barmkin, bawbee, clarsach, deipnosophist, Forth Bridge, Grand Designs, Hazlitt, insomniacs, Kelso, Kevin McCloud, Luther Table Talk, Mindfulness, Pele Tower, reiver, shards, spurtle, Tischgesprache, tokenism
Gus doesn’t think much of him, I’m afraid, confided Drusilla, fingering
the gold harp on a chain which the maligned one had given her.
Her step-father, Murgatroyd Syylk, tried to look dispassionate.
They were sitting on a tartan sofa in his barmkin, sipping whisky
and soda. Murgatroyd was very precise, nay pedantic and precious,
about the distinction between the converted cattle enclosure and
the pele tower proper. He had watched too many Grand Designs
programmes for his own good and felt that Kevin McCloud should have
shown more interest in his renovation and restoration project. In fact,
he was lucky that someone hadn’t made a feature based on his own
architectural endeavours, which would probably have been aptly
entitled: Grand Delusions.
Why should you take any notice of what Gus thinks? Murgatroyd,
never abbreviated to Mug, challenged. By now he had been
informed of the truth of Dru’s parentage and he had taken it
very well, considering. He decided that he still felt a strong
paternal interest in Dru and, in spite of her DNA, she had been
nurtured by him in her formative years. Whatever the biological,
ramifications and their personal impacts, he still thought Snod a bit
of an old fool. Clinking the ice in his crystal tumbler, he waved his
tumbler to emphasise the point. Diana and he would have to have
an adult exchange in the near future.
I don’t know. I’d just prefer Gus to respect Nigel. I wish he
wouldn’t refer to him as no deipnosophist.
What on earth is that?
Someone who is not a conversationalist.. Table talk and all that.
Hazlitt, Martin Luther, Hitler’s Tischgesprache, Oscar Wilde- you
know.. Gus has perfected the learned insult over many years in
Surely that is politically incorrect? commented Murgatroyd. But a
partner should be your own choice. You’re a grown woman now,
Dru. Gus hasn’t exactly been Mr Successful in the love stakes.
Not that I’m one to talk. Judge not etc… Anyway, would he have
wanted you to get hitched to any of that line up?
He probably thinks that since Nigel hasn’t been made Head
Teacher, he isn’t good enough for me.
But you weren’t offered the post either..
Here Dru flushed with embarrassment.
Don’t get me wrong-I think it is the best news ever. Tokenism
is so muddle-headed. Of course you were both worthy in your
own ways, but why be ground down by all that responsibility?
Your father saw through it all and didn’t apply for the job.
No, but they’ve created a new post for him as Deputy Headmaster.
He doesn’t have to do much, but it will boost his pension and it is
their way of thanking him for all he has done over the years.
Not exactly a golden handshake! And where’s the watch?
You should both enjoy your lives. You could develop your artistic
abilities. There’s no reason why you and Nigel couldn’t put together
a programme of music for harp and voice. You could have a recital
here. They’d flock over from Kelso in droves, especially if you
included the clarsach in the performance.
Well, it would be a lot more portable, but it tends to lull people to sleep.
Murgatroyd started to get carried away with another fantasy:
We could advertise it as a concert for insomniacs! Put a twist on the
conventional and make shedloads of bawbees out of therapy seekers.
Music and Mindfulness!
Murgatroyd began to visualise a scheme for raising enough money to
finish the pointing on the tower and maybe even to raise the roof.
I expect the acoustic is very good, admitted Dru. I suppose we could
practise in the school holidays.
Why don’t you all come up here? Gus as well. I expect he needs a rest
after last term. Your mother could come too. We’re all older and
wiser now and can behave like grown ups. Presumably.
That’s very charitable, Dru said, but I think she is going on a cruise
with Sonia. It might be the House Party from Hell! Nigel would probably
be keen, though. From what he tells me, if he goes to see his mother
in Cornwall, he ends up for ever decorating, like the interminable
painting of The Forth Bridge. Can’t remember if I mean Road or Rail.
So, now that your mother has sold her cottage, is she going to buy
something in Suttonford? Murgatroyd struggled to appear
emotionally detached again.
No, she and Sonia have a mutually convenient thing going on. Mum
helps her out with a few chores and keeps her company and she stays
at Royalist House rent-free for the foreseeable future.
What about Gus?
He’s being rather enigmatic at the moment. I don’t know what he’s
up to, but he doesn’t do subterfuge very effectively.
Probably a woman involved then! Murgatroyd knew the ropes.
I very much doubt it. Though, come to mention it, I suddenly
saw moisturiser in his bathroom.
Changing the subject, we could hire a van and bring the harp here.
As you wish, said Murgatroyd with one of his characteristic flourishes,
which meant that he spilled some whisky. You could bring your easel
and canvasses and Nigel could help me with some dry stone walling.
He’d probably prefer to help you to catalogue the pottery shards you
found in the excavations. He’s not exactly a physical type.
Oh, we’ll get him to take his porridge like a man and we’ll soon make
a reiver out of him.
If you manage that, I’ll award you the Order of the Golden Spurtle!
She was beginning to see that she had mis-judged Murgatroyd.