Now, as we stand at the very edge of the Little Frigging village boundary, near the river Teeb, we are ready to partake in a picturesque ceremony dating right back to the invention of tourism. The river Teeb is notable for the number of witches dunked in it during the witch-finding frenzies of the late 1600s, these so-called witches later became known as the Dunked Teeb Hags.
Consequently, every year around this time, when the tourists begin to return to the village in enough numbers to make fleecing them economically worthwhile, several denizens of Little Frigging head down to the river in a colourful and highly-photogenic parade to re-enact the ceremony known as the Immersion of the Teeb Hags.
In those more superstitious times, it was said that the devil would have intercourse with witches at their midnight Sabbaths. Although, it was never explained why he would want to, especially when he had access to all the best tunes and could therefore attract as many comely young ladies to his midnight woodland discos as he desired.
It was rumoured too that the witches rode* their broomsticks throughout the night. Although, in those days before the intimate personal massage device, ladies would make sure that the handles of their brooms were made as smooth and splinter-free as possible before mounting the broomstick.
Mainly, though, they were just old women, known as hags or crones, who tended to live alone, or with a number of cats. However, they did tend to know all the gossip of and about all the people in their immediate locality and so could be dangerous to those seeking power and influence.
Consequently, it was deemed vital to know officially if an old crone** was a witch, or merely just another rather weird old lady inhabiting several layers of knitwear and surrounded by a collection of cats.
Unofficially, though, it was a way of getting your own back if the love charm, or curse on your neighbour, had not worked in the way the hag had promised. Or, a way of getting revenge if the yearning looks you gave to you favourite sheep were not reciprocated even after you had performed the rites the witch had recommended, and – even worse – if the witch then refused to give you your money back afterwards.
So, once a woman was accused by someone of being a witch, she was captured and dragged down to the banks of the Teeb. There she was first stripped naked and made to wear the special ‘Teeb’ shirt. Then the accused woman would be fastened into a large wooden contrivance specially made for the purpose, which would then be made to completely immerse the woman in the usually icy-cold waters of the Teeb.
The accused would then be made to parade, wearing only the wet Teeb-shirt in front of a specially-constituted panel of judges who would then award the accused marks out of ten. The woman receiving the highest total score going on to the next round, where she would then compete against the accused witches from neighbouring villages.
Inevitably, it was soon discovered that younger more-attractive women made judging the wet Teeb-shirt competitions much more fun. The younger women attracted larger and larger crowds too. So, what in later years became known as the wet t-shirt competition was born.
*It is one of the delights of the English language that words can have more than one meaning and those meanings can have more than one sense, or even none.
**Old Crone – definition: someone you still don’t fancy even after 38 pints of Old Scrotum’s Brainknackerer.
Yours perversely: Norbert Trouser-Quandary