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Portaloo Massacre

January 1, 2019

Tuesday morning dawned bright and cloudy, after the rainfall overnight, and everything shimmered in the gentle breeze. I turned away from the window as the kettle clicked off, made my tea, then set about giving Muffin his breakfast before he tripped me up. Hot buttered toast done, I settled at the kitchen table to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, myself, when the letterbox rattled urgently. I glanced at the clock…the post wasn’t due for another hour, yet, but curiosity got the better of me, even though it was probably more take-away menus, or advertising for nasty-looking loose covers, or even hearing aids!

Little did I know, that this was the beginning of a division in the village, a civil war, them and us! It was a call to arms…okay, not literally, but my curiosity was aroused by the piece of paper in my hand. A meeting was being called at the village hall to discuss an upcoming event, an event that quite a few people were looking forward to, only this seemed to be dead against it for some reason.

Arriving at the village hall at the stated time, I found that those attending had formed themselves into two groups. On one side were the villagers who seemed to find this whole thing quite amusing, as they chatted and laughed while waiting for the meeting to begin. On the other side were the incomers, those who lived on the new estates, and some of the larger houses in the village, who remained silent, or whispered their disgust that this event should even be happening in ‘their’ village!

Just then, a small, neatly-dressed man, of middling years, approached the stage, followed by a lanky female, who I guessed must be his wife. He proceeded to faff about with his papers, tapped the microphone to check that it was working, then cleared his throat rather longer and louder than was necessary.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “The reason we have called this meeting is because we feel that our beautiful village is about to be violated! Yes, that’s right, violated!” There was a general hum of assent from the incomers, but silence from the villagers as they waited for him to go on.

“And who might you be?!” demanded old Mrs Lacey-Dawkins in a loud voice, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Er, yes, thank you, madam…how very remiss of me. I am Mr Bogle. Mr Henry Bogle,” there was sniggering from the crowd. Clearing his throat again, he continued, “…our, um, our beautiful village…”

“Get on with it!” yelled Joey Green, of Green’s Newsagents on the High Street, “I haven’t got all day. The wife’s had to take her mother to the hospital ‘cos her piles are playing up something chronic, and I’ve had to leave young Tomkins in charge…and you know what happened last time…” general murmurings and laughter, as Bogle started to go rather red in the face.

Yes, yes, okay!” he snapped, as he tried to regain order. Mrs Mangold’s piles were legendary in Muchgrott, and often the butt of jokes. Sorry.

“Now, the reason we have called this, um, this m-meeting is to, er, to discuss what we are going to do about this, um…this ‘event’.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, removed his thick-rimmed glasses, and proceeded to clean them, then replacing them on his bulbous nose continued, “It is a total disgrace!”

“You’re not wrong there, mate, you should have gone to Specsavers!” The hall erupted into laughter, and the more Bogle tried to quiet the crowd, the more they laughed and jeered, until someone actually made a sensible suggestion.

“I’m off to the pub, who’s coming?” this was met by cheering from the assembled crowd, so we all filed out and wandered down to Ye Olde Stuffed Onion, chatting merrily as we went.

“What was that meeting supposed to be about?” asked Mr Jobbins, “I haven’t laughed so much in absolutely ages…just wait until I tell Ada, she will be tickled pink!”

“Yeah, my sides are hurting!” chuckled young David, the butcher’s boy, “And who was that Bogie, bloke…what an utter arse biscuit!” I laughed at this, and he winked at me. I couldn’t agree more.

Over the next couple of days, the story spread around the village, which infuriated Mr Bogle, and when someone started whistling Colonel Bogey when he walked past, he nearly blew a gasket! I’m afraid that Colonel Bogey caught on pretty quickly, which infuriated him all the more, and I’m sure this was the main cause of what happened next.

***

Friday morning was perfect for breakfast alfresco. Not a cloud in the sky. The bees buzzed around the flowers, and the butterflies flitted here and there, while Muffin was busy washing himself before settling down to soak up some sunshine. Suddenly a great roaring noise broke the tranquility. Startled, Muffin dived under the nearest bush, and I almost dropped my cup of tea. I jumped up, and ran round to the front garden to see what the commotion was about…seven or eight large motorbikes roared down the lane, all laden with tents and bags, heading for Ye Olde Stuffed Onion for this weekend’s bike rally event.

Of course! I hadn’t given it a thought, but this is what Mr Bogle had been trying to organise the protest about! If the silly man had been here any length of time, he would have known that this was the fourth year that the pub had hosted this popular event…not just popular with the bikers, but with the villagers also. In fact my nephew, Gary, and his girlfriend, Sally, will be arriving soon, joining me for lunch, before heading for the pub in order to find themselves a good spot to pitch their tent.

They arrived just after twelve, and were ready for a hearty lunch, having ridden all the way here without any stops. It was lovely to catch up, and listening to Gary’s stories is something I could have done all day, but I had to let them go, besides, I would see them again tomorrow for the entertainments and crazy competitions…something I was looking forward to.

Next day began with a cool breeze and grey clouds that appeared to threaten rain, but they soon cleared, and blue skies reigned once more, and the sun was blazing down when I wandered along to join in the fun. There were motorbikes and trikes of every description, with a constant stream of arrivals returning from the morning run out, stalls, a hog roast, catering vans, and so many people enjoying the day, including a young man with a broomstick shoved through the sleeves of his jacket, and a sign on his back that read ‘I’m a rally virgin, buy me a drink!’

Just then, the sound of chanting drew people’s attention to the front of the pub, and a crowd was gathering at the entrance to see what it was all about. Bogle! There he was leading his merry band up the lane, looking like a miniature warrior about to do battle, his megaphone to his face, shouting abusive slogans, and his followers chanting back. By this time the pub landlord, Ernie Spring, and a few burley bikers had blocked the entrance, in order to prevent them going any further, and Ernie was trying to reason with them. Bogle was having none of it, and carried on trying to tell everyone to go away, and that this kind of ‘event’ was not wanted in their beautiful village! It looked like things were about to start getting rough when someone in the crowd began to whistle Colonel Bogey. You should have seen his face! Gradually, others joined in, until everyone was whistling, slowly advancing on the small band of protesters, many of whom had started to look a trifle worried…and one or two had already broken away, and were retreating back down the hill.

Bogle was furious, and shouted out to his deserters to come back and make a stand for what was right, but the rest of them had also thought better of it, as they, too, began to retreat. Left facing the enemy, his courage began to waver, until he, too, turned and ran after his cronies, but when he felt he was at a safe distance, he turned back and continue to hurl more abuse and threats. Constable Crumpet had arrived by this time, and was busy talking to Ernie to find out what had occurred, while some of the locals were enjoying themselves telling the tale of Bogle and his protest meeting.

The afternoon’s entertainments were well under way, and I had just had a go at welly-wanging…and won!… when raised voices, then urgent shouting drew our attention to the side of the pub. People were running out to the front, then suddenly came running back, as the sound of a large vehicle was heard approaching. We looked on in amazement as a determined Mr Bogle drove a JCB into the yard and straight into the row of portaloos that were lined up along the fence, a look of smug self-satisfaction on his face.

This did not last, as the door was yanked open, and Bogle was dragged from his seat, screaming for help.

Constable Crumpet pushed his way to where two hefty lads had hold of him, lifting him off his feet, while others were shouting suggestions of what to do with him, but then someone waved a broomstick at him, and everyone laughed agreement. His arms were yanked wide apart, and the broomstick was shoved through his sleeves and tied in place at the elbows and wrists. He was then lifted high and carried out to the front of the pub, still screaming and kicking. Constable Crumpet was asked where he wanted him, thought for a second, enjoying the spectacle, then bade them follow him down to the local police station where he would be charged…with criminal damage, I believe…?

Excitement over, the rest of the weekend went on as planned, and my dear nephew and his girlfriend joined me for Sunday lunch, before heading home. As we said our goodbyes, the sun glinted on their helmets, and I couldn’t help but ask how they kept them so clean.

“Pig Snot, Auntie Mavis!” he said, with a wink.

“Don’t be so disgusting, Gary!” He laughed, then explained that it was a real cleaning product. You learn something new every day!

Colin Brown’s Trolley Dash

November 11, 2018

Pale autumn sunshine fought its way into the shabby room through grimy windows, highlighting piles of dusty clutter. A sprawling figure picked up the tv remote, killed the credits, and hauled himself upright. Wandering into the kitchenette, he opened the cupboard door, stared blankly at a handful of out-of-date packets and a couple of tins of cheap baked beans, then looked into the similarly stocked fridge, and back to the cupboard again. ‘Time to go shopping.’ he thought, as he reached for a battered tea caddy, which contained what little cash he had left.

Arriving at the supermarket, Colin Brown rummaged in his pockets, found a pound coin, and collected his trolley, but as he was about to enter the store he noticed that one of the wheels was wonky, and stopped dead, wondering what to do about it. The man behind almost walked into him, and scowled as he dodged past…Colin didn’t notice. Instead, he did an about-turn, swinging his trolley round and almost knocking an elderly lady flying, which caused the people around him to tut, and exclaim in disgust at how careless some people were!

Back at the bay, he returned the trolley and collected his coin. Undecided as to what to do next, he noticed a couple who were headed back to their car, their trolley running smoothly, so he waited until they had offloaded, and almost ran to the next bay to grab it before anyone else did. Happily, Colin returned to the store and managed to get his shopping without further incident…that was until the wheel jammed as he was about to turn into the next aisle.

Shopping almost done, he decided that he could afford a couple of cans of beer, so he headed for the beer aisle, but stopped suddenly, the handle connecting abruptly with his midriff. Cursing under his breath, he gave it a shove, and it released, so he continued on his way.

Beer chosen, and stowed in his trolley, he headed for the checkouts, but as he was about to turn into the main aisle the wheel jammed again.

Oh shit!” he exclaimed, as he pushed and pulled to try and release it. It didn’t budge. He was beginning to get annoyed, so he gave it one hard shove…it released, shot forward and knocked the elderly lady, that he’s narrowly missed previously, flying across the floor, her basket and shopping spinning in all directions.

Oh, my god! You idiot!” and similar shocked exclamations came from the people in the vicinity, who quickly ran to the lady’s assistance, as a red stain began to seep through her coat. Colin was just as shocked as he stuttered an apology, which sounded feeble to his own ears, as well as everyone else’s, and he stood rooted to the spot, not knowing what to do, as shoppers looked at him in disgust.

The…the wheel jammed…I’m sorry…it…it was an accident…I…”

You should be ashamed of yourself!”

Knocking old ladies over…whatever next!”

Running his hands through his unruly hair, colour beginning to rise, along with his temper, he blurted “I told you, it was an accident…the wheel jammed!”

There’s no need to take that attitude with me, young man!” barked an upright, elderly gent, whose wife was trying to sooth the dazed woman on the floor, and get her to wait for a paramedic.

Just then the manager arrived with a security guard in tow, but before he could open his mouth people were crowding round telling their version of how Colin had knocked the poor lady flying, then tried to flee the scene, which Colin hotly denied. He stepped back, raising his hands in order to quiet the crowd, and in that moment moaning and grunting was heard. All eyes turned to where the ‘victim’ was attempting to get up, but was being restrained by the well-meaning ladies who tended her, telling her to sit still, as she had had a terrible shock.

The manager nodded to the security chap, who marched forward and man-handled the old lady to her feet, amid shocked gasps from all, as a strange green stain also began to seep through her coat.

Hello, Cyril, fancy seeing you here!” more stunned gasps from the crowd as the manager stepped forward and pulled off his wig. “This, ladies and gentlemen, is a shoplifter that we have been trying to catch for the past couple of months. Take him to the office, Dave, the police are on their way”

Er…what about this one?” asked a burly lad who held Colin in a vice-like grip.

Ah, yes, we have you to thank for apprehending our miscreant. Come with me, young man.” Colin shook himself free, squared his shoulders, and followed the manager without looking back, relieved that the old lady wasn’t really an old lady.

Waiting for his taxi home, paid for by the manager, along with several bags bulging with shopping, he couldn’t help but smile that the day had turned out much better than he thought possible. Just when he thought his day couldn’t get any worse, and he thought that he’s almost killed a poor old lady, it turned out that he had caught the thief, instead, and had been rewarded handsomely. Then, his belly rumbled loudly, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and his problem now was deciding what to have.

grocery cart with item

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The Hairy Detective and Other Stuff

November 10, 2018

black pen on white book page

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ten weeks.  That is how long I have been working through an online writing course, on FutureLearn.  The course itself was eight weeks, plus two extra weeks to finish it.  I am now missing the exercises and assignments, the conversations, and the feedback…it certainly challenged me at times, as part of the assignments included reading, and giving feedback on other people’s work.  That definitely dragged me outside my comfort zone!  But you know what…I will do it all over again if that course is ever repeated!

One of the things that I was already doing, before the course, was keeping a writing journal, but it was an ordinary exercise book, which I kept losing.  The solution – I bought a thick, hardback notebook that is not so easy to lose.  This has been invaluable throughout the course for making notes, character studies, ideas, etc., and I really must try to keep writing in it. 

Before Weekend at the Asylum, at the end of August, I had actually made a start on the first rough draft of my novel, The Hairy Detective, but had to put this aside to concentrate on a colourful patchwork jacket that I was making.  After Asylum came the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, then the writing course began, which was excellent, and I thoroughly recommend it.

So, back to Colin Brown.  Where did he come from?  Who is he?  What does he do?

To answer those questions I will have to go back to the 1990s, when I worked at a school as a cleaner.  There I was, minding my own business, cleaning the assembly hall, when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by ‘Muchgrott-on-the-Green’ suddenly popping into my head.  Er…what…??  I wrote it down, and carried on with my work.  Over the course of time, this was joined by ‘The Hairy Detective’, and later, Mavis Baggott. 

arranged bookcase books indoors

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Gradually a short story formed, with Mavis telling how she went to the Muchgrott library and found the latest Hairy Detective novel, only to later find that the last few pages had been torn out.  She then sets out to track down another copy, which then sees her traipsing round the village on a wild goose chase. Finally, she tracks down her prize at the scout’s jumble sale.   A happy and triumphant Mavis then sits down and reads the last few pages. 

Later, as other Muchgrott stories appeared, (Portaloo Massacre, Mopaholics Anonymous, and Non Compost Mentis), The Hairy Detective started to grow…it seemed to be telling me that is should be an actual novel, as this was when Colin Brown, and his friend Tony Sharp, appeared to me.  I knew what they looked like, where they lived, and lots of things about them…then Colin’s landlady popped up, too. 

Now all I had to do was work out the story, and how Colin got his nickname…simple, right?  Wrong!  I tried adding characters, scenarios, and different ideas, but nothing worked, so I just put it all away, and forgot about it!  Then a few years ago, I found it and looked through what I had put together, so I had another go at adding to the story…it still wasn’t working.

Earlier this year I had yet another go, and was talking with friends about it, saying that I really needed something to work with, and ‘body in the freezer’ was mentioned, among other suggestions.  Boom!  That was it!  Ideas then flowed, and I now have the story worked out, plot twists, new characters, chronology, the lot! 

As I mentioned earlier, I have started the first rough draft…time to get on with it!      

This is Not a Catch-up!

April 13, 2018

woodland-road-falling-leaf-natural-38537.jpegIt has been quite a long time since I blogged last, and I have been saying over and over that I must get back into it, but, somehow, it never happens.
Well, here I am…don’t expect anything of interest, this is just a random post of randomness…what else did you expect from a madwoman?!!

Where to begin? How about the weather?  Yes, the weather is a good place to start…it’s cold, and dismal, and this fog has been hanging around for most of the week…it can go do one!

Next…I seem to be hopping from one project to the next, at the moment.  First I was making a mock-up for the Simplicity steampunk coat, then doing a bit of embroidery practice, followed by some more work on my novel, now I have picked up one of my unfinished sunbonnets, and carrying on with that.  I should be clearing stuff out of the living-room so we can order out new sofas!

A trip to Hobbycraft, last Wednesday, when it opened…bought a few bits, then decided to have a look in another store.  DFS was the store chosen…wandered around loving the most expensive sofas, until we both actually liked the same one!  The weird thing was…these were actually in our price range! So now we have to clear the living-room, and get rid of the old sofa first…and order the new sofas withing the next couple of weeks, while they are still half price!

What else?  I have washed lots of fabric…I must now go and iron that fabric, and get on with some boring stuff, like washing-up…TTFN.

Of Dummies, Festivals, and Promenades – 2012 – Commencing Major Catch-up!

January 21, 2014

In June, the weekend following the visit to the castle saw us heading down to Norfolk to pick up a dressmaker’s form, that Robert bought for me from eBay for a song.

We collected the form, which I named Mathilda, and headed for home…then the trouble started…car trouble! 

Mathilda, cleaned up and stripped of peeling tatty cover fabric

We were going slower and slower, until we came to a complete standstill the other side of Sutton Bridge!  A long wait for the recovery truck, and the drive back to Lincoln, and Robert ended up missing an evening’s work.  That was one expensive dressmaker’s form!!

Mathilda has now been padded out with wadding, to make her near enough my size and shape, and covered with an old polo-neck top.

In August, it was nice to see some of the boys and girls of the 44th East Essex again, and this time we didn’t have to travel far, as they had come to Lincoln for the Festival of History at the castle.  Also there were Romans, Vikings, WW2 re-enactors, and Mr Churchill…

The 44th guarding His Majesty King George III

Camp followers

Romans

Battle

WW2

Mr Churchill

Also in August is the Lincolnshire Steam Rally, which I was looking forward to, as I had never been before…but we had to miss it…either due to finances, or the car being off the road, I cannot remember which.

Maybe we were saving our pennies for The Asylum.  I covered that over on my other blog Sandi by Gaslight, but here are a few photos anyway…

Thursday evening at Widow Cullen’s Well

Punknic in the Arboretum

Steampunks in Castle Square

Lots of steampunks in the castle

What’s next?  Oh yes…the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  I will blog about that at length in Roundgowns and Reticules.  This year the route through Bath had been changed, starting from Queen Square instead of from outside the Pump Room.  It made a change, but it just didn’t have the same atmosphere as previous promenades that culminated in the beautiful Royal Crescent.  This time the Parade Gardens by the river was our destination, where there was a lot more room for promenading, dancing from Steps in Time, and generally seeing and being seen.

In October, we headed for Louth for the Victorian Market.  I was expecting a few stalls in a hall, or market place, but was surprised to find that most of the town centre was closed to traffic, and filled with stalls…

Just one of the streets full of stalls

Just one of the streets full of stalls

Some beautiful Victorian outfits

Some beautiful Victorian outfits

Robert posing with the Lincolnshire Victorians

Robert posing with the Lincolnshire Victorians

DSCF1642

The end of October, Hallowe’en, and what better way to spend the evening than going on a Ghost Walk around uphill Lincoln, followed by our usual Wednesday evening meet-up at Widow Cullen’s Well…complete with apple bobbing and a pinata.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Well now, as I have left this so long, I will have to leave off here, and re-commence this major catch-up in another post! 

2012 in Review

December 30, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

An Update

August 2, 2012

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, and quite a lot has happened…some sad, some happy, some exciting, but mostly boring.  😉  So, I will attempt to make this as quick as I can, or I will spend the next year trying to catch up!! 

My last blog post was about our St George’s Day Pub Crawl in London…that was last year!  Sadly, Ian Rayment, one of the organisers, and all-round nice guy, died of leukemia just a few weeks later, so our next trip south was for his funeral.  He was one of those people whose interests were many and varied, so he was able to find something in common with most people that he met. 

In May, we made another visit to Newstead Abbey for the NAs battle re-enactment.  The weather was much, much better than the previous year!!  It was a brilliant day out!

 

September saw us back in Bath for the Jane Austen Festival’s Grand Regency Promenade, a picnic in front of Royal Crescent with friends, and a visit to the Fashion Museum.  The weather was very iffy, and we actually had rain…what happened to the promenade sunshine??

Scott, Aurora, Jo, Robert, and Rhiannon

A Regency picnic – Royal Crescent, Bath

Beautiful gowns crammed into shady display alcoves…not impressed! 😦

 

Then a trip down to London for another pub crawl, this time as a memorial to Ian, and in aid of Jo’s charity.


Next came Robert’s annual school reunion at The Bridge Hotel in Greenford.

Robert’s school reunion at the Bridge Hotel, Greenford

Last year we were introduced to some of Lincoln’s steampunks, at the Christmas Market, by Scott and Jo, (who we met in Bath, and also live in Lincoln!) and now we try to get to the weekly steampunk meets at Widow Cullen’s Well, and the monthly get-togethers at the Jolly Brewer…

Widow Cullen’s Well, Steep Hill

Hat stack

 

This year, we attended the first Horncastle Regency Festival…more about that in my other blog, Roundgowns and Reticules.

Promenading in Horncastle

 

Newstead Abbey was no longer the venue for the Napoleonic Association’s battle re-enactment this year, which has now moved to Thoresby Hall near Nottingham…but we couldn’t make it, as the car decided to die on us!  😦  

In June we had a Special Steampunk Wednesday…Frenchy and the Punk at Charlotte House Hotel, The Lawn…definitely a splendid evening’s entertainment!

Frenchy and the Punk at Charlotte House Hotel, The Lawn, Lincoln

I almost forgot another splendid afternoon’s entertainment!  The Victorian weekend at the Castle with the boys of the legendary ‘Devils in Skirts’, otherwise known as the 3rd Foot and Mouth…

The women are getting rowdy

Here come our brave boys to sort them out!

Clash of the Titans?!

This year has definitely been more interesting and entertaining, and we still have a Regency dance class (hopefully!), a Festival of History at the Castle, the Lincolnshire Steam Rally, and the Jane Austen Festival in Bath to come.

I keep saying this, but I really, really must make more of an effort to write new blog posts, then I won’t have to rack my brains in an effort to remember what we have been getting up to, will I!  😉