Sunday, September 30, 2007

False Trails

Mrs. Starling’s house is nothing to look at. It’s part of a mid-thirties terrace slightly older than the rest of the street. She insists that it’s a listed building, however, and treats it as if it was a seventeenth century coach house. Wooden interiors, ‘original’ fireplaces (bought off Harold when he used to have a second hand shop) and period windows (“Honestly, darling, we’d replace them if we could but the council will have none of it.”)

To listen to her, you’d think it was the most important piece of architecture in the village, when there are clearly much finer examples – ones which haven’t been retrofitted by Ikea. She doesn’t so much have a chip on her shoulder as the whole potato. She insists that the village is going to the dogs and mounted a campaign last year to ban drinking in public. Good for the two hostelries, true, but bad news for all the local retailers. It wasn’t alcohol she was proposing to ban, for Laverstone doesn’t have a problem with alcohol-related rowdiness as a rule, but soft drinks and water.

Tin cans and plastic bottles, left in the park or on the street, became her personal vendetta. She failed, of course, but only thanks to some judicious vote-rigging on my part in order to put Rahab on the council.

Rahab’s a personal friend.

Most people know him as the Angel of Pestilence.

Sipping tea -- or coffee in Felicia’s case, slave to consumerism as she is – in Ada’s kitchen-cum-dining-room is a little like holding court. Ada, naturally, is the queen, Harold the beloved prince and Felicia, in the absence of Gillian, the visiting princess. What does that make me, I wonder? A humble, hard-working demon. Am I the court magician, responsible for the security of the house politic?

Or am I the jester?

Whatever I am I have to wonder, looking at the animated conversation between the other three, if I am as truly indispensable as I think. Despite Harold’s protestations I could be replaced easily: there are plenty of other demons able and willing to take my place. Harold would hardly notice the difference.

He put a box on the table. It almost upset the plate of biscuits but I managed to save them in time; I just hope nobody wanted one. The box was full of postcards and greetings cards from Lydia. We sorted them out into date order, from 1977 to 1985 she hadn’t missed a single special day in Harold’s life – birthdays, first day at school, first £10 profit from a single sale (“Cinema Stars” from Will’s Cigarettes, 1928), first A+ in school. After 1985, though, nothing.

I scrutinised the postmarks. Some were from London and some, with missing stamps because Harold had peeled them off, from Norway. The one I was most interested in was a postcard from the south of France (“Souhaiter que vous étiez ici”) with a picture of Lamborghini. A false trail?

The postmark was Aberdovey.

Until the morrow.


Nicola said...

I think I might know Mrs Starling from todays description.

Leatherdykeuk said...