10 Forsythia Grove
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT
My Dear Ralph
Thank you for your recent epistle pointing out that my age - and indeed my entire life - bears a distinct resemblance to that of a (fairly recently) retired personage from my sister service. We were certainly acquainted but - owing to our very different specialisms - did not work in close congress or become in any way buddies of the (ample) bosom. I hear too, that she has a penchant for the keeping of a type of animal called a 'llama.' I myself would not be able to distinguish one end of said animal from another. For your edification by the way pet, both the spelling - and the meaning - of this word is not to be confused in any way with the very similar 'lama.' The latter is actually a style of Buddhist monk. Anyway, at last the weather dawns more-or-less fair here at Outer Hamlet after some weeks of the most icy conditions! The Banger 0.9L has thankfully been coughing into life - subsequent to a considerable application of zeal de-icing the windscreen every morning prior to my stints over at Colonel Mustang's. Some days I have had to inch down the icy lanes at only a few micro-miles per hour and, on one horrible occasion, the Banger and I actually slew - wholesale - the whole way down a slope into just unfrozen flood waters. Luckily pet, my years of training on special operations skid pans has prepared me for such contingencies and we were able to emerge without actually becoming installed in a hedgerow!
I think I may have mentioned my recent discourses with Edith on the subject of her medication and possibly accelerated decline into a local care home? Well our deliberations on this topic continued and Edith mentioned her periodic visits to her chum Elspeth, who is currently sojourning in one of these establishments. Apparently, such experiences are not ones of unmitigated good cheer! Indeed, she reported being found clinging to the bannisters (in her own home) by her son Michael, uttering entreaties to never be sent to this 'Country Bunker.' The latest is that she is hot-footing it down to her solicitors with a list of care homes that she is definitely not going to be attending - in conjunction with some document entitled a 'Living Will' which lists her preferred brand of toothpaste and how many spoons of sugar she has in her tea! Can they really sweep one off in this manner pet?
The consequence of this conversation is that I have been commissioned by Edith and associated chums (still clinging on to life in their own homes) to investigate the facilities at one Honeysuckle House situated in the environs of Outer Hamlet. The funds earmarked for said project were, I must say, most tempting and I spent quite some while considering a suitable pretext for gaining entry to these premises. In the end, I came up with the idea of approaching the Home Manager with a view to giving a FREE series of talks on 'My Life as an Operative.' Frankly dear, I was slightly offended by the just-concealed guffaw emitted by this Beryl, who might not have been able to associate my French pleat and plum nail extensions with any occupation quite so titillating as Cold War assassin. I shall have to take along my collection of garrotting cables to show her. I don't think she will be snickering then! Some of these, you know, were actually extricated from person's necks in the 1970's and blood stains remain on them in some instances. It is important never to take a lady attired in several strings of magenta beads at face value!