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A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

In a chapter that briefly reconnects Griselda with characters from "Spellbound", we see the old lady scaring the window cleaner by examining nearly-nothing clothes she's packing for her student days.


  After a somewhat exhausting hour in the carnal company of the well-endowed Constable Lockemup, Griselda Entwhistle shook herself, changed back to her grumpy old self and returned (on grandfather clock and hoping nobody would look up as she passed them by) towards her humble little cottage at the end of the only street in Swanspottle.

As she flew across the blue skies above her little street she spied the familiar figure of Janine Stretchmark pushing an extravagant pram over the cobbles of the rough road surface. She had long felt sorry for the childless Janine, and when the opportunity presented itself she had arranged that the despicable Henrietta Blackboil (an alcoholic hag who didn't seem to be able to do anything right) be reduced to an embryo and implanted in the good woman's womb in order to get a second chance at life. The theory was that she could live her life again, only starting from a less soul and spirit destroying birth, and maybe make a better job of it than she had first time round. Maybe, Griselda had hoped, she'd be considerably less trouble if she had a decent start to life. *

So Janine got what she really wanted and the old hag who had almost wrecked Griselda's political career a year or so back was given the opportunity to prove that nurture has it over nature any day.

She landed, unseen, just behind Janine, parked the grandfather clock against the kerb-side, and coughed. “I thought it was you I spied,” she cackled, her voice crackling from the exposure to altitude that it had just experienced.

Janine jumped, almost out of her skin, it seemed to Griselda. “Why, Miss Entwhistle!” she exclaimed. “Where did you come from? And are you carrying that heavy old clock all on your own?”

I can manage,” croaked Griselda. “Old women aren't all weak and feeble, you know! But tell me: how's dear Henrietta?”

Oh, she's a treasure!” cooed Janine. “I wouldn't be anything without her!”

Griselda lowered her ancient head and poked it into the pram. “Coochie-coochie-coo,” she almost sang. “Coochie-coochie-coochie coo!”

The baby opened her eyes, both of them, suddenly, and did the impossible. She winked a huge and brazen wink, all knowing and secretive, like babies don't, and giggled.

See! She loves you!” exclaimed the doting foster-mother.

There's no accounting for tastes!” rasped Griselda. “I'm just a crotchety old woman and everyone knows it!”

Oh but there is! They do say that babies are most discerning and that if they take to a person then there's no harm in that person at all! And she's taken to you, all right. Look! She's winking at you again!”

The precious,” growled Griselda. “Now you, baby Henrietta, be a good little soul for your mummy, won't you? Remember, second chances can always be taken away, coochy-coo!”

Whatever do you mean by that?” asked Janine. “She's a bit young to need second chances at anything!”

Oh, it's a baby thing,” muttered Griselda. “Even though I never had one myself I understand babies and baby things. Now I must be off, Janine. I'd just popped behind that hedge over there for a rest, what with having this clock to cart back home and me being less than a youngster myself. You take care of the two of you, won't you?”

Of course, Miss Entwhistle,” murmured Janine a little irritably. “But are you sure can you manage that big clock all on your own? It looks dreadfully heavy.”

I'll be all right, dearie,” almost crooned Griselda. “Now off you go! I mustn’t waylay you any longer!”

And the moment Janine Stretchmark's back was turned and she was whispering to the child, who had started crying for no apparent reason, she climbed aboard her grandfather clock and zoomed off until she had reached an impossible altitude. A few moments later when Janine looked round to say a final goodbye she was well out of sight, which was just as well seeing that most people don't trust old ladies who fly impossible objects around the skies..

Once back in her cottage, Griselda paid Adrian Leatherlush, her window-cleaner who had just arrived, and then started packing for University. She had absolutely no experience of higher education �" in fact, she had virtually no experience of any kind of education at all �" but reckoned she had insight into student requirements, and anyway, the winking baby had strangely affected her and she wanted to get as far away from Swanspottle as she could.

I'll need clothes,” she thought aloud. Talking to herself always seemed to help in moments of uncertainty. “And if I'm going to be a young student living and working like other young students I'd better not stick out like a sore thumb. So, by the devil I'd like to find a whole wardrobe of studenty things in my bedroom, all spick and span and ready for me to wear!”

Then she made for the foot of the stairs. Hers was a tiny cottage and upstairs there was a tiny bedroom, but it was big enough to hold the piles of clothing that had clearly been designed to almost cover a young woman in the most enlightened of enlightened ages.

She picked up a tiny skirt and held it up in front of the window in order to examine it properly. The window-cleaner, who had just started wiping her bedroom windows opened his eyes wide when he saw how diminutive the garment was and he looked backwards and forwards, comparing it to its apparent owner, and then proceeded to fall backwards in surprise, clear off his ladder. She caught sight of the incident through the corner of her eye and rushed downstairs as quickly as her legs could carry her.

He was in a bad way, lying on a stone flag and groaning fit to waken the dead. It was obvious he had broken quite a few bones and bruised just about all the rest of him.

Why, Mr Leatherlush, What is it?” she asked, adopting her most just you shut up and stop moaning voice. But the man, seeing her, tried to struggle to his feet, but found it impossible on account of the fact that both of his legs appeared to be broken in several places each.

That … that skirt...” he wailed. “Is it yours? That naughty, naughty little skirt?”

It belongs to my niece, if it's any of your business, which it isn't!” she snapped. “Young ladies are allowed to show off their legs is they want to! There's no harm in it. Legs are for walking on, though yours seem to be for breaking. And I'd like you to know that no garment, however brief, can possibly be naughty! The owner can, mind you, and I believe that my niece has her finer moments...”

My legs...” moaned Mr Leatherlush.

Just you be still and they'll be all right in a trice!” she barked at him. “My goodness me, Mr Leatherlush, you do make a fuss! They're only broken, for goodness' sake, and what's broken can always be mended.”

But they're very broken,” he wailed. “How am I going to earn my keep? How am I going to feed my bairns? How am I going to... going to...”

Going to add to Thomas's profits down at the Crown and Anchor?” Griselda concluded for him. “Now, if you stop making such a fuss I'll see what I can do to help you!”

Nobody can help me! Not any more!” wailed Adrian Leatherlush. “I'm done for, I am! They'll have to be amputated, I'll be bound, and I'll spend the rest of my days in an electric wheelchair! I'm doomed, I am, doomed! And to think I always say that old farts in electric wheelchairs are conning the rest of us into thinking they're anything but the lazy work-shy morons they are!”

The devil mend this fool's legs, and quickly!” snapped Griselda, as quietly under her breath as she could manage, and she could see instantly how the window-cleaner's legs seemed to regain their shape as he writhed on the hard ground. Within moments he was able to stand up on them, but when he tried to walk he let out a deafening wail. Mrs Picknose, the neighbour and bitter enemy of the Entwhistle household, looked over the fence and giggled.

One of them's back to front!” squawked the window cleaner. “Look! One of my toes points backwards! I'm doomed!”

You'll get used to it,” muttered Griselda unkindly. “Now I do believe I paid you to clean my windows, and you don't seem to have done half of them. I'll report you for squandering if you don't get a move on!”

Squandering what?” he wailed.

Squandering the good fortune I just gave you!” she snapped. “Now get polishing my windows or I'll have something to say about you at the next Parish Council meeting!”

Oh, poor me,” he wailed, and managed to stand his ladder back against the window, and with excruciating difficulty, climb it.

Griselda stared at him scornfully for a moment, then returned to her new clothes piled attractively in the bedroom. A tiny pair of shorts caught her attention, and as she picked it up and gazed at it there came the most frightful crashing from outside, followed by an ear-splitting cry of pain.

The man's a pervert, she thought, and went to open the window again in order to see what was going on outside. Adrian Leatherlush was lying back on the hard concrete and weeping like a child who'd just been thrashed for no reason by a sadistic teacher, and for the tiniest part of a moment Griselda felt sorry for him before telling herself that he deserved everything he got if he insisted in staring at the contents of wardrobes of little old ladies on fine mornings like this.

It was pure misfortune that half an hour later, when she closed her window, it caught on the fingers of Mr Leatherlush as he struggled back up his ladder in order to finish what he'd started, and even more misfortune when his eyes lit on the lacy and frilly nearly-nothing that she was holding in her other hand, a wicked gleam in her eye.

* Griselda's political career and the machinations of Henrietta Blackboil are dealt with in “Spellbound”, by me and available from

© 2016 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 17, 2016
Last Updated on May 17, 2016
Tags: Henrietta Blackboil, windows, ladder, cleaner, negligee, skimpy skirt, broken legs



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 78 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..