Monthly Archives: April 2013

Back to basics . . . (episode 23)

mole

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

April 28 1997

My Dear Ralph

Thank you for your efforts in the bunker – and provision of evidentiary material. I did telephone Harriet to relay the news and she was, understandably, very quiet. In fact, she just thanked me and put the phone down shortly afterwards. I don’t know what will happen now.

Meanwhile, with the general election only four days away, I have been out delivering leaflets in support of the Red Rose party. The Red Rose party is, unfortunately, virtually invisible in my part of Corsettshire and matters have not been improved by the blank page – completely empty of information – which appears to represent the local party website! I’m not sure, either, that emblazoning the leaflets with the Red Rose party’s apparent intention to privatise Air Traffic Control has helped its image in the eyes of certain party supporters. Whilst capitalist democrats (such as myself) may well wish to allow market forces to operate freely, Red Rose party sympathisers of a more Socialist persuasion are likely to blow a head gasket upon viewing such information on their own doorstep!

Fortunately, the opposition seem to be equally engaged in acts of self-sabotage. It has been – to say the least of it – ironic that the Blue Ribbon party’s espousal of a ‘Back to Basics’ policy (equated, naturally, with a hankering back to values of traditional morality) should be beset by a whole series of scandals exemplifying the exact opposite. Not only have ministers been forced to resign for acts of bribery (the Cash for Questions debacle) and the sexual wronging of their wives – adultery – they have also been imprisoned for acts of perjury in court. ‘Lying’ is a so much more real and graphic term is it not? And, finally, perhaps the icing on the cake has been one cabinet minister’s description of another’s view on Europe as: “paranoid nonsense.” The generic term for all of the above acts of political corruption – as you may well know – is SLEAZE.

That reminds me dear. The answer to your question about the value of the ring transported back from the Far East by Flamingo (my own personal brush with sleaze) is that its value was assessed to be £0.8m – thus turning it into one of the most valuable diamond rings in the world! Fortunately, when presenting it for valuation at the Marcus Emporium of Silverware, I had the presence of mind to declare that I had found it in the car park at Superior Fare. And I will be sticking to this story should Interpol come to call!

Yours

Aunt Evangeline

The value of instinct . . . (episode 22)

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401B Concrete Shacks
Walthamstow
LONDON E17 4VZ

April 27 1997

Hello Auntie

Here is my report subsequent to spending the night in the coal bunker at your residence. (Thank you for running in a microwave facility by the way; that ham and cheese toastie was very tasty.) But to get to the business end of the experience:

The ‘research assistant’ did indeed turn out to be endowed with all the epithets you mentioned, i.e. young, cute, blonde and bosomy.

I’m afraid that I did observe – without any question of a doubt – FULL ACTIVITY in the king-sized bed overnight.

I’m sorry to have to confirm your suspicions in this way – and I am particularly sorry for Harriet – but, as you yourself have said in the past, the truth is preferable, any day, to a period of months (or even years) spent in a state of fear, madness, and despair. For this, I have come to realize from the telling of your own story, is the mental state which seems to accompany the doubting of one’s instincts.

I enclose a copy of the tape, should you need to refer to its contents.

Best regards

Ralph

Propriety . . . (episode 21)

mole

Nil desperandum darling!

I, too, have had slight feelings of unease regarding the propriety of spying on my own son – whatever the likely justification. So, I have arranged for Ralph to sit in the coal bunker in our stead! To this end, I have engaged my extra-long drill bits in drilling a 30cm-long passage from the exterior of my dwelling – through the knapped flint – into the guest bedroom. It emerges at waist height, just to one side of the chest of drawers and is, hopefully, not in a location likely to attract the attention of guests for the night. It should, I feel, provide a fine view of the arena in question!

I spent quite some dusty hours threading a cable – which incorporates both a camera and a microphone – through this passage. And I have plugged its proximal end into the video recorder temporarily resident in the coal bunker. If anything of unusual interest does take place in the king-size bed on Friday night, Ralph will be well placed both to see it and to hear it.

Luckily, as we know, Austen has a quite well-developed detestation of cats and so will not be spending any more time in my own personal quarters, with Chumley, than he can help. I will be surprised if he can even manage to throw a tin of ‘Yum Cat’ into my darling’s bowl. Action, if any, should take place in a fur-free zone!

Yours with a level of (almost) keen anticipation.

Mum (in law)

P.S. I have been reflecting upon my own assiduity in this matter. I believe we have the (thankfully late) activities of Sir Charmer Tankful OBE to credit for it. Perhaps the need for justice – if belated by some decades in my case – beats in every human breast.

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 20

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3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5PH

April 23 1997

I’m sorry I’ve taken a while to reply mum, but I’ve been feeling a bit under par recently (as you know). I’m sorry about Meribel. What are you going to do with her ashes?

To answer your question, Austen did say something about needing to drive to Carpool on Friday – but no mention of taking a ‘research assistant’ with him.

We normally sleep in the ground floor guest bedroom when we visit, don’t we? The one with the king-sized bed and pink, gauzy, curtains. Isn’t there a disused coal bunker just outside, in the garden? I’m laughing a bit (even under the circumstances) as I write this, but couldn’t we squeeze in there?

We’d need some equipment of course. How about one of those scopes that people use for spying round corners? I’ve forgotten the name of them. Do they come with any capacity for night vision? It would be rather dark in the bunker.

On second thoughts – although I need to know – I don’t think I can bear to see anything in person. It would be agonizing.

What do you advise mum? I know you have special expertise in this arena. There must be some way around it.

With love from your daughter (in law)

Harriet

Teen spirit . . . (episode 19)

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401B Concrete Shacks
Walthamstow
LONDON E17 4VZ

April 21 1997

What ho! Auntie

Your ring story gave rise to one or two hoots of laughter round here! What did its net worth turn out to be? Have you heard any more from Interpol? Good news regarding your prospective appointment – not to mention promotion – to the House of Lords. I hope you will still be able to wedge your head through the door at Concrete Shacks – as I don’t think my abode will compare well to those occupied by your fellow peers. I believe that one or two weekend stays at Chequers could also be a perk for someone of your station?

I have made some headway towards infiltrating the local British All-White Party. I was told by the Department of Immigration to bone up on national immigration flows – both in and out – of the country and several large packets of information have now slapped upon the mat. I did find these an exceedingly tedious read and think that it would take the average reader up until the year 2000 to become even a semi-expert on the subject! However, I did perk up – by way of leafing through a copy of ‘Social Trends in the UK’ – on another (entirely irrelevant) matter. Apparently a bird called a ‘wood pigeon’ has doubled in numbers during the years 1971-1996. It’s astonishing what can turn up in an otherwise drab-looking government publication. I think I know the type of bird they are referring to auntie; it is that one with a penchant for shitting in the garden bird bath.

Thank you for not referring to my ‘habit’ by the way. As it happens, while I was downing a pint in the Feathered Hen the other day, one of my associates happened to mention that he thought that the practice of glue-sniffing was only really engaged in by very young children . . . I naturally got somewhat of the hump over this because one naturally doesn’t wish to connect one’s activities with those of the play pen but – thinking about it – it was in childhood (and more specifically the garage) that my relationship with Glu-stik began. I think Dad and I were attempting to escape the attentions of Mum, whose booming verbal imprecations reached well beyond the end of our garden. As she was screaming “P – e – t – e ! ! !” out of the back door, Dad and I had our noses stuffed into the tin and were inhaling the ‘spirit’ so-to-speak. My only other escape, at that point, was into the realm of my bedroom headphones, where I could listen to tapes of Sid Vicious venting his rage in tracks such as, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks.’ Nowadays it is Nirvana-penned lyrics such as, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ that remind me of days of yore. But, for the record auntie, that lyric does not actually refer to glue – or gas – it is about a brand of deodorant!

My new lodger is causing a bit of gyp by the way. She has acquired a kitten and, as you know, unlike yourself, I don’t like them. I particularly don’t like litter trays filled to the brim with effluent – especially when they are stationed near the washing machine – or the fact that we all now seem to have fleas hopping around on our ankle socks.

Toodle pip!

Your nephew

Ralph

Rubbed her furry cheek . . . (episode 18)

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

April 20 1997

Harriet

I have received a note from Austen (which I enclose). Is he aware that we have been writing to one another do you think? I have looked up the definition(s) of ‘bunk up’ by the way. The phrase can mean one of two things: a) to lend a helping hand and b) to share a bed. Given the context of the rest of his remarks, Austen’s own meaning seems ambiguous . . . I think, however, that – under the circumstances – the note’s contents may have some bearing on your present state of mind?

We seem to have a window of opportunity here. What – if anything – do you want to do dear?

I also have some sad tidings. Meribel – Pom-Pom’s deaf old cat – has finally died, after some years spent in slow decline. I have lavished much care upon poor Meribel. I have laboured in the giving of twice daily tablets (frequently spat out), endeavoured to withstand the brain-penetrating effects of her thyroid-related screech, and cleared up daily pools of urine on the linoleum. But, over the past two weeks, she became blind and progressively less able to walk or eat.

She rubbed her furry cheek against my fingers, through the cat carrier, as we set off towards the appointment for her execution. And I felt pretty ill about it all I must say. However, it can’t be easy for the veterinary surgeon either – for they practically have to mop the owner off the floor by the time the lethal injection is administered.

I have requested her ashes to be returned to me. Pom-Pom loved her and I must do things properly and well.

Let me know about the other matter would you darling?

Yours

Mum (in law)

Bunk up . . . (episode 17)

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Hello there Mother

Are you still going away next weekend with your friend by any chance? The one with the strange name. Some pink bird or other.

Your phone doesn’t seem to be working by the way. And your email still appears to be classified information – even to me, your son. I have had to go out and buy a stamp.

I have got to go to a pre-election ‘think tank’ meeting in Carpool next Saturday. I’ll be driving up with my research assistant. Is there any chance we could bunk up at yours on Friday night?

Give me a tinkle a.s.a.p.

Fond regards

Your son, Austen

Rt. Hon. A. Tankful MP
Houses of Parliament
Westminster
LONDON SW1 0AA

Interpol are looking for you . . . (episode 16)

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

April 19 1997

My Dear Ralph

Thank you for your enlivening letter pet. It is always of interest to receive an account of your activities over at Concrete Shacks! I am wondering if you have any further news regarding your commission as paid informant within the British All-White Party? I would be very careful if I was you. As you know, these ‘smiling suits at the front door’ espouse a political ideology which – at its worst – approaches that of outright Fascism. I know you would be paid to assess the degree to which local ‘cells’ would intend to dismantle the institutions of democracy/forcibly repatriate our non-white citizens, but sometimes high remuneration can come at significant personal cost. I will however say that – with your shaved head style of ‘hairdo’ and bicycle clip mode of transport – you may indeed become accepted as one of the flock!

My own activities have been considerably more pastoral. My chum Flamingo kindly invited to pay for luncheon at Short’s Arms the other day. She is recently back from a business trip visiting car manufacturing plants in the Far East and hinted at one or two items of ‘booty’ she had secured from the prestige establishments she has been staying in – and would be bringing along. We met up in the car park of said inn at around midday. I arrived first in the mud-bespattered Banger 0.9L but the impeccably turned out Flamingo rolled across the gravel shortly afterwards in her bottle green Triumph Spitfire Mark IV. This automobilie gleamed pet and, owing to sightings of the actual sun, she had the roll back hood down to reveal some tens of exciting-looking packages stashed on the back seat. We were thrilled to see one another! She hugged a bear-like woolly figure clad in a plaited blue hat and I hugged an elegantly-accoutred form draped in streaming pink scarves and glittery black leggings.

Greetings over, we traipsed into the inn and – ensconcing ourselves in a darkened corner – we examined her offerings. I ran my fingers over the nap of luxurious hand towels (marked with navy blue insignia), bars of rose-scented soap, and exquisitely marked bottles of spirits. The colours, scents, and textures were delectable dear – especially to one equipped with rough-looking towels and basic bars of simple soap back at Forsythia Grove! One last item was of especial interest and it was nestling in a small box of tissue paper. It was a ring and Flamingo declared that she had come across it under a bed at the Grand Palace Hotel.

“It looks as if it might be valuable,” I said. “Do you think anyone is missing it?”

“Oh no,” said my chum. “I think it is a large chunk of cubic Zirconium set in a silver band.” We looked at it dubiously.

“It could be on a list somewhere,” I said, looking straight at Flamingo, who was not looking at me.

“You live near a silversmiths don’t you?” she said. “Couldn’t you get it valued?”

“I could,” I said, “But it is rather close to home don’t you think?”

The long and the short of it pet, is that I dropped it off at the Marcus Emporium of Silverware, on my way back to Outer Hamlet, and requested an examination of said piece.

I am not altogether sure, dear, whether I should be getting involved in activities of this kind? After all – if a new government is indeed elected in the next few weeks – I may accept any offer to be Chair of the country’s ‘Internal Security Committee.’ And there is also the (tempting) prospect of being appointed to the position of Life Peer in the House of Lords. As Baroness Evangeline Tankful DCBE, I could hardly be associated with any form of shady goings-on, could I? I may even have to terminate my connection with yourself nephew!

Anyway, back home after a long – delaying – conversation with one of my acquaintances in Economy Fare, I discovered that I had a message on my telephone answer phone. It was a message I could unfortunately not decipher, owing to a fault on the line which manifested itself as a loud, crackling, snow storm through which almost nothing could be heard. However, I did think that I could pick up one phrase and that was: “And Interpol are looking for you . . .” Dear me pet. Whatever next! I could almost wish that dear Flamingo, Isadora Duncan-like, had been suffocated in one of those long scarves that stream out behind her in her Spitfire – and that this had happened before she reached Short’s Arms!

Yours

Aunt Evangeline

P.S. No further word from Interpol (so far). Perhaps this is because my telephone line has now gone completely dead, with not even yesterday’s snowy crackle to fill the air . . .

Mole intelligence: EPISODE 15

mole

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

April 18 1997

My Dear Harriet

You have shown courage and I am proud of you.

Perhaps he will slip up. Arrogant men often do. They think that they don’t have to bother to treat the women who love them, with kindness – honesty – or respect. They think that their forgiving wives will remain ever so. They think that the worm will never turn . . .

So carry on darling, but do put the bottles away won’t you?

I leave you with this dictum: In hac vita, necesse est malum non triumphandum esse.

All love

Mum (in law)

Red boxes . . . (episode 14)

3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5PH

April 17 1997

I think I am getting my head back together a bit mum, although things haven’t been easy. Austen keeps turning away from me at night and then getting up to sleep in the back bedroom (which is as large as our bedroom but with a view of the garden and houses which back on to ours). I have asked him if anything is the matter but there’s no point really; Austen keeps his thoughts and emotions (if any) to himself and is an entity as separate and self-sufficient as an amoeba. That’s what he reminds me of actually; a large, amorphous, mass moving – unstoppable – across the pond’s bottom, with parts of itself reaching out – like arms – to envelop the unwary. I lay in bed anyway, with him gone, blackness surrounding the bed and with a horrible chill in my heart.

That’s what made me decide to have another go at finding out what he’s getting up to in Hyde Park. So I left the house early, while Austen was piling today’s papers into his briefcase in the study. Sometimes I wish that he was actually serving on the Cabinet itself because then he would have to lug a red dispatch box across the park. (As you probably know mum, these items are very heavy. And this is owing to the presence of a lead lining beneath the black satin you can see when you open them up. I don’t know if the lead is to prevent the other side – or the IRA or the USSR – from X-raying the papers or to protect them from the fallout from thermonuclear war!)

Anyway, I stationed myself on the south bank of the Serpentine, clad in my Stetson hat and looking purposeful with a pair of binoculars clamped to my eyes. I thought I’d say, if anybody asked, that I was keeping a look out for a little Egret apparently spotted near here last week. But, luckily, nobody did ask! I was gazing in completely the opposite direction to the birds of course and, before I knew it, I heard a fisherman’s voice, blasting across the water behind me. He said, “What on earth is she doing? She can’t be watching the birds!”

Well all this was horrifying mum – and all the more horrifying when I spotted my husband heading for last time’s clump of Plane trees, at the same time as someone I recognized. This Ariel is a stenographer on many of the government select committees and she fits the usual cliches for a woman attractive to men: young, cute, blonde, bosomy and clad in high heels. But, short of climbing the actual trees, and hanging about in the branches one day, how can I be ABSOLUTELY SURE?! In any event it was upsetting and I trailed off back home, where I admit I did break open a bottle of wine.

I looked up the word ‘stenographer’ in the dictionary – as the first meaning that came to mind had something to do with ‘sten guns’ and I thought that couldn’t be right. (I must say, however, that an image of such a gun spraying bullets all over Austen was a very cheering one.) More prosaically mum, a stenographer is someone who uses a shorthand typing machine. I think it’s a very ugly word don’t you?

Then I sat down in front of the TV to watch a recording of that new pre-school programme called the ‘Teletubbies.’ Have you seen it? It features four ‘infant’ characters – clad in fluorescent outfits – going by the names of Laa Laa, Po, Dipsy and Tinky Winky. They do a lot of frolicking over lime green grass and inhabit a dwelling called the ‘Tubbytronic Superdome.’ I found both it – and the wine – very comforting and, in fact, I got completely sloshed.

Your loving daughter (in lawJ

Harriet