A Village Affair
Okay, if you haven’t worked it out by now; I live in a village. It’s very small but you know there’s such scandalous goings on here it would make a Joanna Trollope book look positively staid. You know the other day I heard some terribly exciting news… The roses were still in bloom at no 43! Can you believe it? But shockingly, I also heard Mrs Cartwright hadn’t collected the milk from her doorstep until 11am. Outrageous! I shall have to lodge a complaint with the parish council… fancy leaving the milk outside to be harassed by vicious scavenging Blue Tits. Before long we could be overtaken by a squadron of suicidal Tits with little white bands around their heads emblazoned with The Rising Sun……
And as for those starlings I can barely chuck the bread out on the lawn before they’re swooping on me like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I’m ducking and diving just to hang out the washing and if I don’t remember to give them an early morning feed the bastards crap all over my sheets. I’ve been practising taking them out with Master Benedict’s sling shot and marbles but so far I’ve yet to succeed….
Okay, so maybe the starlings have got the better of me of late but I’m not one to take things lying down so come winter I’ll get my own back and when they’re really, really hungry I’ll throw my Christmas Cake out for them……(Evil laugh)……
Did I mention that my friend Mrs C who lives 3 doors down has chickens? Lord, what a racket they make. Clucking and pecking all day long, waking me up at dawn with their cock a doodle doodling… Anyone would think they had nothing better to do but lay eggs. Oh yes, they don’t. Oh well.
But being an all seeing and all knowing mother, I happen to know that the clucking is actually the hens' secret poultry code. Frankly, I think they've watched Colditz and The Great Escape far too often. (Personally, I think Mrs C has been a little extravagent installing a plasma TV in their hutch but hey, it's not my money.) I'm sure Hattie, the ring leader, has got a crush on Steve McQueen too because I keep seeing her astride that toy motorbike in the garden. Actually, I happen to know they're planning to escape from Mrs C’s house before she stuffs and roasts them and move into Master Benedict’s bedroom. How do I know this? Well, I’ve heard Master Benedict plotting with them. Yes, I‘ve seen him down at Mrs C’s stroking their feathers, polishing their chicken shed and whispering sweet nothings in their ears…..
But I don’t want chickens in Master Benedict’s bedroom; it’s bad enough having a box of old fish bones, a snake skin, a wasp nest, a selection of old fossils, a prehistoric horse’s tooth, a bird’s skull, a robin’s nest, an assortment of egg shells and a sheep’s horn. Fortunately, he hasn’t yet brought in mummified hedgehog he found behind the garden shed. At the moment it’s still decorating the front doorstep.
Boy, the postman just loves us. Mind you, I don’t think he’s ever felt the same way since that package arrived from The Netherlands.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that cleaning Master Benedict’s bedroom is not an easy task. In fact sometimes it can be rather unpleasant. And I haven’t even mentioned his pants yet. But let me tell you - he takes after Master Samuel.
Anyhow, I have a plan to foil the chickens’ cunning escape and to cease their clucking once and for all. I plan to nip round to Mrs C’s at dusk, open their hutch and then sneak silently away….
From behind the garden fence, I will make the secret cluck-cluck noise that Master Benedict has instructed them will be the time to break free ….
And out they will come, waddling down the path like....chickens…. to their freedom…..
Only I happen to know that at dusk my friend, Ferdy Fox, comes a visiting………..
Yeah, I guess I’m bored at the moment. There’s nothing exciting going on around here. It’s dead. So are half the residents – well over 70 - Doesn’t that count as the same thing? I guess I’ll have to wait till the local Member of Parliament comes around on his mobile surgery before I can stir up any trouble.
Hmm… what can I complain about next time?
I know, those damned blackbirds that keep roosting in the eaves….
Oh, but wait a minute last weekend there WAS an incredibly exciting event held at The Village Hall….
The Women’s Institute Annual Harvest Festival!
Well, being a bit slack on the preparation side I only picked up the entrance leaflet about 4 days beforehand and immediately regretted not having made any raspberry jam to enter in the Preserves Category. However, I did think about entering my mother but then I thought maybe people would think I was being unkind….
I looked through the other categories and at what, if anything, I might be able to enter. Here were some of the possibilities;
1) Make a cross stitch picture (No chance)
2) Bake a Pineapple Upside Down Pudding (Well, the upside down bit I knew I could do… but the sponge cake???)
3) Knit a tank top. (Are you kidding? I’d rather die.)
4) Create a flower arrangement. (Well yes, that was a possibility but my idea of flower arranging is putting the bouquet still in the cling wrap straight into the vase. Not ideal really.)
5) Arrange a selection of your own home grown runner beans on a plate. (Hmm… I must say the prospect of cheating on this was tantalising. But you know I like to win fair and square…well sort of .. except for cards maybe.... )
6) Make a knitted teddy bear.( Oh joy… like I need anymore teddy bears in our house. I can’t give them away fast enough before another one arrives… so just in case any of my relatives are reading this…. NO MORE TEDDY BEARS. EVER. JUST SEND THE CASH PLEASE.)
I can’t remember the other categories now but there was a one that I thought Mrs A might attempt which was to make a jug cover. So I duly ran down to her house and posted the form through her door. The next day I received this succinct email;
“I have thought long and hard about my WI entry and now have finalised my concept for the jug cover (any medium). I propose entering in two media - one entry will be a jug covered with a saucer. The other will be covered in Clingfilm.”
Um. That’s Mrs A for you. Practical to the last.
Anyhow eventually, I entered in 2 categories. Firstly, I entered in the writing category which for once was entitled something vague; a poem entitled Memories. Anyway, I cheated; I just changed the title of that poem I wrote the other week and submitted it. Unfortunately, it didn’t even get into the top three! Well, I was mortified that my masterpiece had been ignored. Then I studied the opposition’s poems and I realised mine was fatally flawed because;
It didn’t contain any couplets
Like piglets or curly ringlets
Which surely is a heinous crime
When a poem should always rhyme!
(Blimey that was Baaaaad)
Also, my poem didn’t contain any of the following words; child/children/ playground/swing/mother/father/ sweet/ bikes and …supermarket trolley.
Yep, I must say even I was surprised at “supermarket trolley”…just can’t think of why I didn’t think of that myself…. Memories of a Supermarket Trolley….Has a certain ring about it.
Anyway, I’m not bitter. Well not much anyway.
Now my other entrance was a photograph in the My Favourite Face Category and I entered this;
Again, Master Benedict’s picture didn’t even come in the top three. Humph. Look what’s wrong with my child?? Isn’t he adorable?
Okay, he’s actually incredibly annoying at times, a bit of a rascal and is passionate in a rather unhealthy manner about chickens but he’s still my son and I love him. So I’m mortally offended… so next year I’m gonna boycott the WI festival.Unless, of course there’s writing category entitled;
Then of course, I might just have a chance of winning.
Copyright Jane Turley 2008
Ps Mrs T now has a column on the BBC; you can check out my first introductory piece by clicking onto the link on the right hand side of my blog. Hope you like it!