Thursday, 31 December 2009

Christmas Eve at Crusty Hall - Mischief, Laughter and Visitors.

It was Christmas Eve morning and as one walked down the Grand Staircase for breakfast, one could hear sniggering coming from the reception room to the right of the main door. One’s curiosity was ignited and one sashayed to the room to investigate.

Opening the door carefully until one could see one’s faithful houseboy, Chu Me, with his head hidden behind the luxurious gold-braded, red velvet curtains, and his shoulders jerking up and down with every snigger.

“Chu Me, dear, you sound like Muttley! What on earth is tickling your fancy so?” One asked.

He withdrew his head from behind its thick velvet wrap and, with tears cascading down his little face, beckoned one to the window. He slid his head back into its velvety hiding place and one took up position to his side. Peering out of the window, it all became clear.

The vicar’s wife, Marjorie Flecks, had decided to pay one an unexpected visit (No doubt trying to lure a Christmas Lunch invitation … but the Dame was not for luring). She was desperately attempting to make her way up the footpath from the main gates. The thick, untreated ice was making her trek treacherous and it was this that was pushing Chu Me past the point of hysterics.

Dressed in yet another floral ensemble, accessorised with a grey duffle coat and navy blue moon boots, she was devoting complete concentration to each step she made. Often her arms flung themselves outward and flapped like chicken wings as she attempted to maintain balance on the glistening surface.

Five minutes had passed and, by this time, Chu Me’s sniggers were becoming infectious and Crusty too began tittering at the morning’s unexpected entertainment.

Halfway to the house she must have made contact with a particularly slipper patch; it was as though Mother Nature’s children had grabbed the DVD remote control of life and were alternately pressing fast forward and rewind, just to annoy their matriarch. Marjorie’s right moon boot hit the surface but she clearly realised balance was to be lost and immediate action was required. She brought her left boot forward but sadly at that point the right one shot back. Within a matter of seconds she was sprinting faster than Hussain Bolt, yet not actually moving from her current location.

She slowly managed to regain her composure then, almost at the point of rest, the rewind button was pressed and she began flapping her arms and sprinting backwards … then forward … then backward. The speed of her movement was so fast, she took on the appearance of a large, rather plumb, floral butterfly hovering above one’s grounds highlighted by the wonderful winter sun.

Finally, close to exhaustion and clouds of breath bellowing out of her mouth and nostrils like a stoked up steam train, she crashed to the ground. Chu Me and I were screaming with laughter.

She managed to position herself on all fours and like a plump panther padding its way towards it pray, she managed to reach an altogether more agreeable surface and raised herself, gingerly, to her feet.

Eventually, she reached the safety of the gritted steps in front of one’s residence and staggered to the main door. Her exhaustion could be heard clearly through the window as she pushed the button to ring the bell. One looked at Chu Me and we both had pools of mischief rippling in our eyes. We pressed ourselves against the ornately papered walls, like spies on a delicate mission, so we were completely out of sight.

The bell rang again … and again … finally a five second blast filled with fury and frustration. One could hear Marjorie clearly but it would be unwise to print her words here; let us just say that sort of language is not what one expects to hear from a vicar’s wife.

After five minutes of waiting she turned, defeated, and prepared for her journey back to the gates, though one felt it would be infinitely simpler as it was all down hill. If she was unfortunate enough to fall and duffle coat friction proved less than adequate, one was quite sure she would at least toboggan towards the gates relatively quickly.

As one took up one’s viewing position once more, with Chu Me at one’s side, Marjorie managed fifty yards from the Hall when, coincidentally, this is exactly what happened. As the screams dissipated and she shot off into the distance, we wiped the tears of laughter from our eyes until we saw Marjorie’s head disappear down to incline near the gates. At that very moment one saw the grill of Wing Commander Bertie of Chipmunk Squadron’s Bristol Brigand appearing.

“Chu Me!” One said, clapping one’s palms twice, “We must welcome the Wing Commander.”

Hearing the powerful engine of the Bristol coming up the drive took one’s mind back to happy days; days when one would spend delightful summer weekends with Bertie and his late wife, Agnes at their delightful country cottage. The Bristol Brigand was the only thing he had left – apart from his memories – of his childhood sweetheart.

Agnes was a strong woman who had a passion for these luxury motorcars and had managed to acquire two of them. One recalls those sun-soaked summer weekends when one would be lying on their sun terrace with a gin and tonic and the weeks glossies - allowing Señor Sol to kiss one’s exposed epidermis – while the Wing Commander would sit on the lawn, in his Air Force budgie-smugglers, lubricating his prop shaft and Agnes would be perspiring like a racehorse, between the open garage doors, lovingly polishing her Bristols. Halcyon days indeed, poppets ... halcyon days indeed.

Anyhoo … he was the only visitor for Christmas to travel any great distance, so Chu Me escorted him to the Warr Room. This is a bedroom inspired by one’s special poppet Mark makes-my-mouth-water Warr. It is full of delicious soft furnishings, immaculately crafted furniture, a breathtaking view of one’s enchanted garden and cushions embroidered with one's poppets dreamy face. It is altogether warm and welcoming; perfect for the Wing Commander’s short stay.

It suddenly dawned on one Christmas had arrived. One was as excited as one was when one was but a little Damelette

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