A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Continuing the saga of Griselda Entwhistle on her climb to religious heights... Grisleda mounts an old clock and zooms off to acquaint the local vicar of her plans...


Once Griselda Entwhistle made a decision there was a better than average chance that she would follow it up. And this was one of those better than average chances because the very next morning, back in her old ancient and homely shape, the archetypal witch beloved by the illustrators of horror stories wickedly published to scare the pants off children the world over, she stood in front of her mirror and cackled to herself with a long and meaningful cackle.

Now let me see,” she murmured. There was nobody anywhere near to hear what she said, but she still said it in a kind of creaking, barely audible voice. “I've got a few things to sort out before I go to uni,” she continued. “I need to have a word with that nasty Right Reverend Ian Nigel Thybottom because he's got the shock of his life coming if he lives long enough for me to finish my studies, which he will because I know somebody who'll make sure that he does.”

Then she bustled for a while. She wasn't so keen on doing things like cleaning but she was a dab hand at bustling. It made her feel human in much the same way as an old man feels human by getting paralytic on half a pint of weak ale when his credibility is under debate and his wallet is light.

What will it be?” she mused, referring, mentally, to her preferred form of transport. “If I take the broomstick there's bound to be some nosy parker around prepared to notice me and think I'm a witch. You wouldn't believe how nosy some people can be! And calling an old woman like me a witch is akin to calling a new born baby a mongoose!”

She bustled a bit more and paused by the grandfather clock, the one that had once belonged to her great uncle, he who had been dead for the better part of a century, and in all that time the clock had refused to so much as tick or tock. At first she had wound it up with the huge key that came with it, but to no avail. But she had kept it out of affection for the only relative who had thought well enough of her to mention her name on his deathbed. “Curse that Griselda,” he had almost howled, and although she had still been in rag nappies (being only around two years old herself at the time) she had rejoiced in hearing her name enunciated by an old man at the exact moment when he took leave of the world and slumped into a grey death.

This is roughly the right shape. It might do,” she breathed, and grinned in such a way that both corners of her mouth curled up to touch her ears. “By the devil, animate the blasted thing!” she ordered, and as if by magic the grandfather clock started shaking gently as if it was a 1920's Bentley, and then it moved until it adopted a horizontal position right next to her. Chains and weights in its ancient cabinet rattled and banged together, and a pendulum clattered against the glass front. She grinned to herself again, and hitched her long black skirts up in order to climb onto it. This clock might not look like a broomstick but she knew full well that with a bit of satanic assistance it would double for one nicely. She'd made all sorts of things fly in the past and in actual fact broomsticks were the most difficult to steer. At least, she thought so.

Right then, off we go!” she screeched, and the grandfather clock, rattling and booming and making all manner of clock-chiming noises (including one phrase from the famous Westminster chime) zoomed towards the front door of her little cottage, which fortunately opened precisely as she was looking like crashing into it. “Wee!” she shrieked, and the grandfather clock with her perching nicely on it aimed like a rocket for the dawn skies.

Swanspottle (where Griselda lived) was a small village, little more than a hamlet with a small pub run by Greek landlord and the remnants of a church where the Right Reverend Ian Nigel Thybottom ruled supreme. The trouble with the church was the absence of any roof, but this was strangely insignificant because decades had passed since it had been visited by a single worshipper and the appointment of a Right Reverend was a clerical error that had been made time and time again over the years.

Griselda was mulling over such matters when she spied the Right Reverend Ian Nigel Thybottom himself, striding manfully away from the Crown and Anchor, pursued by one of the infamous McMudd sisters (even though dawn hadn't cracked so long ago) and doing his best to conceal an uncontrollable agitation in his trousers. Every time there was a new cleric in the old Swanspottle Church the McMudd sisters had a rare old time carousing past the midnight hour in the Crown and Anchor and shaming him to the point of driving him to a personal confession (from himself to himself) a dozen times (at least) a week. Griselda, though, saw this as an opportunity to gain credit with one or other of the dark forces she didn't really believe in but which contrived to help her out whenever they could, and zoomed down.

The grandfather clock made a dreadful din as it descended. It's gong clattered and a couple of bells came loose and dangled inside its case at a crazy angle, bashing against the wooden frame and making a cacophony worthy of a small nuclear explosion in a bell foundry. There was no way that the Right Reverend Ian Nigel Thybottom didn't hear it, but he pretended that he didn't. The McMudd sister did, though, and she scuttled away as quickly as her little legs could carry her fat body, back towards the back yard of the Crown and Anchor.

Griselda landed just behind the Reverend Gentleman, though his agitation was so acute that he completely failed to notice the clanking and rattling old Grandfather clock, which had inexplicably started ticking for the first time in well over eighty years despite the crazy angle at which it was perched.

My goodness me, have you been carrying that?” he asked, hiding his embarrassment with a handkerchief held in front of his crumpled cassock.

I flew on it, your vicarship,” smiled Griselda sweetly. “I thought I'd better let you know that I'm starting a divinity course at Scrumblenose University, doing divinity to a very advanced level, before going into the priestesshood,” she murmured. “I thought it only right to inform you. We'll be on the same side then, won't we? All gloriously holy … and stuff!”

You mean priesthood?” he asked weakly, the bulge below his belt subsiding noticeably as he stared at her with a look akin to horror on his face. “Surely you're too ol... I mean, surely you're too seni... I mean, an old biddy like you? Aren't you past it? I mean, the priesthood's a life-long calling and you've spent most of your life casting evil spells and scaring young children!”

Priesthood, did you say? I prefer to honour my gender, so it's priestesshood,” she cackled. “I want to be like you, you see, all holier than thou and critical of anyone who isn't called McMudd! I want to lay my hands onto people, especially handsome young policemen with gigantic willies!”

I don't know what you're talking about!” he swallowed. “I offer salvation to the McMudd girls, that's all.”

Anyway, I've told you all about my plans, so there'll be no more talk of me being in league with any old devil,” she said, her voice becoming quiet and, to her mind if not to his, threatening. “Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to the pub!”

What? At this time of the day? Thomas'll never serve you!”

It's me, silly old Reverend, and he will!” she grinned. “And as a treat for my liver I might get well and truly sloshed before home time!”

You'll be the death of yourself,” he replied, drily. “Now where was I going before you so rudely interrupted me?”

If that was one of the McMudd girls (though girls is a bit on the euphemistic side, I'd say) then I reckon you might have been on your way into her underwear!” cackled Griselda. “Now pardon me! I want to go and get sloshed!”

She dragged her grandfather clock towards the pub whilst the Right Reverend Ian Nigel Thybottom scuttled off.

Cooey, Ian,” Griselda heard from the outside toilets of the pub. “I'm over here ready and waiting and willing! Come on, my good strong Vic and let's make some wonderful music together!”

Pervert!” she snorted, and pushed open the front door of the hostelry.

Thomas!” she shouted, “I'm here, so line 'em up 'cause I'm off to uni tomorrow and I want to learn how to drink before it's too late!”

© 2016 Peter Rogerson

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on May 15, 2016
Last Updated on May 15, 2016
Tags: Griselda, university, priestess, grandfather clcok



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 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..