This story was commissioned by BishopBerkley, who takes credit for the underlying plot. It features Sarah, star of some of the Bishop’s own works. It should come as little surprise that the story contains knockabout slapstick, relentless victimisation, and familial relations that some may regard as unhealthy.
“So we’ve got a coconut shy, a tombola, a guess-how-many-sweets-in-the-jar, and a whack-a-rat. The missus is doing face-painting, and the rugby squad are competing in a strongest man contest.” Bill concluded his list. “Anything to add?”
“Farmer Johnson has to agreed to do a sheepdog demonstration,” Stuart, his son, informed him.
“Very good.” Bill jotted it down. “That just leaves something for Sarah to get stuck into…” The older man shared a smirk across the table.
“How about we put her in charge of the bouncy castle?” Stuart suggested.
“Not sure that’ll pass health and safety,” Bill replied. “The poor girl’ll give herself two black eyes!” He and Stuart guffawed. In the corner of the office, Stuart’s son Andrew glanced up from his Snapchat and grinned too. Sarah’s ample chest was a perennial source of mirth and banter in the town of Wamsey, to the extent that even her father, brother and nephew cracked jokes without it seeming inappropriate or creepy.
“Maybe we could stick her in a tent and have her tell fortunes,” Bill proposed.
“Nah, too confusing for the punters,” Stuart retorted. “She’ll say ‘look into my big globe’, and they’ll say ‘which one?’” More chortles ensued between the three males.
Andrew lowered his phone. “How about a gunge booth?” he ventured.
Stuart, being of the generation to know what gunge is, responded with a growing smile. Bill, meanwhile, frowned blankly.
“Basically, Auntie Sarah sits on a chair and people pay to pour buckets of slop or messy food over her,” Andrew explained.
Bill stroked his chin. “Nice idea, but will it turn a profit? Food ain’t cheap these days.”
“We can ask local shops and restaurants to donate their out-of-date stock,” Andrew said, eyes glinting. “I’m sure our good friend Chef will be willing to help.”
“Good thinking,” said Bill, chuckling as he recalled the pranks they’d pulled on Sarah over Christmas dinner. “But that reminds me: Sarah was rather sour over that restaurant incident. What if she kicks up too much of a fuss?”
Stuart’s eyes flitted deviously. “Let’s tell her it’ll be a wet sponge throw. By the time she learns the truth it’ll be too late.”
“And we can announce to the crowd that her protests are all part of her act, to entertain the kiddies.” Andrew added. “That way, no-one will get alarmed if she plays up.”
“I like it,” remarked Bill, appending his list with a satisfied squiggle of blue biro. “And if Sarah doesn’t, too bad; she’s missed her chance to have a say.” He checked his watch and tutted. “I told her very clearly the meeting would be at three o’clock. You don’t know of any reason why she might be late, Andrew?”
Andrew, feeling the indentation of car-keys in his jeans pocket, shrugged.
Sarah had searched high and low for the car-keys, and already it was five past three. She’d have to take the bus. Puffing with exasperation, she slammed the front door and strutted out.
The bus was approaching along the street – lucky timing, provided she could reach the stop in time. She broke into an awkward jog, every item of clothing impeding her haste. Her short, scarlet pencil skirt constricted her thighs; her handbag swung against her side; her bosoms jiggled in her white, low-cut top. But most of all, her high-heels forced her to run in the most unseemly posture, clopping precariously on the pavement as she went.
SNAP! Within yards of the bus-stop, her right heel sheared off, spinning away into the hedgerow. She swore, but kept jogging, ridiculous in her asymmetric gait. But at least she reached the stop in time. She leant out, raising a hand to the looming double-decker. But the bus showed no sign of slowing…
SLLOOOOSH!! The bus roared past, ploughing up a puddle from the roadside. A wall of muddy water slapped against Sarah, soaking her stockings, skirt and top, and whipping her blonde hair over her face.
As the bus steamed onwards, Sarah stood frozen in place, her hand still outstretched for the ride denied her. Her white top stuck frigidly to her torso on one side, stained brown but also turning see-through. Her skirt dripped, her tan stockings besmirched.
Slowly, Sarah retracted her hand, peeled her soggy hair from her mouth, and spat. Shock subsided to fury; what was that driver playing at?! She whipped round in pursuance of the number plate, but the vehicle was already vanishing round a corner. She swore again and stamped her deheeled shoe.
She decided she would at least use the situation to retrieve the errant heel; her brother Stuart was handy with the super-glue. Crouching on the pavement, she peered under the privet hedge that flanked the street. She crawled along, wincing at the uncomfortable wetness of her clothing.
There it was!
The heel gleamed amidst the soil. She reached under, aiming to pincer it with her long nails, but inadvertently sent it rolling away. Cursing, she slid onto her front and stretched under the hedge. Soil stuck to her wet top and branches scratched her arms. Another failed attempt nudged the heel yet further away. She burrowed in deeper.
Clammy warm air graced the back of her leg. A brush of gross wetness startled her further. A male voice from the street confirmed her fears: “Come away, Bruno!”
Sarah gasped; she hated dogs! The mutt continued to explore, its breath at the hem of her skirt.
“Bruno, come away! Leave the lady be!” But the voice spoke mainly with amusement, rather than demanding obedience.
With a spirited woof, the dog grabbed a stocking-top in its teeth, dragging the stocking down her leg. Sarah screamed. She scrambled forward, not caring for the branches that snagged her, and emerged into a tidy garden.
A shower of water greeted her face and cleavage. Then it swept away. Then it returned to splash her again. It was a lawn sprinkler.
“OI!! ME ’EDGE!” Beyond the lawn, a bald man with a sandy-coloured beard shook a fist from his window. Behind Sarah, the dog continued to molest her; it filched her good shoe from her foot. She crawled onwards and staggered to her feet, intermittently splashed by the sprinkler. The householder was at the door now, brandishing a golf club. Sarah legged it across the lawn and scaled a panel fence, wooden splinters laddering the remaining stocking.
She tumbled into the next garden. A silver-haired businessman, half out of his suit, entwined a much younger, bikini-clad brunette on a sun-lounger.
The brunette shrieked and leapt up. “Is that your wife?!”
“Of course it isn’t,” scoffed the man. “My wife doesn’t go around in that kind of state!”
“Uh, sorry. Just passing through.” Sarah jogged across the garden.
“Nice rack though!” he leered after her.
Sarah clambered over the next fence. This garden was concreted over, and a snarling told her she wasn’t alone. Not another dog!
It was an ugly black one, its fangs bared, its gums blood-red. Behind it, an equally gristly skinhead glared. His neck was so thick that his shoulders and head were contiguous.
The canine pounced.
“Yeep!!” Sarah vaulted back over the fence, barks echoing behind her. The adulterous couple gawped as she made a return trip past them, then it was over the fence into the first garden, where the bald, bearded man was inspecting the damage to his precious privet.
“OI!!” he roared. “COME ’ERE, YOU!”
Golf club raised, he gave chase. Several times he and Sarah encircled the sprinkler, then she leapt over it in a bid to escape, enduring a cold spray up her skirt. With a parting stomp on the old duffer’s marigolds, she sprung over the opposite fence.
Sarah careened head-first into a side-street, and it was to her mixed fortune that an open wheely-bin was there to break her fall. SPLUT! She sank in, her legs flailing from the rim.
In her struggles she tipped the bin and fought her way out. One side of her hair was infused with spaghetti hoops, the other with scraps of cabbage. Her top was soaked with an unidentified green substance and a fish-head peeped from her cleavage.
“Euuughhh!!” Sarah flung away the fish-head and brushed herself down as best she could. She limped back to the main street, carrying herself with as much dignity as she could muster, directing her indignation at pedestrians who stared and cars that honked.
A ladder leant across the pavement. Sarah was about to scuttle under, but then checked herself. She looked up. A bucket perched on the rung beneath the window-cleaner’s feet.
Bad luck, she told herself, and smugly diverted around the ladder. Unfortunately, the remaining section of kerb was narrow and the hapless woman’s wet feet lost their footing. She slipped sideways, barging into the ladder. The bucket toppled, plonking squarely onto her head and sending a wave of soapy water over her already ruined attire. Even well-established superstitions had it in for Sarah today.
“Did the fake bus-stop work?” Andrew typed into Snapchat. His eyes glowed with glee as he read his friend’s response.
Meanwhile, Bill droned on about insurance and council permits for the fundraiser. “…And that concludes the agenda,” he eventually said, ticking off the last item on his list. “Saturday should be a great success. Thanks for your time, gents.” He rechecked his watch, frowning. “Pity Sarah isn’t as dedicated to this undertaking.”
“She’s dedicated to her underwiring instead!” quipped Stuart, to which the men laughed.
“Hang about – here she is now!” Andrew exclaimed, pointing to the window.
Sure enough, Sarah sloped wearily up the driveway. Her top was a nasty green-brown, ripped in a couple of places and clinging to her contours. Her hair draped in a tangled rope over one shoulder. Her skirt too was splotched and sodden, her handbag had seen better days, and she’d discarded what was left of her stockings and shoes. Her feet sported a pair of cheap trainers, which she’d had to buy from a sports shop, much to the bemusement of the staff.
Bill stared at his daughter as she entered. “Blimey Sarah, you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards!”
Andrew was bursting to say “wriggled through one forwards, actually.” But that would have revealed his involvement in the calamity, so he bit his lip.
“Sorry I’m late,” mumbled Sarah. “I couldn’t find my car-keys.” She pulled out a chair next to her brother, but he had other ideas.
“You smell like a dustbin!” he complained, screwing his face. “Go and sit in the corner, for goodness’ sake.”
Sarah picked up her chair and shamefacedly crossed the office. In particular she felt Andrew’s gaze on her, and avoided returning eye contact. Whenever these bouts of misfortune befell her – and they frequently did – her nephew took a most maddening enjoyment in them.
But had she not tried so hard to ignore Andrew, she might have noticed him dropping her keys into her handbag as she slouched past.
“Better late than never, I suppose,” grumbled Bill. “But the meeting’s over; we’ve already covered all the points.”
“Unlike you,” sniggered Andrew. Sarah peered down to discover her nipples brazenly protruding through the wet fabric. Embarrassed, she crossed her arms over her chest.
Bill continued. “But you’ll be pleased to hear that we found a role for you: you’re going to be sitting in the gun—”
Stuart coughed emphatically and signalled to Bill with his eyebrows.
“…Sitting in the, uh, wet sponge booth,” Bill corrected himself.
“Wet sponge booth!?” cried Sarah. “You mean, you’re going to throw wet sponges at me?”
“Not just us,” said Bill. “Members of the public too. I reckon they’ll pay good money for the privilege.”
“Especially with such generous targets to aim for!” added Stuart.
Sarah stamped her foot. “No! I’m not doing that.”
“Not raising money for those poor children?” Bill frowned. “For shame!”
“Alright, I’ll do it,” sulked Sarah. “But not all day long. It’s only fair we take turns.”
“Sarah, I’d love to take a turn,” Bill shrugged. “But I have to stay in charge of the beer tent. Big responsibility, being the licence-holder.”
Sarah’s prompting glare progressed to Stuart, but he too had an excuse ready. “I gotta take the admissions money on the gate.”
Sarah harrumphed. “In that case, Andrew can take turns with me.” Despite the dreadful day she was having, she raised a little smirk at the thought of her insolent nephew on the receiving end for once.
Stuart shook his head. “Andrew’s on camera duty.”
“That’s right,” said Andrew smugly. “I’m gonna record everything for posterity.” He flashed his infuriating grin at Sarah. “Everything.”
“Right, glad that’s all sorted,” said Bill, putting away his paperwork. “Pub time, Stuart.”
Stuart got his feet. “Sarah, don’t forget you’re taking Andrew to McDonald’s while Dad and I have a pint.”
Sarah’s face fell yet further. “Look at me! I need to go home and have a shower!” Getting no sympathy, she continued: “And anyway, I haven’t got my car with me.”
“Borrow mine,” said Bill, chucking over his keys. “But dry yourself first; I don’t want the seats getting spoilt.”
Sarah opened her handbag to stash away the keys, then stopped short at the sight within. “But that’s impossible,” she whispered. “I looked…”
“Aren’t those your car-keys, Auntie Sarah?” said Andrew, peering over. “They were in your handbag the whole time!”
The men groaned at Sarah’s ditziness. “You’d lose your knockers if they weren’t screwed on!” sighed Stuart.
“One large Big Mac meal with strawberry milkshake, and nine chicken nuggets,” said the woman at the window, handing over the wares. She pulled a face when she clocked the state Sarah was in.
“I prefer eat-in to drive-thru,” Andrew complained as they pulled away.
“Too bad,” said Sarah grimly. “I’ve had enough of people gawping at me.”
“Better get used to it for Saturday!” Andrew goaded. “Hold my fries for me, Auntie.”
“I didn’t say hold them in your hands.” Andrew tucked the carton of fries into Sarah’s cleavage, causing her to yelp at the hot, greasy cardboard between her tits. He emptied two sachets of barbecue sauce over the fries, being deliberately careless in his aim.
“Andrew!” snarled Sarah. A gherkin slice bounced off her cheek.
“Why do they put these things in? No-one likes them,” remarked Andrew nonchalantly.
“I’m not putting up with this,” Sarah seethed.
“Putting up with what?”
“You. Your attitude. It’s out of order the way you behave.”
“What you gonna do about it?” challenged Andrew. “Dad and Granddad always side with me. They think it’s funny.” Reaching over to take a fry, he prodded her in the side of the boob. “Tough titty!”
“Stop that!” demanded Sarah, her voice cracking. “Stop it or I’m stopping the car.”
Andrew prodded again, harder. “Tough, tough titty!”
“Right!” Sarah pulled into the kerbside. As she did so, a thick pink liquid splashed her side, sticking to her hair, face, arm and boob. Pungent synthetic strawberry filled the air. In the passenger seat, Andrew sat with the empty milkshake cup.
“Look what you’ve done, Auntie! Why did you brake so hard?!” But a grin betrayed his guilt.
Tears welled in Sarah’s eyes. “You slung it on purpose, you little rat!”
Andrew ignored the accusation. “You’ve got it on the seat and everything! Granddad won’t be pleased.”
A tear traced a path through the milkshake on Sarah’s cheek. She knew he was right. Choking back sobs, she restarted the car and drove on in silence.
She pulled in at the local valet, but after knocking several times and peering through the window, she ascertained that they’d already closed for the day. Sighing in frustration, she turned around to find Andrew brandishing the hose from the jet-wash.
“What are you doing with that?!” she cried with alarm. “Don’t you d—”
SWOOSH!! Sarah screamed as frigid water blasted her in the belly. Andrew swept the hose up and down, paying especial attention to the chest area. The jet was so forceful that it made Sarah’s boobs dance inside her top. Spluttering, she turned and ran, Andrew aiming for her bottom as she legged it.
“What’s the matter, Auntie? You said yourself you needed a shower!”
Saturday arrived, the sky blazing blue over Wamsey. Sarah gazed from her window, greeting the day with a philosophical optimism; how bad could a few damp sponges be? Probably quite refreshing in heat like this.
Opening a drawer, she selected a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. A black t-shirt, of course – that was essential, especially since Andrew would be let loose with his camera. She wasn’t going to give the snap-happy rotter the satisfaction of any embarrassing revelations. She packed the items into a holdall, along with some similarly practical underwear. She then placed the holdall by the front door, where it wouldn’t be forgotten.
This was to be her apparel for the booth, but Sarah was determined to at least arrive and depart with her hourglass figure adorned in something more stylish. First, the undergarments. She went for the works in black lace: a sensuous but supportive bra that pressed her cleavage together; panties that, while not thonged, left plenty of her rounded cheeks exposed to the air; silk stockings and a slender garter belt. Over this she slipped a short, baby-pink summer dress. It wasn’t that Sarah was trying to tart it up or attract anyone’s attentions; this was simply her view of feminine dressing, and she wouldn’t be seen dead at a social event – even a family fundraiser such as this – in anything less.
She smiled at the result in the mirror, letting her long blonde hair flow loose. The dress was just such a length that when she bent over or stretched a leg, a stocking-top peeped into view.
She froze. Reflected in the mirror, the door lay open a few inches. A face peered in the gap – black hair, impish eyes, that maddening grin. Sarah shrieked, fumbled to pull her dress down, whipped round to face the intruder. “Andrew! What are you doing here?!”
“Came to make sure you haven’t forgotten the big day,” Andrew said, matter-of-factly rather than proffering apology. “I let myself in.”
“This is my bedroom!” Sarah protested. “How long were you standing there?!”
“That’s something you’ll have to guess at,” Andrew taunted, pushing open the door. “Anyway, time to get going. You better have your car-keys to hand this time!”
Fuming at her nephew’s conduct, Sarah went downstairs and clumsily stepped into a pair of white high-heels.
“Come on Auntie, only twenty minutes to splashdown!” Andrew hustled her.
“Just one minute, if you don’t mind.” Sarah snatched up the holdall. The contents felt a little heavier and harder than she’d expected, but she didn’t think much of it. She fixed Andrew triumphantly as she placed the precious bag in the car; she knew he’d wanted her to forget it.
At the Wamsey Harlequins rugby ground, everything was falling into place – much of it into a large plastic tub attended by Stuart. “Taste the difference.” He emptied a pot of expired cottage cheese, donated by the local Sainsbury’s, into the brown slop. He stirred the morass with a short plank of wood, watching the white lumps of cheese float in their greasy slicks, jostling with carrot peelings and bits of eggshell.
“Here she comes,” said Bill, watching Sarah’s car screech across the gravel to a sudden stop. “Good thing that lass has built-in airbags.”
Not wanting to spoil the ‘surprise’, Stuart flung a tarpaulin over the collection of buckets and containers in his charge. But in any case, Sarah had no time to gauge her surroundings, what with Andrew prodding and jostling her across the field. Her destination was a wooden hut, painted in yellow and white stripes, that had been erected expressly for her to get changed in.
Two rugby players stood by, observing her noisy arrival with amusement. “Didn’t know they’d hired a juggler,” one remarked. He was Ned Savage, captain of the Harlequins – a towering figure with a crop of dark-brown hair and a lantern jaw.
Colin Butcher frowned, the analogy lost on him despite his eyes instinctively locking onto Sarah’s springing chest. Another stalwart of the squad, he possessed less height than Ned, but made up for it in shoulder-span. His shaven head was wide and squashed, aptly resembling a rugby ball, his creased brow in place of stitching.
Reaching the hut, Sarah slammed the swing-door in Andrew’s face, half expecting that he’d try to follow her in. He walked away dusting his hands off.
“She looks a handful or two!” Ned grinned as Andrew sauntered over.
“She’s my auntie,” Andrew said. “She’s volunteered for the gunge booth!”
“Gunge booth?” Ned raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have thought she’d be up for that – looks the precious sort.”
“Oh, she does it every year,” Andrew breezily lied. “Really hams it up, pretending to hate every moment, but it’s all an act. She’s a rugby girl, so she’s up for a bit of banter, a bit of rough and tumble.”
“Rugby girl, eh?” Colin grunted sceptically. “Never seen her at the matches.”
“Oh, you wouldn’t see her here.” Andrew glanced around shiftily. “Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but…”
Andrew’s voice quietened. “She follows the other team.”
Ned’s lantern jaw dropped. “You mean she’s a…” He stared at Colin, who for a few seconds returned a blank look. Then the penny dropped for the slower-witted player, horror spreading across his prolate face.
“A WOBBLER?!” they exclaimetd together.
“I’m afraid so,” Andrew nodded solemnly. “Been a Wobbler ever since her teens. A huge Wobbler! Maybe the biggest Wobbler in all of Wamsey.”
In addition to the Harlequins, who were rugby union, the town boasted a rugby league side: the Wamsey Warriors. Little surprise, a long-standing rivalry – hostility even – existed between the clubs. ‘The Wobblers’ was the disparaging name bestowed by the Harlequins upon the Warriors, who in return dubbed their adversaries ‘the Harlots’.
“She’s something of a mascot to them.” Andrew continued, revelling in his spiel. “Most weekends she’s lording it up on their team bus before the games, then necking snakebite with them in the pub afterwards.” He leaned in and whispered. “She spends a lot of time hanging round their changing rooms, too. What goes on I couldn’t say.”
“Is that so?” Ned stroked his jaw, a harsh glint coming to his eye. “We’ll have to make this gunging extra special for her!” He turned to Colin. “Go fetch the lads!”
Andrew wrung his hands. “Oh dear, I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. I hope you won’t be too harsh on poor Auntie!”
“We have to punish her; she’s a Wobbler!” The way Colin spat the word Sarah might well have been a child-killer. He marched off to the clubhouse.
“Please, don’t tell her I told you,” Andrew entreated Ned, laying on the fake anxiety. He glanced at the changing hut. “She’s been a while in there; I should see how she’s getting on.”
Inside the poky shack, Sarah had cast off her dress and stood in her underwear. Upon unzipping the holdall, a pair of yellow melons rolled out. Her change of clothes was nowhere to be seen.
“What?!” Sarah gasped. She shook the holdall in disbelief, but the only item to flutter out was a folded piece of paper.
She unfolded it: TOUGH TITTY!
The scoundrel! He must have switched the contents when he’d sneaked into her house! Sarah cursed. She’d have to face the sponges in her nice dress; it was the only option. She reached to retrieve it from the floor…
A hand slunk under the door and snatched the dress away. The garment was gone.
“ANDREW!!” screamed Sarah. “ANDREW! GIVE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!”
“Dear me, what’s up with her now?” said Stuart, hearing the bellows.
“She won’t come out,” Andrew shrugged. He’d already concealed the dress up his sleeve with a magician’s dexterity. “She’s making a fuss – as usual!”
“Should’ve given her a bigger changing booth,” sighed Bill. “Must be a tight squeeze with all three of them in there.”
“Come on Sarah!” called Stuart. “Folk are waiting out here!”
Sarah’s tantrum continued to emanate from the hut, but the walls muffled her words.
Bill scratched his head. “How are we going to get her out?”
“Maybe we can be of assistance,” said Ned grimly, nodding to his team-mates as they jogged out of the clubhouse. “Alright lads. We’ve got a bit of lifting to do.”
Four of the burly men went over to the hut, each crouching to grab a corner. “On the count of three: One! Two! THREE!!”
The rugby players lifted the hut until hoisted on their shoulders. Sarah had nowhere to hide, unveiled to the world in her black bra, panties, stockings, suspenders and stilettos. Her mouth stretched to a wide ‘O’ in response to her exposure. She wrapped an arm over her scantily-clad chest and clapped another across her partly bare buttocks.
The rugby players cheered lustily. Andrew snapped away on his camera. Mortified, Sarah fled.
“Stop her!!” ordered Ned.
The rugby players gave pursuit, forming a line in Sarah’s wake. Bill gave a nod to the brass band, who broke into a rendition of the Benny Hill chase theme. With her heels digging into the soft turf, and her boobs flopping about inside her bra, Sarah ran in a ludicrous manner. She weaved in and out of the fête’s various attractions, even negotiating an obstacle course set up by the local Army branch. Coconuts were sent rolling as she clattered past the shy. The rugby players could have easily caught her, but deliberately held back so as to make her look more of a fool. A growing crowd clapped along to the music as they looked on, assuming Sarah to be a willing stooge in a skit of seaside postcard humour.
As Sarah raced past a gardening stall, her eye caught a face she’d hoped never to see again – a bald man with a sandy-coloured beard. The recognition was mutual. “OI!! You’re the ’ooligan ’oo wrecked me ’edge!” The irate man grabbed a garden cane and joined the chase behind the rugby team.
Sarah was panting now, but she wasn’t giving up. A small gap beckoned in the fence ahead. She had no idea what she’d do after fleeing, stranded in town in only her undies, but it couldn’t be worse than being made a spectacle here. Putting on a spurt, she sprinted towards the opening.
A rope yanked taut across the gap, catching Sarah’s ankles. “AIIIGH!!!” She landed boobs-down in the dust.
Andrew stepped out from behind the fence, having laid the tripwire. “You don’t wanna leave now, Auntie. The fun’s just beginning!”
The rugby players scooped her from the ground, three of them carrying her underarm as they would a rugby ball. The gardener flicked his cane at her bare skin as they went.
“Now listen here, Andrew! You’ve gone too far this time – owww!!” The cane licked Sarah just above her hip. “You are in so much trouble!”
“Really, Auntie?” her nephew replied gleefully. “I think you’re the one that’s in trouble!”
Colin growled, “we know all about you and your dirty secret!”
“Do you now?” Sarah muttered.
“Yeah,” Ned said sharply. “You’re a Wobbler, aren’t you?”
“If you say so,” Sarah said wearily. She knew nothing about the local rugby scene, and assumed they were referring to her chest. “I’ve heard all the names before.”
“Well you’ll get more than names this time,” Colin threatened.
From Sarah’s sideways perspective, a paddling pool loomed ahead. A chair sat at its centre and a banner hung above, proclaiming: SAUCY SARAH’S SLOPPY SPECTACULAR. The words might have given her pause for thought, but she had plenty else on her plate at that moment. She was plonked roughly onto the chair, a pair of handcuffs promptly fastening her to its back.
“Hey! There’s no need for that!” she protested.
“After your that little excursion of yours, there’s every need!” her father told her with a wagging finger. “Ladies and gentlemen, lads and lasses, say hello to Saucy Sarah, who I have to say is, ahem, even saucier than we expected!”
“Yes, she’s certainly come dressed for the dads, hasn’t she?” said Stuart theatrically. A chorus of masculine cheers and “woo-hoo”s followed. Sarah’s cheeks burned crimson; her breathing was heavy from the chase, causing her buxom frontage to rise and fall in full sight.
Her brother continued: “Really Sarah, I understand it’s a nice day and you wanted something light and cool to wear, but wouldn’t a swimsuit have been more appropriate than the latest Ann Summers collection!?”
Hearty laughter ensued, causing Sarah to snap. “It was him!!” She instinctively tried to point but couldn’t with her hands cuffed. “Andrew! It’s his fault I’m like this!”
Stuart folded his arms and scoffed. “Now come on Sarah. It’s not your nephew’s responsibility to get you dressed in the morning, is it? You’re a big girl now.” He flashed an exaggerated wink to the audience. “Some would say a very big girl! Eh, gentlemen?”
More chortles and cheers. The crowd were loving Sarah’s ‘routine’, believing the whole thing had been scripted.
Bill carried over a washing-up tub filled with sponges and soapy water and placed it on a table about ten feet from Sarah. “Let’s start her off gently,” he murmured to Stuart. “I think she’ll blow her top if we bring out the gunge straight away.”
Stuart stood by the table. “So, ladies and gentlemen, lads and lasses, come chuck a soggy sponge at Saucy Sarah – one pound a time! Any takers?”
There were plenty of takers. Titillated dads, irked mums and boisterous kids all got in line. First up were a teenage girl and boy. The girl pitched a sponge, wringing wet. It socked Sarah right on the mouth.
“Oooo, fifty points!” Andrew enthused as he took photos. Sarah spat at the soapy taste, water dripping from her chin.
The boy threw even harder. With a “splud!” it bounced off Sarah’s right boob, leaving white soap suds on her black bra. “One hundred points!!” Andrew announced triumphantly. Sarah squirmed at the cold wetness spreading through the fabric of her bra.
Punter after punter stepped up to hurl a sponge. Sarah couldn’t parry the missiles, nor dodge them in any effective way, so had to take the stinging hits – on her legs, torso and face. Soon her stockings, hair and underwear were all sodden and soapy.
Meanwhile, to one side, the pound signs flashed in Bill’s eyes as each rugby player handed him a twenty, buying licence to do whatever they wished to his daughter. The gardener stomped off to arrange his own revenge. It was going to be a long afternoon.
Soon the sponges were finished. Stuart slung the remaining soapy water in Sarah’s face. “Well that was fun, wasn’t it ladies and gents? But it’s time to step things up a notch!”
Bill brought out a crate of cartons. “These were kindly donated by the local Aldi; they’re only a few months past their best-before so hopefully they won’t be too mouldy!”
Sarah stared agog. “What’s going on?!” she cried.
“We’re going to pour this slop over you, and much more besides!” Stuart announced. “That’s what going on!”
“But you said it would only be wet sponges!” Sarah bleated pathetically.
“Oh dear,” chuckled Stuart. “You may be my younger sister, but I didn’t know you were born yesterday!” Everyone laughed. He selected a carton of custard, shook it vigorously, and advanced upon her.
“No no no no no!” Sarah wrestled with the handcuffs, her feet kicking ineffectually. “This is completely unfair!” It was bad enough being stripped to her smalls in front of an audience, worse being assailed with wet sponges, but the thought of being gunged was more than she could bear.
“Hmm, she doesn’t seem too keen on this, does she?” Stuart stood with the carton poised. “But should we let her have it anyway?”
“YES!! LET’S!!” roared the spectators, guilt-free in their continued belief that Sarah was acting out.
“Nooo!!” cried Sarah, but the pour had begun. The custard snaked its way onto the crown of her head, garish yellow replacing her tasteful barley blond. Age had congealed the dessert and she felt the lumps plop onto her head. Now it flowed beyond her locks, onto her shoulders and back, taunting her bare skin. Her cringes and shrieks were countervailed by the public’s mirth, especially the children who gurgled with glee.
“She really puts herself into it, doesn’t she?” one well-to-do mother remarked to another.
“I must see if she’s available for hire,” the other replied. “She’d be perfect for my Joshua’s birthday party.”
The carton emptied, Sarah sat wearing her heavy shroud of shiny custard, dripping in disbelief and disgust. Her frustration increased when Andrew stepped up, brandishing a carton of rice pudding.
“What do we think, ladies and gents – another load here?” He made a tipping gesture over Sarah’s head. The crowd cheered keenly.
“Or how about here?” he positioned the carton over her cleavage. The crowd roared in approval, leaving no ambiguity as to their preference. He proceeded to pour – just a trickle at first – into the gorge. She squirmed as the lumpy rice pudding slid between her boobs and out onto her belly. Then Andrew broadened the pour, coating the tops of her boobs and much of her bra. The odour of gone-off milk sickened her.
“Tough titty,” He whispered in Sarah’s ear, causing her to snort with fury.
“That’s quite enough of that, you two!” Bill scolded Stuart and Andrew loudly. “You’re being very unkind!”
Sarah’s spirits soared; finally one of her family members was sticking up for her! She was about to open her mouth to agree with her father, when he spoke again.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves – keeping all the fun to yourselves while the good people of Wamsey are left waiting!” He shook his head before addressing the eager crowds. “Roll up! Roll up! Two pounds a carton!”
The spectators clamoured for ammo – not only custard and rice pudding, but semolina and tapioca too. Young and old, male and female, they all queued for their turn to sling, splash, spill and elseways send the soured slop over Sarah. Men lavished attention upon her chest and crotch area, and even poured it into her stockings. Kids threw it in her face with unremitting glee. By the time the crate was spent, she was a splotched mess, her stockings saturated. But if she thought it couldn’t get worse, she was wrong.
The rugby team returned from the clubhouse, each burly bloke carrying a large shaving-cream pie. “Sorry to disrupt the party, everyone, but I have a scandal to report,” Ned announced. “There’s a Wobbler in our midst!”
He pointed a denouncing finger at Sarah and the spectators booed in that pantomime-villain style. Sarah rolled her eyes under her custard coating.
“And we’re here to show what happens to Wobblers.” The players formed a line, each man readying his pie. Ned, at the front, charged towards Sarah. Leaping as he approached, he slammed his pie into her face, as if scoring a try.
The force rocked Sarah in her seat. Shaving foam exploded. The paper plate crumbled away in soggy pieces. But what aggrieved Sarah most lay in-between – a layer of baked beans. Some of the beans spilled down her chest, others clung to her face. Some had found their way into her mouth and even up her nose. She spluttered and spat.
A sea-change occurred. No longer was Sarah merely flummoxed, embarrassed and frustrated; she was stung, physically and emotionally. The jovial response of those watching stung her doubly. Neither shock nor sympathy came from any quarter.
Unable to wipe her eyes, Sarah could only blink away the harsh foam. She did so just in time to see the next rugby player charging at her, pie outstretched. She screamed, body tensed, as he bashed her in the boob. Stench and saltiness abounded; the pie’s filling was expired anchovy paste.
It continued, the muscular men hurtling toward her like steam-engines before whacking her with their wares. They weren’t vicious men at heart – most were family chaps with responsible weekday jobs – but the rough-and-tumble of the pitch had desensitised them to their own strength, and camaraderie was prone to get the better of them. And Andrew’s depiction of his auntie as a squally, snakebite-swigging rugby bird led them to think she could take it.
The audience too gave their stamp of approval – a low “oooo!” as each player took a run-up, then an “aaah!” in the aftermath of each hit. Andrew clicked away, getting action-shots. The fillings were as brutal as the delivery: plum tomatoes, pease pudding, sauerkraut, Stilton, raw egg and ravioli plastered poor Sarah.
Colin was last in line. Not a critical or nuanced thinker, he took the Harlequins-Warriors rivalry rather too much to heart. With a war-cry of “WOOOOBBBBBLEEERRR!!!” he lunged at his prey, socking her with an undercut to the chin. A cloud of white erupted from the impact; the pie was chock-full of flour.
Sarah was encrusted. The flour caked itself into every crevice, every facial orifice. As the cloud cleared she exhaled, generating a tongue of white like a dragon.
“Now now, Colin,” Ned admonished. “You’re meant to pie the lady in the face, not take her head off!”
“But she’s a Wobbler!” an unrepentant Colin reiterated.
Two of the players jogged over bearing a stainless-steel catering tray. “A donation of burnt onions from the burger stall,” they proudly announced. “And plenty of used grease!”
“I think that’s just what our Wobbler deserves!” Ned replied approvingly.
“But why?!?” Sarah’s voice was no longer petulant and peeved; it came thin and pitiful. “Just what have I done?!”
“They’re narked that you refuse to be a Harlot,” Andrew explained cheerily.
“Well I’m not a Harlot!” Sarah insisted in a tremulous tone. “I’m not lowering myself for their sick urges!” Ignorant of local rugby slang, she again conflated it with everyday parlance. “They can call me a Wobbler all they want, but I’ll never be a Harlot!”
The crowd booed and the Harlequins exchanged grim glances. “In that case,” Ned declared, “we shall show no mercy.” He nodded to his team-mates, who upended the catering tray above Sarah. The contents slid out in a single plop, grey curly onions draping atop Sarah’s already ruined hair like a Georgian wig. Black-brown grease dribbled down. Sarah gagged; she couldn’t bear it. But it was going to get yet worse.
“Sixteen years!” fulminated a male voice. It was the bearded gardener, glowering as he lugged a sack. “That’s ’ow long I’ve been winning best ’edge category at Wamsey in Bloom.”
He hunched over until his face levelled with Sarah’s, his wiry ginger beard filling her vision. Half an hour ago she might have quipped that he could still win Wamsey in Bloom with the ‘edge’ that covered his ugly mug, but now, feeling onions slither down her cleavage, she was too deflated and dejected to respond.
“When I started growing that ’edge you was playing ’opscotch in the playground!” the hacked off horticulturalist told her. “Or maybe you was vandalising ’edges, just like you do now. Well, I’m going to vandalise you!”
Issuing a laugh as grotesque as his face, he untied the sack. Notwithstanding all the gross food that covered her, Sarah was struck by the dank, earthy whiff that wafted out. The sack was filled with dark brown compost. Earthworms burrowed in and out of the peaty mass. Sarah had no will left to protest or plead. She just sat, meekly, silently, as the old git raised the sack and clods of compost tumbled onto her, dirtying the slick of mess that already coated her near-bare flesh.
“There! That’ll teach you to damage ’edges!” He slipped the sack over Sarah’s head and shoulders. Overcome with humiliation, the hooded hostage slumped in her seat. But the crowd hooted at the gag, unaware as she softly wept into the hessian.
Coffee grounds from the clubhouse, coleslaw from the Co-op. The fish-and-chip stall donated mushy peas and curry sauce, while the ice-cream van threw in strawberry syrup and sprinkles. Towards the end it didn’t matter what the stuff was; all contributed to one greyish-brown morass. They rubbed it in Sarah’s hair, filled her shoes before squashing her feet back into them. They crammed goo into her stockings, until the suspenders snapped on one leg.
Even the weather turned against Sarah. Clouds darkened the blue sky and a chill wind brought light drizzle. The silver-lining was that this dispelled the punters. Duly entertained, they sauntered off. Bill and Stuart decided to call it a day. It might have been four o’clock or as late as six; Sarah had no idea.
Bill bundled up bank-notes and scooped coins into bags, pleased as punch. “Never had takings like this before!” he raved. “Sarah, you stole the show! What an asset you are!”
“I think it was two assets in particular that stole the show!” said Stuart. “And what an inspired decision to wear frillies! Wonder why none of us thought of that.”
Andrew kept quiet. He’d thought of it, and schemed for it to happen, but it was wiser not to claim credit.
“We’re definitely doing this again next year,” Bill enthused, his finger flicking the big wads of cash.
“Why not next month?” Stuart suggested.
“If you don’t mind, I need to get cleaned up,” Sarah broke in, her voice flat and miserable.
Ned rubbed his chin. “The changing room showers won’t take all that crud, I’m afraid. We can’t have the drains getting blocked.”
“Let’s put her through a car-wash!” urged Colin, unflagging in his zeal.
“There’s a valet near McDonalds,” Andrew piped up helpfully. “Auntie Sarah knows it well!”
Sarah broke; she could take it no longer. “I want to go home!” she sobbed. “Please, just take me home!”
Ned pondered for a moment, a smirk forming in tandem with a wicked idea. He was in two minds; the Monday-to-Friday Ned, the Ned who wore a tie and sold insurance, told him that the horseplay had gone far enough, the girl was clearly distressed, and it was time to deliver her to her house with a towel wrapped round her. But weekend Ned was currently on duty – Ned the lad, keen to impress his fellow sportsmen with acts of oafishness. That Ned was hatching a plot, a plot so fiendishly brilliant that weekday Ned’s pleas for moderation fell futile against it.
And besides, the girl was a Wobbler.
“What are we waiting for, lads?” he said. “You heard the lady. Let’s take her to her rightful home!”
Sarah sighed with relief. Her tired arms eagerly awaited being freed, but she was in for a rude shock. Two players lifted her and chair into the air, still bound together. While chants of “what shall we do with a slimy Wobbler?” rang out, the snivelling Sarah was placed on the back of a pick-up truck, additional ropes securing her in place.
“Sorry about this,” Ned said sheepishly to Bill. “She’ll get the seats mucky if she sits inside.”
“Oh, I fully understand.” Bill gave Ned an amiable slap on the back. “She’s already spoilt the upholstery in my car.”
Ned shook hands with Bill and Stuart, then he walked over to Andrew. In a hushed, mean tone he said: “The Wobblers are gonna get their mascot back.”
It was Wednesday’s meeting in the charity office, and Bill’s eyes twinkled as he pored over the accounts.
“Six grand,” he announced with a whistle. “Nearly half of it proceeds from the gunge booth.”
“Glad I could be so lucrative,” Sarah said sulkily. She sat in a marine-blue halter dress. Her blonde hair, which had once reached proudly to her mid-back, had been cropped to ear-length; that was all that could be salvaged. Her skin retained a warm red glow from laboured scrubbing with a pumice stone. She was still finding blades of grass in various nooks and crannies.
“You dominated the local press, too,” Stuart said more sternly, taking out a copy of the Wamsey Enquirer. Sarah bleated; she’d already seen the headline and the humiliating photo in newsagents’ displays, but it pained her no less to see it again.
Stuart began to read: “Police attended an incident Saturday afternoon…”
“Oh please don’t!” whined Sarah, but her brother showed no mercy.
“…outside the Wamsey Warriors’ ground. Sarah Bishop, 28, of Berkeley Drive, was found tied to the railings in a state of partial undress, her body covered in glue and grass-cuttings. Ms Bishop was arrested for breach of the peace, public indecency, and littering. She was held in custody overnight…”
“Held in custard, more like,” chuckled Andrew.
“…but charges were dropped on the understanding she would clean up the mess caused. Ms Bishop alleged that members of rival team Wamsey Harlequins were responsible for her state, having mistaken her for a Warriors supporter. However, police found no evidence linking the Harlequins to the scene. The Enquirer notes that Ms Bishop had earlier been dressed lewdly at a charity event at the Harlequins ground (see page 12). A young man, who asked to remain anonymous, told our reporter that Ms Bishop has a long history of exhibitionism…”
Andrew stifled a snigger as he perused his phone. Ned had sent him a photo of Sarah’s ruined bra, taking pride of place in a display case in the Harlequins’ clubhouse. The police’s search for evidence couldn’t have been very thorough.
“It’s ridiculous!” griped Sarah. “How could I have tied myself up?”
Stuart wasn’t interested in her excuses. “Thanks to your antics getting plastered on the front page,” he said sourly, “our fundraiser was relegated to page twelve.” He turned to the spread, which featured further photos of Sarah’s afternoon ignominy, many of them contributed by Andrew.
“It’s a pity we can’t hold a simple charity event without you making a scandal,” Bill chimed in.
“Are for you real?” Sarah was nearing tears at the lack of sympathy shown by her family. “After all I’ve been through! It was your stupid idea to have this gunge booth, and you lied to me about it! I’m the victim here!”
Stuart rolled his eyes. “If only I had a violin, I’d play a sad tune.”
“We can play Auntie’s kettle-drums instead,” said Andrew. “Bom bom, bom bom!” He pretended to drum on the tops of Sarah’s knockers. Sarah yelped; even though he had only tapped lightly, her skin was sensitive from the aforementioned scrubbing. Bill and Stuart chuckled.
Sarah jumped to her feet. “That’s the last straw! I’m leaving!”
“Not so fast.” Her dad blocked the exit. He gestured to a table bearing three sloppy cream pies, which Sarah had somehow failed to notice.
“These were left over from Mrs Creedie’s cake stall,” explained Bill. “She wanted them to go to a good home.”
“That’s easy enough!” Andrew picked up a pie and rammed it into Sarah’s front. Cream exploded in her cleavage, coating her upper chest and the blue dress over both boobs. Sarah began to sob.
“Oh pipe down!” her brother sneered, nailing her in the face with the second pie.
Blinded and blubbering, Sarah shoved past the trio, making for the door. Bill snatched up the third and final pie. “This is for staining the seats in my car!” he scolded, slapping the confection hard against her rear on her way out.
The men watched from the window as Sarah fled down the driveway, her cream-coated bum waggling. Reaching her car, she rifled through her handbag with increasing agitation, eventually tipping its contents to the ground. She slumped against the car, pummelling the roof with frustrated fists.
“Would you Adam and Eve it?” Andrew smirked with that wicked innocence he’d perfected, his fingers clasping a small item in his pocket. “Auntie’s lost her keys again!”