Thank goodness the kids are back at school! Carrie sighed as she
settled into her favourite chair in Costamuchamoulah. She hadn’t
had a speciality coffee for two weeks and she also hadn’t had a
decent chat with any of her friends. Hence the rendezvous this
morning, after the school run. She was clearly in need of a
girlfriend’s support, as she had just heard that her grandmother had
slipped in her nursing home in Scotland and had broken her hip.
Mum said there is no crisis at the moment, but I might have to go up
there fairly soon. Gyles can transport the kids and Magda has
returned from Normandy, so Ginevra will lend her to us for a couple
of hours, if Gyles can’t cope on his own.
Is there anything I can do? I asked.
Well, you could walk a pug or three, if you really don’t mind. Pooh-
bah and Algy still need a bit of exercise, but Humbug is a bit wheezy.
Hmm, okay. I’ll call Gyles when the time comes.
(Actually, I wasn’t keen on being plaited round a lamp-post masquerading as a
maypole, by three entangled leads. I’d probably end up breaking my hip by
tripping over them.)
No problem, I lied.
Thank you so much. Magda was saying that Ola’s bump is really obvious
now, but she has got over her morning sickness. She thinks she was
just trying to muscle in on some of Kate’s attention.
That wasn’t very nice, considering that she was a guest.
Well, you know Magda. She managed to get a pillion lift to the ferry
on the back of their neighbour’s rather dishy son’s motorbike.
Fast mover that one, I agreed. Talking of Speedy Gonzales types,
how is Sonia?
Fine. She just isn’t used to the hard stuff. Gyles gave his mother a
telling off for plying her neighbour with alcohol at lunchtime,
especially as the last time Sonia drank anything it was in the 1950s
and was probably a Babycham.
We both turned to admire the recent installation of Sonia’s Vauxhall
which was embedded into the café’s frontage.
Yes, Carrie continued, Ginevra’s maiden name was what Tiger’s
English teacher would call a proleptic allusion.
What do you mean?
Only that she was called Piccololiverno before she was married and
we all think it very apt, given her current 100% gin proofing.
I’d forgotten that she had an Italian background.
Well, it is marvellous that at ninety three, she is still in her own
She’s incorrigible, though, replied Carrie. She wouldn’t have it that
she was in any way responsible for her friend’s accident. She said
that it had nothing to do with the wrinkly drinkies session and
everything to do with the fact that Sonia can’t drive. Unlike her own
good self, who could still double de-clutch and de-coke, if the need
arose, having been a mechanic in the ATS in Glasgow at the end of
World War 2.
The sound of an espresso machine partly blotted out my observation
on how attractive Ginevra must have looked in khaki and seamed
Yes, said Carrie, but she thinks she has a special relationship with the
Queen, as she had the same subaltern job. It encourages her
The machine spluttered again and we couldn’t hear each other. I
studied the Speciality Coffee card.
What exactly is a Speciality Coffee? I wondered aloud.
In tiny print the answer presented itself at the bottom of the
laminated page. I read the definition from some European
Association to Carrie:
“..a crafted quality coffee-based beverage which is judged by the
consumer (in a limited marketplace at a given time) to have a unique
quality, a distinctive taste and personality different from, and
superior to, the common coffee beverages offered…”
Personality! I joked. What would Tiger’s English teacher call this
then? –pretentious metaphor; anthropomorphism?!
I don’t know, said Carrie, laughing, but presumably that’s why we all
come here. We don’t have to mix with people like Sian Williams and
the Rev Richard Coles on Radio 4’s Saturday Live who use the term
Don’t be such a snob, Carrie! I admonished her gently.
Sorry, it must be something in the coffee, she apologised.
But I could see that she was genuinely worried and might need
sisterhood support very soon.