A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Introducing the strange parentage of Janie Cobweb.


It must be eleven years since Janie Cobweb first saw the light of day. It was when I blogged on Myspace and it gave me quite a following. It was based initially on a cheeky-faced child, a little girl with a sharp mind and an innocent face, but what that innocence concealed from the world! Nothing sordid or unpleasant, but given a war of words she’d win…

I feel like resurrecting her. Back when she was created I was sitting in my future wife’s front room (obviously before we were married) in Pinchbeck, near Spalding in Lincolnshire. The radio was on, Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio two, and one of his co-hosts was called Janie, and that was the Christian name I opted for, quite out of the blue. And at the very moment when I racked my brains trying to come up with a surname for my creation, a shaft of sunlight illuminated an otherwise invisible thread of cobweb in a corner of the room, and there I had it. Janie Cobweb.

Now I want to play with her again. I want to dip in and out of history with her because one of her attributes was extreme longevity of a magical sort. And I want to start with her conception! So here goes.


Griselda Cobweb was feeling out of sorts. It was, she knew, an important and advanced era in the affairs of mankind, it being the twelfth century and there being wars in far off lands, wars that had done her the favour of seeing the demise of her wretched husband, a man who had wanted to be a drinker and an alcoholic but couldn’t begin to afford the ways and means of achieving his objective in life. So instead he spent his time beating her.

It had started off as fun and she giggled at the joy she felt at such carnal attention, but very soon his spiteful gene took over and he thumped her way too hard for it to be worth giggling about. Then he was ordered by Lord Toffylocks to join him for a trip to the Holy Land where they would, together, put an end to enough Muslim souls to bake in a pie, and off he went, only to end up as dead meat himself. She never learned whether he ended up in a pie and thought it quite unlikely, though in truth she didn’t particularly care.

So she was left on her own and getting towards that time of a woman’s life when the hot flushes begin and the monthly curse ends. And she was overjoyed at the prospect because she had quite a huge appetite for manly flesh but wanted no babies. Not at her age, in her late thirties and too old to learn new tricks, and with no man to share the load, though her deceased husband had rarely if ever done even that.

That’s the way her mind was working when she went to gather sticks and firewood in the fringes of the forest that covered a great deal of the land around her home. It was afternoon time and getting towards night, and as she walked along she cursed the dead man (who had once courted her so sweetly when they’d been young) for being dead and consequently not there to help her now that she needed help. Sticks and the odd branch can become a quite heavy burden, especially after a long day encouraging turnips to grow in a couple of strips of stony soil, and a man with rippling muscles would have been more than welcome.

And she was struggling along when a voice interrupted her troubled and rather melancholy train of thought.

I say, young woman, do you need any help?” it said in what could only be called a tweely camp voice.

Young? she asked herself, nobody’s called me young in all-but twenty years, give or take!

I’m gathering sticks to make a warm fire,” she replied, “it being autumn and all and likely to get cold, likely as not...”

Then allow me to be of assistance,” the voice said, and the oddest man appeared before her. She’d seen his like before and it had scared her, images painted on the church walls and coloured dangerously. He was supposed to be an enemy, the very image of God’s arch-enemy with whom a war had been raging in Heaven since the beginning of all things. And, to make him even spookier, he had what looked like a couple of horns protruding from his head and visible above his curly hair-line.

I need to get these twigs home,” she said, more to fill the air with her own words than because she needed help, though help would have been welcome from any normal looking man. And it was then that she noticed he had a tail. A forked tail at that, and garish red in colour. She swallowed and was about to say something along the lines of I can’t bring mesen to bother you, squire, but I can manage, thank ee very much.

But he got in first.

My dearest young thing,” he tweed, “let me escort you … I have transport … we can be back with your twigs and a few hundred more in the twinkling of an eye, and all you’ll have to do in return is smile at me!”

Then she got the strangest feeling that something unnatural was happening. A wind seemed to blow her way from everywhere, it seemed to have warm, clammy fingers and, may the good Lord help her…

Don’t think of him, my dear...” interrupted the stranger with the forked tail.

And the wind gathered her up, actually lifted her with uncanny gentility off the ground, and she found herself miraculously and effortlessly accelerating towards her one-room wattle-and-daub cottage with its thatched roof and little herb garden. And next to her also wrapped up in the clammy wind was the stranger. He had his tail wrapped round himself and a broad smile covered the greater part of his ruddy face.

Oh Lord help me,” she thought again.

I thought we had an understanding, not to mention that particular hooligan,” reproved the stranger, shaking his head.

Then I won’t, mister,” she moaned, and carefully didn’t.

In virtually no time at all she found herself standing inside her little home. There had been no need to bother the door ... she had materialised (or would have thought that had she known the word) right next to the ashes of her dead fire, and the stranger was still with her.

You know what we could do now we’re nice and cosy, my sweet young thing?” he said, his eyes glinting as if there was some kind of fire inside them.

She didn’t, and because she was afraid of mentioning the wrong person in her secret thoughts didn’t even think of an answer.

You are so desirable,” he said so smoothly she thought it must be true, “you are so beautiful and lovely and cherishable, and I’m hungry for love...”

And he removed his shirt. It was a flimsy enough affair and revealed a smooth and beckoning (to her) chest beneath it.

Clothes,” he said, “can be so cumbersome, don’t you think?”

And he removed his trousers. She didn’t actually see him do it, but one moment he was wearing them and the next he wasn’t.

But it didn’t stop her pointing at something.

My hubbie had one of those, but nowhere near as big,” she croaked.

I am lucky, you desirable young flirt,” he said, “I can choose the, let me call it size...”

Summat, not the Lord but summat, ‘elp me!” she squawked.

But nobody came and, truth to tell, she was glad of the lack of company as she found her flesh being stirred and tickled in a way she’d always wanted but never experienced, not once in her entire life-time, which some might say was a huge tragedy.

Gor blimey!” she said when the adventure was open and his trousers lifted themselves from the floor and wriggled up his legs until they fit perfectly.

Fun, eh?” he grinned, and then, “you’ll be expecting, of course, it’s just got to happen because I know the strength of my juices, and when the girl is born you must promise me...”

Girl?” she asked, knowing it was impossible in the twelfth century to know such things.

Yes, girl,” he almost laughed, “as I was saying, when the girl is born do you promise me, really promise me, that you’ll call her Janie?”

Janie? That’s a creepy name but … o’ course I will!” she trilled, pulling her own rather dubious clothing back on.

Yes,” he sighed, “Janie Cobweb.”

I’m called mistress Cobweb,” she said, “Griselda Cobweb.”

I know,” he replied, “and you’re a good woman. A very good woman indeed.

When can we do it again?” she suddenly gabbled as it looked as if he was leaving.

Never,” he said most seriously, “once every century or so is enough for any devil! But see to your fire and have a nice warm evening! Look, I’ll light it for you.”

And he lit the fire and left in the exact same instant, which meant she couldn’t tell which he did first and, truth to tell, didn’t care.

© Peter Rogerson 08.11.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 8, 2017
Last Updated on November 8, 2017
Tags: Parents, father, mother, fighting, bully, Janie Cobweb


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 75 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..