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Drusilla placed the box of chocolates on the coffee table in the communal

sitting room of Snodland Nursing Home for Debased Gentry.  With a start,

she realised that she had left the carefully chosen bottle of Dewlap’s Gin for

the Discerning Grandmother in the boot of the car.

Augustus leaned over to plant a peck on the wizened cheek of his Aunt

Augusta.  Unfortunately this did not soften her response.

So where have you been all this time?  Bunburying?  I hope you’ve both had

your flu jabs before coming in here.

Aunt Augusta peered at Drusilla intently, as if awarding her a score out of


So what do you do for a living, young lady?

Em, I’m a teacher like my father, Dru responded. She did not mention her


Yes, well, those who can do and those who can’t..

Aunt Augusta, I’ll just go and get a bottle out of the car, interrupted Gus.

This seemed to raise the temperature a little.

Hmm, well I hope that the girls you teach don’t have any of those terrible

tattoos like those so-called dancers on Strictly, the formidable Gorgon

declared, directing her social comment to Dru. I believe the tribal scribbles

are called ‘tramp stamps.’ Corporeal sacrilege in my view!

Dru blushed as she had been decorated herself, but she was not her father’s

daughter for nothing.  Before she could restrain herself she blurted out: I

take it that you are a Daily Mail reader, Aunt Augusta?

Gus re-appeared with the bottle and three glasses which he had borrowed

from the staff kitchen.  A very timely distraction.

The girl’s psychic, Gus.  She takes after me.  Now tell me, whatever your

name is, do you think I’m going to make 100?  Because, if I do, you can all

kiss goodbye to any legacy, because I’ll have drunk it all away!

I’m sure that’s your prerogative, Aunt Augusta, Dru replied with a smile.

You look as if you might well last the course with your famous penchant

for gin and Lemon Drizzle cake…

..is the right answer, the old dear gleefully applauded.  I’m going to have to

change my will.  At last: a member of my family to whom I can relate.  Mind

you, if you were to have one of those dreadful tramp stamps, it would be a

different matter.  Oh yes!  But I am confident that such an intelligent young

woman would never have despoiled her body with anything so crass.  Would

you?  She suddenly turned her gimlet gaze full on to the flummoxed

visitor, which almost petrified Dru as effectively as if she had been forced

to confront Medusa minus a shield, or Deborah Meaden in the Dragons’


Medusa by Carvaggio.jpg

Dru disguised her reply as she swallowed her ice cube the wrong way and had

to be thumped on the back by her father.  Aunt Augusta was not fooled by this

diversionary technique.

As Graham Greene said: Poverty could strike suddenly..like influenza.

But there was no inoculation known which could protect one from the infection

of Aunt Augusta’s manipulation, as Gus knew all too well.