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All posts for the month March, 2014

Freda’s Journal – A pox on my house!

Published March 29, 2014 by Annie Oliver

old diary

Well you may have noticed that this old godmother has been quiet of late. I’m almost ashamed to say it but I’ve been most dastardly hexed! It all started when I stopped to help a bonny young maiden. She was a-struggling with bags of shopping up the winding hill which leads to Thistle Cottage, where I live. As I reached to take some of the bags from her, quick as a flash, she leaped out and grabbed my wand, which was tucked neatly into my best checked apron. The liberty!

No-one steals Freda’s wand, though many have tried. We had a tremendous tussle – let me tell you, just because I’m old doesn’t mean I can’t pull some wrestling moves –  and the wand snapped clean in half. I grabbed the two halves and held tight and she knew she was beat.  I was weakened, though and she slapped a hex right on me before running off, cackling.  I can’t believe I was fooled by a stinking witch! Either I’m losing my touch or those witches are getting more and more crafty because there wasn’t so much as the slightest scent about her. Usually, witches smell of sour milk and cat fur. Usually, witches are thin and pale and have the look of a nurse. You can tell them a mile away. Not this witch. She was plump and pretty, with red lips and long curling locks. The cheek of it!

The wand-breaking alone cost me a weeks worth of wish-granting, which was no good for my reputation. Of course, the wizard I sent it to for fixing gave me a courtesy wand, but it was an obnoxious thing and not at all used to my crooked finger, so the hex was unleashed. First, the gum-boils sprouted. I couldn’t even get my false teeth in and enjoy a nice bit of toffee. The two days following, the whole house was laid up with the galloping vomits. However, my nose was also hexed to grow another quarter inch and form a sharper point, so every cloud has a silver lining. ‘Tis a useful weapon, my pointed nose.

I tried to get the courtesy wand to unhex us, but I might as well have used a twig from the garden as tried to get any magic out of that useless thing. My sister Edna had a try at unhexing us, but she often gets her words mixed up. She ended up chanting ‘re-live us of this curse’ instead of ‘relieve us of this curse’ and the whole thing started again with a vengeance. Anyhow, I eventually got my wand back and unhexed us all and then I went about counter-hexing the cheeky young bint. Strange thing is, I could not find her to hex. Our magic mirror searched through the Earth, Shade and beyond for her, but there was no sign. As the mirror is a haughty, obnoxious creature who must always be right, of course he would say that she does not exist, but I saw her with my own eyes! Edna suggested that I fell over and knocked myself out, accidentally hexing myself and snapping my wand. I told her not to judge my daftness by her own.

Either what Edna says is true, or there is a new breed of witch on the loose. A witch who can hide in plain daylight and can’t be sniffed out by the nose of a fairy godmother with hundreds of years experience. I can tell you plain that this has unsettled me.  There is either something dark afoot or I’ve finally turned as fruity as my daft sister. Either way, I’m sleeping with my wand under my pillow this eve…

Ask Freda – A Love Spell, please.

Published March 20, 2014 by Annie Oliver

love_spell

Well my dearies, if I had a piece of tack for every letter I get asking for a love spell then I would never have to peddle false teeth again. So this is for all of you lovelorn ninnies who are waiting for true love’s kiss to come your way. Here’s one I received earlier…

Dear Freda,

Freda there’s someone I really like but he doesn’t like me. I think about him all the time and last week I plucked up the courage to ask him out. He said he thought I was a nice girl but he’d rather be friends. I feel like my life is over! I’m so heartbroken. Do you have a spell to change his mind?

Jen, 12.

Dear me, ducky.  Unrequited love is worse than a weeping boil curse in my opinion. Well, the first bit of advice I can give you is to give your head a good shake. Stand in front of a mirror (magic, if you have one but if not, one from Argos will do just as well) and shake it vigorously for at least five minutes. Then give yourself a good Glare and scare the lovelorn-ness out of yourself. It worked for my sister Edna when she had her head turned by a dark wizard. He turned out to be trying to steal our precious spell book. We soon sorted him out with a bit of well-worded hexing. Wizards are no match for fairy godmothers, although they like to think that they are.

There is a spell to make someone love you but I would never repeat it here. ‘Tis dark magic indeed and usually results  in injury, obsession, death, or even worse, an unhappy marriage. Ask Cinderella how she felt about her godmother’s interference once Prince Charming started following her about the palace constantly with a stupid doe-eyed face and always asking a-where she was going and could he come with her? She soon got sick of that.

The point I’m trying to make, dearie, is that you wouldn’t want to be with someone who was charmed into loving you. You should want a sweetheart who sees magic in your eyes and spell dust in your smile without a charm ever having been cast. That is what is known as True Love, and – while it makes me a little vomitous to say this – ’tis a magic far more powerful than any spell this old Godmother could cast.

Don’t settle for anything less and if I find out you have I shall have to put a pox upon your house!

All the best, dearie,

Freda x

Freda’s Almanac

Published March 9, 2014 by Annie Oliver

godmother2

Once again, ‘tis the time of the week to offer some good advice from my trusty Godmother’s Almanac. Ignore it, and you’ll likely end up in peril, begging me to unhex you from a deadly sleeping curse or such like.

–          ‘Tis a young moon this eve. An excellent evening for casting spells and granting wishes. If I may make a suggestion, though…when sending me your wishes please try to at least be original. Should I see one more letter for true love or a fancy ball gown – I swear – I’ll develop the galloping vomits.

–          Do not, under any circumstances walk under a low stone bridge on Tuesday while wearing a red hat, lest you wake the Grimblestone troll. He is a terrible bore and you will be there until Thursday listening to his tales and trying not to yawn.

–          Friday is an auspicious day to make a truth brew. If you suspect that the one you love is not true, simply take a handful of cobwebs and brew in a cauldron (a decent blender will do) with some ground newt’s dung and rose water. Infuse for one hour with some hair of ferret and nail of rabbit. Stir clockwise, thricely, in the light of the moon. Whisper into the cauldron ‘The truth will do, do you be true?’  The resulting potion is now the liquid form of a lie…and only a liar can swallow a lie. Add three drops to your beloved’s drink. If they seem happy and well then they are most certainly a rotten cheat and liar. If they vomit incessantly for three hours, then they are true and you need not worry.

Good days for Glaring – Sunday, Wednesday

Good days for Grimacing – Monday, Tuesday.

Hexing and Spells are best cast on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Once again, let me remind you that today is an excellent day for wishing. Anything wished today with a pure and open heart will undoubtedly come to you.

Happy wishing,

Freda x

The Book – Chapter Two

Published March 6, 2014 by Annie Oliver

Open-Book

Well it’s about time you had a little taster of some more of my friend Annie’s book, it being World Book Day and all. You’ve met Scarlett and me, of course in the first chapter but the book isn’t all about us. Oh no, dearies, there’s another girl who is most important to the tale I had to tell and you may not like her very much at first, readers. Yes, when I first met her she was quite the spoilt brat. However, her story is our story too and ’tis how Scarlett deals with her bullying antics that really gives the tale some meat…

 

Chapter TwoThe Bully.

 

Jemima Bloom was certain that Scarlett Winter had head lice. Living in Bramble Towers, you caught them from the walls and the toilets. Everyone knew that. It was her public duty to warn everyone, or else there was sure to be an epidemic. She put the finishing touches to her artwork and then stepped back to admire it. It was an artfully drawn skull and crossbones, with the words, ‘NIT INFESTED AREA’ emblazoned across the top. She decided to add some lightening-bolts for extra effect and as she scribbled, she thought of cunning ways to attach it to Scarlett’s back.

“Jem, what on earth are you doing? I’ve got a leg wax at nine and your dad’s off to Mexico with his golf friends. I’ve got so much to do, never mind get you to school and you’re sitting here, scribbling and daydreaming.” Julia Bloom tottered through the door, her auburn hair piled high on her head.

“Mum!” moaned Jemima. “How am I ever supposed to get a career in design if you call it scribbling?”

“CAREER?” boomed a strong, Yorkshire accent as Frank Bloom, her father and the managing director of ‘Blooming Lovely Crisps’ strode forcefully through the door. “What do you want a career for?” He smoothed down a large swatch of hair, which had tilted slightly over one eye with all the striding, leaving a big pink bald patch. Every morning, he carefully and meticulously cultivated the long strand of hair which grew from the side of his left ear, manipulating it, backcombing and faffing with it until it resembled a hairline. Jemima and Julia both averted their eyes, for the comb-over was the thing Not To Be Mentioned. Frank was incredibly proud of his ‘full head of hair.’

Here we go, thought Jemima, rolling her eyes. “Well, maybe not a career, Dad, but I’d like to go to university one day, even if just for the experience.”

“What do you want to go to university for?” he said, his face turning a disgusting puce. “I didn’t get where I am today by reading hoity-toity books and dying my hair funny colours. You’ll be better off marrying well. Look at me and your Mum. Not an exam between us but we’ve got a Jacuzzi in the bathroom and a private box at Grimsfield United. I’ve got a full head of hair and a gold membership to the Golf club. There aren’t many professors at that posh university got that, eh?”

“No, Dad,” said Jemima, her lip twitching with amusement as the comb-over wobbled precariously during the rant.

“Aw look at her,” he said, “she looks like she’s going to cry. Diddums. I tell you what, sweetheart, you want to go to university, go ahead and fill your boots. Go to any university you like.”

“You mean it dad?” said Jemima, hopeful.

“Course I do,” he said, “as long as you ruddy well pay for it yourself! FNARR FNARR!” He laughed, clutching his round belly. Jemima’s heart sank back down again. “Don’t you forget who bankrolls this family,” Frank continued. “The sooner I can get another poor sap to pay for your shoes and handbags the better. Now stop moping about and get ready. I’m off now. Your mum will be in the car, don’t keep her waiting.”

“Yeah I’ll miss you too. Have a great holiday,” she said to his departing bottom. She stuck her tongue out at the door and sighed. There was no point arguing with him. He was a bully. It was his way or no way at all.

She was in mid-straighten, when she stopped, catching sight of an all-too familiar worry in the mirror. There it was again. She was shimmering. She looked closer. It was definitely there, a strange shine to her skin.

“Come on, Jemima!”  her mum bellowed up the stairs.

“Coming,” she replied, stuffing the picture in her school bag. She looked back up into the mirror. It was gone. The face that stared back at her was just a normal, dull, face again. Maybe she was imagining it. She shook her head, grabbed her schoolbag and ran down the stairs.

“Mu-um?” she said in the car.

“What?” said Julia, snappily. “What now, Jemima? I’ve got a hundred things to do for your sister’s wedding so don’t start.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Jemima, slumping back in the leather seat.

“Well you’ve said it now. Spit it out. Tell me,” Julia barked, while looking as uninterested as possible in the opposite direction.

“It’s just…have you noticed anything funny about me lately?” Jemima nervously twirled a strand of hair around her finger.

“Funny? No.” Julia fiddled with the radio absent-mindedly and Jemima took a deep breath in. Julia wasn’t the easiest person to have a mother-daughter talk with.

“No…I mean…have you noticed me twinkling or shining at all lately?”

Julia stopped the car, pulling over into a bus stop, much to the fury of a bus driver who was now blocked in. He beeped furiously and waved his hands in the air. “Hold your horses!” screamed Julia. “My car’s worth more than your ruddy bus so I’ve got more right to park here than you!” The bus driver shook his head and Julia turned to face Jemima, eyes small and beady. “Have you been drinking?” she snarled, “without telling me?”

“No, Mum,” sighed Jemima. This was hopeless.

“If you have, I’m very disappointed in you. If you want a drink, you can have a martini, I told you that. Bring your friends round. They can all have a ruddy martini. Just do it in the house love.”

“That’s not very sensible Mum, given that I’m only twelve, and no, I haven’t been drinking.”

“Then what are you blathering on about?” said Julia, swinging out of the bus stop.

“It doesn’t matter, just forget I spoke,” Jemima replied, despondently. They spent the rest of the journey in silence, Jemima’s mood getting fouler the closer they got to school. None of the other people on her select estate went to stinky Grimsfield High. They all went to posh boarding schools and girls colleges, something her dad wouldn’t see fit to spend his precious money on.

They pulled up outside just as Scarlett was arriving in some kind of custard-coloured sad-mobile with those scary old bints, Freda and Edna in tow and a man who looked like he’d come straight out of a Star Trek convention. Jemima grinned, took a deep breath and put her school-face on. She skipped over to Scarlett. “Morning, Mrs Winter,”

Maggie Winter beamed, her whole face lighting up. “It’s Maggie, Jemima,” she said. “I was going to walk Scarlett to the gate but now that you’re here you can walk in together.” Scarlett scowled at Jemima, as did the two old biddies, but Jemima kept a bright smile on her face. “Well done with the science award, Jemima” Maggie said. “Your parents must have been really proud.”At this, the skinny one, Freda, snorted.

“Yes,” said Jemima, a bit more quietly than usual. She turned and looked at Scarlett, taking in everything about what she was wearing for ammunition to use later. “It’s nice to see that Jasmine’s old uniform fits, Scarlett.”

“What do you mean?” Scarlett said, her eyes widening. Jemima stood back, arms folded smugly, having hit the target.

“Didn’t your Mum tell you? My Mum sent a parcel over in the summer with all our old clothes. That uniform used to be my sister’s.” Jemima smiled at Scarlett in a way to indicate that she wouldn’t be hearing the last of this. She had saved this information for a special day. Today was the day.

“Is that right, Mum? All those clothes you got me, they were from…from…”

Maggie suddenly looked very subdued. “Well you love those black jeans, Scarlett.”

Jemima grinned, looking up and down at Scarlett’s curvaceous shape, which was so different to her own flat-chest and skinny frame. “Oh those old things,” she said, “I wasn’t sure if they’d fit.”

“Oh, they didn’t,” said Maggie, “but I added some elastic to the waist and we squeezed you into them, didn’t we Scarlett…Scarlett?” Scarlett was no longer there. She was furiously storming towards the school, her wiry curls flying out behind her in even more of a frizz than usual.

“Don’t worry” said Jemima, patting her bag, which contained the offending artwork, “I’ll catch up with her.” She hurried towards the school gates, but just as she was about to go through them, a bony hand grabbed her shoulder. It was the skinny one, Freda, and she had a grip like a boa constrictor.

“Hold your horses, little madam,” Freda said, squaring her wizened face up to meet Jemima’s. “I’ve got a verucca on my big toe that’s older than you and I’ve dealt with your sort before.” She leaned closer, fresh spit gleaming around the corners of her mouth, slowly flicking a crooked forefinger towards Jemima. “You mark my words girl. Leave her alone or you’ll be sorry.” She wagged the crooked finger, still glaring furiously.

“Ooh, I’m scared,” said Jemima bravely, backing up a little. “What are you gonna do? Gum me to death?”

“Mark my words,” said the crone again, wagging that gnarled finger in front of her face.

Jemima laughed, backing away and running into school. She didn’t stop until she reached the safety of the yard, where she promptly forgot about the old woman, and started putting today’s dastardly plans into action.

 

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

 

Freda was rattled. That girl was so flaming fierce and the finger-wagging hadn’t even touched her – not even a single boil or weeping scab had sprouted. In another situation Freda would have said she showed a lot of promise for a young ‘un, but it wasn’t just that. Any fool who knew what they were talking about could see that the girl had a shine about her. Oh, she had taken on a glow, alright. Not so much as you would see if you didn’t know what you were looking for but a definite shimmer.

Freda walked back to the car solemnly, remembering an old nursery rhyme that the kids used to chant, back in the day. It couldn’t be… could it? She shook her head and tried to push the thought away but it wouldn’t budge. If what she thought was right, there was a whole load of trouble ahead, and that meant she’d better get her best girdle ironed, because there was nothing like a good girdle for firing you up for battle.