Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
You cannot buy taste:
it’s the placement of objects
that’s the giveaway.
How you prune a branch, or tree,
says much about you.
Your house is like a mirror
of your whole being
and every visitor reads
your character from bookshelves.
is seen in the way cushions
are plumped up, or set aside.
arras, azure chapeau, barmkin, Blackadder, break a leg!, campaned, Commonwealth Games, crewel work, eBay, Esau, Fountainbridge, Green Room, helm affronte, heraldry, Ian Fleming, interior design, Kevin McCloud, King Over The Water, latex allergy, Moneypenny, Mrs Dalloway, nonsufficit orbis, Pierce Brosnan, policies, Polonius, poniard, Revenge Tragedy, Salmond, Samuel Johnson, Scotch Terrier, Scottish baronetcies, Sean Connery, stream-of-consciousness, Wee Eck, women bishops
Murgatroyd peered from behind the crewel worked arras, like a tetchy
Polonius. No matter that he had found the reproduction fabric on Ebay,
it gave the desired effect and Kevin McCloud could stick that in his
chanter and play it, if he possessed such an instrument. He only hoped
that the presenter would not appear at the concert with a camera crew,
and the verbal equivalent of a poniard, in the shape of a character in a
Revenge Tragedy, avenging the contravention of ‘Good Taste‘ in interior
design. But, unless Kev had been in the area and read one of the local
flyers, it seemed unlikely.
All the seats had been laid out in the erstwhile barmkin by a team as
efficient as those in The Commonwealth Games, minus the daft
choreography and the neon costumes.
Time was getting on and no one had turned up, except for Sonia and
Diana. Only five tickets had been sold to date.
Och, dinna fash yersel’, soothed his cleaner. They’ll a’ troop in at the
last meenit. It’s jist their way. They dinna want tae spend ony money
in case they shuffle off their mortal coil afore the night. They’ll buy their
tickets on the door.
I do so hope you’re right, replied the Master of Ceremonies.
Away and sit doon, man. Yer makin’ me nervous. I’ll lead them in.
Ah dinna need ony o’ they wee Scottie dugs either. Ah’ll dae the
job masel’. Hey, did ye see the Manx team? They should ha’ got
wan o’ the three-legged dugs fur them!
Yes, Mrs Dalloway, I mean Connolly. You carry on. Murgatroyd
interrupted her stream-of-consciousness.
Actually, things had gone rather well in the afternoon. He had insisted
on collecting Sonia and Diana from The Tibetan Centre and he and
Diana had had their ‘little chat‘, without acrimony, during a tour of his
With a re-adjustment of the sleeping arrangements, space had been
found to accommodate them. Nigel and Dru and Snod and Virginia
had not been sharing anyway, so Diana and Sonia were to join Dru, who
kindly agreed to couch herself on a borrowed futon and Nigel moved into
the master bedroom with Murgatroyd and graciously said that he did not
mind kipping on the semi-perished Li-lo that the cleaner said had
belonged to her grandson, who was now fifty. He didn’t think it would
set off his latex allergy.
This left Snod in splendid isolation, which was his preferred option;
Virginia was also ‘toute seule.’ She did not intend to imitate The Grey Lady
and wander around at night. There were far too many creaky floorboards.
She commented that Nigel looked amazing in his kilt. He wasn’t quite sure
if this was a compliment, but decided to accept it as such.
A snifter to settle those nerves? Murgatroyd offered Nigel.
No, thank you, replied our songster. It can wreak havoc with the vocal
chords. He gabbled from jittery nerves.
Sir, when I was browsing in your library this afternoon, I came across a
fascinating tome on heraldry. It mentioned all sorts of names, such as
Moneypenny and Blackadder…
Ah, yes. That was the kind of source Ian Fleming used to come up with
mottoes such as ‘Nonsufficit Orbis’ for James Bond.
Virginia’s eyes misted over. There was only one James Bond for me..
Sean Connery, agreed Sonia. Born not too far from here, in
No, Pierce Brosnan, corrected Virginia. It was the naval
commander’s uniform. Classic.
Nigel continued, unabashed: It confirmed what we discussed about
Scottish baronetcies and the female line. It also said that The Lord
Lyon only governs on matters heraldic and could not enforce any
objection to you- here he nodded towards Snod, respectfully–
wearing the azure chapeau for formal occasions connected with the
baronetcy. Like for this concert, he finished proudly.
Stuff and nonsense! replied Snod gruffly, thus earning two sharpish
kicks: one from Virginia’s stiletto and another from his daughter’s heel.
Sir, Nigel turned to a sceptical Snod, as heir to an ancient baronial family
who is no longer the owner of the estate, one is still permitted these
privileges. You could settle for a pennon..
Pennon? Murgatroyd was becoming confused with poniards.
…a small swallow-tailed flag. Or a feudal steel tilting helm, garnished in
gold, shown affronte..
Pull the other one, Milford-Haven. It is campaned.
In heraldic terms, it has bells on it! But now I am becoming affronted,
snorted Gus. As Samuel Johnson said, and I paraphrase, ‘Just because
someone can do something, it doesn’t follow that they should.’
Murgatroyd chipped in: Oh yes. I like the good doctor’s quote about
female preachers and dogs walking on hind legs. Most apposite.
And now we have women bishops, groaned Snod. What is the world
coming to? Tell you what, old boy- here he addressed Murgatroyd-
fill me up with some of that nectar and I will forget this inane
conversation. Like Esau, I’m prepared to sell my inheritance for a mess
of porridge at breakfast tomorrow morning.
Be a good boy now, added Virginia, and I will buy you a spurtle. And,
by the way, it was pottage. A quite different thing. Lentils, I believe.
It was Dru’s turn to be outraged, but she hid it well. Diana was simply
Stop stirring, children, reprimanded Sonia.
Yes, conciliated mein host. Let’s drink a time-honoured
toast to The King Over the Water- and I don’t mean Wee Eck.
Oh yes, said Dru. I read that Salmond has lost two stones and
a bystander told him that women would be hitting onto him.
Not in a flattering way, surely? sniped Sonia.
Come away doon, all o’ youse! The hall’s fillin’ up!
Mrs Connolly, the cleaner had been right. The canny audience had
bought their tickets on the door.
Break a leg, said Sonia before descending the staircase. Hopefully,
Nigel and Dru exchanged glances and did their deep breathing in
They would be summoned from The (makeshift) Green Room.