Friday, 8 August 2014

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - UNPUBLISHED WORK - Book Four - The Politics of Turnips - Part One 'Arrivals' - Chapter One 'Whoever Heard of Flora Gusset?'

As previously mentioned, when I first started writing ‘The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry,’ I had few influences to speak of. Sure there were some but by and large I had this vague notion of what I wanted to create. ‘Under Milkwood’ meets Los Bros Hernadez’s ‘Palomar.’ It, Fekenham that is, had to be a curious mix of humour, sex, adventure and romance. Some folks who read my stuff suggested I was influenced by Wodehouse or even Terry Pratchett. I had read some Wodehouse prior to starting Fekenham but didn't get into Pratchett until four years after.

Since then I have read works of far better writers than myself all of whom I identify with but none of whom influenced me before Fekenham was underway. Fred Vargas and Kyril Bonfiglioli spring to mind as does Jilly Cooper. 

Nor should my daft old village tales be seen as purely humorous. Yes, they are funny at times but hopefully sad too and romantic. I am, as anyone who knows me, not fond of convenient and restrictive labels but if I were then Fekenham would be classified as Amatory Absurd.

Anyway, having published the first four books on Kindle (all greatly changed since then and listed below) I have subsequently finished another two with another two started. Here are those published on Kindle

Book One - The Snatch-Kiss Affair
Book Two – Charabanc to Cherbourg
Book Three – Ghosts of the Past
Book Three and a Half – The Sordid Story of the Enema Bandit of Winchester

For those bereft of my scandalously odd works of fiction here is a brief set of synopsi for the first four...

Book One “The Snatch-Kiss Affair.”

A knicker thief is in Fekenham. Brigadier Humphrey Largepiece suspects arch rival Major Vivian Lillycrap. Local headmistress Verity Lambush and Vicar Linkthorpe's brief affair reveals the truth behind Cybil Lovelock's birth - a case of him with his vest off in her pantry and her with pants off in his vestry. Then industrialist Rupert Snatch-Kiss arrives and tears down the ancient wood of Fekit - the Village revolts.

 Book Two “Charabanc to Cherbourg.”
The further adventures of Ethel Blowvalve, Brigadier Largepiece, Ralph Ramhard, Verity Lambush and Vicar Elvis Linkthorpe as they holiday in France. The Merryfeather sisters (not sisters at all but no one mentions that) recall their days as private detectives in the sixties. Ruth Crabtree has a fling with French entrepreneur David Vanderputte. Verity and Ralph encounter human traffickers whilst Largepiece, Linkthorpe and publican Arthur Bentwhistle set fire to a gité then rescue a whore from a bordello. As Ethel writes in a postcard home, "There's a lot you can do with a Frenchman, some custard and a length of rope."
Book Three “Ghosts of the Past”
Ethel finds a pig that she names bladder. Bishop Harmonious Boyle arrives to the dismay of Elvis Linkthorpe and his French mistress, Anais Sin while Thorny End Retirement home employs elderly ladies in ways they thought they had long forgotten. What will the church think when they discover the village vicar has a former prostitute as his lover? What will Verity’s mother do to expose Hazel Thorny? Murder, mayhem and a porcine pickle arrive to confound the locals.
Book Three and a Half – “The Sordid Story of the Enema Bandit of Winchester”
Someone doesn’t like politicians but then again who does? Someone is exacting a twisted revenge, a payback that hits statesmen, no matter their party, where it hurts the most. A little extreme perhaps to pick them off one by one, bind them, anoint their bottoms with lubricant before flushing them with a soapy enema.  It is a dirty job that requires clean marigolds - a modern day romance in latex.  

And now Book Four, The Politics of Turnips, unpublished as yet but here in all its unedited, need of revision glory....(it is in fact book five but, due to faulty engineering work on my frontal lobe, has been chronologically rearranged)....ENJOY!....

Whoever Heard of Flora Gusset?

The asthmatic bubble car, a vile pink, struggled up Trimpton Hill with a cough, a wheeze and one or two backfires. It seemed for a while as if it were going nowhere but was affixed to the rump of the Fekenham Hills like a wart on the backside of a dragon. Then with a shudder followed by another violent bang it finished its ascent before gliding down the other side. Had the car sentient abilities it would have breathed a sigh of relief. It passed St. Whipplemores that sat silent this Monday morning as it groaned on past Mildew Terrace then the Hamfists farm.
The car was old, built in the nineteen sixties, and really had no right to still be driven but rust and the long years of accumulated dirt kept its chassis in place even if the engine was dying.
Behind the wheel a pale faced woman of some seventy years or so with snow white hair drawn back in a bun sat studying the road. Flora Gusset had been driving now for three hours having left Swansea in the early hours of the morning. She had never heard of Fekenham before today but knew she had to go there.
Sometimes Flora heard voices, they spoke to her in codes few would understand but last night’s voice had been direct and to the point “Go to Fekenham Swarberry.” When the voices spoke Flora did as they bid.
With the bubble car spluttering like a Tory MP caught with his pants down in front of a line of journalists, Flora Gusset spotted what may have been a vicar. His dog collar was clearly visible as was a scarlet robe that hung breezily over a pair of combat boots. He didn't appear to be wearing trousers. Beyond that only imagination could guess. His knees had the look of having hidden depths that only a madman would want to explore for who knows what an addled priest in a kilt harbours up there?
Flora put her foot on the brake then climbed out of the car as it shuddered to a halt. Elvis Linkthorpe, for it was he, looked at the car, now empty, and wondered how the vehicle had arrived as there was no obvious sign of a driver. Then, with a demure smile, Flora Gusset, came from round the side of the car she had been hidden behind. She stood a little over three feet ten, was perfectly formed with petite frame, hands and feet. She was smoking a large cigar that rested between her teeth. She was dressed in black.
“Hello,” she said, “are you the local vicar?”
“I am indeed. My name is Elvis, Elvis Linkthorpe.”
She stomped up to the priest proffering her hand.
“My name is Flora Gusset; I am looking for Fekenham Swarberry.”
Having just finished a large spliff Elvis Linkthorpe was feeling rather pleased with himself. This chance meeting with the dotty looking dame only went to add to his general demeanour of good will to all men.
“Then look no further for you have found it.”
Flora turned to both left then right, her upturned nose appeared to be sniffing the very air.
“This is Fekenham Swarberry?”
The vicar nodded his head.
“The village proper is that way. You will see a common sitting opposite a pub called the ‘Frog and Radiator,’ continue on past that until you come to the village itself.”
“Thanks. Was that your church I passed on the way here?”
“St. Whipplemores? Yes, that is my office where all mine and the good Lord’s work is done. If you are going into the village may I recommend the tea rooms? They serve a splendid slice of lemon drizzle”
Flora smiled, her teeth a dazzling display of white plastic. It was these that caught the cleric’s eye for they clattered as though they had an independent life of their own. They clattered like castanets.
“Thank you; I never could resist lemon drizzle cake,” exclaimed Flora.
With that she bade the village vicar goodbye and climbed back inside her car. The car erupted into an indignant rage as a dark cloud of fumes burst out of its exhaust accompanied with a sheet of flame. The car wobbled on it wheels then rocked from side to side before sluggishly moving off. Elvis Linkthorpe waved as the car lolloped away. Flora returned the wave before dragging from her handbag with one hand a ring bound notepad down the spine of which a pen nestled. She put the pad up to her mouth and with her teeth pulled the pen from its resting place. Holding the pen firmly between her hampsteads she placed the pad on to her lap and then by taking the pen from her mouth and placing it into her hand she scrawled as she drove in rough capitals.
Flora took a long pull on her cigar allowing the smoke to fill her lungs before blowing it out through her nostrils. The stream of smoke lazily drifted out of the side window of the bubble car. The road, in need of good repair, bounced the car like a cork on the tide. Flora’s head occasionally tickled the interior roof as the vehicle careened along. As she drove she passed a poster affixed to a bent telegraph pole. The notice was an advert informing any interested parties of the imminent visit of a travelling circus. The poster read:
Roll up, Roll up!
Come see the amazing
Spiegielie Zirkus,
See the clowns, jugglers and acrobats.
They will make you laugh then fill you with wonder at their death-defying feats.
There will be Elephants and Tigers,
There will be Bears and Monkeys too all at the
Spiegielie Zirkus,
Here in Fekenham for a limited period only!
Adults £3 Children Half price - no concessions for pensioners

Flora smiled as she read the poster.
 “Everyone loves a circus,” she thought to herself, “especially a village like Fekenham.” The poster had been placed on each street corner, on every telegraph pole, at any convenient place that caught the eye of passing interest. From Muckleford to Arkenfelt then south to Birchtickle, a web of curiosity and excitement had been spun, a web designed to capture the attention of the local inhabitants before it pulled them in to its enchanting centre. As Flora briefly stopped to observe the advertisement, she was unaware of being watched.
In a cottage across the way Verity Lambush, dressed neatly in pressed white cotton blouse with a black pencil line skirt was ready for work. She viewed the tiny bubble car with interest through a pair of binoculars. From behind her the rich tones of her American husband begged a question.
“What are you looking at hon, you seem to have been staring out of that window for ages?”
“I have been watching a bubble car. I haven’t seen one in years and never a pink one before.”
“A bubble car? What the hell is one of those?”
“Have you never heard of them?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Over there, a little to the left at about ten o’clock.” said Verity passing the binoculars to Ralph.
“I’ll be damned. Ugly little thing isn’t it. I never saw one back in the States. Mind you, something like that and so small would probably get laughed off the freeway. The damn thing would fit in my trunk.”
“They were very popular during the late fifties and early sixties. Never as popular as the Mini of course but they were used by a great many until they were found to be dangerous. They only have three wheels and one door. The door opens at the front but the car was found to unbalance and roll over when not on the flat. Due to this flaw, production stopped as public opinion turned against them.”
“Who on earth is driving that then, not a local that’s for sure.”
“I can’t see from here but I think it is a woman driving.”
“Because it’s a pink car?”
“Yes, after all few men would drive a car of such a garish colour.”
“A visitor then?”
“Possibly, but see, she is driving off.”
“Looks like they are heading toward the centre of the village.”
“I wonder who she is?”
The couple watched as the pink bubble car drove away on a course taking it directly into Fekenham High Street.
Having never been to Fekenham before everything Flora saw was fresh and new. She drove into the village looking to left and right. She saw the Post Office with its double fronted Georgian windows and pulled the car into the kerbside. As she did a pregnant woman came out of the shop smiling. Flora wound down her window letting a cloud of cigar smoke waft heaven ward.
“Hello,” said Cybil, grey eyes flashing, “are you lost?”
Flora smiled back revealing her set of large dentures that looked remarkably like a Steinway keyboard..
“I was looking for Molly Sharptack’s Tea Rooms. I take it you are the postmistress?” her teeth clattered as she spoke.
“Indeed I am. My name is Cybil Updike. The tea rooms are just down that way. They do a nice Chantilly Basket.”
Flora smiled again.
“Sounds delicious, I may try a taste. Thanks for the help.”
With that she took another drag on her cigar, wound the window up and with a wave of her hand to Cybil drove on. Cybil watched, her hands folded over the top of her bulge as the bubble car flatulently careened down the road.
Flora saw the tea rooms only a short distance away and pulled the car over. She took out her pen and pad and wrote down Cybil’s name.
Finding a suitable car parking space Flora locked the bubble cars door and stomped into through the tea rooms’ door. A waitress dressed in a simple black frock adorned with a white apron and matching white cap escorted her to a table where she took Flora’s order.
“Black coffee, no sugar, thank you.”
“Would you like to see our menu, we have some delicious cakes?
“Just the coffee please. Before you go would you mind telling me who owns this wonderful establishment?”
The girl, a pretty redhead smiled.
“That lady over here waiting tables is the owner. Her name is Brenda, Brenda Sharptack.”
Flora nodded her head in a token thank you as the waitress disappeared. Flora looked over to where Brenda was serving a family of three. Once again she took out her pen and pad before hastily scribbling down a name onto the page.
As she finished putting another name in her book so the waitress returned with her coffee. Whilst the cup and saucer were placed onto the linen table cloth so Flora looked up raising her forefinger as she did.
“I know I said I only wanted the coffee but that was before I saw the family over there” (she pointed her stubby finger in the general direction) “tucking into the delicious looking feast. May I have whatever it is they are eating?”
The waitress looked flummoxed and scratched her head with her pencil.
“You want a plate of Ribbon Jelly all to yourself?”
“Yes please,” said Flora, “and incidentally, what is the name of that pretty teenage girl?”
Again the waitress looked bemused but being of a polite nature answered promptly.
“Why that’s Sally, my friend. Sally Braganza-Smythe and that’s her Mum ‘n Dad sitting with her.”
“Thank you M’dear. May I have that jelly now please?”
Again the waitress hurried away only to return minutes later with a large plate of ribbon jelly along with a bowl and a spoon. Another name went onto the pages of the pad.
Gripping the spoon in her fist Flora started shovelling jelly into her mouth. She acted like a stoker in old fashioned steam train loading fuel again and again and again between her jaws. The spoon made a repetitive clinking sound as it was hammered into the bowl before being dragged out filled with jelly. Lumps of green never made it to Flora’s mouth but fell onto the table cloth. Other bits of the foodstuff clung around her chin. And still she went on scooping then delivering loads of lime flavoured jelly. Her teeth, large and tombstone-shaped, opening then closing, clunking like a furnace door as she swallowed noisily pushing the load down her throat. Her elbow pumped like a hydraulic piston. Then with a shudder followed by a low belch Flora sat back in her seat, took out another cigar and lit it. Having taken down a large lungful of smoke she exhaled through her nose giving her the appearance of a satiated hedgepig.
Flora turned her attention to looking out the window at what she thought of as a one horse village and its high street. It wasn’t much of a high street as no sooner had you entered it than you had left it behind. In what had once been a barn, a blacksmith’s in fact, were three shops. One was a butcher’s and was open for business; an Ironmonger’s outside of which two men in suits with another in casual clothes stood talking. One of the suited men was gesticulating toward the shop. Pointing to left and right as if describing some detail or other. Obviously some business transaction was taking place. The third shop had been a baker’s for the sign clearly said so but the shop was closed with a hand-written note placed in the window.
The waitress returned to clean away the crockery. As she did she noticed the bits of jelly scattered like shrapnel across the linen cloth. Quickly producing a tiny brush and pan she swept the offending debris away.
“Is there anything else madam would like?”
“Another coffee then the bill.”
“Certainly madam.”
With that the girl once more disappeared only to return a few minutes later carrying a cup of coffee and a small silver tray upon which lay the folded receipt.
Flora picked up her pad and pen then began to write. A list appeared on the page, a series of place names or destinations. Only Flora knew what they meant.
Having finished eating Shazli and his family got up from the table they were sitting at, waved farewell to Brenda Sharptack then left. Flora watched then through a pall of smoke. From outside an odd sound floated in. It was the sound of a steam organ, a calliope. It was a magical, whimsical noise like something from a time before; a time long gone but still remembered; a vague memory in the minds of children and of people still lucky enough to have minds like children. It was a mournful sound yet still lovely to hear. It spoke of jesters and trumpets, of candy floss and wet straw. The Spiegilie Zirkus, all the way from Germany, was entering Fekenham Swarberry.

"The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry" © are copyright protected and are the creation of Russell CJ Duffy copyright ©. 2004 - 2014 


X. Dell said...

I've forgotten how much I enjoyed these. But alas, I've only read book one. I shall have to read the following three. Consider them on my reading list.

(1) Anais Sin? Where have I heard that name before (g).

(2) Her falsies looked like a Steinway piano? Were there white teeth AND black teeth? Were they sharp, or flat?

Bad joke. Don't read that last paragraph.

Russell Duffy said...

X-Dell>>>Anais Sin? Well, it was after all my idea. :) I would recommend you don't purchase them from Kindle and for two reasons. One, they have all been drastically changed ad Two, the bloody Amazon thing insists I should pay tax to either the European tax office or to the American. I am English damn it !!!!
I no longer receive payment fro my efforts. If you want to read them send me an Email.