Tuesday, 11 September 2012

GOSSIP

The fancy-dress party wasn't really my 'cup of tea', but my cousin, Kate, had insisted that I accompany her as the '+1', the invitation had requested. Since her divorce, Kate has been rather at a loss, so I reluctantly agreed. Kate has always been a 'social climber' and, since moving to "The Close", a development of large mock-Tudor houses for the nouveau riche, she had become even more 'upwardly mobile' and was thrilled to be included in her pretentious neighbours' activities.

However, I think she was beginning to regret asking me along. There were many wonderfully lavish outfits on display; 'Henry VIII', 'Marie Antoinette', even a couple dressed as 'Anthony and Cleopatra'. Kate, herself, was dressed as a sparklingly pretty 'Titania' and was basking in the approval of her hosts ( they had settled on Tristan and Isolde ), so I suppose my 'Tigger' costume, complete with 'tiger' face-paint, was not really up-market enough ! But it was the best I could do, all the extravagant costumes had been snapped up by the time I found time to go to the costume-hire shop, it was this, 'Kermit the Frog' or 'Ghandi' and I didn't think that the sight of me, topless, in a loin-cloth, would have been acceptable !

Kate had abandoned me almost at once and so I hung around, leaning on the bar in the dining room, listening to two 'Firemen' discussing the power-nailers that they had recently purchased from B&Q. They were swiftly joined by an aging 'Elvis', who had about half a pound of pomade on his hair. He goosed me as he perched his ample back-side on a bar stool and I wondered how he could tell I was female in my all-enveloping costume, then he winked and the thought occurred that he actually imagined I was a guy !

A shrill laugh; a sound that could curdle milk, crashed through the general party noises. The laughter and clinking of glasses was coming from the direction of the conservatory and through the French doors I could see that, there amongst the expensive cane furniture, overblown, festoon blinds and reclaimed quarry tiles, our hostess, Jocasta, was holding court. I cruised through the throng, wondering what witty comment had warranted such an outburst of hilarity and took a seat next to Kate, who was still chuckling softly. Jocasta continued in her affected, cultured voice and I began to get the drift of the conversation. Some poor woman in the village was being talked about; misused and abused, verbally, by these grinning harpies. Apparently, the lady in question was of a 'certain age' and, to the horror of the snobs in "The Close", she was having an affair with a much younger man.

" Old enough to be his Mother, if not Grandmother !!" screeched Jocasta and they all tutted and shook their heads and sniggered behind their hands.

" I mean, she is not exactly discreet, either ..........." and a dozen heads leaned forward to hear the scandalous details.

I learned that Jocasta had been to the hairdressers the day before, probably for the weekly shearing of her over-bleached mop of hair and the 'Jezebel' was the sole topic of conversation. Of course, now the story was being bruited to all and sundry. Every detail had been gleaned by rumour and hearsay, but that didn't stop Jocasta. She reported that the lovers usually met in the city, but that the young man had been seen entering the lady's house under cover of darkness. I was going to point out that, to my knowledge, they were both free and single, but I held my tongue as our hostess continued. It seems that even the poor woman's laundry-line had been inspected. The lady wore the sexiest underwear. Tiny little panties, apparently, mere wisps of lace and her bras and camisoles had to be seen to be believed,

" Sheer chiffon and Belgian lace, expensive silk ! I suppose her young lover likes that sort of thing. Probably the only way she can keep him interested " Jocasta snorted, as she skewered a tiny, roasted cherry tomato from the hors d'ouvres platter.

"Mutton dressed as lamb ", added another, elaborately coiffured woman.

" I've heard he is still at University, in the city. Some sort of athlete too......" said Kate, with, I thought, more than a hint of wistful envy in her voice.

" Well I think it is disgusting" continued Jocasta, in her most outraged tone, " Not the sort of thing we want in the village, thank you very much. She must be driven out, she is not OUR type at all. We don't want our children corrupting with that sort of thing "

And they all shook their heads violently and pursed their mealy mouths as they sipped their cocktails.

I leaned back in the capacious wicker chair and toyed, idly, with my 'Tigger' tail. Glancing around, I smiled as I surveyed many photos of Jocasta's pretty daughter and handsome son. In some of the photos, displayed on the grand piano, her son was in his cricket whites, smiling happily for the camera. Ah, that smile, that slow, easy, sexy smile, that I knew so well. I sipped my drink and made a mental note to be more careful and also to avoid hanging my Ann Summers knickers on the line, I would dry them indoors instead. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Yeah, this is my entry for the weekly Word Game ..... a cautionary little tale ! heehee This game was invented by Matt and rules and regs. and anything else you need to know, can be found on his blog at http://miblodelcarpio.blog.co.uk/ The words this week are; FIREMEN, NAILERS, COUPLE, ROASTED, CRUISED, MISUSED, BRUITED, GOOSED, SHEARING, POMADE, ATHLETE.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Magical Pool

Gather round, children, oh and you curious adults; for fairytales are not just for the young. They are for the open-minded, the romantics, the dreamers among us. The young at heart and the free of spirit. So, are you seated comfortably ? Then we will begin, in the time-honoured way ........................ Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived an Elf named Lyari. He was a hardworking, loyal Elf and the Elven King, Aulauther, decided to reward his endeavours by appointing him as Guardian of a magical pool. This pool bubbled up out of the ground as a spring in the middle of a beautiful glade at the edge of a small village. The spring water flowed gently outwards, forming the deep, mysterious pool. The glade was an enchanting place, surrounded by Willow trees and sweet Briar roses. Slender Rowan trees, that trembled in the slightest of breezes; Honeysuckle, clambering over Laurel bushes , the heavy scent hanging in the air. Foxgloves , wild Hyacinth and delicate Harebells grew all around the shimmering pool. Bloated frogs hopped in the damper areas of grass and tiny Sticklebacks darted to and fro in the clear, sparkling water. Lyari took his task very seriously. He tended the pool and kept it clear of any weed that threatened to starve the waters of oxygen and he ensured that the animals and plants were safe and well cared for. The glade was well known in the land and people came from far and wide, on tours, to throw their pennies into the crystal water and make a wish. It was rumoured that the pool was enchanted; that it would grant wishes. No-one knew for certain, but they were willing to take a chance and so they came and tossed their hopes and dreams into the depths and closed their eyes and wished. Lyari watched them from his hiding place and smiled his Elvish smile, but as for granting wishes, that was his secret. One day, Lyari was working by the pool, when a cloaked figure wandered into the glade. He watched from behind a clump of Bull-rushes, as the figure knelt down beside the water and removed the hood of the enveloping garment. Long auburn locks tumbled out and fell around the shoulders of a beautiful girl; the most lovely human Lyari had ever seen. The maiden then removed her cloak and the Elf gasped in wonder at her perfection. Surely she must be a faerie, no mere mortal could be so exquisite. But mortal she was and her lovely brow was wrinkled in distress, her green eyes brimmed with tears and her heart was sad. She tossed a coin into the pool and the gentle splash startled a nearby rabbit, who ran, in haste towards a transfixed Lyari, almost colliding with him. The girl sat beside the water for some time and, fascinated, the Elf tinkered about, trying to complete his tasks, but completely distracted by her beauty. Then, as suddenly as she had appeared, she rose and was gone and Lyari felt, for the first time in his life, empty and alone. To his delight, she returned, day after day and each time Lyari fell more in love with her. He listened to her whispered wishes and discovered why she was so sad. Her one true love had gone off to seek his fortune, so they could be married, but a long year had passed and Mairwen, for that was her name, feared that he would never return. She thought that something evil must have taken place and that she would never see him again, so she resolved to come to this spot every day and toss coin after coin into the pool, in the hope that the Guardian would grant her dearest wish and return her beloved Cadfael to her arms. Well, dear ones, this state of affairs went on for some time. Day after day, week after week, Mairwen came to the glade and Lyari began to neglect his duties as he sat and gazed upon her beauteous countenance. He delighted in her presence, especially when she sang love songs, her soft voice trilling and echoing around the clearing and the woodland creatures looked up from their grazing and listened to the lilting tunes. Lyari forgot about the weed on the pool, forgot the weekly dosing with Elvish dust; the magical dust that made the waters sparkle and fill the glade with a million crystals. Mairwen had taken his heart hostage and he was in no hurry to have it returned. The neglect of the enchanted pool came to the notice of King Aulauther and he was greatly displeased. He chaired an emergency meeting of the Sylvan management committee and Lyari was summoned to appear. Now, the King was very fond of this Elf and so he treated him gently, tried to understand the problem and pointed out the pitfalls of loving a mortal. But Lyari was adamant and would not be moved and so the King said that Lyari would have to think of a solution, resolve the problem, one way or another and gave him permission to use any magic at his disposal as long as the glade and the pool were restored to their former glory . Lyari flew home, full of excitement .... he could use any spell ....oh yes !! He could bewitch the lovely Mairwen and make her his. She could stay with him forever, help him tend the glade, never leave him. Oh, they would be so happy ! Mairwen was sitting by the pool when he returned and he was startled to see how thin she had become. Her hair lacked it's lustre and her beautiful eyes were clouded and dark-ringed. He had not realised that she was slowly slipping away from life, dying of a broken heart. Lyari paused and looked at her and he was torn. He could cast his spell and make her love him, forget Cadfael. What should he do, what spell should he use ? He took the velvet pouch from his silken belt and tipped out a handful of Elvish dust, then, closing his eyes, he stood behind the forlorn figure and sprinkled the dust into the air. Mairwen woke up, as from a deep slumber and there, standing beside her, was the muscular outline of a man. She shaded her eyes from the bright rays of the sun and a face swam into focus. It was her Cadfael, he had returned, his pockets full of gold. The handsome youth bent and lifted her into his arms and they embraced happily. Lyari watched from behind a toadstool, as the colour returned to Mairwen's cheeks, her hair shone in the sunlight and her eyes sparkled with joy. He had realised that his love transcended his desires, he loved her so much that her happiness was all he sought; he loved her enough to let her go. Mairwen and Cadfael walked, arm in arm, out of the glade, but just before she reached the path to the road, she turned and looked at the magical place that had granted her wish. She was sure that she saw an Elvish figure gazing after them, but looked again and it was gone. " Goodbye ..... and thank you !" she whispered, and blew a kiss. The kiss flew on the gentle breeze, flitting hither and thither, through trees and grass and sweet-smelling flowers, until it reached Lyari, who caught it and touched it to his lips. Then he dropped it into the cloudy pool. Ripples radiated out and the waters became clear once again and the sunlight sparkled and the glade was filled with a million crystals. _____________________________________________________________________________________ This is my entry for this week's Countdown Word Game, Invented by Matt. This week the rules were slightly changed and , although all the words had to be incorporated into a story as usual, the story had to be in the form of a Fairytale. The words this week are; DAMPER, DOSING, TINKERED, HOSTAGE, TOURS, CHAIRED, PENNIES, BLOATED. This was first published on on 21st August 2012

Autumn Mist.............. A Seasonal Tale

Catherine loved this time of year, when the dawn brought mists and watery sun, or sometimes crisp coolness, the leaves began to fall and the berries began to grow plump and inviting on the hedgerows and amongst the trees. Now was the time she foraged far and wide, seeking out blackberries and elderberries, crab apples and all types of mushrooms, to make her special chutneys and preserves. It was the sale of these, along with the occasional drawing or watercolour, that enabled Catherine to stay in the quaint, thatched cottage bequeathed to her by her Grandmother. Catherine instinctively felt at her throat, for the heavy gold locket that had once belonged to her Grandma. It was Catherine's most treasured possession, a tangible memory of the dear old lady who had been her strength and comfort when her parents had died. Catherine, a little 5 year old, heartbroken and forlorn, had come to live with her only remaining relative. At first she had been stubborn and resentful, not understanding why she had to live with this old lady. She missed her parents dreadfully and cried herself to sleep each night. But Grandma, who was also grieving for the loss of her beloved daughter and son-in-law , was understanding and kind and gradually they helped each other through the dark days. That was now 15 years ago and this was the only home that Catherine could remember. She had had a blissful childhood, playing in the garden and running through the deep wood at the rear of the cottage. Her Grandma had taught her all about nature and the wonderous bounty it provided. Of berries and flowers, of nuts and mushrooms and about all the creatures and the beauty of nature. Together they had walked through the woods, with their wicker baskets, picking the abundant harvest, but never taking it all. Her Grandma had taught her to always leave some for the animals and "the wood". "Look after the wood and it will look after you !" she had said. Grandma used the berries and nuts to make delicious preserves and also some sort of mixtures and medicines, which the villagers bought to cure their coughs and colds, cuts and bruises. "Tonics" Grandma called them and Catherine could picture her now, stirring the huge preserving pan and smiling her kindly smile, while rows of gleaming jars and bottles stood on the kitchen table, waiting for their magical contents. Catherine opened the locket and saw the smiling face of her dear Grandmother gazing back at her. She stroked the lock of white hair that was nestling in the lid and could hardly believe that it was now almost a year since the old lady had passed away. At first Catherine had been inconsolable and would not leave the house, but gradually the villagers had coaxed her out. They encouraged her to go foraging once more and continued to call at the cottage for their chutneys and jams and bottles of "tonic". Her Grandma, it seemed, had been well loved and respected and considered to be a "kindly witch". Of course, Catherine had laughed at this notion, but agreed to continue her Grandmother's "work", although she thought the idea of witchcraft was totally ludicrous. She gently closed the locket and tucked it under her thick sweater, pulled on her woollen wrap and, grabbing her basket, she went out into the misty Autumn morning. Taking the path round the side of the house, she soon found herself in the wood. Today she was searching for mushrooms and went ever deeper into the trees. The mist seemed to close behind her and, stooping every now and then to gather the juicy fungi, she wandered on through the trees until she found herself in a small clearing. In the centre of the clearing was a standing stone, with a flat top and Catherine placed her basket on the stone and looked around. She thought that she knew every inch of the wood, but had never been here before. She slowly walked around the grassy circle on a well worn path, people had obviously been here many times, how could she have ever missed it ? Catherine heard a rustling sound coming from the trees to her left and there, in the mist, was the outline of a figure moving slowly towards her. She fled, leaving basket and mushrooms and all. She sensed the figure was following her, floating through the mist, chasing her and so she ran and ran, in blind panic, never daring to look around, stumbling through the undergrowth until she found herself in sunlight at the edge of the tree-line. Quickly turning, she peered into the trees, but there was nothing; nothing but the glint of sunlight and the sounds of birds. It was then that she thought of her basket, full of plump mushrooms and chided herself for being so silly. It had been the mist, hanging in the trees, playing tricks on her eyes and now a whole day was wasted. She put her hand to her chest to still her beating heart and, to her horror she noticed her precious locket was missing. She must have lost it somewhere in the wood during the fearful flight. Oh, she would never find it now, in all the tangled undergrowth and dead leaves, and now a storm was brewing. Catherine went indoors and tried to busy herself, while the rain lashed down and the sky grew dark.She went to bed late and spent a fitful night, full of weird dreams and woke early, determined to try to find her locket. She set off and carefully retraced her steps, searching on the ground as she went. She could clearly see the path she had taken, in her panic, as there were broken twigs and flattened ferns and threads torn from her wrap, hanging on branches and caught up in brambles. On she went, poking with a stick, among the detritus of the wood, but failing to see the precious glint of gold. Deeper and deeper into the wood she went until, suddenly, she was in the mysterious clearing once again. There was the standing stone and there was her basket, still perched on the top. She lifted it down and, to her amazement, she saw that all the mushrooms were gone, but nestling in the bottom of the basket was her gold locket and a small bottle of something labelled "Tonic". A mist clung to all the trees and bushes around the edge of the clearing, but slowly, through the mist, two old women appeared, black hooded capes drawn tightly around their bodies and willow branches woven into staffs in their hands. They stopped about 5 yards away from Catherine and smiled and nodded. Catherine felt no fear, she sensed that they meant her no harm. Then, the wrinkled old ladies lifted their gnarled hands towards the sky and there was a flash of blue and the clearing filled with light and there, floating above the standing stone was the figure of her Grandma, smiling and nodding.