Ah, Mary my dear, I’m so delighted you could make it. And I do love your hat. Is it designer?
Oh no Agatha, just something I cobbled together from one of the Count’s straw boaters and some Christmas decorations.
Yes, I can see that now. I was wondering about the tiny Santa perched on top. I thought it was an ironic comment on midsummer.
No dear, I was just having a sort out and thought I could combine an elegant look with a bit of glitter or ‘bling’ as I believe they say now. Still, there is nothing like being individual and going against the flow as dear Olive Croissant would say. Talking of whom, is she still running a home for stray cats dear?
I believe so dear one, but at this time of year one can’t get to her for fluff and it quite sets off my allergies all those cats moulting as they do.
Indeed Agatha. But, as it is the last time I shall be seeing you for a while I did think I’d make the effort.
Well it is heartily appreciated Mary, if somewhat random in style and it has boosted me rather when the sad day of your departure is nearing. One shall miss our tea and cake get togethers, and the shared stories, but in good tradition I shall still sip gin and raise a glass to you, wherever you may be.
How marvellous dear. But I shall be back from my travels in the twitch of a cat’s whisker. And, if it wasn’t for your responsibilities manning the jam stall at the WI summer fete I am in no doubt that you would be joining me in Bangkok.
Quite dear, I’d like to give those Lady Boys a run for their money, although I dear say Jonty would not approve if he were still with us! But what does worry me dear is the thought of that heat and humidity, you know the trouble I had with my thighs in Egypt.
Agatha dear, don’t you think that’s a tad dramatic? You coped perfectly well in the heat and caused quite the sensation when you dived into the Tiber.
As you say dear one, as you say. I’m sure I would acclimatise eventually. But (taking a sip of some strong cordial) I have been quite remiss and have forgotten to tell you that Binky has been released from his incarceration. I’ve been advised that he is taking the scenic route home and has hired one of those Ford vans and is travelling back to Blighty by land.
Goodness dear one, has he had some sort of road to Damascus conversion? I remember him as someone who would only set foot inside a Rolls, nothing else was good enough. And, how the Dickens you hear this?
Well, I don’t know about Damascus my dear but Mimsy Porpington-Smythe was really quite animated about his imminent return and so eager to let me know. I do believe she fears for his safety.
And will you be seeing the old devil Agatha dear? If he calls round?
Heaven forbid! No my dear, my heart is truly mended and I am now a happily confirmed spinster and luckily, in full possession of all my jewels. I wouldn’t want to risk losing them to his sticky fingers again.
But what if he is a reformed character? One never knows what prison can do to change one?
No, that is true. But it seems that Mimsy is rather taken with him and by jingo, she’s welcome to him. My mind is quite resolute, unlike our PM there is no U-Turn for me.
I do so admire your fortitude Agatha. I hope to show the same level of resolve when it comes to resisting some of the temptations afforded to me in Thailand.
Like what dear?
Well, as you know, this is not simply a jolly holiday; there’ll be no lounging around poolside with a Singapore Sling. No, this is about self improvement, opening my eyes to other cultures, embracing the new and all that.
Yes dear, but you really should take some time out you know. I do believe a little of what you fancy keeps you young at heart and ready to face whatever the day affords? After all, you are away for several months. You cannot be networking and improving your ‘downward dog’ postures for all that time?
Agatha dear, don’t fret. I have absolutely every intention of breaking some bad habits, but also to learn some better ones. I hope to become a fully qualified yoga instructor, learn some Thai Chi and perfect some authentic Thai cooking techniques. I have a tutor lined up already you know.
It does sound marvellous but also rather exhausting dear; but one word of advice – please please please ensure you take some solid construction in the bosom department with you. I’d hate for you to have a mishap at a yoga class!
Dear one, I’ve already been to see our dear friend Ethel at Rigby & Peller and they have promised that I can order online and anything I need will be despatched directly.
Very well dear but surely, at your age, you should be putting your feet up and gazing at the sun dipping below the sea over a large cocktail?
That’s what society would have us do dear, but no, I am quite determined on the matter. The Count will be egging me on of course. He has always fancied being married to a yoga teacher. I cannot for the life of me imagine why.
Can’t you dear? All that bending…in leotards.
Piffle. We don’t go in for that type of thing any more.
Maybe that’s why he’s so keen dear.
Really? I’d never thought of myself as a ‘Green Goddess’. But actually dear I am a tad nervous about the plane trip. Being squished together for ten hours with the Count will be challenging. I have my books of course, but he does tend to get a bit restless when we are in close proximity.
Perhaps you will be bumped up into first class dear. Make sure you wear your emeralds and a smart jacket. And ask the Count to don his crested blazer. Then it will be just a formality I’m sure.
Agatha, you are a darling. Of course arriving in style would be just topping, as long as we don’t get too tiddly on the bubbly of course and fall down the steps on arrival, that would just be unbearably inelegant.
I don’t fear that will happen my dear as you both seem to have a remarkable capacity for alcohol that I doubt a few glasses would make very much difference to your sense of balance, even after no sleep. Besides, you could always call for a wheelchair to help you on your way. Now, have you finished packing?
Goodness no! Poor Jenny is quite discombobulated by the entire thing. However, she has managed to lay out my new bathing costume. It does look enormous in the cup but quite nice on and keeps everything where it should be, which is quite simply a relief. And then I have all my linens. They do crease the moment you look at them, but I simply can’t imagine wearing anything else in the heat and humidity. I’ve decided that I will go for the ‘cool and crumpled’ look which I believe was so in a few seasons ago.
Well, the image of you wafting down the beach in Phuket in your normal commanding fashion will keep me going during the depths of our winter.
But what about you, dear one? Have you a trip planned for the summer this year?
Well, actually, yes. I have just booked a little sojourn abroad. There’s this totally charming little company that do spiffing little holidays for us ‘individual’ people – good company, good food and smart accommodation without being a source of pity for the smug married couples.
That sound perfect dear one. Where are you going. Italy? Greece?
Las Vegas actually, I thought I’d try my luck at Caesar’s and have dug out one of Bertie’s old pantomime hats. And, I’m thinking of brushing up on my singing before I go. I know I did always have an exceptional and distinctive voice at school, but I hear there are these er, open mike, sessions which seem to be all the rage. I thought I might do my Shirley Bassey while I’m there.
Goodness Agatha! For once I’m utterly speechless with admiration. You must send me photographs – I can just envisage you on The Strip in your slingbacks and a pink feather boa.
Oh dear, I’ve not worn slingbacks for years darling – I’d probably fall over, but anyway let’s just raise a wee dram to friendship and adventure.
Chin chin dear one. See you on the other side.