Alliance Francaise, Bernard Ingham, Black Bun, Crunchie, Dewlap Gin, doghouse, Hogmanay, Jumelage, Maggie Thatcher, Memory foam, multum in parvo, NASA, Pet Nappers, Richter scale, Sherpa Bone pillow, shortbread, Slumberland, snorterino, Top Paws Fashion pillow, Tupperware, Ugg boots
Pooh-Bah, Algy and Humbug, the Brewer-Mead family pugs, were
snoozing on their new Tempur-pedic loungers and nothing was going
to persuade them to move for a post-Christmas waddle through the
churned-up byways of Suttonford. Once they had settled on their
Memory Foam, it would have taken something about point seven and
above on the Richter Scale to displace them.
Santa had been over-indulgent. They had their Top Paw Fashion
Pillows (chewable-resistant) and the odour of polyurethane was
already fading. They should have thanked NASA for their new-
Mrs Hatch-Warren, the femme-de-menage, as Carrie called her was
on her two week break, so Gyles was clearing up in the kitchen while
his wife and sister, Victoria were hitting the sales.
Victoria had travelled over from The Charente, where she ran a
reclamation business, but had been stuck for sixteen hours on a ferry
which couldn’t berth. She was stocking up on items which were difficult to
find over there and was seeking next year’s Christmas cards, in particular.
She would sell them to expats at Alliance Francaise parties next December
at 100% profit. Sante!
Gyles checked his ninety plus mother who was ensconced in the sitting
room, finishing her e-book. Her carer, Magda, was visiting her predecessor
in Normandy. Ola had bagged the remaindered widower on the Jumelage
Exchange between Suttonford and Bric-a-Brac. Magda wanted to see their
new baby, Georges, born at the same time as The Little Prince.
Ginevra, Gyles’ mother was awaiting the visit of her old friend, Sonia, from
High Street. When she arrived they could progress through the Maggie
Thatcher spectrum of drinkies as reported by Sir Bernard Ingham-ie/
opener, brightener, lifter, tincture, large gin and tonic without tonic; snifter,
snort, snorter and snorterino.
Tiger-Lily walked into the kitchen. Hi, Dad, she smiled, uncharacteristically.
Take those muddy Ugg boots off before your mother goes ballistic, Gyles
cautioned. I’ve just washed the floor.
Chillax, Tiger muttered. She balanced one hand on the edge of the granite
island and tried to kick an Ugg off. Dad, in despair, came to the rescue and
Three yapping pugs leapt out of their Pet Nappers, discarding their faux-fur,
ultra-plush throws and formed an excited circle round the extended limb.
Gerroff! Tiger shouted in an extremely unladylike fashion, which only
What’s to eat? she addressed her father directly. She started to open tins
and Tupperware containers.
The boys finished the Christmas cake, I’m afraid.
Great! I didn’t even get any, she complained.
Well, Grandma Morag sent us some shortbread, but Mum’s keeping that
for New Year.
Hogmanay, corrected Tiger, who knew the difference.
Whatever, said her father, And don’t eat the Black Bun. She’s keeping
Tiger surreptitiously helped herself to a Crunchie from her brother, Ferdy’s
Selection Stocking. He’d never notice, she reasoned.
Go and speak to your grandmother, Gyles suggested. She’s in the sitting
Do I have to?
Gyles threw her a meaningful glance, so she went.
Ah, Tiger! Would you like a Dewlap Gin? her grandmother asked
I’m not allowed.
Oh, I forgot. Well, could you top my glass up, darling?
Tiger hopped back into the kitchen, still wearing a single Ugg.
Humbug! she yelled.
A naughty pug crawled out of her fleecy boot and leapt back onto
his monogrammed coverlet, putting his little head onto his Sherpa Bone
Tiger retrieved her Ugg and found it curiously heavy. She turned it upside
down and a mass of black currants and pastry crumbs cascaded onto the
Dad! she screamed. Dad!
But Gyles had retired to the marital Slumberland mattress which was
more than a decade old and considerably less supportive than the
deep dish slumber divans on which the pugs reclined. He was fast
asleep and snoring like one of his brachycephalic pets- or like all three of
There was nothing for it but to sweep the remains of the Black Bun into the
wheelie bin and she just hoped that her mother wouldn’t notice.
Drat! Coming, gran.
She took a little swig of the Dewlap Gin for Discerning Grandmothers.
And through the haze of the unaccustomed fumes, she saw her grandmother
in a new light. They said that owners sometimes began to look like their pets
and, to be sure, Ginevra was very wrinkly, short-muzzled, not to say, stubborn
in character. Tiger had read that the breed were often described as multum in
parvo and, thanks to her GCSE Latin. she knew that this indicated that
one got a lot in a little package. Certainly Ginevra had a
remarkable personality for her size and, though lovable, like the pugs, she
was definitely high- maintenance and attention-seeking.
Actually, that sounded very like the implications in Tiger’s summative end-of-
term report from Miss Fotheringay. Golly! Maybe she was inbred!
Oh no! That must be the other old biddy.
Yip, that must be Sonia.