24 Oct


VERY OLD NAKED WOMAN photo: the wise one/ painting by Sieglinde Hartmann WISEONE.jpgThe day the council turned up complete with heavy machinery, a digger and three dusty men to the wrong address, Griselda Entwhistle was actually in the bath. It wasn’t that she bathed too often or even, some might say, often enough, but coincidence has a long arm and at the same moment as council workers turned up to replace her roof with nice new (and cheap) manufactured tiles so that they could sell the old ones to a reclamation yard for twice the cost of the new ones, Griselda was scrubbing her back with a bristly brush.
The rattle on her door knocker alerted her, but even a witch once she’s turned a hundred years can’t rush things like climbing out of baths. And this particular group of council workers were in a hurry because rain was threatened and they wanted to get the job done quickly. Griselda’s reputation as a grizzled old creature with a temper and vocabulary to match had long since gone before her and they wanted to get out of the neighbourhood as quickly as they could.
“She must be out,” growled one of the workers. “She ain’t answered the door!”
“Probably at the shops,” smirked a second, drawing for all he was worth on an inch of cigarette and coughing the proceeds into the pure clean air of Swanspottle.
“You should give that up,” advised a third.
“Mind your own sodding business,” choked the smoker.
“Lets get started then, lads,” roared the first.
“Keep your hair on!” snapped the second, “and let me get me breath back.”
Between them they carried a ladder to the foot of the Entwhistle cottage and raised it to the roof.
Meanwhile, in the bowels of the building an aged Griselda was shaking surplus water off her bosom and wrapping a towel around her skinny midriff.
“Just a minute!” she squawked. But nobody heard her because they were busy climbing the ladder and inspecting the elderly tiles that covered the roof.
“Got some age, these,” commented one of the workers.
“Don’t see what’s wrong with ’em,” said another.
“”Health and safety,” sniffed the third worker. “The wind might blow ’em orf and then they might slice through someone’s neck if that someone happens to be passing on the path, see, and slice ‘is head clean orf.”
“Come on, then, ‘fore it rains,” muttered the first, and the three men started to remove Griselda’s roof.
And Griselda finally made it to the front door, and opened it.
“’Ere, what you soddin’ doing?” she shrieked.
“Council,” boomed the first man, peering down from his elevated position on the roof.
“Roof,” advised the second, dragging on his cigarette so that a billow of toxic smoke was dragged by the breeze away from him and hung like a funeral pall over the street.
“That’s my feckin’ roof!” she shrieked.
“Council orders,” shouted the leader of the men, “and council orders gotta be obeyed!” he added, helpfully.
“But it ain’t the council’s roof!” she yelped. “Just you wait!”
Now, Griselda wasn’t normally inefficient in the memory department, but when she saw the way the three men on the roof were dismantling it she forget everything, particularly the bit about her having just climbed out of the bath.
She favoured broomsticks for transport. They were sufficiently sleek for them to be aerodynamic, and she liked that. But there wasn’t a broomstick anywhere near the front of her cottage – and she was in a hurry.
In fact, the only object she could see that offered any of the qualities of a good aerodynamic broomstick was the ladder the men had used to climb up to her roof, and she grabbed hold of it and issued verbal commands to it in the sort of voice that no inanimate object could possibly disobey. With a shiver and a shake it moved of its own volition from the vertical to a horizontal position adjacent to the old witch, and she climbed aboard it as if it was, in actual fact, her second-best broomstick and with many a crunching of thighs and wincing as a knobbly bit poked her bottom painfully, she contrived to zoom off on it.
Minus her towel.
She had completely forgotten that she was wrapped in a towel, and underneath that towel she was as naked as the day she’d been born, but considerably more wrinkled.
The journey to the council offices in Brumpton took almost half an hour because she flew faster than the wind, which was little more than a breeze that day. She zoomed and hurtled along, propelled by a few wise words and a good dose of righteous anger.
Police Sergeant Lockemup spotted her.
He’d had dealings with her before when he’d been a young constable, and a close and disgustingly carnal relationship with her alter-ego, a delicious young nymphet with enticing features and bright eyes.*
“What’s up, Griselda?” he called, and the miracle was she heard him.
“They’re stealing my roof!” she replied, barely audible from her position in the skies.
“What are you doing about it?” he hollered.
“I’m going to sort that council out!”
“Best of luck!” he called back, “I’ll be right behind you!”
She arrived at the council offices and flew in without knocking any doors or screeching any “by your leave”.
The mayor was in his office, a bloated, greasy figure of a man and his eyes opened wider than wide when he beheld the grotesque figure of a very old and very naked old woman sitting astride a council-property ladder as if she owned it. She was closely followed by a policeman on foot, the faithful Sergeant Lockemup.
“What it the name of everything!” snapped the greasy mayor.
“Your men are on my roof!” squawked Griselda, “and I’m here to sort you out!”
“I’ll have you arrested!” blurted the mayor. “It’s disgusting! An old woman naked as a jaybird in my office!”
“It’s you who’s under arrest,” growled Sergeant Lockemup, “for ordering the theft of this good lady’s roof! Come on, fat fella! I’ve got a nice cell for you to spend the night in.”
“And get those men off my roof!” squeaked Griselda. “I’m halfway through having a bath, and I want to finish it!”
© Peter Rogerson 24.10.14

*See my “Spellbound”, available from


2 Responses to “GRISELDA AND A LADDER”

  1. pambrittain October 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Well, at least she smells better.

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