Friday, 16 November 2012

Secret Service: EPISODE 85

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
My Dear Ralph
How are you getting on pet?  I am thinking of you you know, in your cell at Small Cell gaol, and am sorry to hear that 'lights out' are enforced at 2100 hours and that someone has misappropriated your television set.  I am also trying to be a model auntie here and not engage in correspondence of a too enthralling nature given the possibility of there being 'snoops' at point of receipt!
It was during some discussion of bandages, recently, that I started to recollect the days of the London 'Routemaster' buses.  These were the red ones, you might recall, with curved contours and big round headlights.  Their most exciting, and defining, characteristic was the rear platform one could jump upon while swinging from the white 'bandaged' pole also at this end.  I believe there were any number of cases of people missing the platform and sliding beneath the wheels.  And the whole dash for the bus had an element of thrill about it, which is now entirely missing from the sedate entry on to and exit from today's buses with boring sealed doors. These buses were manned (or 'personned' in today's vernacular) by a driver and a conductor equipped with a ticket machine.  Those were the days dear and it is sad that you have missed them!
I also recall that weekend, some twenty years ago, when my chum Joyce and I set out for the Isle of Wight (from Fulham in south west London) on our bicycles.  It may sound ridiculous now - given the fact that we were in our early forties at the time - but I believe we were decked out in 'hot pants' and 'platform soles' for this marathon trip.  What on earth we were thinking, I can't imagine.  Perhaps we were still hoping to attract the attentions of some suitable male en route?  Anyway, my outfit was definitely violet in hue and I was mounted upon a type of bicycle called a Moulton Mini.  I don't know whether you have ever seen one of these conveyances have you pet?  It has very small white tyres and only three gears and is not the sort of bicycle one should ever attempt to travel further than the corner shop on.  Joyce, of, ever with the eye to advantage, was in possession of a much more normal item which was equipped with five gears.  This trip, from my point of view, turned into the complete horror story.  As we toiled up the steep incline leading to the 'Devil's Punch Bowl,' I became more and more aware of a nasty, chafing, rash on the inside of both my thighs.  And, at an increasing distance, ahead, was the annoying sight of Joyce's muscular calves pounding up to the summit.  I was so cross actually dear, that I determined at this point to take the first possible opportunity to catch a train the rest of the way!  In fact, the only highlight (that still fills my heart with glee) occurred when Joyce was sailing effortlessly downhill with a grassy bank to one side.  Deliciously, her water bottle fell off the bicycle's diagonal strut and rolled for some hundreds of metres down said bank.  In fact it was quite out of sight and even the redoubtable Joyce was quite puce in the face after some tens of minutes looking for it!  
More recently dear, my chum Entwhistle and I motored over to one of the Relais & Chateaux chain of hotels to treat ourselves to a deluxe repast.  And deluxe it certainly was!  I don't know if they are familiar with the sort of customer who arrives in the Ford Escort style of motor but, if they weren't, they certainly hid it well.  The whole environment was so overwhelmingly first class that, for one or two moments, I felt slightly unnerved.  It is so many years since I have had the funds, or fortune, to access and spend in such an establishment.  Entwhistle, too, looked slightly uncomfortable as he spread a table cloth size of white linen napkin across his lap.  I did wince slightly when the sommelier arrived and Entwhistle asked for a 'grape juice' but I, too, was floundering and wondering what to ask for.  Anyway, the food was exquisitely prepared, and presented, and we were seated in surroundings unmatchable in opulence and elegance.  The service, too, was estimable in its grace and courtesy and I can, unhesitatingly, say that it was, without doubt, the best dining experience I have had for quite some decades.  I have Entwhistle to thank for it all, too, as it was  his suggestion and, owing to a recent windfall, he was kind enough to pay for most of it!  I won't bore you, pet, with a description of the hors d'oevres, the starters, the main course, the dessert, or the petit fours  because, for all I know, over in Small Cell gaol, you are subsisting on a diet of porridge and cream crackers, all washed down with a glass of tap water!  When is your release date again?
Aunt Agatha

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