Revenge is…..


Oh Mary dear, I am so glad to see you…

What ever is the matter Agatha dear?  You do look a tad agitated and rather flushed.  Are you sure I haven’t interrupted anything?

My goodness dear, you know Binky is rotting in an Egyptian jail, and I have certainly not taken on another lover, I’m not that fast these days!  No, I am in quite a quandary dear.  I must admit that I’ve not felt this way for some decades and really thought that I’d got over the whole sorry business.

Agatha please, do sit down.  Let me pour you a cup of Lapsang.  You really do need to calm down.  Now dear (passes her a cup of tea and a slice of Bakewell tart) do tell me whatever is the matter.

Well, you remember all those years ago when we were just gals and enjoying our school days away from the confines of parental control?

Of course I do dear.  Don’t you remember when Matron was convinced that Rose Laughton had the pox, when in reality she just didn’t have the right gym slip?

Goodness, what stuff you remember my dear! Yes I remember, the poor item was confined to the sick room for a whole week!   What ever happened to Rose?  Poor gal seemed to always to be prone to the the worst possible luck!

I believe she married well dear, Henry Thorny-Bottom I believe.  He died after a couple of years of marriage; rumour was that she wore him out!  I believe he left her an absolute fortune though and, if the society pages are anything to go by, she’s spent an awful lot of it on champagne and parties.  I’m told she looks quite young for her age and I hear her hair has turned quite blonde.

Well, I suppose it’s some compensation for her married name!   

But Agatha dear, do tell me what is worrying you.  It must be something serious if a slice of Ms Berry’s Bakewell doesn’t sooth you.  It’s not about the shenanigans going on at Bake Off I suppose?

No, Mary, I know it is wrong of me and I can’t seem to come to terms with it, but I must say something or else I’ll burst….

I’m all ears dear…

You do remember Miss Wilmington-Hurst from school don’t you?


How could I forget dear one, old frosty pants was positively vile!  I don’t know what we had ever done to her, but she hated us both with a vengeance and, if I remember rightly, took a particular dislike to you dear.  I do recall once when we were just sneaking back from the kitchen having snaffled a couple of tea cakes that cook had made that day and she accosted us in the corridor…

Don’t, dear one.  I remember it all too well.  She couldn’t resist the opportunity to launch a tirade of abuse at us, and the slipper.  She snatched those tea cakes away pretty sharpish too.

But Agatha what on earth does that have to do with the state you are currently in?

Well Mary dear, she’s died in rather a painful, and embarrassing way.


Yes, and the Omnibus didn’t come off that well either!  But the whole sorry episode has thrown me into a maelstrom of multitudinous emotions…..

Agatha dear, are you talking about retribution and forgiveness?

Indeed Mary.  My reaction when I heard the news was less than dignified.  I felt gleeful for a moment, then guilt, then joy, then more guilt.  It was all so confusing and brought back all those horrid and muddling memories of her treatment of us during our formative years.  

Oh Agatha dear, I know it was a hard time, particularly for you.  

I thought I had managed to put it all behind me though.  But to top it all, the news about that poor Helen Archer on the radio who, despite everything she has suffered at the hands of her husband,  still has to fight for the custody of her children, also brought back painful memories of being bullied by the vicious old crow and feeling helpless.  (Taking a breath) And there’s the rub.  How do you go about forgiving someone who has done you so much harm that your natural instincts tell you to relish any pain that they suffer?

(Sharp intake of breath) Oh hells bells.  I think we need something stronger than this delicious Lapsang; let me ring for Snetter.


Brandies please old chap; and make them large ones if you don’t mind.

Mary, (taking a large gulp of brandy) I feel terrible about my reaction.  I mean, she was a total rotter, but she didn’t deserve to die in such unpleasant circumstances.  So how should I react when I feel like dancing down the high street in my underwear singing “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead!”   It’s just all SO distressing.


Well, it would be most distressing if you did indeed dance about in your smalls in public. But you needn’t worry Agatha dear.  You were not driving the bus after all, and it’s perfectly natural to feel conflicted when the architect of your unhappiness meets an untimely end, after all you never had any apology or justice served from the school for the psychological damage that teacher inflicted on you.  You never healed dear one. (Pause) Of course, we must remember that retribution is a dangerous thing.  We must try and rise above it because if we don’t that feeling can become twisted within ourselves and then we run the danger of becoming what they were.

You are so wise Mary dear, but what do we do if our loved ones are victims too?

We do the same dear one, and endeavour to protect them as much as we are able.  Don’t forget, love will conquer all in the end.

How right you are – love and time.  Talking of which do we still have time for another slice of Bakewell before the theatre?

I believe we do dear, but I also think we should have a large coffee before we go.  One doesn’t want to be tottering down the aisle and making an exhibition of oneself.

It is an Oscar Wilde play tonight isn’t it?

Yes Agatha dear, it’s “A Woman of No Importance.”


Of course it is!  He always hit the spot, dear man.  I think his words certainly provide comfort and clarity.

Oh yes – he once said “ Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much.”




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Agatha dear, I’m so glad you’re here.  The Count has his aged Great Aunt with him and they’re talking Italian in quite an animated fashion, I simply can’t keep up.

Mary dear, it sound as though tea in the conservatory is just what you need.  As you know, Mamma always said that visitors are all very well and good, but should only be tolerated for a maximum of 3 days.  Family however, for one’s sanity, should never be allowed to stay for longer than an afternoon!

Agatha dear, you know she’s here for the week.  Then she will be off to see The Country brother in Berlin.

Well my dear, in that case we most definitely will need a great deal of tea.  Or perhaps something a little stronger?

Martha is already on the case my dear.  Now, do come through.  I’ve had some of our photographs from our wonderful holiday developed.  Some of them are really very good.

How marvellous dear!  It really was such a wonderful trip, despite poor Binky, but I’m determined not to dwell on that.  Are there any photos of the belly dancing?

(Giggling) Agatha dear, yes and they’re quite invigorating.  I was thinking of joining a local club and after our fitting at Rigby and Peller last week I have some sturdy support – so now there shouldn’t be any mishaps.


Yes, I hope there is no photographic evidence of the moment when you joined in the dancing and almost immediately lost control of your tassels and nearly had that chap’s eye out!

Perish the thought dear!  Why don’t you help yourself to a slice of Martha’s Coffee and Walnut while we look at these.  Here we are in the Valley of the Kings with the delicious Farouk and the lovely Germans.  

My aren’t we looking splendid dear!  Ooh and just look at us in the Valley of the Queens – how marvellous, I have a distinct look of Cleopatra about me as I was wearing all my jewellery at once, for fear of it being pinched again!

Yes Agatha dear, I was a bit concerned at the time that you had it all on display.  Do you remember when we saw that lovely Patrick Stewart playing Anthony at the RSC?  I can’t remember who played Cleopatra through….


Oh it was the delicious Harriet Walter dear.  Quite mesmerising weren’t they?

Indeed they were my dear.  I believe our dear friend Fenella Hart-Worthy knows him through her charity work.  Apparently he was put in touch with Fenella because of his campaigning on domestic violence.

Oh I do know about this, Mary, I watched him give a wonderful TED talk recently supporting Amnesty International’s work to highlight the problems of domestic violence against women.

But my dear, surely you’re not saying that Fenella suffered domestic abuse?  She always seemed so happy and in control.

Oh Agatha, I thought you knew!  Yes, I’m afraid so.  It’s now come out that Donald was quite brutal to her.  It was only when he died in the car crash that she started to come back into society and became her bubbly self again.  She began to reveal the extent of her suffering a year or so ago.  Since then she has become quite a forceful campaigner.

But Mary,  I feel just terrible about this.   I used to  attend her dinner parties when Donald was alive and there were several instances when she was rather off-form, or very heavily made up, but she never said a thing and we just put it all down to her eccentric ways.  Of course, thinking back now,  Donald used to get totally blotto and cross about everything. I do remember that dear Jonty had to take control one evening, but we just put it down to a combination of cocktails and wine and too many long hours working at the bank.

That’s what we all did my dear, we all thought up some excuse that made it easier for us to not take action, easier for us not to interfere, to get involved and to leave her to her misery.

(Crying a little)  Oh Mary, how could we?  I mean, we all knew that Donald drank too much, particularly at the weekend, and of course that’s why he crashed the car, but goodness me! Poor Fenella.  What can we do to help dear one?

Well Agatha, I believe she is hosting a gala event at the Bishop’s Palace a couple of weeks before Christmas for Refuge, the organisation that supports women and their children in abusive relationships.  Perhaps we could donate some items for the auction or maybe I could ask Javala, my lovely belly dancer tutor, if we could put on a show?

I can certainly donate some items for the auction dear, but do you think I’d be able to do belly dancing, bearing in mind my thighs?

I believe they’d be seen as an asset dear one.

That’s so sweet of you Mary dear.  Does that mean I can eat more of this delicious cake?

Absolutely dear, and let me top up your tea.  

Seriously though Mary dear, we really must support Fenella in more ways that just this.  I have been following The Archers’ story line about Rob’s psychological domination of Helen, and how badly that has all turned out, for her and her child not least.  And now she has just been cleared of the charges, her journey is not yet over as he is still trying to manipulate her.

Indeed  dear one. Apparently two women are murdered every week in this country by a partner or ex partner.  It seems like a hidden disease.  I think it might partly be because we use the term “domestic”.  The word somehow sanitises the violence, but violence it is.

And also, Mary, the fact that so many women do not come forward, they put up with it, stay with their abusive partners.   There may be something to do with shame in that behaviour.  But it is not the woman’s shame, it’s the man’s. There is another amazing TED talk about why women stay, you should take a look.

I do believe that most violence in the home is perpetrated towards women, so although there are instances of men as victims, it remains a women’s issue rather than a man’s.   I suppose that until we do take a look at the causes, and effects on the women and children, domestic violence will continue to exist.

Well, that’s my mind made up.  Let’s do the belly dancing, anything to raise money and awareness for Fenella and others like her.

Excellent Agatha.  I believe my bosom and your thighs will certainly stir the audience to open their wallets.

Quite possibly to make us stop, dear one!

Coffee and walnut sponge recipe:


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Return of the goddesses


Oh Mary dear, it was such a wonderful trip to Egypt.  Despite the colossal ding dong with Binky, my jewellery and him ending up floundering in the Nile, I feel quite refreshed and invigorated!

Yes Agatha, at it all ended quite splendidly I thought.  After all, you deserve better than a conniving snake for a partner, I always suspected he was being disingenuous about his adoration of your thighs.

Well, quite, but let us not fall into the trap of feeling worthy only because of our bodies.  Let’s face it dear one, they have lasted pretty well.  I was amazed at how sprightly you were at dodging the hashish sellers in the markets

Well… I do have a tiny confession to make Agatha.  I was not totally successful.  One rather persuasive gentleman did manage to convince me that his particular strain was pure and gorgeous so I did partake in a puff or two whilst you were having tea with that carpet seller!


I thought you were a little wide eyed and excitable afterwards dear, so that explains it.  So, did it take you to new heights of ecstasy Mary?

No, it just made me light headed and peckish.  Still, the delicious falafel and flatbreads afterwards took care of that side effect!

And now, here we are, back in Blighty with our Earl Grey and custard creams.  It all seems rather dull in comparison.

Not a bit of it.  Remember, dear, we have our annual underwear fitting at Rigby & Peller tomorrow.  Always something to look forward to.  Despite the extra poundage we have no doubt gathered on our travels, I am keen to see their new lines.

Oh yes, I had forgotten Agatha.  I agree, it’s quite a treat to be fitted for snug and supportive underwear by capable hands.  Isn’t the charming Ethel at the shop also underwear supplier to Her Majesty?

She used to be I believe, but since the incident with the mix up in the order – when apparently a box of racy lacy red frivolities was delivered instead of the sturdy cream numbers our beloved Queen prefers – dear old Ethel has been off the list.  Still, she looks after us very well.

Yes she does, and I am given to understand that she has some interesting pieces in this season.  I was reading an article on the aeroplane about how attractive undergarments are now available for the less than stick perfect figure.  It was that talented American, Lena Dunham, who has been getting her kit off again, this time in rather lovely lingerie to show women everywhere that your body should be celebrated, whatever it’s shape.

Lena Dunham in Lonely lingerie

But Mary, surely at our age we should be acting, and dressing, appropriately?  I mean to say, youthful vigour is all very well in the young, but by the time you get to our age dear, most people just regard it as eccentricity

Absolutely not dear, you and I have always been eccentric – it runs in our families and age has nothing to do with it.  So let’s put propriety to one side tomorrow, and try out some daring lingerie.

Allright dear, just so long as it provides support where needed.  

Absolutely my dear, I managed to catch Woman’s Hour the other day and they had a lovely lady from Selfridges in who worked in the lingerie department ensuring that our bosoms are truly nurtured with the right underwear.  Interestingly she said that women, no matter what size or shape, are relentlessly hard on themselves about some aspect of their body.

But that is dreadful dear.  We really must be celebrating our bodies more.  I believe we should start wearing lingerie that suits us and makes us feel good, pamper ourselves with positive thoughts and dismiss that negative committee that tends to sit on one’s shoulders.

Yes, just like those Egyptian Goddesses, one of whom decided to sport a fake beard I understand – now that is eccentric!  

How completely magnificent Mary, and I must say it reminds me of your aunt Bernie, the one who used to dress as a chap.  Yes, she really was quite different, never gave a fig about what people thought of her.  Don’t you remember when she was playing Hamlet down in Minack as part of the summer festival and came on in the final scene wearing just a flimsy vest and pantaloons – no brassiere – she caused quite a stir.


My goodness dear I’d quite forgotten.  I do remember the critics being quite perplexed that a woman could play so convincing a role and be so liberated as to not give a hoot about convention.  Also I believe the audience sitting in the front row got quite an unexpected eyeful when the vest blew up over her head during a sharp gust of wind.

Yes indeed, and her large frontage was certainly passed down to you dear – happily you keep yours in check.  Still, it was a talking point amongst Shakespearian scholars, you know, the juxtaposition of the male and female, and Hamlet’s obsession with his mother embodied by him possessing breasts.

How we hooted with laughter dear!  Bernie was not making a point about anything, she simply had a wardrobe malfunction.

Isn’t it amazing how we tend to overthink these things dear.  I think we should all take a leaf out of dear Aunt Bernie’s book, and just be ourselves and throw caution to the wind.

Yes, just so long as it doesn’t lift up your shirt and reveal a little too much!

I believe you may have a point Mary dear.  Another custard cream?

Ooh yes please dear.  Home made?

Of course.


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