Wednesday, 8 August 2012

3rd Saga

 Part 7

As Oggin lay on the grass a movement to his left caught his eye, he turned his head and saw a small pair of brown moccasins near his head. A soft voice spoke.
“Iz youm comfy down there Misser Ogg’in?”
Oggin raised himself on one elbow and was greeted by the sight of three pairs of eyes regarding him with a mixture of concern and curiosity. It was Taly and her Owl and a slightly nervous Fawn. Tally wore a look of concern on her small round face and the Owl one of unblinking judgement, which Oggin found slightly disconcerting.
“I’da seen Miss Cara was talkin’ to ee an’ then that lady wiv the red hair cummed over an’ shouted at ee an’ all…”
“Er yes…that was Kajoa…she’s my….er…friend….”
“’er don’t seem all that ‘appy Misser Ogg’in…”
“She is often like that Taly…quite often…” replied Oggin in a resigned tone.
“Well we was goin’ to ‘ave a see ‘ow your’n extension thingy was getting’ along….am you comin’ or is you’m gonna a lie down fer a bit longer loike?”
Oggin looked up into the girls face, it was a mask of innocence.
“No…I’ll come with you Taly…I’m curious to see what’s going on too…”
He slowly got to his feet and noticed the Fawn moved further behind the girl, obviously very nervous. Oggin ignored the timid creature and slowly walked toward his cottage, with Taly and her pets at his side. As they drew near, Oggin could see Cara the Hasselsnag and Gladys the Stone Woman just outside his front gate. As he looked it seemed that the pair were sort of shimmering slightly and staring very intently at the garden. Beyond his front hedge he could see a great pile of building materials, where Kajoa’s very best roses should have been and at the small front window, the lady herself was looking out. Her expression told Oggin that this had better be the finest extension in existence or he’d be living with Cyril the Sleeping man for a week or so. Just then, Taly let out a cry.
“Ooo look…is a Fluffy….!” And ran off toward the two strangers that Oggin had seen before, they were stood a few yards off and Oggin thought it strange he’d not noticed them before. Taly seemed to greet the shorter of the two like an old friend and oddly, the Fawn nuzzled up to him at the same time. Oggin started to get a dull pain behind his eyes and supposed that it was because the morning sun was behind them, so he looked away. (Of course he was quite wrong…but that’s another story.)
As he turned back to his cottage he was all but bowled over by the figure of The Shed Master and his greasy apprentice rushing headlong to join the two women. The fast striding Shed Master was shadowed by his scuttling apprentice, who was apparently trying to catch his master’s robes as they billowed behind him. The Shed Master suddenly stopped as he reached the cottage but sadly, the apprentice did not and bumped into his Master’s be-robed behind. He received a sharp stab in leg for his trouble from the Shed Masters staff and fell to the ground whimpering, at the same time offering profuse apologies, through gritted teeth.
Oggin looked back his garden, the whole front of his cottage was now bathed in the same shimmering light as the women and then grew so bright that Oggin was forced to shield his eyes from the glare. After a few moments the light faded and revealed a neat, flat roofed extension to Oggin’s house. Through the large windows could been seen the open mouthed face of Kajoa and it struck Oggin that this was one of the few times he’d seen her with nothing to say.
The next few minutes passed in a bit of a blur. The Shed Master, closely shadowed by his apprentice, inspected the work and signed it off as ‘Complete and of a High Standard’ and passed the paperwork to Oggin. The two women, joined by Taly wandered off slowly and Kajoa could be seen feverishly measuring the shelves inside the extension windows. Oggin glanced around and found himself alone and started to trudge his way home. He knew the next day or so would be spent moving Kajoa’s prized Knick-Knacks around and around in an endless parade of mild dissatisfaction and grumbling. Such is life he thought, such is life.

And so Dear reader, this Saga draws to a close. We may come this way again someday. We may find out what happened to The Mammie and her ‘friendly’ postman or even how Hirsh the Boog found true love at last. For now, let us leave the folk of The Village to go on with their lives.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

3rd Saga Part 6

Oggin slowly walked back across the green towards his cottage, hands in pockets and deep in thought. He was a little worried by the sudden appearance of The Shed Master and the offer of help from The Stone Woman. His past experience of dealing with fairy folk and their go-between’s gave him pause to doubt the smoothness of proceedings and this in turn would bring conflict with Kajoa. Something he did his very best to avoid at all times. A movement caught his eye and he glanced over to see Simon Patel, the pie maker, cleaning the windows of his pie shop. Simon’s wife, the redoubtable Janet, stood in the door of the shop, with floured hands and arms folded across her ample bosom. She watched her husband like a cat watching a rat and a slight waft of steam issued from the door above her head. Oggin gave the pair a nod of acknowledgement and received an answering nod from Mrs Patel while Mr Patel simply continued his closely supervised work. As Oggin shifted his glance back toward his front garden he thought he caught sight of two figures passing further down the lane, by his cottage. The pair were walking away from him and seemed to be strangers. One was a tall and lean looking, he was dressed in a short, brown leather coat and bluish trousers and had a wide brimmed hat on his head. Oggin noticed he was wearing a bag of some sort across his shoulders. His companion was also quite tall but thin and seemed to be skipping. Oggin stopped and stared as the figures started to move out of sight and it struck him the second person looked as if he had long tall ears. Oggin closed his eyes, shook his head and looked again but the ears had disappeared and he felt like he was suddenly getting a headache. Turning his attention back to his cottage, he was surprised to see a shimmering light over the small front garden, quickening his pace he took his hands out of his pockets and hurried forward toward this new sight. All at once his ankle struck something and he found himself lying flat out on the grass. When he tried to get up a weight between his shoulder blades pressed him back down and a soft girlish giggle came from above him. Oggin closed his eyes and fought the impulse to struggle, it was the Hasslesnag and he knew it would do no good.

“Good Morning Oggin of Ogg…Are you in a hurry?”

“Good Morning Cara…I was…” replied Oggin, in a pinched tone.

“Oh there’s no need of hurry Oggin…no need at all….In fact it would be better if you slowed down a tiny bit…the delivery is still coming in…”


“Yes Oggin…all that which will be needed for your extension is being delivered….”


“Oh Oggin…for The Mother’s sake please pay attention!....All the materials for the extension are being put in your garden…ready for the build…”

“Where are they coming from…?”

“All the four corners of Oggland and beyond…Flat glass from across the Small Water…seasoned hardwood from the dark forests of Boog…Smooth white timber from Westex….”

“Okay…okay…I get the picture….and I suppose they’re getting here by magic…”

“Well yes….how else…?”

“Of course….silly me…how else indeed…”

At this point, several things happened at once. There was a very loud and piercing banshee wail from a short distance away, this was followed by a quiet ‘pop’ and the weight disappeared from Oggin’s back and suddenly his limited view was filled with a pair of scruffy tartan slippers, with one pom-pom missing. Kajoa!

“Ye lang streak a shite ye...wit are ye daein’ striched oot playin’ thea diddy here weel ma roses is bein’ spoil’et tae bits…ye stupit hawfwit ye…”

“Well my flower….”

“Dinae speak tae me…ye tumshie…ye are as much use as diddys on a dour so ye’are….”

“Extension..!” Oggin blurted out while Kajoa drew breath.


“It’s the materials for your extension my rose bud…the extension for you to show off…I mean display…display your Knick Knacks…”

“Oh…oh…why did’ye no say so…ye numpty…”

“It was going to be a surprise my petal…”

“Surprise ye says…weil I’ll be surprised if ye git it done so I weil...”

Oggin kept very still as he let out a low breath. He watched as Kajoa retreated back towards the cottage, her red hair bouncing as she walked and her third best house coat flapping as she went. Much as he loved this woman and he really did, he decided to stay just where he was for a few moments. Just to be on the safe side.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Third Saga

Part Five

As Oggin drew a bit closer to the little group he could make out the individual members of the assembly more clearly. Ted The Postman was still bent forward, postman’s hat in hand, bowing toward the Shed Master in a faintly silly way. The Shed Master himself cut a very imposing figure, he was at least seven feet tall with long, shoulder length white hair and a white beard. His red robe, pinched in at the waist by a white tasselled rope, was heavily embroidered with strange symbols and Oggin noticed he had a gold cap sitting on the back of his head. In his left hand he held his Staff of Office, a six foot polished wooden pole, marked off in thumb widths and topped with gold square. As far as Oggin could make out, the Shed Master was silent and wasn’t even looking at poor Ted, he seemed to be disinterestedly gazing into the distance, at nothing at all.
To the Shed Master’s left was a diminutive little man. He looked to be quite old and was dressed in all brown, grubby, woollen clothes. He stood with bent knees and a pronounced stoop and his dirty grey hair was long and very greasy looking. In fact, Oggin thought, he looked altogether ‘greasy’ and unctuous. He was constantly rubbing his hands together, as if he was washing them, in a very obsequious, slimy manner. Oggin decided to take an instant dislike to him, as he thought it would save time later.
Some fifteen or so feet behind this trio was a small girl. She was dressed in dark green tights and tunic and a shock of jet black hair framed her smiling, cherubic face. On her left shoulder was perched a small Owl, which, for all the world, seemed to be whispering in her ear. Oggin recognised it as an Athene Owl, a very rare bird in Oggland. To the Girl’s right, a small brown Fawn rested its head against her waist as she slowly stroked its head. Oggin guessed this was Taly, Nitta the Cutter’s new apprentice, although what she had to do with this ‘merry band’ he couldn’t fathom.
As Oggin reached the post pole, Ted caught sight of him and suddenly stood up, pointed to Oggin and announced,
“This, your masterness…this is Oggin the Ogg…the man who you have come to see your worshipness…he is here…now…”
The Shed Master slowly turned his head toward Oggin and inclined it, in the merest gentle nod of acknowledgement. Immediately, the small man scurried past Ted the Postman, almost knocking him over and stopped in front of Oggin. Now furiously rubbing his hands, he spoke with a Walland ‘sing song’ accent.
“Mister Oggin…I y’am Titus Morley of Walland…’umble apprentice to Giles Belann of Westex…The Shed Masster Gener’al…”
Oggin’s dislike of the man grew a little greater.
“I yam requir’ed to remine’ yew that the Shed Masster Gener’al iss ure to oo’versee the e’rec’shun off a build’n on you’are behaff…an’ as such you’are requir’ed to uner’take cert’ann responsa’billitys…..These are has foll’ows…”
At this point, The Shed Master lifted his ornate Staff of Office and poked Titus Morley very firmly in the rump and finally spoke.
“Titus boy…will you’n ever shut yer cakey yap fur a min’it an’ let I’da speak….”
Oggin at once recognised the soft Westex drawl and a smile played across his face. Titus Morley stooped even lower and put one hand over his mouth like a scolded child. Oggin wasn’t sure if this was a demonstration of obligation or to stifle a cry of pain. Either way, his smile broadened at the sight.
“So…you’m be Oggin of Ogg…I has bin told much of ee…me ’ansum…you’m got some fitty frien’s in them knockers an’ pisky’s…ain’t ya…loike yon maid…”
He inclined his head in the direction of Taly, who had moved closer to the trio. The Fawn had moved behind her, just peeping around her legs and the Owl was watching intently, with wide unblinking eyes. She spoke.
“I’s glad ta see ee Masster Belann…an’ I bids ee welcome fer sure…was yer travels proper loike…?”
“Indeed they was young’un…indeed they was…This weren’t zacktly where I was a’spectin to be today…but t’is roite a’nuff fer I…”
Oggin noted that Tally also spoke with the soft Westex drawl and seemed to treat The Shed Master almost as an equal, a fact that was giving Titus Morley almost silent apoplexy.
“Well I’s guessin’ you’m be a bit addled a’fer the journey…so if’n you’m follows me I’ll tak’ ee to yer lodgin’s at Bob Weaver’s ‘ouse…”
“Lead on young’un…Titus…git yer ‘and off yer fizzogg an’ look sharp or I’ll swap ‘ee fer a dinky…see if I don’t…”
Oggin watched as the odd trio set off for Bob Weaver’s cottage, Taly and The Shed Master walked side by side and seemed in deep conversation and the stooped figure of Titus Morley scurried along behind. Oggin noticed that the little man seemed incapable of walking in a straight line and zig-zagged to and fro behind them. Walking at twice the speed and covering twice the distance in the process.
It struck Oggin that no plans had been made as far as the actual building of his extension was concerned but he knew that if the Stone Woman was behind all this it was much safer to just let things happen. Anything else would be a waste of time and effort. He turned to find Ted the Postman still standing, cap in hand, watching open mouthed, as the others wandered off across the green.
“Close your mouth Ted…unless you’re catching flies…”
Ted turned to Oggin and put his cap on his head, trying to regain some composure.
“They is a weird bunch Oggin….that Titus bloke was a right bloody ball ache…you’d think he was running the bloody village to listen to him…and that bloody Shed Master fella…he was too high and mighty to speak a bloody word!”
Oggin nodded his tacit agreement but kept his council, not wishing to give Ted further encouragement.
“Well Ted, I’m going to toddle off home for a brew…I’ll leave you to your work…You never know, there might be a message for The Mammie eh...?”
With a wink and a cheesy grin at the now blushing Postman, Oggin set off home to see what the Stone Woman and her friends had delivered and where the hell they’d left it.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

3rd Saga

Part Four

May I begin with a few words about the Shed. Many of you will, I have no doubt, be familiar with the common or garden shed, some of you may even own one, or perhaps, even two. Your shed or lean-to will be mostly used to hoard odd garden stuff, old bikes, paint and even an eccentric husband. Most will be self-built and viewed as an outdoor storage-cum-hiding space. This however is not the case in Oggland, not at all.
Here the common shed has been somewhat elevated, to the status of small cottage or a dwelling place. Sheds of any description cannot simply be built or dismantled on a whim. Each village or hamlet has a group responsible for oversight of a shed and this “Nanning Assembly” calls most of the shots. This brings us to The Shed Master, he has the job of designing the size and shape of any shed or ‘shed like’ structure and overseeing its safe and compliant building. Once, many years ago, many Shed Masters wandered the country plying their trade and sheds, extensions and lean-to’s sprung up hither and yon. But after the Romans departed, in a huff, most of the Shed Masters left with them, for better paid jobs. So now, only one Shed Master remains, Giles Belann of Westex, The Shed Master General.
A Shed Master always travels with a companion or “Apprentice”, this apprentice is taken on to help out and most of them take over when the Shed Master gives up work or, as happened many times in the past, mysteriously dies suddenly. Titus Morley of Walland is Apprentice to Master Giles and has been since his boyhood, some sixty five years. This has left him a stunted and bitter little man, impatiently waiting for his Master to die and often, openly wishing him so.

Oggin sat and slowly finished his food, his mind, as always, was working over the day to come. By his reckoning it would take three or four days for The Shed Master to get to The Village. This should give him plenty of time to draw up plans for an extension and contact the members of the Nanning Assembly for approval, so no need to rush, he hated to rush. He picked up the last piece of greybread, popped it into his mouth and pushed his plate away with a flourish, leaned back and slapped his stomach with a sigh. After placing his plate in the sink he padded back to his room to change for the day ahead.

He emerged twenty minutes later wearing his third best work trousers, his second favourite wool shirt and a handkerchief wrapped around one hand. He was cursing under his breath and muttering foul threats to an un-named cat. Apparently, as he’d reached under the bed one of the creatures had lashed out from the darkness and left Oggin with a ‘calling card’ of deep bleeding scratches. He crossed to the sink and ran cold water on the cuts to clean them and then reapplied the kerchief, promising bloody retribution at a later date. Going outside the back door he found the sun indicated it was around mid-morning and the early mist had mostly burnt off, leaving the promise of a fine day to come. Birds twittered and squabbled in the trees and the ever busy Bees buzzed their way from flower to flower, in organized and frenzied anxiety. Oggin decided to walk the long way around to the Green and ambled off toward his back gate. From inside the shed at the rear of the garden he could hear Cyril, The Sleeping Man, moving around. He called out a greeting.
“Morning Cyril…”
“Fuck off Oggin….I is asleep you bastard…!” came the standard reply.
Oggin smiled to himself, any day was improved by a word or two from Cyril, as he was always in a worse mood than you.
Going through the back gate, Oggin started down the narrow hedged in path toward the village green. He stopped at the rear of The Mammie’s garden and peeped around the hedge, The Mammie was hanging out yet more washing and was surrounded by several slightly grubby children. Some of them pulled at her skirt, some played hide and seek around her legs and one was sitting eating some dirt. The Mammie seem oblivious to the noise and continued to peg out the clean clothes, including, Oggin noticed, a pair of men’s underpants. As The Mammie was unmarried, Oggin guessed the rumours about Ted, The Postman, must have some truth but dismissed it from his mind. After all, both were single, so it was nobody’s business but theirs, not that that would prevent the local women from idle gossip and passing comment. Oggin pressed on, the moss under his feet was soft and still cool and in a few minutes he reached the far end of the green. On the right he could make out Evan Evans, the Shepard, leaning on his crook, stroking a sheep’s head and talking to it. Over the far side Oggin could see Ted the Postman, sitting at the base of his post, apparently eating something from a paper bag. Evan suddenly noticed Oggin and abruptly stopped talking to the sheep and shooed it away in an embarrassed manner. He waved a greeting to Oggin, who waved back and spoke.
“Good morning Evan…nice day for it…”
“Mornin’ Oggin boyo…tis indeed…”
Oggin ambled on and had gone about half way when he was brought up short by a sudden puff of smoke, right in front of him, his heart sank, his shoulders dropped as he waited for the inevitable appearance of The Stone Woman.
Sure enough, the smoke cleared to reveal the tatty presence of Gladys, The Stone Woman. Her hair was dishevelled as usual and her wand drooped where it had been repaired yet again.
“Good Morrow Oggin of Oggland…I bring you a gift…a Boone…a reward…an offering…a little pressie…But first, I shall council thee with some wise and sound advice…”
Oggin steeled himself, this was the part he hated most.
“Oggin of the Ogg…I caution thee…Never play leap frog with real Frogs…for they are slimy and much given to cheating….”
As she spoke, she tried to wave her wand but only succeeded in making it bend even more till Oggin thought it was in danger, not for the first time, of breaking completely. As she appeared to have finished her ‘advice’ giving, Oggin spoke.
“Good Morning Gladys…it’s really nice to see you again…tell me, what is this “gift” you have for me today…?”
“The Gift Gladys…you said you have a gift for me…?”
“A gift…? Oh yes…the gift…yes…”
She reached down the top of her dress and produced a folded piece of paper and with a flourish, handed it to Oggin.
“I give you, Oggin of the Ogg…Plans…on paper…drawn and measured and drawn…With lines and such. For verily, as a reward for your goodness and to speed its construction, I, that is to say, We, have brought you, Oggin of the Ogg, these plans…as you see…”
Oggin unfolded the paper and indeed, there was a plan drawn on it, a plan of an extension, an extension of his cottage. It was very finely drawn, almost beautiful in fact and at the bottom were the marks of the Nanning Assembly and strangely, the stamp of the Shed Master General as well. As Oggin took in the detail he forced his now open mouth to shut and swallowed hard, Gladys spoke again.
“The Shed Master General has been summoned and he and his apprentice will arrive shortly…so you may start construction this very day…worry not Oggin of the Ogg…all has been seen to…materials are already waiting for you in your cottage garden…Bob Weaver will assist you and provide lodging for the Shed Master while he is here. Bob and the two Bobs the elder will provide labour as well…all this has been done…”
“Right…” stammered Oggin, “all done…already…”
“Indeed Oggin of has already been done…already…We have combined our forces to ensure you may bring happiness to your Tosk woman….and as thanks for the help you have given us in seasons passed….Go now Oggin…meet the Shed Master as he arrives at the village post….”
As Oggin opened his mouth to speak another puff of smoke marked the departure of The Stone Woman and he found himself alone once more. A glance at Evan Evans and his sheep showed Oggin that as always, he was the only living soul to have even seen the fairy or her pyrotechnic display. In fact, only the piece of paper in his hands seemed to mark the events of the past few minutes.
Oggin glanced up to see a collection of figures had now gathered at the village post. Ted the postman was on his feet and seemed to be bowing to a very tall person in a red cloak, a smaller man stooped nearby, rubbing his hands and a little way off, a young girl stood watching, at her side a fawn and on her shoulder what looked like an Owl.
Oggin sighed one of his ‘post Gladys’ sighs and figured that as the fairy was involved things could only get more weird as the day went on, so with a slow shake of his head, he started toward the group.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

3rd Saga

Part Three

Oggin sat in confined discomfort as the world fell out of his bottom. A voice reached his burning ears.
“Oggin hen…is tha’ yer’sel….yeh shitebag….”
Oggin could only manage a low grunt in reply.
“See yous is reekin so ye’are…ya ken ah can smell ye fae in here…”
Oggin tried to grunt again…but could only raise a squeak. Kajoa the Tosk, for it was she, stomped outside, to berate the unfortunate Oggin further, as was her fashion.
“Is youse deid in therr…it shurly reeks like it right enough…”
“No my tiny Toskland flower…I just wish I was….” replied Oggin, in a whisper.
“Ah willnae mak scran afor ye in tha’ wullnae wan it wi’a whitey on ye…”
“No my Tulip…” whimpered Oggin, as Kajoa returned to the kitchen.
In a while, Oggin felt that the, ‘problem’, had subsided enough for him to attempt to stand and on very wobbly legs, he made his way indoors.
“Dain’t pad aboot in here ye….fetch yer’sel te yur bied...rite noo…an’ if ye are gonna boak…dee it on’a cat…”
With one hand clutched to his mid-section and the other groping for support, Oggin shuffled his way to his room and lay curled in a foetal ball, waiting for the death he fervently hoped was coming.

Now dear reader, perhaps a word or two on the subject of The Tosks; The origin of the Tosk race is largely unknown, in fact, as they came from beyond the High Mountains, most Ogglanders have never met with them. The Romans tried on several occasions to invade Toskland but they only ever succeeded in getting a sound thrashing, so gave it up as a lost cause.
With so little contact, a number of myths have grown up around the Tosks. Their “carefulness” with coin is well known as is their “crafty” nature but it’s their apparent aggression that marks them out in the eyes of outsiders. While it is true they do speak in an aggressive manner, it’s by no means a trait of real aggression, just simply their way. It should also be mentioned that in Tosk, men and women are treated as equals in society and in all matters of work, hence Kajoa’s former trade as a Hog Wrangler and Ferret Skinner.

 And so it was that Kajoa saw her chance to get Oggin to ‘see’ her point of view. She set about the task with guile, cunning and a few entreating words, also knowing he was in no fit state to argue his case. Not that she even, for a moment, considered he had one anyway. In due time the still ‘afflicted’ Oggin found himself agreeing to an extension of the cottage, to better house the growing collection of Knick-Knacks, which, he knew, threatened to take over the whole building. Feeling her work done, Kajoa went off the tell The Mammie of her victory and boast just a little too.
The night passed and Oggin awoke to find he was, in fact, still alive. The dull ache in his lower gut served to remind him of the day before but he decided to think of it instead as ‘hunger’ and rose to find some food. The sounds from the kitchen, together with the smell of sausages frying bode well but the soft, out of tune, lilt of Kajoa singing did not and he remembered his rash promise of an extension.
“Iss tha you big man…” said Kajoa over her shoulder, her hands a blur of skillet, smoke and flashes of flames.
“Iss ya bahookie bet’er an’ tha’ the day Hen…Ya lookit fair awfy las’ night so ya deed…”
“I’m feeling much better thank you my flower…just hungry…I think…I hope”
“Wiel…you sit yer’sel doon…the scran is awe but done the noo…”
Oggin eased himself very gently onto the bench behind the wooden table. A knife and fork were already waiting there and a mug of steaming tea stood to one side as well. With almost a flourish Kajoa placed a large tin plate before him and stood back with a smile.
“You get yur wallies around tha’ Hen…while iss hoat…” and then added, with a wink, “Tha’ll put wood in yer walopper so it will…”
Oggin looked down at his plate, greybread, fried golden brown, two kinds of sausage, spotty beans in sauce, toadies and a pile of fried buttermash with an egg on top. As he tucked into this feast it struck him that it was actually a collection of all his favourites, on the one big plate. It was then that he voice of Kajoa crept into his ears.
“So Oggin…darlin’…will ya be seein’ yon Shed Master th’day…byraway….?”
Oggin pretended nonchalance and slowly finished his mouthful before speaking.
“I shall contact Giles the Shed Master first thing my turtle dove but remember he is from Westex…and it may be a few days till he gets here…”
“Aye ah ken tha’ Oggin…but mind ya get aboot it ya bawbag ye…”
“I shall my love…as soon as I finish this…superb meal…”
Oggin looked up and smiled on of his best charming smiles and was rewarded by the narrowed eyes of Kajoa as she snorted and then stomped out of the kitchen in a very marked manner.
Oggin returned to his meal but knew he would have to make good on his promise and contact the Shed Master, something he was not looking forward to.

Friday, 5 August 2011

3rd Saga

Part Two

Oggin and Bob arrived at Bob’s gate and shook hands.
“I’da wish ee luck Oggin boy, Tha’ Boog is a bit tricky minded, I reckons….”
“True Bob…but I think even she will see the sense of the arrangement…well, I hope so anyways…”
With a final wave, Oggin set off for the short walk to the cottage of Tookie the Boog. He knew from past experience that Tookie could be a bit of a handful, in fact she seemed to prefer it that way. As he approached he let out an almost audible sigh, he saw the shapely and swaying rear of Tookie, sashaying off toward the village. With luck, he thought, that would only leave H’rsh to deal with. So not quite as bad, after all.
He advanced toward the front door and reached up to knock. It was then he noticed the knocker had been replaced by a large, polished brass model of a “gentleman’s parts”. He recollected having seen it before, on the now ‘missing’ front door of Greedle the Bronze. So Tookie had ignored his advice and must have risked going back, to scavenge what she could. Ignoring the knocker, he rapped on the door and waited. A thin weedy voice came from inside.
“Who iss dat….make yer’sel known…afore I puts da dog on yous…”
This was followed by a very poor imitation of a dog barking.
“H’rsh the Boog…it’s me, Oggin the Ogg….I have come to speak to you…”
The door opened a few inches and the myopic H’rsh peeped out, eyes narrowed behind her thick lenses.
“Iss dat yer’sel Oggin….?
“It is H’rsh…really…look…”
He leaned in toward the little face and smiled. The smile was immediately returned as the little Boog recognised him, flung open the door and rushed forward to hug the stuffing out of him!
A muffled voice came from somewhere around his belly.
“Oggin….Oggin…tis that glad I am te see yers…tis seasons since I seed ya last so it is….”
Oggin gently pushed H’rsh away and held her at arm’s length by the shoulders. He could see tears in her eyes and a twinge of sadness bit into his heart.
“Would you have some tea brewing…I’m fair parched you know…”
“I I have…would you loike a mug…tis fresh made so it is…”
“That would be very nice…very nice indeed…shall I go round to the back garden…seein’ as it’s so nice...we could have our tea and a bit of a chat…”
“Indeed an’ dat sounds jus grand te me…youse go on round…der’s a bench fer sittin’ on an’ all…I’ll be just a minute, so I will…”
With a smile, a wink and a sideways nod, Oggin left the Boog to close the door and made his way to the back garden. At once he could see the little woman had been working her magic once again. Almost the whole garden was a riot of colour and scent. Butterflies and Bees flitted and buzzed their way from bloom to bloom in a ceaseless, workaholic display of eagerness. Even the small and tidy vegetable patch was inter sown with tiny blue flowers to mark out the rows. He could now see why the midden had not needed his attentions for a very long time. A small wooden bench lay to one side and at once Oggin recognised Bob Weaver’s handiwork. He sat and wondered at the life the little Boog must be leading, busy by all means but was she still as happy as she used to be. His musings were interrupted by H’rsh as she appeared from the back door. On a tray, were two mugs of steaming tea and a small plate of biscuits. Oggin suddenly remembered the oat cakes, still in his shirt pocket but was a polite man, so kept quiet.
“Dare ye are Oggin…tis Dandelion an’ Camomile…an’ dem’s is Buttercup softies…”
Oggin took a mug and a biscuit, he sniffed the ‘tea’ and as it smelt fine he took a sip, it was unusual but still very palatable. The biscuits had tiny yellow flecks, which Oggin guessed, wrongly, were the Buttercups H’rsh had mentioned. A nibble proved to be a riot of taste. Sweet, sour and another flavour which he couldn’t place, very nice and he guessed they would be moreish too. This time he was right. H’rsh took a seat beside him and beamed a huge smile his way.
“Oggin…tis that pleased I am ta see youse…so I am…”  
“It’s nice to see you too H’rsh….but tell me, you seem a little down in the dumps….is there anything wrong…?”
“Tis this place Oggin….between da little folk an’ dat Tookie…well tis not as fair as it was…to be sure….don take me wrong loike…I feeds an’ I works well enough loike….but I has no time to ma’ sell…de ye see whit I’m sayin’….”
“I think so H’rsh…I think so…you miss your old life…don’t you…”
“Aye…I does an’ all…t’was fine at first loike…bit of a adventure loike…but I sore misses havin’ me own place roite enough so I does….”
“Well in that case, I may have some news to lift your sprits a bit…”

Oggin slowly explained about the death of Janice the Farmer, the Testament and the meeting he had had with Nina, The Wolf Woman and Bob Weaver. How they had decided that she, H’rsh the Boog was the best person to look after the cottage and the orchard on behalf of Nina. As he spoke, he watched as the Boog’s eyes widened and then start to fill with tears, which trickled down her sun browned little face. At length, he paused and asked.
“Well…H’rsh the Boog…will you take the offer….?”
H’rsh blinked behind her thick glasses and swallowed hard before croaking a reply.
“Oh my goodness…I….I don’t know what to say te ya…I…I…Yes Oggin…Yes, yes, yes….please….yes please…oh my goodness…”
Oggin put out his hand and gently held one of hers, she was trembling. He looked in her eyes, smiled at her and said.
“I’m so happy for you….and really glad to know you’ll be doing what you do best…tending to the growing life of Ogg….Now, you’ve to move as soon as you can. The orchard is in real need of your tender care, if the Papples are to be ready for the brew in good time. Just you let Bob Weaver and his boys know when you’re ready to move and he’ll see that you get some help…”
“Oh Oggin…how will I ever thank you fer dis…tis won’erful so it is…”
“Just do what you do Little H’rsh…grow and tend the land…make us proud of you….Now I’d best be going…Thanks for the tea and biscuits…you go and start packing…Another chapter in your life will start soon enough…”
Oggin stood and H’rsh once again gave him one of her ‘bone crushing’ hugs before he set off home. He crossed the green and caught sight of Tookie the Boog, laden with shopping, on her way home too. He still had a slight lump in the throat at H’rsh’s reaction to his news but he knew Tookie would not be as pleased. He was about two thirds of the way when the Dandelion tea ‘kicked in’ and he had a sudden and very desperate need to pass water. He quickened his step but that produced a whole new sensation in his lower stomach. The Buttercup Biscuits were now working….Fast!
So buttocks clenched and eyes wide, with very small steps he hurried as best he could, straight to his midden box….only just in time too.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

3rd Saga

Part One: The Meeting

The news of the death of Janice the Farmer came as a shock to Nina, The Wolf Woman, the revelation of the Testament and its contents, if anything, more so. The scars of the acrimonious split between the two women had never left Nina, despite the passing years. They had not spoken for four years and in that time the reasons for the split had become lost and forgotten, as is often the way of these things, only the memory of the harsh words, spoken in anger, remained. Nina now felt torn, she had worked very hard to make a life for herself and loved her little cottage but she couldn’t just ignore the Testament, she needed advice. Nina knew there would be no shortage of ‘advice’ in The Village, everyone would have something to say. She needed ‘wise council’, from someone she could trust.

So that is why Oggin the Ogg and Bob Weaver found themselves walking together in the morning sunshine, heading out of The Village toward the former home of Janice the Farmer. The two friends walked in silence, each with his own thoughts. Oggin understood that whatever was decided today would have a long term effect on not just the parties involved but the whole village. He had dressed in his best ‘meeting trousers’ and his second best sheepskin shirt, with the fleece side inside. This did tend to tickle a bit but he thought it appropriate. His beard was combed, his feet polished and he had two oat cakes, just in case. Bob ambled beside him, also deep in thought. He and Rob, his wife, had talked this summons over at length, Bob valued his wife’s common sense and her knowledge of village life.

Nina had arrived at the cottage early. This was the first time she had been here for a long time and it seemed to have changed very little. The term ‘cottage’ was a bit of a misnomer, in fact it was really a large wooden hut with a slate roof. The boarded sides were still green, if a tad faded in places and the roof had moss in abundance. She pushed the gate open and it let out a squeak of protest and almost without thinking, Nina dropped the end of Be-Be’s chain over the post just inside the gate. She looked down and a cold wave went up her back as she noticed it was still worn at the bottom, from almost constant use.

“You’m stay there girliy…” she told the Wolf, which lay down, head on its front paws.

Nina walked slowly toward the front door, fishing for the key in her trouser pocket. Suddenly, she stopped. She couldn’t go any further. Her mind raced and was filled with images of what, seemed like, someone else’s life. Voices flooded her thoughts and she started to tremble a little, a tear welled up and fell down her weather worn face and with a sharp intake of breath she turned and walked stiffly around the side of the cottage to the back garden. Nothing had changed here either, a rustic wooden table, flanked by two benches stood strangely forlorn on a group of flag-stones. She was just about to turn and run away from the pain in her chest when she heard the voice of Oggin, calling from the track outside.

“Nina…er…Nina….Are you there…?”

She hurried back to the front of the cottage, rubbing her eyes with the heel of one hand. Outside the gate, a long way outside the gate, stood Oggin and Bob. Both the men were occupied trying to melt into the hedge opposite the gate and staring at Be-Be, the she Wolf. In turn, Be-Be was standing, staring at them and letting out a low but very audible growl.

“Now, now girl, tis only Oggin the Ogg and Mister Bob….you’m lay down an’ leave ‘em be…”

The Wolf took a couple of paces back, turned to look at her mistress before laying down but kept watching the two men with cold eyes.

“Mornin’ Oggin…Mornin’ Bob….you’ms a’ll be safe now…come on in…”

Nina turned and made her way to the back garden again. The two men followed, almost tripping on each other’s feet, both keeping a very close eye on the Wolf and in turn it kept an even closer eye on them. They sat around the table, Nina on one side, Oggin and Bob on the other. Oggin noted the redness of Nina’s eyes but kept silent. She spoke first.

“I’da loike t’a say thanks to the both of youse fer comin’ an’ helpin’ me with this testament stuff an’ all. I don’t want t’a give up my place, I put too much hard work in’ta it and I’m wery ‘appy there, on me own. Havin’ said that, I feels it’d be a shame to let this place go to a stranger what’d not look a’fer it loike…”

The two men listened in silence, nodding as she slowly spoke. When she had finished, Oggin put both hands on the table, palms down and took a deep breath before speaking.

“Well now Nina, first off, we both feel honoured that you asked us….Now, what you’re saying is, you’d like a tenant to take over this place for you…but someone local…?”

“Yes Oggin but I’m not fussy ‘bout rent an’ such…tis the care of the place that is more important…to me anyways…”

The two men glanced at each other again and Bob Weaver spoke.
“Well’um…as I sees it…there’d a’be own’y wun person yere abouts as ‘ould suit fer tha’ koind’a thing…H’rsh the Boog…”

“I agree” said Oggin, “she is a little…well… strange but she has a heart like a horse and would take care of the place and the orchard too….”

“Aye” agreed Bob “an’ me an me boys would ‘elp ‘er out loike…if’n she needs it…”

Nina listened and paused before speaking.

“I thought she were tucked up wiv that other Boog wench…Tookie, is it…?”

“She is Nina” answered Oggin, “for now at any rate but the coin she got for her old cottage is running out….and well….to be honest, I don’t know how much longer she can support the pair of them...seeing as Tookie the Boog isn’t…well….”earning” so to speak….”

“I see….I thinks as this’n place would make a livin’ for ‘er…what with the orchard an’ such” said Nina, ”Do youse think as she’da go for it…?”

Bob rubbed his chin and spoke, “I caan’t see why not. From wot I ‘ears she’d a be a hard workin’ sort a body….loike Oggin says, she’da be a bit strange loike but tha’s not ‘ardly standout in these parts affer’all…”

Nina nodded and with the briefest of pauses, stood and offered her hand to the two men.

“Thas a deal then…H’rsh the Boog it is….who’s gonna tell ‘er…?”

Oggin stood and took her hand in both of his, he spoke.

“I will do that Nina…when do you want her to move in here…?”

“Just’a soon as she can Oggin…the orchard needs a goin’ over afore pickin’ season…”

“Right you are Nina…I’ll drop in and see her on my way home…”

Bob now also stood and shook Nina’s hand and nodded. The three then made their way back to the front gate, Oggin and Bob slid, with care, past Be-Be and went to the far side of the track.

“Soon as I get an answer I’ll send word to you Nina…” said Oggin

“Aye, I’ll get one of me boys to see ya…” chimed in Bob.

With that, the men went off on their way, back to the village. Oggin turned briefly to wave back to Nina but she was standing with her face buried in her hands, her shoulders slumped. Oggin realised that all this business had hit her hard and resolved to help in any way he could.

“Oggin, boy…um think we done the roite thing by yon woman…?”

“I think so Bob…I think so…but time’ll tell I reckon…”

That same friendly silence fell on the two friends as they walked back to the village, each consumed by his own thoughts.