Wednesday 25 April 2007

The one about the devil-worshipper and the bucket of blood

Nobody bats an eyelid at chunks of meat and buckets of blood round here. Nothing goes to waste. And that reminded me (bit of a day for reminiscences) of an incident at our old house, on the Somerset Levels. We were a lot better off then (funny, we’re getting poorer as we get older – something wrong there!) and had a cleaner.
Our old one had left and my mother had recommended someone new from the village. She seemed a bit quiet and mouse-like but worked up a storm and the kitchen sparkled. All was well. At the time my husband was working in London during the week leaving me all alone-y-oh (sometimes I got so lonely I used to engage the check-out people at Sainsbury’s in long meaningful conversations – sure I had a reputation as some real saddo). He had neglected to tell me that he had bought half a pig from a neighbouring farmer. Anyhow, Arthur appeared with various bags of meat which I duly bunged in the freezer. Then he asked me for a bucket.
‘Er, why?’
‘For the blood. Adrian especially wanted the blood. Wants to make black pudding, or so he said.’
Yeah, right. Another fine idea.

I dutifully brought the bucket and he filled it with thick black blood. Then, I’ll be honest, the phone rang and I forgot about the darn thing, leaving it on the kitchen table along with a burning scented candle and some lit joss sticks (the cat had had an accident and I was trying to get rid of the smell).

Next thing I heard the slam of the door and saw Elaine, the cleaner, hot-footing it down the lane. Odd, I thought, but assumed she’d left the dinner in the oven or some such. But no, the next day a very roughly scrawled note came through the door. It read, to the best of my memory, something like this:

Dear Mrs J
I’m sorry but I can’t clean for you no more. You are a devil-worshipper and you threaten the safety of my soul. Your house is full of devils and witches and graven images.
[actually mainly Buddhas, but we do have a few rather scary African masks and a ceramic witch and cat that was bequeathed to me by my Aunty Phyllis – a pretty staunch churchgoer as it happens]. You have incense and candles and sacrifices on your kitchen table. I am enclosing a tract and hope that if you pray and ask for the forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who forgives all sins, even yours. I hope you will come to see the error of your ways. I pray for your soul which is black as soot.

At first I laughed my head off. How silly could you be? But then the looks started…..eyes shifted as I walked down the lane walking the dog. Heck, they all thought I was some nutter from The Devil Rides Out or some such. Should I print a retraction in the parish newsletter? The vicar popped round a few days later – as he was wont to do – to partake of a large whisky, to debate politics and, let’s be honest, have a good gossip. I told him and he nearly choked on the Glenlivet. Wasn’t he worried about sharing drink with one of the damned? ‘She’s not one of my lot,’ he smiled equably. ‘Some odd sect that goes in for clapping, dancing and writhing on the floor speaking with tongues. Give me a good old-fashioned blood sacrificer any day!’

Sorry, I have veered right off tangent. If it’s any consolation, I do do a bit of the normal stuff too. A total glut of plums this year so everyone is getting either plum jam, plum chutney or Chinese plum sauce for Christmas. Also the hedges were packed with blackberries and elderberries and the rowan tree was bowed down with berries. We made tons of jelly (half of which refused to set). But it really is incredibly satisfying having a cupboard full of fat jars of preserve. Pukka country – though most of my been-here-forever neighbours buy theirs on offer from Morrisons.

The rain has been slamming down this morning and the wind is rising. They say it’s going to get worse in the night and be atrocious tomorrow. Halleluyah! Tomorrow is football practice day and involves standing round in the freezing cold. With any luck it might be called off! We have a viewing tomorrow too. Hmm, maybe horizontal rain and gale force winds aren’t such a good idea after all. Wish me luck!


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