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Drusilla Fotheringay-Syylk had dispensed with the second part of her

double-barrelled surname, since discovering that Syylk was not her

biological father.  She was whole-heartedly embracing a new relationship

with her real pater, Mr Augustus Snodbury.  Teaching was clearly in her


Her mother, Diana, was attempting to clear out her spare room, in order to

create more room for her computer and printer and so she had the inspired

idea of arranging for Drusilla’s harp, on which she had gained Grade 8 once

upon a time, to be transported to St Vitus’ Boarding House, where her

daughter just might take up her musical passion once more.

Diana came across a box file of cuttings and she had to blink back a tear

as she read the faded headline in the local newspaper: Fingers of an Angel-

pluck-y pupil pulls all the heartstrings at local festival.  And there was the

young Drusilla receiving her certificate of commendation from no other than

the famous harpist, Marisa Robles, who had actually played the theme tune

to Narnia on Dru’s instrument.

While her mother valiantly made progress, Dru and her father were heading

towards Kent, to a nursing home in Snodland, to be precise, where Aunt

Augusta, or Great-Aunt Augusta was counting out her days in Premium Bonds.

She has checked herself into a hydro hotel in the first years of her widowhood,

but hadn’t been too keen on taking water in any form, so had decamped to a

gracious mansion with care staff.

Dru was curious to meet this relative after whom her father derived his

forename. She wondered if she would be anything like the Aunt Augusta

in Wilde’s play, or Graham Greene’s novel.  She studied the black and

white photograph of this newly- to-be-introduced relative which Gus had

produced and she could clearly see the family jowls.  In fact, she thought

that  Augusta looked incredibly like Claire, Grayson Perry’s alter-ego.  She

would have made an incredible headmistress, in Dru’s opinion- somewhat

in the style of Alastair Sim, in drag.

Gus explained that she had been richly left, as Portia had been, but although

the well-endowed widow had helpfully paid for his school fees, thus creating

obligation- there was no such thing as a free uniform-his parents had come

under a degree of emotional blackmail over the years. Indeed, she continued

to exert control even now, as she was always threatening to cut him out of

her will, if he did not visit every half term.

Gus had written his aged relative a letter to explain Drusilla and to express

her wish to meet her great-aunt.  He didn’t want to give Augusta a heart

attack. Or did he?  No, he really didn’t.  Not really.

Dru had furnished herself with a box of Maxime de Paris choccies and a bottle

of Dewlap Gin for the Discerning Grandmother.  She thought the authorities

might just let the old lady have a nip or two at aperitif time.  The proprietor of

Pop My Cork! , the Suttonford wine merchant, had assured her- most

unprofessionally thought Dru-, that a female nonagenarian neighbour in High

Street adored the tipple and practically derived her entire nutritional input from

the potent brew and small, but regular, helpings of Lemon Drizzle cake.

Here we are, sighed Gus, putting on the handbrake and girding up his loins.

Oh, is this it?  It’s very grand, isn’t it?

Dru refreshed her nude lip salve and powdered her nose.  She wanted to

make a good impression.

Right! Lead on, Macduff! she said.

Lay on , Drusilla.  Don’t they teach anything correctly any more?

She hoped this wouldn’t be a bad omen.  She so wanted to get it right.

The importance of being earnest and all that..

But unfortunately she had left the bottle in the boot.