Whittaker’s Diary: Behold the Punch of Doom
Posted on October 18 2018
As summer draws to a close, a rustling carpet of burnished gold and russet red has appeared on the once emerald ground, ruffled occasionally by a cool Autumn breeze – which could only mean one thing – the Abbey’s annual Halloween Ball was close at hand.
The undisputed highlight of the local social calendar, this year Lady Annabel had declared the occasion to be a, ‘come as your greatest fear party’ - an announcement followed by some controversy when it became apparent that Lord Archibald was not merely indulging in a spot of harmless cross-dressing, but intending to go dressed as Lady Annabel herself.
After weeks of preparation, and with the Abbey suitably festooned with macabre decorations, the great and the good of the village finally arrived, each sporting there own un-dealt with neurosis. Some of these were predictable, like spiders and clowns, whilst others were considerably more personal, such as Mr Warmbuns the baker’s strange decision to come dressed as Geri Halliwell, though what traumatic memory he associated with her remains a mystery - as does where he found a Union Jack mini-dress in his size. Before long, however, the only one missing was Mrs Freebush, the vet, whose well-known fear of crowds made her attendance unlikely.
Dressed as fire - years of living alongside Mrs Badwater’s un-repentant pyromaniac of a son, Timothy, really had taken its toll, I busied myself delivering canapés and glasses of punch, complete with eyeball-shaped ice cubes. However, I soon noticed people acting strangely. At first it was little things, like PC Hushmoney rock climbing the stacks in the library dressed as one of the Teletubbies, or Mrs Mortimer the Vicar’s wife singing the Celine Dion classic, My Heart Will Go On, at anyone not quick enough to flee. It was then my eyes fell upon the punch.
Tasting it, I winced at an all too familiar taste – part mouldy hedgerow, part burning plastic, and realised to my horror that it was none other than Mr Rumfiend the gamekeeper’s sloe gin – the most formidable alcoholic beverage known to man. Grabbing its erstwhile creator, I quickly explained the problem and together we unlocked the safe where we’d previously secured it for the good of mankind, only to discover the entire demonic batch missing.
Two questions leaped to mind - who could have perpetrated this foul crime and what could be done to stop the inevitable consequences? So as Mr Rumfiend went to safely disarm the punch, I returned to the ballroom, which had descended in my absence into something approximating the fall of ancient Rome.
In the Scullery I stopped Mr Clubfoot the driving instructor, dressed interestingly as a driving instructor, from throwing himself off the balcony to prove he could fly, before separating General Haversham OBE (dressed like a squirrel) from Mr Slimfit the Butcher (also dressed as a squirrel) after the former challenged the latter to a duel using Lord Archibald’s ceremonial claymores.
With no pause for breath, I raced outside to confiscate the ride on lawnmower which Mr Smokecarpet, the pub landlord was using to draw an obscene image on the tennis court, before removing the antique Ming vase from the clutches of Mrs Gladhanky, head of the local WI, who was looking distinctly green around the gills. It was then I noticed the sly smile spreading across Lord Archibald’s craggy face and knew in a moment who the culprit was.
As dawn finally broke, the last guest departed, singing their way down the drive, with many claiming the night to be the best Halloween Ball ever. Now, with nothing left to do, I can finally retire to my room and lose myself in the pages of a good book - in this case Lewis Carroll’s timeless Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – a story I find myself increasingly able to relate to.