Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 25

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

If Ginny had wondered in her heart of hearts what a meeting of a nest of vampires was going to be like she had never for one minute imagined this.
She knocked on Agnes’ back door with considerable trepidation. The woman who answered her knock was a stunning black-haired beauty dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt that proclaimed her allegiance to an American Football team of whom Ginny knew nothing.
“Hi. You must be Ginny. I’m Jamelia. Excuse the clothing. I’ve been at the estate getting the tenants association drilled in what it needs to do and haute couture would be right out of place.” Her voice was low and musical and Ginny had never felt quite so plain and gawky in her life.
She summoned a sickly grin. “I don’t think I own any haute couture.”
“Me neither, but then we are ordinary mortals not backed by the Vanderbilt billions.”
“Billions?” Ginny was shocked.
“Nothing like,” Jamelia admitted, then laughed. “It’s just compared to the rest of us it sometimes seems like it.”
Still smiling Jamelia took Ginny’s unresisting hands in both of hers and pulled gently. “No need to be shy, none of us bite.”
Ginny had to smile back at that and stepped inside. Her new sister, the thought was a good one, closed the door and then kissed Ginny on both cheeks in greeting.
“Welcome my sister. Now come and meet the rest.”
Agnes’ sitting room was comfortably untidy and four women sat, squashed together on a three seater settee, watching a horse race on the huge TV. They were transfixed by it, oblivious to Ginny’s arrival and suddenly all started shrieking.
Jamelia winced. “They have been boozing all afternoon. And Petunia reckoned she had a hot tip for the four o’clock at Kenton Park. It’s losing.”
The race drew to a close and three of the women piled on top of the fourth in joyfully childlike retribution. After a couple of minutes they sorted themselves out and Agnes noticed Ginny.
“Sorry about that, love,” she said comfortably. “I never heard you knocking.”
“You wouldn’t. Not with the noise you lot were making,” but Jamelia sounded affectionately amused.
Agnes grinned at her. “I take it you introduced yourself.” Jamelia sighed and nodded, and Agnes gave her a quick hug. “I do know you find it trying sometimes, love, but we can’t help what we are no more than you can help what you are.” Then she turned to make the necessary introductions. “Right Ginny. This is us. You know me and now Jamelia. This is Lilian. She’s a worse gossip than me.”
A tiny woman with beaded cornrows in her hair, and a face as wrinkled as a walnut, flipped Agnes the finger before offering Ginny the kiss of welcome. Ginny recognised her as the woman she had sat beside at the meeting of the Ladies’ Association.
“Here’s Ellen. Lesbian of this parish and shouty lefty.”
“Shut up Agnes.”
“See what I mean? Shouty.”
Ellen laughed and added a muscular hug to the kiss of sisterhood.
“The one who should be looking embarrassed because she just lost the rest of us a tenner is Petunia. Veterinary nurse and useful person as long as you never take her racing tips.”
Petunia grinned and blew Agnes a raspberry before kissing Ginny on both cheeks. “You look a darned sight better than the last time I saw you.”
Ginny remembered Agnes saying that Petunia had held her head while Em fed her blood and felt the blush rising over her face. Petunia grinned.
“Don’t be embarrassed by us. You are doing really well. When I was made I knew what was happening but I still screamed for the best part of a month.”
“You did indeed,” Agnes agreed, “but you’re a bloody exhibitionist.”
“And you’re a bloody old tart.”
The smiles and laughter made Ginny realise that this teasing was all good natured, just their way of showing sisterhood. She had seen it before, especially among those who had been brought up not showing affection. Jamelia caught her eye and smiled understanding.
“It’ll settle down in a minute. Be as good as gold once Em appears. But for now. More booze I suspect.”
“Someone say booze?” Agnes thrust a tall glass clinking with ice into Ginny’s hand. She sniffed it suspiciously.
Jamelia came to her rescue again. “Mojito.”
Ginny looked at the glass in some unease. “I don’t actually drink much nowadays. I shouldn’t want to make a fool of myself.”
“I don’t think you can make a fool of yourself with this lot. And anyway, you’re a vampire now. Means you have an all but bottomless capacity for alcohol. The worst you will ever get is mildly lit like them four. And no hangovers. Ever.”
Emboldened Ginny took a sip. The drink was sweet and minty and very much to her taste. Looking up, she saw Agnes was watching and toasted her with an upraised glass. The smile she got in return warmed her from the inside.

Part 26 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

A Teddy Bear’s Prayer

If I have to grow old, which I guess I do
I would very much like to grow old with you
To wander the woods and the fields together
In amiable discourse no matter the weather

To wander the woods and the fields together
In amiable discourse no matter the weather
To speak of the power and beauty of trees
And laugh at those people who are never pleased

To speak of the power and beauty of trees
And laugh at those people who are never pleased
I’d like to do all of these nice things with you
If I have to grow old, which I guess I do

©️jj 2020

Weekend Wind Down – Anna and Sam

And so it began.
Anna and Sam started meeting, quietly and secretly, like star-crossed teenagers. At first it was a stolen afternoon, then an evening at a pub in the country, then a weekend in a cottage in Cornwall, and so on. They begun to like each other a great deal, but life had made both very careful, and they were taking things slowly. They talked incessantly, and Anna found out that Sam was coming out of a particularly vicious divorce, that he was a very dedicated doctor, that he was hugely prone to the giggles, and that he envied her for having a dog. In his turn, Sam discovered that Anna was a spinster of the parish of nowhere in particular because she and Bonnie were living a truly nomadic life, and that she hid a truly silly sense of humour under a cool exterior. He also noticed, with an inward laugh, that she wasn’t telling Patsy Cracksman about them.

In spite of this one incidence of reticence on Anna’s part, they spoke on the phone almost every day, and met whenever Sam’s work schedule allowed. Physically, though, they hadn’t progressed beyond a few kisses and cuddles and Anna began to wonder if they ever would.

Then, after months of gentle courtship, one Sunday lunchtime they were sitting in the garden of a very nice pub on the banks of the Thames.
“It’s our anniversary next week,” Sam said.
“Anniversary?”
“Have you no romance in your soul, woman? It will be a year since you gave me your number.”
“Oh. I guess it will. Is that an anniversary?”
He smiled gently.
“Of course it is,” he said, “and I’d like us to celebrate.”
Then he took her hand and looked her straight between the eyes.
“That’s why I’ve got something, no two somethings, I need to ask you.”
“That sounds ominous.”
“Not necessarily. Or at least I hope not. But it could be important. I’m assuming the fact that I’m mixed race doesn’t bother you?”
“No. Never think about it, I just enjoy the wonderful colour of your skin.”
He smiled gratefully into her eyes.
“Now the really hard one. Do you want children?”
“Oh Sam. I did once. But it wasn’t ever going to happen.”
He looked puzzled and she ploughed along bravely. “I’m infertile.”
“Me too. That’s why my wife divorced me.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I bet that hurt.”
“In some ways. In others the divorce was a bit of a relief. But I’ll tell you all about it some other time. What I need to know now is whether you would think about sleeping with me.”
She blushed rosily.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I find myself thinking about it at the most inopportune times.”
He grinned.
“Me too. Wanna celebrate our anniversary with some hot sex?”
“I think I’d like that a lot.”
“Want a trip somewhere romantic? Paris? Rome?”
“No. What I’d really like is for you, me and Bonnie to take off in the camper.”
“I’d like that too. I’ve got a full list this week, and I’m on call for most of the weekend, but then I have a week off. We could meet somewhere.”
“Where?”
“Well.There’s this pub with a camping field. It’s just off the Cotswolds tourism radar. Good food. Good walking. Friendly. I could book you a pitch.”
“Please.”
“I can get there on Sunday evening. I’ll book you in and see you there. I’ll email directions.”
“Bossy. But just this once…”
“Look, Anna, I’m not pushing you. I still won’t automatically expect anything but companionship. You know I fancy you, and I think that’s mutual, but I’m not a user.”
“Didn’t think you were. Wouldn’t have kept on seeing you if I thought that. No. I’m as curious as you to see where this goes.”
His laugh was lazy and sexy.
“Back at you. This could be all sorts of fun.”
“Oh indeed,” Anna heard herself almost purring and quickly pulled herself back to practicalities. “Sunday night. Will you have eaten?”
“I’ll pick up a burger or something on the way.”
“No you will not. Like lasagne?”
“Love it.”
“Right then. That’s settled. I’ll have lasagne and good red wine waiting for you.”
“Oh woman. You certainly know how to make a tempting offer.”
“I’m trying.”
“It’s a date then.”
“It is, now eat your nice lunch.”
He laughed. “Yes mommy.”

The rest of the afternoon went by happily, and when Sam walked Anna and Bonnie to the station to catch their train back to where the camper awaited them he kissed her hungrily.
“Until next Sunday,” he almost growled.
She put a hand to his cheek.
“Can’t come too soon for me. Take care of yourself.”
As the train pulled away she leaned out of the window, waving like a besotted teenager.

From The Cracksman Code by Jane Jago

White Trees

White trees, white trees, on a green hill
Bow to the wind, then all stand still
Pale trunks glisten in the cold moonlight
Gleaming with silver, close pressed and tight
A silent standing forest of spear straight trees
Leaves that a-rustle with each slight breeze
Slender shadows cast oe’r the sleeping ground
Set like a palisade with cat’s ears crowned
White trees, white trees, shining and bright,
What makes you such a magical sight?

E.M. Swift-Hook

Granny’s Life Hacks – Cocktails

Okay let’s talk about cocktails – those mixed miracles so beloved of the love island set.

Right. What constitutes a cocktail?

Basically a few drinks married together to make something that tastes nice.

Not, I would contend, anything that is thick, pink, eggy or just plain odd (like pouring champagne over candyfloss).

But maybe that is just my personal prejudices showing. 

However. I do like a cocktail when I’m in the mood.

There’s nothing says summer like a mojito or six.

And winter evenings practically cry out for a whisky mac and a good book.

No. What I have against cocktails is the idea that drinking them confers sophistication. It don’t.

Take as an instance my friend Mabel. She of evil repute and the kind of bunions you would find it hard to imagine.  This woman habitually wears a cerise tracksuit and puts pink bows in her hair. And what does she drink?

Bloody Harvey Wallbangers.

I rest my case.

Drinking cocktails is no more likely to imbue you with sophistication than buying a dodgy Aston with illegal exhausts is gonna turn you into James Bond.

If you like cocktails, drink them and enjoy them. But don’t put pictures of them on Instagram. And don’t expect the barman at the Dog and Scrotum to produce one of them fancy cocktails shakers and a dinky sieve. If you are lucky he will stir your Moscow Mule with his finger. If he doesn’t like you…

And finally.

Cocktails are a very good way to get boring visitors pissed. I have been feeding my daughter-in-law cosmopolitans for forty years and she still has no idea they are alcoholic. 

After the third she falls asleep with her mouth open and the rest of us carry on with the party.

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Sixty-Four

When CM Smith won the Deep Throat Award for best M/M book of the year, there was jealousy. Who was this bloody newcomer?

Nobody knew. But somebody decided to find out. Blond Sam: a blogger whose grip on the top spot was slipping. 

He discovered that a young writer was being mentored by CM, and plied the boy with drink.

“The joke’s on them, you know.”

“What joke?”

“CM’s a sixty year old women who writes gay romance in her spare time.”

Sam’s exposé made banner headlines worldwide.

CM riposted with gentle amusement.

“Yes and I also breed cats.”

©️jj 2020

Coffee Break Read – Praise from a Child

Breakfast was French toast and bacon, and it was delicious. I found myself sitting next to Ellen, and she engaged me in conversation. Out of politeness at first, but she was much keener to chat when she found out that Stan and Ollie actually belonged to me.
‘How did you get them?’
‘They were a birthday present from my family. My old dog, Vera, died, so my uncle got Stan and Ollie from a friend of his whose dog had just had puppies.’
‘How old were they?’
‘They were nine weeks old when I got them. They were about as big as Sian’s pink teddy bear.’
Ellen’s eyes were round and her cheeks quite pink.
‘How old are they now?’
‘They are two-and-half, so they are still just playful babies sometimes.’
‘Do you mind them playing with us?’
‘No. Of course not.’
She thought for a minute. ‘Benny is yours as well isn’t he?’
‘No love. We don’t own people. Ben and me are married and we love each other, but that don’t mean I own him or he owns me.’
Her smile was as bright as the sunshine. ‘You mean like me and Mummy and Daddy and Sian. We all love each other, but we mustn’t be jealous.’
‘Just like that.’ Ellen regarded me steadily for a minute, before she put out a small hand to pat me on the arm. ‘You are a nice lady’ she said, then applied herself to her breakfast. To my surprise, I found myself blinking back a tear. Praise from a child was something I had never experienced before, and it felt sweet. I caught Ben’s eye across the table and he winked his understanding.
Sian caught the wink. ‘Benny’ she said somewhat severely ‘it isn’t nice to wink at ladies at the breakfast table.’
He grinned unrepentantly. ‘It is when the lady is your wife.’

From Who Put Her In? by Jane Jago

Granny’s Thirty-Second Pearl

Pearls of wisdom from an octogenarian who’s seen it all

Click-Bait News Headlines

Nothing new with this.

I recall the local paper decades ago trying to boost its sales by declaring ‘Rape Up Fifty Percent Countywide’ and then presenting its readers with an analysis of field usage as more farmers were switching to growing oilseed rape.

It gave us all a giggle in those non-PC days.

Today in otherwise quite reliable newspapers or online newsfeeds, I see headlines like ‘Planet-Killing Asteroid heading for Earth’ or ‘Robocop Police Now on the Streets’ then I read them to find that the asteroid is heading towards us but going to miss by the astronomical equivalent of a country mile and the police robot is simply a glorified smart speaker on wheels there to give advice to tourists.

My advice is if a headline sounds like it’s meant to overexcite, ignore it. If the news in it matters you can be sure you will get to hear it very soon anyway and I don’t know about you, but I have have much better things to do with my day than reading non-news dressed up to look like it matters.

Perhaps if we all ignore it they will stop doing it…

Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors. Part XIX

…. or ‘How To Speak Typo’ by Jane Jago

admaant (adjective) – specifically of politicians – sticking to the party line no matter how immoral, or illogical

buttre (noun) – sheep with large horns

degssting (adjective) – looking as if one has eaten a bee

eggsistentialism (noun) – the belief that we are all lizards and hatched in  secret laboratory

gerryatrick (adjective) – having the appearance of being cocky and unreliable

littke (adjective) – fecking useless at typing

looing (verb) – waiting in line for the ladies’ toilet

migth (noun) – small biting insect found in gyms

nuon (adjective) – naked and very pink

relaly (noun) – pink ice lolly shaped like a penis

octover (noun) – the eighth set of balls in a village cricket match

sexcription (noun) – the writing of financially successful erotica

tusinghem (descriptive noun) – of playing a musical instrument, having more enthusiasm than skill

wueer (noun) – waterfall with very little water coming over it

zume (noun) – online conference where nobody can hear anybody else and at leat three separate toddlers are tantrum-ing in the background 

Disclaimer: all these words are genuine typos defined by Jane Jago. The source of each is withheld to protect the guilty.

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Sixty-Three

“If I’d known it was going to end today I’d have done my nails and put on a dress.”

Adam looked at Eve in disbelief. “Today we are going to wink out of existence and all you can think about is now you look.”

“What else is there? There’s only you and me left and I kind of think it would do you honour if I died looking pretty.”

He thought about that one before wrapping her in his arms.

“I reckon you will die like you lived. Looking beautiful.”

They turned to face the dying star hand in hand.

©️jj 2020

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