Posts Tagged ‘horror’

‘The Tell-Tale Nipple’

June 29, 2021

Chapter 1

‘So tell me, Sir Desmond,’ I am often asked, ‘do you actually believe in the things you write about?’

By ‘things I write about,’ I presume they mean ‘the supernatural,’ as opposed to pretty girls and sports cars and Nazis and dashing Englishmen – all of which I not only believe in but have surrounded myself with throughout my life. The Nazis were obviously not by choice, but giving them a jolly good hiding was something I would have lamented to miss out on.

But as for the eerie and the magical and the paranormal, not to mention the forces of darkness, the jury – composed of one man just and true eg Yours Truly – is still out and sifting through all the evidence, unsure whether to believe the upstanding ‘copper’ of scientific rationalism or the smarmy ‘defence lawyer’ of myths and legends. 

I was having this very conversation the other night with chums at my club  (Abaddon’s, just off Frith Street – don’t try and find out exactly where; none of you would cut the mustard for membership). We’d just enjoyed a splendid supper of Tripe Kedgeree followed by Prune Charlotte, and had settled down with brandies and cigars in the Smoking Chamber. 

We’d just endured some magic tricks performed by ‘Snotty’ Gove, a repugnant little oik who only clung onto membership because most people never even noticed he was there. I’d been at school with his equally oily father who had been my fag until an unfortunate incident which resulted in him losing a leg which was categorically not my fault. 

There was no doubt that ‘Snotty’ was reasonably proficient at conjuring, but his banter was tedious, and the very least he could’ve done was clean his fingernails when doing sleight of hand with cards.  After he’d produced a Jack of Spades from ‘Chinny’ Chapman’s left nostril, it was rather forcefully suggested that ‘Snotty’ put his cards away and give it a rest.

Now, I’m often asked to regale my fellow members with a suitably gruesome yarn, and that evening I obliged with an old favourite about a garrotted nun who stalked an orphanage by night, auguring doom for any wretched child who glimpsed her.

I’d finished my story to much appreciation. I’d so put the willies up old ‘Chinny’ Chapman, that he’d had to guzzle an extra tablet to cope with his palpitations.

And it was then that ‘Snotty’ Gove piped up.

‘I say, Stirling, old bean. Do you actually believe the nonsense you come up with?’

I graciously ignored the word ‘nonsense’ – after all, my ‘nonsense’ has given me a very comfortable living indeed, not to mention many a coveted guest slot on Call My Bluff. I replied that my mind was open on the subject; that while many people whose opinion I trusted (the Duke of Kent, Uri Geller, darling Suzi Quatro) were staunch in their belief in the supernatural, I personally had yet to encounter any rock-solid evidence that even that boffin Dawkins couldn’t dismiss.

At that moment, Scunthorpe the waiter – a tall cadaverous cove who’d worked at the Club man and boy since the last war, maybe even the Crimean – approached and asked if our glasses needed refreshing. A redundant question! He was topping us all up when ‘Snotty’ Gove  asked Scunthorpe if he believed in ghosts.

‘I don’t believe in them, Sir,’ he replied, his curious slurring speech caused by his tongue having to keep his upper dentures from falling out, ‘I know they exist!

‘What makes you so convinced?’ I asked him, intrigued. People do so fascinate me, even the lower orders.

He looked down at me from his great height, watery eyes betraying a vehemence I’d never seen in them before. Or maybe I just never bothered to look at the staff properly, unless they were pretty gels. ‘When I were a lad,’ he slushed, ‘I saw a Ghost with my very own eyes. And I’ve never forgotten it.’ So chilled was he by his own memory that he forgot to support his dentures and they splashed into ‘Chinny’ Chapman’s whisky. Hurriedly Scunthorpe fished them out and popped them back into his cavern of a mouth. Fortunately, Chinny had lost consciousness and was unaware his drink had been in contact with another chap’s gnashers.

‘Where did this encounter take place?’ I asked, quite seriously. I never mock those who believe, no matter how ludicrous. 

Scunthorpe glanced upwards and pointed at the ceiling. ‘Why here, Sir Desmond, in the…’ he gulped and his dentures threatened to slip down his throat, ‘in the Box Room.’

I was puzzled. I thought I knew the club’s layout pretty well, but I couldn’t recall a Box Room. 

‘Is it that door on the top landing?’ asked ‘Snotty’ Gove. ‘One passes it on the way to the roof.’

In the summer, I’d spent many happy afternoons on the roof terrace sunbathing in the buff. Had I noticed a door? Come to think of it…

‘Oh yes,’ I said. ‘But I’ve never given it any thought. Probably thought it was a broom cupboard. Or the staff khazi.’

‘It’s been locked these many years,’ explained Scunthorpe. ‘Ever since my own… encounter. Will that be all, gentlemen?’ He turned to leave.

‘Hold your horses, Scunthorpe,’ I said, ‘You can’t leave us in suspense. Tell us more. What sort of ghost was it?’

He shook his head fearfully. The dentures rattled in his skull. ‘I’ve said too much, sir. I swore to the Club Chairman I would never talk about it. The Box Room door was firmly locked and has never been opened since. I’ll be sacked if I say any more.’

I harrumphed. ‘They’ll sack you over my dead body, Scunthorpe. And then I’ll haunt you. Come on, old thing, spill the ghostly beans!’

But, shuddering, his bowed his head and, tottering slightly, he left the lounge.

Shortly after this, Neville Sladen-Flame arrived after an evening of rampant leg-overs with his mistress, allegedly the wife of an Archbishop, and as he regaled us with a litany of all the dirty things she was happy to do, Scunthorpe‘s ghostly encounter slipped our minds.  

The rest of the evening passed in a merry blur, and I woke to find I had been put to bed in my room at the Club, naked except for socks. (In all my years as a Member, I’ve never found out who actually performs this chore. I presume they have dedicated staff whose specific job is to tuck up pie-eyed members.)

The following evening I dined with my daughter (Sub: check her name) and her ghastly husband, the wretched Darren Frognall – the self-styled Trotsky of Terror – the chump who churns out very ‘modern’ horror novels, set on ‘council estates’ (whatever they are), filled with unnecessarily descriptive eviscerations, and in which the villains are inevitably toffs or hard-working multi-millionaire industrialists. For some reason, MI5 haven’t banged him up for being a raging red, and instead he is my son-in-law. However, he keeps a good cellar and their cook is top-notch so I’m happy to spend the occasional evening at their bijou six-bedroom house in Hampstead. Conversation usually gets frightfully heated – which we both enjoy if we’re honest – and my daughter has an early night while we indulge in our own personal edition of Question Time.

On this evening, the conversation took a somewhat different turn. I mentioned over the Foie Gras what Scunthorpe had said the previous night. Frognall instantly went to his bulging bookcase and produced an old yellowing pamphlet. He said that he’d been given it by a fan at one of his book-signing appearances and had been meaning to show it to me for ages, but our political debates always got in the way. 

Turns out that Abaddon’s, my gentlemen’s club of which I have been a member as long as I can remember, wasn’t always the hive of genteel and civilised behaviour it now prides itself on being. When it first opened in the mid-eighteenth century, it actually housed a branch of The Hellfire Club during a brief attempt to franchise that particular den of iniquity! It hosted all manner of decadent shenanigans, far removed from the refined evenings I enjoy there these days. It was opened by a rum cove called Sir Jasper de Scornly, the youngest son of the Earl of Greenford, a minor toff who had been a great favourite at court, mainly because he was an utter weed who never rocked the boat and was always happy to cough up a few groats to George the whichever number when required. 

His third son, the aforementioned Sir Jasper, was a scoundrel of the worst kind. A drinker, a fighter, an unprincipled seducer of girls, boys and indeed anything with a pulse. If I’m honest he sounds far more convivial company that most of the current members… except for one thing. He liked to indulge in festivities of the supernatural. Not just seances and table-tapping – after all, who doesn’t? – but black masses, orgies, blood-soaked rituals, nun-on-goat action and opium-fuelled bacchanalias. Disgraceful! I have written about these depraved activities in enough depth to know how shameful they are, however enticing they may seem at first glance. 

Eventually, Sir Jasper crossed a line and his Club was shut down. But this is where the mystery deepens… the official records of the current Club only begin many years later when it reopened as a bastion of decency for gentlemen of a certain class. What was the deed that was a step too far? What was Sir Jasper’s ultimate fate? 

Rumours abounded that Sir Jasper’s Club lured many otherwise upright pillars of society into its wicked portals, even – and I’d not say this lightly- royalty was beset with temptation. Not just foreign royals from whom one expects such beastly behaviour – but even the then Pr*nce of W*les was ensnared into its lascivious maw. This simply wouldn’t do and steps would have been taken. Was Sir Jasper popped in a sack and bundled off to some ghastly armpit of the Empire, to live out his days in a drunken stupor, johnson slowly rotting thanks to some exotic variety of the clap, and then on the day he was finally whisked off to meet his Maker, buried ‘neath a banana tree, forgotten and unmarked?

The de Scornly family finally died out when the last fertile male came a cropper at Wipers during the Great War. The title was mothballed, and no freshly ennobled bloke has ever claimed it. Perhaps I could nab it when my time for ermine eventually arrives (Get a move on, Your Majesty, we’re neither of us getting any younger!)

But what did this have to do with Scunthorpe’s alleged spook?

At which point Darren Frognall made an extraordinary suggestion. 

I have very little time for my oikish son-in-law. His horror novels are boorish communist propaganda, and while Frognall may have perpetuated an image of himself as a ‘grizzled laureate of the streets’,’ I knew full well that he was the product of a minor public school in west London called St Nonceslas, that he’d inherited a tidy sum from an uncle in the tobacco trade, and that he’d invested heavily in an oil well in Abu Doli.

But his idea intrigued me. 

He suggested that I spend the night in the haunted room!

**************

I was surprised how readily that the Club President granted permission for my ghost-hunting mission. Naturally, he demanded that I promised not to write about my mission and equally naturally I lied and said I wouldn’t. 

Abaddon’s is notoriously publicity-shy, always guaranteeing sanctuary from the real world for the reprobates who comprise the membership. But losing the use of a room due to the superstitions of its simpleton staff must have rankled, so if I could clear up the enigma one way or the other, they would claim this as a result. I might even get free life membership if the upshot is to their liking.

A date was set for my night of ghostly vigil. I had hoped that Frognall would join me as an unbiased observer, but his lack of membership prohibited him, and the Committee refused to sanction any relaxation of rules to allow him to take part. Another stipulation – with which I agreed – was that no other member should know of my vigil. I didn’t want any of the rotters to play any tricks and scupper the serious scientific nature of my investigation.

I chose as my date the 14th February. I knew that on this date most of the members would be absent, being forced to take their wives, mistresses, boyfriends, favourite tarts and sundry significant others out for some kind of romantic occasion. It was also, I discovered from my research, the anniversary of the day that Sir Jasper de Scornly was unceremoniously booted out of the Club. If his spook was holding a grudge then surely that of all days would be when he would most likely manifest himself?

I went shopping for the apparatus I would need for my evening of ghost-hunting:  Candles, some holy water, an infra-red camera, a cracking bottle of Gleniskinnock whisky, a notepad and a pen. 

As the planned evening approached, my sense of anticipation tautened. I’m not easily frightened – I once parachuted into Germany dressed as nun; it wasn’t the war, I’d just lost a bet with the Duke of Edinburgh – but my pulse quickened when I thought of the night ahead.

I’d often unmasked those who were pretending to be ghosts (most recently my ex-wife and her girlfriend Pam at my alma mater Scarhelldeath Hall), but I was unprepared for what to do if the spooky rogue I encountered was the real McCoy. Would I keep my nerve? Or would I succumb to the heebie-jeebies like Scunthorpe had? It seems unlikely for a war hero such as myself, trained in the art of death by combat to go jelly-kneed at the sight of a ghost, but even the most lion-hearted of fellows has been known to bespoil their trousers when caught unawares. Perhaps I ought to doff the clothes and go knackers akimbo during my vigil? Hmm, could be a bit chilly in the Box Room and besides, one can be a tad vulnerable in such a state of sans trews.

The Feast of St Valentine’s dawned. I spent the day preparing for my long night of supernatural vigil. I had a splendid five-course lunch, snoozed most of the afternoon, then supped in my Club, followed by a brandy or two. The place was pleasingly quiet. I chuckled at the thought of my fellow Members having to endure a mandatory romantic evening with their trouble-&-strifes, followed by a duty knee-trembler. I did worry whether old ‘Chinny’ Chapman was in any fit state to indulge in carnal congress, but then recalled that his wife had run off with a bus driver a year or two before so he was excused the tedium of Valentines Day. In fact, I spotted him fast asleep in the Club Lounge, his pipe dangling precariously from his drooping mouth. I wondered how ‘Snotty’ Gove was spending the evening. I couldn’t imagine him in any kind of romantic or erotic circumstances, but ‘for every foot there’s a sock’ as my old Nanny used to say. Although in the case of Snotty’s pater there’s a somewhat redundant sock. 

The clock struck. 10pm. Time to start. I’d been given the keys to the Box Room earlier. Scunthorpe handed them over very reluctantly and had pleaded me with me to drop my investigation. I’d been very firm with him, even suggesting he join me in my vigil to face his fears. He shook his head in dismay and scuttled off to wherever minions go. It didn’t surprise me to find him off duty that evening. He never took time off, but he was in such a funk that he’d fled the building. I wondered where he went on his free time. He was such a part of the fabric of the Club that I couldn’t envisage him existing in the outside world. He probably went to the pictures or maybe something saucier. Like all good Club staff he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local tarts and their specialities, and could always recommend the right person, whatever the required fetish. Maybe he was owed some commission?t

I climbed the stairs to the Box Room. I wasn’t feeling my usual tingle of anticipation before an adventure; rather I was aware of a gnawing in the pit of my gut, although that could’ve been the Spotted Dick.

I reached the door to the Box Room. Now I was aware of it I couldn’t see how I’d missed it so many times as I’d trekked to the roof for my nude sunbathing. I fumbled for the keys and I placed the Yale in the lock…

‘Go away!’

Who was that? I’d definitely heard that. Didn’t I? I stared around, but there wasn’t a fellow in the vicinity. I withdrew the key. Did I really want to do this? Wasn’t it a foolish way to spend the night when there was a very comfortable armchair downstairs with easy access to unlimited booze? 

I shook my head. What was I thinking? Old Stirling had never chickened out of anything before. There could be a bestselling book out of this. The Rolls needed a new gearbox, and my latest instalment of The Derek Playfair Adventures – a guaranteed money-spinner – had stalled in my brain.

I quickly turned the key in its lock and opened the door…

I entered the allegedly haunted Box Room. The air was stale, reeking of dust and damp. I fumbled for a light switch, but all my hand encountered was a cobweb. I dug out the torch from my bag and switched it on. The beam was powerful but limited; it illuminated a narrow strip of the room, revealing fragments of furniture. I’d brought along a large supply of candles and holders. I lit a brace of them in the corridor, then took them in. The flickering luminance didn’t enhance the room’s welcoming atmosphere, but I placed the candles on a heavy wooden chest of drawers, then quickly ignited another pair. I now had ample light by which to examine the Box Room more throughly. It was a small room, sparsely furnished. The aforementioned chest, a single bed, and a rocking chair. The wallpaper was dark and cheerless. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling, thick enough to be mistaken for lace curtains, in which large spiders scuttled away as they were hit by the light from the candles. 

There was no window. 

I sighed. Not the most comfortable of rooms in which to spend a night. I tentatively patted the bed. A cloud of dust mushroomed up, enveloping me and triggering a coughing fit. Perhaps if I stripped the bed of its sheets, maybe the mattress itself would be less grimy. I grabbed the eiderdown and tugged, but it disintegrated in my hand. I was beginning to wonder if I should have tried bribing the less nervous members of the cleaning staff to have given the room a quick once-over before attempting my vigil. Oh well, too late now. I would have to share my night with the dust mites, the spiders… and who knew what else?

My mighty imagination has been a boon for me most of my life. My many best-selling novels sprouted from it, and it has been the source of the comfortable lifestyle which I have enjoyed since I first put nib-to-parchment. But it has a downside. Whereas the Man in The Clapham Omnibus looks at a shadow and merely sees an absence of light, we scribes see a black abyss of the unknown in which all manners of bogeymen writhe and breed in their ghastliness. I pride myself on being firmly in control of my imagination, never succumbing to the vapours which women and other feeble creatures succumb. But I cannot tell a lie, this room induced a queer uneasiness in me.

I brought my bag in the room and shut the door. To make the room a tad less Chez Lugosi, I lit a few more candles, but even the extra lumens didn’t improve the ambience, merely added more shadows. A couple of whiskeys and I wouldn’t even notice the unpleasantness, I told myself. I unpacked what I’d need from my bag, lugged the rocking chair to a corner of the room from which I could survey it all, and settled down. The chair creaked as I sat, and the rocking motion was abrupt. I felt as though I could easily tip backwards all the way to the floor. I resolved to find something to jam under the rockers to keep it still. 

A vision of the jolly cosy bedroom two storeys below popped into my head, the one in which I often stayed when I didn’t want to traipse back to the Old Rectory late at night, usually because I was somewhat newt-like. I gave myself a good finger-wagging. This night had the potential to be an adventure, a lucrative one, what’s more. Not something that the Stirling of old would’ve balked at, the Stirling that fought in the war, the Stirling that once wrestled an ostrich, the Stirling that had laughed when faced with a firing squad comprising Bolivian Satanists, the Stirling who had marched through central London at the front of the Nudist Pride March … even the Stirling that had given the correct definition of frottage on Call My Bluff.

As I gingerly settled back in the rocking chair, my wedged foot preventing me from ending up unnecessarily horizontal, I surveyed the room again by torchlight – which was when I noticed the portrait. It hung over the mantelpiece which topped a blocked-up fireplace. Competently painted, but no forgotten masterpiece, it depicted a cove in mid-eighteenth century clobber. The subject was a young man, floridly dressed, quite handsome, his expression spoiled by a supercilious air, the mouth twisted in a cruel sneer. But the eyes… one jokes about the eyes of a portrait following one around the room, but these seemed almost alive! I truly felt they were staring right at me, no, right into me, piercing my own eyes to read my thoughts, perhaps even my very soul! 

Did this painting depict Sir Jasper de Scornly himself? Had this been his bedroom back in the day? This was more like a servant’s quarters, but perhaps it was where he indulged his more outré carnal romps? Not that he struck me as a chap who had any qualms about keeping his peccadilloes quiet. And if the painting were of he, then his roguish reputation seems to have been vindicated. 

Frankly, I wasn’t spending the night being stared at by this wretched painting so I turned it around so all I could see was the back of the frame. Doing this disturbed remarkably little dust which, surprisingly for a man of my forensic astuteness, didn’t strike me as at all odd.

I returned to the rocking chair and wondered how I was going to spend the long night ahead. I produced the camera from my bag and set them up ready to be galvanised into action if necessary. I took a swig from my hip flask, contemplated making some notes… and next thing I knew I was fast asleep!

I awoke with a start from a deep but dreamless snooze. For a moment I hadn’t the foggiest clue of where I was, but as soon as the brain clicked into place I remembered. I fumbled for my watch. Was it nearly morning? Could I leave this unpleasant little room and go back to my own bed? 

1.17am. 

Damn!

I rather fancied a hot milky drink – a posset with plenty of nutmeg and rum – but I doubted that the Night Porter would traipse all the way up here with one, even if I had any means to contact him. I’d have to make do with another swig of whisky. I threw back my head to glug the warming nectar down my throat when I noticed…

The portrait had been turned back the right way. Those blasted eyes were staring at me again. And the cruel smirk seemed even more disdainful than before.

I snapped myself wide awake. I contemplated my next strategy. There were two possibilities: either someone had come into the room while I was asleep or something supernatural was afoot. I was sceptical about the latter which meant the former was more likely.

A chilling prospect.

Who could it have been? I cursed myself for not locking the door. I hadn’t even shut it properly, leaving it slightly ajar in case… well, just in case.

I examined the portrait again. The face almost seemed familiar, but frankly I’ve spent many a weekend in a chum’s country estate, and the places are chockablock with similar paintings and all the subjects, no matter which house, all look as though they’re all related. Knowing our aristocracy they probably are. 

I necked more whisky and put the hip flask on the mantelpiece. I went to the door, closed it firmly and locked it. I didn’t relish the idea of being locked in; after all, the first rule of warfare is keep an option for a tactical retreat, but neither did I want anyone sneaking up on me.

I tried the door to make sure it was firmly locked. On my way back to the rocking chair I reached for my hip flask…

It was gone.

*********

This was ludicrous! It had been less than 30 seconds and no one else was in the room!

I flopped back into the rocking chair in a puzzled huff. I stared at the portrait. I could swear the bugger was smirking at me. This was going to be a prolonged enough night without whisky deprivation to boot. I decided to examine the room thoroughly to see if there were any possible secret entrances. Wouldn’t be the first time a priest’s hole had been the answer to a few questions.

I tapped walls, lifted a rug (which disintegrated into a cloud of rancid dust), and even peered under the bed (a fossilised mouse and a chipped Edgar Allen). I examined the fireplace lest the blocking off wasn’t quite so thorough, but it would require a mallet and a brace of navvies to get though that.

I admit, I was stumped. 

I shivered. The temperature in the Box Room had definitely dropped. As a consequence I felt a twitch in my bladder and became aware that I would imminently have to thrust Thomas at the Twyfords. But I worried that if I left the room, I would be reluctant to return. Perhaps I would have to use the Gazunder I’d just found.

My blood ran cold. The portrait was most definitely staring at me! The eyes were blazing with light, malignancy burning from them as they gleamed wickedly at me. I gasped and rubbed my eyes. When I looked again, the eyes were normal. Cruel and piercing still, but not aflame as before.

I had to admit that something fishy was afoot. Either I was experiencing genuine paranormal activity or someone was arsing about – and if I found out who, they’d be in for a severe hiding.

‘Give me back my bloody booze, you rotten spook!’ I suddenly erupted. To hell with it, I was going downstairs to get myself a bottle of something. Abaddon’s prides itself that alcohol, a bed, and a scrubber are never knowingly unavailable. 

As I reached the door, there was a chuckle. 

I whirled around. I’d definitely heard that. It was a laugh. A man’s laugh, but not a good-natured one. It was a joyless, sarcastic sound. But where had it come from?

‘Was that you?’ I asked the portrait, my hand still on the doorknob. 

There was an eerie glow emanating from the portrait. I rubbed my eyes.

Standing in front of the portrait of what I assumed was Sir Jasper de Scornly was the man himself. It was as though the painting had come alive and stepped out from the frame. 

Reader, I am man enough to admit that only the staunchest clenching of my buttocks prevented me from from being involuntarily at stool.  While the logical circuits of my brain were computing the various rational likelihoods of what I was seeing, my instincts were screaming ‘Ghost! Run!’ I knew that I should be snapping away with my camera, but it was on the other side of room, requiring me to actually get nearer the fiendish apparition.

I gulped and tried to pull myself together.

‘Can I help you?’ I asked the manifestation, my voice at least an higher octave than listeners of my occasional spots on The Moral Maze would recognise.

The ghost smiled the ghastliest of smiles and crooked its finger, gesturing for me to approach.

I sensibly stayed where I was. Or thought I did. My legs had other ideas and despite my best efforts they forced me step by step into the arms of the Ghost!

The Phantom’s chilly embrace overwhelmed me; my head swam, I feared I was going to lose consciousness, and then I found myself… somewhere else.  

It was a large drawing room, a dark thundery sky outside, the room lit by a roaring fire in the hearth. Two men were arguing. An old cove in fancy dress, eighteenth century I thought, was wagging his finger at the other man – whom I recognised as the living manifestation of the Ghost. This must be Jasper de Scornly and his father. 

The older man, the Earl of Greenford, was a feeble beast, spindly of leg, a moth-eaten wig perched precariously on his chinless head, a blanket around his weedy shoulders. He was chastising his son with a distinct lack of authority. Sir Jasper towered over his ineffectual father, contempt emanating off him. If he were my son, a clip around the ear would be the least he would get, but the Earl would’ve needed a stepladder just to reach his son’s ear.

I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I presumed that the Earl was trying to persuade his son to behave less like an arse and more like the son of aristocrat, not that in my experience there’s that much of a chasm between the two. Jasper threw back his head and laughed at his father, his hands on his hips. They did actually do that in the olden days, I marvelled, it wasn’t just something invented by Douglas Fairbanks. It was a practise I resolved to adopt myself, particularly the next time the quack urges me to cut down on the drink.

I have no idea what the Earl said next, but Jasper suddenly whipped his sword out and held the tip to his father’s throat.  The Earl’s knees actually knocked and his lip trembled. Jasper abruptly sheathed his sword and swept from the room, curses obviously falling silently from his mouth.

I was no longer in the drawing room. I was witness to a rapid barrage of different scenes of Jasper up to no good; gambling, whoring, fighting duels, knocking back the grog in diverse taverns – indeed having a splendid time which I rather envied. Then things turned darker: occult rituals in a dank crypt, naked lasses tied to altars, chickens getting their throats cuts, a tubby man having the blood of the poor deceased bird rubbed into his corpulent frame… by the rapt way his fellow Satanists fawned on him I rather suspected he might be royalty. This was confirmed when the crypt was raided by soldiers and the chubby man was deferred to while all the other participants were manhandled somewhat roughly.

Then suddenly we were in the Box Room – yes, this very room in which I was spending the night – where Jasper was greeted by a young woman in servant’s garb. For the first time Jasper showed a tenderness as he kissed and embraced the young maid followed by such a right royal rogering that even I felt I ought to avert my eyes – which I resisted as I considered it my duty to watch all the Phantom was showing me.

Before I’d had time to catch my breath or indeed rearrange my underpants, we were swept to a bleak graveyard where a funeral was taking place. A coffin was lowered into an open grave while a vicar soundlessly intoned prayers.

 A group of mourners each flung a sod of earth into the grave, but then Sir Jasper appeared, striding determinedly towards the grave. Several mourners (his brothers, I wondered) produced their swords and chased him away. Jasper shook his fist at the men and leaped onto his waiting horse.

Next, we were at a dockside beside a rough grey sea. Jasper, bound and gagged, is pushed at sword point up the gangplank by the same men from the graveyard. They watch until the ship has sailed, only leaving when the ship has reached the horizon. After they leave, only one person is left at the dockside watching the diminishing ship. It is the maid from earlier, her cheeks stained with tears. She is very palpably up the duff. Following this we see – quite unnecessarily, I thought – the maid in childbirth which was quite gruesome, all blood and guts and slime, not what any fellow should be forced to witness.

The result was a baby boy. Sadly I don’t think the mother survived the ordeal. The child grew swiftly in front of my eyes, time speeding faster and faster as I watched him spawn a son himself who in turn spawned another boy and so on and so on… The acceleration of the visions became too much for me and I was overwhelmed with dizziness. I roared, pleaded for it to stop…

… and next thing I knew I was lying on the bed back in the Box Room, the very bed on which I had recently observed the maid giving birth so messily.

I sat up and shook my head. How long had all that taken? It felt like I had watched those centuries pass in real time. I glanced at my watch. 3.57am.  Was it still the same night?

A hand passed me my hip flask. ‘Thank you,’ I said automatically, but just as I was about to swig, I froze. I glanced up. The Ghost of Sir Jasper de Scornly was standing in front of me!

The spectre of Sir Jasper de Scornly stared at me, his fiery eyes burning deep into my soul. He looked as solid as flesh, but I knew that if I touched him he would evaporate like steam from a kettle so I kept my hands to myself.

‘Hello,’ I said feebly. ‘Jolly interesting life you had.’ Hardly Wildean, but the etiquette for addressing a ghost evaded me.

A hint of a sneer crossed Sir Jasper’s face, but I suspected that was his default expression. 

‘Verily,’ he hissed, ‘Me life was stolen from me, as indeed was me inheritance.’ He whipped out his sword from its scabbard. I ducked, but he pointed it at the window. ‘Five thousand leagues west of here, me bones lay rotting ‘neath a solitary tree. The feeble cross marking the grave has many years hence been the shit of the woodworm.’

‘Shame,’ I commiserated. ‘Still, you packed a lot of hijinks in your life, short as it may have been. Haven’t seen so much debauchery…’ I considered. ‘Well, for months…’

I hadn’t even finished before Sir Jasper had the point of his sword pressing into my neck, just to the right of my Adam’s Apple. ‘What is life for except for indulging the flesh in the pleasure it craves?’

‘Quite,’ I agreed.

The point of the sword was sliding down my front, opting buttons of my shirt. I was relieved it was just a British Home Stores shirt, not a bespoke one from Monsieur Herring of Mayfair. 

‘Me life was curtailed while there was still so much bodily gratification to explore.’ The spook brushed his free hand against what I hoped was a codpiece.

‘That’s a shame.’ I wasn’t quite sure what he expected me to do about it. It wasn’t as though he still had a body to gratify. Not a corporeal one anyway. I could point him in the direction of Dolores of Frith Street, but even she would balk at pleasuring a randy wraith, and she will usually do anything as long as one has washed one’s Johnson first.

‘I demand only one appeasement,’ Sir Jasper shouted, retrieving his sword from my throat. ‘The restoration of me bloodline – and the rightful ennoblement of the most recent of the spawn of me spawn.’ 

Yes, I’d suspected it might be something like that. Why else show me the procession of descendants of the little bastard who was born in this very room?

‘Genealogy isn’t my strong point, old darling,’ I replied. ‘rummaging through dusty ledgers and birth certificates and whatnot. Leave that to the librarians and other weeds. Making stuff up is more my forte.’

A smirk passed across the phantasm’s face.  ‘There is a simple way of identifying a true de Scornly…’ he said, and with that, he thrust open his garments and exposed himself to me.

I gasped! ‘You have three!’ I exclaimed. ‘In all my days as a nudist I’ve never seen that before.’

De Scornly sneered. ‘The third nipple has been passed down from de Scornly to de Scornly from time immemorial. Even me feeble father and me scurvy brothers possessed the Sacred Blemish.’

‘Yes, well,’ I began, ‘unique as it may be, and devoted nudist that I am, I can’t very well go asking random chaps to show me their chests. I’m not Dickie Wattis!’

The ghost’s eyes narrowed.

‘And besides,‘ I hastily continued, ‘even if the Nudist camps were allowed to open, it’s still winter. However hardy the de Scornlys may be…’

The wretched phantom emitted an unearthly shriek. ‘Find me progeny.’ He pointed a boney finger at me. I noticed his fingernail was filthy and wondered if it was from scrabbling at the coffin lid. ‘Or I shall haunt ye until the end of time, Sir Desmond Stirling.’

I shrugged. I wasn’t going to give this spectral oik the satisfaction of intimidating me. ‘I’ll do me best… my best, I mean.’ I pointed at the window. ‘Look, dawn is imminent and I need my beauty sleep and surely you need to return to your grave?’

Sir Jasper glanced at the flecks of light which were breaking up the night. ‘Return here when you have found me issue. I will be waiting for ye.’

At this the candles blew out and the room was plunged into darkness. I hastily re-lit the nearest candle. 

Sir Jasper was gone!

I had lied to the spook. Sleep was the last thing on my mind, and besides I had no intention of spending another minute in that ghastly little room. I raced down the stairs, left the Club (ignoring the puzzled look of the Night Porter) and searched for a taxi. Within minutes I’d flagged one down and instructed the driver to hotfoot me to Hampstead.

My son-in-law – Darren Frognall, self-Styled Mao Tse Tung of the Macabre – was not best pleased to be woken at what he considered an ungodly hour. Frankly, if he were in the army this would be almost time for elevenses. He stared at me in his improbably short dressing gown which revealed unsurprisingly skinny legs and a shamefully hairless chest. But he soon saw that I had important intel to impart, so he lead me into the kitchen and fired up the coffee percolator.

He offered me toast too, and then demonstrated a remarkable machine – unimaginably called a ‘toaster’ – which actually toasts bread! I haven’t made any toast myself since schooldays when we  held the bread on forks in front of the roaring fire prepared earlier by our fag (and if the fire wasn’t roaring, said fag wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week! Or in the case of ‘Snotty’ Gove’s pater, unable to stand). 

Eventually we were sitting down at the kitchen table with our coffee and freshly buttered toast, and I related my adventures of the previous night. Frognall listened keenly, with the surprisingly good sense not to interrupt a master storyteller at work. I had reached the point when Sir Jasper had revealed the presence of his descendants. A strange look crossed Frognall’s face and he leant forward, causing his dressing gown to fall open… revealing, just to the right of the centre of his pitiful chest, the presence of a third nipple!

To be continued…

Listen to Sir Desmond read this story out loud here…

Satan baby – the podcast!

December 1, 2020

Because I am kind-hearted soul – generous to a fault, indeed to all of my readers – I have a Christmas gift for you. I have recorded my classic Yuletide chiller SATAN BABY in 4 easy-to-digest instalments.

You can hear the first chapter here.

Merry Christmas!

Dread Rocks Holiday part 12

June 17, 2020

The Nazi brushed a fragment of dust off his otherwise immaculate uniform and stared expressionlessly at Polkinghorn. ‘Your name?’

‘Cubert Polkinghorn, your… your…’ the little squirt floundered. ‘Your Naziness. This is my cathedral.’

‘No longer!’ snapped the Obergruppenführer. ‘I claim it on behalf of the Fourth Reich.’

The Captain and I glanced at each other. The Fourth Reich! It was always inevitable, but who would have thought they would finally show up here underneath Dread Rocks Lighthouse.

Polkinghorn’s face went an off-shade of cerise. ‘No, I can’t allow that. This is my cathedral and I’m in the middle of a jolly important ritual actually. ‘

The Obergruppenführer looked round him, a sneer playing around his lips. ‘A ritual? With no acolytes? No sacrifice?’

‘You frightened them off,’ Polkinghorn squeaked. 

‘Whereas I have brought both acolytes,’ he pointed at his men, ‘and a sacrifice.’ He gestured towards the goat which was now munching one of the discarded robes. 

Polkinghorn staled his little feet. ‘This isn’t fair!’

‘Idiot!’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Expecting fairness from a devil-worshipping Nazi!’

The Captain asked me quietly if id noticed anything odd.

‘Pretty much everything, dear boy!’

He pointed out that the Obergruppenführer wasn’t German.

By Jove, he was right! A non-Teutonic stormtrooper! Who would’ve conceived of such a thing?

‘I thought his English was rather good,’ I whispered. ‘I wonder who he is?’

‘His name is Derek Loveday,’ the Captain told me. ‘We were at Eton together.’

I was shocked into speechlessness. ‘An old Etonian? But that marvellous establishment has always produced such fine and upstanding citizens.’

‘He was a a scholarship boy,’ explained the Captain, sadly. ‘From Greenford.’

But we were spared any further discussion on the infiltration of our fine public school system by oiks. The goat had been snuffling about the cavern and had found us and was trying to nibble my sou’wester.  I tried to shoo it off as quietly as I could, but the wretched creature was determined. Possibly knew it was its last supper. Unfortunately the kerfuffle had been noticed by the Nazi who, with a click of his fingers, had sent one of his soldiers to investigate. 

Within moments the Captain and I were being held at gunpoint, our arms aloft, as the damn Fascist stared at us coolly. It was soon obvious that he didn’t recognise either of us and just assumed that we were acolytes of Polkinghorn. I glanced at our assumed leader. Would he give us away?

‘Excellent,’ said the Obergruppenführer. ‘Human sacrifices are always more effective than a goat.’

Oh Lor’! It seems I had jumped out of the frying pan only to land back in the same frying pan.

As a man I have few weaknesses. I am brave, handsome, can drink even the darling Queen Mother under the table… but I’m not known for clamping my cakehole shut at those rare times when keeping schtum is the the wisest course of action. But I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, dying for both a jimmy Riddle and the largest Scotch known to man. I’d narrowly missed being sacrificed earlier today and the odds were against another fortuitous escape. Dammit, I wasn’t going to stand here being threatened by a Nazi… and  not even an authentic sausage-eater to boot, but a quisling British one. 

I put my hands down. Keeping my tone calm but steely, I looked the Obergruppenführer squarely in the eyes.

‘I’m a reasonable chap, old thing, but I’ve had enough. And I tell you what you’re going to do. You’ll let my chum and me go, then you and your goose-stepping nancy-boys are going to bugger off pronto as far away from Her Majesty’s territory as humanly possible – and we’ll say no more about it. I’ll get a hot bath and a drink, you don’t get executed for high treason, everybody’s happy.’ I pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘And you get to do what you like with Cubert here. I think our prisons are full enough these days without the likes of him cluttering them up.’ 

I grabbed the Captain by the arm. ‘Come along old bean, let’s hither aloft to the lighthouse. I can lend you some dry socks and we can have a round of toast each.’ To the Captain’s astonishment, I proceeded to march him speedily towards the exit to the lighthouse. 

‘Halt!’

No, I didn’t think it would work. 

Loveday stared at us keenly, his cold eyes piercing me down to my very soul. I must say, he had the whole Nazi thing off to a tee. Apart from the lack of an accent, I’d never have pegged him as a cove from Greenford.

‘Desmond Stirling,’ he suddenly said.

‘Sir Desmond,’ I chided. 

‘How appropriate that you of all people are here as witness to the birth of the Fourth Reich,’ the scoundrel laughed. ‘And that your spilt blood will be the breast milk which will feed the newborn.

Polkinghorn interjected, ‘That was my idea too.’

The Obergruppenführer gestured to one of his men and pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘If this one speaks again, shoot him.’

Polkinghorn emitted a little squeak from both ends. 

‘So what is this all about, eh?’ I asked, partially to stall for time, but also, like most writers, I’m always harvesting ideas for future use. So much easier to plunder a genuine crackpot’s megalomaniacal rantings then have to write them oneself. Loveday didn’t disappoint.

‘Since our lamentable defeat in 1945, we have waited in the shadows to return one day and wipe out the twin scourge of democracy and liberalism. Now, with the demonic power of Dread Rocks Lighthouse to light our way, we will take our rightful place as rulers of the entire world!’ He cackled during this last bit which resulted in some unsightly drool. It was obviously habitual as one of the soldiers automatically stepped forward and wiped his officer’s face with a hanky.

The Obergruppenführer raised his arms over-dramatically. ‘Unleash the satanic power of the Hell-Dong!’

He pointed at me. ‘Prepare him for their sacrifice!’

Here we go again, I thought. I shrugged at the Captain. We were inevitably toast, but we could at least conk out with our dignity intact. 

One of the stormtroopers gestured brusquely at me. I wasn’t clambering onto that altar of my own volition, they’d have to lift me up and deposit me themselves. I didn’t relish being manhandled in the nude by a couple of young, square-jawed uniformed men, but these things are sent to try us.  

But before I could even demand they warmed their hands before laying their nazi hands on me, a bloodcurdling scream rent the air. We all, the Obergruppenführer included, turned to look for the source of that spine-chilling noise. 

The Empty Diving Suit had its hands around the neck of one of the Nazis, squeezing with a supernatural ferocity. The soldier was powerless to resist, and before our very eyes, he sank to the ground and then just…. disintegrated into dust. Barely had the hapless Seig-Heiler vanished than the Diving Suit had grabbed another of the soldiers. Within seconds he too was just swirling particles.

‘Stop him!’ the Obergruppenführer screamed. But how exactly do you kill an empty suit? The remaining soldiers raised their rifles and started to fire william-nilliam at the Diving Suit, but to no avail. Yet more soldiers succumbed to the terrifying gloved hands of the Suit.

‘Protect me,’ the Obergruppenführer demanded of the surviving soldiers, who frankly weren’t making a particularly tip-top job of protecting themselves. 

Just as I was about to suggest to the Captain that we take advantage of this distraction, there was a tremendous explosion from high above us. Instinctively, we all eyeballed upwards. A bloody great hole had been ripped in the ceiling of the cavern, and the ocean was cascading down like Niagara. As the water hit the ground it rebounded with a roar, knocking the remaining soldiers down like skittles. 

That’s it, I decided, I’ve had more than enough of this palaver, and legged it towards the exit to the lighthouse. I assumed the Captain was following me if he had any nous which I was pretty sure he did. The remaining soldiers were still screaming, though I was unsure if this was due to the water or the Diving Suit. 

The water was up to my knees by now, and brass monkeys it was too. Any higher and I feared for the future of my orchestras. I scrambled though the hole in the wall, leapt for the lowest rung and began to climb the ladder. I felt something grab my leg as I commenced the climb. I assumed it was the Captain, but when I glanced down it was that wretch Polkinghorn. His face was a mask of terror and he was trying to clamber past me up the ladder. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense; he could wait his bally turn. I kicked out at him and tried to scramble upwards faster. Polkinghorn overbalanced and fell back into the swirling water. I dismissed the toad from my mind and continued my ascent. If he’d got to his age without learning to swim then he deserved to drown.

I briefly wondered where the Captain was, but as he was a trained professional I knew he could take care of himself, unlike that snivelling weed Polkinghorn.

My arms ached. I’m not as young as I used to be, and while still a fine specimen of manhood for my age, the events of the previous 24 hours had taken a brutal toll. I looked upwards to see how far I had yet to climb. I still couldn’t see the top of the ladder. I took a deep breath and persevered. 

A wave of icy water swirled around my head, taking me by such surprise I nearly lost my grip on the rungs of the ladder. The sea was now up to the level of my chest, then my neck. Within seconds it would be over my head. 

Yours truly was doomed!

Dread Rocks Holiday part 9

The Nazi brushed a fragment of dust off his otherwise immaculate uniform and stared expressionlessly at Polkinghorn. ‘Your name?’

‘Cubert Polkinghorn, your… your…’ the little squirt floundered. ‘Your Naziness. This is my cathedral.’

‘No longer!’ snapped the Obergruppenführer. ‘I claim it on behalf of the Fourth Reich.’

The Captain and I glanced at each other. The Fourth Reich! It was always inevitable, but who would have thought they would finally show up here underneath Dread Rocks Lighthouse.

Polkinghorn’s face went an off-shade of cerise. ‘No, I can’t allow that. This is my cathedral and I’m in the middle of a jolly important ritual actually. ‘

The Obergruppenführer looked round him, a sneer playing around his lips. ‘A ritual? With no acolytes? No sacrifice?’

‘You frightened them off,’ Polkinghorn squeaked. 

‘Whereas I have brought both acolytes,’ he pointed at his men, ‘and a sacrifice.’ He gestured towards the goat which was now munching one of the discarded robes. 

Polkinghorn staled his little feet. ‘This isn’t fair!’

‘Idiot!’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Expecting fairness from a devil-worshipping Nazi!’

The Captain asked me quietly if id noticed anything odd.

‘Pretty much everything, dear boy!’

He pointed out that the Obergruppenführer wasn’t German.

By Jove, he was right! A non-Teutonic stormtrooper! Who would’ve conceived of such a thing?

‘I thought his English was rather good,’ I whispered. ‘I wonder who he is?’

‘His name is Derek Loveday,’ the Captain told me. ‘We were at Eton together.’

I was shocked into speechlessness. ‘An old Etonian? But they’ve always produced such fine and upstanding citizens.’

‘He was a a scholarship boy,’ explained the Captain, sadly. ‘From Greenford.’

But we were spared any further discussion on the infiltration of our fine public school system by oiks. The goat had been snuffling about the cavern and had found us and was trying to nibble my sou’wester.  I tried to shoo it off as quietly as I could, but the wretched creature was determined. Possibly knew it was its last supper. Unfortunately the kerfuffle had been noticed by the Nazi who, with a click of his fingers, had sent one of his soldiers to investigate. 

Within moments the Captain and I were being held at gunpoint, our arms aloft, as the damn Fascist stared at us coolly. It was soon obvious that he didn’t recognise either of us and just assumed that we were acolytes of Polkinghorn. I glanced at our assumed leader. Would he give us away?

‘Excellent,’ said the Obergruppenführer. ‘Human sacrifices are always more effective than a goat.’

Oh Lor’! It seems I had jumped out of the frying pan only to land back in the same frying pan.

As a man I have few weaknesses. I am brave, handsome, can drink even the darling Queen Mother under the table… but I’m not known for clamping my cakehole shut at those rare times when keeping schtum is the the wisest course of action. But I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, dying for both a jimmy Riddle and the largest Scotch known to man. I’d narrowly missed being sacrificed earlier today and the odds were against another fortuitous escape. Dammit, I wasn’t going to stand here being threatened by a Nazi… and  not even an authentic sausage-eater to boot, but a quisling British one. 

I put my hands down. Keeping my tone calm but steely, I looked the Obergruppenführer squarely in the eyes.

‘I’m a reasonable chap, old thing, but I’ve had enough. And I tell you what you’re going to do. You’ll let my chum and me go, then you and your goose-stepping nancy-boys are going to bugger off pronto as far away from Her Majesty’s territory as humanly possible – and we’ll say no more about it. I’ll get a hot bath and a drink, you don’t get executed for high treason, everybody’s happy.’ I pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘And you get to do what you like with Cubert here. I think our prisons are full enough these days without the likes of him cluttering them up.’ 

I grabbed the Captain by the arm. ‘Come along old bean, let’s hither aloft to the lighthouse. I can lend you some dry socks and we can have a round of toast each.’ To the Captain’s astonishment, I proceeded to march him speedily towards the exit to the lighthouse. 

‘Halt!’

No, I didn’t think it would work. 

Loveday stared at us keenly, his cold eyes piercing me down to my very soul. I must say, he had the whole Nazi thing off to a tee. Apart from the lack of an accent, I’d never have pegged him as a cove from Greenford.

‘Desmond Stirling,’ he suddenly said.

Sir Desmond,’ I chided. 

‘How appropriate that you of all people are here as witness to the birth of the Fourth Reich,’ the scoundrel laughed. ‘And that your spilt blood will be the breast milk which will feed the newborn.

Polkinghorn interjected, ‘That was my idea too.’

The Obergruppenführer gestured to one of his men and pointed at Polkinghorn. ‘If this one speaks again, shoot him.’

Polkinghorn emitted a little squeak from both ends. 

‘So what is this all about, eh?’ I asked, partially to stall for time, but also, like most writers, I’m always harvesting ideas for future use. So much easier to plunder a genuine crackpot’s megalomaniacal rantings then have to write them oneself. Loveday didn’t disappoint.

‘Since our lamentable defeat in 1945, we have waited in the shadows to return one day and wipe out the twin scourge of democracy and liberalism. Now, with the demonic power of Dread Rocks Lighthouse to light our way, we will take our rightful place as rulers of the entire world!’ He cackled during this last bit which resulted in some unsightly drool. It was obviously habitual as one of the soldiers automatically stepped forward and wiped his officer’s face with a hanky.

The Obergruppenführer raised his arms over-dramatically. ‘Unleash the satanic power of the Hell-Dong!’

He pointed at me. ‘Prepare him for their sacrifice!’

Here we go again, I thought. I shrugged at the Captain. We were inevitably toast, but we could at least conk out with our dignity intact. 

One of the stormtroopers gestured brusquely at me. I wasn’t clambering onto that altar of my own volition, they’d have to lift me up and deposit me themselves. I didn’t relish being manhandled in the nude by a couple of young, square-jawed uniformed men, but these things are sent to try us.  

But before I could even demand they warmed their hands before laying their nazi hands on me, a bloodcurdling scream rent the air. We all, the Obergruppenführer included, turned to look for the source of that spine-chilling noise. 

The Empty Diving Suit had its hands around the neck of one of the Nazis, squeezing with a supernatural ferocity. The soldier was powerless to resist, and before our very eyes, he sank to the ground and then just…. disintegrated into dust. Barely had the hapless Seig-Heiler vanished than the Diving Suit had grabbed another of the soldiers. Within seconds he too was just swirling particles.

‘Stop him!’ the Obergruppenführer screamed. But how exactly do you kill an empty suit? The remaining soldiers raised their rifles and started to fire william-nilliam at the Diving Suit, but to no avail. Yet more soldiers succumbed to the terrifying gloved hands of the Suit.

‘Protect me,’ the Obergruppenführer demanded of the surviving soldiers, who frankly weren’t making a particularly tip-top job of protecting themselves. 

Just as I was about to suggest to the Captain that we take advantage of this distraction, there was a tremendous explosion from high above us. Instinctively, we all eyeballed upwards. A bloody great hole had been ripped in the ceiling of the cavern, and the ocean was cascading down like Niagara. As the water hit the ground it rebounded with a roar, knocking the remaining soldiers down like skittles. 

That’s it, I decided, I’ve had more than enough of this palaver, and legged it towards the exit to the lighthouse. I assumed the Captain was following me if he had any nous which I was pretty sure he did. The remaining soldiers were still screaming, though I was unsure if this was due to the water or the Diving Suit. 

The water was up to my knees by now, and brass monkeys it was too. Any higher and I feared for the future of my orchestras. I scrambled though the hole in the wall, leapt for the lowest rung and began to climb the ladder. I felt something grab my leg as I commenced the climb. I assumed it was the Captain, but when I glanced down it was that wretch Polkinghorn. His face was a mask of terror and he was trying to clamber past me up the ladder. I wasn’t having any of that nonsense; he could wait his bally turn. I kicked out at him and tried to scramble upwards faster. Polkinghorn overbalanced and fell back into the swirling water. I dismissed the toad from my mind and continued my ascent. If he’d got to his age without learning to swim then he deserved to drown.

I briefly wondered where the Captain was, but as he was a trained professional I knew he could take care of himself, unlike that snivelling weed Polkinghorn.

My arms ached. I’m not as young as I used to be, and while still a fine specimen of manhood for my age, the events of the previous 24 hours had taken a brutal toll. I looked upwards to see how far I had yet to climb. I still couldn’t see the top of the ladder. I took a deep breath and persevered. 

A wave of icy water swirled around my head, taking me by such surprise I nearly lost my grip on the rungs of the ladder. The sea was now up to the level of my chest, then my neck. Within seconds it would be over my head. 

Yours truly was doomed!

To be concluded...

..

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!

To hear Sir Desmond at work go tohttp://www.whatnoise.co.uk

Read my memoirs THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST

Scarhelldeath Hall

February 11, 2013

This weather reminds one of one’s schooldays, in particular my prep school on the rain-lashed east coast of Scotland. It was called Scarhelldeath Hall just outside the village of Killcarcass. An excellent school with a very good survival rate for boys.

Although I was always a sporty cove & school champion, one didn’t always fancy a run along the cliff edge in this sort of weather. So I’d often pay one of the younger boys to do the run for me. Well, when I say pay, I’d promise not to thrash them if they didn’t. Occasionally a boy would be blown off the side of the cliff during a run, but it helped make men of us. No-one would’ve dreamed of complaining.

I sometimes regret not getting blown off more often at school. Who knows what levels of manhood to which I could’ve risen?

Learning to avoid the runs was a vital lesson. Persuading little boys to take my place or else taught me the people skills I still use today. Scarhelldeath Hall is now a golf club & luxury health spa whch seems a shame. Apparently, they dug up the graveyard to build a tennis court. I was cold, unhappy, hungry & lonely every single day at Scarhelldeath Hall, but it made me the man I am today.

Did I mention we wore a kilt as uniform? Strictly no underpants. Frostbite of the orchestras was a regular affliction.

We had one teacher, Mr Maestri, known affectionately as ‘Bastard’ to us boys. He’d lost both arms in the Boer war. Or was it Crimean?

But he didn’t let being sans arms stop him beating the living daylights out of us boys at every opportunity. One respected a man like that. Never worked out exactly how he beat us or with what. One was bent over his desk, kilt ahoy, & he was behind us. Peeking doubled the thwacks.

Happy days! Well, desperately unhappy, actually, but I wouldn’t have had them any other way.

SATAN BABY a Satanic Chiller For Yuletide

December 21, 2012

SATAN BABY
A Satanic Chiller For Yuletide
By Sir Desmond Stirling

Chapter 1

Charles, Viscomte 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 shaven-headed 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, Johnny Foreigner 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 Savile-Smith, 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 cravat, and set off downstairs for pre-dinner aperitifs. His guests had arrived earlier, safe and soound. 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’s 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 lyrics 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 turned 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!’

This gripping yarn is continued in my memoirs

Sir Desmond Stirling’s
THE DEVIL TALKS THE HINDMOST
Now available from Amazon UK
Amazon USA
An eBook for the Kindle from Head Music

© Anthony Keetch 2012

To hear Sir Desmond at work go to www.whatnoise.co.uk

Wife No 4

April 19, 2012

My fourth wife is an era I sometimes wish I could forget, but thanks to the News of the World it is a story which is out in the public domain so there is no point in denying it.

After  my third wife died, I was rather busy. I wrote seventeen book in 2 years, and there were extra-curricular activities. I presented a documentary series for the BBC about historical villains – Rasputin, Vlad the Impaler, Harold Wilson; I lived in Italy for a while writing horror screenplays for Buitoni – all unproduced, as no-one told me they were being financed by the Vatican, hence my villainous priests and libidinous nuns being rather frowned upon. My weekly column for TitBits was also a long-standing obligation. All this plus the usual public duties of a best-selling author – book tours, chat shows, restaurant reviews etc.

I also dabbled in politics which I probably shouldn’t discuss until everyone else involved is dead.

I also felt I had to spend a bit of time with the children – when they weren’t at boarding school – which was very distracting from the important things.

The old sex life took a back seat somewhat, although I wasn’t completely chaste. I had a very well-reported affair with a Miss Borneo, a court case with an actress from a TV soap set in a motel over an illegitimate child (not guilty – phew! The actual father was a member of the Johnny Pearson Orchestra), plus the occasional brief and anonymous dalliance (when I say anonymous, it’s quite possible they did actually tell me their name at some point in the proceedings).

Then one fateful February evening I was recording an episode of Call My Bluff for the British Bolshevik Corporation. Darling Paddy Campbell always had an entourage with him – bodyguard, manager, reflexologist, and he insisted on using his own make-up artist. And that’s how I met Simone.

Well, that was it, poor old Stirling was nabbed, hook, line and sinker.

Was it love or lust? Is there a difference? She had me by both the heart and the orchestras.

She was beautiful, 23 years old and the most exquisite thing I had ever seen. Tall, long luscious legs, gorgeous flowing blonde locks, a sexy husky voice…

 The last should have been a giveaway. Because, in fact, my delicious Simone had been, only two years previously, a panel-beater from Solihull called Kevin.

To be continued…

Wife No 3

April 13, 2012

After the divorce from my second wife, Marjorie – only slightly less acrimonious than the second world war (and my solicitor was no Churchill) – I swore I wouldn’t marry again. No, the life of a bachelor gay – in the old-fashioned sense of the word – was my role in life, I decided, and that’s how I would remain. It was the swinging sixties, dolly birds were wearing hot pants and on the pill, so the world was my frankly aphrodisiac oyster.

This went on very nicely for a while. I added ‘playboy’ to my list of accomplishments, and life was ticking along very nicely. My books were selling by the truckload, film rights were being optioned left, right and centre, and I was never off the box, holding forth on all manner of topics. I drove an Aston Martin, wore suits from Monsieur Neddy in South Molton Street, ate regularly at sailor beware (the frightfully ‘in’ restaurant owned by Moonquake actor Rupert Houghton’s other half) and drank cocktails at Wynegarde’s in Frith Street.

Then I met Sarah. She was kind, gentle, tolerant of my idiosyncrasies – even seemed to find them endearing – and laughed at my jokes. She wasn’t beautiful, but her smile lit up life. She was a widow with a young daughter, but that didn’t seem to matter. Aleister, all of 6 yrs old, approved of her, so she and I got married. I wanted a big society wedding, she didn’t so we had a small ceremony in a small Wiltshire village called Thayer David. Aleister was my best man. A year later we had a son, Oswald – who so resembles his mother it’s almost unbearable to look at him – and lived very happily for about three years until she became ill and died within a few short weeks.

It was all jolly sad. I was rather upset at the time, I seem to recall, but I threw myself into a book or two. The children were very unhappy, but I was very busy with my writing so I employed a nanny – well, several as the children were not easy to deal with – until it was time for boarding school, and we just got on with things.

I still think about Sarah. Nice woman.

 

Wife No 2…

April 12, 2012

Wife No 2

My second wife Marjorie has just contacted me to say that if I write anything about her on the internet then she will – and I quote – ‘sue the effing arse off me!’

I will take heed. My annual alimony to her is already the equivalent of Ireland’s deficit.

And, poor darling, she needs the money. Such vital cosmetic surgery doesn’t come cheap.

 

 

Wife No 1

April 12, 2012

I have not been lucky in love. That is an understatement, to say the least! Married 5 times and none of them turned out well. Obviously the current marriage is still extant and seems satisfactory to both parties. It’s not the great romance of the century, but I get the house kept quite competently – and she gets a title.

My first wife was called Debbie (can you check that please, Cilla?) and she was a great beauty in her day. We met, as one did in those days at a debs ball, had a whirlwind romance and married within a couple of weeks. Her parents – minor aristocracy, nothing impressive – disapproved. I wasn’t quite the huge literary success I was destined to be, and they didn’t think I would be able to keep their darling daughter in the manner to which she was accustomed. As they lived in the servants’ quarters of a rather dilapidated manor house in Bucks and couldn’t cough up a decent dowry, I don’t think they were in any position to complain. To cut a long story short, we had a glorious honeymoon, carefree, blissfully in love and, frankly, at it like rabbits. She got in the club, gave birth to my darling son Aleister, then went potty. Literally. Off her trolley, round the bend, doo-lally oddsocks. Later research showed there had been a quite a bit of it in her family history. You would have thought her parents would have told me – that would’ve been a damn sight more effective at stopping the wedding than moaning about my lack of prospects.

Some blamed my philandering for her mental state, but, to give me my due, she went barmy first. And when one has the prospect of going home to Mrs Rochester and a screaming child, who can blame me for seeking succour in the arms of another. Well, quite a few anothers. My career was taking off and I was being feted around London – I tell you, totty was flinging itself at me. I rarely even had to buy dinner.

Things got rather heated when she found a pair of lady’s knickers in my suit pocket that weren’t hers, and she went atomic – as we said in those days. She leapt at me, claws outstretched, screeching like a banshee. Once I was on the ground – I didn’t like to fight back as she was a woman – she then attacked me with the lawnmower. Yes, she tried to mow me! Ruined my suit, and very nearly did me a very great mischief to the old meat-&-two-veg. Luckily, as I had discovered in the war, at life-threatening moments anything extraneous retracts inside the body so, with the exception of very evenly trimmed pubic hair, I was personally unblighted.

I was rescued by my chauffeur, Raven, who grabbed the lawnmower off her and flung it into the ornamental pond. She leaped into the water to retrieve it, and he helped me up. We then locked ourselves indoors, called the police, and hid in the cellar while she tried to get in the house by eating the front door.

(Incidentally, Raven is still with me as my chauffeur. He’s 92 and registered blind so I actually drive him, but he’s company in the car.)

Anyway, Plod arrived, sirens a-blazing, and into the nuthatch she went, and there she remains. I don’t visit. It upsets her, and doesn’t do a lot for me. She looks well, funnily enough. They dope her up to the eyebrows which obviously suits her. She crochets, does Sudokus (I have no idea if she inserts the correct numbers), and occasionally visiting drama students sing old-tyme music-hall numbers to her and her fellow crackpots. Our son visits her when he’s in the country, but sometimes she thinks he is me, and tries to murder him.

We divorced on grounds of insanity – hers, obviously – and I contribute to her upkeep which, surprisingly, is cheaper than alimony.