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Freda’s Almanac

Published August 9, 2014 by Annie Oliver

old diary

Some predictions for the week ahead from my trusty almanac. Pay heed, my dears.

Tomorrow is an excellent day for weaving dreams. Take ten long spiderweb strands, some common garden mint and infuse with the wind of moth wing (best captured in tupperware). Shake ten times anti-clockwise and inhale the resulting vapour before bedtime, whilst thinking of the thing or person you wish to dream about. Note that I say anti-clockwise. Failure to adhere to this will result in night time incontinence, which is most inconvenient.

Wednesday is a terrible day. Stay at home. If you must go out, say, to work, do so with great care and don’t speak to anyone if you can help it.

Thursday, however, is an excellent day for casting hexes on those who have wronged you. Hexes are always best carried out by a professional, but if you must DIY, then speak the hex into the north facing end of your garden for truly excellent results.

Good days for Glaring: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

Good days for wish granting: This is not a good week for granting wishes. Wish at your peril!

Good days for hexing: Thursday. I shall be working late for a small surcharge should you wish your hex to be handled by a professional.

 

Apprentice Wanted – Apply Within.

Published July 10, 2014 by Annie Oliver

godmother2

As you may or may not know I have an apprentice godmother. Apprentices are most useful for doing all the stuff us godmothers don’t have time or can’t be bothered to do. For example, drying out worm dung or infusing breath of dog with hair of crone for galloping vomit hexes, or even collecting wild ferrets (which requires both quickness of feet and toughness of skin).

My current apprentice is just about adequate after nearly three years under my tutelage. I almost smiled at her the other day but then thought better of it, as I have a reputation to uphold.  It doesn’t do to smile too much. It encourages lightness and prettiness, neither of which are skills best suited to a fairy godmother, despite what the stories might say. So thanks to my intensive teaching on the skills of Glaring, Hexing, Spellcasting and Wish Granting she is almost ready to go it alone and will be leaving me next March. Which leaves me with a problem.

Who will do my donkey work?

I have, of course, advertised in all the spellcasting periodicals in my homeland of The Shade, however, I thought it would only be fair to give my readers in this land a fair shot as well. So I have decided to reach out to you on the world wide webbe to advertise the position. Please read carefully and if you think you fit the bill, are tougher than a midwife and already have a Glare that can break windows, please do apply.

 

APPRENTICE  GODMOTHER WANTED.

You must be of eccentric appearance with at least one exaggerated facial feature. Prominent noses prefered but chins of great stature will also be considered. Must have basic experience in Glaring, although full training will be provided to progress to intermediate and then expert level. Spellcasting and Hexing experience not required as this godmother likes things done her own way and does not take kindly to young upstarts trying to teach their granny how to suck eggs. Full training on all aspects of Spellcasting and Hexing will be given on commencement of the apprenticeship.

Cleaning of magical items experience not essential but would be beneficial. Magic Mirrors are a hard enough item to command as it is, never mind if they are not properly attended to. If you miss a bit, they will sulk and if they sulk, I sulk. You must also have a natural affinity for foraging, whether it be for snail silk or ferret dung.

You must not cry easily as I can not be bothered with hysterics every time I grimace at you for boiling the pigs nails up at the wrong temperature or letting the squelching boil hex overcook, as you will likely make many mistakes. Tough skin is a must and not least for dealing with the ferrets and the cats. You must also not scare easily as we have many phantoms, ghouls, witch attacks and – even worse – door-to door salesmen, to deal with at Thistle Cottage on a daily basis.

Training in Wish Granting will not even be started until you have mastered all of the above, for ’tis a complex skill and generates many complaints which I can’t be bothered with.

Accommodation is provided at Thistle Cottage, but you will work for your keep and – be warned –  if the house doesn’t like you it will eject you via the window. I have lost many a good apprentice this way.

If you think you fit the above description, please send me a letter/email  attaching a picture of your best Glare and detailing;

1. If you could hex anyone who would it be and why. What would the hex be?

2. Why you would make a good fairy godmother?

Please note: This position is exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act, 1975 because it is for a godmother, not godfather and because I said so. Anyone wanting to take umbrage with this is most welcome to put it in writing and send it to the male wizards who have been excluding godmothers from their society for years, but have secretly been stealing all the godmother spells and hexes while getting paid more for it.

 

Good luck.

 

Freda x

 

 

Ask Freda – To Hex or not to Hex?

Published April 8, 2014 by Annie Oliver

godmother2

Here’s one I get all the time…

Dear Freda,

Someone has upset me and I would like you to hex them for me. Actually, its my ex-boyfriend. He dumped me for someone else. Ideally, you could hex both of them, but if you can only manage one then just hex him. A nice few weeping, puss-filled face-boils or cursing him with fish breath would do. If you could send me the hex I’ll do it myself.

It would make me feel a lot better. Name your price.

Helen, Edinburgh.

 

Dear Helen,

A word of caution. While I do love a good smite I do have to make sure that it’s a genuine smite and not a spiteful one. The reason for this is simple.

AN UNDESERVED HEX WILL BOUNCE BACK UPON YOU THREEFOLD.

Yes, ducky. So if you don’t want the breath of a trout or weeping sores to sprout in unpleasant areas, you need to think long and hard about your motives. A bit of common sense might be best applied to this situation. One of the worst things to be is unhappy. Perhaps he was just unhappy and knew it wasn’t going to last between you.  ‘Twouldn’t have been fair for him to continue pretending. There may be someone even better awaiting you around the corner, in which case, he has done you a favour, my love.

Hexing is really best left to those who have studied it for years. ‘Tis a complex skill requiring great judgement, patience and the ability to see a situation clearly without festering upon it.

For those reasons, I’m out, although, if you are feeling really put out, a tiny little Glare wouldn’t do much harm and can be most potent when applied correctly. See my previous posts for some tips on Glaring. Withering Glares are particularly appropriate in this situation.

The best hex on an ex is happiness. Put your best frock on, get your hair done and paint your face pretty colours. Then get yourself out and enjoy life. This is a more powerful message than any curse you might put upon him.

Freda x

 

 

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…

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.

Freda’s Journal

Published February 28, 2014 by Annie Oliver

old diary

Today I have mostly been gadding about and tending to my garden. My garden is most important because ’tis there I grow the herbs and plants that I need for my spells and hexes. Let me tell you a little about the garden of Thistle Cottage…

A creaking gate leads to a twisted path which is surrounded by the largest, pinkest thistles you ever saw. They wave in the wind as though to greet you, which is quite pleasant when you return from a busy day godmothering to spoilt brats. However, just lately they have been taking liberties and creeping out over the path. Growing like wildfire, they are. So, this morning I simply took out the garden shears and waved them at the Thistles while Glaring. By tea time they were in their rightful place again. Even gardening can be done with the right kind of Glare and a threat.

From the front path, Thistle Cottage gives you a crooked smile, with its oversized front door and lopsided windows. It is made of stone which Edna and I collected ourselves from the Enchanted Mountains of Aurelia. ‘Tis no normal stone, as it moves and changes according to the mood of the house. You see, my dearies, Thistle Cottage is as alive as you or I. But more of that later…

Around the back of Thistle Cottage the garden really comes alive. The garden is not a wide one; rather it winds and turns like a crack in the Earth which has been filled with flowers and grass. A tunnel of whispering trees leads to stifling darkness. Beyond the tunnel has never yet been explored. ‘Tis rumoured that dark enchantments lie there. Folks that have journeyed there have never returned and ’tis rumoured that one tree grows for every person that has been lost there. If you look closely at the trees they do appear to have faces, and they do seem to sigh a little… All I know is that standing at the edge is like facing a dark abyss. It makes my head itchy. There are some secrets that even Thistle Cottage cannot share and I am not about to start being all nosey about them. That would be asking for trouble.

Mind, I can’t keep my goddaughter Scarlett away from the tunnel of trees lately. What with the night-time whispering I am hearing from her room and the strange atmosphere around Thistle Cottage I am fair worried about her. I have told her to stay away from the trees but something keeps drawing her there. Three times this week I found her at the bottom of the garden, staring into the darkness. I shall have to watch out for her. One day I might have to find out what lies beyond, but for now I have far too much to do to be ending up a tree if it doesn’t work out.  I don’t trust Edna to unhex me, either. She couldn’t even unhex her way out of  the mobile phone contract that some smarmy salesman signed her up to. There are worse hexes in this world than in mine and they are called ‘contracts’. From what I have seen, they are used to perform great evils and place people in never-ending binds.

To the left side lies my snail farm, which I have to feed with leaves once a day. Snails are a rare creature in my homeland of the Shade so imagine my delight when I came here and saw all the snails slithering around in broad daylight. ‘Tis wondrous for trade and I often slip into the secret portal that lies beside the snail farm to my own land, to barter the precious snail silk I collect.  You call them snail trails and find them fairly worthless, but they are an essential ingredient in many potent spells.

We also have a spider farm in an old lean-to. Cobwebs are most useful for spinning into a fabric we in The Shade call spingleweb. ‘Tis the fabric used in many a magic cloak or fancy ball gown but it only lasts a few hours before turning to dust. This is why a certain spoilt princess should have listened to her fairy godmother when she told her to be home by midnight…

Well, I’ve rambled quite enough for today and the frogs feet won’t pickle themselves…

Freda x