Was Saureen a Witch
Was Saureen a witch? Well, she did have a broomstick, but she didn’t have a crooked nose, a wart, a hairy chin or missing teeth. And no cat. She did, however, have dogs….sausage dogs. Both with bodies like the ones clowns make with balloons. They were constantly looking over their shoulders as if to make sure their back ends were still in tow and hadn’t got left behind or stuck in a closed door somewhere. Long and wiley; the canine equivalent of H.G.V.s powered by twin rolls Royce V2 engines with neither mileage calibration nor accelerator governance. They were driven by maniacs both fused with a seemingly inexhaustible demonic energy. Yes, Dachhunds. The name sums them up to perfection.
The first was called Chocolate; quite reserved and very sophisticated and well a little bit posh; stuck up you might say. But this was really just a front, for beneath that façade she could wag it with the worst of them. She had a sheen of fur as black as running ink and huge pink inside-out ears that sprang like wings from just behind her skull ballooning as she sped across the land or fled alarmed, retreating into the sanctuary of Saureen’s voluminous skirts.
The other was Stan, perfectly named. The canine equivalent of a plumber’s mate. No fuss or palaver with him. More commoner than aristocrat. A blur of sand flying, he danced a scurry of life, impossibly balanced, thrusting and tumbling his way into almost any situation, bursting with a demonic energy. Amazed and amazing; bewildered and bewildering; delighted and delighting…well you get the picture… thoroughly and utterly captivating. In a word, a star…yes, Stan the dog star. Canis Sausagus no less.
He too succumbed occasionally to the sanctuary of Saureen’s skirts when things got particularly tough or tiredness suddenly collapsed him. And sometimes they would both scurry up Saureen’s generous jumper with much fumbling and rumbling and writhing and slithering and huffing and puffing and panting and ranting thereby giving the impression that Saureen’s body was lousy with rats and ferrets, foxes and badgers, snakes and lizards and all manner of creepy crawly things, til finally when their heads popped out wobbling on either side of Saureen’s chin and a three headed canine monster emerged, it was beyond question that Saureen was indeed a witch, but not just any old witch; she was a witch the like of which had never been seen before. No, not never.
The Witches Gather
Well, obviously they were all witches and they lived with Saureen’s charming daughter, Katheryn, in Weston Supermare, in a huge castle that had been modified in a whole variety of ways to look like a 4 berth caravan. On winter nights as the wind wailed and howled through the turrets and rafters they would sit wrapped in shawls beside a raging fire in the castle hall and tell tales of ghosts and spirits and wizards and witches of times long gone. They would dine on a delicatessen of herbs and seaweed, nuts and fruits served on silver platters embossed with rubies and emeralds and wash it all down with decanters of honeyed mead and blackberry wine which Saureen made from a secret recipe and stored in the bowels of the castle vaults. Other times they just had a cuppa and a takeaway or a fish and chip supper from the mobile chip van, but couldn’t resist dropping a few magical herbs into the curry sauce and the mushy peas which no doubt explained the chippy’s amazing popularity. Sometimes though, if they were in a hurry and thought nobody was looking, they’d hop on the back of the old broomstick and fly back to the castle so the chips didn’t get cold. However, due to the relatively wobbly nature of the old broomstick it was not uncommon for either Kathryn, Saureen, Chocolate, or even Stan, experiencing a bit of turbulence, to let fall the occasional battered fish tail, a few chips or, worse still, a slime of mushy peas or curry sauce and sometimes it would splatter on nearby unsuspecting pedestrians on their way home. Manna from heaven maybe but a quick shufty towards the sky confirmed their worst fears. Yes, there really were witches in Weston and they were nicking their fish’n’chips.
Funny Goings On!
And so it came about that considerable malicious gossip began to spread about the toings and froings of our four witches, even though their castle was cleverly disguised as a rather dowdy little caravan and their day-today living resembled that of ordinary folk. And there was sometimes talk of raucous chanting echoing around the caravan walls or that the glare of a huge fire could be seen reflecting in the caravan windows. Occasionally canon fire could be heard flying over Weston beach and there was often a spilling of fairy dust lingering over the campsite. At other times, goblets had been known to fly from the windows and corks festoon the nearby meadow or sometimes Saureen would forget herself and let rip with a particularly deafening cackle. Meanwhile, flowers grew to impossible heights and infused the land with an intensity of colour previously unknown in these parts. The trees, particularly Ygdrasil, the Ash or tree of life that lived within the copse beside the caravan, grew to an enormous height and growled, grumbled or chuckled throughout the day and night rattling its autumnal keys or shimmering with a golden glow the summer long. This magic could be felt all around the caravan and as far as the upper echelons of the site, and only petered out as it neared the landlord’s residence at the top of the hill.
The War Party
Well, one day, the landlord and park owner, thoroughly miffed by the ever-growing list of complaints about canon fire, flying goblets, cackling and corks and raging fires and the like emanating from plot 4, decided enough was enough and set forth with the squire, the mayor, the major, the vicar, the headmistress, a couple of town councillors and various other dignitaries towards plot 4 intent on putting these scallywags in their place and evicting them forthwith from their dingy little caravan and ridding the site of such ruffians, and nuisances. Bolstered and fortified with a few sherries and mince pies from the Mansion kitchen and strutting together nobly, their little war party set forth, the Squire leading and striding out magnificent in his hunting tweed closely followed by the vicar, hands pressed together in prayer and muttering. Behind him came the mayor, resplendent in his gown and chain of office and the local headmistress in tweed two-piece and sensible shoes and heavy duty stockings. They were all loudly expostulating on the severity of these complaints and how such dreadful goings-on would not be tolerated in their community and how the perpetrators would soon feel the full impact of the law and what not and how they were going to tell them a thing or two and put them firmly in their place.
Well, it so happened that, as this determined little war party set out from the relative cold that was around at this time of the year, it soon became apparent that a more temperate climate seemed to engulf them the nearer they got to the caravan. In fact, by the time they actually arrived at the door the weather seemed to have turned quite considerably and was now very pleasant indeed, so that some of the determination with which they had started out had dissipated somewhat under these rather pleasant and sultry conditions. Now, it no longer seemed quite the day for a confrontation at all, but more one for a nice paddle and an ice-cream and a lie-down on the beach. The strutting and posturing had somehow subsided and been replaced by a much more slovenly approach and in fact wasn’t the major actually rolling his socks down and the vicar loosening his dog collar, oooh, and the tweed twin suit, that very morning specially chosen for such a confrontation as this from the headmistress’ personal armoury, seemed to have developed such an itch as was having to be scratched at in a whole variety of interesting ways and was now looking very sorry for itself indeed. In fact, our headmistress was now looking less like Mrs. Thatcher and more like the bag lady she had been harrassing earlier in the week.
And so it was, that this was how they arrived at the front door of the caravan and the major, nervously looking back over his shoulder at his rather pathetic-looking war party, now sweating and itching and leaning on each other and almost dropping off from the heat, knocked very tentatively and with some trepidation on the door.
The Magic Unfolds
No sooner had he knocked than the door was immediately opened to them by Kathryn, Saureen’s enchanting young daughter, full of life and vitality, so welcoming and accommodating and so thrilled to see them all.
“Oh, the Squire and the Major and, oh, the Vicar and the Headmistress”, she squealed with delight. “Oh, how wonderful. Do come in please and take a little tea and perhaps a few nibbles. Do sit down and bring your friends. I’ll get my mother. She will be so pleased to see you and honoured that such dignitaries as your fine selves have deigned to pay us a visit.”
And so, as Kathryn disappeared into the bowels of the castle to fetch her mother, our intrepid troupe filed meekly into the caravan and sat themselves down on what certainly appeared to them to be a lowly caravan. Soft furnishings, the like of which you would find in any other caravan, formed the basis of the seating areas and obviously transformed into beds when necessary. Nothing unusual about that. There was a gas fire and the usual M.D.F. furniture and kitchen fittings. The other doors looked normal enough too and obviously led off into two other bedrooms and a bathroom. It was all as was expected of a caravan and very nicely done too, as you might say. No one could see a canon or a raging fire, or corks, or exploding, groaning toads; nothing like that at all and anyway they were all beginning to feel a sort of warmth and generosity glowing inside them such that had there been a canon they might now have said something to the effect of, oh what a nice canon you have there, what a jolly good idea. It looks so medieval and goes so well with the M.D.F. don’t you think Major?
Now while Kathryn and Saureen were still out in the castle entrails, who should now come in, but our dear witchy friends Chocolate and Stan. Oh, how they wooed our guests with their infinite charm and energy. How they played and nudged and fidgeted and licked and nuzzled and scamped and scurried and played so wonderfully that the guests were transported into a realm of ecstasy they had never before experienced. And when Stan grabbed a mouthful of the headmistress’ rolled down stocking and Chocolate followed suit with the major’s gaiters, hysteria broke forth so that when Saureen and her daughter came in they were confronted not with a war party but with a bunch of giggling imbeciles so infatuated by the devilishly wonderful antics of our canine sausages, they hardly noticed.
However, a few admonishing words to Chocolate and Stan from Saureen and the dogs ceased their more boisterous machinations and settled delightfully between the guests and whimpered and nuzzled and poked and prodded and continued to endear themselves to this assembled set of dignitaries.
Saureen, a picture of radiance and tranquillity expressed her delight that such a cortage had deigned to pay them a visit and said how honoured she was to receive them into their humble abode. She and Kathryn bombarded them with trays of nibbles, nuts and fruits and cakes and pies and drinks of such variety and such exquisite taste. A gourmet of nibbles the like of which had rarely been seen before. Entranced, our little war party, now benign and giggling and full of a sort of general warmth towards humanity hitherto unseen in such mortals as these, could not resist the splendour of such victuals and before long the plates and decanters were emptied and a general sort of soporific feeling of complete satisfaction was coursing luxuriously through them all. Needless to say, the very same ingredients that adorned the mushy peas at the chippy had been liberally sprinkled into the nibbles and before long the war party’s surrender was almost complete.
Saureen, now seated amongst our dignitaries, welcomed them again, expressed her delight at such an unexpected visit and, taking Chocolate on her knee, then delivered the inevitable bombshell. “Delighted as we are to see you all, what actually was the purpose of your visit?” she beamed.
The major now on his third glass of honeyed mead and stuffed with exotic pastries could not speak. He was apoplectic. His eyes seemed to be wandering separately in various directions all at the same time and a benign and idiotic grin sat permanently on his face. He was slumped on the sofa and leaning heavily against the headmistress whose stockings were now gathered in coils around her ankles except for the one that Stan had ravaged and tore into shreds. With a huge effort of will he attempted to remember the purpose of the visit but could not and he shifted responsibility onto the mayor and the vicar whose idea he said it must have been in the first place. The vicar, now completely minus his dog collar, sweating profusely and praying for a miracle, attempted to recall the purpose of their visit but was completely unable to. He sought the help of the mayor but he seemed to have got himself slightly entangled in his chain of office and was burrowing away in the folds of his voluminous gown in an attempt to free himself. And so it was, that since none of them, neither the Squire, the mayor, the major, the vicar, the headmistress nor the town councillors could for the life of them remember the original purpose of their visit, Saureen delivered her final coup de gras. Seeing their complete confusion and embarrassment she suggested that perhaps the purpose of their visit, given that so many high-ranking individuals had decided to call, was that plot no.4 caravan had perhaps been selected as caravan of the year and that they were there to deliver the first prize which she understood to be a free ground rent for the whole of the following year. The reaction was immediate and unanimous. Of course, that was it they burst out, almost in unison and nodding enthusiastically at each other now
that the reason for their visit had become clear. Three cheers to you and our sincere congratulations enthused the Squire. We have never before seen such a beautifully maintained caravan and nor have we experienced such magnificent hospitality. The whole war party now linked arms and began a rather slurred but well-intentioned rendition of ‘For she’s a jolly good fellow’ as they got up to leave. Kathryn opened the door and most graciously proffered her invitation for them to call at any time, as too did Saureen, just managing to stifle a cackle as they all crossed the drawbridge, the Squire only just escaping a dipping in the moat as he staggered dangerously out of the castle grounds. Meanwhile, the dogs barked and jumped and scurried and did their dachshund thing and Kathryn and Saureen waved and waved and shouted farewell greetings before shooting off a couple of rounds of fairy dust from the canon as they lowered the portcullis and raised the drawbridge.