Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Do you prefer this version to yesterday’s? I think they remind me of old book
illustrations of guides to different counties in England and Scotland.
Drusilla had practised folding and unfolding the collapsible wheelchair
and she had borrowed a tartan travelling rug to drape over her great-aunt’s
Augusta was strapped into the front seat of Dru’s tiny car. Gus had elected
to drive, so Dru was relegated to being squashed in the back of her own
At least the weather was dry for once.
So, I’m going home, Aunt Augusta declared.
Dru met her father’s eyes in the mirror. We’re going to see the aconites
first, she side-stepped.
You used to be an aconite, didn’t you Gus? You used to look so nice
with your little cassock, carrying the candle in the school service,
Augusta reminisced fondly.
No, I was an acolyte, corrected Gus. Quite different.
Dru found herself droning:
You had the grace to hold yourself/
While those around you crawled..
La la la.. like a candle in the wind..
It was going to be a long day.
Parking at Wyvern Mote was difficult because of all the mud. Dru
heaved the old lady into the wheelchair and tried to push it through
The wheelchair tyres were coated with filth. It would have to be her car
they were using! (She had just had it valeted by the girls in her boarding
house in aid of their favourite charity: Anacondas in Adversity!)
Gus managed to purchase a ‘Family‘ discounted entry ticket, but he was
peeved as, in the past, he had marched into the grounds with his
mother, before the estate had been handed over to The National Trust.
There had been no turnstile then.
Aunt Augusta wasn’t terribly interested in the fiery dogwood, nor the
stinking hellebores. She was cold and so they made for the tearoom.
I’ll have a glass of champagne and some Lemon Drizzle cake, she
announced. I always have those at this time of day.
What about lunch? queried Dru.
Oh, well, I’ll have oysters. There’s an ‘r’ in the month, isn’t there?
Dru ignored her request and bought her a child’s portion of Lancashire
Hotpot. Gus had wanted faggots, followed by Spotted Dick, but he had
to make do with Hotpot as well.
Frankly, my dears, Dru didn’t care what she had. She was dying to take
her turn of being let off the hook, so that she could wander up to the
Portrait Gallery, in order to check out any family resemblances.
Gus said he would wait with Aunt Augusta. He had had his solo fifteen
Dru examined every portrait intently, but could see no familial similarities at
Disappointed, she followed the arrows which led her back to the tearoom
via the servants’ staircase and kitchen. A door was ajar and she peeked
in. It was the old schoolroom. On the wall, there was a sepia photograph
of the two boys who had lived there in 1946. The label informed her that
the sneering and robust of build elder boy was called Master Lionel and the
pale, rather sickly-looking younger one was Master Peregrine. Alongside
them, leaning rather louchely against his desk was their tutor. No! It couldn’t
be! He was the spitting youthful image of that demented old boy who had
invaded Augusta’s bed the other night. The label said:…with their tutor
Anthony Revelly, in 1949.
How could she not have noticed? He had the same jowly features as herself
and her father.
She took out her phone and..
No flash photography! reprimanded a voice from a chair in the corner. Dru
thought that she had activated some kind of waxwork. Maybe the wizened
woman was Madame Tussaud herself!
But it was too late. She had already taken the photo and, if the volunteer
wanted to look as if she was sitting on a holly leaf out of some kind of
masochism, then that was her own lookout.
By Jove! Dru whooped as she made her way into the tearoom. I think I’ve got
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, sang Augusta.
Time to take her back and then have a consultation!
Are we going home? Augusta demanded.
In a manner of speaking, replied Dru. I’ll drive!