Arthur Edward Woodbastwick
b. 23rd November 1874
d. 7th June 1952
Son to Mr and Mrs William Josiah Woodbastwick.
Held in God’s grace and loving memory for ever.
In loving memory? In loving memory my sweet, slug-infested arse! For all the 59 years I have stood, neglected and moss covered, in his memory, I have thought him a loveless fool. Found your reward in heaven have you Arthur? No, thought not.
Better to get your reward here on Earth, before you become a worm’s supper. Did you know that worms have lots of sex but no sexes. Hermaphrodites you see, can’t tell their one end from the other and’ll fuck anything. Well, other worms anyway, but they’ve probably had a go at the some of the inhabitants in this place. Not as if they can say no.
Where’s your worm been then Arthur? Nowhere much according to the late vicar. What was it he said at the funeral, “unsullied by temptation”? Or some such rubbish. I can’t remember exactly, it was a long time ago and I was very young at the time. Just erected. The old vicar might as well have said, “Arthur Edward Woodbastwick is a stiff who never had one in his life.”
Maybe that’s too cruel. He probably felt a slight stirring at the sight of his mother’s slender ankles. Martha Woodbastwick, nee Stokes, was renowned for her elegance. So I understand from her stone over by the fence. I kind of fancy her even though she’s previous generation. Been around a bit, knows the score, the tricks of the trade. I bet young A.E. was embarrassed, bet it put him off – the shame that he could never quite get rid of, not even by self-denial for the rest of his life.
A life of celibacy is a life of meanness if you ask me. Share the joy, girls and boys, share the joy! C’mon Arthur, wouldn’t you like to rise up just one time and shag the vicar’s wife. She likes virgins. You’d be just her cup of tea, and her buttered crumpet with it. You’ll be right up her street!
I see a lot of action. Don’t get much, mind, but I do see a lot. I don’t know if that counts as a ‘great sex life’ but if, like a wise man said, “all great literature is about sex and death” then at least I lead a great literary life. It’s not just slugs and worms you know. Robins, blackbirds – although I resent them shitting on me while they’re doing it, mushrooms ejaculating their spores, bees buzzing round the hollyhock stamens until they’re dizzy with delight. There’s a pond at the bottom of the churchyard, well little more than a puddle but that’s not bad for round here. Nothing fancy. It doesn’t have frogs or anything like that but it does attract damselflies – blues and reds. They have sex on the wing, flying up and down, up and down, up and down. It’s quite hypnotic. I imagine I can feel them doing it. Then one day there was a sudden flash of pink and this jay swooped down and ate a couple. Reds they were. Taken in a gulp. Had whilst they were having it. I hope they came before they went, but I doubt it. How frustrating.
But it’s after dark I get my true pleasures. Rabbits, foxes screaming like they are experiencing the torments of hell, hedgehogs – they’re noisy too but that’s hardly surprising, ouch! Anyway, those are my regulars but my treat is a beautiful lady by the name of Lauren Hayes. She always has someone with her, shadows I call them. They enjoy themselves with her but not as much as me, I’m sure. That would be impossible. No mortal man could survive such pleasure. Once a week, twice if lucky, the love of my life visits.
Or at least she did. That was how things were for me. In love with Lauren and her weekly night pleasures, but stuck with the old misery, Arthur Edward Woodbastwick. Until the fateful weekend when everything changed.
Friday night was the best ever. The sun was down but the evening still warm. Lauren had thigh-high black boots, a full length split in her long black skirt and a silver skull buckle on her black leather belt. She always wore a lot of black. Her shadow wanted to lean against me, but no. Lauren commanded him to stand his own ground. I am only for her.
Full, loving buttocks and thighs rubbed against my soft growth of moss, a protective sheath for my hard stone. Her head swept around, backward and forward; her hair lightly caressed my stiff edge.
Oh pleasure! Oh ecstasy! Oh joy!
Then she turned round, grasped me with her expert fingers, a snake pendant swayed between her breasts – inviting me to taste the fruit. And her nose stud was shining golden and pure. A star on earth.
Her light shone brighter than ever but her shadow grunted and staggered away into the night. Lauren remained: breathing over me, heavily at first but gentler and gentler. She leant against me, I could feel the sweat from her back seeping through her thin vest-top, and rearranged her clothes. I hoped she would kiss me but she never did, just a light pat, “night night”.
Thank you my love, my darling, my moonsome beauty.
Saturday was a blustery, drizzly, spitty-spatty kind of day. All grey and lifeless. But I was still living on the memory of the previous night. I didn’t really notice time passing. I even forgot to insult the joyless pile of bones beneath me until well after midday – oi artless Arthur, what did you get up to last night then? What’s that? Nothing? Stayed in did you? Never mind. Maybe next week you might get lucky.
People came and went, leaving flowers, fulfilling family duties, wishing they were somewhere else. As they tend to on Saturdays. Just like every other day it looked like nobody would visit Arthur E Woodbastwick. Nobody had ever visited him until late that afternoon.
At first I thought it was a mistake or some sort of weird hobby involving grave-rubbings. The man had a beard, a backpack and a cagoule. His trousers were tucked into his socks so he must have come on a bike but I couldn’t see it anywhere. Probably round the other side of the church. He had been wandering, peering, from stone to stone – examining each one, before he finally came to me.
“Ah, now what have we here?”
I don’t know, you tell me.
“You’re not in the finest fettle now are you?”
Speak for yourself! I had the best sex of my life last night and now I’m having a rest. Not bad for a 59 year old piece of masonry. What is it to you anyway fanny face?
“I’ll just clear away some of this here moss.”
And he did. He pulled a piece of cloth from his pocket like a conjurer producing an audience volunteer’s bra from his sleeve. All ceremonial and impressive. Then he set to work rubbing me. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not gay, but I rather enjoyed that rub down. It wasn’t gentle and soft like a night with Lauren. No, this was vigorous and restorative. And it made me harder.
“Arthur Edward Woodbastwick, you old rascal! I’ve found you at last. I’m sorry your grave is in such a state of disrepair, but it won’t be anymore. I’m going to take good care of it from now on. You are family after all.”
The bearded man took a see-through document wallet out of his bag. I could just make out the writing on the paper within it. “The family tree of RICHARD MARSHALL HAYES.”
He ticked a box on one of its many branches: “ARTHUR EDWARD WOODBASTWICK”. And he wasn’t a long lost great uncle or third cousin twice removed or anything obscure like that. He was a direct ancestor, right there in the blood line, Richard Marshall Hayes’ mother’s father’s father.
Well I never.
Sunday was a strange day. I knew what was coming. And sure enough, after the faithful few had departed the church and the vicar had driven off to one of his other parishes, she came. I almost didn’t recognise her in a lilac trouser suit and sober heels. It didn’t really seem like her at all. Just the nose stud still twinkling defiantly. She carefully laid a bouquet at the end of the grave-cut. It was tied with a ribbon and stuck to the ribbon was a card which flapped open in the breeze.
It read, “How you doing great great grandad? Never knew you were here. Love Lauren x”.
And that was how I lost the love of my life but gained a new friend, the old rascal Arthur Edward Woodbastwick.
written in 2011