NOTE: This is affectionately written fiction. Any resemblance to royals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This piece is copyright protected.
Need to know Who’s Who? Check out the first installment of ‘Milla’s Diary.
29 July 2015
Well, “that” month is nearly over and you know what that leaves…..Scotland. [Cue the scary organ music]. July is SWMNBN [She Who Must Not Be Named] birthday and, of course, their wedding anniversary. In case you missed the ceaseless press coverage of this anniversary it would have been 34 years ago today. I need hardly add that Dear One has been a widower since ’97, but that’s beside the fact to the press.
Dear One is locked in the study with what he insists on still calling the “Hi-Fi” blaring a recording of the music from their big day. A bit jarring for one, but a wife must just carry on, I always say. I’m sure the photo albums are on his desk, the hankie is out of the drawer—the hankie she sent him to carry in the wedding—it lives in a desk drawer in a special box. So sweet that he’s kept it. I heard him talking to the Boy earlier—so cute when Baby 1 joined in. He’ll speak to Haza too—always does talk with both boys on the anniversary. He had a bit of weepy last night, tossed and turned, finally got up and went downstairs. Found him asleep under the Boy’s old favorite “movie” blanket. The dogs were on guard, of course. They know. Of course they do.
While he’s in need of Oprah, I’m in need of one of those professional organizers. Though as a one-time Army wife I must say I’m fairly good at the whole pack-kit-move-camp-pass-the-gin-Bob’s-your-uncle businesses. There’s all the usual “musts”—the proper Pooh blanket, the complete works of Sir Laurens Van Der Post, Uncle Dickie’s photo, Granny’s photo, the albums, the navy—the one for the bathtub, of course, not the real one and all the rest.
Then there’s my kit to pack—an extra case of gin, extra cartons of fags cigarettes, Mummy’s old wooly combinations, Mummy’s best girdle—we eat in Scotland. Like pigs. Eat all the time. A carton of novels to read, the iPad loaded with more and with new photos of the Grands, the dog blankets and dog toys. It takes a village indeed. But this isn’t the village of Grantham so it’s up to one, isnt’t it? Always up to one.
Yesterday I ran up to the Palace to break Pip out for a little airing. He’s been on lock-down since the “Take the F-ing picture,” comment. A man 104 years old, sitting for his 9 millionth group photo can get a bit tetchy. But do they make allowance? Of course not. World headline! Old man swears! Film at 11! He says much worse to the Mother-in-law, I can tell you! So up to the palace I went and simply followed the blare of the telly to find him. He’s got these marvelous little hearing aids, but won’t use them—doesn’t need them, he thinks. His telly’s in the Southwest corner on the second floor. I came in at the Northeast on the first floor and had no trouble locating him. Or course none of the staff could hear me—they all had ear buds in. Can’t blame them. I understand a grievance has been filed over the noise. Potential hearing loss. Lots of solicitors bustling around the staff canteen these days.
Off we went incognito to the OAP deal of the day. He does so love these! A quick stop at Pound Land for a few jollies–horse hoof slippers for the Mother-n-law, massage oil for one of his keepers, and a bag of Smarties for me—so sweet. Can’t smoke at OAP do-s so I’m covered. The cinema was running “In Which We Serve”—a true favorite with that crowd, but a detail I’d neglected to mention. You should have heard the language. I must say even I was shocked. He wasn’t even going to get out of the car. Finally he spotted a youngish old doll and made a bee line, nearly flattening a man with a walking frame in the process. Turns out he was the husband. Pip, a gentleman to the core, apologized and helped him up, then jollied him along as they swapped gas and laughed till they dripped…literally in the other man’s case. Once in the cinema they mostly all nodded off. I got a tear in my eye at the end—one does, it is such an emotional film. Makes one deeply proud to be British. It took most of the song to get them on their feet for the national anthem after though—explains the playing of two full verses.
On the queue for the gents though Pip was “outed” by a carer and mayhem ensued. One old girl had a selfie stick and phone with large buttons so they were on it for an hour or two snapping photos, texting numbers—like kids at a club. What a hoot! Pip kissed the ladies—well except for the one with the dodgy blue-ish wig. It was crooked. He started to giggle and to stop himself he buried his face in another old girl’s mop. Said she smelled of mothballs and Bovril. Not very conducive to romance in his opinion. But he came up trumps when another old thing took a swan dive down the steps. Got the security Johnny trailing him (incognito of course) to carry the poor thing to a bench, then sat patting her hand calling “Melba? Melba? Can you hear me, deary?” She finally came up with a snort saying “I’m Doris—for the hundredth time, Alf, my name is Doris.” Ever the gentleman, he just smiled and said in his sweet voice, “I do beg your pardon, Dorothy….” And they laughed like it was the funniest line ever.
Back home, the Mother-in-law was dressed for the Royal Round and had her “Defender of the Realm” face on. Pip can almost always get around that one. She can’t help it. She simply loves him and can’t stay mad at him. He pulled out all the stops—kissed her warmly, held the gas in and presented her with the Hoof slippers. She shrieked with laughter and immediately put them on. After a 15 minute argument over which button to push on both phones, a footman snapped a photo, forwarded it to Haza and the OTH [the One True Heir—their only daughter] and peace reigned.
Well, peace reigned for THEM, I should say. I’d have killed for the royal round today. Instead I’ve got the packing to get on with. The butler got a physician to certify that his back or his adenoids or whatever can’t cope with packing for Scotland so it was one and the Filipino kitchen maid plus the nice young chappie from the off-license to tackle the lot. The off-license boy brought samples, such a lamb. A bit dicey as I got him to sign the confidentiality documents, but he was really fairly good-natured about it. Said something about one photo paying for public [private] school for his son, but we can work that out another time, I’m sure.
As we got on with sorting kilts, jumpers, stockings and all the rest I came across a stash of photos I’d never seen. I bolted for the downstairs loo—you know, the one in which the handle must be rattled a certain way to stop it running? That’s the one. Here were photos, wrapped in a pair of shooting socks as old as I am (Dear One has a lot of Grandpapa’s things) photos of a Granny stroking Uncle David’s brow, his head pillowed in her ample lap, a sweet little terrier at her feet and a slight man stalking off away from them. The other photos were just of Uncle Dickie, Uncle G and Uncle K and some pretty boys from days gone by. Nothing news-worthy. I slipped the photo of Granny and Uncle David into the off-license chap’s pocket and got on with sorting Dear One’s pants for the trip. It should pay for a second-tier school at least.