Acrylic and metallic painting by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Baltic cruise, Basingstoke, Beam me up.., bingo, Bradford on Avon, Bridge, Bridge Mints, Catherine the Great, cribbage, Dame Edna, David Cameron, deviation, Estonia, Faberge, fly fishing, geophysicist, George Clooney, George Osborne, hesitation, Inner Hebrides, ISA, Jeremy Paxman, Kit-Kat, Knights in White Satin, Lamborghini, Madge, Martini, Missing Amber Room, Neil Oliver, Nick Clegg, pasty, Poleconomy, Potemkin, Putin, religious affairs broadcaster, repetition, St Petersburg, Tallinn, The Hermitage, Tuck shop, Waldemar Janusczak, White Nights, Winter Palace
Diana Fotheringay-Syylk was feeling like the fishy guest who putrefies after
three days. Not that Sonia had hinted that she had a sudden need to reclaim
her spare rooms, but it was just that both women required their own space.
Diana felt that it was a bit like sharing The Winter Palace with Catherine the
Great, and it sometimes felt like a similar temperature too.
Diana’s estate agent was frantically sending her texts, reporting on the
positive viewings on her cottage in Bradford-on-Avon. Prospective buyers
adored the quaint windows- as far as she could recall there were none.
Couples loved its tranquil position in a quiet village. ‘Bustling town‘ was how
she would have described its location. And why did they mention the river
after the worst flooding in a century? She was in an elevated position and
hadn’t had a teaspoonful of groundwater in her cellar. So far there had
been no second viewings. Still, it wasn’t Easter yet.
Sonia kept wanting to play Cribbage, Bridge or a variety of Bingo every
evening. Diana didn’t care for these games and would have been happy to
provide the canapes for the occasion, if only George Osborne, or
Nick Clegg could have dropped by, so that she could sit the session out, like
some kind of Madge to Edna’s grande dame. She had a sneaking
suspicion that Sonia would have eaten the politicians up as efficiently as
she disposed of a box of Bridge Mints and that she would probably have
preferred Potemkin to drop by unannounced for a game of Poleconomy.
Apparently the Chancellor and the Deputy PM love Bingo– so much so that
they were right behind tax reductions of 50% on the game. (David Cameron
was less enthusiastic. He prefers a night in with a pasty.)
Just as well that Sonia had given up driving, after she embedded her car in the
frontage of Costamuchamoulah, must-seen cafe. Otherwise she might have
been tempted to cash in her annuities to purchase a Lamborghini to roar up
Diana could imagine other old biddies, such as Ginevra, being all too keen to
make a black hole in their pension funds in order to subsidise a Martini habit,
It wouldn’t take too many cashed-in ISAs to buy a toy boy and it would
probably be more short term fun than having to fund an Eastern European
Diana was beginning to realise that she wasn’t as young as she had been. She
had been planning a Sagbag cruise to somewhere culturally interesting, such as
St Petersburg. It would have been something to look forward to after the
house sale and removal stresses. She quite fancied listening to some minor
celebrity rabbiting on about Faberge eggs, or leaning over the deck rail with a
George Osborne lookalike..(No, she meant Clooney, surely?), night after White
Night, or Knight after White Knight, not necessarily in white satin, or even
Now Putin had put paid to that Baltic fantasy.
Really someone should put the ‘Ras‘ back into his name. She held him
personally responsible for preventing her from viewing The Hermitage. How
one small man could spoil everything was very irritating. If he had been a
pupil in her class, she would have told him not to be so greedy. The lion’s
share was not his to grab. She would have made him put it back and go to
the end of the queue.
He would have to have said, Thank you, Mrs Fotheringay-Syylk, with no
repetition, hesitation, or deviation. And if she had detected any hint of
sarcasm or impertinence in his tone, then he would have been the last to
leave the classroom and may have even had to stay behind to help her
tidy up Lost Property. (But how do you tidy up Crimea?)
Sanctions! She knew all about them. Charging round the hockey pitch
twenty times would have sorted him out. As for the Tuck Shop– out of
bounds till the end of term! Or maybe till the end of time.
She absent-mindedly bent down to pick up the mail from the doormat.
There were two letters, both addressed to herself.
There was an envelope stamped with the estate agent’s logo.
She ripped it open. She was being offered a record price for the cottage!
Bingo! Drusilla had been right. It had flown away.
She opened the other missive. It was from Sagbag Cruises and included a
published list of floating lectures. Geophysicists, Religious Affairs
Where was Bendor Grosvenor? That was what she wanted to know.
Maybe he didn’t do Sagbag. What about Neil Oliver?
Oh, wow! Waldemar Janusczak on The Missing Amber Room. A cruise to
Tallinn. Sign me up, Scotty! she screamed. I’m definitely going for that one,
whether he was born in Basingstoke, or not. I must ask Drusilla if she wants
to go too. I mean to Estonia, not Basingstoke. Imagine sailing round all those
roundabouts! You’d feel seasick!
I can’t understand why Dru prefers Andrew Graham-Dixon. He showed himself
up on University Challenge. No, even Jeremy Paxman giving his fly-fishing tips
on a nautical jaunt round the Inner Hebrides isn’t as good as Waldemar on a
And by the look of the price offered for my erstwhile humble abode, I can
treat my dear daughter too.