Guns, Valentine’s and Sunday Lunch!

Yesterday evening at the Club the conversation was all about one thing – the dreadful shooting in America that left so many young people dead or injured. I know that a lot has already been said and written about this appaling incident, so I am not going to add much more to the debate, except to say that even those of the chaps who own and regularly shoot guns think that something needs to be done to end all this pointless waste of life.

The gun totting side of the debate will undoubtedly continue to claim their right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, but what about the innocents that find themselves the targets of these madmen and cowards? What of their right to freedom from the fear of being shot on the way to school?

And yes, I did say cowards. It is hardly the act of a brave man to open fire on unarmed members of the public. And it seems that the perpetrator of this latest outrage was a very troubled soul, the last person in the world who should have been in possession of weapons of any kind. Of course, if these poor students had been brought down by anything other than bullets there would be immediate calls for either the cause to be outlawed, any faults corrected or for tighter restrictions. But we all know that so long as the damage is inflicted by the seemingly sacred gun.

As I said, the chaps at the Club were unanimous in their condemnation of a regime that continues to condone such mindless slaughter in the name of the object they revere above all others.

Talk at the bar meandered around for a little before finally settling on thoughts of the other big event of the week – Valentine’s Day. On this particular subject, there was anything but unanimity. Some of the younger chaps were all in favour of the modern approach of wining and dining the young ladies, along with an abundance of flowers and far too much chocolate. One or two of the married gentlemen admitted that they had forgotten all about it and their better halves had given them hell over it.

The main problem I have with Valentine’s Day is the expectation that there is something special about the day, which, of course, there isn’t. Far too much is made of the whole thing in my view. And I was pleased to discover that a good few of my drinking chums feel the same way. I have never sent flowers to anyone on Valentine’s Day and I am not going to start now.

This afternoon I made a quick call to Hope at her gallery and she has agreed to join me for Sunday lunch here at chez Dimbelby. Hopefully, this will give us a real opportunity to chat. I am still concerned about how things went with Emily and I am hoping that some light can be shed on the matter. I am also popping down to the country on Monday and I wanted to see her before I left. In fact, I am considering arranging a visit for my birthday in April and may invite Hope and Charlotte to join me. Dorothy thinks I should arrange some kind of party, but I am not sure and anyway, it is probably getting a little late to organise something like that. I will ask hope what she thinks over our Sunday lunch.

Nigel called around a little earlier this evening, but he didn’t stay for long. I have not seen a great deal of him recently. It seems his new business venture is taking up a lot of his time. That and his romance with my Aunt Sarah. He seems to think I don’t know about it, but I believe that it is one of the worst-kept secrets in the family at the moment. I wish he would just come out and announce that they are a couple, then we could all relax around them and celebrate their relationship. I do not understand why he can’t just be honest with me. Maybe he will in bis own time.

A pleasant evening with friends, old and new

Dinner parties with strangers are a little like a leap into the unknown. One never knows quite what to expect. When Hope asked me to be her partner at this little soiree hosted by a couple of her old school friends I immediately accepted but did have my reservations. After all, I had no idea where we were going, who we would be with, or if we would have anything in common. As it turns out I need not have worried; we actually had a really fun evening.

The big surprise of the evening was discovering that although I did not know our hosts, I was already acquainted with the other guests, Richard and Lianna Bardon-Willis. I knew Dickie from College, he was one of the members of our little debating society; Lianna was one of the young ladies we used to drink with. They became a couple in our last year which was no surprise to anyone. We didn’t really keep in touch a great deal afterwards, but our paths have crossed on several occasions over the intervening years. Seeing them there was such a jolly nice surprise and made the whole affair much more pleasant.

Before I say I anything else I really do have to compliment our hosts – Charles and Helen – for the most amazing meal. A delicious Salmon and Prawn Taurine, Lamb so tender it virtually melted in the mouth, and a truly refreshing Lemon Sorbet to finish. All served with a perfect selection of wine which flowed just as freely as the conversation.

Our hosts seemed to know just the right things to say to keep things chugging along. I had not met them before, but they seemed to know a little about me. Apparently, Charles has some business interests that have brought him into contact with my Aunt Murdock, and my father before her. I don’t know exactly what he does, but it seems to involve property development in some way. Dickie, on the other hand, is in banking and has been since we left college, all those years ago.

The one rather strange thing about the evening was that Hope and I were the only two single people there. Although we have known each other for quite a while, our friendship is actually fairly new. For many years Hope was just someone I knew of but had very little direct contact with beyond family gatherings and social events. Over the past few months though I feel we have become very good friends and I am really rather fond of her. As the drink and conversation continued to flow, more than once I found myself watching her as she laughed, noticing,  not for the first time, that she has a couple of crooked teeth which I found strangely alluring A number of my friends and acquaintances have spent a great deal of time and money on having such things repaired, but there is something about these slight imperfections that I find more attractive and genuine. To my mind, all this tinkering with ones’ looks is often counterproductive. There is nothing so unnatural as a woman of a certain age relying on surgery and drugs to keep her looking like a 20-year-old. There are far too many women of my acquaintance whos looks owe more to a surgeons knife than their own efforts or lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when plastic surgery and like are necessary, but the obsession some people have over tinkering with their own bodies I find quite frightening. I would never consider going under the knife for anything unless it was truly necessary. And I am pleased to see that Hope is not one of those who feel they need to hide their natural look.

I must say we all had a jolly good evening and I was a little disappointed when it came time to take our leave. Charles and Helen were wonderful hosts, it was good to see Dickie and Lianne again, Hope was her usual charming self, and I do believe I did or said nothing to embarrass myself, which is always a bonus.

Arthur collected Hope and me a little before midnight. During the drive back to her house, I asked Hope about Emily and what she thought I had done to offend her. I could tell she was a little reluctant to talk about it, but I eventually persuaded her to tell me.  According to Hope, Emily has worked on a number of cases that have involved one or another of the companies my business is linked with, and her experiences have not been very good. This revelation came as something of a shock to me and I promised Hope that I would look into whatever it was that Emily felt was wrong.

Personally, I am not totally convinced that her business dealings are the whole story, but I am happy to leave things there for now. Undoubtedly we will have other opportunities to clear the air and discuss whatever issues Emily feels she may have with me.

One of the many things that were discussed last night, all be it rather briefly, was Valentine’s Day. Now I am not one for all this sentimental flim-flam so I was rather surprised to hear that both couples were planning something special for today. I found the whole conversation rather embarrassing as, being the two singles at the table, there seemed to be some expectation that Hope and I would be doing something romantic today. Of course, we aren’t and I had to admit to not having given the day a moment’s thought. Thankfully the conversations moved on to other things fairly rapidly.

Why is it that married couples can’t seem to stop themselves interfering with the relationships of their single friends? Well, I for one do not appreciate that kind of thing, no matter well-meaning the plotters may be. As I said, things moved on very quickly so the whole subject was soon forgotten, but I was reminded of it this morning when Dorothy and Angela joined me for a late breakfast. Apparently, there had been flowers, cards and gifts aplenty and they soon turned their attention to me. But not for long. I very quickly appraised them of my view that the whole thing was just another event designed to make as much money as possible out of people. The price that restaurants and clubs charge for tables on Valentine’s Day is almost obscene and as far as I am concerned it is all a complete waste of time and money. As I see it, one should not wait until 14th February to let one’s feelings be known to our loved ones.

My plan for this evening is for a few drinks at the Club and game or two of snooker with not a piece of chocolate or a rose in sight.

 

A busy weekend

The weather may be absolutely appaling, but there is a ray of sunshine on the horizon, for me at least.

Thursday’s lunch with the Greenwood’s did not go the way I had hoped. Emily’s antipathy towards me was as surprising as it was unexplained. I do understand that we will obviously have some very different perspectives on the world, but I did not expect that I would have to spend the afternoon defending my position on what are, in reality, very minor points. I hate to think what would have happened if we had been discussing religion.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call from Hope apologising for Emily’s behaviour over lunch. It seems that she has been having personal problems, something to do with her relationship with her current boyfriend. According to Hope, she was an absolute horror all week and had fallen out with Charlotte over something a nothing. She says they will both let out a huge sigh of relief when she returns to Manchester this evening.

So, during our brief chat, Hope asked me to join her on Tuesday evening. She has been invited to a dinner party at the home of an old school friend and wondered if I would like to join her. Of course, I said yes, even though I do not know the hosts or any of the other guests. Generally speaking, I would try to avoid such events as I find them to be tedious and embarrassing, but I am sure that it will not be anything like that. I just hope that they are not all arty types; that is one thing that would make the evening very difficult. Art is not my thing and attempting to keep up a dialogue on the subject, particularly with total strangers, can be very taxing. But I am sure we will have a wonderful evening.

Yesterday I invited Dorothy and Angela out for the evening. They are both very fond of jazz music so I decided I would treat them to an evening at a jazz bar that one of the chaps at the Club had recommended. It is not really my thing, but I was happy to sample the atmosphere and the food, which I had heard was very good. And I have to admit that I actually found the music quite pleasant. I would not go so far as to say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t find it as unpleasant as I had imagined it might be. As for the food, that turned out to be everything I was told it would be. Dorothy and Angela seemed to enjoy the combination and we had a very jolly time. In fact, it was actually quite late by the time we got home and I was feeling just a little tipsy. I may have had one or two single malts more than I should have, but if one can’t enjoy yourself when you are out with friends, when can one?

I have had a rather quiet day today spent mainly with the girls. I had originally planned to spend the afternoon at the Club, reading the newspapers and sharing a drink or two with some of my chums. But when I awoke this morning I was feeling a little delicate so decided that in the end I would just stay at home and relax which turned out to have been a very good decision. Shortly after lunch, I received a visit from young Nigel. Normally he is a very confident young man, very sure of himself and his decisions, but today I saw a very different side of him. Over drinks in the lounge, Nigel confided in me that he was becoming very serious with a particular young lady and wanted my advice. Why he came to me I really don’t know. My history with the ladies hardly marks me out as any kind of expert where romance is concerned. I actually find the idea of talking about these things very uncomfortable. I never know the right thing to say. So, I did the best thing I could think of, I called for Dorothy and Angela.

Nigel made me promise not to say anything to anyone about our little chat so I will leave it there for now. Suffice to say that I was not totally surprised by his revelations, only by his indecision. I think that we all have times when the road ahead seems unclear and need the guidance of others to help us find the correct path. I just hope that things work out for him.

I will be on my way to the Club shortly for a few drinks and a light supper. I had invited Nigel to join me but he declined as he had a previous engagement elsewhere. I just hope that the snow stays away.

Lunch with a bitter taste

It’s strange how life has a way of turning sour just when one believes that things are looking sweet.

I received a telephone call from Hope last night asking if I would like to join her, Charlotte and Emily for lunch today. Of course, I was only too delighted to accept the invitation, particularly as it would be the first opportunity I have had to meet Emily. I had heard a few things about her, some of it a little frightening if the truth be known, so I was really looking forward to getting to know her.

We agreed that I would meet them at the bistro Hope had chosen, a little place I had been to myself not very long ago. It is one of those places with an open grill in the centre of the restaurant where they prepare the food. On the previous occasion, I was with some of the chaps from the Club and one or two of them caused some trouble after drinking a little too much of the very fine Beaujolais. It all started when that buffoon Richards took a shine to a particular young lady at the table beside ours. It was obvious to everyone except him that she was not interested, but that has never stopped him before. Well, he became more insistent, she and her companions got very angry and in the end, I had to manhandle the man out of the building and into a taxi. It was all rather embarrassing so I was pleased to have an opportunity to pay a return visit in what I hoped would be less troublesome circumstances.

The way things have gone so far this year I suppose I should know better than to expect a silver lining. It would seem that for every ray of sunshine there have been at least two dark clouds rushing in to blot it out.

I left home early but thanks to some unexpected congestion and the almost obligatory roadworks I arrived almost ten minutes late. Now most people who know me will attest to the fact that I can be very relaxed about most things, but one thing I do expect from myself and others is punctuality, particularly as I was hoping to make a good impression. I spotted the girls as soon as I walked through the door, seated at a table close to the grill area. I have to say that I was a little surprised at first as I did not recognise Charlotte at all. It has only been a few days since I last saw her but in that time she has coloured her hair. Where she previously sported wavy auburn locks she now had straight, bright red hair. I have seen this type of thing many times before but had not expected young Charlotte to follow in that particular fashion. I am pleased to say that Hope had not undergone any such transformation and was looking her usual bright and cheerful self.

As I approached the table Hope rose to greet me and introduced me to Emily.

My first impression was one of surprise. I had expected Hope’s eldest daughter to look at least a little like her (in the way Charlotte did, sans red hair!), but I could see no resemblance whatsoever. Where Hope and Charlotte are relatively short and dark with what my mother would have described as cherubic features, Emily was very tall and slim with short blonde hair. And where Hope and Charlotte kept makeup and jewellery to a minimum, Emily looked a little like a walking advertisement for a cosmetics retailer. Several things struck me at once as she introduced herself; the first being that the smile on her lips did not seem to reach her eyes which seemed rather preoccupied with sizing me up. She is also much taller than her mother or sister. I do vaguely remember her father and although I could not state categorically that she was very like him, by my recollection he certainly had that Arian look that Emily seemed to favour.

Once the introductions were over and I had taken my seat beside Hope, we went through the usual routine of discussing the options on the menu and comparing previous meals at similar locations. I repeated the tale of my previous visit to this particular establishment which I was pleased to see Hope and Charlotte found amusing, but Emily did not. Where I had hoped the story might provide a lighthearted opener to our lunchtime conversation, Emily wanted to pick at the events to discover more about my companion and the young lady. I had been told that she could be a little serious, but I had not expected her to miss the point of my little tale so completely. I decided at that point that I needed to be a little more wary about the things I said.

But of course, once the wine and food arrived, and I began to relax, I dropped my guard. Now I am not saying that I set out to deliberately antagonise her, but I found that she took offence at almost everything I had to say, particularly when it came to politics and the law. I am not saying that I am particularly well versed in either discipline, but like most people, I have my own opinions on the state of the country and the world at large and I am used to being able to express these views at the Club without fear of too much contradiction or hostility. Emily however, seemed in no mood to listen to anything I had to say. This is not to say we were arguing as such; rather, she had a way of putting down any opinion I wished to express with a look or seemingly mild reproach that by the time we had come to the end of the main course I was feeling rather like a naughty child being constantly chastised by an angry parent. Hope did try several times to move the conversation on, but with little success. At one point Charlotte seemed to get quite angry with her sister over some remark she made.

As we finished our desserts Hope asked if I would like to join them for coffee at home, but I decided that under the circumstances it was best to decline the offer. It was obvious that Emily has some kind of issue with me but I cannot for the life of me understand what I may have said or done to make her behave the way she did. I think that under the circumstances I was extremely restrained.

I really could not have imagined two more different young ladies than Charlotte and Emily. One would have thought that being some kind of Human Rights specialist she would be a compassionate and understanding person, but what I saw today was an angry and confrontational one. I like to think of myself as a fairly easy going sort of chap, but even I found it very difficult to find common ground with young Emily. I understand that she will be at her mother’s until Sunday so I will wait until next week to try to speak to Hope again to reschedule our evening date. I just hope that the events of today haven’t spoilt anything.

In the meantime, this evening I am going to join my old chum Cambridge for a few drinks at his club. I don’t go there very often – it’s my father’s old club and I find the place a little too quiet and solemn most of the time. It will just be a light dinner for me, but I am looking forward to tasting some the excellent new vintages that Cambridge has told me about.

A change of plan

Things have been quite busy since my last update. My beloved Bentley was returned to me on Monday morning, all ship shape and Bristol fashion. You would never know she had been involved in a prang. Apparently, the insurance companies are still arguing over who was responsible for the accident, but I am keeping right out of it. I have my car back and that is all that matters to me. Well, not all that matters, but I am sure you understand my meaning.

I wasn’t due in the office on Monday so was able to indulge myself and take the old thing for a spin. Arthur came with me; he drove as far as Bromley after which I took the wheel. It was a great feeling, racing down those quiet country lanes of Kent. They really do not make motors like this little gem anymore. I know that there are manufacturers who make similar cars, but there is something detached and sterile about all the computers and gadgets they put in cars these days. It takes the fun out of motoring.

I have to admit that I got quite carried away with myself. Arthur and I stopped for a drink and a bite to eat somewhere in the countryside, I’m not exactly sure where, before heading back. It was almost 2 o’clock by the time we got back to the house and I had just missed a telephone call from Hope. Her message said she would call back again later as she needed to speak to me about our date and she wasn’t at the gallery. This left me very uneasy as I was looking forward to our evening together and I was anxious that she wasn’t going to have to cancel on me.

This, of course, meant that I had to remain at home waiting for the call. Not that I had planned to go anywhere, but knowing that I had to stay in made the wait even more excruciating. I believe we have all gone through this kind of thing at one time or another. I imagine that this is how expectant fathers feel as they pace the hospital corridors waiting for the sound of their baby’s first cry.

In the end, I had to wait until almost 4 o’clock before Hope finally called me back. By that time Dorothy was home and we were in the sitting room where I was telling her about my little drive into the country. I was so on edge that I dropped the telephone, not once, but twice before I could actually say anything. Hope seemed to find my nervousness amusing, which in turn relaxed me. Anyway, once we had got the pleasantries out of the way, Hope got to the purpose of her call. She told me that she was expecting a visit from her eldest daughter, Emily, and was asking if I would mind postponing our date until later in the week. Well, what else could I say? Of course, I agreed despite my great disappointment. Hope was not able to speak for long so there wasn’t time to make any further arrangements.

When I came off the telephone, Dorothy invited me to join herself and Angela at a party that evening, I presume as a way to smooth over my disappointment. Although I was tempted, I decided instead to go to the Club. It was a rather quiet night with just a few of the old guard at the bar. I had a pleasant, but unexciting evening.

This morning I made my usual visit the office where Miss Drayton reminded me that I had a series of meetings that would last until the early afternoon. Taking over some of Aunt Murdock’s responsibilities is placing a heavy burden on my poor shoulders, but I am doing my best to get through it all. In the end, I spent the entire day at the office, not getting home until well after 5 o’clock. I was far too exhausted to go out and actually felt slightly relieved that Hope had cancelled our date.

I had just finished my evening meal and was contemplating another visit to the Club when I received an unexpected visitor – young Nigel. I must say I was a little surprised by his appearance as I was sure I had told him I would be out with Hope, but it was very nice to see him anyway. We spent a little time on the computer where he showed me some little tricks for searching the internet and tried to explain to me about his new business venture. From what I understand it involves moving commodities of one kind or another around the world by using the internet. What he moves, from where and how is beyond me, but I am sure he will do well.

Well, I have another busy day tomorrow so I had better get my beauty sleep. I haven’t heard from Hope yet but I expect she has been busy herself. Maybe she will call tomorrow.

There is Hope for the year yet!

I have to say that I am very glad to see the back of January. There have been a few good moments but by and large, it has been rather dreadful. I spent the beginning of this week confined to bed with an awful cold. I felt truly dreadful and didn’t have the strength to do anything more than shuffle between my bed and the lounge. Mrs Kaczka fed me some dreadful concoction that she claimed was some kind of miracle cure she picked up recently from one of her friends down at this club she goes to every Thursday. It is some kind of meeting place for Easter European ladies, but if this particular concoction is anything to go by it probably has more to do with witchcraft than needlecraft.

But that said, I did feel much better by Wednesday evening when I managed to make my way to the CLub for a drink or two. Which was actually quite fortuitous as my old chum Dasher happened to be there too. I haven’t seen very much of him of late and it was jolly good to have the opportunity to have a quiet chat and catch up. It seems that over the past few weeks the old rogue has been visiting an old flame of his at her home in the South of France. They were quite an item when we were all much younger but she had married some rich American and moved to Texas. It would appear that there had been some communication between them after the American’s untimely demise last year and the old flame has been well and truly relit. I have to say I had no idea about any of this going on. Dasher is obviously much better at keeping secrets than I had realised. Of course, I knew he had been away a lot more than usual and has often been distracted, missing parties and such.

And I must say that the widowed Mrs Marshall is quite a catch. The last time I saw heer was at some social event about three or four years ago and she hardly looked any older than when she flew out to the States twenty years ago. Some say it is all down to plastic surgery, but I couldn’t possibly comment. All I do know is that Dasher is as captivated by her now as he was all those years ago. I just hope that this time she doesn’t let him down.

When he asked about my own love life, I had to admit that there wasn’t much to say. Although I initially brushed off his enquiry, on further questioning I did own up to having feelings for a certain lady of my acquaintance. Whilst I didn’t want to say too much, he very soon seemed to cotton on to who I was talking about.

Taking of which, yesterday I received a call from Hope to rearrange our lunch date. As we were both free today I made my way down to the Kings Road a little before 1 o’clock to pick her up and take her to a very cosy little place I know close to the river. They specialise in French cuisine but it is rather good and the service first rate. They keep a wonderful selection of wines and they do a truly mouthwatering Ribeye.  I was actually surprised she hadn’t been there before being quite close to her gallery.

The combination of great food, excellent wine and such charming company ensured that the afternoon fairly raced by. One thing I have noticed about Hope is how animated she gets when she talks about either of her two great passions, art and her daughters. Obviously, I already know Charlotte fairly well, but I have yet to meet her eldest, Emily. I have to say that I was quite smitten by her smile as she enthused about Charlotte and Emily’s successes in their chosen fields, but from what she says, the two girls are is different as chalk and cheese. Whilst Charlotte takes after her mother with her artistic skills, Emily is much more serious and has apparently never shown any aptitude for the arts. Much like myself really. I mean, I know a good piece of art when I see it, but I don’t get this modern stuff at all. Hope says that I just need to learn to understand what I am seeing, but I am not so sure.

During our conversation, I asked her about her about Simon. I have to admit I was a little nervous about mentioning him as I was not sure whether I wanted to hear what she had to say or not. As it turns out I need not have worried. There was nothing of a romantic nature between them. Yes, he had used his undoubted charm to try to woo her away with him, but she told me he was not her type at all. He was just convenient for a lift and as for the lunch date, that was actually a business meeting as he had some items he thought she might be able to sell for him. I have to say that I was quite relieved to hear this.

Anyway, we didn’t leave the brasserie until almost 4 o’clock, by which time Hope was running late for a prior engagement with some friends so we went our separate ways, but not before we had secured a date for dinner next Tuesday evening. I had hoped we could get together at some point over the weekend but it seems she has a lot of work to do and some people to see, so next week it is. Truth be told I am just happy to have settled the Simon affair and got through the date without making a fool of myself.

I am going to head off to the Club now for Friday night drinkies with the chaps. Cambridge tells me that they have recently acquired a couple of bottles of some very fine Chambertin Grand Cru Pinot Noir that I really must try.

Silver linings

I always find January to be quite a depressing month. It is usually wet, often cold, but always dark. It’s dark when I rise in the mornings and dark shortly after lunch. Some days it never really gets much more than a dull grey. It’s hardly the kind of weather to encourage a bright and cheery outlook. Add to that Aunt Murdock’s recent health scare, the damage to my dear old Bentley, and my missed date with Hope and I am sure I can be forgiven for being a little below par right now.

Of course, Aunt Murdock is on the mend and the Bentley is being repaired, but it is none-the-less a dreary and depressing time of year.

Talking of the old Mad Duck, I saw her earlier today and she is looking much better. She gave us quite a stir last week but she is almost back to her old self. Today she was issuing directions and instructions to myself and Uncle George who seems to be almost relieved to be on the receiving end. I was getting quite worried about him last week. For many years I thought that he and my Aunt lived around each other rather than together but over the past few months, I have begun to see a different side to their relationship.

In an uncharacteristically candid moment a few years ago my aunt told me that theirs was very much a marriage of convenience. There had been no passion or romance, simply an acceptance that their union would benefit both families and provide respectability and companionship for herself and George. I have heard rumours that prior to their marriage it was widely suspected that George batted for the other side – as they used to call it – which at the time was considered social and business suicide. Whilst I have never been one for gossip and have never observed anything in his manner that might confirm or deny these suggestions, it did go some way to explaining the distance that seemed to exist between the two of them.

But now I am not so sure. Over the past week, in particular, I have seen just how close they are and the deep affection that exists between them. Far from feeling sorry for their lack of romance I find myself somewhat envious of their relationship. Whilst I myself fiercely resisted all attempts by my parents to arrange my own nuptials, when I look at my Aunt and Uncle I can’t help wondering if maybe I should have just gone along with it.

Talking of matchmakers, it seems that even in her sick bed my dear old Aunt can’t help interfering in my private life. At some point, I must have mentioned my missed date with Hope and my disappointment that she had not replied to my note. I should have known that she would not let this lie but would take up the proverbial batten and run with it. As she did. I had been summoned to visit her this afternoon and lo and behold, who should have also received a summons, but Hope. At first, I felt a little awkward. I had taken her silence over standing her up as a sign of her displeasure and had decided in my own mind that it was probably best if I put a little distance between us. But it seems that I was mistaken. Yes, she was rather upset about being stood up and had for the past week and a half been avoiding my calls, but that was only because she not actually received the note I had written. Its whereabouts remain a mystery that even Arthur, who assures me he posted it through her door, can explain.

Once all that had been cleared up Hope agreed to telephone me later to arrange another lunch date, one that hopefully we would be able to keep. Once she had left I could see Aunt Murdock grinning like the old Cheshire Cat in Wonderland. She was obviously very pleased with herself and for once I found I was actually very grateful for her interference in my private life. Aunt Murdock had reintroduced us with the obvious plan of us becoming a couple and I find that on this occasion I don’t mind at all.

Yesterday evening was spent down at the Club with Uncle George. The decision to take him was as much Aunt Murdock’s as mine. We both felt he needed an evening with the chaps with some good food and drink. I was only too happy to oblige and play host. Now you have to understand that George is not one of life’s great drinkers. A glass of wine or sherry with food and the occasional single malt of an evening are normally his limit. In fact, until last night I had never seen the man even remotely tipsy, let alone raving drunk. He was obviously ready to let down what little hair he has left and made the most of the club’s stock of Highland whiskies. He was in such a state that I decided he should come back home with me. I didn’t want Aunt Murdock to see him in such a sorry state. And I have to say I am very glad I did. The poor chap was quite ill this morning; I don’t think he has had a hangover in over 50 years and it showed. I went back with him to act as his second in the inevitable duel with old Mad Duck, but she was actually very understanding and if I didn’t know better, I would have said she seemed pleased at the way things had worked out. We left George to sleep things off and spent the rest of the afternoon watching old black and white films and reminiscing about family.

Looking back on the week I suppose it hasn’s been so bad in the end. I have still to speak to Hope about or rescheduled lunch date, but I am just pleased to know that any misunderstanding there may have been had been resolved. For once I am happy with Aunt Murdock’s interference. Aunt Murdock herself is looking much better and George has regained a little of his customary pink hue (unlike the pale grey countenance he had this morning!). Dorothy and I are visiting an old friend of hers this evening for supper. She was originally going with Angela, but she has had to pull out at the last minute to deal with some family emergency or other, so I have been called upon to stand in. Although I don’t know these people and am unsure what to expect of the evening, I am rather flattered that Dorothy should think to invite me to join her for such an occasion.