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Drusilla Fotheringay had excelled herself in the end of term

Christmas concert.  Her performance on the harp had

charmed the audience of parents, staff and pupils and

had deeply impressed Geoffrey Poskett, the choirmaster

of St Birinus Middle School.

Nigel Milford-Haven, Junior Master, had been fully supported

in his Britten solos and could see that this could be a partnership

made in Heaven- possibly a marriage planned in Paradise.  He had

only taken his eye off the conductor’s baton once, in order to beam

encouragement in Dru’s direction and consequently earned himself

a deep frown and a strong downward beat from his tense colleague.

Now Drusilla was looking forward to a trip that she and her parents

had organised earlier in the term.  It involved some Turkish delight

in the wintry sun of Cappadocia, so they were flying from Stansted to

Antalya forthwith.  They were going to view some strange geology and

Augustus Snodbury had been revising the theology of the Early Church


Cappadocia Aktepe Panorama.JPG

Dru opened yet another congratulatory card -this one from Juniper

Boothroyd-Smythe.  She knew that she had scored a hit in settling the

potentially delinquent student into her boarding house.  The card showed

a not particularly cheery image: it had a Damien Hirst For the Love of God

skull on its front, but Juniper had super-imposed a Santa hat which hung

down in a somewhat louche manner, over its glittery sockets.

Other less original pupils had sent her a robin with a standard wish that

she would have an a-ma-zing time in Cappadoccia, Capadoccia, or in other

orthographically challenging destinations.  Why did they never bother about

spelling?  In her day..Oh well, it was the end of term, so why should she get

her palazzo pants in a tangle?

Next Palazzo Pants

She wondered if they would be warm enough for a hot air balloon

trip.  They had been packed and unpacked several times, but she

felt, on the whole, that they would preserve her dignity if the landing

was less than smooth.

She gathered up the wrapping paper and boxes which contained last

year’s unwanted toiletries which had formed the basis of some of the

girls’ presents, no doubt cobbled together by their mothers.  These could

go straight to Help the Ancient charity shop, if they had not derived their

origin from hence.

But, hold on!  What was that letter that was sticking to some clear plastic

wrapping by static?  Someone had forgotten to stick a stamp on it, but the

postman must have delivered it in a spirit of goodwill, or because he received

a tip at this time of year and didn’t want to jeopardise the custom. At any

other time, there would only have been a card with a sticker instructing her

to pay a pound if she wanted to come and collect whatever it was.

Dru tore it open impatiently and a grubby five pound note fell out of a

letter. It had come from Snodland Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry

and the calligraphy was somewhat shaky.

She read:

Dear Grand-Niece, (spelt correctly, she noted)

It was good to see you and your father recently.  I do hope that you

will both manage to fit in a visit in your copious free time and will

endeavour to remember not to leave bottles in the car.

The chocolates were slightly past their sell-by date, unlike moi, I can

assure you.  I off-loaded them on the auxiliary staff, who having lost their

bloom didn’t mind devouring the chocolate variety.  They disappeared in

a twinkling.  The chocolates I mean..

Thank you for the letter which informed me of your holiday plans.

Don’t drink the tap water and eschew all salads, there’s a good girl.

Believe you me, I have suffered on several caravanserai trips in my

girlhood.  If it wasn’t my camel allergy, it was those blooming chick peas.

To this day, I refuse to clean my dentures with anything other than gin.

I suppose you’ll be whirling around like some dervish, packing your clothes.  I

thought I’d enclose a little something, but don’t spend it all in one bazaar.

And remember to take a toothpick.  Those pomegranate seeds used to give

me the pip.

Thank you for your photograph.  I can see the family resemblance:

the Snodbury jowls prevail.  My mother has evidently influenced your

DNA.  Mind you, we always suspected that she had had a fling with a

carpet seller in her days of gallivanting round the Bosphorus.  Still, it

saved us all a mint in suntan lotion.  A swarthy complexion can be a

problem in wearing certain hues, though, darling, and so I just give you

a little hint: yellow is not your colour.

We actually had a belly dancer here last week, arranged through our

cultural programme in the Activities Room.  One old boy had to be lifted

out as he was immobilised at the conclusion.  No doubt he enjoyed the

gyration of the nubile, if not so youthful, genie, but most of us

would just prefer the bottle.  They were able to re-set his pacemaker,


Forgive my rambling.  Must go and investigate why the drinkies are late.

Look forward to hearing all about your travels on your return.

Who knows? If we continue to get on so well, I just might make you my

sole legatee.

Merry Christmas.

Your Great-Aunt Augusta.