15 Oct


grumpy vicar photo: vicar f8e3.jpgLet me explain about Griselda Entwhistle.
For as long as she could remember she’d had magical powers. She could cast spells, usually by invoking the devil, which upset her nearest and dearest, but that didn’t matter too much because her nearest and dearest were few and far between, and if dear rarely near her.
She lived on the outskirts of Swanspottle, a sleepy hamlet that no cartographer could be bothered to mark on any map, so I’m not really in the position of one who could explain where it is. Never mind: that doesn’t matter.
There is a church in Swanspottle, an ancient building without a roof, but the church authorities were unaware of its shortcomings and so it was provided with a clergyman. But the clergy never lasted for long, not because of the shortcomings of the leaky church but because the McMudd sisters, a horrendous trio who, being frustrated maidens with no love in their lives, all tried to attach themselves to the incumbent in a way that might hopefully provoke a very naughty response from him. But less of them. They appear elsewhere.*
At the time of this yarn the incumbent vicar was “Grumpy” Grazebones. His nickname had been well-earned in a variety of parishes in which he had enjoyed preaching grumpy sermons, and as those sermons were few in number there had been a great deal of repetition involved.
Griselda was drunk, or nearly so, when she staggered back from the village pub one balmy night, and bumped – physically – into “Grumpy” Grazebones. It had been her hundred and first birthday, so her degree of intoxication was understandable.
“Watch where you’re going!” grumped the vicar. As you may appreciate, it was hardly unusual for the man to grump, so Griselda was far from surprised, and anyway was inclined to feel a tad grumpy herself, the night of celebration being over and she still a hundred yards from her ivy-clad cottage.
“You’re in a fearfully bad mood, Grazebones,” she snapped. “Don’t you think you should treat the oldest inhabitant of Swanspottle with a little respect?”
“Phooey!” he snarled. “You and your pretend magic! Think I’ve got any respect for that?”
“I’m sorry, but you know I have the touch,” she said lightly, trying not to hiccup. “You know I can say stuff and watch it happen! Isn’t that magic, and is there no pretence about it?”
“Pah!” he snorted.
“Pah?” she asked, grinning.
“You and your invisible powers,” he grumbled. “It goes against nature, that’s what it does! If a man’s going to build a wall he needs bricks and mortar, not a few gobbledegook words and not much else!”
“By the devil, give me a wall right here,” hissed Griselda to herself, using her best incantation whisper.
“There is,” muttered the Reverend “Grumpy” Grazebones, “there is no such thing as magic!”
That might have sounded perfectly all right but, as he spoke, a wall wobbled into being right next to him, until he was on one side of it and the disreputable old woman on the other. And as he glared at her she found herself cackling at the sight of his grumpy scowl, her own eyes twinkling back like twin lights in the dark night.
“Where’d this wall come from?” he demanded. “There was no wall a moment ago!”
“It was your idea,” she pointed out. “It was you going on about bricks and mortar! So here’s your wall!”
“The good Lord provided…” whispered the Reverend Fool. “I knew He could! I knew He would show us just how feeble your so-called magic is! Glory be!”
“Then if your good Lord arranged this wall, maybe he’ll take it away so that I can continue on my way to my little cottage,” suggested the still-twinkling Griselda. “That’s not so bad an idea, is it?”
“He will when he’s ready,” announced the Reverend Idiot.
“Go on then,” invited Griselda.
“You can take it away, Master,” breathed the Reverend Half-Wit, not wanting her to hear in case it didn’t work. In his experience, prayed-for requests just about never worked, which was frustrating.
And the wall stubbornly refused to move.
“What am I going to do?” demanded Griselda, mischievously. “I need my little bed so that I can get my beauty sleep! At my age a woman needs beauty sleep or there’s a danger of her becoming ugly.”
“That’s rich!” grumbled the Grumpy vicar. “That’s very rich indeed! You’ve been as ugly as sin ever since I took up my post here!”
“If your deity built this wall then get him to shift it,” said Griselda with an edge of authority in her voice.
“Please, Lord,” begged the vicar.
“Then I’d better fly over it,” decided Griselda. “I’m fed up with being stuck the wrong side of it!”
And with the kind of dexterity rarely found in a woman of such great age, she produced a broom-stick from nowhere and sat on it.
Then, with the ease of an irascible parrot she rose into the skies and drifted over the wall whilst the vicar gaped at her, open-mouthed.
When she was back in her cottage and he was still, from his own perspective, the wrong side of a wall that shouldn’t be there, it wibbled and wobbled in the night air until it wasn’t there, and a hundred yards away an old woman grinned an almost toothless grin as she reached for her toothbrush.
“You can say what you like,” she thought, “there’s nothing quite as useless as a vicar whose magic doesn’t work…”
© Peter Rogerson 15.10.14

*For earlier exploits of Griselda Entwhistle, see my novel “Spellbound” at



  1. slpsharon October 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Not reallly wise to annoy a real witch. Nice little tale.

    • Peter Rogerson October 16, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Quite, Sharon. She’s one of my favourite characters and may appear more.

  2. barbod2014angusbelle October 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    I think I like Griselda 🙂

    • Peter Rogerson October 16, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks, barbod2014angusbelle

      • barbod2014angusbelle October 16, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

        Peter, you can just call me Barb……………. I think you may have known me long enough now. 🙂

  3. Peter Rogerson October 16, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    All right, Barb. It’ll save me cutting and copying barbod2014angusbelle!!!

  4. pambrittain October 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    I always enjoy your Griselda stories.

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