I wonder if Pippa would still choose
to say, ‘Come hither!’
if you didn’t have two farthings to rub together.
Betty Grable, Botafogo, Bruno Tonioli, Claudia Winkelman, Craig Revel Horwood, dance-off, Darcy Bussell, Duchess of Cambridge, Elton John, gigolo, glitter ball, It Takes Two, Len's lens, maracas, Pasha, pickle my walnuts, Pippa Middleton, Pixie Lott, promenade position, rear spoiler, Renault, rigor mortis, Shimmy, sprung floor, Strictly, Tess Daly, twerking, varifocals
And now please welcome witty and glitzy raconteuse, Candia Dixon-Stuart
and her gorgeous gigolo partner, Pasha Kovalev. Tonight they will be
It was really difficult to negotiate those stairs with the strobe lighting
which flickered from the glitter ball almost inducing an epileptic fit in me.
Without my varifocals I was entirely relying on Pasha’s supporting arm to
deliver me safely to the sprung floor.
Claudia blinked vacantly at me from under her veritable thatch of a fringe.
Her pale lippy gave her a look of rigor mortis– more so than The Human
Ironing Board‘s dazzling smile.
The orchestra struck up our number: I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister
Kate. I truly wished that a member of our Suttonford sorority could have
stood in my shoes, whether she shared a name with The Duchess of
Cambridge, or not. Come to think of it, Pippa would not suffer from
such self-doubt. I bet she could shake her rear spoiler to good effect.
Maybe she will be invited on the show, if she is not too busy babysitting…
Watershed, or not, our song referenced some murdered brothel madam
called Kate Townsend- but not many people would have known that.
Oh well, I would just have to try to shake my beading to its Pixie limit.
I adopted my promenade position.
It was all over in a flash. Pasha had to carry me over to Tess, who
brushed a few sequins from my shoulder.
Put her down, Pasha, she hissed. You’ll do yourself an injury!
Ohhh, Candia, darling! All the boys are going wild over sister Katie’s
style. Unfortunately...here Bruno fell onto the floor, laughing, and
had to grab Len’s arm to hoist himself back into his chair...you are not
called Kate, are you? Maybe you were adopted. He pursed his lips in a
pseudo pout which anyone could tell was ironic, nay sarcastic.
Clearly I won’t be invited to one of his all-night parties with Elton John.
Darcy tried to be kind:
Wow, Candia. You came out here and owned that floor. Pasha gave
you a really challenging routine and you…Well, if you could develop your
core strength more and fully extend your arms, finishing your lines..She
concluded lamely, reaching for her empathetic ‘five‘. Basically that
was the equivalent of a negative number from Craig’s arsenal.
We were now under Len’s lens. I think our lift was legal, but he clearly
was not going to pickle his walnuts. Instead he reached under the table
and produced his maracas.
You see, it takes some time for the seeds to pass across to the solid wall
of the coconut shell, so you have to anticipate the beat. He demonstrated
by waving them over his head and saying, Um cha cha; um cha cha!
It was as clear as mud.
You came out and gave it some welly, but it looked as if you were wearing
gumboots while you were at it, he added, a trifle unkindly. It was one of
his more moody evenings, clearly.
I blushed under the fake tan. Pasha gripped my arm. Keep smiling, he
To reference the original song, Craig drawled, you didn’t shimmy like a jelly
on a plate, darling. You did, however, look as if you were in a trance. I’ve
seen more successful posterior rotation in a Renault advert. Your left hand
was positively splayed and your performance was nothing less than
flat-footed. Strictly-speaking, Betty Grable you were not.
I wanted to remonstrate that I hadn’t been able to get my orthotic insoles
into the high-heeled shiny slippers, but they would have thought I was just
trying for a sympathy vote, so I desisted and I will never know how I got up
those stairs, trying to shield my bouncing bosoms with my non-splayed hand
from an overhead camera which zoomed in on cleavage.
Claudia was rabbiting on about getting permission to use someone else’s
Please, please, I mimed desperately. I didn’t want to be in the dance-off.
Actually, I didn’t want to be there at all. I knew my bum looked big in my
outfit. The massive peacock feather tail didn’t help. I’d told them peacocks
were unlucky, but they just told me to break a leg. And I nearly did!
The scores were in. No ‘seven’ from Len. A predictable ‘five‘ from Darcy.
Bless. Bruno stole a sidelong glance at Len and replicated his score.
Craig produced a card I had never seen before. It said minus two.
He was obviously feeling generous.
Bottom of the leader board. How embarrassing! However, my public
may save me. I may live to fight another day and that glamorous natural
mover who keeps scoring nines and tens may be on her way out.
I thought I was going to faint. Pasha caught me in his arms. It was
all worth it!
Dancing for us next week is…
But as my eyes re-focussed, I saw the shadowy outline of The Husband
bearing my morning cuppa. He didn’t look anything like Pasha, even with
his shirt off.
What’s wrong? he asked solicitously. You were muttering something about
Hmmm, I replied. It takes two, babe. Thanks for the tea.
He plumped up my pillows and I tried to sit up, but something was irritating
me. I was sitting on a sequin. Weird!
Ah well., at least when I go into Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe I won’t
be besieged by boa-toting women shrieking, Keep Dancing!
Instead of shaking that ass, I will just keep kicking it. And if you keep giving
me ‘likes‘ it will be the nearest thing I’ll ever experience to holding that trophy
Juniper Boothroyd-Smythe’s mother, Gisela, had been trying to find a suitable
hat to wear for the St Vitus’ School for the Academically-Gifted Girl‘s
Her daughter was going to receive the 2013 Sirdar Yarn-Bombing Textile Award
and her classmates, Tiger-Lily and Scheherezade, were being awarded
acknowledgement shields and cups for being The Girl Least Likely To and
The Girl Whose Mother’s Timekeeping Has Improved Most Markedly.
Gisela was going to be braving the marquee toute seule, since her formal
separation from Juniper’s father- realised after a much less provocative
gesture than that of Charles Saatchi’s.
Gisela had spotted a hat in Help The Ancient, Suttonford’s designer charity
shop. Some tattooed chavette may have abandoned it post-Ascot. It
wasn’t exactly Isabella Blow-cum-Philip Treacy, but, for £9.99, it was a very
good deal and could be re-cycled afterwards. Hat boxes took up too much
room in the wardrobe, she felt.
Drusilla Fotheringay-Syylk had just come out of her closet- not in a gender-
assertion manner. No, she had literally de-cluttered her bedroom in her
flat in the boarding house, before vacating the premises for the summer
school let. Lodging with her mother in Bradford-on-Avon usually stretched
both their reserves of patience.
She was glad that she had been disciplined enough to rid herself of that
hat which she had optimistically purchased in anticipation of her mother’s
demise. It would have fitted the daughter of the deceased’s role very well,
but her mater was obstinately clinging to life and so the millinery moment
had not dawned. Help The Ancient had been the beneficiary.
Drusilla intended to sport a Pippa Middleton-style fascinator for Speech Day.
She had fastened two aigret feathers together and secured them to a scrunch
of net veil with a vintage brooch. Burlesque not.
Come the day, Gisela was sitting two rows in front of her daughter’s
housemistress and she was unaware that her headgear was being scrutinised
as closely as Rabbie Burns had inspected the louse on the woman in the pew
in front of him.
Drusilla knew it was the same hat which she had donated, as she could detect
the pinholes in the brim where she had removed the amber-headed hat pin
which she had inherited from her grandmother, who had advised her to stick it
into any male who bothered her in the dark at the cinema. (Drusilla had never
had occasion to employ this strategy and felt that she might have been
arrested if she had done so.) Even after all these years of teaching in a girls’
school, she was still somewhat in the dark as to what male reprehensible
behaviour might consist of, and she was, frankly, rather disappointed that no
one had ever molested her sufficiently as to render the bodkin’s function as
anything greater than decorative.
In fact, when she saw how fetching the hat could be, she immediately wished,
like many other women who part with items from their bulging wardrobes, that
she could turn back the clock and reverse her actions. She was completely
distracted and paid no attention to the Head’s speech, in common with most of
the assembly, admittedly.
She missed the accolade to all those who have acted as the pacemakers of
the pastoral heartbeat of this remarkable institution. Old Girl, Ffion
Tullibardine-Tompkins’ account of how she had scaled The Shard in aid
of the locally-favoured charity, Anacondas In Adversity! went entirely
She was last on her feet for the rousing school song, scraped enthusiastically
by the Junior Orchestra: Here’s tae Us/ Whae’s Like Us?/ Gey Few..An’ They’re
A’ Deid, to the tune Auchenschuggle.
By Monday, the first day of her holiday, she had re-purchased the hat for
£12.99 from the charity shop. She couldn’t believe her luck, having spotted
it immediately it had re-appeared in the window. She’d been on her way to
meet an ex-colleague for coffee, since friends were in rather short supply.
Help The Ancient is, as you all know, dear Readers, right next to
Costamuchamoulah, the must-seen cafe. Now she only needed the
appropriate occasion to bring the cat, I mean hat out of the box.
Hi, Miss Fotheringay-Syylk.
Drat: it was that awful Juniper girl. Why hadn’t she gone away like the others?
Of course, Mrs Boothroyd-Smythe had to work, unlike most of Juniper’s
It looked better on you than on my mum!
(She had been spying through the window.)
But why did Drusilla always feel that the girl was being sarcastic? Maybe it
was the not-so-fleeting snigger that played about her lips.
Have a nice holiday, Juniper, she smiled. In fact, she thought, Why don’t you
take a premature gap year, or ten?
And then Drusilla tripped over the pavement art.
Yarn bombing! Grrr!!!
Sorry, Miss Fotheringay-Syylk. I hope you haven’t broken your ankle. Do you
want me to call an ambulance on my mobile? Let me carry your hatbox.
The first day of the holidays in Casualty. She might have known.
Amanda Thatcher, Bernard Ingham, Bishop of London, David Cameron, duck pate, Falklands, Iron Lady, John Major, Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, Pippa Middleton, pussycay bows, Sam Cam, Simon Weston, St Clement Danes
Sonia and Ginevra had decided to watch Maggie’s funeral together, even
although they had been of opposing political stances. However, both
agreed fervently on one fact: that she had had what some unsavoury
persons might have termed balls.
They settled into the chintz armchairs, put their feet up on the matching
footstools and prepared to toast the coffin as it came out of St Clement
In my younger days, I would have jolly well gone up there and routed anyone
who had the bad manners to express any opposition on such a day, avowed
Ginevra. I would have clouted them with my handbag.
And got yourself arrested, sighed Sonia. But I agree that empty vessels make
the most sound and a lot of these malcontents have nothing constructive to
Yes, the Queen wouldn’t stand back in deference to any of them, stated
Ginevra, prematurely sipping her gin and tonic.
Look! There’s Simon Weston! He lost most of his face to the Falklands cause
and he is not eaten up with bitterness and pointless hatred, is he? remarked
They say it is about class, but she was a grocer’s daughter and she made her
own way, so I applaud her for that. And she won three elections in a row..
Well, let’s not go into that, advised Sonia, who hadn’t voted Tory on one
of these occasions.
Did you see Prince Philip nod at the remark about bureaucracy never
achieving anything? observed Ginevra. She thought that the old boy
would definitely be ready for a drink afterwards.
And so it continued. They were concerned for the horses and for the
middle bearer who was becoming very sweaty and who looked as if he
might not make it. They applauded Amanda Thatcher’s dignified
behaviour, her nice legs and expressed their disapproval of Pippa
Middleton, in contrast. I think that was the gin’s influence, as she did
not appear to be present. A pity as she might have picked up some tips
on how to run a good event.
They wiped away tears with Sir Bernard Ingham and George Osborne
and commented on Sam Cam’s pussycat bow, prophesying a return to
the Thatcherite style.
Sonia dared to question the unfair political advantage that David
Cameron might have gained from the reading. I am the way, the truth
and the life was stated forcefully, but he may have been lent a nimbus
Okay, ladies, said Magda, Ginevra’s carer, bringing in two television
trays with plates of toast and pate at one o’clock precisely.
What kind of pate is it? queried Ginevra.
Oh no. Take it away. Bring us that salmon one instead. Ginevra
could be bossy and demanding- possibly a little Iron Ladyish herself.
But what wrong with it? You usually like it, responded Magda, who
could stand up for herself.
The Bishop of London said that he had been advised not to touch it;
it has too many calories, Ginevra elucidated. Anyway, I suddenly
remembered that we had some of the other kind at the back of the
fridge when I saw the Scottish First Minister. The camera zoomed in on
him when they sang about ‘That Other Country..whose paths would be
Okay, I go to find it, Magda said, thinking that she would probably eat
the duck version, calorific content no problem.
She returned with the substitute in a few seconds.
It had better not be Sturgeon pate, laughed Sonia, who was fairly
Magda looked worried.
It’s another fish, explained Ginevra. Not such a clever lady,
So why did you give this Maggie lady such a lot of attention? I never
heard of her, asked Magda.
Because she was a dreadnought amongst a fishing fleet, as somebody
quoted today, explained Ginevra. You had Lech Walesa; we had
Maggie Thatcher, so put that into your salmon pate and smoke it!
No, corrected Sonia: we had John Major.
That reminds me, Ginevra changed the subject whenever she was
exposed as misinformed, there might be some curried eggs in the
fridge as well.
Sonia laughed, but Magda didn’t get the joke. (She found the eggs,
though.) Ginevra’s tangential thought processes were often puzzling.
Could these apparent non-sequiturs be an exhibition of confusion?
She would ask the lady at the agency. Maybe the two old girls were
both -how do you say it?-Ah yes, bonkers!
Meantime, toast and duck pate: quite a nice little lunch.
Pointless. Not life in general- the quiz programme, dear readers.
No, I’m not admitting to being a viewer. I was just waiting for The
Six o’ Clock News. Honest.
You know, I feel really sorry for Alexander Armstrong. He gets to keep
the music from his comedy programme, but doesn’t do his dad dancing
any more with his wee pal. And he’s related to Royalty, which makes it all
as embarrassing as Pippa Middleton’s pontifications on Burns Suppers.
(The Bard’s epic opus reduced to Lovely stories.)
Can you imagine Boris- also a Royal, by all accounts- asking what the
least likely answers would be to a given question. He usually
expresses those himself and doesn’t expect a trophy, either.
Matthew Pinsent was also shown to have blue blood of the deepest
ultramarine on Who Do You Think You Are? I don’t think you would
catch him asking what a liger was on prime time TV.
For, yes, that was one of the questions dreamt up by that specky guy
who makes up all those surreal sections, such as Crossover Animals.
A hundred ingénues were interviewed as to what they thought a
beefalo was and amazingly, a third of those so pressed came up with
the notion that it was a cross between a bee and a buffalo. Think
about it. They probably think that Sean the Sheep was the prototype
clone, not Dolly.
The so-called celebrities actually got this beefalo one right. I’m not telling
you the solution: work it out for yourselves. Only 0.5% of the
viewing audience recognised any of the contestants, though,
including moi-meme. So, does that mean I get a really low score and
win the jackpot. I doubt it.
Who is that specky guy?
Argentinian tango, bugle beads, Come Dine with Me, Dancing With the Stars, Fake or Fortune?, Flavia, Katherine Jenkins, Location Location Location, Louis Smith, monocles, Patrick Moore, Pineau, Pippa Middleton, Pizza Express, pleb, pommel horse, Salvatore Ferragamo, Santa Baby, Strictly Come Dancing, Swarovski, Vincent
Marzipan accomplished. As I said, ‘to be continued’.
Well, Victoria, so many of our friends and neighbours have been
minor celebs this year- Tristram on Come Dine With Me; Sonia on
Fake or Fortune; Clammie and Tristram on Location, Location,
Location. So, we feel very ordinary- almost pleb-like, I was going to
say, but that isn’t PC now.
Brassie’s party is on Saturday and there has been a trail of bugle
beads up the pavement from A La Mode, down to the Norman
bridge. Everyone is getting glitzed up for the Strictly final.
Tiger and her friend, Sherry, spent some of their Xmas-in-advance
money on a ‘papp’ experience. This is the latest craze for St Vitus’
girls, apparently. They organised an agency to roll out a red carpet
for them when they left A La Mode and then a crowd of fake
papparazi flashed away-?- and a rent-a crowd of autograph
hunters besieged them as they were escorted into their stretch limo,
which took them to Pizza Express. (They could only afford the
economy package, not the platinum one.)
The only trouble was that then Pippa Middleton’s security posse
arrived and shunted the girls’ car off the double yellow lines and then
everyone started to snap Pip instead. Gyles had said the package
was a complete waste of money and the girls just cheekily replied:
Whatever. So, he is not speaking to Tiger at the moment. In a way,
it is a blessing. Tiger said that Pippa actually went into Mini Moghuls,
probably to buy a Swarovski-encrusted mini-onesie for the
forthcoming one- and I don’t mean the baby Jesus. The ubiquitous
traffic warden was conspicuous by his absence on this occasion.
Have just managed to find a second-hand pommel horse for Rollo on
E-bay. He adores Louis Smith and so he went and had his hair cut in
that ridiculous way on the last day of term. Thank goodness it will
have grown a bit before January, or Mr Milford-Haven, his
pastoral mentor, will be having words with him.
Of course, all my family support the Italians- whether it be Flavia or
Vincent. I have been trying the Argentinian Tango, but it does my
Cosmo said he would prefer if the programme were to be called
Dancing With the Stars, as its European equivalent. At the weekend,
he was drooling over Katherine Jenkins singing Santa Baby, which
really upset Brassie. And to think that it hadn’t been 24 hours since
he was so moved by the death of Patrick Moore. Brassie said that she
felt like returning the crystal-encrusted monocle she had ordered for
him, in memory of his astronomical hero.
I hope Brassie gates the peeing Border, Andy, on Saturday. I don’t
want to slip on anything wet on the conservatory floor during our
Gangnam number. It would ruin my new Salvatore Ferragamos!
Well, at least you don’t have to worry about excessive preparation,
do you? The Charentaise are so laid back about their Bonnes Fetes
that they don’t even bother to remove their plastic, life-size Pere
Noels from their exterior chimneys, from one year to the next. I
always think that they look like burglars in July or August!
Have a great time and see you in the New Year.
Thanks for the truffles and Pineau!
Carrie & Gyles.
PS What’s French for Keep Dancing!
Angelina's, beau monde, Bradley Wiggins, Brigitte Bardot, Cafe de Flore, Cocteau, Da Vinci Code, Gorden Kaye, Irma Kurtz, Jeanette Winterson, John Humphrys, La Boheme, La Vie Bohème, Les Deux Magots, madeleine, Mallarme, Manon, Maxim's, Mimi, Muriel Belcher, Musetta, Novello, Oscar Wilde, Perrault, Pippa Middleton, Proust, Rimbaud, Rodolfo, Rose Line, Rousseau, Shakespeare& Co, Something Understood, St Germain des Pres, St Sulpice, The Colony, Verlaine, Woody Allen
(Muriel Belcher by Francis Bacon)
Hi! It’s Candia again. I’ve been festively overwrought and last night I fell asleep listening to Irma Kurtz on Radio 4’s ‘Something Understood.’ She had constructed a compilation on La Vie Boheme, mentioning La Rive Gauche, Greenwich Village and The Colony in Soho, owned by Muriel Belcher, where Francis Bacon was paid to bring along interesting guests who were on an ‘odyssey of creativity’.
As a student, I had worn a cape and affected a feathered hat until my dad told me to tie my hair back and remove the offending headgear.
Then I woke upto someone singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Xmas with a voiceover chiding John Humphrys with a reminder that there were more things on Heaven and Earth than had been permitted in his philosophy. Rather surreal to have the announcement of Bradley Wiggins as Sports Personality of the Year juxtaposed with cosmology and moral philosophy at 8am.
I had a somewhat unusual request yesterday, Dear Reader. A visitor asked if he could have a guest appearance in my blog. And who is this budding self-publicist? I hear you wonder aloud. Eh bien, he was a rather elegant Frenchman that I introduced to Costamuchamoulah’s café society via une promenade round the aspirational, but pas trop authentique Francophile Sunday morning market in our beloved ville. This event of global significance was ‘appening on the High Street. (Why do I always think in terms of Gorden Kaye’s Franglais when I am narrating anything of Gallic content?) Anyhow, it was with un soupcon of Rousseau’s irony that I directed said gentilhomme’s footsteps down the less than sunny side of the street to Suttonford’s burgeoning version of Maxim’s.
We did not recognise anything remotely familiar to this European voyageur in le marche and so I headed him off past the bookshop-alas, not Shakespeare & Co, with a resident Jeanette Winterson, but to the cosmopolitan hub of Suttonford’s Café Society. On the way across the street my boulevardier remarked approvingly on various expensive vehicles, parked in bays, which screamed mid-life crisis.
He seemed more interested in the clientele, though the owners of Costamuchamoulah have not yet cottoned on to the device employed by Cornuche, the proprietor of Maxim’s, who remarked:
An empty room! Never! I always have a beauty sitting in the window, in view from the [pavement]
Here it is more like Novello’s version of the experience: And Her Mother Came Too!
(There are one or two widows, but not necessarily of the ‘merry’ variety.) Woody Allen was distinctly absent, but there were no Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds,(sic) at least.
Ensconced in a corner, at an unwiped table and on hard chairs- not the sumptuous banquettes which might reveal hidden treasures lost down the cushions- we ordered our upwardly mobile beverages, while he showed me photographs of his international girlfriends on his Blackberry – ( is that Murier, I me demande?) Monsieur was keen to exhibit pictures of himself in Les Deux Magots. Was this a kind of Parisian, urban, if not urbane, Crocodile Dundee equivalent of showing me that THAT was a café, in the same way as Paul Hogan had demonstrated the superiority of his jungle knife? Whatever. I was miffed that he had assumed that I would not have heard of such an establishment, so beloved by les philosophes, let alone having patronised it with my custom.
Les Deux Magots has thankfully nothing to do with maggots. Un magoh was the slang term for a miser. I don’t think misers would search out the pitchers of decadent hot chocolate found therein, nor would they pay their prices to see Oscar Wilde, Mallarme, Rimbaud etc. In Costamuchamoulah, we pay the prices, but don’t see Apollinaire, Verlaine or Hemingway. Apparently, Pippa Middleton might have breezed through, though I don’t know whether it was to check the sales of her book which is displayed beside the edible ladybirds and so froth. Pun. Formidable rear isn’t la meme chose as formidable intellect, in my book at any rate.
But to my tale- pas Perrault, but tant pis! Ah yes, I remember it well. The Husband and I slipped on the glacial trottoirs of St Germain- des- Pres, in the days when he went out, seeking the church of St Sulpice with its Rose Line and gnomen, but thankfully with no resident albino monk assassins. The fountain was frozen and great slabs of sheet ice almost prevented us from venturing to the Café de Flore or Deux Magots, for it was the Advent season, as it is now. Ah, those were the days and nights of Angelina’s and other beau monde haunts, where we expected to encounter Mimi, Manon, Musetta and Rodolfo and perhaps, if we were very blessed, Proust himself. Mimi had wanted to lose her senses and Musetta had forgotten the regulation of their economies and had asked the boys to order champagne. We were a little less extravagant.
For that is the problem with such cafes of Enlightenment. Before you know it you are emptying your bank balance, merely to see and be seen.
My current companion looked around the room, panning the four corners for a barefoot Brigitte Bardot perhaps, but his eye fell upon a smart blonde woman in her fifties. Quel surpris! He confessed that young girls were not for him. Like Cocteau, he was well aware that:
..to undress one of those women [would be] like an outing that calls for 3 weeks’ advance notice…it [would be] like moving house.
So, it was on my first sip of Mocha that I had the flashback, the Epiphany-and it came without the madeleine. I will enlighten you further.
Apocalypse, Birmingham Crater, Crouching Tiger ; Hidden Dragon, Dan Snow, Derren Brown, Felix Baumgartner, Gregorian Calendar, Guy Fawkes, Highland Spring, paintballing, parkour, Pippa Middleton, Salisbury Plain, Yves Klein
Monday morning and so I sidled into Divas’ Deli and found Carrie there buying the Pippa Middleton book: Celebrate.
Thought this would be ideal for Clammie’s Chrissie prezzy, she beamed.
Was somewhat annoyed as I had been considering it for the very same recipient. Still, if I buy one and very carefully open the pages, but don’t bend the spine, maybe I can get away with off-loading it on someone else, once I have noted down any useful tips on my Tablet. Didn’t say anything, but hinted that I wouldn’t mind finding it in my stocking, in addition to Dan Snow.
Carrie is over the moon that the awful Juniper is not going to be going to Clammie and Tristram’s Guy Fawkes party. Her horrible little brother John is also not being invited. Juniper’s behaviour at Tiger-Lily’s sleepover was reprehensible enough and none of us wants our children to mix with such delinquents. I hasten to add that it is nothing to do with Juniper’s gender fluidity issues; it is just her utter self-gratification and her brother’s bullying tendencies that have upset us all.
Carrie divulged the reason for this joyous news: apparently Juniper is plastered- not in the sense that she was at the sleepover, however. No, she is in plaster with a broken arm. She is crazy. She jumped off the Art block roof. Clammie’s daughter, Scheherezade, witnessed the whole event, or should I say, happening? And she is not a girl to make up stories.
Juniper has been obsessed by Felix Baumgartner’s leap from 128,000 feet. At her School for the Academically-Gifted they believe in a cross-curricular integrated approach to learning and so everything recently has been based on leaps: leaps of faith, Kiekegaard’s Semantic Leap, leap years and the Gregorian Calendar, French urban vocabulary, such as traceur/ traceuse etc. Yves Klein’s Jumping into the Void was studied in Art History and in PE they learned about the training skills associated with parkour, that weird sport which owes its origins to military obstacle course training. It resembles some of the moves in Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon. One has to travel from A-B in as short a distance as possible and without one’s feet touching the ground. (In my childhood this was when a parent grabbed you by the scruff of the neck and marched you off to bed. But I digress.)
Anyway, Juniper had been unusually attentive in the Art History lesson and afterwards she climbed onto the roof and shouted to some girls who were engaged in some artistic activity round the back of the building to capture her launch moment on their mobiles. She threw down a scrap of cartridge paper which bore her bowdlerised mission statements, to wit:
You have to realise the impregnation of space by your own sensibility
Neither missiles nor rockets nor sputniks will render man- nor woman- the conquistadors of space.
The girls didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, but a couple of them managed to take a digital image of her as she jumped. Scheherezade said she was shouting:
I’m not falling; I’m rising!
And then? I asked.
And then she went splat on the roof of Clammie’s 4×4, which had been parked there as Clammie had made an appointment to see the art teacher about Scheherezade’s installation. There was a crater the size of Birmingham on the roof. Cosmo said it was more like a black hole in his current account to cover his insurance excess and to have the bodywork restored.
Birmingham? I asked, incredulous.
No, there really is a lunar crater called that, she stressed. Cosmo told me once when he was showing me round his observatory.
Beats etchings, I muttered.
Anyway, she continued, ignoring my sarcasm, Juniper is now asking everyone to sign her plaster cast and she is going to submit it for her Art History Practical. She’ll probably get an A*. It’s so annoying.
So, it’s cost them an arm and a leg, I said, without thinking.
Just an arm, Carrie said, laughing and paying for the book.
And Juniper’s nasty little brother, John, isn’t coming to the party either?
No. Their mother has also been getting fed up with their behaviour and so she phoned Derren Brown and arranged a personal mini-Apocalypse for them. It’s a set-up where they are being driven to Salisbury Plain, thinking they are going to paint-balling, and then some tanks emerge and block the road and there is a mock-up of a meteor strike. By the end of two days they will have been introduced to the concept of altruism as they have to share a bottle of Highland Spring and a bag of Kettle Chips, or starve.
Wow! That’s amazing! I exclaimed. I wonder if any other mothers would be interested in signing up their sproglets?
Apparently Derren Brown has been inundated by requests and can’t personally hypnotise or deal with them all, so he is hiring out Parent Packs of tanks, flame throwers and DIY nstructions.
Well, that should solve the problem of bored teenagers in the school holidays, I remarked, a shade too eagerly, perhaps.
Precisely, said Carrie. We are sending for our packs tomorrow before they run out.