10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
May 5 1997
I’d like to take issue with you pet, concerning your usage of the descriptor, ‘lady.’ To a woman of my years, and experience, this word is suggestive of someone decked out in pink and frilly attire, and who may also be defective in general intellect and competence. A ‘lady’ is someone men can put on to a pedestal, someone they can – at one and the same time – both idealize and despise. I am, of course, thinking of men of the ilk of Sir Charmer Tankful OBE and the Rt. Hon. Austen Tankful MP – my own (late) husband and son. So, dear, try to think instead of the term ‘young woman’ because this phrase does at least endow us with the status of actual human being and individual. Consign your ‘lady’ to the bin!
On a totally different note, my chum Flamingo kindly invited me to attend the Carlton Country Hotel’s health spa last week. It is so long since I engaged in a svelte experience of this kind, that I could barely remember what such facilities could offer! The drive there was vertically challenging and, indeed, I had forgotten that the adjacent county of Littonshire features such mountainous terrain. It did not help, I must admit, that the Banger 0.9L has an exhaust pipe which will keep bouncing up and down on the tarmac. It is also a slight worry that corrosion may have advanced to the point where I fear that the seats may altogether drop through the floor on to the road!
Eventually, however, I did arrive at the hotel’s (rather difficult) access point, which was on a distinct camber in relation to the hill upon which it is situated. The first thing that struck me about these premises was the very long, dripping, drive that passed through any number of cherry laurels and sawn-off tree stumps. If I was purchasing these premises, I think I might have to invest a capital sum in both hard- and soft-landscaping. Patrons will surely desire both a sighting of the valley view beneath and one of the actual hotel – complete, possibly, with the twining stems of a Virginia Creeper wending its way up the walls. I felt inclined to volunteer my (invaluable) services I can tell you! And this inclination was furthered by the sight of a team of gardeners on the hillside, toiling with what appeared to be a fallen log. Do you know dear, I think I may give them a ring . . . With my experience at multiple venues over the years, I do believe I might be snapped up!
Flamingo was, as usual, most punctual and attired – very snappily – in a brown cashmere cardigan and leggings which had a most fetching blank panel running up the back of both legs. I could only wish that I myself was more consistent in this arena and not attired (that day) in a pair of khaki dungarees and a scarlet head band! We repaired, anyway, to the foyer of the hotel – albeit somewhat held back by Flamingo’s insistence on transporting a voluminous suitcase on wheels along with her.
“What’s that for?” I hissed.
“There might be some towels left lying around,” she said.
“Towels?” I said.
“Yes. You know.”
“Oh,” I replied.
Sometimes it’s just best not to go into things too deeply with Flamingo and, certainly, we were equipped, ourselves, with some very plush towelling garments over at the health spa reception desk. We then proceeded to the changing rooms and divested ourselves of our outer garments. Flamingo, I must say, has kept the most ideal of feminine forms and, by comparison, I did feel a trifle portly. (Nowadays pet, I find it best not to engage in any lingering examination of self in the mirrors at public venues. The light tends to be altogether too honest.) I enjoyed the steam room in particular. I liked the twinkly light settings in the ceiling and the way the steam warmed us through to the marrow. It was a rare privilege, and a pleasure, to have an experience only usually enjoyed by those equipped with some actual funds! And then there was the pool – full of clean blue water – with an atrium at one end which afforded a view across sky and the sunlit valley below. One unfamiliar feature was the Aluminium ‘stretchers,’ arranged beneath water, which, upon pressing a button, bubbled wildly around the users. But I think the facility providers saved the best experience to last, for the corridors led to a whirlpool with a considerable vortex at its centre. ‘Just jump in,’ read the notice.
I gazed at Flamingo and said, “Good God. Are they serious?”
“Oh yes,” she affirmed. “It leads back to the changing rooms.”
Society has certainly advanced since my days in the Service dear. Hotels were much plainer establishment, even in the 1980’s.
Well we did emerge – intact – on the lower floors (the chute was a little fast for my taste) and re-assembled our garb, admiring our newly-rosy faces in the mirrors. It was a bit of a job getting Flamingo back to the car park, because she would insist on toiling along with her heavily-laden suitcase. However, she had at least parked behind a large Viburnum tinus and I don’t think even CCTV could pass through that!