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BEYOND THE LAST STANZA  by John Broadhouse



“Yes my Lord the old woman standing in the dock is definitely guilty of child cruelty, theft, deception, total disregard to planning permission, overcrowding, receiving stolen goods and child trafficking.” exclaimed the Barrister.


The Judge studied the defendant, intrigued that the frail old lady dressed in a flowery pinafore and bonnet, was capable of such accusations.


“What evidence have you to support these claims” retorted the Judge.


“My Lord the evidence is plain to see from these photos, I shall pass to you and the Jury, that this old lady has been living in a shoe on common land without permission. The site was visited by a Planning Officer who discovered the shoe to be in bad repair and overrun with malnourished children. When questioned by a Social Worker the old woman replied that it was difficult to get a cobbler to repair the shoe because of its size and the children had eaten the cupboard bare.”


“I object to that last statement” shouted the plump lady in the jury, “She has taken those lines from my nursery rhyme”


“Order in the court” commanded the Judge “What is your name.”


“Old Mother Hubbard” replied the lady.


The Barrister quickly interrupted the proceedings by stating that the Old lady had lied under oath.


“I have further evidence which proves that the shoe is stolen property obtained from her Grandson Jack. He admitted killing the giant in self defence but denies stealing the giants’ shoes. We have DNA samples plus bean stork remnants taken from the shoe that link Jack to the crime.”


The Judge examined the exhibits before asking the Barrister to clarify the other accusations.


“My Lord, the children have been taken into custody and questioned. It appears they were smuggled into this country to be sold to childless couples. While in the charge of the Old Woman she fed them broth without bread and whipped them all soundly before sending them to bed.


I have a report from the Planning Officer that states the shoe is on common ground and permission to stay is denied.”


“Have you anything to say in your defence, Old Lady, enquired the Judge.


“Yes Guv, I’m claiming squatters’ rights as a traveller because the boot was made for walking but now it has found its resting home on Boot Hill. It’s all lies about the children. I gave a lift to the Pied Piper when I passed Hamlin and the children followed us. He parted company when we reached Dover but the children begged to stay, I didn’t have the heart to refuse them.


I’m a poor Old Woman without financial support from the state so feeding the children became a problem but we survived on broth made from wild rabbit and veg. I taught the children how to catch the rabbits with a whip but sometimes they got in the way so that accounts for the marks some of them have.


In all innocence I accepted the shoe from Jack who said he bought it from Pinocchio, the used second-hand boot dealer.”


“Madam,” exclaimed the Judge, “you are compulsive liar and I recommend the Jury to find you guilty of perverting the course of nursery rhythms.”