The sender of the email was A. Godbin.
Vera Twinch didn’t recognise the name. She was most particular about emails. If she didn’t know the sender, she simply consigned the unopened message to the bin, having learnt all about spam and the germs they carried. She’d twice clicked on links in a strange email, resulting in an infected computer–and a large bill from her IT guru-ess, Amrita.
But the email from A. Godbin had the subject line, ‘Post Box Topper Outrage’, and Vera hadn’t been able to resist opening it.
As she read, a slow scream gathered in her throat. How dare he… or she… or in this society with its surfeit of political correctness… how dare they?
A. Godbin certainly had a nerve, whatever his, her or their gender. Vera rummaged through her well-organised brain, but she was certain there was no one in Creaping Bottom by that name. It was only a small village, and she knew everyone, as well as members of their extended families. She even knew the names of their houses and their pets. Unable to believe it, Vera reread the message.
Dear Mrs Twinch,
I am emailing regarding the recent outrage that you and your club, The Creaping Bottom Post Box Topper Society, perpetrated on the letterbox in the High Road last weekend. I understand from passers-by that it is supposed to represent January and that you intend to commit a similar outrage on the village’s only letterbox each month for the rest of the year. I have no idea what a cow pat, a squashed insect and sleeping chicken have to do with January. I suspect this owes more to an inflated idea of your artistic abilities than to a desire to serve our community. I dread to think how you might massacre February and subsequent months.
I have reported the disgrace to the local constabulary; however, I do not feel they have treated my complaint with the seriousness it deserves. Be assured, I will not rest until the matter has been fully investigated and dealt with to my satisfaction. The police inspector is a member of the local golf club of which I am a committee member, and I am confident he will agree with me that the offending article must be removed with all haste.
Of course, you could save me the trouble and simply remove the eyesore yourself and desist from further installations. I would be most grateful.
Vera stared at the email for several minutes. Yes, it definitely said what she’d thought it had said the first time she’d read it. She pressed the forward button and entered the names of the four other members of the Creaping Bottom Post Box Topper Society.
Petronella Asquelch, Stuart McPhail, Sally Bobbin and Levi von Regenschirm.
She pressed the Send button. A. Godbin’s offensive email left her inbox with a whoosh.
The club had started as a knit-and-natter group, the members of which had grown bored with knitting squares. When Petronella had seen a blog about Christmas post box toppers, she’d suggested they make one to decorate the letterbox outside the post office in the High Road as a Christmas project.
Vera had crocheted the bonnet, which fitted snugly over the top. After purchasing a hardcover copy of The Anatomy of the British Pillar Box, she discovered the top was referred to as the ‘roof’ by post box enthusiasts. Now, she was now thoroughly conversant with all anatomical terms relating to post boxes.
The other items for the topper–two snowmen and a Christmas tree–should have been fixed on the roof. However, although the crocheted bonnet had been straightforward, the other items proved to be infinitely more complicated. Eventually, after they’d produced eleven mutant snowmen and five Christmas bushes, they’d agreed their effort wouldn’t be ready in time.
Nothing daunted, Vera knew there were months in which to hone their skills before next Christmas to ensure the snowmen and Christmas tree looked… well, as realistic as woollen snowmen and trees could be.
Levi von Regenschirm had practised knitting a menorah for next December, creating a multi-faith theme. While Vera offered Levi encouraging platitudes, she consoled herself with the knowledge there were still months for him to practise. She certainly didn’t want to discourage him for fear he’d think she was discriminating against Hanukkah. But he was going to have to find a way to stiffen the arms of the menorah candelabrum. His earlier attempts had given poor Sally quite a turn. Levi had flapped it up and down, demonstrating the drooping arms of the candelabrum. He’d done an admirable job of exhibiting their floppiness, but had been completely unprepared for Sally’s response. Her scream had reached the Creaping Arms pub, where patrons had hurried into the High Road, fearing a murder had taken place. As Sally had explained after they’d picked her up off the floor and Vera had wafted smelling salts under her nose, Levi’s menorah had looked remarkably like a hairy-legged spider.
Vera was determined that by the end of the year, the group would be able to create convincing snowmen, Christmas trees and a menorah. Possibly even some holly, crackers and an angel. She’d wondered about an entire nativity scene, but perhaps that should wait until the following Christmas… In the meantime, they’d concentrate on her latest project.
Such had been the enthusiasm, the January post box topper had been finished rapidly–in fact, it had probably taken longer to decide what to make than actually creating the pieces. They’d planned to knit the letters to spell out January, but ‘J’, ‘A’ and ‘N’ had proved so tricky, they’d decided to stop there.
Stuart had suggested that since Burns Night took place in January, he’d like to make a set of bagpipes and a haggis. Petronella had done her very best with a cockerel on a weathervane and a puffy, rain-bearing cloud to show the storms that were often experienced during the month. And the entire topper had looked splendid.
So, how could he–Vera was certain that A. Godbin was a he–how could he possibly have confused the haggis, bagpipes and weathervane with a cow pat, a squashed insect and a sleeping chicken? Although, to be fair, the cockerel listed to one side and didn’t look too lively. Had the stupid man thought the cloud was a pillow? No, surely not. It was obviously a cumulo-nimbus. Everyone knew gales blew in January. As for the cow pat… Vera had never seen one so… well, so well-formed. On the other hand, she’d never seen a haggis either. But a tartan insect? No, A. Godbin obviously didn’t possess even a modicum of imagination.
And anyway, what else could they have chosen? January didn’t contain many major events. And it wasn’t even many people’s favourite month. Even the dismal grey wool she’d chosen for the bonnet–which she noted with satisfaction, A. Godbin hadn’t criticised–told its own story.
A reply to the forwarded email arrived in her inbox from Levi. It contained a single word–not a word she approved of, or ever used. She wouldn’t fill up her computer with vulgarity. Vera deleted his email. She’d got the message.
The others would reply soon. Well, if A. Godbin thought she’d give up, he’d better think again. February’s post box topper was going to be an extravaganza.
If A. Godbin wanted a fight, Vera was ready. Let the Creaping Bottom Post Box Topper Wars begin. She rubbed her hands together. Bring it on…
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