26 Oct


SANDCASTLE photo: sandcastle DSCF3471.jpg
Griselda never meant to go on holiday, but somehow she did.
Her normally taciturn personality meant that such luxuries as holidays were out of the question. Sand and sea and buckets and spades and all the frippery involved in taking a week away from home were anathema to her. And we must remember that normally Griselda was very set in her ways, though it wasn’t unusual for her to resort to the repertoire of magical spells at her command when things were going, from her perspective, wrong.
“Damned seaside,” she muttered to Henrietta Blackboil, “you get sand in your lady bits, and it takes some shifting…”
“But I’m going,” Henrietta told her with a twisted, sardonic grin on her face. “I heard the young couple who live next to me say they were going to spend two whole weeks in a caravan at the seaside, and I want to spoil it for them! They’re only doing it to get some peace from me! I heard them say it, and I reckon I’m a good neighbour, generous to a fault and quiet as a mouse.
“Quiet as a mouse when you’re drunk,” spat Griselda. “I know you. Rolling about the place with your head in a spin on account of Thomas the Greek’s cheap vodka! He makes it himself, you know, and not even he knows what’s in it! It must be a nightmare living next to you when you’re having a wild weekend!”
“They never last a weekend,” snarled Henrietta. “Anyway, I’m off to the seaside and that’s that. I’ll take my bucket and spade! And it’s a bloody good spade: the last time I used it I dug a dirty great hole for the rent collector!”
“What did he want a hole for, hag?” asked Griselda.
“I buried him in it!” cackled Henrietta. “I dug it and when I refused to pay and he got nasty I bopped him on the head and buried him! He’s still there, pushing up the rose bush I planted in memory!”
“You repulsive lump of diarrhoea!” snarled Griselda. “And if you’re going to plague the poor sweet things who moved in next door to you then I’m coming along to keep an eye on you!”
“Sod off!”
“And think of it, hag. If I take you there’ll be no fares to pay, no ticket collector on the train demanding money with menaces, and you without a hole to bury him in!”
“You’ve got a point there.”
“I know I have, hag.”
And that’s how it was that the train carrying two young lovers from the house next door to Henrietta Blackboil’s home might have been seen being followed by two old women sitting astride Griselda’s second-best broomstick had anyone been bothered to look.
The caravan that Henrietta’s neighbours had selected for their holiday was a nice, airy, roomy one. Derek and Helen Walker hadn’t been married for a year by then, and they were both deeply and, to Henrietta’s mind, sloppily in love with each other, and the sort of genuinely nice people who wanted to enjoy their holiday.
“It’s pervy,” growled Henrietta when the two old crones were standing on a grassy rise looking down on the caravan site. Derek and Helen were walking towards a small shop-cum-amusement arcade, he sporting a bright pair of Bermuda shorts and a brighter t-shirt and she in a silky dress that fluttered in the summer breeze.
“She says she’s glad to be away from you and your filthy ways for a fortnight,” Griselda said to Henrietta. Griselda could hear small sounds over vast distances when she concentrated, which was a second reason why Henrietta was happy to have her with her, the first being the free (if scarily uncomfortable) transport.
“I don’t have filthy ways!” shrieked Henrietta.
“Sshh! They both heard that and he said it sounded like the disgusting old crone who lives next door having a heart attack,” hissed Griselda.
“I’m not having any sort of attack!” shrieked Henrietta.
“Just you be quiet, you selfish old hag!” whispered Griselda, nudging her in her bony ribs. “Come on – let’s go and make a sandcastle, seeing as you insisted on bringing that huge spade.”
“All right then,” sniffed Henrietta. “I was brought to the seaside by my uncle when I was a titch, and he bought me a candy-floss on a stick. Can I have a candy-floss, dear friend?”
“Yes, I suppose so, but not on a stick,” muttered Griselda, and she produced a plastic bag filled with pink candy-floss out of what was, to all intents and purposes, thin air. “Sticks are out,” she muttered, “damned health and safety regulations!”
“It’s not the same in a bag,” complained Henrietta.
The two old creatures settled down on the beach and Henrietta started digging with her large, rusty spade. She made a pile of sand the height of a man and then, craftily, starting tapping it and moulding it into the shape of a castle.
But is wasn’t an ordinary sandcastle. Oh no! It was a gigantic sandcastle, with parapets and doors and rooms inside and a deep, dark dungeon.
“That’s not bad,” opined Griselda, struggling to keep sand out of her grizzled old lady bits, and almost (but not quite) succeeding.
“It’s bloody good!” swore Henrietta, and she scooped a moat out of the sand. An inlet from the sea flowed into it and she cackled with delight.
“A flag! You need a flag!” croaked an impressed Griselda.
“Easy-peasy” cackled Henrietta, and she hastily pulled a grey and slightly stained pair of bloomers from around her own bottom, and raised them on a pole until they fluttered in the breeze above the castle.
“Let’s explore,” she announced.
“Do we have to?”
“Are you scared, hag? Afraid of what your alcoholic friend has built?”
“No,” hissed Griselda, “it’s started to rain, and everyone knows what rain does to sandcastles on beaches. And I don’t want to be buried in a mountain of sand because you’re reliving a gross childhood.”
Henrietta sighed. “My uncle bought me something else,” she whispered.
“He did?” queried Griselda.
“He bought me a boat for sailing in the sea,” chanted Henrietta, “and he sailed away in it, and was never seen again.”
“Why was that?” asked Griselda, shocked.
“I wanted an ice-cream, but he wouldn’t buy me one!”
Then the rain dashed down, battering the sandcastle and seeming to melt its solid walls into golden piles of wet sand, and Henrietta wept.
© Peter Rogerson 26.10.14



  1. pambrittain October 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Should have bought the ice cream.

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