Sir Desmond Stirling – the man, the myth,the legend…

November 27, 2018

 

I am the foremost author of stylish thrillers and occult novels in the world. That’s not how I describe myself, I hasten to point out, that was in The Reader’s Digest Guide to Modern British Authors. Of course, they were right, even if one says so oneself. I may be a humble scribe, but I do rather think there’s something frightfully common about false modesty. And the hack who called me a ‘Purveyor of pot-boiling prurient piffle’ in the Times Literary Supplement is an alliterative arse.

Now all of you – well, those of you who aren’t too old to have moved with the times (unlike my good self who has always been a la mode e.g. driving sports cars, listening to ‘jazz’, having much younger girlfriends) – are able to read my newly-published memoirs The Devil Talks The Hindmost. It is available at Amazon – indeed, all major rivers, one should think – and is jolly reasonably–priced. Too reasonably, if you ask me. One doesn’t want to encourage the poor to loiter around their hovels reading (if they are capable), and besides, the lifestyles I write about will just make them dissatisfied, and next thing you know, the hoi polloi are throwing an almighty tantrum and it’s the General Strike all over again. Still, gives Plod a chance to practice their water-cannon skills.

I digress…

Buy my book. I have a standard of living to keep up. Holidays in Cap d’Agde don’t pay for themselves.

You will learn about my family, my friends, my wives (all five of them – mad, scrubber, dead, ex-man, and lesbian), my schooldays, my fight against Satanism, my campaign for Nudism, and other adventures throughout my long and distinguished life. But not my wartime experiences – they’re still covered by the Official Secrets Act…

Do you wish to hear a Master of the Satanic chiller at work? Then pop over to http://www.whatnoise.co.uk and you’ll be overwhelmed at the privilege of finding a ‘download’ (no, not a clue) of yours truly actually penning a new novel in front of your very ears.

My ‘Twitter handle’ (honestly, the modern world, one despairs) is @sirdesstirling. Follow me if you wish to be drenched in my pearls of wisdom. And frankly who doesn’t?

Start from the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start…

 

 

 

 

 

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Hampton Uncaught

July 26, 2019

I’m laying here in the sun, relishing the sensations of one’s buttocks being gently toasted, wondering how long before Plod tells me that nude sunbathing is not allowed in.

One of my less successful ventures was the establishing of an upmarket Nudist colony with a strict Eminent Members Only policy.

Within this criterion there would be a certain egalitarianism. Not just my fellow nobs, but those whose standing had been achieved by actually doing something – actors, politicians,sportspeople, poets, Page 3 girls. The only exception was ventriloquists; after all, ‘you can’t see the lips move’ could be misinterpreted in a nude environment.

At first there was great excitement. Nudism was very a la mode in those days, but the great and good were fearful of doffing their clobber in public lest they were gawped at by the Oi Polloi (a nudist colony is the last place one wants The Great Unwashed). Actors being the notable exception – in the Swinging 60s many insisted on  ‘tackle out’ clauses added to their contracts. I don’t recall darling Agatha Christie ever writing a nude scene for Miss Marple, but lovely Sybil Thorndike absolutely insisted on it.

We bought a somewhat dilapidated Manor House – briefly owned by Dozy or as it Tich?- just outside fashionable Hillingdon with enough acreage for outdoors frolics, even including a lake for skinny-dipping, climate wiling. We called it, chortlesomely, Hampton Uncaught!

Our first influx of members was a  veritable roll-call of the Big Cheeses of the day: Reg Varney, Malcolm Muggeridge, The Dolly Sisters, Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band, Monica Rose, Mrs Mills, Stanley Unwin, Eamonn Andrews, Charlie Cairoli, Pinky but not Perky…

We’d rather hoped for a younger (preferably female) clientele, perhaps The Ladybirds or someone from the Young Generation, but we consoled ourselves that careers were so brief at the time, that while someone eg Clodagh Rogers may be the hot new thing when they joined, they may be yesterday’s news before they’d even taken their socks off.

Our Grand Opening was covered by all the Press – with, naturally, discreetly staged photos – and we considered it a great success. Alan Whicker made a documentary about us. Mary Whitehouse condemned the whole project, her lips splattered with foam as she thundered about our depravity. We even had a discreet inquiry about discount membership from Buckingham Palace!

We immediately got carried away with dreams of a nude empire. Maybe we could open further branches? Locations were tricky; anything further north than Watford and it was rare that the climate offered anything to Nudists except frostbite of the Johnson.

We were utterly overwhelmed with requests for membership. Sadly, many of these were from oiky members of the public who had no interest in the nudist lifestyle per se, just a salacious desire to leer at the favourite TV stars au natural. We rejected as many plebs as humanly possible, but inevitably a few peasants slipped though the net…

So instead of being a a charming idyll where the well-paid could retreat to indulge in sans trews delights, such as feeling the breeze rustle through one’s short and curlies while browsing the Telegraph, or enjoying the sensation of one’s anal cleft getting a thorough rinsing while indulging in the doggy stroke, or simply relishing the freedom of one’s orchestras gently colliding against one’s knees while yomping through a secluded glade, the members felt more like they were exhibits in a safari park, where a voyeur with a Polaroid could so easily take a snap of them partaking of some innocent pastime – eg What’s the Time Mr Wolf – and sell the offending photos to the gutter press.

(We could always tell which prospective members worked for the tabloids; they insisted on keeping their rather grubby underwear on at all times.)

The final straw was when two repulsive perverts by the name of Boggle and Lugg had to be escorted from the grounds for the seventh time for ogling the young ladies who were playing lacrosse. That was a privilege reserved for long standing members only.

Sadly, on the advice of our lawyers and several Bishops, we reluctantly shut down Hampton Uncaught. It all happened rather swiftly and it wasn’t possible to let all out members know. Consequently the new owners were former fishing nude men out of the bushes or the lake for months afterwards; the nudist equivalent of Jap soldiers who were unaware the war was over.

Stirling speaks!

April 16, 2019

For those who are starved, intellectually and culturally, why not feast yourself at the gourmet table of my epistles and soak up the gravy of my wisdom.

My voice has been scientifically proven to arouse passions in both women and men; erotomania in the former, patriotic fervour in the latter.

Listen to me talking eruditely about my most recent wife, and see how my cultured tones affect you.

 

 

Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 5 – the conclusion

December 20, 2018

Chapter 5

Mere moments later, I had done all that Wimpybar had instructed me to, but I was still perplexed. Who was my devilish nemesis? Who wished me consigned to a hellish oblivion? Surely it couldn’t be…?

We had yet to re-join our fellow guests in the lounge. Wimpybar was holding up a green-faced Mrs Petty.

‘We must return to the party,’ said Wimpybar.

I glanced at the wretched Mrs Petty. Her eyes were glazed, and she was barely aware of her surroundings. ‘But tell me, Wimpybar…’

‘Oh, do call me Greenford,’ he pleaded.

‘We’re not children, Wimpybar,’ I said firmly. ‘If you didn’t curse me, who did?’

He stared at me in amazement. ‘Have you really not worked it out?’

‘I wouldn’t be asking you if I had!’

A smile cracked his face. Charmingly, he looked less evil when he smiled. Perhaps he wasn’t the villain after all. ‘You’ll find out soon enough.  But you must do exactly as I tell you.  No quibbles.  Understand?’

I nodded.

We returned to the Lounge. Servants had already mopped up the mess, not just that caused by Mrs Petty, but the fake blood used in the children’s little show.  One would hardly know that anything had happened. The children had been packed off somewhere; bed, home, the hospital, I knew not where, and I couldn’t waste my thoughts on trivialities like that.

A game of charades was in action. Miss Lemon was acting out – I learned later – Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit bag. Dr Petty had such a look of intense concentration on his face as he watched her that he failed to notice the reappearance of his drained wife.  The others glanced up and even Miss Lemon ceased acting out the words ‘Kit bag’ in mid-mime.

My head was in a whirl. I couldn’t believe what Wimpybar had just told me, but I knew that if this bizarre situation was true than I had only moments left to live. After all I had nothing to lose by trying. If it was all nonsense, then no harm would be done. If it was true, however, the wretched rotterwho had cursed me would face his own ghastly doom. And good bloody riddance!

‘Crackers, everybody!’ shrieked Lady Fistula as Spambotstaggered in, clutching a tray laden with the explosive novelties. I knew exactly which one to pick.

I took a deep breath and approached my target. ‘Goosey, old chap,’ I said, trying to keep the tremble out of my voice. ‘Pullmy cracker!’

Without even thinking, he took the other end of my proffered cracker and before he could change his mind I started to tug. He jerked back, my cracker erupted and the contents spilled out. Goosey caught them in his hand.

‘Well-played, sir!’ I cried, unsure yet whether to feel relieved by Goosey’s firm yank on my cracker.

Goosey rummaged in the cracker and retrieved a purple paper hat which he instantly placed on top of his head.

‘How do I look?’ he giggled.

‘Like a naked purple Bishop,’ I told him.

Instantly, Wimpybar was at my side. ‘Oh, do tell us the joke, Reverend.’

Goosey looked in the cracker again and drew out a paper item. ‘Oh, I hope the joke is good’un. I can use it in my next sermon.’ He unfolded the paper, and his chubby face darkened. He looked up at me, his eyes ablaze with fear – and anger.

‘You… you… bounder, Sausage.’

It was the parchment. On Wimpybar’s instructions, I had inserted the parchment in the cracker which I had then weakened so that my opponent would win.

He glanced at the clock.

4.52pm.

‘No!’ he screamed. ‘My plan was perfect!’

Flecks of froth formed at the side of his mouth. He thrust the parchment at me. ‘Take it back! I insist you take it back!’

I retreated and put my hands firmly behind my back.

‘But why did you want he Viscount dead?’ asked Wimpybar.

‘Look at him,’ Goosey sneered. ‘So handsome, so dashing, so well-endowed, so rich, so popular, so aristocratic…’

‘Yes, I know,’ I said, ‘But why do you hate me that much?’

‘You made the war hell for me,’ the owl-faced villain snarled.

‘The Germans did that, surely?’ said Miss Lemon, astutely.

‘He,’ he said, pointing at me, ‘humiliated me every day. Mocking me. I can’t help being portly, yet I was shamed daily. Made to run errands in the nude…’

‘Oh yes?’ said Sir Dickie and Lady Fistula simultaneously.

‘You weren’t made to run errands in the nude,’ I corrected him. ‘It was merely suggested for humorous reasons that…’

‘Called stupid names in front of the lower orders,’ continued Goosey. ‘Owl-face, Lard-arse, Wobbly-tits…

‘Goosey,’ I added, probably unhelpfully.

‘My plan should’ve worked,’ frothed Goosey, his left eye twitching, his teeth grinding. I noticed with distaste he was almost tumescent in his rage although, sadly, it made very little difference. ‘The runes should’ve doomed you. And just in case I conjured up the gargoyles…’

‘I saved the Viscount from those hellish monstrosities,’ said Wimpybar.

‘Oh, was that you in the scarf?’ I asked him. ‘I did wonder.’

‘The ritual of the frenzied children was supposed to whip up even more Infernal forces, until that silly woman,’ he gestured at Mrs Petty, ‘ruined it with her spewing.’

To everyone’s astonishment, Mrs Petty fell to her knees and kissed Goosey’s feet. ‘Forgive me, Master!’ she pleaded.

Even Goosey had the grace to look a bit embarrassed. ‘The Pettys were my disciples,’ he explained.

Lady Fistula was shocked. ‘You brought acolytes to my house for Christmas lunch?’ she accused him. ‘You told me they were devout nudists. Look at her, her charlies have never seen the light of day.’

Sir Dickie’s moustache flared up. ‘I’ll have you struck off, you bounder!’ he told Dr Petty.

‘It was her,’ said Dr Petty, gesturing at his prostrate wife with one hand, cupping his orchestras with the other. ‘She had a bit of a thing for the Vicar. I had no say in the matter. I didn’t want to come. Removing one’s underpants off in public, it’s not decent.’

‘You utter weed!’ exclaimed Lady Fistula.

‘That level of modesty won’t stand you in good stead as either a nudist or a Satanist,‘ said Wimpybar, wryly.

‘Or a bally doctor,’ I chipped in.

‘It’s all failed,’ said Goosey, sadly. His shoulders slumped lower than his nipples. ‘And now I am doomed.’

I felt a bit sorry for him. ‘Can’t you, I don’t know, absolve yourself of the curse?’

He shook his stout and bespectacled head.

‘You sold your soul to the Devil?’ asked Wimpybar in horror.

‘I hope you kept the receipt,’ said Miss Lemon.

The clock struck five.

Goosey’s eyes saucered and he said in a forlorn voice, ‘Oh cripes!’

Miss Lemon waved her hand in front of her nose. ‘Brimstone!’ she said in disgust.

‘No, that was me,’ said Goosey, his teeth chattering. ‘I must get out of here.’

‘There’s nowhere to run,’ warned Wimpybar.

Goosey didn’t heed him, and, booting Mrs Petty away from his feet, ran from the lounge, yours truly  hot-footed after him. Judging by the sounds, in his panic he wasn’t looking where he was going. I found Spambot the butler on his back, legs waving in the air, unable, turtle-like, to get to his feet again.

I reached the vestibule which looked as though a hurricane had blasted through it. I surmised that Goosey had crashed into the crucifix, knocked it over, ricocheted into the suit of armour, knocked that over as well. The swastika was missing too.

I dashed out into the snow, my bare feet baulking at the frosty ground. The weather outside was frightful and I hated going out in the snow. The icy wind whipped viciously around the short-&-curlies. Taking a leaf out of Dr Petty’s book, I cupped the old meat-and -two-veg, not from modesty, but to prevent frostbite. I stared around, blinded by the snowy tumult. There was no sign of Goosey. He wouldn’t last long in these conditions, although, to be honest, he had a better coating of blubber than I did.

The snowy tornado grew to a crescendo. My ears were assaulted by a frightful racket, like the foulest carol singers shrieking in agony…

And then all was calm, all was bright.

The snow ceased. There was no sign of Goosey

First thing I noticed was that the snowmen had vanished. All that were left were little mounds of snow topped with discarded hats and scarves.

Then I spotted Goosey. He was lying in the snow, face down, his prominent rump thrust into the air, already crusted with a permafrost, the swastika flag wrapped around his left ankle. I approached him.

‘Goosey?’ I called. ‘Are you alright?’ No reply. ‘Goosey?’

But as I neared him, I espied with horror that he was already blue, his lifeless eyes, goggling behind ice-encrusted spectacles. The final horror though was that every orifice was stuffed with carrots…

 

And, that young Simon, is how your truly began his esteemed career as a vanquisher of the evil forces which have besieged this benighted world.’

‘Crikey!’ replied Simon. Not quite the admiring response I had desired, but words weren’t his strong point.

But what happened after you found Goosey?’ Simon asked. 

‘I went back inside, frozen to the marrow. I narrowly avoided chilblains on the orchestras by jumping into a hot bath, aided by those two charming maids – Polynesian I later learned – and then we continued with our Christmas celebrations.

‘The local Plod later removed Goosey’s body. We didn’t want to sully his reputation with gossip of devilry, so we told everyone he’d got frightfully drunk, gone outside to indulge in some self-abuse with carrots and fallen asleep in the snow and died of hypothermia. No one quibbled.’

Henceforth, under the tutelage of both Dr Greenford Wimpybar and Miss Diabeticia Lemon, I learned all that was necessary to confront the armies of darkness. And thanks to the darling Sir Dickie and Lady Fistula Whizzer-Chips I embraced the joys of nudism and have exposed myself all over the world.

‘What happened to the Pettys?’

‘Last heard he was atoning for his sins by treating the poor somewhere ghastly the East End while also campaigning to make nudity illegal, the ridiculous man. She fell in with a bad crowd and ended up as a drug-addled stripper. Banged up in chokey, Holloway, I think.’

But whose obituary reminded you of all this, Uncle?’

‘Ah yes, it seems poor old Wimpybar has fallen off his perch. A blessed relief to be sure. He’d not been the same since our encounter with the Loch Ness Monster a few Christmases ago. But that’s another story…’

‘Next Christmas, Uncle?’

‘If you’ve been a good lad and done your duty by King and country and slaughteedr some of our enemies, then yes...’

‘Merry Christmas, Uncle Charles!’

‘And a happy new year, Simon!’

 

THE END!

 

 

To hear Sir Desmond at work, go to

http://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

Tags: ChristmasChristmas ghost storyghostshorrorschooldaysstirlingwheatley

 

Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 4

December 19, 2018

Chapter 4

We were led through a vast vestibule with the expected accoutrements – suits of armour, disembodied heads of livestock, stocks (presumably for the humiliation of disobedient servants, I noted approvingly), a large Swastika flag flying over the staircase; a stuffed native of some Godforsaken part of the Empire, a full-size crucifix with an extraordinarily life-like Christ hanging from it…

‘Left-footers, eh?’ I whispered to Goosey. He shrugged. ‘Not as far as I know. Never seen them at church, but the gentry usually have their own chapel and parson.’

‘The Whizzer-Chips are known for having progressive beliefs,’ said Wimpybar.

That sounded alarming. I hoped we weren’t going to be expected to sacrifice a small animal – unless it was a goose, of course – or dance around a maypole.

Spambot the butler showed us into a small room. There were coat hooks on the wall and hangers. It remined me of the rugby changing room at school only without the pungent aroma of soiled jockstrap. Oh, how I miss those days.

‘Do the Sirs require a member of staff to help them undress?’ the ancient butler gasped.

‘I think we’re all capable of doing that unaided by this age, thank you, Spambot,’ said Goosey.

‘Very well, Reverend.’ Spambot clapped his hands and a pair of twin girls, possibly Philippino, maybe Thai, approximately 20 years old, maybe 21, appeared at his side.  ’You will not be needed, girls, back to your duties.’ They giggled, bowed and left.

I was convinced I heard Wimpybar say something under his breath. Was it ‘Damn?’

Goosey, with an enthusiasm I found mildly distasteful, proceed to divest himself of clothes. He didn’t bother to hang anything up, and within a few seconds he was naked, surrounded by a moat of ecclesiastical garments and underpants. It would be unseemly to describe a man of God in his state of nudity; let’s just say if we are all born in the image of God, the god in question was Buddha. I had often seen Goosey in a similar state of undress many times in the trenches when we had convinced him it was safer for him to deliver despatches in the nude, the colour of flesh being less noticeable to the Bosch through their binoculars. He never found out we were joshing him!

Goosey had kept his socks on and I wondered if this was allowed. Verrucae are, after all, a serious public health issue.

I quickly shed my apparel as did Wimpybar by my side. I glanced at him. Au naturel, he was much as to be expected. Pink, not as tubby as I had assumed, hairless…nondescript in most ways, except…

I paused. ‘Except?’ urged Simon.

‘All I wish to say is that Dr Wimpybar was endowed in a way few men are. But most wish to be.’

Simon looked blank. Honestly, a stint in the army, preferably indulging in a particularly brutal war, would help that lad, cute as he may be, to grow up.

‘What do you mean, Uncle?’

There was no time to pussyfoot about. ‘Cove had a huge Johnson. Like a fire extinguisher.’

Within moments we were all three of us in state of complete and utter dishabille.

‘Now what?’ I asked. ‘Do we wait for that antediluvian butler to come and fetch us?’

‘We could die of old age ourselves waiting for that,’ barked an unfamiliar voice. ‘We’ll make our own way to the reception room.’

We all looked around. Somehow, we had missed a fourth person in the changing room.

‘Ah, Miss Lemon,’ said Goosey, holding out his hand. ‘May I introduce Charles, Viscount de Bourbon a Bisquit. And Doctor Greenford Wimpybar.’’

Our new acquaintance was an elderly lady, somewhat stout of figure, head tipped with a mop of uncontrollable grey hair – still covered with a woolly hat. She had more than chins than the Shanghai telephone directory, the lowest of which reclined on her mighty cleavage. Her vast breasts – even more impressive than Goosey’s – dangled either side of her. She had tucked them out of her way with her hands on her hips. Her overlapped stomach protected her modesty – her knees too, almost – and -you’re looking a bit green, Simon, is the heat getting too much?

She squinted at us. Her left eye gave me the impression that it may be false. I had begun to suspect she may be a tad eccentric.

‘Miss Lemon?’ asked Wimpybar. ‘Miss Diabeticia Lemon? The clairvoyant.’

‘I knew you were going to ask me that?’ she said and roared with laughter.

‘She always says that,’ explained Goosey. ‘It’s her joke.’

‘Merry Christmas, gents! Call me Bitter, everyone does. Follow me!’ and she marched out of the small room, buttocks shuddering like skittish piglets.

No, fear not, Simon, I won’t say any more about her backside. Suffice to say, we could tell she had cycled to lunch today.

A short while later, we had all convened in the reception room. There were eight of us including our esteemed hosts, all as nude as the day we were born. Fortunately, there was a roaring fire in the hearth so no chance of goose pimples. Goosey had already had a mishap with pine needles as he walked past the vast Christmas tree in the vestibule. Miss Lemon had bravely volunteered to remove them without even a pair of tweezers to aid her.

Aside from ourselves and Miss Lemon, the only other guests seemed to be a rather mousey couple, Dr and Mrs Petty. He was, I gathered, a local GP, only invited because Sir Dicky Whizzer-Chips was, by all accounts, a bit of a hypochondriac. Mrs Petty reeked of social-climbing and was prepared to bare her meagre wares in public, despite her obvious discomfort (judging by the way she hid behind her weedy husband) at so exposing herself, in order to say she had dined with the aristocracy. Neither had much to say so, aside from my customary good manners, I dismissed them as of little consequence.

Our hosts were a fascinating pair. Sir Dickie Whizzer-Chips was an amiable old chap, about seventy years of age, walrus-moustached with matching short-and-curlies, a wig of an unconvincing nature perched on the summit of his pate. His wife, Lady Fistula, was petite but what she lacked in height she more than made up for in clockweights – although not literally, that was visible to all. She wore the trousers in that household, I guessed, well, if she ever actually wore anything at all. She sized us all up with her shrewd eyes, embraced Miss Lemon which I thought frightfully brave of her as she could so easily have gone AWOL in that cleavage; patted Goosey on the posterior; shook hands very firmly with yours truly; ignored the Pettys; then to my surprise grabbed Wimpybar by the elbow and led him away. They proceeded to chat very animatedly about something. I tried to earwig, but Miss Lemon drowned out any chance of that with her raucous slurping of the champagne we had just been proffered.

Lunch was an excellent twelve-course affair, from smoked salmon to caviar kedgeree to tripe mousse to kipper cocktail. The highlight was a six-bird joint; starting with a sparrow inside a wren inside a duck inside a capon inside a goose, the whole lot stuffed inside an emu. Eventually, bloated to point of heaving, we cried no more until Spambot the butler presented a flaming Christmas pud. Luckily the old boy had little hair, either on his head or around the orchestras, otherwise it would have whooshed up in smoke when he staggered under the weight of the mucilaginous dessert at one point.

The Pettys only managed a pitiful spoonful each, and even I had to decline a second helping, but the pud was soon demolished by Goosey and Miss Lemon. The former had visibly ballooned throughout the repast to the point where I worried even his socks might fly off, whereas Miss Lemon had made space by constantly and noisily breaking wind during the meal. Most of us were too well-brought up to acknowledge the noises or aroma of her anal ejaculations, but Mrs Petty betrayed her lower middle-class origins by visibly wincing and holding a handkerchief to her nose.

Lunch finished and replete to the point of nausea, we were led to the lounge where we had been promised ‘a little show.’ I was, I admit, somewhat overwhelmed with apprehension about my imminent demise, but would never have been so common as to reveal my feelings. We all sat on sofas and armchairs which were swathed in washable towelette covers.

Wimpybar sat next to me on the sofa and hissed,’ Where’s the Reverend?’ I peered around. Goosey had vanished. I shrugged.’ Little boy’s room, one presumes. Wouldn’t mind an hour or so in there myself.’ Wimpybar looked worried. ‘’Perhaps I’ll go and check,’ he started to say, when darling Lady Fistula stood up to make an announcement.

‘We have a surprise for you,’ she said, loudly. ‘It’s an old Whizzer-Chips tradition that after lunch the children should regale us with Yuletide-themed play to remind us all what we are celebrating today.’

‘What children?’ I asked.

She shrugged. ‘Grandchildren, I expect. I’m never too sure where they come from.’

‘Why weren’t they at lunch?’

Sir Dickie leaned over to me and whispered, ‘’Watching children eat makes Lady Fistula very angry indeed. We didn’t sit at table with our own children until their respective 21st birthday parties.’

Lady Fistula shushed us, clapped her hands and said, ‘And so please give a big hand for the Vicar who has staged this little tableau.  And Sir Dickie, don’t snore!’

During this speech Spambot had hauled with a difficulty a large and rather gaudy chair and placed it just behind where Lady Fistula stood.

I decided to leave. If there were to be children present, I wouldn’t want them witnessing my no doubt grisly death. Such innocent little things. I made to stand… But Wimpybar put a firm hand on my arm and stopped me. ‘Not yet,’ he muttered under his breath.

Goosey appeared, still naked except for a tea towel wrapped around his head.

‘Hello everybody,’ he announced, ‘The children will now perform a little piece, written and directed by myself of that most heart-warming of Christmas stories from the Bible… The Slaughter of the Innocents!’

We applauded.

‘Oh, and I take the role of Herod,’ he suddenly remembered. ‘Hence…’ he pointed the tea towel.

He sat down on the large chair. ‘This is my throne’ he explained quietly, then raised his voice. ‘I am King Herod,’ he announced in a voice usually served for the Demon King in panto.

A young lad appeared, clothed in what appeared to be a dressing gown and, like Goosey, his head adorned by a tea towel. ‘Your Majesty, Three Wise men from the East are at the door asking for directions.’

‘Bring them forth!’

There more young boys appeared, draped in curtains, wearing cardboard crowns on their heads.

‘Your Majesty,’ they chanted in unison. ‘We are Three Wise Men from The East. We seek the young king.’

‘You’re looking at him,’ replied Goosey.

‘No, this one’s a babby apparently,’ they said. ‘A bright star has led us here to find the new King of the Jews.’

‘That can’t be right,’ said Herod, scratching his chin. ‘After all, I’m the King of the Jews, the Jewish VIP.’

Goosey held his hand to hide his mouth from the Wise Men and said to us, the audience, ‘Methinks I had better find out more.’

I have to admit, despite my sense of imminent doom, I was rather gripped. Who knew Goosey had such literary skills?

Herod then told the Wise Men to go and find this little king and then come back and tell him where he was so that Herod too could pay homage.

The Wise men pretended to walk for a long way, while a ‘Mary’ and ‘Joseph set up their manger, along with a doll for the baby Jesus. The Wise men stopped, bowed to the manger and said,’ Hail, King of the Jews. We bring presents.’ Gift having been exchanged, the Wise Men said they were nipping back to tell old Herod all about the baby. As they returned in the direction of Goosey, Joseph said to Mary, ‘I don’t like the sound of that, old girl, quick, let’s scarper!’ They picked up their manger and left the stage.

Meanwhile, the Wise Men were blabbing to Herod about all they had seen, the big-mouthed buffoons. Herod pretended to be enthusiastic, but his side scowls at the audience revealed his true feelings. Once the Wise Men had buggered off, Herod summoned a soldier.

I have to say these children were marvellously convincing. How they remembered their lines and where to move, I just don’t know.

Herod said to the soldier, ‘I want all kiddies under two years old slain.’ Goosey drew a finger across his throat and gurgled. The old red stuff ran cold, I can tell you. ‘Pronto!’

We in the audience booed. Miss Lemon chucked a tangerine at Goosey and missed.

And this was the point when the play turned somewhat strange.

Some small girls came out carrying dolls, followed by boys dressed as soldiers. The boys started to grab the dolls and wrench them apart. Someone had been busy as the dolls were full of unmentionable goo and oomskah which seeped out all over the shop. One small boy even wrenched a doll’s head off with his bare teeth, while a different lad karate chopped another doll in half. The little girls started to fight back, kicking and scratching at the boys. It was all frightfully realistic, the sort of avant-garde nonsense the French get up to. But very rapidly the violence escalated. The ersatz gore got messier, the biting and scratching became more brutal, it was hard to tell which blood was real and which fake. It played havoc with the carpets which would displease Lady Fistula I was sure.

And in the middle of this carnage, Goosey sat on his throne, a broad grin on his face, rubbing his hands with glee. He seemed to be muttering something under his breath.

I stared around at my fellow audience. Eyes wide, jaws dropped, they all seemed to be a in a trance. The Mrs Petty broke the spell by projectile vomiting. She splattered some of the children who promptly ceased their carnage, gaped at each other and burst into tears.

Instantly, the adults snapped out of their hypnotic state. Lady Fistula began to mop the children down with a hanky, Sir Dickie poured himself a whisky, Mrs Petty burst into agitated tears while her husband tried ineffectively to soothe her. Didn’t the silly man know you were supposed to wallop a hysterical woman?

Only Miss Lemon seemed to be way with the fairies still. Wimpybar grabbed her by the shoulder and shook her. Everything shuddered downwards and up again like a tsunami of flesh. ‘Tell me, woman, what are you receiving?’

I didn’t hear her response, but Wimpybar looked grimly satisfied like a chap who’s managed, against the odds, to complete sexual congress with an ugly lass.

‘Never fear, Petty!’ bellowed Wimpybar, pushing the diminutive quack back onto the sofa. ‘I am a fully qualified physician, I will deal with your good wife. And you can assist me, Viscount!’ With that, Wimpybar grabs me rather roughly by the elbow and drags me out of the lounge with him before I can protest.

In the hallway, I snatched my elbow away from the uncouth ruffian. ‘What on Earth…?’ I began, until he placed his index finger on my lips. Oh dear, I thought, fellow’s a Dorothy Perkins.

Spambot was in the hallway dusting a bust of Mussolini. He pointed at a small door which we assumed led to a lavatory, and so we pushed Mrs Petty into it.

‘What do you mean ‘qualified physician?’,’ I continued, ‘You’re not a proper doctor.’

‘I needed a few moments alone with you,’ he said urgently. I was very mindful of his colossal ding-wallace pressing against my thigh.

‘Now look here. Wimpybar, live and let live and I have been in the army, but you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think…’

‘Shh!’ he said and listened carefully. All we could hear was the sound of Mrs Petty wasting a perfectly good Christmas lunch down the lavatory.

The next course of refreshments was waiting to be taken in by the maids: Coffee pots, cups, jugs of steaming milk, a box of Quality Street and a tray of crackers – Harrods, I presumed.

‘Have you finally accepted that you are doomed?’ he asked me.

I wanted to say that it was all ridiculous and of course I didn’t believe any such delusory gobbledygook… but at that moment I realised that I did believe it, every ludicrous word, and was frankly, in a dreadful funk about it. Wimpybar was obviously convinced it was true and… one just accepts the word of a chap with such an immense Captain Standish.

Wimpybar smiled grimly. ‘At last! And would you like me to save you?’

I gasped. ‘But I thought you had spun the curse on me in the first place.’

His eyebrow whizzed heavenwards. ‘I?’ He laughed, a sound I found annoying and curiously reassuring at the same time. ‘I, my dear Viscount , am on the side of the Angels. ‘

I grabbed him by what should have been the lapels, but in our state of dishabille were actually his nipples. He winced.

‘Sorry. But how can you save me?’

‘Have you brought the parchment with you?’

‘Of course. It’s in my jacket pocket.’

‘Fetch it! Now! And this is what I want you to do…’

‘What did he want you to do, Uncle?’

‘Not yet, Simon, I’ll tell you when the time is dramatically right.’

Conclusion….

 

 

 

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Satan’s Claws Are Coming To Town chapter 3

December 18, 2018

Chapter 3

Brimstone!

Yes, the flatus from the arse of Hades! Even in those days, before my spectre-hunting skills had been wholly developed, I recognised that malevolent whiff.

Wrapping my scarf around my face, I listened carefully. The singing was now emanating from behind me. And it was getting louder by the second. I spun around.

I was confronted with a group of carol singers. One of them was holding a lantern on a stick, bathing them in a sinister yellow glow. At first, they seemed like ordinary children, swathed in scarves and woolly hats. But as they approached, I could see to my amazement and horror that they were gargoyles! Not just particularly ugly children, but the actual stone effigies of medieval times, seemingly alive!  I glanced up at the eaves of the church. There was a definite absence of gargoyles and grotesques that one would expect of a church of this age.

Now the odious choir was so close to me that I could see their mouths. I quaked at the sight. My God, will I never erase that disgusting vision from my poor brain! Tiny snapping teeth in mouths seemingly carved into the masonry of the head. They chattered vilely, the teeth making repugnant clicking noises as they sang their blasphemous words. Their chins were covered in sickening scraggy bristles. With horror, I realised that the nauseating orifices reminded me of ladies’…

‘Of ladies’ what, Uncle?’ asked Simon, his eyes saucer-wide.

I sighed. ‘Oh, you know, young man, ladies’…’ I pointed in the general direction, ‘…downstairs.’

‘Their wine cellars?’ asked Simon, clearly puzzled.

‘No,’ I said, exasperated at the ingenuous lad. His naiveté had a certain charm but only to a point. I was really going to have to give him ’the talk’ before the whole thing blew up in his face when he eventually joined the army. ’You do know the difference between ladies and chaps, don’t you?’

‘Girls play lacrosse, boys play rugger.’

‘Well, yes…’

‘Girls can type.’

‘True.’

‘And,’ Simon said, heartbreakingly triumphantly, ‘girls squirt babies out of their bottoms.’

I blame his parents. His mother was no better than she should be, and his father’s never been right since Wipers.

‘Let’s continue with my story, Simon. We’ll worry about your alarming lack of genital savvy after Christmas.’

‘Right-oh!’

The infernal choristers crept nearer and nearer. Nowadays, I would have no problem in despatching the repugnant blighters, but then I was stumped. Bullies, communists, pansies, vegetarians, Catholics, the lower orders… those oiks I could soon send packing, but stone fiends from Hell! Hadn’t a clue, frankly.

The Bourbons a Bisquits have never been yellow, but I genuinely thought that my only way of saving my skin was to scarper, pronto. One usually takes sanctuary from the denizens of the underworld in the nearest church, but I had no wish to put Goosey’s parishioners at risk.

But then something quite uncanny happened. A figure, enveloped in hat and scarves, not an inch of his face visible to the world, appeared from nowhere. He – obviously a he – was carrying a large bucket, and he chucked the contents of it all over the damnable brutes. Instantly, they all screamed, and I stared in fascination as the stone monstrosities writhed in horror, their screeches of pain piercing me to my very soul. Then with an ear-splitting bang, the gargoyles exploded! With the reflexes of an old tommie, I instinctively ducked as the shrapnel whizzed past my face.

I cautiously raised my head when the onslaught was over. My faceless saviour was rummaging in the debris.

‘Thanks, old bean,’ I called to him. ‘Much obliged.’

He nodded. ‘Holy water,’ his muffled voice explained from behind the scarf. And with that he grabbed a handful of the gravel remnants and scarpered!

‘I say, who the Dickens are you?’ I called after him, but he’d vanished into the churning blizzard.

I briefly contemplated following him but decided that the warmth and bright candles of the church were more my priority.

But who was that scarfed cove?

The carol service was the jollity I needed after my supernatural happenstance. I managed to join in occasionally, even reaching levels of gusto when we sang about Emmanuelle coming, but I have to admit that while Goosey was in the pulpit blathering on about virgin births and shepherds and whatnot, I was deep in thought about the chilling events of earlier. And little was I to know that I had just been set on the path of righteousness. Yes, Simon, that night, my role as warrior against the creatures of the night started.

‘Crikey!’ exclaimed Simon, vulgarly.

After the service, I waited while Goosey exchanged pleasantries and season’s greetings with his parishioners and, his hand out, accepted gifts from them, including some fatly-stuffed envelopes, and then we walked back to the rectory together (I won’t deny that I kept a wary look-out during the short journey) along with one of the older altar boys, a strapping lad called Toby.

Toby was assisting at the first service in the morning so was sleeping in the box room (‘saves the poor boy making his way back to the church at the crack of dawn in this weather.’).  Goosey packed Toby off to bed with strict instructions to leave his door open for Father Christmas. I’d have thought the lad too old for that sort of childishness, but maybe they grow up later in the sticks.

Once we were thawing out in front of Goosey’s inglenook, sipping from the cocoa which Mrs Brain had ready for us (into which Goosey had tipped a very welcome tot of Scotch), I confided to my ecclesiastic chum the singular events which had taken place earlier.

To my surprise, Goosey pooh-poohed the whole story. ‘Local oiks playing japes on you,’ he giggled. He dismissed any suggestion of the supernatural, which I found rather rum considering his profession.

‘Oh, we’re far too modern in the church today to countenance that sort of claptrap,’ he explained. I was rather shocked. Either you believe in your own nonsense or else, why bother?

‘No, I know exactly which children were to blame for your little adventure. Their parents will be at the mid-morning service tomorrow. I’ll wag a few fingers in the appropriate direction. ‘

He drained his cocoa and stood up. ’Early matinee tomorrow, so I think I had better be up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire.’

He yawned and stretched. ’Merry Christmas, old chum. Put that nonsense of earlier out of your mind and have a good night’s sleep. You’ll giggle about it in the morning.’

‘Merry Christmas, Goosey,’ I said absently.

‘Don’t worry about any sounds from upstairs, I’ll just be filling Toby’s stocking.’

With that Goosey scurried upstairs.

I retrieved the rune-inscribed parchment from my pocket and stared at it. Was it true? Was I cursed? Was I destined not to see Boxing Day? I’d dismissed the threat as nonsense, but almost being grabbed by the gargoyles earlier had opened me up to all sorts of possibilities. None of them comfortable.

I gulped down the dregs of my cocoa. The only advantage I could see in my current predicament was that I could get pleasantly legless without suffering the consequences.

I was suddenly aware that I wasn’t alone. I looked up – yes, fearfully I am man enough to admit. Dr Wimpybar was in the doorway looking at me.

‘Who hates you enough to curse you to an eternity of hellfire?’’ he asked quietly.

I considered. ‘Hmm, well, my ex-wife Marjory, perhaps… otherwise I like to think I am generally adored.’

‘No,’ he insisted, ‘earlier than that?’

‘The midwife? I gather I wasn’t an easy birth.’`

Wimpybar sighed. ‘You are a very stupid man, Viscount. Perhaps you deserve your infernal fate.’

Which was just rude.

 

Christmas morn dawned. The snow lay deep and crisp and even, although the frost looked pretty damn cruel.

‘It’s Christmas time,’ I muttered to myself as I looked out of my bedroom window. ‘But is there a need to be afraid?’

The driveway to Daryl Hall was hurriedly being cleared of snow by locals, young and old, so that we could pass through in Goosey’s pony-and-trap.

‘Isn’t it wonderful that the poor can earn money on Christmas Day, rather than sitting around all day remaining poor, unable even to beg because decent people aren’t out in the streets,’ said Goosey. Rather a profound statement, I thought. Perhaps being a vicar wasn’t such a surprising calling for him?

To my astonishment, Dr Grenford Wimpybar was joining us for lunch. ‘Isn’t he a bit non-U for lunch in such exalted company?’ I whispered to Goosey.

‘He was specifically invited,’ Goosey replied. ‘The Whizzer-Chips read his monograph on the links between tight underpants and communism and so were rather keen to meet him.’

Wimpybar had remained silent throughout the journey, occasionally distracted by the snow-drenched peasants we passed, although whenever I glanced at him, he was staring at me rather too intently for comfort.

My experience the evening before now seemed like a bad dream, the result of too much cheese at night. However, even though I thought I’d convinced myself that the Satanic death sentence was claptrap, deep down a grinding in my gut was ever-present. Maybe that was the late-night cheese too? Or the now-empty decanter of whisky?

But whatever unholy shenanigans were going on, I was sure that Wimpybar was somehow behind it all. His devilish demeanour and the bespoke nature of his silky accent automatically made him dubious to my eyes. Perhaps he had joined us for lunch to see my monstrous demise with his own cunning eyes?

‘I say, look at those!’ I pointed ahead of us.

Daryl Hall was ringed by a circle of huge snowmen, scarfed and hatted, coal for eyes and buttons, and, unusually, two carrots each; one for the nose as is the tradition, the other protruding proudly just below the waist. The pubic tubers certainly made for an impressive, if unorthodox, vision.  The snowmen faced outwards as though on sentry duty against intruders, their orange Johnsons thrusting out in the en garde position.

‘Abominable!’ muttered Wimpybar under his breath.

Goosey giggled uncertainly ‘How naughtily pagan. I shall have to have a word with the Whizzer-Chips.’

Our transport pulled up outside the imposing main entrance to Daryl Hall. We disembarked and approached the front door; Goosey rang the bell.

The door to Daryl Hall was opened by a rather imposing butler who was – I jest not, Simon – as starkers as we are now.

‘Gosh!’

Stark buttock naked! And bearing in mind the cove was eighty if he was a day, it was an alarming sight.

‘Merry Christmas, Spambot,’ exclaimed Goosey.

When Goosey had mentioned that the Whizzer-Chips were nudists, it hadn’t occurred to me that their lunch guests were expected to follow suit – or to be precise, no suits at all.

‘Yuletide greetings, Reverend,’ wheezed the elderly servant. ‘Please come in and I will lead you to the disrobing room.’ He turned, displaying buttocks so fleshless that sitting comfortably must surely be impossible for him, and limped away, his jagged left hip looking as though it may pierce through his gossamer skin at any moment. I was briefly reminded of being taken to see the remains of Tutankhamen when I was boy.

I glanced at Wimpybar. He merely raised an eyebrow. I was not then the committed nudist I am now, but as the owner of a young and fit body at the time…

‘As you are now,’ chipped in Simon, the darling boy.

‘…I had no fear of doffing the clobber, but neither Goosey nor Dr Wimpybar were exactly fine specimens of manhood. In fact, I think they wouldn’t have disagreed with me that they were both blobby buckets of lard encased in repellently pale and dimpled skin.’

Simon rightly shuddered.

Before we were led into the house, I glimpsed back the way we came. I looked at the snowmen again. Something about them made me shudder. They coal eyes seemed to be staring right at me. Hang on a dashed moment, weren’t they facing away from the house when we arrived…? I shook my head. No, I surely must’ve been mistaken.

Continued

 

 

 

To hear Sir Desmond at work, go to

http://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

Tags: ChristmasChristmas ghost storyghostshorrorschooldaysstirlingwheatley

 

Satan’s Claws Are Coming to Town chapter 2

December 17, 2018

Chapter 2

I glanced up sharply. To my astonishment, the odd character from the station was standing in the doorway, a dusting of snow on the shoulders of his cape, pointing that silver-tipped cane at us. Even in my surprise I noted that the silver tip was sculpted in the shape of a goat’s head. I briefly thought he was going to slap Goosey’s hand away from the parchment with his cane.

‘Don’t touch it!’ he repeated. As Goosey hadn’t even made the slightest effort to do as he was told, there was no need for this repeated warning.

‘You,’ the man said, pointing at me. ‘You pick it up.’ I don’t usually respond well to orders barked at me by unknown fellows, but I found myself automatically reaching down and picking up the wretched parchment.

‘Who the devil are you, Sir?’ I inquired of the stranger.

‘Ah, may I introduce you two gents,’ said Goosey. ‘This,’ he pointed at the newcomer, ‘is Doctor Greenford Wimpybar. Eminent historian and crypto-anthropologist.’

I hadn’t the foggiest what one of those was, but I wasn’t about to reveal my ignorance.

‘Ah, you’re one of those,’ I said, knowingly.

‘And this’, Goosey gestured at yours truly, ‘is Charles, Viscount de Bourbon a Bisquit.’

Doctor Wimpybar and I nodded at each other, both of us, I could sense, sizing the other up; our weaknesses, our strengths, the girth of our respective metiers.

‘Dr Wimpybar is residing here in the vicarage while doing some historical research,’ Goosey continued.

‘Over Christmas?’ I said, surprised.

‘The festive season means little to me, with the exception of its pagan origins,’ Doctor Wimpybar replied.

Ah, the naivete of my youthful self! The word ‘pagan’ now would set off alarm bells in my head, but in those days. I merely thought it meant ‘the olden days.’

‘I say, that was neat trick you pulled with the ticket back at the station,’ I said.

Goosey looked at me inquiringly. I explained the circumstances of our earlier encounter.

‘A mere act of legerdemain,’ the Doctor said airily. ‘Nothing that an end of the pier conjurer couldn’t do. I saw your ticket fall to the ground, picked it up, and with a subsequent simple act of manual dexterity extracted it from your lug-‘ole.’

My organ in question pricked up at this lapse. ‘Lug-‘ole’ indeed. Not quite as well-bred as you’d like us to think, m’lad.  Filed this information away in case it was needed.

I laughed, and Wimpybar and I shook hands. His grip was surprisingly firm; I was expecting a damp eel. All that ‘manual dexterity’ had put muscle in his wrists.

I waved the parchment at Dr Wimpybar. I am convinced he flinched. ‘So, what is this bit of nonsense, eh?’ I asked him. ‘Why wouldn’t you let Goosey pick it up?’

A very sombre expression settled on Doctor Wimpybar’s face and he touched his fingers together.  ‘I think you may have infuriated someone, Viscount.’

I chortled. ‘Oh, I’ve made many enemies in my time. Who hasn’t?’

Doctor Wimpybar put on a steely face.’ No, this is someone who wants you dead!’

I gasped. So did Goosey.

Doctor Wimpybar pointed at the parchment. ‘Those runes are a death sentence. While they are in your possession, you are dooomed!’

I was convinced the fellow added an extra letter ‘O’ to ‘doomed.’

‘Well, I’ll just throw them away,’ I said and strode towards the open fire.

‘No!’ roared Wimpybar. ‘That will not work. The only way to divest them is to pass them onto another person – who will then be dooomed in your place.’

Dooomed. He did it again.

‘Thanks heavens I don’t believe in all that mumbo-jumbo then,’ I replied. ‘Or else my knees would be knocking and not from the weather.’ I laughed and glanced at Goosey. But he had gone deathly white.

‘Don’t mock the forces of darkness, Sausage,’ he quavered.

‘Oh, come now, Goosey, surely you don’t swallow all that cock.’

He coughed. ‘Well, I am a vicar. Rather goes with the territory.’

Doctor Wimpybar approached me, the contours of his jowls lit rather spookily by the flames from the open fire. ‘Be warned, Viscount, your death is imminent – and it will not be a peaceful one.’

You know me, young Simon, no man puts the willies up yours truly so easily. I chuckled again, right in the wretched Doctor’s face. ‘Sorry, old chap, you may be a brainy boffin and all that, but yours truly doesn’t easily fall for any of that flapdoodle!’

And I flung the parchment in the fire.

Doctor Wimpybar’s pink face was impassive, but Goosey gasped. I thought my old batman was going to reach out to rescue the parchment from the flames. Wimpybar again used his silver-tipped cane to prevent anyone approaching the fire.

‘Watch!’ he whispered.

Blow me down with a pink oboe if the blasted piece of parchment didn’t fly out of the flames and land back in my hand. It wasn’t even hot, although a couple of sparks from the flames singed my palm.

‘Well, I never…!’ I exhaled. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Goosey crossing himself which I thought was a tad Popeish for my liking.

Doctor Wimpybar confronted me. ‘Your death is written, Viscount. Someone wishes you dead. And imminently so. I am sorry.’

‘When?’ asked Goosey.

’24 hours from the moment the Viscount first touched the parchment,’ replied Wimpybar.

‘So, approximately 5pm tomorrow. Christmas day!’ I gulped.

I grabbed Wimpybar by the cane. ‘Is there nothing I can do?’ Yes, I’ll admit it, Simon, my disdain for the supernatural was beginning to crumble.

Doctor Wimpybar looked rueful. ‘Only by condemning someone else to a horrible death can you save yourself.’

I contemplated whom I really disliked. ‘Who’s the local Labour MP?’ I asked Goosey.

He just looked crestfallen and said he would see if supper was ready.

After he’d left the room, I looked Doctor Wimpybar squarely in the eye and asked, ‘Is this really true? Am I doomed?’

‘Eat, drink and be merry, my dear Viscount!’ he cried. ‘you won’t need to worry about a hangover on Boxing Day.’

 

The rest of the evening passed in somewhat of a daze. Wimpybar had gone out, ostensibly for ‘his research,’ although I suspected the blighter was up to no good somewhere. Goosey’s housekeeper had made a splendid tripe-and-onions omelette for supper, but I barely tasted it. Of course, I knew that no-one could be sentenced to death by a piece of parchment. This was the twentieth century, after all. An epoch of scientific discovery. Look at all the marvellous weapons we had now! War was now state of the art, no spears and tomahawks and getting drenched in the enemies’ gore.  I was rather looking forward to the next war – if indeed I was to be allowed to live to see it.

I made a pretence of listening to Goosey’s natter, but he soon gave me up as a bad job and excused himself, citing a need to darn a hole in his cassock ready for midnight mass.

I did what I always do when engulfed in uncertainty. I poured a large whisky. Alcohol! A cuddle from one’s nanny for adults. A few tumblers of Glenlivet’s finest and my fears of earlier had receded. The evening passed. Goosey had popped his owlish head around the door to say he was off to the church and urging me not to be late. He wanted me to hand out hymn sheets and start the round of applause after his sermon.

The clock struck 11.30.

I took a final swig of whisky and stood up. ‘Well, off to church I bally well toddle,’ I announced, although as Yours Truly was the only cove in the room it was somewhat of a redundant statement.

The walk to St Sheila the Shameless was only a few minutes, one side of the graveyard to the other. The cemetery to the font; the reverse of our usual journey, I pondered morbidly.

One wouldn’t usually bother with outdoor apparel – apart from a hat, obviously, I am not a barbarian –  but the snow was whirling like a Turkish dervish, and I could imagine the temperature had plummeted to a degree that would make one fear for the wellbeing of one’s orchestras.

In the hallway I donned my hat and coat. As I was pulling on my muffler, the front door opened and, accompanied by a severe drop in the temperature, haloed by a swirling cloud of snow, Dr Greenford Wimpybar entered the vicarage. By the glow on his pale cheeks, I surmised a few snifters had been downed at the local hostelry The Thruppenny Bits.

‘Evening, old chap,’ I boomed at him. ‘Merry Christmas! Well, almost.’ I could’ve sworn he flinched.

‘Reciprocated,’ he replied, with a faint smile, and made his way to the stairs.

‘Coming to Midnight Mass?’

He paused at the foot of the stairs and turned back to me, ‘Regrettably, I must work.’

‘On Christmas Eve? The most magical night of the year. Who are you, Father Christmas?’ I guffawed.

A carefully-constructed half-smile appeared on his lips. ‘Perhaps I do plan to bring a gift to all mankind this Yuletide.’ The smile abruptly left, and his eyes quickly changed from disdain to worry and then back to his usual piercing stare, as though he had briefly said too much.

‘All mankind. Eh? I can think of a few ladies for whom I’d happily empty my sack in their bedrooms this very night.’ Unforgivably vulgar, but my tongue had been loosened by the whisky, and besides there were no ladies or vicars present, so no harm done. Although I know Goosey would’ve roared, but I’d never been convinced that his ‘calling’ was anything truly spiritual. The church and the stage are where the otherwise unemployable usually end up.

Wimpybar’s left eyebrow fleetingly raised, he nodded at me, and resumed his journey upstairs.

‘You’ll be missing a jolly good sing-song,’ I entreated him. ‘What’s Christmas without a midnight knees-up to celebrate Our Saviour’s birth?’

Wimpybar continued to climb the stairs, giving no hint that he’d heard me.

‘Nightcap when Goosey and I get back?’ I suggested to his ascending back. He didn’t respond.

‘God rest ye merry…’ I muttered under my breath (but unable to say the word ‘gentleman’ where that curious chap was involved) and girded my, frankly, substantial loins for the imminent cold air outside.

One certainly didn’t have to dream of a White Christmas, it was happening. The combination of a vicious icy wind and the eddying snowflakes blasted me as I stepped outside. So much for a gentle stroll through the graveyard to the church.  I finally discovered the reason men have eyelashes as they prevented the snow from blinding me completely.

Despite the howl of the wind I could hear the sound of Christmas carols in the distance. Was I late? Had the service started already?

While Shepherds Washed Their Cocks By Night…

Had I misheard? Perhaps my ears were already suffering from frostbite? Those weren’t the words I recalled from school, not even in the Lower Fourth, and we were all far from angelic at that age.

Silent Night, Holy Shite…

I stopped. There was something wicked afoot. I was yet to be the fearless investigator of the occult at that point in time, but even with stalactites forming from my nose I could smell a very peculiar rat.

Not just a rat. My nostrils, despite the numbing from the arctic air, suddenly got a whiff of an offensively pungent odour. Was it…? Could it be…?

Brimstone!

Continued….

 

(c) Anthony Keetch

To hear Sir Desmond at work, go to

http://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

Tags: ChristmasChristmas ghost storyghostshorrorschooldaysstirlingwheatley

 

Satan’s Claws Are Coming to Town

December 16, 2018

Satan’s Claws Are Coming to Town by Sir Desmond Stirling

 

Chapter 1

‘Merry Christmas, Uncle Charles!’

‘Merry Christmas, Simon!’

Charles, Viscount de Bourbon a Bisquit, gentleman, adventurer, patriot and Englishman (despite his gallic title), clanked champagne glasses with his young nephew. They both took a swig of the bubbly nectar.

‘I say, Uncle, this new Turkish bath of your is frightfully hot.’

‘It’s supposed to be,’ Charles smiled at his nephew and watched the perspiration rolling down the young man’s firm cricket-enhanced pectorals. ‘That’s why we’re both sans clobber.’

Charles stood up and poured water onto the infernally red coals. They sizzled, and steam erupted into the air. Charles sat down again, eschewing the towel he had initially wrapped around his waist. He unself-consciously perched one leg up on the bench, his manhood gleaming with sweat, and began to casually exfoliate himself with his strigil.

Simon nonchalantly flicked his adorable blonde fringe out of his eyes; a spray of sweat flew across the sauna, a salty bead landing on his uncle’s face.

‘I don’t think I can cope with much more, Uncle.’ He flapped his hands in front of his face.

‘Nonsense’ replied his uncle firmly. ‘you’ll face a lot more heat than this in the Sudan when you get posted there. Don’t forget, the fuzzy-wuzzies are accustomed to it and will use that to their fiendish advantage, so you’ll be spending lot more time in here over the Yuletide holiday…’

Simon groaned.

‘Even if I have to tear your clothes off and drag you in here myself!’

Both men laughed at the prospect.

‘Now,’ said Charles, ‘where are the holly branches? Time to give you a jolly good whisking!’

‘What?’ exclaimed Simon, alarmed.

‘Relax, said his uncle, ‘it’s what the Reds and the Finns do to each other in their bath-houses. Marvellous for the circulation, apparently. Gets the gander up and throbbing.’

‘Tell you what, Uncle,’ said Simon, keen to avoid a thrashing, remembering the spankings Charles used to give him in his youth, often for the most trivial misdemeanour, ‘why not tell me one of your marvellous spooky yarns. It is nearly Christmas after all.’

Charles ceased scraping his thigh, unclasped his strigil, and thought for a while. ‘Funny you should say that, lad, this morning at breakfast I was reading The Times obituary page and I was reminded of something that happened a long time ago…’

 

It was the 24th of December. I can’t recall which year, but sometime between the wars. I had accepted an invitation from my old school chum and later army batman, Arthur Gander, known affectionately to his chums as Goosey. Now officially the Reverend Arthur Gander, Goosey had bagged himself a tasty parish in the idyllic Cotswold village of Murphy Grumbar. He’d been surprisingly popular, managing not to upset his bishop or get himself arrested as vicars are wont to do.

Goosey had, out of the blue, asked me to spend Christmas with him and read the lesson at midnight mass. I’d recently had an unwise dalliance with a certain young lady – no names, no packdrill, but as I didn’t relish being King one day, it was gently suggested at the end of a Beefeater’s pike that I leave town for a while. I was sailing for Kuala Lumpur in the new year, but, beforehand, a traditional Yuletide in the Shires appealed.

Delayed by financial negotiations with a particularly truculent grande horizontale, I had seized my suitcase, put my manservant Staunchpole into kennels, grabbed the post, and raced to Paddington station. I’d only just made my train and, annoyed to find First Class packed, I had reluctantly taken a seat in Second Class. I had firmly made it clear to the scum in my carriage that they were to speak only when spoken to, and settled down to read my post.

I discarded the begging letters (one from my accountant pleading to be paid, the nerve!), the Christmas cards from obscure relatives, a reminder to renew my subscription to English Manhood periodical. In other words, nothing that couldn’t have been ignored until after the holiday had finished. I discarded the lot out of the carriage window. I was about to close my eyes and enjoy a comfy snooze when I saw that I had missed one piece of post which was, judging from its size and feel, another Christmas card. It was about to follow its brethren into the icy outdoors when I decided to open it. One leftover foolishness from my childhood is the forlorn hope that maybe there will be a very welcome postal order bestowed on yours truly by an uncle with more money than sense or perhaps wanting to buy silence for that unwise stroking of a thigh at a long-ago family tea party.

The card was nondescript, bearing an image of a robin so banal that it wasn’t even unforgivably vulgar. It was unsigned with no clue as to the sender. I struggled to think of which elderly kin was so demented that they’d forget to inscribe a card, but as most of one’s aging aunties seem to be so far gone that euthanasia would be a kindness, it was hard to pin down a culprit.

I noticed that something was stuck to the inside of the card, a loose piece of paper. I tugged, and it came loose. It was a thin strip of paper, almost translucent. At first, I thought it was blank, but as I stared at it, unearthly symbols appeared on the paper. Don’t look at me like that, young Simon, I know exactly how it sounds, but I swear it’s true.  Now in those days I wasn’t the expert on the occult I have since become so I didn’t recognise these uncanny cryptograms for what they were – runes!

No, not prunes, Simon, runes! A form of alphabet used by heathens in the olden days. Yes, I know the effect prunes have on you, it’s a family curse, we all suffer from it. Beastly things. Clockweights of the devil.

Where was I? Ah yes, the slip of paper with the runes. I hadn’t the foggiest what they meant, but something deep down inside me suspected that this card and its occupant shouldn’t be discarded like the rest, so I tucked them inside my pocket, put the whole mystery out of my mind and, lulled by the steady rattle of the train, settled down for my nap.

At first sleep eluded me. I opened my eyes. There was an advertising poster on the wall opposite my seat. It depicted a pretty young lass of the lower orders, her blonde hair wrapped in a scarf, as she recommended the use of some liquid for a domestic purpose. I was idly speculating why the domestic staff one employed were never as attractive as that… when I could have sworn that the woman in the poster moved. I blinked my eyes. Perhaps I had fallen asleep without realising it? The poster woman looked right at me. Not generally out of the poster, but directly at myself. I blinked again. She was definitely glaring straight at me – and then she made the most unlady-like of gestures. I looked around to see if anyone else could see this, but my fellow travellers were either snoozing or had their noses buried in tawdry magazines. I returned my gaze to the poster. Now the blurb on the poster – instead of being the usual balderdash about the product they were promoting – simply read:

 

CHARLES, VISCOUNT de Bourbon a Bisquit

SMELLY IDIOT

DIED CHRISTMAS DAY 193-

 

Naturally I was outraged. I have never been smelly; indeed my odour has often been praised as the most appealing of musks, masculine, yet aromatic.

I summoned the guard. He shambled over to me, insolently irked at having to leave whatever nefarious pastime he was doing rather than the job for which the railway company was amply remunerating him.

‘Tell me, my good man,’ I said between clenched teeth, and pointed at the poster. ‘what is the meaning of this?’

He peered at the poster. It never occurred to me that maybe the base fellow couldn’t read but, lips moving silently, he stared at the writing.

‘Well, sir, it appears to be suggesting that the use of this particular detergent will remove stubborn stains from even the most soiled of underwear.’

My fury was starting to boil over. ‘Not the advertising claptrap,’ I said. ‘The other part. The bit about Viscount Charles being smelly and dying on Christmas Day.’

He looked at me, an even more confused expression than usual on his stupid face and gazed back at the poster. He shrugged. ‘Can’t see nothing like that, sir.’

Barely able to stop myself cuffing the silly fellow, I pointed back at the poster. ‘It’s there! Right under your…’

I gaped, probably looking as gormless as the guard, only with better breeding. The writing about yours truly had gone! Vanished! Just the usual inane marketing drivel, not the insolent stuff about my fragrance or my death.

‘Is that all, sir?’ asked the guard, his demeanour suggesting he thought I was drunk or gaga. I was too baffled to be upset by this and just dismissed him with my hand.

I got up close to the poster and sniffed. Maybe some trick ink had been used? But I could smell nothing untoward. Perhaps I had been dreaming?

I retired to my seat and stared at the poster. But nothing changed, it remained as innocuous as it had before. I found myself hypnotised by the colours of the image, and next thing I knew, I was fast asleep.

I had woken just in time to evacuate my bladder and splash some water on my face before the train pulled into the little station of Murphy Grumbar. I summoned the porter, a shriveled gnome of a man, probably inbred, and instructed him to take my trunk. He made a great pretence of it being an effort, as the proletariat are wont to do. For goodness sake, it wasn’t that much bigger than his puny little carcass.

It had begun to snow, and I strode off to the exit through the swirling flakes, groping for my ticket in my breast pocket. But to my shock, my ticket wasn’t there. I had definitely secured it in that particular pocket before boarding. I looked around suspiciously. Had one of my fellow passengers pinched it while I had dozed? I was rummaging throughout my person just to make sure I hadn’t secreted it in some other nook or cranny when someone barged into me.

‘Watch it!’ I chastised the oaf.

‘I do apologise’. The voice was surprisingly silky. I glanced at its owner. He was an insignificant-looking chap, of a similar height to myself, somewhat pink of face, a silver-tipped cane in his hand. He doffed his Fedora to me, revealing a hairless dome, possibly shaved rather than a result of diminished masculinity. He did however affect a beard, but alas no moustache, an unwise pretension. The beard started along his jawline and was sculpted into a point beneath his chin, resulting in a somewhat saturnine effect, no doubt deliberate.

‘Hmm!’ I harrumphed, admittedly rather ungraciously, but the loss of my ticket had rattled me. Once it wouldn’t have mattered, but in these days of bumptious Bolsheviks, my word as a gentleman would no longer suffice and I’d have to cough up the tin again.

The man replaced his hat and said in rather an oily fashion, ‘Apologies once more.’ He started to turn away, but then stared at me and said, ‘You seem to have something in your ear.’ Before I could stop him, he’d placed his long fingers to my ear and retrieved something from it.

‘What the deuce!’ I spluttered, then stopped and stared in wonder as I saw that the object salvaged from my ear was… my ticket!

‘How the dickens did you…?’ I started, but the man had gone. How on earth had he moved so quickly? His legs seemed to be too short to be that nippy.

Was this the culprit who’d half-inched my ticket in the first place or what? Cove was obviously a wizard at the old sleight of hand, but he didn’t look like a thief. Too well-spoken for a start.

The snow was getting heavier now, and even a magnificent specimen as I was – and still am – could feel the cold seeping into one’s bones. I hailed a taxi – probably the only one in the village, judging by the fist shaken in my direction by the middle-aged biddy in the queue who, frankly, looked as though she needed the exercise.

The clergy know how to look after themselves well, so I was not surprised to find the vicarage to be a haven of warmth and comfort. Goosey greeted me warmly with a cry of ‘Sausage!’ (my nickname in the army for reasons you won’t, in our current circumstances, need explaining, although Goosey as lower ranks shouldn’t really have used it), and while his elderly housekeeper lugged my trunk to my room, he led me into his living room where are blazing fire awaited me, along with buttered crumpets and steaming hot cocoa.

As I defrosted myself in front of the fire and indulged in the delicious crumpets, I listened contentedly as Goosey gave me the latest gossip about our old school chums; who was dead, who was banged up in chokey, who was going through a messy divorce, who had caught frostbite while indulging with a guardsman in Hyde Park in sub-zero conditions…

Goosey hadn’t really changed since the end of war. Maybe a tad fatter, he still resembled an obese owl, peering through large round glasses which he only prevented sliding down his nose with an extraordinary grimace. He hadn’t been the best of batmen, his short legs too short to get him where he had been despatched in ample time, his weight often causing him to get stuck in the mud. I seemed to be forever chastising him, but usually with a twinkle in my eyes, and I was fond of the tubby little fathead.

‘I say, Goosey,’ I said with a mouthful of crumpet, butter dribbling down my chin, ‘I am glad you asked me here for Christmas.’

‘Well, my dear,’ chuckled Goosey, breathing on his huge round specs and wiping them with a mantilla, ‘once we have my tedious Church duties out of the way, we’re going to have the most delicious fun. We’ve been invited to Daryl Hall for Christmas lunch. The Whizzer-Chips, Darling Sir Dicky and Lady Fistula. A delightful couple. Do you know them?’ I shook my head.’ He’s something big in weaponry, and she’s the second daughter of the Duke of Northfields. ‘

I recalled that I had heard of them. Staunch naturists and admirers of Mussolini, they were reputed to be splendid hosts and always kept a warm fire and a Swastika flying. I hasten to add this was before those damned Nazis spoiled fascism for everybody with their boorish behaviour.

Goosey confirmed this. ‘Devoted nudists the pair of them. Dicky proposed a bill in Parliament earlier this year to make nudity compulsory in schools and government departments.  It was defeated due to the high cost of heating that would then be required. ‘

‘In schools?’ I guffawed. ‘Don’t recall any heating in our alma mater, and we were usually clothed. Except in the baths after games and double French on Tuesdays.’

‘Oh, that Monsieur Copine, he was such a scream!’ Goosey clapped his hands together. ‘Dead now, of course. Went off to fight in the Spanish civil war. ‘

‘Killed in combat? I gasped.

‘Don’t be silly,’ giggled Goosey. ‘Had a stroke in a gentleman’s convenience in Folkestone waiting for the ferry.’

We toasted the old monsieur and his futile death, then wished each other the merriment of the season. The heat from the hearth was beginning to make me perspire after the cold of the train so I reached into my pocket for my handkerchief, and out fluttered something which fell to the floor.

‘You’ve dropped something,’ said Goosey

‘You’re much the shorter of the pair of us, Goosey,’ I said, ‘Reach down and pick it up, there’s a good batman.’

‘Don’t touch that, Reverend!’ a loud voice startled us.

 

Continued

 

 

(c) Anthony Keetch 2018

Be alarmed…

Be really quite alarmed…

Sir Desmond Stirling, world-acclaimed author, patriot, bon viveur, war hero, & great political thinker of our time offers his loyal readers an exclusive chance to eavesdrop as he writes his latest novel.

Listen as a brand new Satanic chiller spurts forth from the brain of the master story-teller!

Gasp at the horror of it all!

Feel humbled at the enormous privilege you are experiencing!

Who is the mysterious intruder in socialite Marjorie Ashbrook’s bedroom?

Why are there Nazis in Hampstead?

Will playboy and dog-meat heir Simon Tubular-Wells succumb to an act of shame which could diminish his standing in society?

What diabolical &  probably foreign mastermind is behind it all?

Can Charles, the tough, but classy aristocrat, rescue his friends and save the world from the dark Satanic forces which threaten to engulf it?

… or will even he forfeit his soul in the War Against Beastliness?fro

www.whatnoise.co.uk

SATAN BABY

December 21, 2017

 

SATAN BABY

A Satanic Chiller For Yuletide

By Sir Desmond Stirling

@sirdesstirling

 

Chapter 1

 

Charles, Viscount de Bourbon a Bisquit, gentleman, adventurer, patriot and Englishman – despite his Gallic title – stood back to admire his handiwork.

‘On with the lights,’ he instructed his man, Staunchpole, once his loyal and brutal sergeant in the trenches, now his equally steadfast and no less brutal factotum.

Staunchpole flicked a switch, and the Christmas Tree lit up very gaily, reminding Charles of a tart he had once known – or was it twice? – in Bruges.

‘Well done, Staunchpole!’ said Charles. ‘It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.’

This year, Charles had decided to celebrate Christmas at his family home, the 17th century Hazel Court, just outside the little Hampshire village of Hinchcliffe’s Combover. He usually fled to sunnier climes, but what with Europe rumbling with beastliness, thanks to the wretched Hun, he suspected this could be the last peacetime Yuletide for some years.

So he had decided to open up his country seat to his closest friends. His young nephew Simon Tubular-Wells would be here, along with – Charles sniffed with disapproval – his latest girlfriend, Lady Selena Topographic–Ocean. She was a good prospective wife for Simon, sound family, wealthy, good breeding stock, but Simon was too young to be thinking of marriage. He still had oats to sow and, with a war imminent, foreigners to kill before he needed to settle down with a wife and start spawning.

In a fit of seasonal benevolence Charles had even invited his ex-wife, Marjorie, to join them. She’d been jilted at the altar by her latest beau, a cove in oil, wealthy, but black as your hat, who’d seen the light and scarpered. Charles couldn’t blame him, but he’d also suffered a twinge of sympathy for the old harridan, particularly as she was Simon’s aunt.

Besides, she usually behaved herself in front of her nephew and was less likely to wrap her legs around the nearest male. However, apart from Simon, the only males present would be Charles himself, Staunchpole (who’d had his manhood partially shot off by the Bosch at Wipers), and the Reverend Inman-Grayson, once he’d torn himself away from the Home for Wayward Boys of which he was the patron. The Vicar had promised to bring along some of the boys if they might be required, but Charles had assured him that Hazel Court had ample staff.

Charles took another satisfied look at the Christmas Tree which filled the atrium of Hazel Court. All he needed to do now was place the Christmas presents under the tree, get Staunchpole to pour him a large whisky, and, while awaiting the influx of house-guests, start to enjoy the Yuletide season!

 

Charles glanced at himself admiringly in the mirror, marvelled at his fine looks for a man of his age, straightened his bow-tie, and set off downstairs for pre-diner aperitifs. His guests had arrived earlier, safe and around. Simon and Lady Selena had driven down in his nephew’s brand new and nippy Austin Mitchell.

Marjorie had phoned from the station demanding to be fetched: unlike her to travel by so common a transport as train, so her purse must be uncommonly tight.

Staunchpole had mulled some wine, not just for his guests, but in preparation for any passing mummers or carol singers. Christmas Eve was the only time he allowed the villagers to approach the front door without having the dogs set on them so the locals relished the chance to walk up the main drive and peer, saucer-eyed, into the hallway and see a lifestyle they could never hope to achieve themselves.

If anything, the Christmas tree looked prettier than ever. Charles stared at it, entranced by the twinkling lights, as childhood memories of being in this very spot arose from the depths of his mind; 8 year old Charles eager to unwrap the enticing parcels lurking around the base. Would there be toy soldiers? A puppy? A gun? Perhaps his first manservant?

He was shaken from his reverie by Staunchpole’s voice.

‘What is it, Staunchpole?’

‘Staunchpole bowed. ‘There is an old gypsy woman outside, Sir, with a donkey. She is asking for water and shelter.’

Charles sighed. The poor were such a nuisance, particularly at Xmas. But he didn’t want a donkey dying on his land over the holiday, nor an irate Gypsy.

‘Let her use the old barn down by Old Nick’s Moob. But make sure she stays away from the house.’

As Staunchpole walked to the front door to give the instructions, Charles caught a glimpse of the old Romany. She was a shrivelled, walnut-faced thing, swathed in shawls, stoop-backed and seemingly dwarfed by the skeletal donkey she held by a string. But as she glanced up, Charles shuddered. Her eyes blazed at him, radiating the sort of contempt for her betters that frankly deserved a horse-whipping. But there was also something seemed eerily familiar about her.

Charles dragged his eyes away, took a slug of mulled wine, and, determined not to let an old crone spoil the evening, strode in to the drawing room to join his guests.

 

Simon stood by the hearth, the flickering fire reflecting in his dazzling blue eyes, his still-boyish skin tanned from a recent visit to South Africa where he played cricket with the natives and sold armaments to the government. His broad shoulders, slender waist and firm buttocks suited evening wear, and, as always,  Charles felt a stirring of pride deep down inside whenever he saw his nephew.

Marjorie lay on the sofa like a slut, her shoes  discarded, her hair not what it should be, an inch of ash teetering at the end of her cigarette. She had eschewed the proffered mulled wine for a tumbler of brandy. As always Charles marvelled at the thought that he had been capable of intimacy with her.

Of Lady Selena there was no sign, but young ladies did seem to spend a lot of their time at toilet these days.

‘Yuletide felicitations, Uncle Charles!’ yelled Simon, who then greeted his uncle with a hug which took Charles back, but didn’t altogether displease him, although he would have had flogged any other man who tried it.

‘Where’s the delightful Lady Selena?’ asked Charles.

Marjorie muttered something which Charles didn’t catch (probably the first time someone didn’t catch something off Marjorie, he thought to himself).

‘She is taking her time,’ exclaimed Simon. ‘Ladies, eh? I’ll chivvy her along.’ And he bounded out of the door.

Charles dutifully bent down and kissed Marjorie who proffered her over-rouged cheek.

‘Glad you could make it, Marjorie,’ Charles lied.

To his horror, Marjorie replied by starting to sob. ‘Oh Charles, why do you men treat me so abominably. I loved him, I really did, and not just for his money although there was a frightful lot of it. He was so handsome and for the first time I thought I’d met a man who really made me feel like a woman…’

Charles ignored the implied insult to himself and told Marjorie to pull herself together.

Inexplicably, she cried even more.

Fortunately, before Charles had to try and comfort her further, Simon, rushed back into the room.

‘Lady Selena!’ he huffed. ‘She’s gone!’

Chares took charge. ‘Gone? What do you mean? Perhaps she is powdering her nose?’

‘But she never does that,’ explained Simon. ‘Her bedroom window is open and there’s signs of a struggle.’

From outside in the garden a scream rent the air.

‘Lady Selena!’ gasped Simon.

Charles and Simon rushed out into the cold winter night. Snow was beginning to sprinkle down from the sky. God’s dandruff, someone had once called it, Charles vaguely recalled.

A small group of young carol singers were marching up their drive, each clutching a lantern. The tune they sang was familiar, but Charles was shocked by the words. Not the usual beautiful words celebrating our Saviour’s birth, but an twisted, evil libretto about ‘shepherd’s washing their cocks with shite.’ Charles was about to berate the carol singers, even administer a sound spanking to a selected boy, but then he looked at their drooling mouths and their blank eyes, and realised that they were not in control of themselves.

‘Look, Uncle!’ Simon screamed, unnecessarily hysterically. The darling lad was pointing towards Old Nick’s Moob, the lumpy hillock a quarter of a mile away, purported in local legend to be where Lucifer himself had given suckle to the evil witches who infested the county in the olden days.

An old barn belonging to the estate sat atop Old Nick’s Moob, and it was lit up dazzlingly bright, almost as though it were daylight. Charles shielded his eyes from the glare, trying to see from where the light was emanating.

In the sky above the barn was a cluster of stars. But this wasn’t a natural cosmic phenomenon, nor was it a sight of breath-taking beauty. For a start, the stars glowed an evil dirty scarlet, a colour Charles always associated with whore-houses in the grimier parts of London’s wicked East End. But also the stars were clustering together to form the shape of a chap’s member, drooping sadly downwards (as Charles gathered happened to men who didn’t keep themselves virile with exercise and regular consumption of red meat), pointing directly at the barn.

‘The gypsy!’ Charles exclaimed, recalling the plea for sanctuary from the old crone with the malevolent eyes earlier. ‘A poorly donkey, my arse!’

Charles looked around to see where Simon was. The  big-hearted boy was dishing out sixpences to the carol singers, who were now singing something about a ‘ponce’ in Royal David’s City

‘Come on, lad,’ shouted his uncle. ‘No time for that now.’

Charles grabbed Simon by his arm, firmly muscled from years of pulling through, and dragged him away from the house and the carol singers and towards the barn atop Old Nick’s Moob.

‘But what about Aunt Marjorie?’ Simon gasped.

‘Staunchpole will look after her,’ Charles replied, impatiently. They had more important things to worry about than his drunken ex-wife.

The two men ran towards the hillock, but were only about halfway there when a noise stopped them in their tracks. Was it… sleigh bells?

Both men stared around, but could see nothing. Then they heard the crack of a whip, followed by a deep rumbling laugh, a sickening gurgle like a lavatory trying to flush away the evidence of a particularly nauseating crime.

‘Ho… ho… ho…!’

The sound came from above them. It was joined by the noise of hoof-beats and the hoarse sniffling of animals. The sleigh bells got louder too, but not a pretty tinkling noise, more the sound of a barefoot man trampling inside a bucket of broken glass.

And from the sky there swooped a sleigh pulled by the most evil-looking creatures Charles had ever seen. Reindeer, but not the endearing chaps seen on most Christmas cards. These beasts had fur like slimy black leather, foam-drenched fangs protruding from their cruel mouths, steam erupting from glowing scarlet noses, and their antlers were twisted into the shape of upside-down crucifixes. Manure erupted from their hind-end in a never-ending stream, akin to the oratory from a trade union leader. The stench was unbearable, like being in a poor person’s house.

The sleigh dive-bombed our heroes, only narrowly missing their heads. They both fell to the ground as heavy presents landed all around them and exploded, accompanied by fetid reindeer droppings.

‘Ho… ho… ho…!’ came the mournful hollow laughter. Charles thought it the most dismal noise he had ever heard.

He caught his first glimpse of the pilot of the sleigh. Father Christmas! But not the lovable, fat be-whiskered present-giver of legend. No, this creature was a pop-eyed, sozzle-nosed, whisky-breathed, puce-complexioned mockery, like a drunken actor pretending to be a Father Christmas in a department store. On Oxford Street, probably.

‘Come, Himmler and Bastard, Noncer and Poncer, Attlee, Vomit, Stupid, and Bitch!’ shouted the bearded red-cloaked monstrosity, his rancid halitosis eye-watering even from above.

‘It’s Father Christmas, Uncle,’ Simon yelled.

Charles stood up and shook his fist at the sleigh.

‘I defy you,’ he shouted. ‘There is no such thing as Father Christmas!’

The sleigh tuned to make another attack.

‘Impossible,’ breathed Charles. ‘I defied it’s existence, it should just vanish.’ He tried again.

‘We don’t believe in Father Christmas!’ he bellowed once more.

The sleigh continued its downward trajectory.

‘WE DON’T BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS!’

Simon tugged at his uncle’s elbow. ‘Actually, Uncle, I do,’

Charles stared uncomprehendingly at his nephew. How could this be? Simon was a grown man. Had no-one ever explained…

He grabbed his nephew by the shoulders and gazed right into his baby-blue eyes.

Now, listen, Simon,’ he said, ‘This is the hardest thing I have ever said to you, but it’s the truth. There is no Father Christmas!’

Simon’s lower lip quivered.

‘But… but… but…?’

‘No buts,’ his uncle replied, brusquely. ‘It was your parents all along. The fairy bike, the cricket bat, the clockwork Hitler… all bought from Gamages and not the North Pole.’

Simon collapsed to his knees, An anguished wail started somewhere deep inside him and then erupted, a primal Krakatoa of a collapsed childhood.

As Simon sobbed pitifully, Charles looked up in the sky. The evil sleigh was evaporating fast, the last remaining glimpse was of the warped Father Christmas shaking its fist at the men on the ground.

Then with a final rattle of the sleigh bells, it popped out of existence.

All was calm, all was bright.

Charles hauled Simon back up onto his knees. ‘Sorry, lad, but you had to find out some time.’

Simon looked at his uncle with red-stained eyes. ‘I will never ever trust another grown-up ever again.’

‘That’s the most important lesson you will ever learn.’ Charles thumped Simon on the back. ‘Now let’s rescue Lady Selena.’

 

Cautiously, the two brave Englishmen approached the barn. Charles didn’t believe the Satanic Santa was the only protection which had been conjured by whoever was responsible for this. He kept a watchful eye out for elements, spells and goat-footed dwarves.

The brightness from the obscene stars above the barn became dazzling, and both men had to shield their eyes. Charles shivered but he didn’t know if it was from anticipation or the cold. The snow was getting thicker too, and neither were wearing hats.

When they arrived at the barn, Charles and Simon each stood stealthily at either side of the door. Charles was about to peer in through the open doorway when a hand grabbed his shoulder.

He suppressed a yell and quickly glanced around.

It was Staunchpole.

‘Staunchpole, you blasted idiot. You nearly made me give away my presence!’

‘Sorry, sir,’ Staunchpole whispered. ‘But Lady Marjorie has disappeared.’

‘You were supposed to be keeping an eye on her,’ Charles admonished his man.

‘I was, sir,’ responded his shame-faced menial. ‘But she seemed to be befuddled as a newt so I thought it would be alright to leave her on the sofa and get on with the stuffing for tomorrow.’

‘Hmm,’ said Charles, not entirely mollified. ‘Let’s hope she’s just staggered somewhere and passed out. Now, you’re here, Staunchpole, you can be useful. Come on!’

The three men crept silently into the barn.

It was an old brick building, thatched, once a tiny cottage for a shepherd, feature-less inside except for an old hearth.

The sight that greeted the men as they stared inside the building filled them with astonishment and revulsion.

Lady Selena lay flat on her back on several bales of hay, gagged, but unconscious, her knees brutally exposed to the elements.

The old Gypsy woman stood over her, a baby in her shrivelled arms. All around, animals indulged in grotesque beastliness, a veritable orgy of awfulness. Sheep lay with chickens, cows with goats, the donkey pleasured itself, while three shepherds indulged in activities with each other that would soon get them booted out of the army, if not the Navy.

Simon couldn’t restrain himself. He marched into the barn, and in a loud voice demanded, ‘Release Lady Selena at once, old crone!’

‘Bally Idiot!’ hissed Charles.

He and Staunchpole glanced at each other and reluctantly followed Simon into the barn too.

The Gypsy cackled with pleasure.

‘And now my nativity is almost complete. The Three Foolish Men!’

‘Who are you, vile harridan!’ asked Charles, ‘And what do you want with Lady Selena?’

The Gypsy stood, somehow seeming taller than she had before.

‘Do you really not recognise me, Sir Charles?’

Charles rubbed his eyes. The Gypsy woman was blurring, her features almost melting, becoming less Romany and more… Oriental.

Charles gasped, his heart almost stopping with the horror at what he now saw.

‘Cunnilinga!’

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Yes, Doctor Cunnilinga, Charles’s old nemesis, the evil Necromage and Satanist from darkest Burma. Many the battles they had fought with each other, and each time, Charles had won, but always the wily sorcerer had escaped justice, despite seemingly dying in all sorts of ghastly, but self-inflicted ways.

Charles swallowed his surprise and affected a nonchalance he didn’t feel inside. ‘So, Cunnilinga, you managed to escape Mucky Ho?’

Cunnilinga smiled, although only with his tooth-crammed mouth. His inscrutable eyes, encased behind bottle-thick glasses, stayed as dead and shark-like as ever.

Mucky Ho, a place of great archaeological importance just outside Swindon, was the scene of Charles’ last encounter with the little Diabolist. Cunnilinga had attempted to open the very gateway to Hell itself with the help of a dozen unfrocked nuns, a fiery bonfire of pure opium, and the usual goats. Charles had defeated him using only his pure heart and a fireman’s hose. The last sight of Cunnilinga had been as he fell into a fiery chasm, screaming at the top of his cowardly lungs as he plummeted towards the eternal torment of Hades.

‘How did you escape Hell, Cunnilinga?’ asked Charles casually.

Cunnilinga shrugged. ‘Oh, you know…’

‘So what dastardly deed are you up to now?’

Cunnilinga giggled girlishly, a sound which never failed to turn Charles’ stomach.

‘I thought you’d never ask, my dear Viscount.’ Cunnilinga chucked the sleeping baby down on a bale of hay. ‘As you know, we Satanists like to subvert the rituals of hated Christianity. At Christmas…’ Cunnilinga struggled to say the word, ‘… there are ample opportunities.’

‘And where does Lady Selena fit into your vile plans?’ shouted Simon?

‘Very simple,’ said Cunnilinga. ‘She is a virgin. So, in an elegant parody of the Nativity, I will, at the chimes of midnight, insert a baby inside her.’

There was silence.

‘What?’ asked Charles.

‘I said…’ started Cunnilinga impatiently.

‘I heard what you said, you vile toad of a man,’ snapped Charles. ‘I just didn’t believe it. Even by your low standards, this infernal scheme scrapes the depths.’

‘Uncle,’ whispered Simon, ‘How is he going to get a  baby that big up Lady Selena’s bottom?’

Everyone stared at Simon.

‘Does the idiot boy really not know…?’ asked Cunnilinga.

‘Simon,’ Charles began to say. His nephew looked at him, anguish and bewilderment etched in those divine eyes. Charles thought better of it. ‘I’ll explain later.’

While this exchange had been occurring, Staunchpole had been sidling ever closer to Cunnilinga. Charles watched him out of the corner of his eye while keeping his gaze fixed firmly on Cunnilinga. Charles didn’t know what Staunchpole was planning. Snatching the baby? Or sweeping up Lady Selena? Or clobbering the wicked little magician?

But just as Staunchpole was about to leap, Cunnilinga snapped his fingers, and the donkey bared its teeth and leapt for the manservant’s throat. Staunchpole’s reactions were still top notch despite his war wound, and he punched the donkey in the jaw. It hee-hawed in fury, and the pair of them – man and beast – disappeared in a flurry of bites and kicks and half-nelsons.

Everyone else ignored them.

Cunnilinga picked up the baby.

Charles thought quickly. ‘Surely,’ he asked, ‘to complete the picture you need a Herod? Or rather, an anti-Herod.’

Cunnilinga giggled. ‘You are such a worthy adversary, Viscount Charles. Yes, an anti-Herod, someone who wants to protect the child, rather than slaughter it. For that we need someone maternal and nurturing and caring.’

And with that, something fell down the chimney in a cloud of dust and hay and centuries-old soot.

It was Marjorie.

She lay in the earth dazed, but still clutching her half-full glass, Charles noted, grudgingly impressed. She took a large swig, stood up, and approached the abominable Nativity scene.

Surely Cunnilinga didn’t mean….?

Marjorie peered myopically around. She sized up Cunnilinga, dismissed him as alimony material, snickered at the prostrate Lady Selena, and then her eyes landed on the baby. She grimaced.

‘Where did THAT come from?’ she sneered. ‘I can’t abide babies. Not one of your dozens of bastards, is it, Charles?’

Cunnilinga’s petulant face fell.’ But…but… but…’

Charles laughed and clapped his hands. ‘Well done, Cunnilinga, you’ve found a woman so maternal that if there wasn’t an ash tray available she would use the nearest baby’s mouth.’

Cunnilinga’s expression contorted as his brain whirled through many combinations of new ideas.

Charles tensed. If he was going to act then now was the time. But what first? The baby? Lady Selena? Marjorie could take care of herself. He glanced at Simon hoping his nephew would react at the same time. But the darling boy was watching Staunchpole and the donkey who were now kick-boxing each other from one bale of hay to another.

Right, Charles decided, baby first. It was probably just a local child, but there was just a chance it could be of his own class. Nannies were always mislaying their charges, he had found, especially at this time of year when the sherry was flowing rather too generously in the staff’s direction.

 

Charles was about to spring into action… when a new noise filled the air. It was a rhythmic clanking, as though metal objects were being bashed together. It got rapidly louder until even Cunnilinga awoke from his reverie and looked around. An expression of horror spread across his usually sphinx-like face.

Charles whirled around. A figure had entered the barn, a tall, translucent man, haloed with an unearthly glow, entirely enveloped in what looked like Christmas decorations and tinsel, but forged from a very solid and heavy metal. Agony was etched on the queer chap’s face, and his gait was that of man weary of his existence.

Cunnilinga fell to his knees. ‘Are you… are you…?’

The ghoulish cove‘s jaw flapped open, revealing a veritable cemetery of teeth and breath to match. ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Hell,’ he intoned.

‘Christmas Hell?’ repeated Cunnilinga, slowly.

‘I am the spirit of all the bad Christmases past,’ the baubled banshee wailed. ‘The arguments, the  indigestion, the ingratitude, the disappointment… It all lives on in me.’

Cunnilinga tried to put on a brave face – unconvincingly, Charles thought, it was just a variation on his usual weaselly one

The dead chap looked vaguely familiar somehow to Charles, but he couldn’t put his finger on it; maybe a member of his Club – Moseley’s of Pall Mall? The phantom exuded the air of a Club bore, the sort of cove with whom one frantically avoided eye contact for fear of having to talk to them about their grandchildren or their upbringing in Swaziland.

Whoever he was, he was spooking Cunnilinga and that was a Jolly Good Thing as far as Charles was concerned.

‘Have you come to make me see the error of my ways?’ Cunnilinga smirked, feebly.

The phantom laughed, a horrid hollow sound, like a baby regurgitating a live frog. ‘Hardly,’ he gurgled, ‘you are already doomed.’ Cunnilinga smiled weakly.

The Ghost of Christmas Hell jabbed a bony finger at the toothy Satanist. ‘Seriously doomed. With no time off for bad behaviour.’

Cunnilinga looked very frightened.

‘I am here to take you to Hell where you belong.’

Cunnilinga squeaked. From both ends.

‘But isn’t that what you always wanted, old chap?’ Charles asked in, he thought, a kindly fashion.

‘But… but… but…’ stammered Cunnilinga. ‘I haven’t finished my work on Earth yet. I still have chaos to cause, evil to unleash, wickedness to spread.’

‘Don’t worry’ said the festive spectre, ‘Humanity can do all that for themselves perfectly well without you.’

And with that, the Yule-ish ghoul rummaged in its frock coat, produced a stake of holly and rammed it into Cunnilinga’s tubby little chest.

There was a ghastly noise, a veritable children’s school orchestra playing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem on a million recorders, and the infernal necromancer was engulfed in a ball of flame like a brandy-saturated Christmas pudding until all that was left was a sad pile of ashes.

The seasonal apparition turned to face Charles.

Charles cleared his throat. ‘Well, thank you, old chap. Sporting of you to help us out. That rogue is a blessed nuisance. So are we finally free of him?’

The Ghost of Christmas Hell stared hard at Charles, not speaking. Then its face cracked into the ghastliest smile Charles had ever seen.

‘I see when you are sleeping, I know when you’re awake…’ it hissed. ‘I know if you’ve been bad or good…’

And with that, the Yuletide ghoul vanished, leaving behind his final words. ‘So be good for goodness sake…’

Charles shivered. Was one’s behaviour really scrutinised all one’s life? Now he knew how the poor wretches who lived under the yoke of communism felt.

 

The animals in the barn ceased their filthy copulation and resumed their cud-chewing. The donkey stopped attacking Staunchpole, giving the valet the perfect opportunity to deck the beast with a swift upper-cut. The creature’s eyes crossed and it swooned to the ground.

The three shepherds ceased their revolting activities, and looked sheepishly around. They dusted themselves down, hauled up their underpants, nodded curtly at each other, and limped out of the barn, each going very pointedly in different directions.

Charles heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Simon rushed up to Lady Selena, who opened her eyes, yawned, sat up and said, ‘Hello, Simon darling, has Father Christmas been yet?’

Simon bit his lip. ‘I say, Lady Selena, I have something awful to tell you. Brace yourself…’

Marjorie stomped up to Charles. ‘Some host you are. This is the worst party I have even been too, I need a drink.’

‘You and me both,’ muttered Charles.

And they all left the barn to return to the house and resume their Yuletide celebrations.

Fifteen minutes later, Charles rushed back into the barn and picked up the baby. ‘Don’t worry, old thing, the Reverend will look after you in his Home for Wayward Boys. Merry Christmas, young fellow-me-lad, and a Happy Year!’

 

THE END

 

(c) Anthony Keetch 2012
 

Be alarmed…

Be really quite alarmed…

Sir Desmond Stirling, world-acclaimed author, patriot, bon viveur, war hero, & great political thinker of our time

offers his loyal readers an exclusive chance to eavesdrop as he writes his latest novel.

Listen as a brand new Satanic chiller spurts forth from the brain of the master story-teller!

Gasp at the horror of it all!

Feel humbled at the enormous privilege you are experiencing!

Wait impatiently for the next exciting instalment!

 

Who is the mysterious intruder in socialite Marjorie Ashbrook’s bedroom?

Why are there Nazis in Hampstead?

Will playboy and dog-meat heir Simon Tubular-Wells succumb to an act of shame which could diminish his standing in society?

What diabolical &  probably foreign mastermind is behind it all?

Can Charles, the tough, but classy aristocrat, rescue his friends and save the world from the dark Satanic forces which threaten to engulf it…

… or will even he forfeit his soul in the War Against Beastliness?

 

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Christmas at Scarhelldeath Hall – epilogue

December 17, 2014

Epilogue

‘I had the whole thing sussed quite early on,’ I assured Noddy and his son later on, as we sat in his study, toasting crumpets in front of a roaring fire; Noddy and I sipping whisky, Noddy Minor enjoying a mug of cocoa (into which, yes, I admit, I had surreptitiously splashed a nip of whisky).

‘I briefly toyed with the idea that McPortillo was behind the whole thing, but a quick chat with the pink-kilted groundsman soon assured me he was oblivious to it all.’ I still wasn’t convinced that he hadn’t accepted the shilling from the ghastly women for help somewhere along the line, but sadly nowadays we can’t accuse without proof in this wretched politically correct world we live in.

The past few hours had been a hive of frenzy. The culprits were, as I suspected, my ex-wife Abigail and her lover, the soi-disant witch Pam. The local Plod had been called – and an ambulance – and we all helped to haul the wretched Pam out from under the debris. The silly woman was lucky she hadn’t been killed in the plummet from the ceiling, but apart from a few broken bones, concussion, severe scratches, a perforated eardrum, a dislocated hip and a splinter in her eye, she was unhurt.

Abigail was hysterical – I think I actually preferred her as the implacable human tank of a Matron – and it took a couple of slaps before she could calm down and explain the plot to us. And, I am afraid to say, it was partially my fault.

A while back, the pair of them had asked me to look after the dogs while they hunted for a house in which to set up a retreat for sapphic witches. I’d refused, pointing out I was taking the high road to Bonnie Scotland for my trip to Scarhelldeath Hall. The dratted pair must have squirreled themselves way in my library at the Rectory – my old home which I had been forced to bequeath to my ex-wife – done some research and concocted this dastardly plan to frighten poor old Noddy into flogging the Hall to them for a pittance. Obviously, Pam’s previous life as a magician’s assistant helped her stage all the little son et lumiere which had so astounded everybody. Except for Old Stirling who swiftly saw through the whole sorry masquerade.

When I’d telephoned Cilla the previous night I had asked her to rummage around in Noddy’s family history, and it transpired that there was no proof whatsoever that his papa had dipped his wick illicitly, and even less evidence that ‘Dorcas’ was his half-sister – or even an accredited matron! In fact, there was no verification she even existed.

The ex-trouble-&-strife had been led away from Scarhelldeath Hall in handcuffs (yes, there had a been a twitch downstairs, not that she and I had ever indulged in anything other than ‘lights-off obligation rumpy,’ all due to her latent inclinations as opposed to any deficiency in my expertise in the trousers-off department ).

The ghastly Pam had been carted off in an ambulance with a muffled cry from beneath the bandages of ‘And we would’ve got away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling pensioners!’

I’m not sure what they’ll be charged with. Harassment? Fraud? Impersonating a ghost without a licence? I merely hope that Abigail sees through the malignity of the odious Pam and finds a nice sexy lady to settle down with. And lets me watch.

And so I prepared to take my leave of Scarhelldeath Hall. The boys had all left for their hols, as had the surviving staff. Noddies Major and Minor invited me to stay for the Yuletide festivities, and while I was tempted, I am of an age where the comfort of my own bed, central heating and a decent bar being in the vicinity is more important than family and friends. A draughty, damp pile Scarhelldeath Hall may be a adequate for young children, but not for grand old gentlemen of letters! Besides, if the ex-wife gets banged up in chokey, then I may reclaim ownership of The Old Rectory – and the dogs, Rommel, Lucan and Aspinall – again.

Before I buggered off, I imparted simple words of advice to Noddy Minor on the thorny subject of Bullying, and they amounted to this – ‘No-one else matters except you! As long as you get what you want , that’s all that counts! And if someone’s in your way, then propel them out of it! The good Bully makes the victim realise that they are Boss with as little effort as possible. Although a little violence now and then is not to be sniffed at.’

And I think that is wise counsel we should take to heart in all aspects of our lives.

Yuletide felicitations!

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