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You can’t find a seat at certain times in Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe,

in spite of the recession.  As I waited to pounce on a spare seat, I observed

the lovely Citronella, proud owner of the newly-entitled Beauty and

the Beast, once named Pride Knows No Pain, gassing away with her bosomy

buddy and colleague, Melinda, the masseuse, or Mimi as she self-

styles.  Ella was unaware of the frothy moustache on her upper lip

until Mimi indicated it.  Strange, since the lemony one is known to

spot any hint of hirsutism at fifty paces.  She licked the tide mark off

with a tongue that was surprisingly not forked.

Do you know, she addressed her sidekick, they are going to create  

500 new-builds on brown sites in the town, and that small patch of

land behind us is the first to be excavated.  That’s where we put our

cars, so goodness knows how we are all going to survive, unless we

become Amish, or Shakers and Movers and return to horsepower,

like those zipless people in America that took in some UK

students for a steep learning curve in what was supposed to be

a boot camp.

Weren’t they Plymouth Brethren?

No, they’re our locals, but they don’t come into the shop.

You meant the people on that programme where the brats loved

discipline, chastity classes and hankered after rules? queried Mimi.

I quite liked their clothes, actually .

(I was somewhat surprised at this remark from one who

sheds outer garments like a disinhibited chrysalis.)

Yes, that’s the people I meant, Ella explained.  I sympathised with

their moral code, but their no make-up policy would be a killer for

our livelihoods….Getting back to the council, though, it definitely

shouldn’t be digging up car parks.  It’ll ruin everyone’s business.

 But digging up the past’s the latest craze now, Mimi elucidated

Councils all over the country are hoping to unearth some celebrity

skeletal remains, so they can attract tourists…

who would have nowhere to park when they arrived, Ella clarified.

I agree, Mimi hastened to positively stroke her employer, in the

metaphorical sense only. But- you know what? – I don’t see anyone

wanting to build on that little plot. 

Hmm, Ella interjected, but, supposing Sonia’s Phantom Cavalier’s bones

were to be unearthed, he could be laid to rest in sanctified ground and she

might get some peace from his paranormal activity in Royalist House.

Mimi looked thoughtful. I don’t suppose Sonia would agree to selling

that plot, though.  She has some rights over it, surely? Access over it is

the only way she can have her bins emptied.

What do you think of those facial reconstructions, Mimi?  Ella changed

the subject. I saw that someone from Dundee University made a model of

that Scottish poet’s face, but it just looked like Alex Salmond with a pony tail.

Mimi had never heard of Scotland’s First Minister and so she

affected an even greater confidence:

Facial reconstruction is what you do every day, Ella.  These people

are amateurs.  You know all there is about peels and dermo-abrasion. 

You didn’t need to go to university for those skills.

Well, it’s nice to have your vote of confidence, Mimi.  I suppose

that if we have hundreds of new-builds, we’ll have plenty of new

clients. And if the Council uncovers The Phantom Cavalier, there will

be plenty more tourists.  Unless Suttonford has a huge feud with

Suttonfield over who gets to keep the bones. It’ll be just like the

Battle of Suttonford all over again.


Oh, breathed Mimi.  All those Dogtanian-types will probably require

quite a bit of massage.  I know they’re tactile: they wore velvet,

didn’t they?

Ella couldn’t understand the non-sequitur but she humoured Mimi


It’ll be all for one and one for all! laughed Ella.

And all out for themselves, I thought. They’d even hogged the spare chairs

by strewing their coats and carriers over them.

I wasn’t going to wait any longer.  I went next door to the opposition.

Their attitude to customers is less cavalier.