Sunday, October 07, 2007

Me and Mrs T

Hello all

Still living in my small room at the manor house, spending my working days in the garden for a pittance (the minimum wage does not apply here, apparently). True to human nature, I have adapted to my new situation, and begun to find solutions to my problems. The strain of the abulution issue has now been, er, eased, by the provision of a bed-pan which I keep in the second-floor landing. This happened after I was forced to confront the housekeeper with the ridiculousness of my situation. She was reasonably sympathetic, but adamant that the rules of the owner were non-negotiable.

'Does he not allow you any latitude?', I asked one morning over breakfast.

'No he does not', she replied, swirling her weak tea with the handle of a bread-knife.

'And that is OK by you?', I asked, determined to soften her attitude with a display of empathy.

'The owner was very kind in allowing me to stay here on a permanent basis', she said queietly after a short pause. 'For my part I agreed to follow the house rules to the letter. If that were not the case, the whole house would fall into rack and ruin very quickly, on account of the owner not actually being here most of the time. There are those in the village who would see themselves sitting at the dining table, you know. One small slip, and it could happen, just like that.'

Each time she spoke in her soft Suffolk accent, her bony fingers would clench as if she were in pain. She would not look me in the eye, but instead focused on the action of her swirling tea. I did sense, at that point, that perhaps all was not well at the manor, but my attempts to probe deeper were immediately frustated by the chiming of the kitchen clock. 'Time for work', said the housekeeper quickly, rising from the table, leaving her full cup of tea behind.

'Your tea, Mrs T...', I said, smiling and holding the cup out to her.

'Too much milk', she said sternly. 'I was talking too long and it went cold because there was too much milk. Now, you get to the garden.'

I left the kitchen in a good mood. Despite having taken breafast with Mrs T every morning for the past few weeks, this was the first time we had managed to break the ice. You see, the house rule about fraternisation bewtween staff extends to casual conversation at the dinner table. This is, apparently, to reduce the risk of factions emerging within the staff that could undermine the authority of the owner in his absence.

Dolores was distinctly unenthused about my theory. 'Frankly, Joseph, I don't care if they are at war with each other. I'm more interested in saving our marriage, aren't you?'

'Yes darling of course. I just, er, so - how are the twins?'

'They are behaving remarkably well. I'm beginning to think that sending them to boarding school was perhaps at the root of many of their problems.'

'Er, right. Good. But, I would remind you, darling, that they volunteered to go to boarding school, on account of our inadequate parenting.'

'Ravel is teaching them survival skills. Next week they want to go and spend a night with him in the wood.'

'Good good. I'm sure it's all good for their development. What about the baby?'

'He's fine. Doesn't seem to miss you I'm afraid. Come to think of it, neither...'

I was forced to interject at this point, lest I found out that I was completely superfluous to requirements. Later, whilst removing some weeds from the main drive, I reflected on recent conversations with my wife, and came to the conclusion that all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that I have, indeed, been replaced by Ravel. Not in the strictest marital sense, but in terms of support for Dolores. Should I allow this to continue, I summised, I might find it harder to justify returning home...

J Mcc


Gorilla Bananas said...

It doesn't look good. Does Ravel have a sister? Maybe he could be persuaded to ask her to visit you. It's the least he could do in the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

It's all going Stephen King to me.
Who killed Mrs T in the dining room with the hedge clippers.

Anonymous said...

Dearest McCrumble, I am devastated to hear of your terribly straitened circumstances. I did hear your email read out on the One Show if this is of any happy consequence...other than that I have no solace to offer.
I have not visited anyone much in recent days as I have either had no system or have been on holiday. Be assured however, that the copy of your book accompanied me to Rhodes where my mother looked in askance and said it didn't look to be the sort of thing she'd borrow, but don't take that personally - she's into thrillers at the moment...
Anyhoo, I reckon it's worth slipping the house keeper a swift anti-parasite cum sleeping draft in her night-time cocoa, if only to gain access for a well-needed perfumed, relaxing bath.

Tell her I said it's ok

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

GB - Ravel has no sister in the genetic sense, but several women he refers occasionally to as his sisters. It could be something lost in translation, as it appears his own grandmother falls into the same category. I wouldn't want to risk it, thanks.

Anon - don't try to scare me

Hazel - Nice to hear from you. Sorry your mum was put off by the book. What happened to it in the end? Is it still on Rhodes? I'm working on Mrs T, so watch this space.

Anonymous said...

The book is now back in my book case in the nether end of my and sound...

Have you discovered who uses all the surfboards yet? Or are they now all unwaxed and unloved. Perhaps you could use them to fashion some crude elevator system in order that you may descend from the attic unseen...down the outside of the house? Mrs T would never know. Possibly akin to those tubular structures used to dump waste from tall buildings...a slide perhaps?

It's time McCrumble was free. Properly free. After all, isn't it about the same time last year you were in self-imposed exile in the woods?

...and I think it's Prof Plum in the lower stair well with the anonymous lead pipe..?

Too many questions and so little time...

must get on

ps Gorilla Bananas, you look fab in that ad!