Chips and Old Blocks By Maureen Bowden

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chips-jed-tree-gJed Catterall was descended from Simeon, the father of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. He had his family tree to prove it. See above. Admittedly, There was something of a gap between the ancient Israelite and Jed’s Great-grandmother, but that was neither here nor there. Look at her name. What other evidence could anyone need?

Jed didn’t feel Jewish. Great Grannie had married out, and subsequent generations had never married back in. The bloodline had been diluted to the extent that he could consider himself a Homeopathic Jew. It didn’t bother Jed. Although proud of his cultural heritage he was a liberal agnostic with leanings towards Wicca. It was these leanings that caused him to collide with Star Hemmings.chips-star-tree-g

Star was descended from Boudicca. Her hippy grandmother, Harmony, had told her so, and hippies never lie; except perhaps about what’s growing in the window box. Her mother, Rain, was a New Age Traveller. Male ancestry was open to speculation. Star was a chartered accountant but she was also what the media insist on calling a witch.

***

chips-and-old-blocksJed was lost. He was scouring the Anglesey countryside around the village of Llanddaniel, in search of the Neolithic burial chamber, Bryn Celli Ddu. Intent upon watching for directions to the monument, he allowed his nearly new, not-yet-paid-for BMW to drift towards the wrong side of the winding road. A blaring horn drew his attention to his collision course with the approaching rust-riddled Corsa. Both drivers slammed on their brakes and almost avoided contact, but not quite.

They climbed out of the kissing vehicles and Jed was confronted by a pre-Raphaelite beauty with sufficient auburn corkscrew curls to stuff a duvet. She wore an ankle-length, orange, Indian cotton dress and enough bracelets and bangles to stock a craft stall at Glastonbury.

They examined the bent bumpers. ‘I’m so sorry,’ Jed said. ‘It was my fault. I’ll pay for the damage. Do you have a pen? I’ll give you my address and my insurance details.’
She laughed. ‘Don’t worry about it. One more dent won’t make much difference. It’s dropping to bits anyway.’

Jed was inclined to agree but he didn’t want his prang to be the one that put the heap of junk out of its misery. ‘Well, get this dent fixed. I insist.’
‘Okay.’ She delved into her beaded and embroidered shoulder bag, presenting him with a pen and her outstretched palm. ‘Write your phone number on my hand. I’ll call you.’
‘Don’t you have a phone you can put my number in?’
‘No.’
‘Do you trust me?’
‘Yes. Are you looking for the burial chamber?’
‘How did you know?’
‘I’m a witch. My name’s Star.’
‘I’m Jed.’
‘Follow me, Jed.’

They parked in the visitors’ car park and walked together to the monument. She led him into the chamber.
‘I come here for the summer solstice,’ she said, running her fingers over the swirls and spirals carved into the stones. ‘Stonehenge gets so crowded these days. This place is peaceful. It’s easier to talk to the Great Mother.’
‘What about?’
‘I ask her how I can make the world a better place.’
‘What does she say?’
‘She’s working on it.’ She walked outside, sat on the grass and leaned against the standing stone aligned with the entrance to the tomb. ‘You hungry?’ She produced a donkey sanctuary lunch box from her shoulder bag.
‘I’m starving,’ he said. ‘I thought there’d be a café or a visitor’s centre where I could get something.’
‘This is North Wales, not Wiltshire. You’re welcome to share my butties but there’s no meat on them, I’m afraid. I’m a vegi.’
‘That’s okay, so am I.’

She looked into his eyes and frowned as if she were trying to solve a puzzle. ‘Who are you, Jed?’

He didn’t understand what she was asking until he asked himself the same question, and he knew the answer. ‘I’m a descendant of Simeon.’

She handed him a soya-based meat substitute sandwich seasoned with piccalilli. ‘Simeon in Genesis? Didn’t he and his little bro’ kick the shit outa the twonk who raped Dinah?’
‘Yeah, that’s him.’
‘Oh, he’s the boy for me.’
‘People usually laugh or look embarrassed when I say I’m descended from him. Why didn’t you?’
‘Why would I? I’m descended from Boudicca.’
‘She kicked the shit outa the Romans, didn’t she?’
‘With good reason: they flogged her and raped her daughters. She and your Simeon would have made a good team’.

***

Boudicca’s spirit smiled. ‘Just what oi was thinking. What d’ya reckon, Sim?’
‘They could be on to something, Boo.’
The biblical patriarch and the Iceni ballcrusher had been drawn to the location by the thought processes of their progeny, mingled with the cosmic currents of the location: or maybe the Great Mother sent them.
‘Shall we introduce ourselves to the youngsters?’
‘Well, oi think moi girl can take it but we moight freak out your boy.’
He shrugged. ‘We’ll risk it, already.’

They materialised. Boo wore an animal-skin tunic, possibly wolf; her hair bore a family resemblance to Star’s; and her spear was speckled with dried Roman blood. Sim’s hair was as white as his belted robe but his beard was streaked with black. He carried a sword that resembled one forged by Tolkien’s dwarves in Middle Earth; named whatever is Elvish for Avenger.
‘What the f…’ Jed choked on his soya and piccalilli.
‘Boudicca, I presume,’ Star said, ‘and this must be Simeon.’
Sim bowed to her and turned to Jed. ‘ Oy vey, cough it up, my son. You act like a
klutz.’
Boo said, ‘Arfernoon. Noice day, innit?’
‘What brings you here?’ Star said.
‘We just wanna moike the world a better place, kid, same as you, but we’re outa date so we’ll need you to come alonga us, loike.’
‘Where’s she from?’ Jed whispered.’
‘More or less Norfolk.’
‘That explains it.’

Boo sat crossed legged beside them. ‘You still have crocks o’ shit raping lasses these days?’
‘Yes, I’m afraid, so,’ Jed said.
‘Feh! Such madness,’ Sim said. ‘You help us find them.’
Star said, ‘What will you do to them?’
Boo said, ‘We’ll cut their bits off.’
Sim said, ‘Then we’ll kill them.’
Jed said, ‘you can’t do that. It’s against the law. Find somewhere to put them where
they’ll do no harm and I’ll help you track them down. What about you, Star?’
‘I’m up for it,’ she said.
‘Hang on a minute. Oi’ll be roight back,’ Boo said. She vanished.
‘Roight, I mean right,’ Jed said.
‘Where’s she gone?’ Star asked Sim.
‘There’s millions of worlds in the firmament, daughter, she’s looking for one we can shlep these maggots off to.’
‘That’s an insult to maggots.’
Boo re-materialised. ‘Found it,’ she said. ‘Noice place, lush vegetation, birds, reptiles, small mammals, no sentient loife. They’ll survoive if they keep their wits about ’em, but no lasses, so they can’t breed.’
‘All in good time the planet will devour the shmucks, ’Sim said, ‘and no harm done.’

***

Two thugs were drawing nearer to a young woman on a dark city street. She glanced behind her and quickened her footsteps. They quickened theirs. She started to run.

A nearly new, not-yet-paid-for BMW with a bent front bumper pulled up beside her. Jed opened the passenger door and shouted, ‘Get in, quick.’ She hesitated, looked into his honest eyes, jumped in, and slammed the door.

Star stepped out of a doorway in front of the thugs, and ran. Having been deprived of one prey they set off in pursuit of another. She slowed down. They closed in. She turned to face them and yelled, ‘Boo!’

That wasn’t what they had expected. While their under-developed brain cells were reviewing the situation, Boo appeared and pointed her spectral spear at Thug number one. He wet himself. Thug number two turned to bolt and found himself face to face with Sim: who raised his righteous sword and smiled.

Two whimpering thugs were dumped at the edge of a primordial forest. Two moons hung in the sky, and the stars looked wrong. Attracted by the scent of sweat and urine, a many-toothed amphibian climbed out of a nearby lake.

***

Throughout the following months the four vigilantes cleaned up Britain’s cities. The plods were puzzled. The number of reported attacks on women was lower than at any time in the last two decades, but the number of missing persons was soaring. Many of them were known to the authorities. They may have been missing but they wouldn’t be missed.

While Boo and Sim were learning the tricks of their newfound trade, Star and Jed were falling in love.
‘It’s toime to move on, kids.’ Boo said. ‘We’ve given Britain a head start. The rest of the world needs us more.’
‘Sorry, Boo,’ Star said. ‘This land is my patch. I wish the rest of the world well, but when it’s night somewhere else it’s a working day here, and I have to earn my living.’
‘Me too,’ Jed said. ‘Abroad is for sunbathing on a beach. I’m staying put.’
‘Did we ask you to come?’ Sim said. ‘We know what we’re doing now. What are we, helpless old schnooks, that we can’t manage without our children?’
‘Sim’s roight, kids. There’s other ways to make the world a better place,’ Boo said. ‘Stay here and raise valiant daughters.’
‘And sons,’ Sim said. He bowed to them both.
Jed said, ‘Shalom’; Star gave Boo a Hoigh Foive; and the ancestors vanished.

***

At the dawn of the summer solstice the sun rose above the standing stone at Bryn Celli Ddu, flooding the chamber with light, and the young lovers asked the Great Mother to bless their union. In the streets of New Delhi two spirits stalked the stalkers. On the dark side of the third planet from a middle-aged sun on the outer arm of the Andromeda galaxy, a pack of carnivores were emerging from the forest and obtruding on their next meal.

 

Dedicated to the memory of Jyoti Singh.
RIP.

 

Bio: Maureen Bowden in an ex-patriate Liverpudlian living with her musician husband in North Wales, where they try to evade the onslaught of their children and grandchildren. She has had forty poems and short stories accepted for publication. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare and cats.