Witches & Warlocks


In 2005, a device called the Mosquito was created to combat the supposed scourge of loitering youths, piercing their ears with a sound at a frequency only teenagers could detect. I’ve always thought it showed great promise, only that it was directed at the wrong group of people.

I’m not convinced loitering youths were ever much of a problem, at least not for the sort of shops they tend to be attracted to. How could kebab shops, newsagents and vape merchants survive if not for the mass of illiterate louts and slattern single mothers who cluster around them? It would be like the Lib Dems refusing entry to gropers and other besandaled perverts – sheer business suicide.

Would this device not have a more salutary effect on society if instead the frequency could be adjusted to target the middle classes?

The problem with living in nice places is that the middle classes are drawn towards them like termites to an antique trunk. They have bored their way into my Georgian town leaving hollows of vegan fetish shops, artisan focaccia stalls and other bourgeois horrors in their wake. The newest of which is a shop that caters for, I kid you not, ‘LGBT warlocks’.

The desk of this retail outlet is manned by some bloated manchild while the rest of the shop is patrolled by a sullen-faced woman and her guard rabbit – yes, guard rabbit. Pellets of rabbit dung scatter the shop floor like mines on an Angolan beach. One gets the sense in that queer place that the proprietors are just waiting – no, wishing – for you to make one false step, along with the feeling that you’ll be fulfilling some sort of pagan ritual if you do.

The frightful fact is that in Buxton, this LGBT warlock shop actually has competition. Just across the road is one which boasts ‘vegan sanitary pads’ along with its own branch of Extinction Rebellion – for the socialist who thinks they have everything. But given that the only known way to ward off an XR protester is either with a job application form or a bar of soap, one wonders if this shop is not putting off their core base with all this talk of hygiene?

No doubt people will regard these shops as harmless eccentricities. Only, I don’t believe them to be harmless at all. There exists in Buxton a vegan café whose owner is in the habit of casting long reproachful stares my way while some skull-faced cyclist clings to her like a witch’s familiar. Word has no doubt travelled to her feted den of tofu miasma that I write for a publication called Country Squire Magazine, and she, with her corkscrew hair, lack of shoulders and sententious stare, is no doubt a Chris Packham acolyte. Next time she stares, I have half a mind to hurl a dead pheasant at her miserable visage, or a stuffed tiger perhaps.

Then there is the curious case of the Buxton Waitrose magazine aisle. Every Thursday, without fail, new copies of the Spectator are hidden behind the New Statesman. After conducting a month-long investigation (my Editor’s last assignment for me – going undercover as a furrie – I am still taking therapy for), I don’t believe this is due to some Marxist magazine stocker. From what I’ve heard, they used to employ a young girl who was not only an avowed socialist, but militantly so. She was a pale-faced, purple-haired girl with lesbian leanings – the classic profile for a New Statesman reader. We suspect it is she who creeps in every Thursday morning to hide the best-selling magazine behind the dust ridden pages of the New Statesman. And still, the Spectator sells out.

Scare away the youths? I know that, given the choice, I’d sooner be in the company of a cigarette cadging chav than some moralising woman menacing me with her zero-emission knitwear and talk of a ‘climate conscience’, let alone in the presence of an LGBT warlock urging me to tread in rabbit excrement.

James Bembridge is Deputy Editor of Country Squire Magazine.