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.
At last we’ve left Scotland. Dear One put his foot down on Esteban, my dear life coach. He’s gone. Such a help! But he’s gone. So, I put my foot down. We’re on another tour of New Zealand and Australia, so I demanded my little Filipino Kitchen Maid be sent along. To my surprise it was approved! What a hoot! So, officially listed as “Personal Assistant” and she’s made all the difference. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once Dear One pressed his demand via his solicitor, a bit shirty of him, if you ask me (but of course no one did ask me) I just let it all go. After all, Dear One is, on the whole, such a lamb. High maintenance in the extreme, but a lamb.But due to him getting a solicitor involved, once I’d fought down the temptation to do a SWMNBN and alert the media to this, I got one of my own and had an official resignation sent. I resigned from anything to do with the packing for this tour. Well, that got his attention. Got the butler’s and the valet’s attention, too. Mummy was even phoned. That was not wise–should have phoned old Nanny Whosits. She’d have taken his side. Mummy said, and I quote, “Serves you right.” She had Putin on the other line and had had security confiscate the remote to Pip’s t.v. so she could hear Mr. Putin on the antique desk telephone she uses, so wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat. Well, I must say I was chuffed. I sent the old dear my betting slip for the 3:34. She was tickled pink to win a tidy sum, too. Worth it though for that moral support.
Well, after Dear One threw his wobbly over me not personally finding his Kiwi pants and his new adult coloring book of Moari tattoo designs and all the rest of the rubbish it takes to make him happy on an over-the-seas jaunt these days, I relaxed. Yes, relaxed. Dogs and I had a grand time in the Palace garden, ran a curry up to Pip who was himself for a change, then went home to knock back a few G & T, smoke half a pack of cigarettes, and finally! finally catch up ‘the Street.’ Had the grands in for fish fingers and chips while we watched a favorite video. So fun. They made us “Bon Voyage” cards. Lovely. Dear One waited, as always, for the “nearly all clear,” then appeared from his office to give out hugs and kisses and admire the cards. The children were simply darling–perfect little neck bows and curtseys, manners are so important, I always say. They know not to climb on him–his wretched back, you know. But they do love him to bits.
Things then went well enough to the airport, even on the flight. Dear One had his specially prepared organic, free trade everything. I had a curried chips and gin. Last fling before the dearth of edibles on tour. It’ll be banquet blah from here on out for the trip, so I enjoyed every greasy, spicy bite. We crawled into our hole at the back of the plane to sleep. So far, so good, the right jammies, Teddy, and the Proper Pooh blanket were all neatly laid out. The right suit, the Kiwi pants and the rest were neatly laid out for landing as well. He had a nice long wallow on my boobs, then I practiced “driving” with his “stick shift” and we had a grand giggle.
On the ground we rubbed noses and all that and got thru the first day just fine. It was all going too smoothly. Had I been out-foxed? Was he trying to make me feel redundant? Then on day 2 he was up early. Making changes, he said, to his speech. Alarm bells rang in my mind. I asked for a preview. “No need–ready to go.” I made an excuse to leave the room and got the private secretary. Since Dear One’s last minute changes have caused incidents–who can forget his call for the return of the halcyon days of the Poor House? How about the revival of harmonium music? Exactly. The secretary and I went to him. I suggested a last second dash to the loo for a pre-emptory wee and he agreed. The Private Secretary snatched the paper and gasped and hurriedly replaced it with the official text. Day saved by One. It’s always up to one, isn’t it. A wife’s duty, really.
Day three the scaffolding fell out from under him. His valet somehow packed extras only of his left contact lens. Now, unlike the Boy, Dear One will NOT appear in public in spectacles. Does not happen as the young people say. They went at it to the death. Meanwhile, I got the Filipino kitchen maid on it and in a matter of minutes an occulist Johnny was found nearby and the needed lenses replaced. And, with a 40% off voucher for future purchases. I admit it–I was smug. I preened. Yes, One preened. The Filipino Kitchen Maid and I high-fived. Dear One looked ready to launch into outer space. The valet filed his nails. We went on to the next engagement.
That night, disaster number 2. The valet forgot the “soothing stuff.” Now, I wasn’t a complete fool in this resignation stunt. Some things I ALWAYS carry. And the tube of “soothing stuff’ is among those. I rummaged in my big purse–not the official one, the real one. I came up with half-spent tube and put it on the bathroom vanity. Peace rained. Valet looked nonplussed. Dear One sized him up as though he were a bottle to be smashed on the side off a new aircraft carrier.
The final nail in the tour’s coffin came on day four. Oh we’d done our bit to praise and remember the truly brave forces of Australia–few can top the men of Gallipoli, I was settled down, writing out post cards to the grands and the dogs and the Filipino Kitchen Maid had nipped out to snag us a meat pie for tea. I had a g & t going and was ready to light a second
fag cigarette when the disturbance began. I gathered up my belongings, post cards, pen, iPad, phone, ciggys, lighter and secret stash of chocolate and crept to my dressing room. I was just about settled in to feign sleep when Dear One crashed thru the door.
Now I’ve seen Dear One upset. I’ve seen him angry enough to destroy something. I’ve seen him reduced to blubbing tears. But the incandescent rage on his face was beyond anything I’d endured. I rooted around slowly, hoping to find the panic thingy I’m supposed to wear like one of those Oldies who has fallen and can’t get up.
“Darling?” I dared to ask.
He thrust something toward me. My blood ran cold. Icey. Rocky Mountain Snow Run Off Cold. The sort of cold the chappy felt waking up next morning beside Lady Mary cold.
Granny’s photo was defaced. She was wearing a mustache. Drawn thickly with, I’d say, a Pound Store children’s marker. A bottle of gin was drawn beside her. And a rather abstract rendering of what I took to be a portion of male anatomy, oddly sized, I might add–had been drawn near the mustache. The sort of thing one sees in toilets in the Tube or on overpasses in bad neighborhoods. Nothing original. But. It. Was. Granny. I found the panic button, pressed it and sounded the red alert. Well one does in such a situation, doesn’t one? The valet’s life was at stake. The drawing, you see, wasn’t on the GLASS, it was on the original portrait which had been signed by both Uncle Tony and Granny. Both. It was his favorite.
The security people flooded the place. I was hustled to safety. The UXB folks dealt with Dear One. I could swear one of them was hauling a dart-gun like they use for antelope. A very calm woman in a caftan-ish garment made soothing noises.They dealt with Dear One. The Filipino Kitchen Maid was already Googling “historic photo preservation and restoration.” Arrangements for emergency procedures were made.A Guard of Honor was arranged from among the staff with the Filipino Kitchen Maid in command and Granny, in a plain brown OHMS envelope for dignity and security, was whisked off to a waiting chopper.
Meanwhile, a familiar smell–not one I’d ever smelled in THIS marriage however, came from the bedroom. The Caftan-wearing, calm talking woman was telling dear one about the benefits of traditional herbal medicine and a little something was burning in a funny-looking piece of glassware. Dear One was now happy and burbling about, God help me, Laurens Van Der Post! Peace reigned. The three of us–Dear One, the Caftan-wearing-calm-speaking
-pot-dealer-therapist-lady and I–sent out for a pizza. As Dear One popped open a new beer and giggled delightedly at the sound it made, Granny’s photo was returned–like new. No trace of the smutty graffiti.
“They’ve ruined it!” He shrieked. She’d have loved it the other way.”
I asked for more of the “traditional medicine,” picked up a slice of anchovy with cheese and shook my head. But while Dear One was so jolly I got him to sign a recommendation for an the Filipino Kitchen Maid to be named Dame Commander of the Royal Victoria Order. She’s not Australian, but no one will check. So happy to hear Dear One ask for more “traditional medicine” for the flight back home.
Sadly, as we went to bed he let me know that his solicitor challenged my resignation in court and apparently won. Packing the Proper Pooh blanket and all the rest is part of “wife’s” job, not the valet’s. The valet strictly packs for the “official” moments of the trip.
He out-foxed me.