Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween from The Enchanted Village

A hollowed-out pumpkin, with an evil grin and squinty eyes, glows in the window of the house next door.

Mr Champagne-Charlie sits behind the letter box, armed with a bucket of sweets and wearing a gorilla mask.

Three young trick or treaters, who I swear are Pelly Sheepwash, Mrs Bancroft and the fragrant Mrs Putter  gone backwards a few times on Ray Bradbury's carousel, beam when I give them some fun-sized Mars Bars and a packet of Maltesers.

And then they go next door, and, by the pricking of my thumbs, I hear a blood-curdling scream.

'Oobee doo, I wanna be like you-oo-oo,' Champagne-Charlie sings from behind the mask. But it is a muffled mix of latex and tone deafness.

The three little maids from school hot foot it up the road, the treats flying in their wake.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 28 October 2011

Excitement mounts in the village square

The blinds are now down permanently at the village shop as a committee of the great and good do their very best to come up with a rescue plan. The pub is shut after the publicans' farewell party last night and one of the five roads leading off the square is closed for resurfacing.

The only thing of any interest lately has been the young man from the road menders, whose sole job is to sit on a kerb in the square all day to help people who can't read the 'diversion' sign. There is another man at the other end of the road, but he has a van to sit in so is clearly higher up the road mender scale.

So it's an empty square this morning as I look out from my window.  But not for long.

The removals lorry backs up the one-way system outside the pub.  The bus arrives and attempts to do a nine-point turn. The lady (I am sorry to say) driver can't find reverse on her gear stick and narrowly avoids hitting the 'diversion' sign in the middle of the road.

And then the mobile library arrives.

As Champagne-Charlie sits in his Land Rover outside his house and mutters an obscenity from the safety of a closed window, Mr Grigg walks out of our front door and springs into action.

'You would have been proud of me,' he says later.

'Did you fly into the bus and put it into reverse?' I enquire, picturing him as Keanu Reeves in the film, Speed.

'No,' he says. 'I moved the diversion sign.'

My hero.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Show me the way to go home

As we stagger home after an evening at the delightfully fragrant Mrs Putter's, the road is illuminated by Mr Champagne-Charlie's head torch.

He is whacked across the head by his wife, Bubble, for talking far too loudly at one o'clock in the morning and then the torch suddenly switches to night-sights-red. Wild animals cower in the hedge as he sways from side to side. An owl is just about to hoot and then thinks better of it.

'Fancy a snifter, chap?' Mr Champagne-Charlie says to Mr Grigg when we get back to our front door.

We decline, politely, and then find out the next day they were up until half past three drinking sloe gin.

'Were the Griggs with you?' Mrs Putter asks Champagne-Charlie.

'Not sure,' he says. 'Can't remember. I can't even remember getting home.'

It is a joy for me to be the only sober one in the party, for once in my life.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Some enchanted evening

There's a glorious silvery sunset shimmering over the flat-topped hill in the distance. The rooks are gathering on the slopes of the field as I walk the spaniels this evening, and then the birds sweep upwards, popping and cackling in the late October wind, as if to say, you can try as hard as you can but you can't catch me.

The youngest spaniel runs off pointlessly into the distance and my gaze is punctuated by lots of plumes of smoke stretching for miles. Here and there, people are stoking garden bonfires and thinking about putting a match to the logs and newspaper in the grate.

The crunchy, crunchy leaves and the now squashed crab apples litter the path as I make my way back home.

Today, I have been learning about Greek shamens and sorcerers, a suitable subject for a mature student from an enchanted village.

On my way to university this morning, I saw a county council workman sitting on the pavement opposite my house, looking like a scrunched-up scarecrow, his hood up to hide away from the wind. It seems his sole purpose is to sit there all day to make sure the 'diversion' sign doesn't blow over.

Up the lane past Mr and Mrs Sheepwash, a policeman who looked barely out of his teens was doing a fingertip search along the riverside. A trail of sheep's wool was strewn along the path. The

Friday, 14 October 2011

Caught: Oliver 'Bin' Letwin

As The Enchanted Village MP is castigated in the national news this morning for dumping parliamentary and constituency papers in a London park bin, the Twitter airwaves are buzzing.

Oliver ‘Bin’ Letwin is the new name for the man who called at my house earlier this year asking for my vote.

At the time, you’ll remember, I was worried my friend thought it was me who'd defaced a poster of him by adding spectacles, horns and a twirly moustache. On my doorstep, he looked nothing like this picture of him.

After the story in the Daily Mirror, Mr Letwin is now ‘trending’ on Twitter, bless him.

This, from Queen_UK (Elizabeth Windsor): ‘Just received weekly briefing papers from Oliver Letwin. He leaves them in the bin outside. One picks them up whilst walking the corgis.’

And from RogerQuimbly: ‘I think that Oliver Letwin makes an excellent Womble.’

Professional comedian mrchrisaddison: 'I tell you what, there are some surprisingly well-informed tramps in the parks Oliver Letwin goes to.’

TheMediaTweets: ‘Is Oliver Letwin the first MP caught doing something newsworthy in a park that didn't involve another person?’

Poor Mr Letwin. It’s a story just made for Have I Got News For You.

But here in The Enchanted Village, we’re just itching to know the content of the dumped Constituency Letters.

Has someone drawn to his attention the person who cheated in the village flower show by polishing their marrows? Or maybe the Full Monty dance routine devised by Mr Grigg and his followers for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? Or has he received details of that dirty dog that does its business right in front of our neighbour's front door?

But please, please, please, don’t let my letter about using our new street lights for target practice or the other one about the flasher who wears nothing but a pair of ram horns be in amongst the garbage.

If the papers got hold of that, they’d think I was a real nutcase.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Autumn leaves and windswept villagescapes

I am sitting in my room looking out of the window. As usual, for now at least, The Enchanted Village Square is quiet. It could be at least a year or more before we have the shop back up and running.

The cattle have been moved nearer their winter quarters, leaving a trail of empty fields in their wake. There are magic mushrooms growing up on the ridge and, as the October wind whistles through the village, the red and green and brown, crunchy leaves are whirling up and down the road like dervishes.

I love the wind, it makes me feel powerful and insignificant all at the same time. It sends children in the playground running wild and it brings a certain frisson to the air.

A police car goes by, slowing down to go round the one-way system, its lights flashing and siren blaring, New York-style. The sound is out of place in this quiet place, and is followed by a chugging tractor and the automatic revs of a long, lean sports car.

I should look out of my window more often.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Feeling sorry for myself

Well, the Canadians have gone back, just as the weather started to get really cold. They're from opposite sides of the country, one flew to the east coast to Nova Scotia and the other flew to the west and Vancouver Island.

That just leaves the cuckoo's nest and it's right here.

The village is strangely quiet now that the shop is closed and the pub is winding down before the publican bows out. I think the Canadian ladies were a little disappointed that The Enchanted Village failed to enchant. And I'm afraid I didn't inspire them much either. I think they thought I'd be funny in person when all I am in real life is funny peculiar.

Anyway, I am having to wear fingerless gloves to type at the moment. It is so cold. I have been wearing a quilted jacket and hat and scarf in the house for the past couple of days. Mr Grigg has finally got the message and allowed me to have the heating on.

He has just taken an hour-and-half to have his hair cut because he needed to call into the pub in the next town on his way home to get some cider.

He is now geting ready for a night out with Nobby Odd-Job, MDF Man and Mr Sheepwash to watch the football and fish and chips. He is shuffling around in his slippers which he will deposit in the middle of the room so they become a trap. Why he can't pick his feet up when he walks or put the darn things away is beyond me.

Then it's rugby in the morning and then a day out with his Number One Son on Sunday. Meanwhile, I am home alone with a house like a tip while the new kitchen is being put in so no cooker to cook on. Mrs Bancroft and Pelly Sheepwash have gone away for the weekend and I have hours of ancient Greek revision to look forward to.

A whole weekend of it.

Oh lucky me.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 3 October 2011

You are Maddie Grigg and I claim my £5 prize

As the mist swirls down from Bluebell Hill and in and out The Enchanted Village streets, I can at last feel autumn is heading our way.

After almost a week of unseasonably hot weather, October is now putting its pullover on the right way round after a couple of days of wearing it inside out. The designer label was on show for all to see. Indian Summer, it screamed. Scorchio.

Down at the seaside, there have been people on the beaches, in the water, on the water. Yesterday we caught thirty laughing mackerel from an open boat.

The voyage was too much for Number One Son. Although it could have been something to do with the party he went to the night before.

Meanwhile, the cliffs along our part of the Jurassic Coast are stunning.

We are so lucky to live here.

And then this evening, the woodsmoke rises from The Enchanted Village chimneys to shake hands with the fog that is making its way down the hill and crunching fallen crab apples in its wake.

'Well hello there,' the woodsmoke appears to be saying. 'Delighted to make your acquaintance.'

And then the weirdest thing happens.

My doorbell rings and there are two ladies I have never seen before, standing on my doorstep.

I bristle, thinking they are Jehovah's Witnesses.  I don't need saving, really I don't.

'Are you Maddie?' they say.

'Why?' I retort, in a far harsher voice than I meant, but I don't have room for a copy of The Watchtower.

'Well, we're from Canada and we read your blog.'


That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fungus the Bogeyman

Mr Grigg comes back from his thrice-weekly walk up Bluebell Hill.

He is carrying a white handkerchief, knotted at the edges.

'Today,' he says, 'I am mostly Fungus the Bogeyman. Look what I've brought for you.'

He unfurls his (fortunately) clean hanky and the most wonderful thing rolls out.

Even I know it's the most prized wild mushroom you are ever likely to find.

So I present to you, ladies and gentleman, the famous Bluebell Hill Penny Bun, better known as the Cep. Or, to be precise, Boletus edulis. And by the way, I've just eaten it and it tasted delicious.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Batten down those hatches, it's recycling day

It's blowing a hooley out there.  The wind is lashing against the windows and the dogs are play fighting in front of the Aga before...