Sunday, 20 February 2011

Succumbing to evil, unintentionally

One of the potential problems with living in a close community is that if one person comes down with something, you all do.  This is why a nearby boarding school gives all its boarders flu vaccinations every winter (I know the school nurse) because otherwise, if one child gets the flu, then the whole boarding house will be full for the rest of term with sickly sneezing feverish children and panicky parents convinced it’s meningitis or worse.
So I should not be surprised, I suppose, that having been visited by Annie to apologise for Deirdre’s rather peremptory reclaiming of the advertising stuff for the village newsletter, that I came down with a bug.  Annie seems to mix with at least half the children in the village for starters, and if she has to go round apologising for Deirdre too, then that narrows down the potential patient zeros to 75% of the village population. 
The OH had taken me out for dinner for Valentine’s Day, complete with oysters and some rather delicious cocktails, at a restaurant in our nearby town.  We had a very pleasant evening and then in the middle of the following night, the OH was extremely ill.  You would be forgiven for thinking it was something he ate, because I was absolutely fine.  I was even fine as I ate my breakfast the next morning.  It wasn’t until an hour after breakfast that I was also extremely ill.  I won’t go into graphic detail – you might also be trying to eat your breakfast or something – but it wasn’t nice.  So not nice was it, that I returned to bed and spent the next two days there.  I know other people have described it as a 24 hour bug, but sometimes these things take longer to shake off.  What was particularly galling was that the OH had also bought theatre tickets, to see ‘Frankenstein’ up in London, and we were in no fit state even for the train journey, let alone to sit through a performance without the possibility of disrupting the rest of the row as we rushed for the loo.  So our Very Desirable Tickets, so I’m told, were released into the wild by the theatre and I hope somebody bought them because the seats were front and centre of the circle.  Poor OH – he had tried so hard for Valentine’s Day, largely because I’d complained that he never does anything much for it – and then the shine was most definitely taken off by the subsequent events.  He muttered something about going to see something else instead, but the surprise is gone now, so he feels very cheated.
Annie rang the doorbell again on Friday, by which time I had ventured downstairs for some dry toast, because she’d noticed that the curtains had been drawn nearly all week.  When I explained we’d been ill, she was totally unsurprised and told me that half the children she looks after had also been throwing up and more all week.  So I’m even more certain now of the source of our illness.  However, while I was at the door, in my dressing gown, slippers and extreme bed-head, I noticed the estate agents taking down the ‘To Let’ sign from the house on the other side of Delyth’s, so presumably someone is moving in soon.
In case you wondered what Verity’s response was to the village’s new famous residents, I shall quote from her email: ‘That’s nice, dear, but talking of famous – you’ll never guess who’s on this cruise with us – one of the Rolling Stones – I won’t say which one but he has a *very* young wife.  I’m hoping to run into her in the salon and then I can get them involved with the June Charity Ball.’  I suspect that if I’d met the queen, Verity would find some way of trumping it.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Rubbing Shoulders with Celebrities

Well, okay, not quite and not yet, but...
The thing is, I went for a walk yesterday when it actually wasn’t raining/snowing/blowing a gale and walked past Reed House, the dilapidated wreck I mentioned before, and there were actually builders or gardeners or some sort of workmen there.  Yes, I know it was a Saturday and they had clearly already had that comment made several times because I didn’t even have to ask.  Anyway, once I offered to bring some home-made biscuits round to make their weekend a little more homely, they were quite chatty.  It seems the house has been bought by a high-powered journalist and her writer husband.  The foreman told me their names but they didn’t ring any bells.
“I think she writes for some business newspaper, jetting off around the world all the time.  And he’s published several books but all under a pseudy-whatsit,” he added.
I don’t read the FT or even the business pages of any other paper, so I wouldn’t recognise her name anyway.  But I like reading so if the builder – who goes by the name of Bob, though whether that’s his real name is anyone’s guess – can remember the pseudonym, I might be familiar with that.  And meanwhile the work goes on.  Nettles cleared, roof re-done already – just as well given the amount of rain we’ve had recently – and new bathrooms (plural) being installed next week.
 I emailed Verity, who is currently on some cruise with Max along the coast of New England, to tell her the news but I don’t know how often she checks her email when she’s abroad, so I haven’t heard back from her yet.  But someone famous in the village! Exciting!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

An Almost Familiar Face

Three cheers as I now have my dining room back without having to stash boxes of papers hastily cleared from the table in the corner!
I had just got back from the pub car park which has generously housed the local bottle bank for some years and was about to make myself a cup of coffee when the doorbell rang, followed rapidly by an urgent-sounding rattling of the letter-box.
“All right, I’m coming, don’t get in a tizzy!” I said, probably not loud enough for anyone outside the house to hear, but it made me feel better.
When I opened the front door, I was somewhat taken aback to see an Audrey Hepburn lookalike standing there, only not for long as, after glancing anxiously around, she pushed past me and into the house, hissing, “Shut the door, quickly, shut the door!”
It seemed unlikely with such an entrance that she might be armed and dangerous, so I complied with her request.  Once she was safe from the gaze of the outside world, she removed her hat and dark glasses to reveal herself as ...
“Shh! I shouldn’t really be back yet, they’re still trying to track down one of his friends, but I’m bored out of my mind stuck in a tiny flat on the other side of town where no-one knows me.  So I thought I’d come and see how you’re getting on with the advertisers in the newsletter.”
As I looked at her newly bleached hair cut in a most un-Deirdre like style, I found myself unsurprised that anyone on the other side of town had failed to recognise her.  “You look... different,” I said finally.
“Oh, I know, I can’t wait for it all to grow out.  Though I’m quite getting used to the blonde.  Now, these advertisers....”
I made some coffee and brought through some of my latest batch of biscuits while Deirdre leafed through the carefully sorted stacks of invoices and receipts.
“This is brilliant,” she murmured as she found the stapled set of notes I’d put together as a reminder of what to do each month.  “It’ll make it so much easier!”
“Yes, it has,” I told her, failing completely to mention the shambles it had all been in when I’d taken it over.  “I’m just waiting for this month’s copies to be delivered so I can post them off...”
Deirdre looked up at me, frowned and then chewed her lower lip in a way that completely ruined the Audrey Hepburn image.  “Didn’t anyone tell you?  Now that I’m back, I shall be doing it again.  Though if you could do the run down to the post office for me, that would be really helpful.  I don’t want to be seen outside any more than I can help.  I mean, I’ve been watching your house through my binoculars to work out when you were in so that I didn’t have to wait outside any longer than necessary.  You do understand, don’t you?”
I was too shocked to say much in reply.  It hasn’t been that much of a chore sending out reminders though I was a little taken aback to hear that she’d been spying on me with a pair of binoculars, and told her so.
She was very dismissive.  “Oh, it’s only been for the last few days.  You’re never in!  So I had to watch to see when the lights were on.  And I didn’t want to risk coming round when your husband was here.   I mean, you never know who he might tell.”   She scooped up the papers into a conveniently nearby box and paused briefly to replace her dark glasses.  “Thanks ever so for doing this.  When the dust has all settled, you must come for coffee at my place.”
Deirdre waited at the front door for me to open it as she had her hands full but she didn’t seem at all bothered about my lack of response.  So I think now that I can, I should have a dinner party.  Why waste a perfectly good dining room?