A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

You might call it a strange birth, but I'm not qualified to comment


Life was on the turn for Griselda Cobweb. It was almost as if someone had waved a magic wand and made the world turn head over heels, and all for the good.

The first thing that happened was the sudden and inexplicable appearance of a huge shed filled with crisp dry firewood in the little back garden behind her hovel of a cottage and the second thing was the conversion of the word hovel to luxury pad. She couldn’t understand what was going on, and the gifts were accompanied by a wriggling sort of satisfaction in the pit of her stomach that made her smile and smile and smile and be benevolent to one and all.

Then along came Jed Cobweb.

The very next day, and she was delighted at just how spooky it was for there to be another Cobweb in the same county let alone knocking at her door and singing to her.

Yes: you read that right: he started singing to her.

I,” he explained to her as he tickled her left bosom, “I am a troubadour, an artist with words and melodies, I travel the country trying to fill the peasants’ hearts with joy and love and even lust...” and he tickled her right bosom to emphasise the last word.

Ooooh!” she squealed, and knew she was his for the remainder of her days.

Yes, my sweetest Griselda,” he crooned, “and I will compose many a song that incorporates such delightful phrases as hey nonny nonny, and we will live happily together in your castle on the hill, and we will sneer at everyone else as we make love together day after day and night after night...”

Hey! I don’t have no castle!” she squawked, but her new beau smiled at her like the weirdo he was and assured her that her cottage had just, in the twinkling of a spectre’s eye, received a facelift to beat all facelifts and now had the finest assortment of turrets anywhere in the county.

She was so flabbergasted she needed a good pint of gin before looking around.

Then: “I’ve even got stairs, the Lord help me!” she squawked, pointing to a spiral affair complete with tassels and a row of portraits leading all the way up.

Hey! Don’t you mention him!” growled her beau, “just come and see our boudoir...”

He led her up the brand new staircase and into an upper room where a four-poster bed with a comfy mattress and a quilt of goose feathers invited her to stretch out on it without giving the matter any further thought at all, which means it had no thought whatsoever.

And she lay herself down on the softness of a bed that wasn’t smelly straw and damp hay, and wriggled until she was in the most marvellous of comfortable positions, and her guest smiled broadly at her and told her he would prepare a banquet for her, in order to celebrate their new position in the world.

So luxurious and cosy was that bed, and so filling the repast brought for her in the twinkling of an eye, that weariness overcame her and she found herself in the land of Nod, and she dreamed the most romantic of dreams as hopes and dreams swirled around in her head in a dizzying array of splendid joy.

They became known as the Cobwebs, seeing that they shared the same surname, a coincidence that Griselda never properly understood, having previously believed there were no others with that name anywhere under the sky.

Despite the weirdness of their arrival in a castle in a village that had never had a castle, not ever, not even back in the days when the Romans had marched proudly down its streets, and the way Mistress Griselda had somehow morphed from being a simple country soul with a bullying husband just like everyone else into what could only be called a pregnant dowager with a handsome new Lord at her beck and call, and despite quite a lot of other things as well, including the squeals of ecstasy that emanated from an upper room on an absurdly regular basis, nobody showed the least surprise at the change. It was as if every single soul, including the Priest and his boyfriend, hadn’t noticed a single alteration in her fortune.

Not long elapsed when the more knowable women of the neighbourhood got to whispering to each other.

Who would have thought,” one said, “that mistress Cobweb would get in the family way, and at her age too?”

And who would have ever believed,” added another, “that the smart Mister Cobweb and his fancy songs could have enough about him to make a son?”

Or a daughter,” sniffed a third.

Nah. It’ll be a son,” grunted a fourth, “a tall lad with curly hair and breeches to be proud of! He’ll sort the land out, all right, will young Master Cobweb, when he’s big enough.”

If it needs sorting, that is,” muttered a fifth.

But there could be no doubt. Mistress Cobweb put the pounds on, or so it seemed, her stomach swelled magnificently and there could be no doubt whatsoever that she was in the family way.

Meanwhile, her handsome florally-trousered beau created a banner that read JED COBWEB and went on a tour of the surrounding villages, singing tales of wonderment and flowers, of beating hearts and love, of the sorrow and heartache of death, of the mysteries beyond the grave. And there was no doubt about it: he was good.

Hey nonny nonny,

I need a sonny,

So hitch up your panties

And other sweet scanties,

And nonny, my hearties

With a platter of tarties

And a pint of real ale

As I warble this tale..”

was his number one hit, sung to an unmistakably medieval melody and self-accompanied on a lyre. Teenagers were heard to warble it unaccompanied on their way to the fields weary for a full day’s toil, the Priest whispered it lovingly into the ears of his boyfriend, a youth barely fourteen and with a heart of gold, the miller ground corn into the purest flour as he mumbled it into a spittoon he’d stolen from the ale-house, and every woman with her trail of offspring forming a harmonious choir behind her was heard serenading mother nature with many a nonny nonny and a hey nonny noo..

Spring time came and early summer, and Mistress Griselda Cobweb had become so huge a simple thorn, some thought, might have popped her. But she swanned around castle as though there nothing monumental about her womb until the pop idol of the twelfth century returned from what he ostentatiously called his tour after being worshipped at a final gig.

Mistress Cobweb,” he crooned at her, “you look fit to burst! But how radiant are your cheeks, how sparkling your eyes, why don’t you prostrate yourself on our nice huge bed and let a sprog pop out?”

I think, Master Cobweb,” she smiled, “I think I might do just that.”

So she fought her way up the spiral staircase, almost staggered into the huge bedroom that she’d got rather fond of and lay on the swan-down filled cover.

I feel that I’m about to drop something,” she smiled at her beau.

Then let it be,” nodded the folk singer as he pulled out a pigskin papery sheet and started scribbling fresh nonny lyrics.

I’m writing about the joys of motherhood,” he explained to her.

It didn’t take long for the baby to be born, and much to Griselda’s surprise (she’d been provided with a host of horror stories about pain and blood and even death when babies were born by the neighbours) the whole event was almost painless, though it did tickle and make her giggle when the baby wriggled its fingers and touched something sensitive.

And there it was. Her baby. Her one hundred percent gorgeous baby.

A son,” sighed the mother, mistaking the umbilical cord for something else, “a pretty gorgeous son.”

Do you mind!” squawked the baby indignantly, “I’m a girl! I’m Janie Cobweb, and don’t you forget it!”

© Peter Rogerson 09.11.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Added on November 9, 2017
Last Updated on November 9, 2017
Tags: Cobweb, nonny, singing, castle, metamorphosis, birth


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..