3-Word Challenge

3-Word Challenge: Nepotism and Nudity in the Caravan of Misfortunes

Dear Guests, Patrons and People That I May or May Not Have Slept with But No Longer Recall If I Did So,

  “Thank you for joining us on this fourth night of Bonnywood’s Annual Cultural Arts Festival and Bacchanalia. I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am about tonight’s presentation in the 3-Word Challenge, but first I have some very exciting news. We have a surprise guest joining us this evening. The lovely and immortal Cher! Please welcome her to the stage.”

The crowd erupts in wild applause, although most of the clappers were only clapping because they noticed other people clapping and didn’t want to miss out on anything important.

Chaz Bono trotted out from stage left, smiling and waving.

Me: “Oh. How lovely to see you. Could I inquire as to where your mother might be, since you’re not her?”

Chaz: “Are you kidding? You weren’t offering near enough money for her to show up, so she made me do it. And to be fair, you can’t afford me, either, but I’m doing this pro bono because I love to support that arts. And I heard that the Serenity Pool is clothing-optional.”

Me: “How interesting. Well, that does throw a bit of a wrinkle into the proceedings, as the original plan was for Cher to sing ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’ as an introduction for tonight’s featured artist.”

Chaz: “Ah, I see that you fail to understand certain things. My mother does not open for anyone, at least not on stage. And she does not do requests, as that would require an additional costume change and those things are very carefully planned.”

Me: “How wretched for us all. Say, do YOU sing?”

Chaz: “Not if I don’t want to get arrested for endangering wildlife.”

Me: “Well, then. Perhaps you could just at least introduce our next artist.”

Chaz: “Sure thing.”

Artiste: Gwyneth at “The Lockwood Echo”

Three Words: flying, vindictive, crumpets

Medium: Short Story

And here we go…


A Charlatan Challenge

I have recklessly, and without any care for my reputation, signed myself up for Bonnywood Manor’s 3 Word Challenge, courtesy of Brian Lageose. Upon receipt of my 3 words (Flying, Vindictive & Crumpets), I quickly realised I don’t actually like a challenge so have delegated the task to The Lockwood Echo’s resident Misfortune-Teller ‘Madame Charlatan‘. Mme Charlatan’s thought processes and work ethic are as random as the word selection, so it seemed the ideal opportunity to nudge her for some overdue copy and give me something to print in her all too frequently blank column space. Here then is Madame Charlatan, telling Misfortunes under a fog of musk and a cloud of fag-ash…….

If you’ve visited my column before, you may know that I’m descended from a long line of mystics that can be traced back through the ages to 1973. That was when my Mother hooked up our caravan home, took leave of her senses, and me, and scuttled off to Clacton to set herself up as a professional Misfortune-Teller. She was good at it too. Naturally vindictive, she had an uncanny ability to spread misery, picking her victims clients carefully, knowing they’d be too scared or gullible to not pay for her services. Misfortune-Telling being just one of the talents she had on offer.

I was left behind, standing in the corner of Granny Charlatan’s field staring at the space where our caravan used to be. My Mother did come back to see us occasionally, but it was always a flying visit. She always had somewhere else to be or someone else to be with. I’d often take the train to Clacton though, using my time there to hone my own skills as a Misfortune-Teller and learn the trade.

My Granny Charlatan took me in and gave me a roof over my head, until I met my late husband and we made a home of our own. I loved living with my Granny and many of her quirks and traditions have stayed with me. They remind me of a time when life was easier, simpler and more comfortable (not so full of batik scarves, incense sticks and impromptu caravan parties). To this day I still have crumpets for tea every Sunday, wrap all my cutlery in newspaper, and walk round the house 3 times clockwise to rid it of evil spirits before I go to bed.

My Mother is in a Retirement Home now. Still selling misery, with a surprising amount of accuracy. Granny Charlatan has sadly long since passed. But we keep in touch. Just one advantage of my line of work.

If you’d like to read more about me, my Mother and the Caravan, it would be lovely to pick up some new readers for my column here on The Echo. It’d help keep the Editor off my back and the bailiffs from my door.

Madame Charlatan
Putting the Shame back into Shaman




This piece has been nominated in the following categories:

The Janet Jackson Award for Surviving an Awkward Wardrobe Malfunction That Really Wasn’t Any Fault of Yours.

The Harper Lee Award for Making Your Childhood Seem Much More Heart-Warming Than It Really Was.

The Stiff Upper Lip Award for Carrying On Despite the Lack of a Promised Theme Song.

Gratitude Award from the founder of Bonnywood Manor.


You can review more of Gwyneth’s portfolio by clicking here. She also has a book available on Amazon, which you can peruse here.


Back in her Gothic Manor, Cher picks up the phone and calls her publicist. “You didn’t tell me that the Serenity Pool was clothing-optional!”

Publicist: “Well, if I may be frank, I didn’t think you would find an interest in such a thing, being older than the Mayflower and all.”

Cher: “Are you kidding? Most of my newer parts still have the factory warranty. I absolutely gleam in the moonlight. Fix this!”

Frank: “I’m on it.”


25 replies »

  1. *Putting the shame back in Shaman* …. how can I resist visiting and rooting round this hitherto undiscovered (by me) blog. As for Cher she surely epitomizes vindictive crumpet, non?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m feeling all kinds of warm & fuzzy. Thankyou for featuring my submittance. Even though I shamelessly used it as a plug for my blog 😉 Disappointed that Cher couldn’t make the start of the show, but very much looking forward to seeing her in all her warrantied glory in the pool later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was quite pleased to share this. And there’s no shame in personal plugging, far from it. As long as we’re all helping out our fellow writers, there’s no harm, no foul. But yes, I’ll be sitting beside you at the Serenity Pool as we take note of Cher’s exhibitionism and jot down any cosmetic developments that might help us feel less threadbare and worn out… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I will be wandering around the Lockwood locker for sure. Great piece! 🙂

    Things that will survive a nuclear blast: cockroaches (of course), seasonal fruitcakes (the kind with neon “fruit”) and Cher’s plastic surgery. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • What IS is with that oddly vibrant fruit in the cakes? If you pluck one of said pieces out of the brick and hold it in your hand, it will leave a stain on your fingers, which is disconcerting enough, and then a Hazmat team shows up and confiscates the loaf. How are we supposed to feel good about this? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I heard that Bonnywood! I’ll not have you use the word ‘running’ in any sentence that contains my name thankyouverymuch. Though I have to once again thankyou for you sharing this as it has given me some awesomely decent (indecent?) exposure and also introduced me to some rather interesting peeps 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh my, I didn’t realize that “running” was something with which you did not care to have an association. I must implore you to accept the notion that no malfeasance was intended, but at the same time I must confess that I’m really not sure what I’m talking about. Sadly, this is how I face each new day. And so it goes… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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