A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

News of forest affairs arrives in a busy pub.


Away from the Forest words were passing around, and it was Farmer Brandyface who started them rolling.

He was called Farmer Brandyface for two very good reasons. Firstly, Brandyface was his family name and versions of it, ranging from Bandylegs to Randyface had existed in one spelling or another since the Norman Conquest. And secondly, he had a penchant for good French Brandy and had consumed copious quantities of it over the years, the power of which had moulded his face until it was blotchy, ruddy and twinkling. Yes, not only his eyes but his whole face was twinkling. It gave him character.

He had a tot of good French brandy (together with the already opened bottle within arm’s reach) in front of him where he sat in The Snowman’s C**k (a hostelry named after the very same carrot-nosed snowman who first devised eating poultry at Christmastime), and one particular evening around the time that Little Red was riding her tandem in the Forest he held forth blasting the bar with a vast accumulation of decibels.

I’ve seen a sight or two in my time, but never one quite like this,” he said aloud to anyone who cared to listen. This was his usual method of starting conversations and it invariably worked for two reasons. Firstly, Farmer Brandyface had a very loud voice that slurred ever so slightly even when he was sober, and secondly Farmer Brandyface had a reputation for being interesting, and that couldn’t have been said of many who visited The Snowman’s C**k.

“What be that then, Farmer Brandyface?” asked the landlord encouragingly.

“In that there forest where wild critters dwell,” muttered the Farmer, waiting for his audience to grow until it encompassed everyone within range of his not inconsiderable voice.

“Is this going to be another one of your tall tales, Brandyface?” asked Mildred Mopp, cleaner extraordinaire and busiest nosey parker in the village.

“Or out of that there bottle of yours?” sniggered Gordon Gonorrhoea, famous for cavorting with all types of bath savoury and unsavoury females and passing to them the odd unwelcome gift.

“This is going to be real and true, as I sit here!” exclaimed the Farmer.

The entire group of customers in the pub fell silent and every eye reached towards him as it crossed every single soul’s mind that this might become quite a fascinating evening even though only five minutes ago it had seemed to be as dull as most evenings ended up being.

“What sight was it then, Brandyface?” asked the landlord, polishing a glass behind the bar and eyeing his barmaid with a greedy eye.

“I’ll tell ee, that I will,” began Farmer Brandyface.

“Then get started afore I die of boredom,” sniggered Gordon, holding Penny Popsickle by an inappropriate body part, and she allowing the intrusion without the least suggestion of complaint. She was a nice girl, was Penny, and always willing.

“Well, I was out in the Forest fringes looking for toadstools,” began the farmer.

“Don’t you mean mushrooms?” asked a naive Penny.

“I know what I means, and I knows what I does with them!” roared the farmer, “and it was toadstools as I was after. Good toxic toadstools that I brews up. It makes a nice mixer for my brandy when I has a rare drop at home!”

“Rare!” sniggered Mildred Mopp, who cleaned for him and knew all about his empties.

“Anyways, I was on me way back with a tasty basketful when I saw it,” said the Farmer, adding suspense to a story that hadn’t really started yet.

“You saw it?” called the landlord, his eyes fixed on the barmaid’s bottom as she reached up to the top shelf for an obscure bottle of Spanish sherry, “you saw what?”

“I saw that there young lass with the red cloak and the prettiest face under the sun,” growled the farmer, “I saw her, all right, and she was on that there tandem of hers, that bicycle made for two, as they say.”

“She goes everywhere on that,” opined Penny, pushing Gordon away after whispering about where he can take his filthy hands.

“That’s not fair,” hissed Gordon, and she punched him in the crotch region, which made him yelp and wince. I did say that Penny was a nice girl, didn’t I?

“It was who was on the back seat of that there tandem that fair made my eyes pop out of my head,” growled Farmer Brandyface, “it was her co-rider that made me almost swallow me tongue!”

“Well?” asked the landlord expectantly, rushing to catch the barmaid as she fell.

“You may as well say well,” murmured the Farmer, every eye in the room searching his face for a clue as to what he was going to say next.

“Get on with it!” urged Mildred, “I’ve got a house to clean before dark!”

“Well,” whispered the Farmer, and even his whispers were uncannily loud, “well, sitting on the back seat of that there tandem and as large as life was a great big wolf! And it was peddling like peddling was going out of fashion! And that there Red girl, with her pretty face and prettier hair, she was grinning at that wolf as if they were the best of bosom friends! I saw them as they tore past me, going faster than a bullet!”

“I don’t believe it,” groaned Gordon, protecting his lower body from any further viciousness from the female gender.

“It can’t be true,” breathed the barmaid, lying fully in the landlord’s arms and winking at him.

“Who ever heard of a wolf and a girl being all matey and riding a bike?” asked Penny Popsickle.

“I never said it was a bike!” growled Farmer Brandywine, “I said it was a tandem, and tandems have two seats, don’t they? One for a little lass we all love and one for the big bad wolf! I reckon we should all have another drink or three then go off into the forest to rescue the poor wee thing before something rotten happens to her!”

“Not me,” groaned Gordon, “I’ve heard tales, I have, about what goes on in that forest after dark, and what monsters live there!”

“Coward,” hissed Penny.

“Anyway, I’ve got a nasty ache,” shuddered Gordon.

“Serve you right,” grinned Penny.

“I’m all for it!” exclaimed Mildred.

“And me,” put in the barmaid, struggling to stand on her own two feet.

The landlord could see which way the wind was blowing. “Me too,” he shouted. “Now, everyone, before we go it’s drinks all round on the house!”

© Peter Rogerson 30.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 30, 2018
Last Updated on October 30, 2018
Tags: farmer, toadstools, forest, tandem, Red Riding Hood, alcohol


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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..


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