Friday, 27 November 2009

Chapter 37 - Home Is Where the Hen Is

Mrs Miggins sat alone in the back parlour of the North Wing of Much Malarkey Manor. Outside, it was raining. It had been raining non-stop for a couple of days now, which had stimmied her plans to get the over-wintering onions into the vegetable plot by the beginning of December.

'Probably for the best,' she muttered to herself. 'What with the planned rebuilding of the Manor, I doubt much veg growing will get done this season, and what I do try to do will probably end up getting squished by builders and their equipment.' And not one to waste precious time, she had, instead, begun her annual home-made Christmas card production line.

'I wonder where Betty and Gloria are,' she said. The North Wing had been ominously quiet all morning, save for the beating of rain on the window panes, and her companions hadn't even bothered turning up half an hour before lunch to pester her about what they were going to have for lunch.

Eating a tuna mayo on granary sandwich on one's own is a lonesome task.

By mid-afternoon, Mrs Miggins could bear the silence and the inability to peel the backing off her double-sided sticky tape no longer. She donned her rain cape, souwester and wellies (a rather delicious green froggy print combo set trimmed with blue raindrops) and set off into the rain to seek her companions.

She found them in the marquee arena, now looking decidedly saggy from the beating it had taken by the recent rainstorms. Much hilarity was being had, as Mrs Pumphrey and Mrs Slocombe larked around with Bob and Stix, whilst Dave tried to concentrate on dismantling the sound system.

'Miggo!' shouted Mrs Slocombe, as she spied Mrs Miggins standing in the entrance of the arena. 'Stix is teaching us how to head-bang!' And she did a demonstration, managing only six violent forward thrusts before coming over all dizzy and falling over in the sawdust, where she lay, laughing like a loon.

'You sound like you're having fun,' said Mrs Miggins, hoping she wasn't coming across too bitterly that she had spent all morning and half the afternoon cutting out stars from silver card and trying to draw reindeer that didn't look like obese Great Danes.
'Oh, we have been having fun,' agreed Mrs Pumphrey. 'The boys have been telling us all about the plans for their world tour. It all sounds very exciting and glamorous.'
'Really?' said Mrs Miggins. 'So you'll be on your way soon?'

Dave stood up and stretched his long flamingo neck.
'Gotta ride the surf when the waves are high, babe,' he said.
'What did he say?' said Mrs Miggins.
'I think he means that as 'Boom Penguin' are so popular at the moment, it would be stupid not to jump on the band wagon fo popularity, what with the celebrity world being so fickle these days.' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'I've been organising their booking diary for them now that Honeybun has gone and they are without a manager.'
'Oh,' said Mrs Miggins.
'They've got seventeen dates booked up already,' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'So when are you moving on?' asked Mrs Miggins.
'Tomorrow, babe,' said Dave. 'We hit the raod first thing. We're playing Margate in the evening.'
Mrs Miggins brightened a little. 'I could cook dinner for everyone this evening,' she said. 'A sort of farewell and good luck do. I could do a nice roast, and a trifle. Everyone liked a trifle.'
'Boom's already booked a table at the local curry house,' said Dave. 'Of course, you're invited too. Gloria and Betty are up for a jalfrezi, aren't you girls?'

'Ooooh, yes,' said Mrs Slocombe, picking herself up from the floor. 'The hotter the better, eh Stix?' and she nudged the drummer in the ribs, sending him flying across the arena.
'Thanks,' said Mrs Miggins, 'but I think I'll pass, if you don't mind. Curries have never agreed with me.'

And she turned and trailed back to Cluckinghen Palace, feeling useless and glum. Boom knew she didn't like curry. Had he booked the curry house as a deliberate act to spite her?

* * * * * * * * * * *

The skyline at Much Malarkey Manor seemed stark and bare when Mrs Miggins next looked out of her window at twilight. The marquee arena and been dismantled and packed away ready for the tour. All that remained was the car-park and a lone hot-dog stand which Denise had asked to keep to use for her planned bedding plant stall at the village fayre next spring. Half an hour previously, Mrs Pumphrey and Mrs Slocombe had returned to the Palace to get ready for their evening out. They had tried one more time to persuade Mrs Miggins to go with them.

'It'll be fun,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'And you don't have to have curry. I'm sure there will be stuff on the menu you can have that means you won't spend the next three days on the loo.'
'Yes,' said Mrs Slocombe. 'Everyone else is coming. And we need a good night out, don't we? It's been a pretty hectic few weeks, hasn't it?'

Mrs Miggins had to agree that it had, indeed, been hectic. And she'd loved every minute of it. The planning, the rehearsals, the arguments, the frisson of excitement as the crowds had begun to arrive on the night of the concert, the thrill of the thought that that stupid chihuahua, Pepe, might at last have met his doom as she watched him fly from the mouth of the cannon and into to firework display area. But now it was all over. What was left for her? What would she do?

She almost capitulated. She almost said 'yes' and went with the others to get ready for a night out on the town. But something was stopping her. Somehow, she just knew that if she went along with the rest of the gang, she would prove to be the damp squib in the party box of fireworks. And when Mrs Miggins made a decision, then Gloria and Betty knew better than to try and change her mind. Well, Gloria did, because she was more sensitive to the emotions of others. Betty Slocombe never knew when to stop and would persist until someone punched her or put a bag over her head so she thought it was night-time.

'You'll be okay, here on your own?' said Mrs Pumphrey as she stood by the back door, glammed up to the nines in a Dame Shirley Bassey type sequinned dress and matching feather boa.

'Yes,' said Mrs Miggins. 'I've got a cheese and onion pasty and some barbacue wedges in the oven. And the quarter final of Strictly Come Prancing is on the telly. Tango Pete and Cha-Cha Lil said they might pop in to watch it with me. I got in extra ice-cream , in case they do.'

Mrs Pumphrey fidgeted in embarrassment. 'Tango Pete and Cha-Cha Lil are coming to the curry house with us,' she said.
'Oh,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Ah well, all the more butterscotch and nut for me, then.'
'Please come with us,' said Mrs Slocombe. 'No one will mind that you're in your pyjamas and your comb looks a bit flyaway.'
'Shut up, Betty, and go, will you?' said Mrs Miggins, forcing a smile. 'Before I get the paper bag from the drawer.'

And Laetitia Miggins stood by the doorway and waved her friends off into the night. She stepped back inside and sniffed the air.

'My wedges are burning,' she said. 'Story of my life.'

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