A satisfied crocodile . . . (episode 3)


2 Wilderness Row
Milk Felling

March 29 1997

Dear Austen

I think I glimpsed you on television’s ‘Parliamentary Channel’ yesterday child?  Parliament was debating fuel poverty in Martonshire and there you were – as MP for Middle Bit (south) – remarking upon the fact that some colliery towns in the 1970’s had refused to have mains gas supplied to their environs, owing to their loyalty to a local mine.  Of course, it was difficult to focus full attentions on your remarks owing to the intermittent snowy blizzard appearing on the black-and-white TV here and the fact that the screen kept revolving like a barrel on the roll.  I think this must be an errant ‘vertical hold’ control – a problem long since vanished from most television screens by the 1990’s.  However, despite the obscuring nature of the technology I was viewing, it did appear that you yourself rolled back in your seat in quite some state of somnolence.  It does tend to be a mistake to engage in the munching of creamy repasts and port in your club during luncheon, if I may suggest it pet?  Remember that the whole nation may be able to survey your closed eyelids, on screen, in this day and age and will not be admiring of any individual seated with the air of a satisfied crocodile on the back row!

I am penning today’s epistle because I am wondering if you would care to come over next week and partake of luncheon?  I am presently situated only 20 miles from the borders of your constituency (I presume you do attend the occasional surgery darling?) and so this should not be too inconvenient.  And, actually child, could you perhaps pack a hamper to bring with you?   My palate positively waters at the thought of savouring delicacies the like of which I may not have enjoyed since poor Pom-Pom lavished most of my MI6 pension ‘lump sum’ on the horses!  A hamper would additionally be most welcome as I am in-between post-retirement commissions – requiring use of my special licence – and funds are short.

Meanwhile, another day has dawned here at Wilderness Row and I have finally worked out how to successfully light the fires!  The not-so-seasoned Ash logs (split) are stashed in a sort of stone bothy at the back of the cottage, together with some kindling which resides in a basket.  Although the stone slate roof of this habitation seems to be intact, the interior (door-less) is dark and feels distinctly damp.  I have lumbered indoors now with several wheelbarrow loads of logs and these are presently steaming in front of the fire.  It helped a great deal, I must say, that I recollected my great aunt May’s instructions on how to origami firelighters out of sheets of newspapers and that the chimney appears to be open at the top!

Thank you for relaying the news of my recent resurrection to Harriet by the way.  I may write to her as I have some (feline) news which I know will not be of the slightest interest to yourself!




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