30 Mar

“What them there young folks don’t realise is the pain in a soul’s bones as she gets old,” muttered the old lady who had decided to accompany Griselda on a stroll into town.
It would be quite a long stroll because they lived in Swanspottle and the nearest town (and their intended destination) was Brumpton some miles away. What the elderly lady (Gladys Grumble by name, if you must know) didn’t know was that Griselda had a special string to her metaphoric bow.
The walking stick she was carrying was hardly needed as a support for her elderly bones but could easily double as a broomstick if she felt like flying. You see, Griselda was a witch and knew full well that witches can fly on anything that’s long and pointy and don’t actually need it to be a besom broomstick at all.
“Then you should get one of these,” she muttered to Gladys Grumble, waving her walking stick under the old woman’s nose.
“Hey! You mind what you’re doing with that!” squawked a suddenly enraged Gladys who didn’t like anything being waved under her nose. “You could do an old lady some considerable damage doing that sort of thing!”
“Bah!” thought Griselda, but “it’s all right, you poor old soul, I won’t hit you with it,” she generously assured her unwanted companion. “It’s just that sometimes I have to get to places quickly and this don’t half help!”
“It’s a fair walk to Brumpton,” moaned Gladys. “And I need to go there seeing as they’ve closed our local post office.”
Griselda stopped dead and frowned. “They have?” she squawked in mock horror. “They’ve shut out post office? Whatever will they do next?”
“I hardly ever use the place, except when I need to post a letter to my grandson in Hinckley and have to buy a stamp,” sighed her companion. “And stamps ain’t so cheap any more, but an elderly person needs a post office to buy them from.”
“Outrageous!” almost shouted Griselda with the kind of look on her face that might have suggested to any sensible person that she meant the exact opposite.
“They say it’s down to computers.” grumbled Gladys Grumble who was far from being a sensible person. “They say everyone does stuff with computers, but I don’t. I can’t understand the things! Why would an old soul like me need a computer? I’ll be eighty next birthday, you know. Eighty years old, and I don’t need to know anything about computers, not at my age, not when there’s a post office to go to and stamps to buy.”
“I was that twenty years or more ago,” sniffed Griselda.
“You were what?” demanded Gladys, confused.
“Eighty years old. Twenty years or more ago I was eighty years old,” murmured Griselda.
“That makes you … let me see … more than a hundred!” exclaimed the widow Grumble. “Well I never! More than a hundred and you’d forgotten they’d shut the post office! You poor thing, you!”
“I never did!” snapped Griselda.
“Never did what, dear?” asked Gladys as if she was talking to a blind, deaf and dumb creature who was slowly and painfully entering the hereafter.
“Forget that they’d shut the post office!” glared Griselda, looking nothing like a potential corpse and everything like an enraged witch.
“But you just said, dearie…” droned Gladys.
“I never said anything about them closing the post office because I never go there so it’s of no concern to me whether they open it, close it or send it to Hinckley! In fact, I wish they would send it to Hinckley then I might get a bit of peace from miserable old women who think a place should be kept open at huge cost to everyone exclusively for them to use once in a very blue moon!”
“Well, there’s no need…” began the Grumble woman, but Griselda cut her short.
“No need for me to find out what gives us slightly more mature ladies a bad name?” she demanded. “It’s that kind of attitude, that’s what it is! Thinking the world owes you a post office just because you might use it for buying the odd stamp now and again!”
“Well, I never….”
“…Never thought,” battered Griselda, “never gave it a moment’s consideration. Well, I’ll tell you what! We’ll get a nice new post office and put it right here, on this road, and see how long it lasts, shall we? Then you won’t have to walk into Brumpton, and every time you need to buy a stamp it’ll be right here specially for you…” And under breath and very secretly she whispered the devil plonk a post office with stamps and stuff right her…”
A wind started blowing and for a few moments the air was filled with the sounds of builders building, carpenters sawing, plumbers plumbing and plasterers plastering, and suddenly, in a slightly long twinkling, a post office with a shiny red door and accompanying hanging sign advertising what the building was appeared only feet from where the two old ladies were standing.
“Now what might that be?” asked Griselda.
“A post office! I never knew there was one right here!” shrieked Gladys Grumble. “Fancy that! It’s come as if by magic, though everyone knows there’s no such thing, don’t they..?”
“If you say so,” murmured Griselda as her erstwhile companion tottered into the shop.
Meanwhile, she moved her walking stick to the horizontal and slightly awkwardly sat on it, caressing its shiny wooden shaft with two centuries-old cheeks.
“To Brumpton!” she hissed.
And right there and then she rose majestically into the air and zoomed off in the direction of Brumpton and whatever it was she planned to do there.
Meanwhile, Gladys Grumble exited angrily from the brand new post office, holding a letter aloft.
“There’s no post box!” she wailed, “whoever heard of a post office with no post box? So I’ll still after walk my old bones into Brumpton to post it! Now where’s that silly old bird I was talking to gone?”
But Griselda was no more than a speck in the distant sky and there was no way Gladys Grumble would be able to make her out.
She’d have to walk on her own.
© Peter Rogerson 30.03.16


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