Saturday, 2 January 2010

Name your poison

Great inadvertent suicides of history.

The (probably apocryphal) Aesop fable:

The amorous hare and the epileptic porcupine.


Bevingdon Hall,



October 1947

My Dearest Cicely,

My plans are now complete. All my children, natural and adoptive, will be down at The Hall next weekend and both of my ex wives and their second husbands will be joining us. It’s been an open secret for some time that I intend to change my will and leave the bulk of my fortune to a charity for unmarried mothers and foundlings (you know why of course, dear friend!) and I shall be signing the new draught in front of witnesses on the Sunday morning right after the Reverent Van der Moewe celebrates Communion.

Marjorie is so much looking forward to you at long last. I have told her all about you and how much I treasure our lifelong friendship, though of course I’m still awfully sorry that we married so soon after meeting at the excavations and that you could not be there. The romantic atmosphere of the Pyramids did so turn an old man’s head! Please do bring your mysterious new beau with you. I understand that Gerald had ‘a good war’ as they say, though it was all frightfully hush-hush according to an old acquaintance of mine up at Town whom I asked about him. Do you remember; that neat little foreign chap who made such a fuss about the pate at The Savoy last year? He’ll be down for the party too and I can’t wait to see what he has to tell me about this Gerald of yours.

Now Cicely, please do say that you’ll come! It will be so much fun and I won’t hear any more of your excuses about Imperial College and your studies and so forth. Do please leave your dreary test tubes and snakes and syringes and whatnot for a few days and visit Marjorie and me.

Your affectionate friend,


PS. There’s something I especially want you to see: an old journal of my uncle Clive’s. Astonishingly, one page from thirty years ago contains a portrait sketch of a young woman who looks exactly like you: right down to the Harrison nose and to the mole above your lip. I keep it in the library in the case with the stiletto collection and I can scarcely wait to show it to you.



“Sorry I missed you darling – oh, the reception here is terrible. Hang on; I’ll just park the Mercedes.

That’s better. There’s absolutely no sign of the University and I’m beginning to think it isn’t even in this part of the old town. If it weren’t for the large number of women undergraduates doing traffic surveys tonight I wouldn’t believe I’m anywhere near Academe at all! State of the art though it may be, my Sat Nav’s being no help either. So much for buying it in a telecoms package just to get the top of the line Blackberry and laptop.

Oh, hang on, there are some chaps I can ask directions from. They must be coming from a game of floodlit baseball. Honestly, sometimes this country hardly seems like England at all.”


First wife’s New Year shopping checklist.

Weekend menu – must get something nice to feed the children. Hubby can get takeout on way home from work or club on Saturday night. Check.

Barclaycard. Check.

Tranquillizers – must keep a calm mind when queuing for shoes and boots sale at Next. Check.

Visacredit. Check.

Restaurant guide – must lunch with Sally to compare war stories from the sales. Planet Hollywood or Wagamama? Check.

House of Frazer store card. Check.

Antidepressants. Can’t let not being first with the queue at IKEA get me down. It is not the swift that wins the race, but she whose Home Card is strongest. Check.

Visa Electron. Check.

Case of Stellenbosch 2007. Never enough chardonnay in a girl’s life when the shopping day is done, and you have to pay for quality. Shop cheaply and shop twice, I say. Check.

American Express. That’ll do nicely.

Cheap malt for husband. Paracetamol for me. Shopping always gives me a headache at weekends, and by the time he comes home from work or his boring old clay pigeons I’m no good for anything but curling up in bed with the Bid TV and my best friend Natwest Platinum.Check.

No comments:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner