The Spokane Horror, Part 2 or, Whatever Happened to Huck and Ann?

It seemed to follow the symmetries of some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or the solar system...

Well, my dears. It has been a busy week and, although I promised you I would finish my little story about Pastor Huckabee and the Convent Fair last night, other circumstances intervened and I have only now had a chance to sit down and write it out.

If you haven’t already read the first half, then you may wish to bugger off now and catch up with your reading. However, let me repeat my warning – this is a long, dark and convoluted tale which contains scenes of a most distressing kind and, as such, should not be braved by those of a sensitive or suggestible nature.

Are you sitting comfortably?

I seem to recall that when I left you I’d just clonked that terrible Huckabee man on the bonce with a candlestick, and I can tell you it made a most satisfying crunching noise.

By the time Huckabee’s eyes flicked open, the screams of distress from Chris Christie had blended now into a single wail of despair. The air shimmered now and crackled with electricity. Huckabee thrashed as he realized that he was bound hand and foot by silver shackles which had been screwed into each corner of the black stone tablet that marked Brigham Howard’s grave. I could tell from the way he squirmed that the stone was ice cold beneath his naked buttocks. He may not be a small man, but he has those unfortunate concave buttocks that many older men have, so there wasn’t much padding between him and the stone.

The cold had, of course, lead to some shrinkage issues and the Little Governor was now, as I seem to recall Carrie Fisher remarking about the same appendage of Dan Quayle, a freezing cold acorn, screaming, screaming for cover. However, I had Ann Coulter stomp on him with her high heels for a while and that little problem soon went away.

When he had finished wailing and squirming, I stood over him until I could see myself reflected in his eyes. I was dressed to the nines in bespoke Dior, and on my head was a tiara of opulent and phantastic design, made of gold, although with a weird lustrousness which hinted at some strange alloy. One could spend hours studying the drippingly marine curves chased and moulded into its surface, and in fact I often have.

Tiffany, of course – from their Eldritch Armageddon collection. I understand that nice Mrs Gingrich is quite a fan.

“You!” Huckabee said, as he recognized me. “Release me, you hell harridan.”

All I did was laugh at his struggles. I clicked my fingers and first Condoleeza and then Ann Coulter in her turn threw themselves down, their naked forms writhing upon him like spawning salmon as they coupled with him, one and then the other, again and again.

Void of clothing, all of the Sisters were now braying and bellowing and writhing in a monstrous ring around us, all naked now and chanting those wonderful words “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”. Their arms flapped as they circled, first on two legs and then on four, a limitless stream of flopping and croaking half-humanity with dead, bulging eyes and palpitating gills, all moaning words of power.

It was quite like the Republican Party convention, although without the placards and the repressed homosexuality.

Then, as Ann perpetuated some indescribable obscenity upon Huckabee’s recumbent form, as Huckabee begged “No more! No more!”, came a voice that was not a voice; a sense only of words spoken without a tongue:

“Cthulhu fhtagn.”

At that moment there was a knocking on the other side of the obsidian stone that covered Brigham Howard, that stone baptized with the fluids of Huckabee’s stolen lust. The knocking grew louder and with each knock the stone block shuddered. Huckabee began to screech in fear, his noises harmonizing with the wordless howl still coming from outside the chapel and with the bestial grunts of Coulter, still humping her fishy form upon him.

The knocking stopped and Huckabee caught his breath in fear, and then the dark rock began to lift up all around, as if it were being pushed from behind by some hideous hand. It lifted and, in a moment, it was clear of the marble floor all around its glittering sides.

How can I describe the horror that spilled out from beneath? It seethed there in the dark below – a shivering mass of piebald-skinned tentacles that clutched at themselves, that grasped and seemed almost to chew the air with their red sucking mouths, a clump of coarse black fur that itched and heaved, and here and there a horn or a hoof or a quivering sphincter that sprayed forth mucus upon the cavorting hordes, all surmounted by Uncle Brigham’s shock of bright-blond hair and his shit-eating grin.

I stepped back a little. That dress was hand sewn by Christian Fucking Dior himself, and there was no way I was getting ectoplasm on it, end of the world or no.

One of the larger limbs snaked out, its skin the lipid color of drowned men’s thighs, its suckers clenching as it grabbed Condoleeza and dragged her down into that terrible pit, snuffing out her wail of happiness at being the first to feed the Great God.

The God would rise and we would all be crunched between his terrible teeth.

Pride goeth before the fall, of course. In my joy and righteous terror at the moment we had hoped for for so long, I had not been watching Huckabee, did not see him close his eyes and begin to pray, did not see him murmuring his prayers to his God.

If I had seen, I may have been able to stop him, to stop his mouth, to stop the words of worship which came to him so easily in his fear. If I had only seen ….

But I did not see until it was too late, until his prayers were said, until his God was there in the midst of us. His God, the great YOG-SOTHOTH of limitless being and self, she who the crab creatures of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, she who the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable word that sounds a little like someone being sick.

She was terrifying, more terrifying than anything I have ever seen, and I’ve seen Peggy Noonan with her dentures out.

Too late to do anything but hide as her feet crashed down upon the stone, crushing the Great God back down into the earth, sweeping aside the circling Sisters with her taloned hands.

Too late to do anything but cower and listen in fear as she strode around the chapel chanting words in a hideous sing-song voice that grated at the ears and made the stomach lurch. Such words, such indescribable words whose meaning lies beyond the ken of a simple woman like me:

“Old Gods. All of ’em, any of ’em that have been in front of me over all these years, they misunderestimated me. As Cthulhu rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, the America I know and love, it is not one in which the hockey moms or my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of a death panel and then be eaten because of a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn with their warning shots and bells that say we are going to be sure and we are going to be free. Also. Too.”

And with that, she was gone and all was quiet.

It will be another hundred years before the dark moon Yuggoth is in the proper alignment again, until our palaeogean magic can attempt to wake dead Cthulhu in his house at R’lyeh. A long time, an impossible time for someone of my advanced years. But while I may not live to see him rise, time is something of which we have an inexhaustible supply. We can wait, for we are patient and we always come back. No matter how long it takes, no matter how viscerally the world rejects the Old Gods, we always come back, for the memories of the world are short and the cycle of the earth is long.

We’re like cockroaches, or perhaps Republicans. Our time will come.

Of course, after the disappointment of the end of the world being called off, the afternoon tea that followed was a little subdued. Everyone had trouble meeting everyone else’s gaze and Pastor Huckabee didn’t seem to have much of an appetite, even though I had made my special strawberry shortcake

However, we did have the ceremonial stoning of the adulteresses in the car park of the 7-Eleven next door, which cheered us all up. I must note that no-one actually died at the stoning, although that strumpet Sarah Thompson from across the road certainly felt the cleansing fire of a few well aimed pebbles on the back of her head.

And Chris Christie was so overwhelmed by his little ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl that he vomited on Ann Coulter’s head.

Which was a small consolation for the disappointments of the day.

The Convent Fair and what happened there

My dears, this story, being a religious story, is almost certainly not suitable for children – unless, of course, you have the sort of troublesome child who could stand, every now and then, to read a few well placed words about the wrathful vengeance of God (or Gods, depending on your preference).

The other day, I referred to an incident involving Chris Christie and Ann Coulter, but fobbed you all off in favor of cake. However, I am not one to ever renege on my promises, explicit or implied, and so I will sit down to tell you the story. I do warn you – it is a long, dark and convoluted tale which contains scenes of a most distressing nature, and which I suspect will be told with every sign of relish and conspicuous attention to detail. Some of this is very serious, but there may be the occasional bit of whimsy and a little sprinkle of mucus to lighten the mood.

That’s religion for you.

Those of you of a weak or panty-waisted nature and those who complain about any story longer than 140 characters (but I repeat myself) should get out now. Off you fuck.

If you are still with me, check the bedrooms to make sure no one has kidnapped your kiddies in the last ten minutes, pour yourself a drink and sit yourself down in your comfortable chair, and I will tell you all about the 2010 Annual Fair at the Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen in Spokane.

The Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, as any local will tell you, usually in words of less than two syllables, is the Chapter House of the Little Brown Sisters of the Gaping Maw. The Sisters are a mendicant order and, every day, be it frostily gloaming or nice and sunny, they sally forth from the Convent into the steep, narrow, and crooked streets of Spokane. There they devote themselves to doing all kinds of good and giving works among the degraded population of this impoverished area of Washington state.

The Convent is a towering, gambrel-roofed thing, walled off from the world, a curiously joyless collection of spires and tiny windows that looks as if it has a permanent grudge. Just imagine Dick Cheney in building form and you’re pretty close. It nestles into the edge of the Spokane River, somewhere on the outskirts of town among a number of the crumbling, worm-eaten factories that litter the waterfront, factories abandoned since the joint FDA/CDC raids back in 2007-8, and only now beginning to show signs of a sluggishly revived existence.

The river is quite close to the Convent, its water lapping sleepily at the shore and at the low black reef near the edge of the river and sometimes, at night, at the bricks at the base of the Chapel wall, there beneath the Sisters’ sleeping cells.

The Annual Fair, or Annual Fête as it used to be known before Americans unanimously decided that foreign words were scary in about 2001 and we had to change it, is the Sisters’ major fundraising event, and often quite entertaining. It is always frightfully British, you see, which takes me back to my childhood (only without the emotionally-crippled mother and the twice-monthly early -morning bedroom visits from Mr Snuggles).

There’s always a Tilt-A-Whirl, often manned by a gap-toothed adonis in a torn undershirt with gold-dusted abdominals and taste for frottage. There are donkey rides and cake stalls and even a coconut shy, although I have always thought the coconut shy to be the worst thing at a fair because if you win you get a fucking coconut. The Sisters sell vegetable produce and jams and fake relics of St Fidelis that they have made, and my friend Jane Robinson always dresses up in a turban and charges $2 for Protestant Palm Readings – she just tells everyone they are going to hell. There are sack-races and egg-and-spoon races, and if you sneak around the back of the Refreshments stall, you can smoke the finest Afghanistani opium sold by dark and furtive houris who speak only the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers. $76 for two hours of transitory cosmic enlightenment is quite a good deal really.

2010 was the centenary of the foundation of the Convent of the Little Brown Sisters by Father Brigham Howard on April 30, 1910. Brigham was my great-uncle, and the black sheep of the family, sent away from Cambridge years before I was born on account of his nefarious and unspoken-of deeds. He had arrived in Spokane in 1909, a thirty-something blond-haired charmer with a contagious smile and a heavy hand with the Blood of Christ, at the head of a group of 15 stunning, curvaceous and quite fervently religious young Catholic nuns. Within a few months, Brigham had purchased land and been elected as a County Commissioner, and construction of the Convent was well underway. Brigham was very active in Spokane life, and many people came to listen to him preach and or to deliver brown paper bags to the Commissioner’s office. However, the Sisters were rarely seen. They lived as an almost entirely monastic order, spending every day in service to their god. Brigham himself, I am told, seemed to grow old very quickly after his sixtieth birthday, his body breaking down within weeks as he retreated more and more into the Convent. He was, of course, buried in the chapel.

Early one spring morning, soon after Brigham had died, all of the nuns came out of the gates of the convent. There were 24 of them by this time, Brigham having actively recruited from within the more more buxom-and-brunette section of the local population. They were all still beautiful, although among the original 15 there were some about whom it might be said there was a hint of something sullen and almost piscine around the gills, an extra little girdle of fat around the middle, that taken together made one think of wallowing or, perhaps, of eyes peeping above the surface of a waterhole.

The Sisters each wore a simple white dress, each carried a basket, packed with vegetables and the flat-eyed, white fish they had caught in the river the evening before. Each Sister knocked on a door, at a factory or a house, introduced themselves and proffered gifts appropriate to the particular resident, as they have every morning since.

You can imagine that the Fair (yes, I’m getting back to the Fair – I told you there would be conspicuous attention to detail) is therefore quite an important part of the Spokane social calendar, and for the Centenary, the Sisters had pulled out all the stops, inviting all sorts of special guests.

Late in the day, I was walking through the Fair with Sister Bertram and Ann Coulter – Ann and I are old friends, although I do get tired of her constant whinging about how no one “gets her as parody”. What can I say? Ann is a good looking woman with a taste for the wrinklies and sometimes Grammy likes a hate-fuck. I don’t let her talk.

Sister Bertram is the Mother Superior of the convent, although she transferred here only recently from the Arkham convent. I don’t dare to tell her, but she smells a bit like a lobster. A raw lobster, of course – I wouldn’t mind if she smelled like bisque. I have always been a little suspicious of her – there is something unblinking to her eyes that I find most disconcerting.

The Fair had been a success. The Archbishop had managed to make his opening ceremony speech without calling anyone a whore, Pastor Huckabee had been dunked into the three-throws-for-10-dollars slime pit dunking machine at least fifteen times during his half an hour shift, Condoleezza Rice had broken her ankle in the greasy-pig chase, and several youngsters were copulating frantically in the shadow of the chapel after eating one of Grammy’s special strawberry and cream cakes. All that was left was the special closing event in the chapel and later, if all went well, the ceremonial stoning of the adulteresses in the parking lot of the next-door Seven Eleven.

Over to our left, the carny was enticing Chris Christie onto the Tilt-A-Whirl for “just one spin”, even though the ride was deserted and dusk had already begun to trickle into the spaces between the tents. Christie was clearly unwilling, but there was a photographer nearby and so he gingerly shoehorned himself into the tiny seat. The carny swung down the retaining bar and then, the bar not clicking into place, bodily reached into the car, lifted up an armful of Chris, popped the bar under and let all that stomach flop down again. The carny walked over to start the ride and pressed the start button, giving me a huge wink as he did. I rolled my eyes at him. As we continued on towards the chapel, I could see the light from the setting sun strike Christie each time he was whirled around, feel an odd, electrical burr in the ground below my feet, a vibration that seemed to increase slightly as the ride began to spin faster.

We were almost the last to arrive. The nuns were all seated in a semi-circle around the chancel, around the glittering black stone tablet that covered the corpse of Brigham Howard, with all the townspeople gathered behind them in their pews. Sister Bertram nodded to us and went over to stand before the grave. Pastor Huckabee and Ms Rice were seated on a row of chairs in front of the altar along with various local dignitaries. As Ann and I came in, the Pastor gestured to the seat next to him. I shook hands with him and murmured some pleasantry as I sat.

Sister Bertram voiced, at length, her thanks to everyone for the successful day. She was scrabbling in the pocket at the front of her dress, and as she spoke she drew out a little black statue, no bigger than her hand. It was human in shape, but where it glittered in the red sunlight streaming through the barred windows of the chapel we could all see the curve of its long head, the rubberiness of the knots of thick, ropy stuff that curved out from its jaw. The thought that it looked like a Cher action-figure rushed into my head, but I quickly dispelled it.

I had seen the like of the statue only once before – in Egypt during the war, clutched in Hermann Göring’s fat sweaty hand as he boarded a plane for Berlin which had I arrived far too late to stop.

Now Sister Bertram had ceased waving it in the air. She knelt and placed it on Brigham’s grave and it made a sharp metallic click as the two stones touched.

I looked at Huckabee with an expression of alarm on my face. He peered at me vaguely as I made frantic signals with my eyebrows towards a heavy gold candlestick that was sitting on the floor near his foot. I was distracted then by a high pitched cry of fear coming in to the chapel from outside, the sound dopplering each time the Governor was whisked past the door. At the same time, that electric buzz seemed to ratchet up a peg and spread to the air, making the chairs vibrate and my false teeth ache.

A young sister, her eyes now a gimlet green and staring lidlessly, her lips slack and drooling – a little like Peggy Noonan first thing in the morning – handed Sister Bertram a book. I could see it was the hideous Necronomicon of the mad Arab Obama Alhazred, the edition published in the eighteenth century by Carolus Steinberg – the one with the fold out diagrams and the pop up orgy scenes where you can twiddle a paper knob and make the devil rut harder or the eyeballs pop out of the sinners’ skulls. Sister Bertram began to read.

Then I felt something press against my leg. I looked down and, thankfully, it was the candlestick. I clasped it firmly and nodded thanks to Huckabee. For a moment I simply held my breath and waited. Eternities seemed to elapse. As Sister Bertram read, some of the members of the crowd began to stand up and call out as a nauseous fishy odour mounted over the room.

Sister Bertram slammed the book shut and cried out, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

While she was still wiping the spittle off her forehead, Huckabee leapt to his feet, shouting, “Hold there, you monstrous strumpet of hell”. He started to advance on Sister Bertram, but found himself swung around from behind, one arm and then the other clamped in two hellish grips. He gazed into the dead eyes of Ann Coulter and Condoleezza Rice. Both were suddenly bloated and green, their skin mottled and flaking. It was just like the paintings they both keep in their attics had been simultaneously seized and stabbed right up from top to bottom.

Huckabee spluttered at them, “What are you doing, you vile harridans?”

When they spoke, one into each of his ears, their voices were as one voice, low and dark and sultry, and echoes struck off the walls like drips of dark water.

“The dark moon Yuggoth is in alignment with the earth. In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. You will couple with us both, and the Old Gods will arise.”

Huckabee looked frightened then. He let out a whimper that bounced from wall to wall, mingling with the choked wails that still filtered through the chapel door from outside.

It was time for me to do something. I stepped forward, the look of fear again on my face, but with the candlestick brandished in one hand. A look of relief flashed over Huckabee’s features and he struggled and managed to break his arm away from Ann Coulter for a second. His expression didn’t have time to change to one of surprise before I whopped him on his stupid fat skull with the candlestick and he slumped to the ground, bleeding from his temple.

Good heavens dears, is that the time? I’ve been invited to a late supper with George Clooney and I do want to get there before he bogarts all the coke. Besides, you should all be in bed by now, happily procreating for when god comes with his terrible hunger.

I’ll have to finish this story later, I am afraid. Is next Saturday night good for you?

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]

In which Sarah gets shunted onto an Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage with a layover in Seattle

Those few of you who have been reading my little stories from the beginning would recall the time I spoke about a young Sarah Heath-but-soon-to-be-Palin and her generosity with the chamomile tea at the Miss Alaska beauty pageant back in 1984.

I didn’t see her for a long time after that, which was fine by me. I keep track of her though. I do like to maintain a close eye on the high functioning psychopaths who cross my path. I didn’t make it to the age of 92 by being stupid. I have a friend at the CIA office in Anchorage who owes me a good number of favors, and he sends me an email with updates on young Ms Palin every few months.

(Personal to Sexypants in Anchorage – Keep being a good boy or Mr Spanky will come out, and you know you don’t like that.)

Anyhow, in April 2008 I went on a trip to Grapevine in Texas. That’s where my son Jeremy lives with his wife Dogface and their loutish and ever expanding brood, whose names are Trail, Mammary, Tree, Bagpiper and Math (or something unfortunate like that).

I had a lovely time. I handed out presents and sweets and kisses. I gave the little ones too much red jello and then watched them vibrate around the house until their mother screamed at them. I snuck into Trail’s bedroom while he was asleep and cut off the horrible little rat tail he’d been growing and then planted the scissors on one of his sisters. There were indeed shenanigans.

When it came time for me to go home, Jeremy drove me to Dallas/Fort Worth to catch my plane. I let Tree and Bagpiper come to the airport because they’re the only ones I don’t actively dislike.

When we arrived I handed over some cash to the children, kissed them all goodbye and sent them on their way. I quite like airports – the sense of anticipation, the frenetic energy, the shops full of booze, the obligatory nuns, the hosties in their short skirts and tight pants. Being at an airport is an experience Grammy Sarah likes to experience on her own, thank you very much.

Eventually I went to the Delta desk where I was told that there was a problem with my plane, but they were going to fit me right in on an Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage, which had a layover in Seattle, but which left half an hour before the flight I had booked. There are advantages to having been a frequent flyer since 1942. The nice young lady summoned up a nice young security guard called Trevor who shepherded me through to the front of the check-in queue and then very kindly walked me to my boarding gate. He was very pretty – blond, sweet and dumb – just like Grammy likes ‘em.

I knew from my briefing emails that Sarah was going to be in town for a Republican Governors Association meeting on energy policy, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw her waiting at the front of the line to board. What did surprise me was that she appeared to be fairly pregnant. My source hadn’t mentioned this to me at all.

I joined a group of old dears from the United Daughters of the Confederacy who were off on an excursion. I didn’t think Sarah would recognize me as I was wearing a pair of Jackie’s old sunglasses (which I snaffled one Christmas at the White House) and my new Candice Bergen wig, but it never hurts to be careful.

I peered out at her through the haze of White Diamonds, mothballs and urine smell that seemed to have enveloped me.

Sarah was wearing a cheap rip-off of a Dries Van Noten thigh-length coat – you could tell from the poor stitching on the collar and around the cuffs – and she was stuffed in to it fit to bursting, like Chris Christie in a thong. It looked for all the world like she’d swallowed a big square pillow. She was nattering away to a man with a face like a dyspeptic badger, who was wearing ski boots, a shell suit and a leather jacket with a Slayer logo on the back. I assumed this was Todd. He nodded agreement every now and then but didn’t appear to add much else to anything. While she spoke at him, she kept patting at her stomach like the baby was kicking.

I was a bit concerned about getting on to the plane without her seeing me, but fortunately a nice flight attendant spotted my Balenciaga jacket and my bespoke Dior shoes and took all us old biddies on to the plane first. Always wear your best to the airport. The gays like it and it can be worth an upgrade.

When Sarah saw that someone was getting on the plane before her, she made a face just like the one that Joan Rivers makes when you tell her there’s no more booze.

I hid in the middle of the group until we were on the plane, and then hunkered down in my seat right at the front with a strategically positioned newspaper.

When I woke up from my little nap, we were in the air and three-quarters of the way to Seattle. Most of the plane was dozing. I took a look around with my makeup mirror while I fixed my face. Sarah and the Todd were two seats behind me and across the aisle at the back of the first class section.

He was playing some kind of electronic game, and he sniggered occasionally like Muttley from Whacky Races.

She in the aisle seat reading Cosmo. Every now and then, at quite regular intervals of five minutes or so, she would let out a little noise and clutch at her stomach, then look around furtively, almost as if she was checking to see if anyone had noticed. This went on for the best part of half an hour.

Of course, all the hosties had on their best “not my problem” faces, so they barely noticed that she was there, let alone her rhythmic grunting.

Next, she jabbed Todd in the gut and made a gesture with her head. Todd reached into his bag and fished out a bottle of water. She had a drink and then, lowering the bottle down to seat level, she splashed water around her feet. A little bit went into the aisle and glistened there. She handed the bottle back to Todd, and then made a little “o” sound of surprise.

Whatever reaction she was expecting from the flight attendants, it did not eventuate.

She pouted for a while and then got up to go to the toilet up at the front of the plane. I pretended to be asleep, but I was still wearing my sunglasses so my eyes were wide open. Just as she passed me, her entire baby-bulge moved directly downwards about eight inches and I saw the bottom of a bright green polyester cushion (with yellow flowers, no less) poke out from under the edge of her coat.

She grabbed at it and barely stopped it falling all the way out, then tried to shove it back in but only made it worse, looked around in panic and bolted for the toilet.

Todd didn’t notice and he only looked up from his game of Donkey Kong about twenty minutes later when she hadn’t emerged and the steward had to knock on the door and make her come out because the plane was preparing to land.

I retreated behind my newspaper again, but I did see that when she sat down she called Todd a name that’s so nasty it isn’t even in my vocabulary.

When I woke up, the plane was deserted and the nice gay flight attendant was shaking me by the shoulder. His name was José. He helped me off the plane and into a taxi and handed me his number as the car drove off. We write to each other every week, and he’s become firm friends with my nephew Charles and his flatmate Kevin, although I can’t imagine what the three of them have in common.

All in all, it was a very nice trip.

Alpha dog, my arse

Cesar Milan once came to Shady Pines because Muriel Heppelthwaite’s dear little pug was having dominance issues. Every time the nurse tried to take the doggy off Muriel’s lap to clean up the urine (which usually came from Muriel, not the doggy) it would growl at them like Cthulhu after a bad weekend on the turps.

It was a dear little thing with a tiny mooshed up face and a pink slobbery tongue. All it really needed was for Muriel to say no to it occasionally, to give it treats or pats as a reward for sitting and staying, instead of letting it do whatever it wanted.

We were all sitting in the common room, watching repeats of “Gilligan’s Island” (It’s supposed to be soothing).

Cesar whisked in, all hands and beady snake eyes, and made a grab at the dog, while shouting something about “making the dog fear you as the Alpha”. The doggy growled at him and he proceeded to poke it in the middle of its forehead with his stubby little fingers, while telling it it was a “bad dog”.

The “bad dog” slipped off Muriel’s lap, shook itself a bit damply, then when Cesar came in for the next poke, ran through his legs and clamped its teeth onto Cesar’s butt like a starving seagull on a chip.

I almost wet myself laughing, so you can imagine what condition Muriel was in.

Cesar wailed like a soul in hell and ran, flailing with his hands at the dog attached to his bottom.

We didn’t see the doggy for at least an hour after that, until it trotted back into the common room with a satisfied smirk on its ugly little face and a scrap of damp and slightly bloody khaki in its teeth.

We found a decent trainer after that, and she recommended gentle, loving discipline and respect, not physical attacks, and Muriel’s doggy was a dear after that, although we never quite managed to stop it snaffling the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups from the common room.

And we’ll all be blind and eating salmon paste sandwiches…


A few years ago, we went on a bus excursion to Janesville, Wisconsin. If I remember correctly we were going to see the Lincoln-Tallman House, in which Abraham Lincoln slept for all of two nights. That was the trip Marge Albrechtson had the unfortunate incident on the Lincoln bed.

Anyhow, Gloria Peters and I were dropped off beforehand at St. John Vianney’s for mass, while the others went off to see some library or other.

Congressman Ryan was there with Janna and little Samuel, sitting in the pew in front of us. During the homily, which was about “christian charity and the care of the sick”, the congressman dozed off.

I wasn’t surprised. The priest didn’t have any of the oomph our Father McInerney puts into his sermons. To hear Father Mac ranting about the hellfires and the poking in the buttocks by the little grey Cheney-demons with the little grey hooves is a unique and spiritually uplifting experience.

There was a woman sitting beside us with two little children. I assume her husband was off at war or some such. Her children were both dreadfully dribbly and not particularly pleasant all up. The boy had a tail like a rat’s tail running down his neck and badly needed a wash. He too was nodding off. It was an awful sermon.

The priest was burbling on when there was a sharp breath near my ear, and suddenly Congressman Ryan bolted straight upwards. I looked at Gloria and she was slipping her pen-case blow tube into her pocket. It took her three days to make it, but she can kill a fly with a tic tac from twenty feet.

Ryan turned around, with his face all red, and glared at the stinky little lump of boy, who woke up a little bit and looked back at him with an expression of semi-amiable incomprehension. Ryan squinted at him and sat back and promptly went back to sleep.

Five minutes later, Gloria winked at me and loaded up another tic tac. Wham. Right on the tip of the Congressman’s ear. The tic tac ricocheted off into the altar area, and Congressman Ryan said “Fuck” in a very loud voice, which woke up everyone, including the priest.

Being a good politician he, of course, waved it off and apologized for having a bad dream, and the mass went on.

Afterwards, there was a little parish tea, to which we were invited as ladies of obvious distinction. It wasn’t much of a spread. Honestly who serves fish paste sandwiches and Tang in this day and age? It was a dead loss until Gloria and I managed to snaffle a bottle of scotch and two glasses out of the parish priest’s office, and installed ourselves in the corner behind an ornamental ficus to drink “whisky sunrises”.

Both Ryan and rat-boy were there as well. I can’t imagine how his rat-mother got an invitation for her and her pustulent brood. Anyway, the congressman was on the hunt as soon as that little blond mullet in the Von Dutch t-shirt walked in.

Ryan pretty much ignored all the other guests as he chattered his was from group to group trying to get to the other side of the room, where the boy was happily munching on a rather mediocre scone. He ducked around the Bishop, bounced off two women in plain shoes who were standing in the middle of the room, and ended up behind our ornamental ficus. Seeing us scared him so much, he let out another almighty “Fuck!” and staggered backwards into a nun.

After he managed to recollect himself, and had apologized again, he stood in a corner for a while, glaring across the room at the bits of the little boy he could see from behind its mother’s legs.

The little boy had worked out by now that Congressman Ryan had it in for him. It was clinging on for dear life to its mother, but she suddenly walked over to us. I’m not sure why. I may have beckoned to her. I can’t recall. Anyway, the kiddy was left all alone in the middle of the room.

Congressman Ryan grinned like a crocodile (well, sort of like a crocodile but without the little teeth picking birds and the reeds and the mud). He launched himself across the room towards the Bishop, who was standing near the wet bar. Ryan’s hand was outstretched as if for a handshake, and his fingers just happened by accident to poke rat-boy right in the eye. Ryan kept on going and was soon chatting to the bishop about abortion, disclaiming all knowledge of how that “poor child” was so grievously injured and trying to fob blame off on the nun.

An eye for an ear and an ear for an eye, and blame it all on the dribbly proles and the women.

A true republican at heart.

Holding the tiger by the tail

I see that little Scotty Walker has been in the news in Wisconsin trying to stomp on unions.

Now, I’m a lifelong Good Republican Woman. I voted for Alf Landon and every Republican candidate since (with the sole exception of George W. – that boy was dumb as mud). I believe that big business should be able to boss workers around if they want, whether they are in America or one of our many tribute nations. I fully support microchipping, chemical castration and welded on manacles if that’s what it takes for me to be able to buy a bespoke Galliano dressing gown and have it air freighted to Spokane for under $15000.

(I’ve noted before that although most of my horrible stories are about Republicans, I’m sure that that is just because I have spent so much of my life with Republicans, rather than that most Republicans are horrible people. I must try to think of a horrible story about a Democrat.)

Despite being a lifelong GRW, even I know that Scotty has overshot on this one. He seems as dumb today as he was in school back in Plainfield – dumb as a banana split with extra chunky nuts and a side serve of mean.

Let me explain. I was a primary school teacher for much of the seventies. We moved around a lot because my husband Keith’s cover for the last part of the decade was as a high ranking Klan official.

We lived in Plainfield, Iowa for a couple of years, and I taught Scotty when he was at the local primary school. I remember he used to look at me as if I was speaking Cantonese, when all I was trying to do was get him to put his pants back on after I’d changed his nappy.

Anal incontinence is so unpleasant in a nine year old.

I caught that boy torturing a cat one day. At least, he was trying to torture it, but he’d let one paw escape and it had hooked one claw right through his nose and out one nostril. He’d immediately stood up in shock, and so the cat was hanging full stretch from his nose, yowling like Ayn Rand on a coke bender, while he flapped his arms and batted at it with both hands.

I didn’t see him for years after we moved towns again, until I was at a Slate party in the mid nineties, where poor dumb Scotty was in the corner having a frighteningly similar experience involving Megan McArdle and a drop zirconia earring.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Putting the crazy in “crazy eyes”

Twice the crazy at half the price

I met Michele Bachmann back in about 1993 when she was setting up her New Heights Charter School in Stillwater.

From day one, she was skimming the cream off the books. The school’s stationery bill tripled after the first month, mainly due to the number of boxes of pens and pencils and paper that would come in one door and go straight out the back into Michele’s station-wagon. It bought an extra bus, which spent most the time parked outside Michele’s house, when it wasn’t ferrying her enormous brood of children and foster children to ballet classes and gridiron matches. She would sneak into the staff room, steal a box of chocolate biscuits from the storeroom and then sit and eat the whole lot at one sitting, leaving all the packets on the floor for someone else to clean up.

Directors’ meetings were a veritable orgy of French champagne and caviar. She’d sit there in her big Eames chair (which was, of course, bought by the school, but somehow ended up in her house a few years later), waving a glass of Pol Roger, and declaiming about the “12 Christian Principles” or how “Snow White” was a paganistic, bisexual, group-sex porn film made by the godless elites to harm good god-fearing children.

Denise Stephens and I finally reached the end of our tether when she tried to get the school to open another school in Waumandee in Wisconsin, purely by coincidence on a piece of farm land Michele’s family had been trying to flog off for ten years. That land was so contaminated by chemicals that any dairy cow that stepped onto it would curl up its tail and drop straight down dead.

This was about the time Michele tried to introduce compulsory Creationism classes and ban the school from showing “Aladdin” at the Under-6’s Merit evening. I always suspected that she hated that film because Jafar looked so much like her.

She fronted up to the Board meeting reeking of scotch and hepped up on Ritalin she’d snaffled from one of her many foster-children. Five minutes in, once the crowd had quietened down, Denise stood up and started her speech.

Now, Denise is one of those good Republican women you don’t get very often any more. Rational, sensible, and with an abiding belief in fair play and Christian charity.

Denise slowly and quietly began to outline her concerns, but two minutes in Michele stood up, swaying from side to side, and moving her head from side to side to try and focus her scary snake eyes on Denise. Then she began squawking like a toucan on crack “Are you going to question my integrity?”, over and over again, getting louder each time. I honestly thought she was having a fit, or her brain had just broken.

“Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? My integrity? Are you going to question my integrity? Are you questioning my integrity? Are you questioning my integrity? ARE you QUESTIONING MY FUCKING INTEGRITY?”

At last something snapped and she screamed at the top of her voice, “You can’t handle a woman of my integrity. I resign, you fucking atheist bitches”, let out an enormous shriek, pegged her water glass at Denise’s head and ran out of the room still shrieking like a fox that was being waterboarded.

I never saw her again. I understand she managed to get a lot of government subsidies for not farming on her land – not that you could plant a crop on that land without it melting – and then convinced some poor sucker to put his dairy cows onto it.

It seems she’s worked out a much better way to get suckers to pay for her champagne and chocolate binges too.

“Exploratory Committee”, my wrinkled old ass.

In which David Brooks embarrasses himself again…


David Brooks came to visit us at the Shady Pines Home for the Violently Senile in about 2006. He was invited to give a little talk by the Chairman of our management board, Doctor Phelps. This was, of course, despite my strident objections.

His speech was going to be about “Living in the Future Tense” or some such tripe, which I though was a bit rich, given that he was speaking to a group of people who barely remember the past and present tenses, let alone the future subjunctive.

I was selected to meet-and-greet him, because I had been behaving myself that month. He didn’t seem to recognize me from that embarrassing incident many years before with Ayn Rand. His talk was the usual guff, and he struggled to be heard over the snoring.

Afterwards he was bailed up in the corner by Marge Albrechtson.

Now, Marge is quite doolally. In fact, she’s as mad as a fish. She thinks she is a chamber pot half the time and, I have to say, she’s slightly more coherent at those times. The rest of the day she just babbles a glossolalia mostly consisting of swear words interspersed with farting noises. She also has quite bad incontinence and refuses point blank to wear her Depends. I had been sneaking apple juice to her all morning in case of such an eventuality.

Sandra Frazer, Gloria Peters and I were guzzling all the free champagne at the buffet table and ignoring his frantic signals for one of us to rescue him.

Marge burbled away at Davey for at least half an hour before he managed to escape. He rushed up to us, wringing cold urine out of his trouser cuffs, and started to complain bitterly about being forced to listen to the senseless rantings of an incontinent loon.

At which point Sandra Frazer said, “Well, now you know how the rest of us felt.”

He left shortly thereafter.

I did manage to slip some laxatives into his slice of Battenberg cake, which gave me some quiet satisfaction.

Bad eggs

Image: Filomena Scalise /

There was a woman called Jill Carter who used to come to my church.

When there was a bring-and-buy, she never brought anything. When there was a bake sale, she never baked anything. When there was a wake, she used to show up late and snaffle all the whiskey punch.

Meanest woman I ever did meet.

Of course one day, Father O’Reilly fronted her and the next time she came to a bake sale she brought a bundt cake that killed half the Simmons family with salmonella.

Sometimes you have to leave bad enough alone.

Image: Filomena Scalise /

Don’t drink the chamomile tea

Arsenic and Old Lace

I haven’t been able to drink chamomile tea since 1984 when I was a judge on the Miss Alaska beauty pageant.

Being something of an expert in the art of deportment, I was asked to spend some time with all the girls in the days leading up to the pageant. You would not find a nicer group of young ladies – fine, salt of the earth women – with the exception of young Miss Sarah Heath.

I knew when I first saw her that she was a climber who would claw her way over the half-dead bodies of her parents if she thought it would get her mug on television. She had that same cold, mean urgent look in her eyes that Ayn Rand always had – as if someone else had dropped a dollar in church but not noticed, and she wanted to scrabble about on the floor to find it, and the only thing holding her back was the thought that God might see.

Sarah used to make chamomile tea for all the judges. She’d make a big pot, enough for perhaps ten or fifteen people. Then she’d portion it out into little cupfuls of smarm, and bat her eyelashes and say to me “Oh, Mrs Howard, I have some chamomile tea to spare, and I thought of you.”

However, she never gave any tea to any of the other girls. They’d ask and she’d say “I’m afraid I don’t have any to spare”, and then hide that teapot (which just you knew was still half full) under some towels as if giving away some hot yellow water was going to ruin the family fortune. Oh, she was as mean as a rat with a chocolate truffle.

Then, the day of the pageant, she suddenly started doling out that tea to the other contestants as if Jesus himself had come down for the weekend to check on how generous people were being. None for the judges, but even if one of the girls said they didn’t want any, she’d say “I’ll just leave a cupful for you here in case you change your mind.”

It’s funny. Even with a large majority of the contestants that day showing clear signs of having been doped with cheap crystal meth – one poor girl absolutely freaking out on stage convinced the doves from her magic act were trying to kill her, another sitting staring at her own feet and blubbering about the “terrible claws” – Sarah still only managed to come third.

I mean, really, did you see that flute performance? In that cheap lace blouse and the Margaret Thatcher hair cut, she looked like a cut price Detective Mary Beth Lacey without the fashion sense, the comic timing and the ability to shoot a gun properly.

We gave her Miss Congeniality, of course, because none of us wanted to wake up with a moose head in the bed next to us.

She’s much slicker now, I admit, but if you look in her eyes you can still see the young girl in the ugly blouse who thought that everyone else in the world was stupid and would never see through her tricks.

Cheap trash can become rich trash, but mean and dumb is forever.

[Edited to fix Sarah’s maiden name. My old mind does play tricks on me sometimes. Thanks to Raven for his polite and timely correction.]