Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door

‘Well Niecey,’ said Uncle Adultery, sweeping into my kitchen dressed for 1920s New York, ‘the time has come.’
‘Time for what?’ I asked, taking in his white three-piece suit. ‘To sit at my round table and trade bon mots with Dorothy Parker?’
‘Your table is hexagonal,’ Uncle A observed, and wiped a chair before sitting down; a reasonable precaution as Thing Two had eaten Weetabix there earlier.
I made some tea, self-conscious under my Uncle’s beady gaze. ‘Don't we warm the pot in Lewes, then?’ was his least barbed comment.
‘The time has come,’ he re-announced, ‘to consider the purchase of a little pied-a-terre.’
‘But you already live in Kensington – epicentre of the pied-a-terre.’
‘For heaven’s sake Niecey, a mug? Emblazoned with Come On You Rooks, to boot? Why those hideous and noisy birds need encouragement from a piece of low-grade china I have no idea. Proper cup, please.’

I stood precariously on a swivel chair to reach my posh cup. It had once had eleven matching friends but they’d all met with brutal deaths.
I clung bravely onto the cup but my coccyx made a dispiriting crunching noise as I landed.
Uncle Adultery stared down at me dispassionately. ‘You are a strange little person,’ he said, and took the cup out of my hand. ‘This needs a wash.’
‘Is everything all right, Uncle A?’ I asked, once I’d hobbled into a sitting position and we were sipping our tea. ‘You seem disgruntled.’
‘You Are Old, Father William, The Young Man Said.’
‘I am? Well, actually I do have an arthritic thumb.’
‘You’re still a young flapper. I am referring to me.’
‘Oh Unc! You are in your prime, surely?’
‘One must accept certain realities. For example, you can no longer clamber about on chairs as though you were twenty-two. And I… why, the other day I forgot my banking password.’
‘Everyone forgets theirs.’
‘They don’t forget their mother’s maiden name, their primary school and their postcode though, do they?’
‘Point taken.’
‘So it’s time to make a plan for the future, whatever it may hold, and whatever part Emmanuelle chooses – or not - to play in it.’
‘Is she…’
‘Topic verboten. I intend, therefore, to buy a convenient apartment so that when the manor at South Ken becomes too much, I can relocate to where my dearest are nearest and can look after me.’
I’ve always been quicker physiologically than cognitively. I felt a prickle down my spine long before my brain woke up, stretched, scratched itself under the armpit and hit me with the full horror.
‘So!’ He stood and examined his fob watch, a la White Rabbit. ‘Let us take a preliminary amble round the real estate purveyors of this noble town.’
‘You mean… you want to buy a flat… here?’ I stammered.
‘Where better? Pleasant landscapes, a modicum of culture, and crucially, my loving niece on hand.’
To be continued…

Beth Miller, 12th October 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith.

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