Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Three New Broomsticks
Next in the series first shown on Chocolate and Zucchini
Once upon a time... in a small town where nobody believed in such things as magic or faeries or witches or any of that kind of nonsense there lived in a quiet house a quiet man. He was a genteel man, kind and charming to all he met, but very quiet for all that.
His house was a charming house with a quiet cat who sat in the window for the morning sunlight. At the back of the house the quiet man made all kinds of wooden objects. Boxes, linen chests, and even toys were quietly made by the quiet man. Other than that he took coffee at eight o'clock in the morning after feeding the cat and read the newspaper quietly. He would take a short walk and return to place his hat on the hat stand and his coat on the coat stand. He would greet the cat who would reply by shutting both eyes slowly and peaceably while purring softly.
Now outside the front of his quiet house there was a small square with trees and hedges and a pair of benches where people passing could read their newspapers or books or just take a rest in the morning sunlight.
One morning, three old women strode into the square and sat on the benches. They were very old and very wise and dressed in black. Long black dresses, long black boots in what looked like crocodile but not quite - dragon possibly. From the inside of their boots to the top were little mother of pearl buttons. Over each of their shoulders each woman had a bag and each wore a shawl of the blackest cashmere. They might have been old but they were fashionable. They were sisters and were called - Cora, Dora and Nora. Cora was the youngest and Dora the oldest, but Nora was the middle one and she was always getting interested old men following her. But this morning was different for the old men were still in their beds.
Cora took her knitting from her bag and began to knit a long sleeve. Dora took her glasses from her bag, perched them on the end of her nose and took a book, which she continued to read with a sigh of contentment. Nora took a small paper bag from her bag and after some rustling took out a pain au chocolat which she began to eat slowly, savouring every bite. She really was quite something was Nora. It's no wonder old men were interested in her.
At half past eight the quiet man opened his door and stepped out into the sunlight. He shut the door behind him and took a deep breath. Then he walked across the square. He raised his hat to the three women and politely wished them good morning.
The women answered, "A fine morning for a flight if a bird had wings."
The quiet man agreed and continued with his walk. When he returned the women had gone, but it was enough. He entered his quiet house, placed his hat on the hat stand, his coat on the coat stand, greeted the cat as usual and passed through the house to the workshop at the back.
He chose three fine oak shafts and gathered from his little garden three bunches of hazel twigs. Now he went to work slowly placing the hazel twigs together. He took from a box three silver wires and bound them around the tops of the oak shafts tightly.
Lady Woodacre came in around half past nine for the jewellery box she had ordered and commented that the silver was surely a waste for such sensible things as brooms.
"The servants will only remove the silver and sell it. Copper would be more practical and less of a temptation." she advised.
"My Lady may have a point." the quiet man answered softly.
Lady Woodacre oohed and aahed over the beauty of the jewellery box which she was sure she adored. She paid him six gold ducats for it and left glad to have been of help to him.
The quiet man gathered the first bunch of hazel twigs and washed them in fresh rainwater gathered after a storm. He shook them dry and left them to dry completely. Now he gathered three crow feathers, three seagull feathers and bound them about the first of the oak shafts with birch bark strips. When the hazel twigs were dry he bound them about the first of the oak shafts with more birch bark strips. Now he had a broom, but he was not finished yet. He trimmed the hazel twigs at the shaft end and wove raw wool about the cut ends of the twigs. Now that was the first broom.
He was about to start on the second when Old George came in for something, but began to chat and forgot what it was he'd come in for. The quiet man put the kettle on and took tea with Old George. This took two hours and by then it was time for lunch. Old George had to get to the library to meet his daughter. He would ask her what it was he had come to the quiet man for. The quiet man shook hands with Old George and saw him out.
The cat now sat in the doorway to the workshop and meowed. After all, it was time for lunch. The quiet man came into the house and fed the cat some scraps of chicken. The rest of the chicken he put into some pasta made using the absorption method that a charming young woman had told him about in a cafe.
After lunch he returned to the workshop and found himself facing three curious faces. The Wilder children lived across the square from the quiet man and he would make them wooden puzzles. He had made a ship for Mary Wilder with a crew of cats in little jackets painted in blue with red collars. Valerie Wilder was given a sensible writing/drawing box which opened out into a desk and contained all she would need to draw or write. Tom Wilder was given a large nutcracker in the shape of an un-magical elf which nobody would consider magical at all. He talked to them and they commented on the wonder of his gifts and which bits they liked most and what they would make if they were able.
They were followed by John Jackson and his cousin Jack Johnson (truly!) who had asked the quiet man for tool boxes. He gave them the tool boxes and hoped they would suffice. John and Jack were delighted and talked also before they too left. The day continued in much the same way, but the quiet man did not turn anyone away nor politely cut anyone short.
By the evening, after supper he finished the broomsticks and in the very early morning placed them outside against the tree in front of his house. This done, he went to his bed until seven o'clock. Vaguely, as he settled to his bed he heard boots treading into the square and the voices of old women. Then he slept.
At eight o'clock he poured his coffee sleepily and sipped it while he read his paper absent-mindedly. Beside the coffee pot a small bag appeared, but he did nothing about it. Instead, almost automatically he left the house for his walk. He went across the square, past the church through the park and back past the museum and the church.
When he got to the little square he greeted Cora, Dora and Nora and wished them good morning politely.
"Good enough to fly like the birds." they answered him.
He smiled and went indoors, placed his hat on the hat stand and his coat on the coat stand. The cat on the window watched as the three old women hopped onto their broomsticks and flew away. He peaceably closed his eyes slowly and purred. He may have remembered the wind whistling through his fur once, but he said nothing.