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Shrove Tuesday- not just about pancakes, said Diana to herself.  I

need to be shriven.

Sounds painful, commented Drusilla, her daughter who was on sick

leave from St Vitus’ School for The Academically Gifted Girl.  Why don’t you

empty the ash from the woodburner over your head if you feel that guilty?

No, replied her mother. I won’t send Gus a Valentine card to restore our

relationship. That would be cheap.

They’re not that cheap, said Drusilla, who eschewed any

greetings cards over £1 and, in her principled manner, bought all her

commemoratives from Help The Ancient in Suttonford.

No, what I meant is that Shrove Tuesday is confession day and I

ought to contact him properly and make a clean breast of what

actually happened all those years ago.

In Iceland they call it Sprengidagur, her daughter supplied.

What?  Diana tried to allow for the fact that her daughter was off

work on a sick note.

Bursting Day- so don’t be too emotionally explosive, will you?

So, how are you going to go about things?

I’ve written a letter and we can post it when we go into Bradford on

Avon for coffee. He should get it before half term and then he can

mull things over.  Hopefully carnival comes after the ashes of

remembrance of past sins!

So long as it doesn’t resurrect a corpse, cautioned Drusilla.

Honestly, you’ve got that Richard III car park episode on the brain,

her mother remarked caustically.  What’s this you’ve been reading?

Only Samuel Pepys’ Diary.

Racy stuff as I remember..

Not consistently, but I grant you he exhumes some distasteful


Such as?

Well, he writes about what he did on various Shrove Tuesdays over

the years.  He salivates over the fritours that he ate.


Yes, what we call pancakes now….


Augustus Snodbury, like many a male, was consoling himself for past

regrets by imagining his evening meal.  The Staff was allowed to have

Grand Marnier on  Shrove Tuesday pancakes as a favour, instead of a salary


<em>Grand Marnier</em> Cuvée du Centenaire Liqueur

He had been reading Samuel Pepys’ Diary entry for the day, but from

the 1660s, and his mouth watered as he read of Pepys’ leg of veal

and bacon, double capons, sausage and fritters.  He doubted if the

school refectory would step up to the plate, as it were. How he

abhorred that particular Americanism.  Almost as much as I’m good,

thanks. However, he  anticipated something special in the culinary

line.  He could smell enticing odours from the kitchen and followed them

nasally like a Bisto Kid.

He settled back in his armchair with his chosen volume and  was

shocked to read of Pepys’ boast that he had-no, it couldn’t be true!


And, Drusilla enlightened her stunned parent, Pepys then went on to

say that in 1669, he violated the corpse of Queen Katherine- you

know, the wife of Henry V.  So, digging up the past is not always a

good thing.  It can leave some people very vulnerable indeed.  

Diana hadn’t remembered that part of the Diary.  Maybe she had

read the expurgated version; Bowdler had probably sanitised it, as he

had done with Shakespeare.

The Abbey's western façade

But how did Pepys get access to her?

Oh, her mummified remains were exhibited in Westminster Abbey

and he planted a kiss on her lips.

Yuck!  How did people react?

Well, there was a comment:

This has been seen as Pepys’ desire to communicate physically with

the past, a desire that roots itself in the ambivalent love of the dead.

Maybe I shouldn’t post the letter then?  Diana suddenly thought that

Snodbury’s lips might have become rather dessicated.  Some people

thought that love between those of retirement age, but not of a

matching retiring disposition was disgusting.

No, go for it, mother.

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Diana put the letter into her handbag.  She hoped that the Pritt stick

had flattened the corners of the stamp that she had steamed off a

Christmas envelope and re-applied to this important missive.  After

all, think of the tragedy that had ensued previously when Gus’ card

had gone astray. Furthermore, she did wish that her daughter would

desist from using these vulgar colloquialisms.  Where did she dig

them up from?

She found her lip salve at the bottom of her handbag and applied it

vigorously. Come on, she urged impatiently.  Let’s go!