Never too old

russiagranniesAh Agatha dear heart.  Lovely to see you.  Come in and taste Ethel’s delectable meringues.

Mary dear, sounds delightful, and I am somewhat peckish after my morning pointing and sorting papers at our local polling station, you could say that we got into quite an Eton Mess with it all!

Well, we do have some cream and some of our lovely raspberries from the greenhouse to go with them.  I’d quite forgotten about that voting malarkey, which is a tad remiss of me considering all those wonderful women who suffered so that we could have the vote in the first place.

You are absolutely right dear friend, one has to try at least, even when it all looks rather like an uphill struggle.

I agree Agatha.  I say – you do seem a tad discombobulated today.  Perhaps you should stay off the gin until mid afternoon dear.

Mary!  I haven’t touched a drop.  But the Doctor advised I should try some new fangled pill and the side effects make me feel quite peculiar.  My mouth feels drier than the humour in the House of Lords.

Well, I prescribe some strong tea then.  I’ll ring for Ethel.

Thankyou dear.  Anyway, the voting started with quite a solid flow of suited and booted arriving early before going off to work, then mums with pushchairs and by 11am the geriatric brigade with their sticks and walking frames; I do believe they enjoy the trip out.


And you are older than most of them dear.

As indeed we both are dear…but I must admit I’ve been particularly lucky to remain mobile and not to succumb to the family condition like poor Uncle Fortesque.  His ankles became quite the talk of society you know.  But I digress, shall you vote later?

Well, I’m sure Ethel’s tea and meringues will perk me right up and then I can toddle off down to the local village hall and put my mark on the paper.   But, dear, I have no idea who I’d currently vote for as I’ve not seen anything convincing from any party.

I know what you mean Mary dear, it’s as though Theresa had a new haircut to divert attention from the importance of the local elections.

Well, one must keep in mind the big one in June of course.  And despite the evidence that the result is a foregone conclusion, the pollsters have got it wrong before. It’s never over until the fat lady sings as they say.  Which reminds me.  You didn’t manage to hear Madelaine Cauli-Floret sing at the parish council event the other evening?

Oh yes, Mary dear, what an experience.  I had quite forgotten how …. individual….. a singer she is.  Some of the ladies went quite into a swoon at her rendition of Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden.  Fortunately she was prevented from completing an encore of ‘Three Little Maids’ by Bernard Snubbings.  He’s not a man I care to associate with, following that nasty incident with the mustard at the Little Milford Church Benevolent Fund Summer Feast last year.  It quite put me off my sausages.

It sounds eventful dear, and I am sorry that I missed it. I’ve been up to my eyes in all my sorting out and packing for our trip to Bangkok.  All my summer outfits seem to have unaccountably shrunk since last year.   I will be forced to purchase some news items which is such a bore.  

Oh a trip up to town might be just the tonic we need dear.  I can ask Snetter to drop us at the station.

Yes, of course that would be splendid.  But I can’t help worrying about people like the tuneful Madelaine, and my dear Count, who could be made to leave England if we experience a hard Brexit.

Oh Mary dear, don’t upset yourself I’m sure that it won’t come to that, we’ve been over this before if you recall.  You know our economy can’t survive without all our European colleagues and besides dear one, it is the Eurovision song contest this weekend.

Agatha, goodness you don’t still follow that do you?

Indeed I do dear one and I must say it is a tonic.  My darling Algie is coming over with his lovely partner Daniel Blyth-Williamson and we shall be decorating the house entirely in glitter balls.  I do believe Martha is going for quite a European themed buffet too.  You and the Count must come over.  I think it will cheer your spirits entirely.


Do you believe we’ll get any points this year?

Well, it’s a long time certainly since we lifted the trophy dear one, but never say never. At least we can be thankful that that is one thing European that we will continue to support. And, between you and me, the rumour from Minnie Piersflight is that Prince Philip has retired precisely so he can watch the events from Thursday onwards.

Really dear, I didn’t know that he was a fan?

Oh absolutely, I would trust my crocheted hats to Minnie – whatever she says can be totally and discreetly relied upon.  Apparently it’s not a side of the Duke’s persona that he likes to publicise.  I do believe he even wrote a line or two for our dear Terry Wogan when he was compering the show!

Goodness me Agatha, that does explain a lot.  I do think he’s been an amazing ambassador though, despite some of his gaffes.  Of course it’s a shame that we won’t witness what he might have said to President Trump when he visits later this year.

Quite dear.  Perhaps it’s best Philip is retiring, given that the President appears rather quick to anger, and somewhat trigger-happy.

Perish the thought, Agatha.  More tea and another meringue?


Gallivanting and Golf


Ah, Mary dear, so glad you are here.  I just need you to witness my application form with your signature.

What’s this for Agatha?

Well, Muirfield Golf Club of course.

Golf!  You haven’t taken a swipe at a ball for many years dear heart.  Why now?

Because, I vowed to be one of the first ladies to join the club when they overturned their archaic ruling not to allow women members.  I wanted to be at the forefront of the revolution to see skirts abounding across the greens.

Jolly good show.  When do you plan to visit and sink a few balls then?

I thought we could trundle up there together at the weekend.  Are you free?  I can get Snetter to drive us in the Daimler so we should be comfortable.  And we can stop in Oxford to buy some proper golfing shoes with little spikes in.  Good for the grip don’t you know.

That sounds totally spiffing Agatha.  The Count is a visiting cousin in Italy at the weekend so I would love to join you.  Is there not a waiting list?

Funnily enough, there is.  But I have an old chum who can sign me in as a guest for now.  Do you remember Dougal Mactwittle?  He used to play the drums at our annual WI tea dance.  He always looked so splendid in his kilt twirling his sticks about.


Of course I do.  He always caused a stir, sitting up on the stage, legs akimbo, pounding away with his sticks.  It never seemed to be his drum skills that caused the sensation if I remember correctly.  I do remember that one time when Dorothea Andrews was quite in a swoon, simply saw what she’d never seen before, if I remember correctly.

Yes, very Aunt Ada Doom dear one, but I do hear that she is quite the liberated woman now.  I believe she even did some work for Good Housekeeping testing ladies toys of some kind I believe.  

By jingo, good for her!  That might explain the new glow she seems to have these days.

Well, as I was saying, whilst Dougal’s undergarments were somewhat lacking, his golfing skills are still rather top notch.   Anyway, he seemed surprised that I wanted to join the golf club at all, saying that it will take quite some time to move on from their rather Victorian culture.

Well, that’s as may be but unless we keep persevering and pushing through barriers nothing will change at all and we’ll all become quite invisible.

Indeed so Mary dear.  If I can wield a club and knock of few of those crusty old codgers off their pedestals it will be effort well spent.

Oh splendid Agatha, quite spiffingly splendid!  A jolly caper north of the border before we have to start using passports will be just the ticket.

Yes, indeed.  Goodness knows what the next few years will bring – maybe there’ll be another great wall between us and Scotland if they decide to leave us.

Goodness, we certainly live in worrying times dear one, but Agatha let us not lose hope.  Let us not drown in the sorrows of the world, let us rise above them and together challenge the oppressors and blow raspberries in their faces, let us not go into that dark night alone….

Oh Mary dear, do stop – you’ve gone quite Winston Churchill on me.  You’ve worked yourself up into quite a lather.  Here, have one of Ethel’s delicious éclairs.  The cream is quite delicious you know and besides you have your wonderful trip to Bangkok and beyond to look forward to.

Oh yes, we have already started packing.  I dug out my old bikini yesterday.  It was a bit the worse for wear after our wonderful trip to Egypt last year.  It still had sand in the cups.

Goodness, that sand did find it’s way into the most inconvenient places.   Why don’t you treat yourself to a new one, after all you don’t want to end up like Peggy in The Archers with nothing to cover her modesty but her arms and the water!

I say Agatha, you’ve got a point there.  The problem is the construction… you know perfectly well that there’s a limited range in the shops for my endowment.  We may have to go back to our dear lady at Rigby & Peller to see whether they can assist with an architectural project that will keep my frontage in check.

Well at least you still have the courage to wear a bikini.  I haven’t revealed my midriff since 1984.  And as for my thighs – well you know I make full use of my sarong at all times.  One really must consider one’s public you know.

I believe there is simply no point in caring what others think any more.  We are well into our dotage, Agatha dear, and I do not give a jot about fitting into some outdated stereotype of what a woman’s body should look like.  Mine has served me perfectly well for years.

By jove Mary, long may it continue to do so.  But remember when we were on the deck of our Nile cruiser last year?  We did elicit some alarm from some French tourists.  You know how slim they all are.  One poor lady choked on her Bellini when you whipped off your towel.

I do believe she was jealous!  Besides, they quickly became distracted when you dived in to rescue poor Binky; but you have given me an idea – perhaps I shall just go topless as they do in France – n’est pas?

Mary dear, Europe may be sad to see us leave, but I’m not sure if the world is quite ready for your unfettered frontage.

You might be right Agatha.  Perhaps we should call for some more tea and start to plan our route up to Scotland.  Wouldn’t it be fun to drop in on our dear friends Olive Croissant and Fanny Chevaux on our way?

What a splendid idea.  I am given to understand that they have expanded their cat’s home to incorporate training in acrobatics.

Acrobatics!  For cats?


Yes indeed.  Who knew our furry friends could be so adept on the pommel horse and the parallel bars.  The mind quite boggles.

Quite.  Although perhaps the two ladies could be losing their grip on reality.  

No really, I have seen the photographs.  They do shows and are thinking about touring the country.  In fact they have been in touch with our dear Author friend Eileen who has been studying acrobatics in China.  She is flying back to give a masterclass.

How wonderful.  Tea dear?

Lovely.  Chin chin.




Reasons to be cheerful – part three


You know Agatha, I was just looking into all the various vaccinations one needs for travelling around Asia, and it got me to thinking how lucky we are to be able to prevent some of those dreadful diseases in the western world.  I was thinking about polio for example.  What a terrible thing, and still prevalent in some countries.  But it affected many people before the vaccine was introduced here in the 1950s.  

Indeed my dear, and even some beyond the 1950’s.  Don’t you remember the lovely Christopher Longden, such a wonderful boy and spent so much of his time in calipers.  

Goodness yes Agatha, but he was so incredibly plucky and then of course there is the dear departed Ian Dury,  not that his disability stopped him from achieving great things.

By jingo Mary, yes.  What a revolutionary chap he was.  Do you remember when we danced like lunatics to his tunes?  I do think it’s fair to say that we got a better reaction than when we Charlestoned for the first time at Charlie Fairweathers!  Of course, that was back in the day when we were young enough to fling our bodies about with gay abandon?

Well speak for yourself darling, I seem to remember that there was a certain amount of gay abandon at the belly dancing show at Christmas.  But of course my flexibility is not what it was.  Gone are the days when we could touch our toes dear.

Ah yes, the 1970s.  The decade that fashion forgot, but the music was certainly life changing.  And, doesn’t it seem as if things were much simpler in those days?  We just had a few too many ciders and danced with our friends.  Nowadays there is not so much dancing.  


I’m afraid you’re quite right Agatha.  But of course in our day the evening started much earlier and with just a couple of strong ciders!

Quite so dear one.  It seems that today the youngsters don’t even go out until midnight, which could explain why they seem to be obsessed with taking photographs of themselves and putting them on social media.  It really makes one wonder if they actually know how to let themselves go?

Or even talk to one another!  Goodness me, the debates and larks we’d have.  Of course, we were as they say ‘living the moment’ rather than taking a snapshot of it. I do believe that makes all the difference.

Yes, one does wonder dear.  And if they don’t know how to enjoy the moment, as you say, then how do they manage to make real friendships?  It’s all incredibly distressing.  If everything they do is through the lens, nothing is actually real.

Quite dear, mobile devices and the internet are all well and good for keeping in touch, but when they control your behaviour, well, that’s quite another thing entirely.

No wonder society is going down the jolly old drain.  But what can one do dear?

Well I do hope that on our spiffingly exciting travels we’ll be able to encourage people to enjoy each other’s company.  Talk about their lives, good and bad, spend a whole evening chatting about music, books, films, politics – what is going on in the world, rather than just taking pictures, modifying them with apps and posting them up on social media to count how many likes they have in order to make yourself feel good.

Gosh dear, you seem quite incensed by this!

Well confound it Agatha, I do believe I am.  And it’s because I have been alive long enough to know what really makes one happy.

Aren’t we getting a bit philosophical dear?  But, please, do tell… Is it cake, gin that type of thing?

Well of course those things certainly help.  But I have concluded that friends are the thing.

It goes without saying dear one.  Good friends are absolutely vital to a long and happy life.  Whoever you are.  They get you through the ups and downs of life.

Yes, and given that we are currently in a bit of a gloomy dip, I count you and my other dear friends as the reasons I stay cheerful despite what the politicians and the media want us to feel.



Guacamole has always struck me as rather a gloomy dip.  I mean, it starts off all green and lush, but quickly turns brown and unpleasant.

Yes dear.  Not quite what I meant, but you have a point of course.

Being rather silly, and porridge oats.

I think you need a large gin Agatha.

I always need a large gin, Mary dear, but in this case I was simply recalling one of my favourite lines from Reasons to be cheerful part three.  Ian Dury and the Blockheads, a fine song and full of rather wonderful lines.

Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty, going on 40.

Oh yes.  Shall we put it on the stereo and have a listen.  It will take us back to our younger years.

The hair and makeup – do you remember?

I try to forget Agatha dear.  But I do have plenty of happy memories of that time.  Do you remember when we spent the summer at your cousin Isabel’s olive farm in Italy?

Oh yes indeed I do.  I particularly remember the scrapes we got ourselves into.  Gianni comes to mind.  Isabel’s top picker.  I do recall one sultry night when he ‘picked’ you out. We’d became quite frantic about you when you hadn’t returned by the small hours.  

Oh really Agatha, I thought the days of you reminding me of that had long passed.  You know perfectly well that Gianni was not entirely responsible for my dress getting entangled in the olive nets.  It was merely an accident owing, I believe, to rather a luscious supply of Chianti and Gianni’s Italian charm.  As you well know I was merely trying to understand what he was saying.  I think he was explaining the finer points of harvesting the fruits, it all seemed terribly romantic of course.

Did the Count ever find out?

Well, nothing really happened of course, but he did punch Gianni in the nose later that year.  He told me at the time it was all over some silly argument about the offside rule…. (both ladies look blank)…. but I think he was really protecting my reputation.

Oh but the jolly capers and scrapes we got into, they are the glue that cements a friendship, don’t you think?  

Of course, that and learning how to belly dance together.

And helping each other.  You were totally spiffing in Egypt last year.  I don’t believe I would have managed to get over that rotter Binky without your help and counsel.  I’d have probably gone into a total funk after he tried to pinch my jewels.  

You would do the same for me dear.  Let’s have some of that delicious Black Forest Gateau Mabel has constructed.  That will also take us back to the 1970s dear one.

How absolutely marvellous dear.  Cheers, and here’s to fabulous friendships!

Indeed.  To friendships!


3 Little Buttons


Reasons to be cheerful – part One.

happyAh Mary dear  do come in and take a pew.  I’ve had some ideas on how to tackle those pesky winter doldrums.

That sounds fabulous darling.  We certainly need something to cheer ourselves in these dark and chilly days.


I beg your pardon dear one?

Snetter set a bonfire at the weekend.  And I must say it rather bought the child out in me.  I was dashing about the garden, looking for sticks and poking it with the rake.  Such delightful fun!

I did think I could smell something smoky about your person when you embraced me just now.  And your hair has taken on a certain life of it’s own this morning.

Oh yes, well it did get a little out of hand, the odd spark flying about and igniting the lashings of hairspray I normally use on a Sunday.  Still, Snetter managed to quash the flames with a swift swipe of the garden broom.  Left me reeling a little dear, but nothing a stiff gin couldn’t fix.


Anyway, as I say, it warmed me up, got me moving about and prevented that terrible Sunday feeling one gets of impending doom, well at least until tea time when there’s always blancmange and jelly.

Yes, I do know that feeling dear heart. The Count has been unusually down recently.  All this talk of leaving Europe has set his moustaches quite a quiver, he is plotting something and I do hope it’s not dangerous.  You remember he has quite a penchant for explosives. Indeed, as you know, one of the reasons he married me was my lineage and my relationship to Guy Fawkes.

You don’t think he’s plotting to overthrow the Government?

I certainly hope not, although what he’ll do when Trump gets here I wouldn’t like to say. Let’s hope he’s not too rash.  But I know he is very upset, particularly at the possibility that this Brexit situation could tear us apart.  I mean, he may be forced to return permanently to Italy and one wonders if I would be welcome there.  It’s all rather depressing.

Don’t worry Mary dear.  I’m sure it won’t come to that.  We must sort out some charity work soon, that always cheers one’s heart.

Yes, lovely idea.  Although one wouldn’t want to expose oneself just now.

What do you mean?

Belly dancing.  Not until I have shed my Christmas poundage dear.

But dear one, don’t you feel that it sort of adds to the wobble factor?  I know that once I get going my flesh does seem to have a mind completely of it’s own.

Agatha dear, while you may enjoy liberating your upper regions,  my cleavage has quite blossomed over the festive period.  Hence, the lingerie that I purchased from Rigby & Peller last year is somewhat snug, so the excess just has to go dear.  So I was thinking that we could perhaps do a sponsored weight loss, or fitness whatnot.  Raise some cash for charity in the process.

Do you mean one of those videos where the young and gorgeous dash about in Lycra?

Well ….

But Mary dear, it’s a long time since I’ve seen Bruno Tonioli cutting a dash, but I think I still have his contact details.  Snetter would be able to find them I’m sure.

Agatha, I don’t mean that we ask someone to do a video, but that we do one ourselves.

Mary dear that sounds spiffing, but I think it’s more likely that people would pay not to watch us leaping about in leotards.  Perhaps, instead, we could press our friends to join in with a plan to lose weight and sponsor us at the same time.

Oh yes, I do like that idea.  What kind of things could we do then?

Well, eating less cake might be one.

Heaven forbid, no, I simply cannot do without my cake.

Well, perhaps less gin.

Have you gone quite mad Agatha?

What about more exercise then.


I know.  Our dear friend Gussie Twot-Wickham has just started doing that Park Run.  She walks it of course, running is so undignified when you have a large frontage like mine, but she is certainly looking trimmer.

Well,  I think that is a splendid idea.  And all our friends can join in too.

By jingo, how delightful!  Can you imagine darling Miriam Shufflepuff joining in?

Oh Agatha dear, don’t make me laugh when I’m just about to swallow some delicious Assam….She would have to take two strides for our one, but I’m not sure it’s really her thing, you know.  She’s more of a talker than a walker.

Well, perhaps we could ask her to gather all our friends and do some organising then.

So, how much does one have to pay to join in with a Park Run?

Gussie tells me that it’s free, dear heart.

Well, how is that possible?  What about the organisers and people who are helping out on the day?

They are all volunteers.  So every Saturday a huge number of people give up their lie-ins to stand in a chilly open space to help.  It’s quite amazing when you think about it.

Indeed it is Mary.  It quite gladdens the heart to know that there are still people out there who will help others, complete strangers, for the common good.  Do you think if we went back to Egypt we could participate there?  I was thinking of going to see Binkie again, just to see him one very last time (wiping away a tear)

Agatha dear, I think anything is possible.


I completely agree Mary dear.  

And just imagine all that lovely fresh air, striding out in our local park surrounded by like minded fitness enthusiasts.  It sounds terribly invigorating.  Perhaps I should ask The Count to join us.  He would benefit from some fresh air, it might help him out of his fug of frustration.

Good idea Mary.  Now, let me call Ethel.  She has prepared a delicious chocolate cake for us today.  All that talk about exercise has quite piqued my appetite.

BBC Food Website (19th March 2012)

Rhyming with Wine

New Year, more cake



Mary dear how wonderful to see you looking so full of the festive vigours.  Do come through. Dorothy Lanesborough, Gussie Twot-Wickham and Javala are all in the lounge. We’re just reviewing the success of our belly dancing show at the Bishop’s Palace.

Ooh how delightful, I must say the Count was very impressed with everything.  He has been quite mute with admiration since, keeps asking me to show him some of my moves again.

So you’ve had a quiet Christmas then Mary?

Absolutely!  It’s been heaven (enters the drawing room with Agatha)  Darlings, how wonderful to see you all looking so vibrant.

Let me ring for Ethel and get us some more tea and some of that delicious mincemeat crumble cake that she’s been making for us.

Mary dear, how lovely to see you!   Have you quite recovered from your belly button jewel flying off and hitting the Bishop on the head?  I do believe he came over quite peculiar, but was soon brought round by some of Snetter’s special mulled wine.  

Oh Dorothy, yes it was a slightly un-nerving but I just didn’t want to upset the routine; particularly after Agatha had stunned so many of the audience with her amazing travelling hip swivels and alarming back bends.  


Yes , I noticed the concentration on your face, Agatha.  I also noticed that most of the gentlemen were not actually looking at your face, they seemed to find you quite distracting!

Really, at my age.  What a load of tosh, Gussie!  

But, my dears, it was a truly magnificent evening and I can’t thank you enough.  If the figures are to be believed we have raised an astonishing sum for Refuge and we still have some of the auction money to count too.

Fabulous news Gussie.  With the added benefit that one found the whole experience of twirling semi naked in public totally liberating.  I, for one, feel we should all continue into the new year.

(there are cheers all round, and Ethel brings in more tea and cake.)

You know ladies, I do feel that the most invigorating thing about our belly dancing is the way it has changed my view of our bodies.

How so Agatha dear?

Well, I was reading this month’s Vogue and there is a refreshingly honest article about Ashley Graham who is on the cover.  

But, darling what on earth has this Ashley Graham got to do with us and our bodies?  She is young and beautiful.

Mary dear, I quite agree but Ashley Graham is a ‘Plus-size model on a mission to reshape fashion’ and wants us all to embrace our shape, whatever it is, and love ourselves.  There is a wonderful TEDX talk that covers all aspects of her size and how women are unable to say that they love themselves.

Oh yes, Agatha, I did read about this.  She really is quite inspiring and says that she looked up to her Mother who told her that she should love herself from within.  Apparently her mother would say ‘If you call yourself fat, you’re going to be fat, if you say you’re stupid, you’re going to be stupid’.  

By jove Mary she sounds an entirely inspirational woman and hasn’t fallen into the trap that of trying to perpetuate the media’s idea of the ideal shape which is, quite frankly, unattainable for many without causing damage to body and mind.

Quite dears, and we should not wait until we have reached our grand old ages to finally accept ourselves for who we are.  It’s terrible to think that young women and girls today wish they looked like someone else.  How many of us have looked back at photographs of ourselves in our teens and twenties and wondered how we ever thought we were unattractive or the wrong shape back then?

Oh yes Agatha, it’s such a waste of youth.  And as the wonderful late Carrie Fisher said

“We treat beauty like an accomplishment, and that is insane. Everyone in L.A. says, ‘Oh, you look good,’ and you listen for them to say you’ve lost weight. It’s never ‘How are you?’ or ‘You seem happy!'”


So in her memory, let’s have another slice of cake and keep dancing!

Absolutely darlings!



Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Dare to….be yourself


Agatha darling do come in – The Count is playing billiards and the clattering of his balls is positively deafening in the downstairs parlour, so I thought we’d go through to the conservatory, and enjoy my orchids.   Cook is practising her Linzertorte in advance of  a small invasion of The Count’s cousins from Austria next week.

Are these the cousins who you suspect may have (whispers) “Nazi” leanings Mary dear?

Not any more Agatha.  There was a time when their greeting caused alarm, the slight raising of the arm and clicking of the heels, but it seems that they were simply enjoying a joke at my expense!  Of course, now my Italian is coming along, I can understand The Count’s explanation for their unusual behaviour.

That’s a relief dear one!  And how lovely your orchids do look, particularly the Dracula Vampira – it always gives me a thrill.

Thank you dear.  It is rather striking and disturbing, I agree.  Now,  do tell me what you’ve been up to.  

I bumped into that lovely Miriam Shufflepuff the other day.  I’m glad to say that she still says exactly what’s on her mind, it takes a lot of courage to be oneself, and she is the most courageous woman I know.  It appears she was rather down in the dumps at not being invited to the Evangeline Hesketh’s Halloween party, but then to cap it all she didn’t get an invitation to The Club for Bonfire Night either.  She said she was rather cross, as you and The Count had had lots of fireworks on Saturday and being of very small stature she hadn’t been able to see anything over the window ledge!


Well Agatha, it was all very last minute.  As you know The Count can be quite explosive himself at times and a feeling of ‘joie de vivre’ really came over him.  I tell you, I felt quite eighteen again, but I digress. So, Algie purchased some lovely fireworks for us and arranged it all.  We had burgers on the back lawn – handmade by Martha of course, none of your pre-made patties.  Of course I would have invited you my dear, but I knew that you were already previously engaged.  

It all sounds thoroughly modern dear Mary, I mean, burgers for goodness’ sake!  Last year you had stuffed quail and pheasant en-croute I seem to remember.  This must be the influence of your boys I shouldn’t wonder.

Oh no dear, it was all my idea.  I don’t want to fossilise.  But I am sorry not to think of darling Miriam.  However as you know my bosom does preclude me from noticing anything below waist level, so even if she was invited, I may have tripped over her in the dark.

Well, I think that we should definitely invite her to our charity fundraising with belly dancing later in the year – she’s always up for a laugh, and she may even join in.  Imagine the scene.  (Both fall silent for a moment.)

What a fantastic idea dear one.  (Cries from the billiard room are heard).  

My goodness Mary!  Do you think the Count is alright?  Should we send for Angus to go and check on him?

I should imagine he’s just sent a ball through a window dear, I took the precaution of removing Great Aunt Maud’s stuffed Iguana before he started playing.  I’m sure if he had had an accident with a mis-timed cue we would soon find out about it.  Now, have another coffee; this Linzertorte is quite exceptional.  I believe the jam was from the raspberries in the kitchen garden.

Yes it really is delicious, the jam goes so well with the hazelnut pastry and the coffee.  I really must ask cook for the recipe so that Ethel can master it too.  You know it quite reminds me of when Dear Mama asked all those lovely politicians for recipes so she could put a book together and raise funds for the local Children’s home.

My goodness, I do remember that.  We had quite some fun putting together and testing all those recipes.  

Am I right in remembering Mary dear that the late Margaret Thatcher made a contribution?

Indeed, your memory is astonishing Agatha!  Yes, Papa had it framed in his drawing room.  I believe he had quite the crush on her, but that of course was in younger days before she was our PM.

Really?  How amusing.  I  particularly loved those interviews conducted by the late lamented Jimmy Young.   As an interviewer he certainly had a charming approach, and many criticised him for being too soft.  But in reality he was an under-rated broadcasting pioneer.  His softly softly approach got so much more out of his interviewees and I believe Maggie was quite smitten with him.

I agree dear one.  Yes, so sad that he’s gone; but his methods were so those of a true gentleman.  That style seems rather out of favour nowadays, of course.  It’s all, what do they say? “wham bam thank you maam”.  But it all ends up rather shouty with no real revelations.

Quite, one does not find this rather brutal approach very attractive.  I remember there were several occasions when I was Head of Jam at the WI, and we had to raise funds from Corporate Clients.  My negotiating style was criticised, and I was told in no uncertain terms to ‘man-up’. Well, save wearing a false moustache and a banana in my trouser pocket,  I really wasn’t that sure how to do that.


And why would you want to anyway, Agatha dear?

Indeed, my dear.  And Jimmy Young was told the same – that his approach wouldn’t work; that the interviews would not have any substance; but how wrong the world was.  Of course tastes change and now that we have Mr Trump as President elect I think we will see more of it.

I believe so, and I appreciate that things much change. But was it not Kurt Cobain who said:    Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.

So, we should be true to ourselves and success will follow?

Spot on!

And this Linzertorte is certainly spot on Mary dear.  Could I have another slice, while I top up our coffee?

With pleasure dear heart.  We can work it off with our belly dancing lesson this afternoon. Did you remember to bring your tassels?

In my valise, dear.   



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Mudpie Fridays

Spooky looks


Mary, dear one, what a treat to see you looking so happy.  Has anything particular happened this week to cause such a flush of joy across your cheeks.  Perhaps the Count has come up trumps with a romantic gesture?

Oh Agatha, how sweet of you to notice.  But no, my fresh faced appearance has nothing to do with the dear old fruit, but I did have my annual visit to my facialist this week.  She gave me a new treatment, something to do with hydraulics apparently.  Of course, at my age we need heavy lifting gear to alleviate the wrinkles, I think that’s what the lovely Gina said, anyway.

Is that Gina who works for the rogue cosmetic surgeon who has been hitting the headlines recently?

Yes, one and the same Agatha.  But Gina is totally above board and on the right side.  She doesn’t get involved in any of that invasive, injecting buttocks stuff.

Botox I think you mean.

Oh yes.  Well, Gina swears by natural remedies and plenty of exercise, with the odd facial peel thrown in to keep one looking youthful and vigorous.

Well Mary, you do look ever so well, tip top dear.  Perhaps I should pay her a visit?  Maybe eradicating a few lines will help me feel more attractive during the coming party season.  Perhaps, even, I might find a new beau?

Oh I do think the force of your personality is enough Agatha dear. After all, at our age, looks are not the first port of call when looking for a romantic companion.  One has to be careful about how far one goes with this kind of thing.

Well Mary, that is a rather ironic comment considering the money you have just spent having your skin pummelled and tightened.  I mean, if it’s good enough for you then it should be good enough for your oldest friend, don’t you think?

Oh but dear one, you do tend to get a little carried away sometimes.  But of course Agatha, I didn’t mean to be bossy (flushes) – but I know you.  You see a new thing and you go a little overboard.  I can imagine you being persuaded to have all sorts of procedures once you are sitting in that seductive environment, surrounded by images of ladies who have shed decades with one swipe of the knife.

Do you mean that I would go for a full face lift without batting an eyelid?


Possibly Agatha, and you wouldn’t be able to bat your eyelids for months afterwards!  Don’t you remember April Bartholomew?  She had a series of facial lifts and tucks and couldn’t blink at all by the end of it.  

Heavens dear – I hadn’t realised that was the reason she always wore dark glasses and had such a strained look about her.  I thought she was hoping to look like Victoria Beckham!  But you’re quite right Mary.  I always do get carried away.  After all, I did lose all sense of proportion over that rotter Binky.  Perhaps I should stick to the Estee Lauder counter at Selfridges, Daddy’s discount still applies there – amazing really after all these years, but I guess old man Selfridge must have been desperate.  Anyway, Florence really does look after me.  She always manages to find just the right foundation colour and texture for my skin.

And you always look glorious Agatha.  You are still a real head turner when you have had your hair done and you are wearing something expensive.  It’s your bone structure I have always admired.  Those cheek bones would shame the Duchess of Cambridge!

Thank you dear, they are a real asset as it means I’ll never really have to have any serious surgery.  But, that reminds me dear about that very sad story in the news last week.  Do you remember Pete Burns, that pop singer from the 1980s?

Oh yes indeed.  His band was Dead or Alive were they not?

That’s right dear.  Anyway, he met an untimely end last week, at the age of just 57 – so young and so tragic.

I did hear that, I agree so very tragic.  Such an interesting chap too.  I do remember being struck by his beauty when he was first on the scene.  Quite transcendent.


Yes he was.  And for some reason he went totally overboard on plastic surgery.  One wonders what drove such a talented and good looking chap to such extremes.  He must have been quite insecure inside, I imagine.

Perhaps he was, Agatha dear.  I believe that it all started when he went to get his broken nose fixed and it went wrong.  

But isn’t that what happened to David Gest too?  Poor chap had some dreadful surgery that went horribly wrong and he too died before his time.  

Horribly tragic.  I believe dear Pete had admitted that being in the spotlight made him very conscious of how he looked.   It seems that nowadays you need more than talent to succeed in the world of popular music, you need to look a certain way.  It’s such unremitting pressure on the young ones.

I agree totally my dear.  One wonders what lengths people will go to to conform to some arbitrary standard of beauty.  

Yes Agatha, and of course, the pressure is on both men and women – it is a worry, particularly when you know that those images we are fed every day of perfect features are all air-brushed.  They are not real.

Well, let’s try and embrace the warts and all.  The good thing is that as one advances in age, one can join in the Halloween celebrations and look witchy and scary with very little makeup.


Yes dear.  The only problem is that we sometimes scare ourselves too!  But do you remember the larks we used to have by simply putting a torch under the chin?  

Oh indeed Mary, a darkened hall and a torch was enough to make the bravest child quiver in fear.  Amazing how the simple things work best isn’t it?

Indeed Agatha dear and, talking of simple things how about a nice cup of tea and some of Ethel’s pumpkin pie?

I thought you’d never ask dear.


Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Twirling and Whirls


Agatha dear I feel quite invigorated after our first belly dancing lesson.

It was exhilarating Mary, exhilarating.  I feel quite 72 again.

I really was impressed with the ability of my new brassiere to hold everything in place – there were plenty of moments which could have resulted in a wardrobe malfunction.

Indeed Mary dear, it was quite a relief for all of us I’m sure.  Viennese Whirl?

Ooh please, how delicious.  Wasn’t Lucia Pintworth a gem – quite stunning in her crimson silk pantaloons,  she was the spit of that lovely Karen Clifton from Strictly, I thought.  And a youthful 59, if I understood her correctly.

Surely not, by the way she was bending backwards in such a supple fashion she can’t be more than 42.  But didn’t she marry Maxim as a result of a holiday romance when he was on a Grand Tour?

Goodness, I didn’t think anyone went on a Grand Tour nowadays dear one, well apart from those terribly rude Top Gear boys.  Anyway, there is a little more to the story of how Maxim met Lucia.  Did you not hear about the unpleasantness between him and Fortescue Warboys?

Really, Mary?  I am quite in the dark as to any kerfuffle between Max and Forty.  

Well,  some years ago he and Fortesque had a colossal ding dong at one of their table tennis tournaments in our games room. Maxim got quite out of hand, bordering on the violent.  As a result they smashed the display cabinets in the Count’s games room and nearly took out his favourite stuffed Parrot.  In fact, the dear old fruit was certain that there was going to be pistols at dawn!

Goodness Mary, I do believe your husband can get quite carried away sometimes!  I can imagine his Italian blood quite on fire at two English Toffs smashing their ping pong balls about and getting into a tizzy.

That is true dear, I had to calm him down with several large glasses of Chianti.  But the whole episode was really about Maxim wanting to marry Fortesque’s cousin, and dear old Forty went into a total fizz about the whole thing, protesting that Maxim was only after the Fabergé snuff box that the Tzar had supposedly given her.  Trouble was everyone, except Fortesque and Maxim, knew it was a fake!

He sounds too much like Binky dear, and we all know how that ended.

Yes Agatha dear!  Anyway, Maxim was shipped off to stop him from interfering and quite frankly at 78 he really was becoming a bit of a liability – (whispering) too many dalliances with the servants so they say.  So in Italy he met the delightful Lucia.

And such an asset she has turned out to be.  She has certainly calmed Maxim down, but she talks nineteen to the dozen and I think he just lets it wash over him, can’t understand more than one or two words of what she says.  Neither can I of course!

Well Agatha dear, I may have a solution to that, and it really is quite exciting when I think about it.  

I can see that dear.  You look positively overcome, fit to burst.  Tell me then, while I pour the tea.

Well, I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.  I’ve been reading articles about teaching yourself new things to stimulate the brain and stave off dementia.  So, I’ve decided to go back to School!

Oh Mary dear isn’t that a bit radical?  I don’t believe St Margaret for the Pure of Heart isn’t quite the same now.  I understand it’s a comprehensive and really quite modern!  And, erm, not wanting to put too fine a point on it dear, aren’t you a little old for gymslips and satchels now?  Although I must say you can’t beat a pleated skirt and a nice blazer – they’re quite ‘on trend’ this season I believe.

Oh Agatha sometimes you are just too old fashioned!  I have no intention of going back to my Almer Mater, I’m enrolling in one of those delightful online learning courses which means I can do everything from the luxury of my own home.  And besides, you know perfectly well what happened the last time I wore a gymslip and had to hang onto those bars in some kind of arcane ritual…


Golly yes, but you did look most decorative dear heart.  But anyway, what on earth has possessed you to take on this challenge dear?

Well, you know that The Count and I just about rub along due to the differences in our languages?  Well,  recently I have found myself wanting to have chats with the dear chap around subjects that are a little more in depth than one or two ice cubes in my G&T.  So, I am learning Italian!

How confusing dear, it means I won’t be able to understand either of you!  Don’t you think this is all a bit much Mary?  I mean we’re only just back from Egypt, and most of the time I had to get by with sign language and some charades – goodness know what language they were speaking!

I do believe it was English, Agatha.

Well, yes, but I struggled to understand our guide at the Goddess Temples in Luxor.  So at our age, do you think it’s possible to learn a new language?

I do believe that women – even chaps – can turn their hand to anything at any time of their life Agatha.  After all we hadn’t been belly dancing until tonight and look at the progress we’ve made – you managed to get your tassels twirling most becomingly.  Besides, the lovely people at Future Learn – the online education people – let you go at your own speed.  

Well if you must dear, but it’s all a bit beyond me I’m afraid.

Oh but Italian is such a wonderful language, and besides, I can now successfully order a glass of white wine – “Vorrei un bicchiere di vino bianco”

Oh, it sounds so much more sophisticated in Italian – I’m transported to the old days of elegant sipping and cocktail dresses *sighs*  


I know, so romantic is it not.  But that’s just the start of course.  It’s totally super that after just one lesson I can ask The Count for two different types of tipple!  Now I need to learn how to say “Please may I have another Viennese Whirl”

Free online language courses:


Viennese Whirl recipe:


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My Random Musings
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Agatha and Mary’s Egyptian Oddessy/2

Part two


Agatha dear one, surely this can’t be IT?

Sorry Mary, but I think it may be.  When I booked the Nile Cruise I was also expecting something a little grander.  I’m sure it will turn out alright though, stiff upper etc.

But where will we sleep? And is there a fridge to keep the drinks cool?  I imagined something a little more Agatha Christie – sharing observations with an intelligent Belgian detective – and so forth.  Elegant dining whilst watching the sun dipping below the horizon from a comfortable deck chair. With nibbles.

It says here on the ticket “An authentic experience on a traditional Nile Vessel.  A Felucca.”  Well, that thing down there, with the patched sail and no apparent place to sit, must be a Felucca – sounds like some kind of exotic dish.

That’s falafel Agatha, we had some last night.  They were delicious but I wouldn’t want to spend two nights in one.

Perhaps we could book ourselves onto a larger boat, I’m not sure I could squeeze myself comfortably onto that small wooden vessel as I’m convinced my thighs have swollen up in the heat

Hold your horses, Agatha.  That chap sitting in the stern, wearing that ridiculous pith helmet and handlebar moustache, that’s the one I saw in the bar, the one I thought was the spit of Binky!

Let me find my binoculars.  (Rummages in a large carpet bag).  No, Mary, it looks more like Hercule Poirot, Binky doesn’t have such a large tummy.   And remember, he has a horror of all things nautical.   Anyway, let’s ask if we can transfer to that rather splendid vessel next to the Felucca.

(After several minutes and quite a degree of bartering the girls are seated on the deck of the luxury cruiser)


That’s better Agatha, thank you.  Let’s order a quick snifter before we set off.

I think they only serve tea before midday, but I have got my hip flask with me – you know I never travel without a drop of sherry!  (passes Mary the flask) Have you brought your bikini Mary?

Yes, but I don’t believe I will be braving it dear.  After all we are well past our prime and I wouldn’t want to scare the other passengers.

Tosh and piffle. If I can expose my thighs in this great heat, then you can certainly bear your bikini-clad body – who’s going to mind really?  Nobody knows us here.

Maybe you have a point Agatha.  I was reading an article about that super athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill this morning.  She was talking about her battle to get back into Olympian shape after having her son.  Apparently it took her a whole year to regain her six pack.  So what hope is there for us mere mortals?

But, Mary, as she is an athlete it’s her job to be in tip top physical condition, most ladies do not need a six pack to go about their daily lives.  So a little wobble here and there is just proof you have carried a child.

I quite agree Agatha.  And we should be proud of our bodies, whether or not we have had babies, and not shamed by ridiculous media expectations of unattainably flat tummies and thigh gaps.  I personally think it’s a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women down.

Gosh Mary, have you been reading that Feminist book “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf again?  You seem quite impassioned!

Oh, I do love that book, but no.  I just get a little hot under the collar when one is made to feel ashamed of one’s’ looks.  At my great age it really shouldn’t matter one jot.

Quite right.  Tally Ho Mary! Let’s go and change, there are some sunbeds on the top deck and I don’t believe there are any Germans on board so we should have our pick of the best.

(After a quick change the girls are up on deck, suitably attired to catch the sun)

Mary dear, I’ve had a word with one of the stewards – such a lovely man, and he’s arranged for us to have a spot of fizz before luncheon.  It seems that some American’s were here last week and they had a large bourbon every day at around 11.30, so a glass of fizz is absolutely acceptable.

Delicious Agatha!  I don’t suppose you found out any information about the strange Poirot style gentleman?

No, apparently he joined the vessel two days ago but has only been out of his cabin once or twice – dicky tummy apparently!

Oh dear, so I don’t suppose we’ll get a chance to meet him at luncheon then?

I doubt that very much dear, but dinner should be an exciting event as it’s black tie and I believe they have some belly dancers to provide a bit of light entertainment.

Well, that certainly gives me more body confidence – I believe it can be quite arousing.

I wouldn’t know about that dear, but it will certainly be a talking point at embroidery club.

(Loud crash is heard- followed by a splash).  Goodness what on earth was that Agatha?  There seems to be a bit of a commotion.

Well certainly people are rushing around a great deal dear.  Do you think the boat could be sinking?  At least we’re dressed for it and I quite fancy the thought of a dip.

No dear, but I do think someone has wound up in the drink.

Goodness, I hope they can swim.  Had we better go and have a look dear, see if we can help?  Mary – it’s Binky – Look!!!! (and with this Agatha dives overboard and swims to Binky who is flailing in the water)


Agatha dear, oh do be careful.  Here grab hold of the life belt – I’ll pull you up.  My man – would you mind giving me some assistance? (pulling both Agatha and Binky onto the deck) Agatha – you were marvellous, I thought your diving abilities were long gone, but you were stunning – it was quite a show. That triple twist somersault certainly commanded interest!(People standing round applauding).

Mary dear, thank you, but I think we’d better get changed and find out why Binky wound up overboard with a knapsack full of my jewels.  He was hiding it under his shirt, hence the large tummy.  Do you think you could get me a small brandy to calm my nerves.

My good man, would you mind assisting my dear friend here?  A small brandy please, and you can leave the bottle.  Now Agatha, don’t you think we’d better all sit down and let the Captain investigate the case?


…to be continued

My Random Musings
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Agatha and Mary’s Egyptian Oddessy

Part One

Egypto Maniac Blog header final-01

Agatha dear, how you are you feeling?  You don’t look as though you’re coping with your camel very well!

I must admit Mary that the saddle has been chafing in this heat and I will be mightily relieved to have a long cool dip in the pool.  It’s been a while since I’ve ridden anything quite so lively!

Talking of that, how did it go with Binky before we left Blighty?

Well, he totally denied he’d trousered my silver punch bowl, maintained that one of the guests must have pinched it during the party when he was a little the worse for wear.  Said he would do his utmost to retrieve it for me.

And do you believe him dear heart? I keep imagining he has followed us here.  I thought I spotted someone with his particular air of entitlement wearing a straw hat and fake moustache in the hotel bar this morning.  But I must be imagining things.  

Don’t be fanciful, Mary. Perhaps you should wear a hat tomorrow, I think the sun has gone to your head. Anyway, it was certainly the right time to get away. I mean, I do adore the chap of course, but I am starting to wonder if I can really trust him after all.  What with all the argy bargy I was feeling quite out of sorts.  This hot Egyptian weather has certainly revived my spirits.

Yes, I had noticed.  Who was that dashing gent you were sharing a gin sling with last night?


Bedouin dear.  These are his camels, you know, such a charming chap and quite a knowledgeable type. He offered me his tent for the night, but I think he might have been more interested in  my skills as a camel rider rather than anything else –  so I gracefully declined.  I think he was a little piqued at my refusal.

Goodness me!   I did notice your unusual dismount yesterday, right down the neck of the poor beast.  You executed a pretty nimble leap over his head as you reached the ground.  It reminded me of an Olympic gymnastic movement dear one.  Bravo!

Yes, well gripping with one’s thighs right up until the last moment is a good trick. Anyway, Mary.  Did I hear you talking to Algie on the blower last night?

Yes, indeed.  Need to keep up with one’s offspring.  I do worry about them when I’m out of the country you know.

But Mary, both your boys are grown men, with children of their own, isn’t it time you loosened the apron strings a little?

Ideally, yes.  But they are still my little cherubs, they need their dear old mama to pep them up sometimes.  And Algie, particularly, is suffering Brexit wobble – doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.  I think he’s more concerned about his father, the Count, who may be forced to return to Italy.  


I think it’s a woman’s lot to worry about her children, whatever their age, Mary dear.  We spend our lives fretting over what might happen, constantly vigilant to possible dangers. It’s simply exhausting.  Do you remember when Edmund was born?  Oh, the fussing I did!

Yes Agatha dear, you did take it all rather seriously as I remember.  You coped better than I did of course – after all I had the twins to deal with and only a few staff at the time.  Still – do continue while I adjust my stirrups, my steed seems to think I am some kind of ping pong ball, I need more purchase to stay on.

Clench your thighs dear, that’s the ticket.  Yes, it still makes me blush just to remember all the precautions I took. Remember the giant hogweed in the garden?  I had Jones grub it all up and the poor man came out in an awful rash – he was off work for a whole week and my borders ran to weed.  Then I had some rather bonkers idea about Edmund catching Bird Flu from the peacocks.  I made him wear a surgeon’s mask whilst playing in the garden that summer.  In the end all my efforts were to no avail. I thought his number was up when he threw himself into the pond to catch the koi carp.

Yes, I was there.  I think we had had rather too much Pimms, and were a little slow to reach the scene.  But Edmund was triumphant, caught two with his bare hands, quite an achievement at the age of three, I always thought.

Yes, he was always a resourceful boy.  I never stopped worrying of course. Even when he went up to Cambridge and joined the rowing team, I always imagined him getting walloped by a stray oar and flying headlong into the Cam.  Of course, Jonty always maintained a stiff upper lip over these matters.  Danger never seemed to register for him, even though I know he loved Edmund right up until his own demise under the wheels of that blasted lawnmower, driven erroneously by my cousin’s parrot.

Yes, we didn’t see that coming, did we Agatha?  Poor Jonty.  But I agree that it seems curious that men do not seem to fret as much as us on a daily basis.

I agree Mary.  It’s a woman’s burden, and it doesn’t improve, even when they grow up and have children of their own.  But, here we are, I can make out the hotel in the distance. Hang on to your pommel, the camels can smell water – (raises voice as camels pick up speed). Shall we take in the Cairo museum this evening?  I would rather enjoy seeing the mummies up close.


Oh yes, (shouting as camels reach full gallop) lovely!  I saw Tutankhamun when he came to England in the 1970s.  I remember the miles and miles of queuing to take a peek for 30 seconds, quite glorious.  It would be delightful to see it in it’s rightful setting.

Well, dear, (takes breath as camels slow down) that was exhilarating.  I’m quite amazed that you managed to stay on Mary – are you alright – your hair looks a little askew.

Give me a moment (rearranges hair).  I feel quite perked up by that.  Unlike those poor souls who went through the mummification process.  I always likened it to giving birth and the attendant responsibilities of motherhood.

Without removing the brain and the vast quantities of salt to dry out the body of course.

Well, no, but in the first year as a new mother I do remember feeling that my brain might have disappeared to be replaced by nappies and bottles.  And as we get older we seem to do quite well at preserving ourselves in gin!

Absolutely dear.  Let’s order a stiff one at the bar, and I fancy some of those delicious falafel.

Bless you Agatha.



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