Sunday, 8 May 2011

Connie Candleshaft - A Village Says Good-bye

The tragic demise – or rather consumption – of Connie Candleshaft had shocked the entire village. Word had spread quickly throughout the local cliques of gossip, the bar at the Badger’s Snatch and across the counter of the village Post Office so, as the day of the funeral arrived, many were expected to line the streets to pay their last respects … and to see how the occasion was to be handled; bearing in mind the grizzly circumstances in which she met her end.

There had been some controversy in the days prior, however, when the village undertakers Digget & Buryham had gently moved the – rather gelatinous – fish tank from the back of Diana Scrunch’s salon to the preparation room of their funeral emporium. The ravenous aquatic killers had already been removed by specialists but the question remained; how were they going to retrieve poor Connie’s remains in order to give her an appropriate send-off?

A traditional coffin would certainly not suffice, as poor Connie would simply seep through the knots and dovetail joints. No, the occasion required something more practical and it was not until one paid a short visit to Mr. Peppercorn’s butchery shop and bumped into the two partners – Al Digget and Al Buryham – that one was able to assist with a little Gusset resourcefulness. Mr Peppercorn was busy giving one some tongue and a length of his sausage as we chatted and the pair had clearly dwelled upon the dilemma for an age and, as a result, one could see the stress etched into their sombre faces.

“Dame Crusty, we are at a loss! We don’t know what to do?” declared Mr. Digget, “and the funeral is planned for two days time!”

“Goodness, poppets, what a fix you find yourselves in! Circumstances have certainly caused complications, have they not?!” It was at that very moment that one’s eyes strayed to the back counter of the Mr. Peppercorn’s preparation area and one was struck by an inspirational “eureka” moment. For there, placed at the side of Pat Tissery’s mouth-wateringly plumptious baps - from the village bakers - was a tub of pease pudding.

“Tupperware!” one exclaimed.

“Sorry?!” asked Al Buryham.

“Tupperware, dear! Get yourselves a large receptacle of Tupperware and use that! Simply ladle the … broth – for want of a better word – through a sieve … or, better still, a large piece of muslin. You can get that from the vicar’s wife; she’s always making jams and uses it for …for…”

“Taking the pith?” Mr. Digget asked.

“No, one’s quite serious, dear! But if you don’t want one’s help …”

“No, Dame Crusty …the muslin …for taking the pith of the fruit … to make the jam.”

“Ahh!” One acknowledged. After a moments thought, they looked at each other, realised it may just work and set off upon their mission.

Marjorie Flecks, the vicar’s wife, had taken it upon herself to telephone Connie’s sister, Clarissa, as soon as the time and date had been arranged. This would give her enough time to travel up from Hitchin, where she resided with her collection of garden gnomes …. “I explained the whole sad tale to her, Dame Crusty.” Marjorie later told one, “It was a terribly crackly line but at least she heard the news from someone in the village and not some stranger.”

After the death of their parents, Connie and Clarissa had spent many years living together in the family home here in the village. However, as years passed by the relationship had become strained. Connie’s eating habits had become a great cause for concern; Apart from a penchant for Mustafa Sidoon’s kebabs, she could quite easily eat anything that was put in front of her and one day, after Clarissa had been roasted by the sun in the back garden and coated herself in Greek yogurt to soothe the redness, she had entered the kitchen to find Connie sitting with a cotton serviette tucked down her cleavage, a knife and fork in her hands and a look of hunger on her face with unnatural lip-dribblage occurring. She could take no more and moved out.

Anyhoo … problems solved and preparations made, the sad day of the burial arrived. The Tupperware container was placed in the back of the Daimler hearse and the crowds that lined the streets of the village, dipped their heads in respect as it passed. It was all very Egyptian; just as in times gone by, bits of a pharaohs were buried in small jars, so here, Connie was to be laid to rest in something similar …only plastic …and with an air-tight lid.

Sadly, there was no sign of Clarissa, who was and always had been as intelligent as a block of wood. However, the event – between the funeral parlour and the vicar – was timed with almost military precision and no delay could be accommodated.

After saying our farewells to dear Connie, we all returned to the lounge of the Badger’s Snatch, where Fanny O’Dour had put on a wonderful spread for Connie’s wake. There was a subdued and respectful ambience as people tucked into the food and raised their glasses in honour of our lost poppet. Then, just as one had had a nibble on Fanny’s prawn ring, the door swung open and Clarissa appeared, looking quite flustered.

It turned out (and one was not in the slightest surprised) that she had arrived at the wrong venue. She had turned up at a small chapel very near to the village, however it was the one for the pet crematorium. She had thought it odd that there were only a few people present and, more so, that there was no one she recognised. It was only when the coffin was brought out with a with a bag of Shapes on top of it and a black leather collar with a tag with Connie, studded across it in diamante tackiness, that she found out she was paying her respects to a 15 year old Golden Retriever. Needless to say, she made a hasty exit.

One stool with Clarissa by the brightly lit fruit machine, near the fireplace. Flanked by Kitty, Fanny, Mrs. Tickle – from the garden centre - and her daughter Tess, none of us could find appropriate words of consolation.

Eventually the silence was broken. “Well!” Clarissa sighed, “She had a good life! At least she went the way she would’ve wanted.”

Fanny dropped her glass and we all turned to look at her…”the way she would have wanted, dear?!”

“Yes! Eating!” Clarissa nodded, “She always had a passion for food.”

“No, dear … EATEN!! She was eaten!”


  1. Caroline Aylott8 May 2011 at 19:35

    The most fantastic read ! Once I started I was hooked. Does it sound ridiculous for me to ask if the stars of your story are fat or thin. I want to put a face to them . I'm not mad .. Honest ! I will have trouble waiting for the next installment. An absolute must read !! :)

  2. Caroline dear,

    Fanny and Kitty are deliciously slender and ooze gorgeousness. The vicar's wife, alas, is rather rotund - her shape made worse by her insisting on wearing large floral prints - Mrs Tickles is a very respectable elegant woman and her daughter Tess is quite broad with a penchant for dungarees and brogues x x x x