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: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/british/coffee-and-walnut-sponge-cake