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Wollaton Hall Nov2010.jpg

True to her word, Dru re-appeared at Snodland Nursing Home for the

Debased Gentry, the following day.

Her great-aunt was still ploughing through the back numbers of

Country Life, but was milking the October 2014 copy.

Who is this Wendy Holden woman? she asked, a little ferociously.

She has the cheek to comment that she was more than a little relieved

when Scotland decided to ‘stick with us’.  That personal object pronoun

reveals her supercilious position.  Then she says elsewhere that

she loves being provincial.  Well, she needs to cosmopolitanise some of

her ideas.  She sounds like a Mitford with out-dated views based on U-s

and non-U-s.

I mean,  she admits that she had never met The Duchess of Devonshire,

but she shared a mole-man with her. Let’s face it, we are all within five

handshakes of the Queen’s forelock-tugging detaupeur, for crying out loud.

I was going to say we are within five handshakes of Lady Chatterley’s

gamekeeper, but Mellor isn’t a popular name to be associated with at the

moment.  You’d certainly want to use one of those medicated wipes after

any such contact.  Hmm…

Next, in an attempt to appear to belong to the hoi polloi, this woman’s

rabbiting on, to continue our groundsman analogy, about gondolas ferrying

people to the ridotto and sestieri crowned with the Doge’s cap, while she

and her brood had to await their surrey with the fringe on top in a Venetian

Park-and-Ride.  My heart bleeds…

Thomas Gainsborough - Mr and Mrs Andrews.jpg

Aunt Augusta!  If the magazines upset you, I shan’t bring any more.

Augusta gave her a withering glance.

No, I liked PD James’ article on Gainsborough’s painting of Mr and Mrs

Andrews. I’d never noticed the blank patch on her lap, apparently

unpainted so that it could receive a pheasant. It might be a handy

explanation to cover the damp patches we see in laps in here.  The

owners could just say airily: ‘Oh, I’m awaiting my retriever bringing

a woodchuck.’

Marmota monax UL 04.jpg

Did you like Nigel Farndale defending his county by saying:

Not all counties can be Yorkshire, of course, but Lancashire suffers

from this unfortunate truth more than most, ‘ Dru enquired.

Yes, and I liked the bit on Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, with its

Temple of Ostentation- a metaphor for the publication itself?  Or

even for this establishment, dare I say it?

Changing the subject, would you like to stay for lunch?  I can ask

them if they have some spare portions.  Margaret passed on last

night, but she’d already filled in her menu, so they should have

enough.  I think it’s mushroom risotto.  They’re trying to kill us off.

Oh, all right.  Thanks, agreed Dru.  And she settled down in an

armchair to read about Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.  She’s always

wanted to go there, but it was beyond Nigel’s budget on a Junior

Master’s salary.

Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in September 2006

Oh!  Raymond Blanc was smiling from an article called Humungus

Fungus.  He seemed to be growing morels, wood blewits, shiitake

and pisstaki in a shipping container in a part of the grounds called

La Vallee des Champignons Sauvages.  It reminded her of that opera

she’d once seen at Glyndebourne.  What was it?  Manon L’Escargot?

But sometimes you just wanted a good old unpretentious favourite

like Oklahoma.  Or a boiled egg.

And she followed her aunt into the dining room, humming:

You can keep your rig if you’re thinkin’ that I’d keer to swap

Fer that shiny, little surrey with the fringe on top!


And as they sat down at the communal board, Dru had to

confiscate the Country Life magazine.

Aunt Augusta, it’s rude to read at the table.

Nonsense.  If Picasso’s lover, Marie-Therese did it, so can I.

We Bohemians make our own rules.  Here, you can have

‘In the Classroom Today.’

And she didn’t utter another word throughout the meal.

Dru just hoped that the mushrooms were from a supermarket.

She didn’t want any gastrointestinal troubles in the last weeks

of term.

Pablo Picasso Girl Reading at a Table 1934