Aunty Stella’s Tale (Part One)

CromfordLarry’s Letter

“That was a fine haggis supper, Catriona, you excelled yourself. Are we all here, has anyone seen Slasher McGoogs?”

“He took off after Overmighty Black Douglass, through the rhododendrons.”

“OK. So, where shall I begin? Googleberry had been away visiting rich relatives in Derbyshire, again. He’d been gone a few days when I received a text from him:

OMG A STLLA ∑:>{+’ LDY C’S FNCY DRSS BBQ WSHD OUT COS GUSTING WND SWPT FOUNTAIN AX PATIO! SOCIAL BUMMER = LHK 4EAE GOOGLEBERRY XX = PS LDY C SEZ 2 TELL U LES YT CTS MOBILIZING = LLAP ∑:o3 LOL WUSS *

…closely followed by this Basildon Bond gilt edged letter, delivered to my door by a uniformed dispatch rider on a Brough Superior:Larry Doc

…Obviously urgent and not much leeway for discussion. I only hoped someone along the way would have the where-and-when missing from Larry’s redacted letter. I scrawled a quick note to the family, Lasagna in the fridge, PE kit in airing cupboard, that sort of thing, and left it on the kitchen table. Then Strawberry and I chucked our tooth brushes, clean knickers and a spare pullover each into overnight bags, fired up the Blue Chevy and hit the high road bound for the Dales.

That Chevy needs some work on it. The engine’s clapped out, the seats are incredibly uncomfortable and it is a long haul from home into the upper reaches of Derbyshire. By the time we made the A6 I had progressed from aching all over to being numb from the neck down. Strawberry announced that he was getting rather stiff too. So we parked up in Cromford and visited the local bookshop for soup and builders’ tea. It has a world-renowned Vegan café on the top floor. Vegan soup is not generally regarded as palatable since the flora and fauna on Vega is invariably slimy and tentacly. This facsimile vegan soup, however, was made with nettles and mushrooms and things picked from local hedgerows and was barely slimy at all, with virtually no tentacles. It was delicious.

‘That girl behind the counter, the one with the rasta hair and sandals that gave us the long stare; she got on the phone to someone soon as she’d served us,’ observed Strawberry.

‘I’ve had a tingly feeling for a while, like we’re being watched,’ I replied, ‘Drink up and we’ll crack on.’

Halfway down the stairs we met a middle-aged lady coming up. We stepped back into a room, labelled SATIRE & SURREALIST FICTION, to allow her to pass and were immediately grabbed from behind. Sacks were pulled over our heads; we were bundled out into the street and into the back of some sort of van.

When the sacks were removed I found that I was sitting on a hard wooden chair, nose to nose with an inquisitive lurcher.

‘Let them be, Spike, they may be friendlies.’

We were in a dimly lit barroom surrounded by ruffians in ski masks. One of them rose after studying my face and took off her balaclava.

‘It’s OK, it really is them. I’ve met them before,’ said Snowdrop. ‘Sorry about the rough treatment, Les Chats are watching the roads north of Matlock and we had to grab you quick. It’s important no-one knows you’re here.’

‘They may know already,’ said Strawberry, ‘the girl in the café rang someone.’

‘She’s one of ours. That was our signal to move in.’

The door burst open and in walked a chattering group of hikers.

‘No coach parties,’ snapped the tall, dishevelled landlord, from behind his row of beer engines.

‘But…’

‘We’re closed. What do you think this is, a pub?’ The hikers left, disappointed.

‘Isn’t it a pub?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ replied Snowdrop, ‘but not always welcoming to strangers. Makes for a perfect hide-out.’

‘So, what now,’ said Strawberry.

‘Manchester, but first we need a willing volunteer to wear the Subcomandante Everyman costume,’ she was talking to Strawberry, but looking at me, ‘and you, Strawberry, are a bit on the short side. Come on Aunty Stella, it’s not as if you’d really be in charge or anything.’”

* Translation for those unfamiliar with Googleberry’s version of text speak:

“Oh My God, Aunty Stella, catastrophe, Lady C’s fancy dress barbecue washed out because gusting winds swept fountain across patio! Social bummer. Love, Hugs and Kisses for Ever and Ever, Googleberry, Kiss, Kiss. P.S. Lady C says to tell you Les White Cats mobilising. Live Long And Prosper. Smiley face. Laughs Out Loud With Unintentional Snort Sound.”

 

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4 thoughts on “Aunty Stella’s Tale (Part One)

  1. Very impressed with Aunty Stella’s domestic goddess level of organisation – note about the PE kit as well as lasagne – she’s set the bar very high!

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