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English: Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Clammie passed the well-coiffed woman she privately called Madame Blavatsky almost every morning, after she had deposited the children at school. The woman sat outside Costamuchamullah café in High Street in all weathers, because she was one of the last addicts who smoked openly in Suttonford.

Often Clammie would reckon that she was due some me-time, which usually spread itself over most of the week, so, after indulging herself with- say- an alpaca purchase from Pipes of Pan, the Andean boutique, she would pursue her own addiction, namely a caffeine fix.

So it was that one morning, Clammie came to be sitting opposite the mysterious lady who had graciously removed her shopping bag so that a tired yummy mummy could have a spare seat at her aluminium table.

Normally Clammie wouldn’t have been able to tolerate smoke wafting over, but there were no seats vacant indoors and there was a slight breeze, which was blowing the offensive miasma in someone else’s direction.

I’m sorry. I know that I’ve seen you sitting here for a number of years, but I don’t know your name.  I’m Chlamydia, she volunteered, removing her Mocha out of contamination’s reach.

Madame Blavatsky flicked the ash from the end of her cigarette, perilously close to Clammie’s cup and saucer:

Oh, my name’s Sonia and I’ve been living in Suttonford for aeons.

Clammie asked where exactly in the town she lived.

In the haunted house, darling, – the one with the resident Cavalier.  Not laughing, you understand, but rather fleeing from capture in The Battle of Suttonford. He hid in our attic.

A haunted house?  I don’t know if I believe in ghosts, countered Clammie.

Well, you should, stated Sonia firmly.  I’ve experienced many over the years and, like more corporeal members of the opposite sex, you have to talk nicely to them if you are to co-habit peaceably.  For example, I have to ignore the fact that my resident often plays my instrument.  And no, it’s definitely not a pianola.

What! The Cavalier takes liberties with your instrument?  How very-eh-cavalier.

No, darling.  Pianos weren’t invented when he was around.  He prefers to tinkle my harpsichord.  He is considerably quieter and more mannerly than your modern day Jools Holland, for example.

How do you know that he is responsible and not someone next door, listening to Classic FM?  The wattle and daub is thin and there is no cavity to speak of between the walls in High Street.

I see the keys being depressed, said Sonia with utmost conviction.  Look, I’m a clairvoyant.  Can you come round next Wednesday for afternoon tea, and I’ll prove it?  I’d read your leaves now, but I see that you are having a Mocha.

Privately Clammie thought that if Sonoa was a bit of a soothsayer she should have known the answer, but publicly she replied:

Would you be able to tell me if I will ever live in High Street?

That depends on the leaves.  We can look into that later. But perhaps you will hear the harpsichord.  Sonia laughed at Clammie’s widening eyes.  Royalist House.  Three and three quarters High Street. Don’t fail me. Three o’clock.

She blew a smoke ring around Clammie, so that she had to close her eyes to prevent them from stinging from the ectoplasm.  When she opened them, Sonia had disappeared.  There was only a smouldering butt on the table, from which emanated a curling plume .

Like the feather from a Cavalier’s hat, Carrie mused.  I think I’ve been reading too much ‘Harry Potter’.