Loping round the rec . . . (episode 67)


10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet

June 22 1999

My Dear Harriet

Thank you for your fascinating epistle on the subject of the multiple uses to which glass test tubes and water melons might be put . . . And I am certainly pleased to hear that you are eschewing the attentions of the likes of Edgar Hummingway et al.

I have just had to give up on the delights of a morning spent engaged in horticulture, owing to the descent of a non-stop downpour. However, before my rainwear was finally saturated (owing to unfortunately having treated it to a hot wash in my Hot Dot) I did manage to make further progress with my efforts in a shady border. Said border currently contains white-flowering hostas, soft shield ferns, liquorice ferns, the white-leaved lungwort ‘Majeste’ and bulbous arisaemas – the latter of which are currently unfolding their primeval foliage and purple ‘flowers.’ And there are presently five Cimifugas (black snakeroot) in the act of growing larger (prior to planting) in the greenhouse. I can hardly wait to see their long white spikes open in the back of this border! I think my final purchases may well be a number of Astrantia major ‘Hadspen’s Blood’ and Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy.’ No blue. No pink. No yellow.

Also dear, I have decided to embark on an outdoor fitness regime involving early morning runs round the recreation ground and, from there, down to and along the canal. I was rather impelled, I must say, to commence this activity subsequent to a trip down to an Inner Hamlet clothing outlet. Honestly Harriet. I took off my clothing in the harshly-lit glare of a changing cubicle and thought to myself, ‘Who is that giant porker being reflected back at me in the mirror?’ Of course, my abdominal region may only have temporarily swelled in the hours subsequent to the munching upon five doughnuts from a bag. But a lady (almost) past her prime must take precautions!

I have, of course, attired myself in a most svelte outfit for the purpose of this running. Arrayed all in black – with a pair of white trainers upon my feet – I fancied I almost looked like Jane Bond! And the purchase of a black sports bra has put a stop to all that annoying bouncing of the bosoms. I was actually quite surprised that I could run and that, indeed, it was quite easy to run (for up to 30 seconds or so). And I’m sure that, should I keep up these early-morning sessions, I will soon be as lithe and springy as a Spring Bok. Indeed, happening upon my acquaintance, Myrtle, at the entrance to the rec, I certainly observed a discernible dropping of her jaw. ‘Is that really you Evangeline?’ she said, in tones of wonder. Tee hee! It certainly is!

The only slight fly in the ointment is that I have to pass the demesne of my erstwhile friend, Clara, during the course of my run. Said Clara – who used to be at least moderately chummy – has made it quite clear that, should I continue my discourses on the subject of my former activities in MI6, then our friendship would have to terminate. She has made it clear that she doesn’t want to phone me (or have me phone her) in case ‘someone’ is listening in . . . She said, ‘YOU might not want to go on holiday to eastern parts Evangeline, but I do. And I don’t want to be arrested at the airport.’ Well, my own jaw fairly dropped at the receipt of these tidings Harriet, for she is surely displaying fears of a quite exaggerated nature? In any event, my feelings are quite hurt and I am loping past (hoping to blend in with the paving stones) feeling quite the local pariah.

Yours, with love



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