Friday, 28 February 2020

Nothing Against It

Nothing Against It

I’ve really got nothing against any girl on girl.
Teasing open your final frontiers rather appeals
alongside peeling black packs of satin sheets,
gusset crackling, hook bucked elastic, pinky meat
snagged between red lace straps and stiletto heels:
Well, anyone might be tempted to give it a whirl.
Whichever side up, girl, I could care little or less,
whether you’re sporting moist drainpipes or dress.
Shattered silent amongst bulldozed fuss
grey clinkered steelworks shedding rust.

You say you’re gay? Well get in there, young man.
Some proud green capered, quivered rubbing hood
Sherwood Forest polished frolics makes me swell.
Tonguing sticky salt from an overfished wishing well,
I’ll bang tambours. Build rainbow floats, tug wood,
strut a runway, catch your eye and pout when I can.
Doesn’t bother me whether you all swim in spit,
hoof like prancing show ponies, slash or submit.
How quietly the blue stab bloodied blade
twists deep in our flesh to soft persuade.

Look both ways and swing the mood, trust me
when I say I know of hot breathing woman’s dress
silk soft on bare flesh. The lure of forbidden frock
caught out, dark exposed and hard smacked shock.
I get your throbbing need to expel sticky mess
of imprisoned seed, far flung in urgent need.
Get on with it, decide or don’t. Publish, be damned
if you do or if you won’t, butt out, fold your hand.
Statesmen surf the oceans of empty noise
blue-bellied all the girls, red-eyed the boys.

Born in the wrong body; take mine, I hardly use it,
while age gets on my withering tits these days,
this neglected shotgun pumping its non-action
bullets into rioting sheets for mere distraction.
I’ll poster the deed, parade you on every stage,
tinder spark lurid limelight and reoutfit any misfit.
These tedious rehearsals have been fit to print
since the day Victor dipped his black nib in ink.
Your years will pass insensible to cheating
and bloated wolves who gloat at the bleating.

You caught yourself wanting to blush my cheeks
in shades confused? Damp patches on panties blue,
ask for jobs in lip-gloss application? Well, me too.
Bounce high, blow those whistles, wave streamers,
it’s a free world for ravers and deaf screamers
after all; go have yourself two balls, let’s screw
us rigid without fear, repression or good grief.
Beat breasts, cry havoc let slip the tadpoles of relief.
Then spurt your little liquid into two-ply tissue:
For I’ve nothing against it and neither have you.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Corpora Vilia

Corpora Vilia

thinks she could do it but never given chances
forever passed over never asked to dances
hang-nailed tears hide shredded plaster kiss
let the first cock slip in that stayed to piss

back seat sherbet-girls sucked sticky fingers
shovelled her vile aside guessed her minger
cold burning to fit in tempered unquenched
sucked stiff mouthful until she was drenched

well won’t she bring them all to their knees
carrying too much fat lipped lust and greed
been there done that better won awards
then jerking him off when he was bored

working it hard wastes time bitch it instead
rumour mongrel back alley corridors tread
lightly pray like mantis preach to the thick
while retching on seed that makes her sick

made to measure power cosplay clutch bag
longline daggered bra-faced tits that sag
a real drag to see her misshaped silhouette
he’ll put his cock between them for a bet

well-practised her killjoy lost soulless cheer
reeks of bad dressing room smells and fear
watch every play foiled every move spoiled
whips it out to leave her pure panties soiled

gathers others like her as gathering clouds
wears them darkly close in diseased shrouds
veils epidemic words with mosquito nets
still tongues his stained sheets after sex

tiresome sussed out before any damage done
fucked into old age yet still almost young
thinks she could do it and she’ll get hers yet
wipes his tool thanks but finds no regret

Waiting for Spanners

Waiting for Spanners

Number 36 Lumpslap Close had an established way of doing things on a school morning. A sort of routine. Well you’d know that, I suppose; most homes do, don’t they?

Probably your mother or Grandad wakes you up with a kindly voice. You stretch a bit, smile back at your dreams, maybe try to snatch five more pillow minutes before the voice returns, less kindly than before, and reluctantly you toss back your blankets and pad in slippers to the bathroom to brush your teeth.

Well, that’s how we do things in my house, anyway.

I’m sure that it’s how even Patience would like her day to start, too, being a little older than us. But, as you can probably guess, often that was simply not the case.

“Grandad! Grandad! Morgan’s farted again and it smells horrible!” Was that Faith’s shrill voice screaming in horror? I think it was, you know. And look. The three children are queued outside the bathroom which is most peculiar. Patience is rattling the handle, too.

Why is that unusual? Well, come on now, Morgan is always last up, and if even he’s queueing, there’s something badly wrong.

Growling like Mrs Dander’s dog if you approach him noshing on his rubber bone, Morgan gave Faith a non-too friendly push to the back of her head and snapped, “What do you expect? I’ve been out here ages. You know you should always open your bowels in the morning.”

“You’re disgusting,” moaned Faith, emphasising the ‘gust’ loudly, so that any nearby grownups could hear. Clever, clever.

I don’t think Morgan cared, anyway: “Well here’s another ‘gust’ for you, Faith.” And he did it again, even louder. “Pardon me for being rude, it was not me it was the mung bean stew!” and he snorted in delight as though he’d been very witty indeed.

In panic, Patience rattled the door handle again, up and down, clatter, clack, clack. “Grandad! Grandad! Are you in there?” clatter, clack, clatter,” why is the door locked?”

From within came the sound of a contorted groan, somewhat muffled. Patience stopped her door handle jiggery-pokery and the three children listened intently. “Are you in there, Grandad?”

“Now, don’t fuss, don’t fuss, po, po, po…ah, ouch!” the voice replied, “Patience? If you’re there, I think you’d better telephone Spanners.”

“Spanners? What do you mean, Grandad?” Patience turned to Morgan who was holding his pyjama bottoms and executing a strange little jiggering dance, hopping first on one foot, then switching to the other. “Morgan, get some spanners.”


“Why not?”

“I’m desperate.”

Before she could retort, Patience was interrupted by another cry from within, a mixture of exasperation and pain. “No, Patience, my dear, not spanners. Spanners. My friend Spanners, the plumber. Back in the sixties, during the great waterpipe flood disaster of Harwich, Spanners and I were tasked with dealing with an effluvium tidal wave when…”

“Right, that’s it, I’m going in the garden,” snapped Morgan, “I don’t care if Grandad Biggert does see and telephones the police again.”

“Don’t you dare!”

But Morgan, past caring, was already hurdling down the stairs, two at a time until they heard the backdoor slam shut.

“What’s going on? Did you ring Spanners?” called Grandad in a plaintive tone of voice, “it’s awfully wet in here. And somewhat smelly, too.”

“I’m phoning Ma,”  Patience replied, angrily, for it was always the most effective course of action.

“No, Patience, dear, no need for that,” pleaded Grandad.

Patience rattled the handle in irritation one last time, but to her surprise – perhaps because the lock had loosened from all the exertion – the door opened and swung elegantly outwards. She stared inside whilst Faith nipped around the front of her to take a good look at what was happening.

Oh dear.

Now, there was Grandad Patches kneeling on the floor in a damp puddle of rather foul looking liquid. It was clinging to his pyjama bottoms, and, what’s more, lapping around his slippered feet like some evil and malicious sea at high tide. You might almost think it was chuckling to itself, if it were alive, which puddles generally aren’t.

What was even worse than that? Well somehow Grandad had got his hand stuck right inside the toilet, elbow deep in filth. From what the children could see, his arm seemed to be lodged in that pipe that disappears into the floor to who knows where.

Because he was wearing his old towelling dressing gown, the one decorated in hideous sixties swirly patterns, water had soaked up from the arm and was slowly turning the fluorescent colours into an unpleasant shade of mustard brown.

The smell was appalling.

Grandad Patches couldn’t really turn his head to speak to Patience or Faith who, I’m sorry to tell you, had begun to laugh. “What are you doing in the toilet, Grandad?” she asked, trying not to snort and pressing her lips tightly together – because Patience had glared at her in an unsisterly fashion.

“Did you lose your hearing aid down there again, Grandad?”

When Grandad Patches replied, he spoke into the bowl and his voice echoed in a circular manner – a bit like the deep sound of a trombone. “No, indeed, I can hear you splendidly, Patience, er…I just can’t turn my head at the moment, so you wouldn’t be able to tell that I can hear you. If I could, well I would be nodding in a most…er…vigorous fashion to indicate that I was hearing perfectly well.”

“I see. Well I’m still calling Ma. Before you damage your back. Or knees. Or both.”

“No, no…it’s surprisingly comfortable here, my dear, believe it or not.”


“Yes. I am using the toilet seat as a makeshift chin rest.”

“Ma,” insisted Patience, grimly. “You can’t stay there all day. We’ve got school and I expect Morgan is eating your emergency coco pops.”

“Emergency coco pops?” coughed Grandad Patches, “but they’re only to be eaten in an emergency. You stop him at once, Patience, and call Spanners.”

Faith had managed to stop snickering by now. She probably would have knelt down next to Grandad Patches, but, as I mentioned, there was rather an unpleasant watery puddle next to him. “Have you been there a long time, Grandad?”

“Po, po, po, tiddly pom,” hummed Grandad Patches, although it didn’t quite come out as he would have liked because his teeth were chattering together. “Not long, dear, not long, I can’t remember…probably since my nightly constitutional. You know I’m a stickler for my nightly constitutional…”

“You mean since two o clock this morning?” barked Patience, in disbelief.

“That long, eh? Well, who would have guessed that? Time flies when you have your arm stuck in the toilet. It’s so…fascinating, the things you find in here.”

“Fascinating?” spluttered Patience.

Faith giggled in excitement. “Is it, Grandad? Can I have a go?”

“Er…no dear…there isn’t room for both of us, I don’t think.”

“Can I pull the flush, then, Grandad?”

Patience propelled Faith away from the bathroom and instructed her to go downstairs. Before her little sister could protest about going to school with uncleaned teeth, she executed a rather dazzling feat of acrobatics, retrieved the toothbrushes without getting her slippers wet, then followed her down to the kitchen where, as she had previously guessed, Morgan was digging in to a mountain of coco pops. He glanced up, shrugged and pushed the box towards Faith and Patience, who, after the tiniest wrestle with their consciences, also helped themselves to generous portions.

From upstairs they could now hear urgent noisy exertions, loud struggling followed by a despairing wail and the sound of tumbling water.

Morgan mumbled through a mouthful of coco pops and stated, unnecessarily. “He’s flushed himself, hasn’t he?”


“Shall we call Ma?”


As the three children struggled quickly into school uniforms left by Ma to warm on the radiators the night before, they thought they could hear the sound of overflowing toilet water starting to trickle down the stairs towards the hallway. But they were late already and…

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

… leaving the house, bright February sunbeams quite dazzled the eyes, rebounding off a rain washed slick black tarmac of Lumpslap Close. Patience, Morgan and Faith started the long, familiar trek to school, past parked electric vehicles, following the other uniformed schoolchildren, kicking up puddles and scudding shoes through leaves left over from the night’s winds. It was a little chilly, so Faith was glad that her small hand was enclosed in the damp palm of her big sister.

Morgan didn’t seem to care though - running slightly ahead, kicking imaginary footballs and screaming ‘goal’ in the sort of accent you hear on sports radio programmes, ‘oh, he played a blinder, unstoppable, back of the net, keeper didn’t stand a chance…’ you know, that sort of thing. He does that a lot except where there are girls around because then he has to be grown up and cool.

As they approached the corner, though, where Lumpslap Close joins the busier road in front of the park and there’s that little shop on the right, you know the one that sells sweets, tinned food, newspapers and tobacco, the three slowed down just a little. The trek became a trudge, the trudge became a crawl and thereafter it was all stop. Morgan assumed the face of a hunter-gatherer, looking this way and that, checking out for possible escape routes.

Why? Well, because they could see, just exiting the shop, a familiar figure clutching a rolled-up newspaper tightly in his right fist.

The figure, shrouded in that morning haze that rises as the sun does, fiddled about in its pockets for a bit, then started to amble towards them.

“It’s Grandad Biggert.” hissed Morgan. “Damn. That’s Grandad’s fault for making us late. Now we’re in for a pre-school newspaper swotting. Quick, Patience, where can we leg-it to?”

“Hi, Grandad Biggert!” cried Faith, slipping from Patience’s hand and running towards him, arms outstretched. Well, she was too young to know better, wasn’t she? Morgan briefly thought about covering his face and leaving her to the fate that he felt sure awaited her, but, as he was very occasionally chivalrous and had been a little rude to her that morning, ran after her.

“Faith. Get back here. Leave Grandad Biggert alone.”

As Faith reached him, Morgan saw the newspaper twitch. However, what happened next took him completely by surprise.

Grandad Biggert stooped a little then ruffled Faith’s hair in what was almost a kindly way. He didn’t even accidentally pull any of it. “Why, hello there, young lady,” he said in a voice that was almost pleasant, for him, “and how are you this fine morning.” The newspaper twitched again.

Morgan’s mouth opened in surprise and he pointed without meaning to; not even looking a little bit cool, and, as Patience caught up, he was almost frozen like a statue, looking a bit like a feeble copy of those tatty ‘What did YOU do in the war?’ posters you’ll see here and there around Purridgeton.

Grandad Biggert stood in front of the three children as if even he was surprised at this turn of events. The three looked back, probably wondering if it was safe to slip past and make a run for it.

Just then, however, the shop door opened a second time and Patience saw an elderly lady exit. She was pushing one of those tall square tartan covered shopping trolleys with black plastic wheels and supporting herself with a metal national health walking stick. Spying Grandad Biggert ahead of her, she hobbled towards him as fast as her age would permit.

“Robert! Robert!” she screeched sounding a bit like a cross between a night owl and the bald eagles you sometimes see on television, “Robert!”

Mute but speaking volumes, Grandad Biggert glared at the children threateningly, then cast his eyes down at the pavement. “Yes, dear?”

“Wait for me!” snapped the old lady. So he watched her approach until she was alongside, puffing like a tugboat. “You aren’t menacing these three children, are you?”

“No, dear.”

“Well you’d better not be. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“No, dearest. I was only saying good morning to them. Wasn’t I, children?” And he pressed his right foot, ever so slightly, down on Morgan’s trainers until the boy winced a little. “Wasn’t I?”

“Yes, ma’am, he was ma’am,” replied Morgan through gritted teeth. “He’s our Grandad, ma’am.”

“Oh, how lovely. You didn’t mention them, Robert.”

“Didn’t I? Oh, well they’re the apples of my eyes, sweetmeats, aren’t you children?”

“Yes, Grandad Biggert,” chorused the three children in unison.

“Well, you really must get to school now, you’ll be late. You wouldn’t want to be reported to Doctor Snaptor, would you?” smiled Grandad Biggert, silkily, stroking his beard. “And don’t forget to tell Patches…ah, Grandad Patches, that me and Irene are walking out, will you?”

Faith looked as though she was about to blurt out about the toilet and Grandad being trapped, but Patience stopped her quickly because, as you know, loose lips sink ships, don’t they?

Grandad Biggert gave the three children one last unpleasant stare and, noticing that the old lady was distracted by something entrancing across the road near the park entrance, he took the opportunity to point sneakily in the direction of the school, mouth ‘Doctor Snaptor’ silently and make a ‘dialling the phone’ gesture with his hand. Patience took the hint and the three children zipped quickly away, straining their ears in disbelief as they heard Grandad Biggert say something like: “let me help you with that shopping, buttercorn, you need to save your strength.”

No, I don’t believe it either.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Now, at the school gates, a slight winter wind had whipped up and, caught by the four walls of the playground, it swirled icily, driving leaves and empty sweet wrappers into a circular skirmish that skittered across the abandoned yard.

As you probably realise, most children were already inside the draughty classrooms because the bell had long since rung – the older children upstairs and the youngsters beneath. Mrs Gridney was, no doubt, already calling the register in between looking at the internet and handing out worksheets before she put her feet up for the morning. I imagine she’s already asked if anybody has seen Faith today and it’s not like her, she never misses school and is she sick, do we know?

Look, here they are now, racing across the park, anxious to avoid detentions at break or lunchtime because nobody likes the cold, hard floor of shame, do they? Especially when all your friends are out playing football, looking up celebrity heroes on their phones or skipping.

Morgan reached the gates first. He put his head around the corner carefully, as cunning as a town fox sliding its snout quietly into abandoned sacks of trash at dusk and beckoned with his fingers to the other two. “It’s okay, nobody about. We’ll slip in and pretend we were locked in the bogs. That’s how Derek MacPlumford does it. He told me. Works every time. Tells them he got his bagpipes stuck in the pipes.”

“Bagpipes? In the pipes?”

“Like Grandad?”

“Shut up, Faith. Keep quiet.”

“I can’t keep quiet!” giggled Faith, “I’m so excited! We’ve got a very, very special visitor in class today. None of us can wait!”

Patience looked at her sister sternly, but she could see they’d have to tarry at the gates a little until she’d calmed down if they were to make it in undetected by the senior leadership team. “Hush, Faith.”

Morgan glared at her. “Oh yeah, I heard the rumours. Professor Pipes and his sidekick Dribbles? The pipes safety expert bloke? Well let me tell you, THAT woke nutter comes every year at this time – it’s some old man from the residential home with a false…”

“Stop it, Morgan,” growled Patience, “you were young once.” Well, because she remembered Father Christmas with a sad twinkle.

Sneering, Morgan looked carefully once again then proceeded to lead the two others across the yard, every so often holding his hand up like an Indian tracker scout. They were now within sight of the big blue wooden door that led inside via the toilets and they would have made it too, if it wasn’t for Faith.

Spotting a tall, thin and sinister shape, she squealed in high pitched delight. “Doctor Snaptor! Look, Morgan, it’s Doctor Snaptor!” and of course she ran over to give him a hug. Your guess is as good as mine as to what possessed her or why, with his vaguely reptilian scaly skin that was forever peeling from his grizzled face or his two sharpened rows of clackety-clack teeth.

Fending Faith off with his boathook, Doctor Snaptor grinned horribly, revealing a fearsome row of yellow ivories. He grabbed Morgan by the collar. “Don’t blame the gurrrl,” he scoffed, “I had a phone call and wuzz on the look-out anyway, you razzcal. That’s a tardy note for the three of yoozz.”

“Grandad Biggert,” snarled Morgan, attempting to free himself. “That blaggard. One day…one day…I’ll be revenged.”

Patience said nothing, but Faith looked a little sad and probably was secretly wishing Grandad Patches was with her. She felt a little sorry that she had laughed at him now for being stuck in the toilet. She peered up at Doctor Snaptor who looked to her as though his head was in the very clouds themselves. “Doctor Snaptor? Does that mean I’ll miss Professor Pipes and Dribbles?”

Doctor Snaptor looked at her curiously then flung his head back in maniacal laughter. ”Hur, hur, hur – deyuh me naah, young ladee. You muz definitely wunt mizz the inezztimable Profezzor Pipezzz!” And still roaring, he led the three across the schoolyard and towards his office, leaving the swirling leaves and trash to fight it out amongst themselves.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Mrs Gridney looked up from her cup-a-soup in irritation and slammed the beaker down on the desk theatrically – although not too violently as to spill any of the precious juice, dear me no. It was broccoli substitute flavour, which is quite difficult to come across these days, hence her grumpiness, although, thinking about it, most of the time she looks as though she’s sucking a soor ploom.

“Faith!” she shouted. The little girl had rapped politely on the door and entered as well as she could under the circumstances, but this seemed to make no difference. “You’re late. Now you are three worksheets behind everybody else. How do you expect to get a good job if you don’t do your worksheets?”

“Grandad is stuck in the toilet,” Faith explained, “Morgan had to go in the garden and Grandad Biggert is walking out with Irene.” This caused hoots of laughter from the rest of the class, and Faith grinned, pleased that she’d cheered everyone up.

Everyone, that is, except Mrs Gridney. “Take two demerits and I’m deducting ten house-points from Brumby.”

Now there was silence and Mrs Gridney glowered in satisfaction before resuming her seat and grasping her cup once again. She gestured with impatience at the endless piles of photocopied, smeary sheets of paper that sat on the back desk like vile toads and Faith trotted over to pick one up. It had a warship on it and the instructions were to work out sums in order to colour various bits of it in. But since most of it was grey, there didn’t seem much point. There were exclamation marks all over it too, failing to make it look in any way exciting. With a sigh, she reached in her bag for some crayons and sat next to her friend Harriet.

The classroom war-board was set at condition RED which meant ‘enemy approaching, strictly no talking’ and only a fool would disobey that command, wouldn’t they? Someone very brave, very young or a conchie. Therefore, Faith glanced at the sipping Mrs Gridney and whispered, “Did I miss Professor Pipes?”

Harriet shook her blonde curls silently. She remained mum and focussed her eyes on the worksheet in front of her, not daring to say anything and relieved that Mrs Gridney hadn’t put the blackout boards over the windows by declaring a Condition Purple, because she was scared of the dark.

It looked as though Mrs Gridney might have heard Faith, because she began to move her beaker from her mouth ever so slightly but, even if she had, the door opened quickly and in slithered Doctor Snaptor with his snippety-snap shoes clopping on the hard tiled floor. “Wazzz thizzz, Mrs Gridney?” he hissed, “a condizzion red?”

“Why yes, Doctor Snaptor,” replied Mrs Gridney, reluctantly removing her feet from the desk and putting her phone down. “It doesn’t hurt to have a practice now and then, does it?”

“Eggzzellent, Mrs Gridney,” whispered Doctor Snaptor, “and zo well obzzzerved too. Well done, zzhildren, quite commendable.” Then he saw Faith, glowered a, before smiling thinly, “now zzhildren I have a little zzurprizze, for you.”

Well, you’ve probably guessed who it was, and, glad of the excuse, the young children began to scream their appreciation, hollering, stamping and clapping. But, I have to tell you that after a brief explosion of noise, the crescendo began to wither and wane until there was silence. A quite extraordinary apparition had entered the classroom.

An elderly man, dressed from neck to toe in a gigantic cardboard tube of toilet paper, shuffled in quite slowly and carefully like a caterpillar, his toes feeling the way cautiously so as not to trip over any stray satchels, bags or chair legs. Two holes cut either side of his tube didn't help matters; they caused his arms to stick out horizontally from the rest of his body like a gigantic capital T. It looked as though, at any moment, he might topple over and if he did, how would he ever get up?

It was difficult to see if he was enjoying the reception from the children or Mrs Gridney, because most of his face was covered by a black curly wig and a straggly hairy beard that had been glued there in a slightly lopsided fashion.

Eventually he seemed satisfied that he had reached his optimum position, because he now started speaking in a choked voice. His face, held fast by the tube, was pointed at the ceiling making his words slightly difficult to hear.

“Good morning, children,” he mumbled, muffled by cardboard and toilet tissue, “my name is Professor Pipes and I’m here to talk to you about the importance of pipes. Now – which clever fellah knows what a pipe is?”

At this point, I think he would have held up an actual pipe or switched on a presentation, but, as you’ll remember, his arms were stuck out at the sides, rigid like railway barriers. And anyway, Doctor Snaptor, who hadn’t quite left the room, standing as he was, on the threshold, gave the cardboard tube a mighty kick at where the Professor’s backside might have been, setting a dangerous undulating wobble in motion.

“Sorry, sorry,” he gasped, rotating his arms like a trapeze artist on the high-wire, “there are girls here, too, I remember that now, girls and boys. Girls and boys, do any of you know what a pipe is?”

One or two hands raised hesitantly across the classroom, but Professor Pipes was quite unable to see, of course, so continued, oblivious. “No one? What a remarkably dull set of chaps you are…”

another hefty kick…

”I mean dull girls and boys…dull girls and boys,” he warbled, swaying from this way to that like a hideous cardboard jack in the box, without a box or a jack.

“Are you a pipe, Professor Pipes?” a young voice, piped up from the back of the classroom. Sorry, it was irresistible.

Doctor Snaptor didn’t think it was funny though, and as a nervous ripple of laughter reverberated around the classroom, he moved each side of his face in a series of jerking chameleon motions to locate the culprit, his tongue flickering slightly.

Before anything unpleasant happened, a squeaky voice broke the tension. “Let me out of my box, let me out of my box!” it cried from somewhere, everywhere and nowhere…and Professor Pipes smiled in relief. “Mr Dribbles, you naughty, naughty boy! Is that you?”

“Shut up, Professor Pipes!”

By the time Doctor Snaptor had clacked down the corridor to check up on Year 12, Faith was giggling with the rest of her friends and even Mrs Gridney managed a pale smile.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

It was 4.30 in the afternoon, and the sun was rapidly disappearing behind the foodbanks as the door of 36 Lumpslap Close was pushed open. Morgan, as usual, accurately slung his bag across the living room where it fell between Grandad Patches’ two cheese plants. He slumped into the ancient, comfy sofa and flicked the television on to catch the wrestling. Patience walked into the kitchen to check on tea and Faith scurried to the bottom of the stairs.

“Grandad! Grandad! Are you out of the toilet yet?”

The backdoor swung open and in walked Grandad Patches beaming and wearing his purple and pink gardening romper smock. “Faith, my dear!” he cried, “Home from school? Po, po, po. What exciting adventures have you had today?” And he sat down, ready to listen.

Faith would’ve hugged him, but he did look a bit dirty. His fingernails were black as though he’d been digging in the garden instead of planting vegetables or poking around with his trowel. Still she sat by him, beginning her usual breathless resume of the day’s events that all Grandads – most Grandads – take delight in listening to.

“Professor Pipes, eh?” Grandad Patches interjected, “Well, po, po, tiddly pom, he sounds like a most interesting fellow – but as for that Mr Dribbles, he does seem a bit rude, now, doesn’t he? Did he really tell Professor Pipes he was a smelly old fool who hangs around stinky pipes putting his hands in dirty pipes that reek as bad as he does? Well, bless my soul.”

Morgan, who had pretended he wasn’t listening, now snorted from the sofa. “Professor Pipes is some woke old bloke in a false beard and Dribbles is a sock puppet, most probably made from one of his perished socks. Who goes around wearing one of his old socks on his hand, I ask you?”

“Really?” answered Grandad Patches, astonished, “well I must say he does talk a great deal of sense, though. We should all look after our pipes, Morgan. Why once, back in the sixties, my friend Stardust Spangles…”

“He was never called Stardust Spangles, you made that up!” howled Morgan, throwing a cushion in their direction.

Grandad Patches ignored him and continued. “…made the mistake of ignoring his pipes. Why before long, he was completely egg-bound and in the most terrible trouble. We had to go on without him and he was the only one who knew the chords. Before long we were having to dodge the most painful tin missiles and, therefore, I have never made the mistake of taking pipes lightly, indeed no.”

Morgan rolled his eyes and went back to his wrestling.

“Can I tell you something Faith? In point of fact, I wish Professor Pipes was here now. I really do. I need to consult him very urgently on a most perplexing problem.” Faith wanted to know more, but just as she opened her mouth, the doorbell rang. Grandad Patches cocked his ears and announced. “Splendid, splendid, tiddly-pom, that’ll be Spanners.”

Morgan groaned loudly, turned the television up and stuffed a paper bag over his head.

“Po, po, po, now why do you suppose Morgan has done that?” Grandad Patches said in a bewildered tone, as Patience went to the door.

Faith and Grandad Patches could hear Patience’s grown up voice muttering something in a polite tone, without catching the words. They heard the door close and instead of Spanners, she entered the living room with the most enormous bunch of flowers you’ve ever seen. A rainbow of dazzling colours, they dwarfed Patience who could scarcely get them through the door.

Morgan ripped his bag off, scoffed loudly and shouted, “they don’t look much like Spanners to me.” Then he replaced his bag before anyone could answer or Patience could give him a clip round the ear.

Muffled by the mass of vegetation, Patience glared at Morgan, then said, “these are for you, Grandad.”

“Are they? Well, po, po, po, now who on earth would be sending me this wonderful bouquet? Well, Faith, we will have fun sorting them out into vases, won’t we?”

“Yes, Grandad,” shrieked Faith, bouncing up and down in excitement, while nobody thought to relieve Patience of her burden, so she stood there unable to do very much about it until the doorbell rang again, this time much more urgently and accompanied by a foul tempered kicking of the door.

“Spanners! At last!” beamed Grandad.

“Well, don’t look at me,” growled Patience, through a mouthful of begonias, “someone else will have to get it.”

Morgan sighed, took his bag off and poked his head out of the front sash windows. He whipped it back in very quickly and slammed it shut, I can tell you, when he saw who it was, too, while the hammering, kicking and ringing of the door continued. “It’s Grandad Biggert.” he announced. “Shall I throw my paper bag at him?”

Indeed it was. “Patches! Patches!” howled Grandad Biggert, “I know you’re hiding in there you feeble mange-tout peeler. Come out this minute!”

“Po, po, po. Well how am I supposed to do that when there’s a massive bouquet of flowers blocking the hall like a fat-berg?” grumbled Grandad Patches, shuffling to the window instead, and pushing it back open. “Good evening, Grandad Biggert, and how may we help you?”

“Patches! You rancid raw cabbage cruncher, I demand you give me those flowers back this instance or it will be the worse for you, for I will bring down such punishments upon your head that have not even yet been devised!”

“Well thank goodness for that,” said Patience, somehow managing to negotiate the door and thrusting the bouquet through it, “here you are, Grandad Biggert.”

He snatched them triumphantly from Patience and waved them jubilantly at the window. “See that? See that? You can’t outsmart me, Patches, you baked bean belcher. Hah. Take a long last look.” He waved them again. “And,” he continued, “I am walking out with Irene Adder and these are for her, so suck on that.” With an extraordinary gesture, the night swallowed him up.

Grandad Patches looked slightly downcast as he returned to his seat. “Irene Adder. Po, po, po.” Then he ruffled Faith’s hair and went to fetch the tea.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

The next morning, which was Saturday and therefore no school, several odd things continued to happen. Although Grandad Patches was no longer stuck in the toilet (as you know) he was still making quite a fuss and muttering about Spanners this and Spanners that, popping in and out, rattling the flush chain, making po-po noises and scratching his chin.

If Patience hadn’t put her foot down, he was all for voting on whether the bathroom should be a no-go area, even suggesting that they ask Grandad Biggert next door or go to the ones in the park until Spanners arrived. This had raised a point of order from Morgan though, who declared loudly that he certainly was not going to lead any toilet expeditions into darkest Purridgeton, until eventually a fed up Patience told him to shut up and put a sock in it.

It was, by now, about 9.30 in the morning. Ma had gone to work and Morgan was sitting in the lounge spreading some toast with margarine, occasionally peering out of the bow windows through the nets.

Well, we all do that sometimes, but Morgan, as it happens, was frowning, and pulling the worried look of a monkey with a rubber banana.

“Hey, Patience!” he called, “that’s the third time.” As he got no answer from the kitchen, he repeated himself very loudly.

“What is?” sighed Patience finally, without looking up from her phone.

“The third time Grandad Biggert has walked past our window with Irene Adder, stopped, stroked his beard and pulled faces at our house.”

“What sort of faces?”

“I don’t know, do I?” grunted Morgan, in irritation, “stupid ones. A sort of grinning, snarling and grimacing combo, followed by jabbing his own chest several times.”

“What’s Irene Adder doing?”

“Wheeling her tartan shopping trolley up and down and hitting him with her walking stick.”

“Well, probably they’re off shopping.”

Morgan sounded doubtful. “Well, if you say so. Look, he’s at it again. Wow! That one must have hurt. Grandad Biggert is hopping up and down, clutching his ankle.”

As Morgan smiled snarkily, watching Grandad Biggert hop out of sight towards the park, the doorbell rang with shrill insistency. Almost at once, there was a clattering from upstairs as Faith and Grandad Patches hurtled to answer it. “That must be Spanners!” screamed one of them, probably Faith, although they both sounded the same to him most of the time. Sighing, Morgan got up and went to the lounge door to see what might happen, closing it just a bit so that he could peep through.

But Grandad Patches, having fumbled the catch and opened the door, looked a little disappointed. “Ah…hello, Mrs Dander.”

“Good morning, Grandad Patches. Excuse me for bothering you, but I’ve lost my dog. I thought he might be in your garden.” Mrs Dander squinted into the interior of the house, so Morgan sniggered and ducked out of sight, still listening. He noticed that she didn’t look very friendly, either.

“Po, po, po, in my garden? Now why would you think that?”

“Yes, why would you think that, Mrs Dander?” repeated Faith, looking up at the large lady who was blocking out the watery winter sunlight.

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, would it?” Mrs Dander snapped. “It seems that whenever he disappears, he either fetches up here or next door. Usually returning some time later stinking of pork chops or lamb bones.”

“Pork chops or lamb bones?” spluttered Grandad Patches, in disbelief, “now I can assure you he won’t find anything like that in my garden. We’re strict vegetarians.”

Morgan snorted from behind the door.

“What was that?” asked Mrs Dander, hearing the muffled noise from within. “It sounded like my dog.”

“No, no, I can assure you, Mrs Dander, your dog isn’t here,” said Grandad Patches, placatingly. “We were just waiting for Spanners.”

However, Mrs Dander wasn’t convinced. She pushed past Grandad Patches and strode through to the kitchen where Patience was still munching her cornflakes, then straight into the garden. “What’s that, then?” shrieked Mrs Dander. And she pointed a quivering, enraged finger at a hairy shape running round and round the flowerbeds in delight, ripping up turf, tossing vegetables, snarling and growling in blood curdling menace. “I blame you for this!” she continued, red faced at Patience, “oh you make my blood boil.”

The dog didn’t seem particularly pleased to see Mrs Dander and backed off growling, its hackles raised and something nasty trailing from its mouth. In fact, as Faith and Grandad Patches joined her, it began to snap its teeth together in a most ghastly fashion.

“Come here, sweet’ums,” coaxed Mrs Dander, hopefully, whilst all the time approaching. She fished in her handbag and pulled out a soft toy mouse. “Look. I’ve got Mr Cuddles for you.”

The dog continued its snapping and was not in the slightest bit interested in Mr Cuddles.

“Don’t make any sudden moves,” hissed Grandad Patches, “I think it’s got rabies. Why, back in the sixties when I used to work for ‘Dog Patrol 999’ we came across this dog that had found a porker’s rear leg in a dustbin. He was snapping his teeth exactly like that and…ow!”

“How dare you?” screamed Mrs Dander, smashing Grandad Patches’ head with her handbag, “porker’s rear leg in a dustbin?”

Provoked by her sudden violent movement, the dog was off, dragging a stream of what looked like greasy bones and fat from its mouth. As he reached Mrs Dander, he made a passing snap at her buttocks and then, retrieving his meal, leapt the fence into Grandad Biggert’s backyard like a champion steeplejack hurdler.

“Don’t just stand there!” wailed Mrs Dander, setting off in hot pursuit.

Grandad Patches scratched his head, stooping down to retrieve something from the lawn. Raising himself, he held up a sizeable portion of material. “Wait, Mrs Dander. I think this is a piece of your skirt.” But she had already straddled the fence and was now in the next garden. “Well, well, well, Faith, this is most mysterious, isn’t it, my dear, pom, pom, pom?”

“Yes, Grandad. What was it that Mrs Dander’s dog was eating?”

“Well, we can never know for sure, Faith, but it looked very much like some greasy lamb bones and leftover pork chops, covered in even more grease.” 

Grandad Patches took out his trowel from his romper smock pocket then hurried to the very back of the garden; Faith following him in excitement. “Look at this, Faith, look at this!” he shouted breathlessly, pointing with his trowel at a huge white greasy mountain of fat and bones beside the drain, “now why didn’t I see this before?”

“What is it, Grandad? It doesn’t smell very nice, does it?”

“Po, po, po, tiddly pom pom, no indeed it doesn’t, Faith my dear. Do you suppose it was this that attracted Mrs Dander’s dog?”

“Yes, Grandad, Professor Pipes told us what it is, too.” Faith scrunched up her mind, trying to recall yesterday’s presentation with Mr Dribbles. “It’s called a fat burger and we should report them straight away.”

Grandad Patches scratched his chin. “Hmmm. You know, Faith, my dear, I wonder if that’s why every time we flush the toilet, the water comes out of the top and all over the bathroom carpet? I think we need to call Spanners right away.”

So, the two of them hurried back up the garden path to where Morgan and Patience were waiting. Now, can you guess what Faith thought she saw as they did so? Well, she couldn’t be sure, but just where Mrs Dander’s dog had been growling and snapping a few minutes earlier was an old sock he’d left behind, probably because it wasn’t as tasty as the gristle he’d been tossing around. And…the sock looked just like Mr Dribbles.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

That afternoon, the sun had risen as high as it was ever going to and was just beginning its descent, casting bright rays across the back garden of 36 Lumpslap Close. Grandad Patches was pacing up and down the hallway and there were a great deal of ‘po-po-po’, ‘tiddly-poms’ and ‘pon my souls’ as he did so, whilst Faith watched him from the third stair, colouring in and writing stories about Mrs Dander’s skirt; tittering quietly as she did so.

Alas, as you probably guessed by now, Spanners had still not yet arrived. But there was always time, and every so often, Grandad Patches cast a hopeful eye at the door.

And eventually, as they always do if you watch them long enough, the doorbell shrieked a loud announcement that someone had, at last, arrived. Faith leapt to her feet, tossed her books aside and fought Grandad for the handle rights, but he got there first, and opened the door.

“Spanners, old bean!” he beamed, “it’s been a long time.” Then his smile evaporated as quickly as it had sprung forth. “You!”

“Do you have any mung beans, old bean?” a familiar voice sniggered. “Heh, heh, heh.”

“Hello, Grandad Biggert,” called Faith from behind Grandad Patches and mimicking him, “and how may we help you this fine day?”

“I just told Patches, you wretched child, I want mung beans, so hand them over now. I am not repeating myself. I know there are plenty of mung beans on the premises.”

His quarrelsome order was followed by some sort of commotion to the rear; several quickfire brolly blows rained upon his head in rapid succession, causing him to flinch and cover his head. “Robert? Stop being stupid and get out of my way.” And Irene Adder pushed in front of him, her tartan shopping trolley blocking the doorstep.

Grandad Patches blushed. When he spoke, his voice could barely be heard beneath a bit of harrumphing and it wobbled just a fraction. “Irene. It is nice to see you…er…it’s been some time…er…I hope you are keeping well…um.”

“Shut up, Grandad Patches,” she answered, impatiently. “I shan’t keep you long. Robert has run out of mung beans and there are none at the corner shop. Have you got any? Pay you, of course.”

“Mung beans? Po, po, po. I’m surprised he even had any in the first place.”

“Yes, I've run out of mung beans, Patches, you rickety custard dribbler, mung beans, old bean…yowch!”

“But you only eat pork chops and lamb-bone stew, Grandad Biggert.”

Irene Adder glared at Grandad Patches, coming a little closer to the door. “Robert is a strict vegetarian. He looks down on all carnists. He told me so himself. This afternoon,” she continued, her voice softening into a slight twinkle, “we will be preparing a delicious mung bean stew together for our evening meal.”

“Yes, Patches,” taunted Grandad Biggert, who had retreated down the path slightly, to avoid further beatings, “our evening meal together. Heh, heh, heh.” And, I have to tell you that when he emphasised the word ‘together’, Grandad Patches’ lip wobbled.

Scratching his chin and looking slightly perplexed, he went into the kitchen anyway and returned with some fresh mung beans from the fridge. “There you are, Irene. Now, do you need me to help prepare them with you?”

“No she doesn’t, Patches,” exclaimed Grandad Biggert, who returned and snatched the bag from his hand, “I’ll take those, thank you. Now, shove off.” And he slammed the door right in his face. Which was surprising, when you think about it, given that he was on the wrong side.

“That wasn’t Spanners, Grandad,” pointed out Faith, with a frown.

“No. It definitely wasn’t him, my dear,” answered Grandad Patches in a crestfallen voice. Then he snapped to attention as though something had suddenly occurred to him. “You know what I think, Faith? Pom, pom, tiddly-pom, westering-ho and blow the man down, Billy? I think it’s time we stopped waiting for Spanners and sorted this out ourselves.”

“Hurrah!” shouted Faith.

And the two of them trekked back through the house and into the garden.

Well, you should have seen the commotion; the hive of activity, because once Grandad Patches has made his mind up and determined a course of action, he is very rarely distracted from his destination. 

Faith followed him, helping as best she could. First down the garden to the drain, then back up, then back down again. “Po, po, po, pom, tiddly-tee, Faith, my dear, no, no, this simply won’t do, it won’t do at all,” he declared at last, scratching his chin, pondering and staring at the grass.

Faith did the same. “What won’t?” she asked, finally giving up, “What won’t do, Grandad?”

He ruffled her hair, then snapped his fingers. “Of course. We need my heavy walking cane. I wonder if Patience would be good enough to retrieve it for us?”

“I’m not a dog,” exploded Patience, as Faith ran up to the kitchen to repeat the instruction. “I hate that attic. It’s full of…his stuff.” Nevertheless, a few minutes later, and looking considerably dustier, she returned with it and tossed it into the garden.

“Excellent, excellent,” chortled Grandad. “Just the ticket.” And he continued to pace up and down the garden, but this time tapping the lawn with his stick. Sometimes he would pause and tap more firmly, occasionally indulging in some very hefty banging indeed, while Faith cackled as she watched. Bang, bang, bang!

The next-door upstairs window shot up suddenly and Grandad Biggert’s red face appeared, jutting out like one of those stone gargoyles on the sides of old buildings. “Patches! Patches!” he screamed, “stop that infernal noise, you turnip tosser. Some of us are trying to sleep.”

“Trying to sleep, Grandad Biggert?” asked Faith, “but the sun is still out.”

“Don’t you argue with me, you wretched girl,” retorted Grandad Biggert, shaking his fist, “if you two don’t stop it, I’ll throw something at the pair of you.” The head disappeared but presently returned with a large ceramic pot. “See here, Patches? Don’t think I won’t lob it over the fence.”

“Will he?” asked Faith, curiously.

Grandad Patches, still banging away with the stick, had not really paid any attention and was frowning in concentration. “Will he what?”

“Lob it over the fence at us.”

“Oh, I should think so, Faith, my dear,” muttered Grandad Patches, still not really looking, then standing up. He beamed. “Yes, now we just need some string. That’ll do it. You see, Faith,” he explained, “back in the sixties when I was a novelist, I invented a character and published a series of stories about his masterful detective work tracking down villainous red headed monsters…”

“No, you didn’t, you lying liar!” screamed Grandad Biggert, still waving his pot at them. Some liquid sploshed up. “Damn!”

Suddenly, Irene Adder also appeared, thrusting her head through alongside him. “Robert? What on earth are you doing? Get back from the window this instance, do you hear?”

“But Grandad Patches is banging his garden.”

“Now!” And the window slammed shut with a hollow, deafening crash.

“What very strange behaviour,” mused Grandad Patches. “Now, Faith, let’s go and get that string, shall we? Oh, and I think we’ll also need a few tons of manure, and the biggest didgeridoo I own.”

“Didgeridoo? What’s one of those, Grandad?”

“Well, back in the sixties, when I was stationed off Australia….” and the two friends disappeared back inside 36 Lumpslap Close.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Sunday morning dawned and it was at 9.30 precisely when at last Spanners completely failed to pop over to look at the pipes.

Now, there was grumbling a-plenty as Morgan led an expedition through darkest Purridgeton. His mission? To use the municipal toilets which were thoughtfully provided for those unexpectedly caught short in the large, rolling parklands.

There was a queue, he noticed, gloomily, so they waited until it was convenient.

Clapping his hands in satisfaction, and uttering the occasional po-po, Grandad Patches waited outside until Morgan’s toilet party were ready to continue their march to the church of non-specific religions for Sunday service, a tiresome ritual which caused a great deal of fidgeting, dropping of hymn books and nicking hassocks from beneath knees which was one way of passing the hour.

Upon entering the church, mobile phones were dropped into the cardboard box on the right. Trying not to breath in too much camphor and cockroach fumes, most scuttled to their pews. The organist struck some chords with a flourish and the congregation mumbled and muttered their way through ‘For those in Peril on the Sea’.

It was, I suppose, halfway through Reverend Bunyan’s service when she clapped her hands for silence. It was not as if she needed to, actually, so perhaps I should rephrase that clapped her hands to wake everybody up. Anyway, clap her hands she did, slurring some sort of announcement which nobody could hear due to the P.A being faulty, gestured her hands at the front row in a beckoning motion and standing down from the pulpit while an astonishing event occurred.

Smirking to the very depths of his slick oily beard, black eyes blazing and brow crinkled, Grandad Biggert ascended the steps to the pulpit.

He grasped its gritty sandstone edge and peered across the pews, his gaze raking like searchlights until he spied Grandad Patches, yawning at the back.

“I have sinned,” he cried, in a deep and mournful tone, quite unlike his usual way of speaking, “Yes, I am a miserable sinner, but today I repent. I cast aside my old ways like…a fisherman with his fisherman’s rod doing some sort of casting thing like this…” and he waved his arms wildly before continuing.

Morgan nudged Patience and spoke softly behind his hymn book. “Is he possessed?” he grinned as he strained to hear.

At the front, Doctor Snaptor turned around and glared at them with icicle eyes.

“I cast my fish upon your mercy,” continued Grandad Biggert, on a roll and happy to throw anything into the pot, “oh, I was a fish once, but now, my rod and staff me comfort still in mercy. Yes.” He thumped the pulpit impressively, stubbed his thumb then winced. “Shall I recount thee to my sins?”

Nobody answered. I imagine they were worried they’d have to endure two or three more hours.

“What has brought around my change? Well I’ll tell you,” he nodded vigorously, his beard shaking, his voice trembling, over-emoting like a bad actor in an underfunded soap. “I’ll tell you. Tell you, I will.” Then he pointed. “Why the love of this good, good woman!” And he pointed at Irene Adder, sitting and bobbing in approval.

“Pass me the sick bag,” grumbled Morgan. “what a load of…”

“Sugar!” screamed Grandad Biggert, “Like sugar in a cup of vile, bitter tea, mix the two and you have…er…a sweeter cup of tea. With sugar in it.” He paused importantly and there was a smatter of applause, no more than that. “Yes, friends, seize this moment. If you find love, hold on to it, grasp it firmly, tug it hard, let it tug you back then put it inside your woggle so the woggle grips tight and…”

Reverend Bunyan leapt up the pulpit stairs. “Thank you, Grandad Biggert, that's quite enough.”

“Is it?”

“Yes, I’m sure we were all inspired by your speech and will find it in our hearts to forgive you.”

“But I haven’t fingered Grandad Patches yet. That was to be the climax of my sermon. I need to expose his sins. That he, too, can repent.”

“And I’m very relieved you didn’t. We don’t approve of fingering at this church.”

On the way home, they were passed by a tractor. Now I wouldn’t mention it ordinarily, but this one was pulling a mountain of foul-smelling manure, steaming in the February sunlight and was thundering down the road at quite a lick. Grandad Patches looked at approvingly as though he liked the rank odour. “Reminds me of my boyhood,” he announced, taking a deep breath, “the heady smell of Mother Nature. Why, when I worked on a farm, back in the sixties…”

“Didn’t you ever do anything ‘back in the seventies?’” interrupted Morgan, rudely. “Or even the eighties?”

“Po, po, po, dear me, no,” frowned Grandad, “the seventies? Certainly not.”

“Well, can we hear more ‘back in the seventies’ and less ‘back in the sixties’, then?”

“You’re being extremely rude, Morgan,” warned Patience, “we love hearing Grandad’s interesting tales, don’t we, Faith.”

“Yes, I do,” and Faith emphasised this by giving Grandad’s hand a squeeze.

“Oh well, please yourselves, then. I’m off to meet Mordred for coffee and a kickabout.” Morgan waved nonchalantly and dodged through the park gates as the others crossed the road into Lumpslap Close.

They narrowly avoided being mown down by the same tractor, now speeding the other way, considerably lighter having deposited its steaming heap somewhere in the vicinity.

At number 36, something unpleasant awaited them.

“Patches! Patches! What is the meaning of this?” screamed Grandad Biggert, waving his rolled-up newspaper at a trail of smouldering manure that led into the back garden of number 36, “It stinks.”

“Well, I say, I wouldn’t go that far.” spluttered Grandad, “Who doesn’t love the tangy, sweet smell of fresh horse dung?”

“Me. And neither does Irene,” warned Grandad Biggert, “If you don’t remove this smell at once, I’ll call the authorities.” And he jabbered Grandad Patches with his newspaper.

“Well, I can’t very well do that, can I? In any case, now that you’re a strict vegetarian, I will have to grow twice as many mung beans as before,” complained Grandad Patches, moving his hands in a sweeping gesture at the manure. “See? That’s what it’s for.”

“Pah!” spat Grandad Biggert, swiping accurately with his newspaper, “Heh, heh, heh. Strict vegetarian? That was just made up, to please Irene Adder. I threw my mung beans down the toilet, anyway. No one will ever know.”

Faith gasped in horror. “Threw them down the toilet? Wait until Professor Pipes and Mr Dribbles hear about that!”

“Don’t worry, Faith, Grandad Biggert didn’t mean he really threw them down the toilet. He was using a metaphor. Weren’t you?”

“No, I wasn’t, Patches, you dreary, old swede quaffler,” sniggered Grandad Biggert, “I’ll flush what I like down my toilet, if you please, you halfwit, and if you report me I'll deny everything and say you did it anyway. Now remove that smell. I’m taking my afternoon nap and I want sweet dreams. Not the sort dished up by your reeking manure pile.” And with that, he marched indoors.

Faith was still horrified. “Grandad. He flushed mung beans down the toilet. We will have to tell Professor Pipes!”

And, just for once, Grandad Patches looked a little cagey. As though he might know a secret. Something he didn’t want Faith or even us to know. Still, he smiled a little half-smile and said, “Oh, I should think he probably already knows, Faith, my dear. He probably already knows. Now, to work!”

Patience watched from the kitchen window, as Faith and Grandad appeared in the garden.

The previous night, as I think you’ll recall, Grandad Patches had hammered two pegs into the lawn and fastened string between the pegs so that it followed the path he had been thumping with his heavy cane. Now, he was pleased to see tons of manure placed alongside that string in an almost straight line. It was steaming terrifically.

Faith, being very clever, was beside herself with excitement and didn’t even notice the smell at all. “Look Grandad, it’s above the pipes!” she cried.

“Po, po, po. Yes. You are clever, Faith. But I’m worried it won’t be warm enough to melt it.”

“Warm enough to melt what, Grandad? The fat burger?”

“We’ll just have to use the didgeridoo to find out.”

Following Grandad Patches back into the house, up the stairs and to the bathroom where it had all begun, Faith clapped her hands in delight. It was still very damp and smelly inside but she soon forgot that as Grandad grasped his didgeridoo and thrust it right into the toilet. “What are you doing, Grandad?”

“Well, my dear, I’m going to play a tune. If I can just get the right frequency…all our toilet troubles will be over. Now, Faith, my dear, stand well back. There could be a great deal of pressure.”

And with that, Grandad Patches puffed out his cheeks and began to play straight into the pipe that disappears beneath the floorboards. The noise was horrible; a sort of low pitched groaning and clanking that seemed to shiver the very timbers of the whole house. 

Undeterred, Grandad grimaced, puffed ever harder and kept playing; the noise building up to a crescendo until there was a tremendous 'whoosh' and, next door, something that sounded very much like an explosion. Faith jumped out of her skin.

Removing the didgeridoo and breathing heavily, Grandad seemed quite unperturbed. “Pull the flush, Faith, my dear.” And as she did so, both were overjoyed to see the foul liquids disappearing just as they should and fresh, clear water refilling the bowl. Grandad Patches beamed in delight.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Returning from his morning football, Morgan was accosted by one of the most terrible sights he had ever witnessed in his young life. At first, he stared, mouth open in disbelief. Then he ducked into a nearby privet hedge, listened and began to howl with laughter.

BOSH! Down came the brolly on Grandad Biggert’s head. “How dare you put me in an exploding bedroom?”

“Now, then, honey-cakes, I did not know it was going to explode, did I? Ouch!”

WHOMP! “I’m covered from head to toe in half gnawed lamb bones and pork chop grizzle. My clothes are ruined. People with laugh at me. Dogs will follow me through the park. They'll call me Mrs Meat.”

“I can’t explain where they came from, dribble-chops, give me a second chance…yow!”

“Can’t you?” CRASH! “I can. All the time you were pretending to sleep you’ve been secretly consuming meat products in the bedroom and flushing them down the toilet, blocking the pipes for miles around with grease, fat and offal, haven’t you?”

“No, honestly. Owwwww!”

“Haven’t you!”

“Yes. A bit,” admitted Grandad Biggert, defending his face from further blows. “Although some of it was Grandad Patches’ fault, to be fair.”

Irene Adder stamped down hard on his foot instead. “Grandad Patches? How was it his fault, you carnist?”

“Well, you see…er…everything always is his fault…ooooyah!”

Irene Adder glared at him with frightening intensity, rubbing some sticky mint sauce from her eyelashes and flicking it from her fingernails in a most unladylike fashion. It landed right on Grandad Biggert’s quivering lip. “Goodbye, Robert Biggert.” With that she trundled her trolley down Lumpslap Close, past the shop and into the park.

Grandad Biggert shook his fist at her, glared, then called out, “I know you’re hiding in there, young man. Wait until I get hold of you.”

Morgan scarpered, as fast as he could, still holding his sides.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Now, you might think that was the end of that, no harm done: but there were one of two mysteries that persisted I have to mention.

Firstly, Grandad Patches was beaming with delight for the next two or three days as though he’d been very clever, but when asked, he smile dropped and he went about his business, saying nothing much about events. Of course the manure did come in handy for the flowerbeds and vegetable patch and when Faith was helping him fork it into the earth, she once again saw that old sock.

“Grandad,” she asked. “Is that Mr Dribbles?” And she passed it over.

But Grandad Patches, turned it over in his soily hands, harrumphed and shook his head, frowning. He didn’t seem to know what he meant, muttering something about putting it with the toilet roll for next year.

Secondly, late one evening, a couple of days later the doorbell rang and Patience, as usual, went to answer it. An elderly man stood before her, dressed in blue coveralls. “Yes?” she asked, “and how may I help you?”

The man looked a little embarrassed. “Good evening, young lady. I’m Spanners.”


“Yes, Spanners. You were waiting for me. I believe you have an emergency.”

Patience smiled, recollecting the events of the past two or three days. “Of course, Spanners,” she replied, “oh, well, you see, Spanners, we did have an emergency, but it’s all sorted out now.”

“What sort of emergency was it?” asked Spanners, intrigued.

“Well, Grandad had his hand stuck in the toilet pipes.”

“Did he?” Spanners scratched his head. “I’m not sure I believe you. Those pipes are far too wide for anyone to get their hands stuck.”