Mrs Clarissa Snottingham Periwinkle applied a rather thick layer of Oils of Ulard to her wrinkled face, adjusted her imitation pearls, picked up her battered fake Channel handbag then marched as quickly as her well-worn court shoes would let her, up to Gripewater Grange. As wife of the local hunt master Cuthbert Snottingham Periwinkle, she viewed herself as more regal and more socially important than the Trumpington Trubshaw’s. The fact that she lived in a rundown mobile home on the edge of the council estate, connected to a septic tank, seemed to somehow slip her mind.

As she approached the doors of Gripewater Grange, Skrowte announced her imminent arrival to Lady F by bellowing rather loudly: “Here comes Lady Mink Knickers.” She continually looked down, very condescendingly on Skrowte as a very social inferior, and this irked him somewhat.

She perched herself very pointedly on the horsehair sofa, and crossed her swollen ankles. Skrowte poured out a finely fragranced tea into a delicate porcelain cup for Lady F, then plonked a cracked mug of cheap instant coffee down next to Clarissa.

“Oh coffee, how quaint,” she shrieked. “I normally drink champagne for breakfast, doesn’t everyone” and burst into a high pitch snorting and honking which she mistook for laughter. It fell upon deaf ears (if it wasn't so loud!). It sounded like a wounded donkey on heat.

The reason for Mrs Snottingham Periwinkle’s visit was a charity raising evening at the village hall in Little Sozzlebury to raise funds for the hunt.

“It will be a themed evening,” she rattled on. “Film stars. I can so see myself as Marilyn Monroe, can’t you?”

“More like Godzilla” muttered Skrowte to me rather loudly as he hastily removed the plate of cherry fakewells before she could stuff a fourth one down her grizzled throat or shove a few into her handbag for later. I stretched my paws out and closed my eyes. Mrs Snottingham Periwinkle was such a snob and a social climber and I knew what was coming next, an attack against her arch enemy Mrs Curmudgeonly, the vicar’s wife.

“I haven’t invited the vicar and his dreadful wife this year to our social soiree,” she puffed up her chest. “It is rumoured that the Curmudgeonly’s are considering services in the church for nude people which they call 'Naturists'. How utterly dreadful, nothing natural about walking round in  the buff.”

“Quite,” smiled Lady F as she sipped her tea.

“All those acres of  tattooed and pierced  flesh on parad,e” Clarissa prattled on quite red with indignation.

“Quite,” agreed Lady F stifling a yawn.

“And the lower classes, all obese and wobbly. Not quite the body beautiful, all that  wrinkled cellulite on display,” she shuddered. “It will just be a pervert’s paradise, not quite the heavenly paradise the Archbishop has in mind.”

“And, of course, all you old ladies,” added Skrowte.

“What?” Clarissa’s head whipped round.

“All dry, droopy and wrinkled, as if you are wearing something you’d forgotten to iron,” Skrowte went on. “I imagine you’ll all be saved from the indignity of lust during Curmudgeonly’s long sermons at your age.”

Clarissa almost choked on her coffee as Skrowte continued.

“You never see naked worshippers on Songs of Praise,” he stated, staring at me with a twinkle in his eyes, rising to the fight.

“Ghastly, quite ghastly.” Mrs Clarissa Snottingham Periwinkle gasped looking to Lady F for sympathy.

“Imagine the slurping sound they make when they all get up off the pews,” Skrowte thundered on innocently looking at the fireplace.

“It will never happen. Not here in Sozzlebury” Mrs Clarissa Snottingham Periwinkle was almost in a faint at the mere idea.

“Yes madam,” Skrowte seriously looked at her. “But imagine the saving with a nudist wedding, no designer dresses or those dreadful diamante thongs.”

“I really don’t think you are taking this seriously, my man,” Clarsissa thundered. “We don’t want Naturists here in Sozzlebury, I don’t know why the Curmudgeonly’s have to invite them here. I just know that she would be behind it all.”

“A big behind Madam?” sniggered Skrowte as he glared at Clarissa. But Mrs Clarissa Snottingham Periwinkle was too wound up to note the insult.

“If the best man drops the ring would the choir erupt into ‘Total eclipse of the sun’?” pondered Skrowte as he patted my head.

Mrs Snottingham Periwinkle’s visit came to a very swift conclusion when she realised that she wasn’t quite getting the vote of support she so desperately needed as she gathered up her handbag, grabbed two cherry fakewells then stormed out.

“Well done, Norman,” said Lady F. “Such a bore, that women, and so pretentious.”

“Precisely madam,” he agreed. “Mrs Mink Knickers!” as he replenished the cherry fakewells on the cake stand.

 

In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson