one of spirited women, pinny clad, racing with fry pans down the cold, February streets of Olney. Pancake Racing with joy, in 4th place, I recognize the youthful, though even then bow-legged Adelaide. Pancakes- Benny and Adelaide agreed- the absolute amount of joy.

WAYWARD DAUGHTER- An Alice Story

Beatrice hear, writing again. It began on a Tuesday, I love to awake slowly on Tuesday, my tenants, Adelaide and Benny, when not off roving tended the morning farm chores- fair arrangement for the elderly couples board, and the times I have collected them from the town cells, pinching things, cheeking the cops, yellow houses..and on my bedside table a gift they had brought home..

Presented with a curtsy by Adelaide, tiny, bowlegged former chambermaid to the queen, it is a hideous lamp. Old, carved of some black wood, Atlas we reckoned, holding up the world. I can only envision his grimace, as the head is broken off, he is starkers naked, Adelaide, knowing I am a woman of modesty has dressed him in a loin cloth, fashioned from one of her hankies.

Times when not sure whether to laugh or cry, I wonder what Godfrey would do..laughed till he sneezed did Godfrey. Worzel and I now five years working on his story . I had been annoyed with Worzel lately, feeling our project veering into idiocy, dignifying the contributions of Alice, Godfrey’s sister, and her dreadful companion, “Nudge”. Worzel has discovered this new “Computer’ thing. She reports that readers love Alice, and want to read more. My goodness..so dear friends ,this is what happened when Alice came home in the fall

Twas a hush over the little town, more subdued than plain pudding, soft as duck down the news whispered over cup of tea and bun. Egg and chips went cool, notice was sent to the only school…Alice had been seen. Getting into her old, black London taxi, Alice was home in Skibereen.

Quiet had passed summer with the prankster far away across the sea, at The Lawn Bowling Club, Verne Allbread stalwart stood guard, the grass was deep on the slopes of the moat Alice dug round her home. Church bells tolled, Curmudgeon!, Curmudgeon!, hark the curmudgeon, Alice draws near!. Cloud of dust on the main road, tipped over garden-gnome.  Could it be?

For Alice and Nudge were pranksters, never nasty or mean, tolerated by most in the town of Skibereen, from fire hall to the shoe shop that employed her, those with little or no sense of humor did their best to avoid her.

At an age a lady would never disclose was Alice in her hand knit wooly clothes, she wore daily rubber boots and the same flannel shirt  as a lad Godfrey did wear, and twice a day rolled her step dad Arthur, singing war songs round the park in his bath chair.

But where were they? Alice and friend Nudge, (the only one she had) no one knew, Always together, an odd pairing the two. Town folk warned- “I hear her stick was seen luggage deck of the Batley Bus”. She and Nudge’s matching suitcases clearly labeled – BEWARE OF US.  

There are two High Streets in the town of Skibereen, true High and Down low where the docks begin, there are backstreet pubs and dark, greasy shops , where seeking pork pies Alice and Nudge were known to go. Brian, the town cop hung about the statue of Tenbrooks Smythe The First, town benefactor, long dead. Alice twice a year dressed him up in a frock, and wee cloche hat on the bankers brass head. Brian lectured Alice’s Ma- “Twer a great man, Mr Smythe the first”, when Alice decked him out for all to see in bra and garter. “I’ll see her scraping up behind the pigeons,  when I catch your wayward daughter”.

There is a hush over the town of Skibereen this night, smell of coal smoke and pumpkins, the moon cradles moon, just a sliver, and like moon behind the clouds, silently home slips Alice..Full of new stories for her “Book of Common Prank”, the curmudgeon settles down to write.

We went on an adventure, a long one, afar, afar!, with fish boats and tides in the great Fundy Bay, tides that swept Nudge’s trousers away. We saw lobsters and outhouses, tall ships and a moose, Nudge lost his trousers again in the wind, they were too loose. We ate great meals, avoided all herring, and picnic lunches at our Outhouse Museum, we reckon Nudge’s trousers are halfway home to Wales, do write and let us know if you see them.

We heard of a sand island alive with wild horses, but were not allowed there, enjoyed songs and stories, bottles banged on kitchen table, legends as we knew from home in Wales, in the big city we replaced Nudge’s trousers, from a bargain bin at a “Back to School” sale. They are huge round his waist, expose both knobby knees, and cinch tight under his chest. “Saturday Night Green” in color, Nudge is proud to look his best. For we were on a grand adventure- afar! afar!.

And when we were hailed by the police car, were usually a large person, “Pierre” or “Dawn”…they wore boots and spurs, and took umbrage over the side of the road that I drove on. Long ago a calendar hung on our cottage wall, yearly gift from an aunt we never met from Montreal. Godfrey loved the photos of canoes and peaks of snow, I vowed one day, “Peggy’s Cove” in Nova Scotia is where I would go.

Peggy was not home, just a pathway to a lighthouse. Call of nature led Nudge behind a shed, bees a swarm sent him dashing for the ocean, shedding vest and trousers as he fled. It is well known fact why I carry a stout stick, for fending off advances and to prank. This day I used it to save Nudge and his socks, but he lost his nice new trousers for they sank.

All a hush the little town of Knockfollies Bridge, the girls sorting fish work diligently. On the only main street the only two shops owners face each other with a touch of acrimony. One swept dust into the dooryard of the other, kids ran at play, scallop boats head away to sea, Knockfollies Bridge- dear to the memory of my odd brother Godfrey.

A kilt was provided for Nudge to wear home, an old kilt folded, stored with care, Godfrey had left it, many years ago, on the back of some young ladies chair. And hush to, the fair streets of Skibereen, “Curmudgeon Spotted!, read the morning paper, printed in Batley, top of page three. “Pranksters Return!, with a dark blurry photo of Nudge and me.

I, Alice, do not suppose  will ever be asked, to speak to innocent Girl Guides on Canada’s fair wonders by anyone….or hear parade, see banner high, “welcome home wayward daughter, welcome home Alice , our curmudgeon”…    From Alice

TELL A POET THAT- From Alice

I sat a long while with Godfrey’s sister Alice’s latest packet of writings..yes, her poetry remained dreadful,some of the worst she had ever shared, but I read it over with a strong sense that Alice’s summer in Nova Scotia had touched the curmudgeon in places no person had ever tried.. 

“The folks of Knockfollie’s Bridge recall my brother Godfrey with fondness,” Alice wrote, even having all beets removed from the only grocers in his memory. My friend, Nudge and I have been inviting ourselves to fish suppers, adding insighds to my book- “Alice- A life In praise of Myself”

Here in Canada, all of it, we drive “on the right”. Alice and Nudge thought this ridiculous, and in rental car, roared about as they would in Wales.

Alice indeed shares her “insighds”, with a brown boat to catch, and a lot of pranks left in her poke….TELL A POET THAT- from Alice-

I was recently informed- “Farmers do not plow, they cultivate”. We passed a field with such sweaty a chap,  on a day already warm. Sunrise of boysenberry swirls of hokey-pokey cream and crimson, tinged in wild mint. Tell  a poet that, tell a poet here down east, the summer nights don’t cool, the stars brighter than there. The poet may reply, I recall they are- “A blanket for the olders over heather, their fire, harbor home and safety to the bold navigator”.

Tell a poet, it is raining out, Nudge wear my hat. Cold the wet drips down spout, rusts the hinge, in the sodden apple tree bedraggled chickens cringe. don we boots and stalwart fourth, gather the hens in safe with me- and we shall pass the rainy eve over eggy toast for tea.

Tell a poet the delight of outdoor clothes line. “I ran to grab a passing verse, like laundry dry on end of day. Thunder in the hills a griping, storm is on her way. Scent of summer with first drops of rain, new mown hay, sweet on clean sheet splats…Ah tell a poet that.

Eau Duh Colon’- I’m oft asked of the perfume I wear, asked Alice is it sweet essence from France? From France do tell?  “I dab on baked beans, baked beans on fair skin, and behind my ears baked beans from a tin. Tell a poet how a poet may describe it- baked beans.

Tell a poet of Nudge and I as as two more “Tramps in Mudtime”. Squelch, did we squelch round Tinhorn Bay, with my stick moist things to slay, squelch flotsam flat. Squelch we muddy knee to hips, two tramps and greasy wrapped up fish and chips. Oh a good long walk with you, the snizz and crackle of hot deep fat, salt and malt vinegar, but tell a poet that.

Today in need to be alone, with my stick set out a stroll. I sat on a bench, wondering if I am thought of fondly back home. I waited for family or child come by so I could, with my stick quick flick to the sand their ice cream cone. And soon came a lad, (they always did) sticky of face, ignoring the warnings of his nit-picking dad.

As the wee brat drew boldly closer to me, I noted his rubber boots, odd haircut, the image at six of my late brother, Godfrey. I glared at the child in my best curmudgeon, such nerve, the young nipper not to take fright. What happened next left me in utter shock, he held out his ice cream to give me a bite….

No front teeth, dripping pink cone in grubby hand, I was not shocked or revolted, “No thank you my dear” came from some place deep inside me, I gathered my stick up and bolted.

Rundown Motel for the night?, tell a poet that. She may write- Rustic Roadside Inn steeped in history. Old couple down the hall inform me, “First sign of spring is a warm waft of Pig Farm cross the valley”. Hourly the train rattles by neath your rooms only window, tell a poet romantic the three a.m. trains roar. Wobbly table, one threadbare towel, someone has pried open the toilet door…

We re-bequethed The Outhouse Museum to one Domestos Harpic and her silent husband Edgar.  Fond friends of Godfrey, would weed and tend it. Our sojourn sadly soon over, we invited ourselves again to fried fish supper for to end it.. tell a poet of such an adventure we must end it…

And the ship we sail on, steam home to Wales on is painted brown. Give me a poet describe such a thing, from Melbourne to London town, a ships proper color be red, or silver to keep up with the clouds, our ship was brown.

I covet greasy life vest, should I consume herring, trip over a bollard and drown. the ship lists like Lloyd our village drunkard in Batley, it’s name on the bow changed, painted over and over yet again. The ship is crewed by wayward sailors, homeward bound like Nudge and me. What is not painted brown is worn away wood or rusty. Herring is served in some form breakfast, lunch and tea…Nudge feels an epic poem neath my pen, but Ah, tell a poet that again.. from Alice.

MY BATTERED OLD MUG- From Godfrey and Worzel

Worzel here writing, It was my 5th summer visit to Beatrice’s home in Wales, “Sonsie Farm”. Five years now, we two have worked compiling the story of our friend, The Vagabond Godfrey…it was a grand visit, Godfrey’s curmudgeon sister, Alice and her companion Nudge Giggleswick were away in eastern Canada.(Safely a continent apart from my home on Vancouver Island). They were at the “Outhouse Museum”, left to Alice by way of her brother, and no doubt creating some nuisance. 

Adelaide and Benny, elderly residents of the farm had taken to the road, with precious plaid steamer trunk and donkey cart. “Seaking Yelow Houses”read the note on their sleepout door, Adelaide only pretending she could not spell, they were a very literate pair, but still mistrusted me around the plaid steamer trunk. 

Blessed quiet time, to work on our book, to nap in the shade of the sunflowers Beatrice planted, Godfrey’s favorite plant. “I grow them where errant beets still come up every year”, Beatrice explained. This warm morning, doing the washing up, I noticed for the first time, Godfrey’s old, stainless steel mug hanging by a nail above the sink…recalling a story of his I will share here.

In the cool after sunset, I knelt by my fire. And mixed the batter for an evenings treat “Pikelets”, I had not a pan the wee cakes to fry, and I whistled as the beautiful Pelorus River rolled by.

But using my suitcase as a dining table, sweaty shirt to fan the flame, I set oer the  fire inverted my old mug, only cup I had to my name.Purchased back in Wales before leaving home, it only cost then a few pence, no longer shiny and new though, a story in it’s patina of scratches and dents.

Sweet scent of fresh Pikelets, summers evening, butter and jam bought in Canvastown, billy of tea keeping hot at my side, as the deep blue waters of the Pelorus chuckle down.

It’s the vagabond way to discard whats not needed, balanced against what gets lost naturally . Underthings forgotten on a hostel clothes line, or left behind a log by the sea. Stalwart, this battered old mug remains with me.

From the one lane bridge hear the  laughter, as  bold and reckless leap, into a pool so far below where the Pelorus eddies,  cold and deep.

Why do I sing the praises of such an old mug? not something a thirsty soul would nick, I hang it to clink on my backpack, to warn off fierce creatures where the tall grass is thick. Many a mug of hot coffee, warmed shaking hands in days of cold rain, and as I dip it to drink from the sweet Pelorus River, I dream of the time I will pass this way again…From Godfrey.

OH BUT YOU LOVE ME..By Beatrice

Worzel here, this is a timely story from Beatrice in Wales, any new readers to “The Saga”, now nearly five years in the compiling, and in my recent absence, who may not know, it is the simple tale of a vagabond, and his lifelong search for wisdom…

Beatrice here, What can be lower than Turtle pat in a murky pond? Life devoid of humor, I informed the dour copper as I collected the elder pair Adelaide and Benny, from yet another spell in a village cell.

Harmless jackdaws, yet cheeky at avoiding laws, “We had to get them out of a pear tree”, the police explained with a tired sigh to me. “We thought they were apricots”, said Adelaide innocently,” by a lovely yellow house”, Benny always spoke softly.

We headed home, Adelaide and Benny’s wagon and steamer trunk behind the car in tow. “Your Godfrey’s wisdom stated, “when you find yourself arrested for creating a nuisance, thank the cops and offer apples before you go”. Knowing I was irked made Adelaide more obtuse- refused to get in the seat, hands on bony hips, steadfast, Oh, but you love us, I know belched the tiny old rogue.

“Do not bandy those words lightly with me- they are part of an a long old story”.

I warned Worzel, of trusting our book to a “Modern Computery Thingy,”..where I bank, the teller behind her wicket taps an adding machine, and updates my bank book by hand. I refuse to have a phone in the cottage, I enjoy the amusing verse written on the phone box walls, outside the pub.

“Grizzle De Mundy, Bockety Old Maid, Badger up Sonsie Hedge, I have heard muttered rudely these taunts as I pass, names do not worry me, for I was childhood friend, ate beets and faced bullies at the side of future vagabond Godfrey”.

Oh, but you love them, I know!. The dinner lady loomed above us, spoon full of beets, smiling down on six year old Godfrey. His faded, damp kilt was wrapped about him three times, defending his potatoes with one grubby hand, too shy to speak above whisper, “I DO NOT”…I ate a heap of beets, from then on this happened a lot.

Word spread through the “Nere Do Well”, bampot urchins in our small village, that odd little Godfrey indeed disliked beets and spoke only in rhyme. Oh but you love them the yahoos chanted while pelting him with beets in balls of snow.  Most days his rubber boots left a crimson trail of beet pulp, and oft the green tops were stuffed down his wooly shirt, or in the kilt he wore below.

Oh but you love beets, you do !, sneered cruel uncle Lou, rubbing Godfrey’s nose in garden dirt. Every school day for years, at dinner hour he’d ask, “excuse me Miss, are beets in this? they lurk in lentil soup and hide in Haggis”.

He had a sister, six years older, born a prankster, Alice wrote an essay. “For The love Of Beets”, and signed it with her brother’s name. Clever with words, it was printed in the local paper on the children’s page. So appealing was the story he was asked up to read it, at the Batley town pageant  on stage.

Oh, but you love them I know- Ma wedged Godfrey into itchy knitted outfits, as Alice made up songs of beets, to tease her brother, she played them loudly on the family piano. Those who never met Godfrey, often asked of us why he never, ever fought back…

Rolled he was in manure, forced to fetch his kilt from treetops, thrown down an open sewer. “I attribute in old age my healthy robust state, to the joy found hill walking, and all the childhood beets that I ate.” I ate beets Alice strung on the Christmas Tree, ate them every funeral and wedding we were dragged to. I ate them roasted on sticks, summer picnics by the sea, yes, he never lashed out. “I simply do not like beets”, was the first coherent thing, while spitting them out Godfrey told me.

I ate the beets, as I was brought up to be kind, to save him swat across his head or paddled behind.Who ate the beets as a child for you?, At your side boldly fought with sticks Autumn Apple Dragons?, Silver Top Trolls, the dreaded Outhouse Ogre Pokers?, Did it when dared to dash, and touch the bull’s snot nose?, Did someone hold your hand when teacher called you “Dim”?  Held his when boiled beets were dropped on him.

It was Godfrey built fine saddles from string, and imagination, broke trail beside me, who refused to wash dishes lest it harm the fairies in the foam only oddly he could see….

Worzel wonders why when I write, I oft begin at the end of a story..Oh I loved him you know, just a lifelong habit I learned long ago from Godfrey..

ALICE SPILLS THE INK- on Herself- from Beatrice.

Worzel here, I encouraged Beatrice’s writing, and came to delight in her work. Their is a brittle dignity to Beatrice’s life, wishing only to live in peace with her pets, and ignore the world, Beatrice has found herself surrounded by eccentrics..she shares these gathered vingettes.. 

Alice writes- “I do not bloviate- am a lady of refinement, I hide high on the bank rooftop, drip droplets of hot chip frying fat on the pompous, passing below. What fun, to watch them duck and hide”.”I am a lady, deep inside”.

My Miss Spent youth, I traveled with the band, headed by my trombone playing Uncle Lou Gland. Having seen this land over, from John”O Groats to those chalky cliffs where sorry souls launch themselves into the sea, I have a special method so that no ones sits near me.

“I pad my behind with flannel blankets, my front with velvet cushions, book two seats, but sprawl across three, leave my teeth nearby, wrap in a bright pink cardigan, use myself as a pillow so no one sits near me”.

All went well until the day I met Nudge Giggleswick…on the train to London Town, then on to Kent. Rolled up, all set to nap, I ignored the large suitcase wedged in the train doorway, it bore an odd flag, and was heaved in by Nudge who introduced himself as being born in Norway…

To my horror-  with a flourish and flap, he spread a table cloth, across his ample lap, another on his suitcase on the floor by mine- took out a large jar of herring fish in brine! He had a great wheel of Rye Crisp Crac’l Brot- I had laughed at in the shops for years that no one ever bought.

Nudge had Danish Lurpak Butter in a tin, he invited me to join him.   I had a brother Godfrey, told him, six years younger than me. In the shops, when he asked about the Rye Crisp Crac”L Brot, that no one ever bought, I told him it was troll bread, ground from old troll bones and beets, which he abhorred, memories flooded in as Nudge listened, munching on his smorgasbord.

In the dusty, Welsh corner shop, sat for years the Rye Crisp that no one ever bought. Every time we went, I bet Godfrey his sweets it would be there, in yellow and red wrap, lost his sweets every time, he was a silly wee chap..

“I do not bloviate, nor do I date, remain for life a spinster, a merry old prankster, maintained aloof bearing, in a rocking, overheated train that reeked of herring.” Our eyes met over the Danish Lurpak Butter in a can. Nudge spoke impishly of his home in Norway- Flam. “A place of charm, with a river running through, pretty, and far removed from Fiord and city”. I was encouraged to pack up my bag of tricks and scram, a prankster is not welcome in Flam…

“And you Alice, Nudge asked, why this train and where do you go?” I told him I am enroute, to create havoc at a Cat Fancier’s Show. “In an old black dress, I will pose as a judge, I have a bag of catnip up my sleeve to cause chaos”.

“I used myself as a pillow, rolled up and even snored, but Nudge from Flam refused to be ignored. “We changed trains in London, had great fun at The Cat Show, were thrown out rear of the hall late in the day”. “Why don’t we, suggested Nudge, on the long trip home to Batley, combine our talents for pranking, be immature and silly”?.

“I Alice, against my superior judgement, could not help but agree, found on that train what I never sought, a partner in nonsense, and the Rye Crisp Wheel of Crac ‘Brot that no one all my life had never bought…

PLUM TREE AND MOAT- From Beatrice-When young, I built a moat around my heart, a path of tumbled stone and several bridges that I never finished. An impossible to reach place, the fruit I guarded hanging heavy. “No moat will ever defer me, said he, from sun warmed plums”, the moat of my heart breached only by the vagabond Godfrey.I recall the bandanna he held out, laughing, full of purple gems…will write more..hear Alice at my door.

Alice Writes- In my cottage yard have dug a moat, seeded with deep, lush grass around my plum tree. Very cold water, is neath those ditch weeds plum pilferers can not see. The fruit hangs, ripening sweetly , late summer bountiful and fair. On my verandah sit with stick, and Nudge Giggleswick in easy-chair. We bet biscuits what passers by plums be tempted to snitch, I the “No they won’t”. Nudge the “This one, will not be able to resist”Oh, what a delight, my moat, my cold water ditch!.

Beatrice Concludes-   Benny shivered wrapped in my good wooly shawl, indignant Adelaide wrung out her granny pants, hung them to dry in full view of all. “The yellow house Adelaide described, you know the yellow house south of Wrexham? Some insensitive sod has built a moat around it, we fell full in foraging firewood and plum. “Tempting golden plums, cold the nasty water to my aged thighs, cane waving, rude old man, from the steps of his yellow house, shouting- “surprise”!