The Way We Lied

Alex’s twins had turned out to be far too unruly to be involved in the film, so in the spirit of generosity, and also to ensure that they did not complain that they had been left out, we allowed them to perform their dance before the film began. We had left them to dress themselves and they appeared with their vests rolled up and stuffed with scrunched balls of socks to resemble pert breasts, accompanied by trailing skirts, looking like little princesses from the harem. Daisy even had a jewelled belt of some kind tucked over her skirt. I couldn’t remember seeing anything like it in the dressing up box and I wondered where she had found it as it looked slightly familiar. And as they twirled and wriggled their little girl’s hips, the grownups laughed. At least they all did, apart from Alex. She looked very pale and serious, holding her hand over her mouth.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” announced Ben, who had taken it upon himself to assume the role of compere. “We have pleasure in welcoming you to the world premiere of Murder at the Manor! Please switch off all mobile phones and enjoy the performance. Curtains please.”
Amy and Tom pulled the heavy curtains and behind me I heard Aunt Sarah whispering to Nick, “Sit up properly, don’t fall asleep!” And my mother was offering my father another tea, to keep him awake too.
The show began with shakily filmed, hand drawn titles, proclaiming Amy and me as co-directors and the boys as producers of what we had all decided was a ‘Blats Production’( our initials). Our audience responded politely to our exciting plot and laughed with gusto at our lines and costumes. Tom’s performance as Inspector Widget, wearing my father’s old tweed cap and raincoat, provoked much hilarity and I heard my mother saying she was sure Tom had already been murdered in the previous scene.
At the end, after much applause and promises from our audience that they would love to see it all again, but not just now, we opened a brightly coloured box of Christmas chocolates and prepared to have a second screening on our own. Only Alex stayed with us, her hand dipping into the chocolates nearly as often as ours. “Wherever did you get your costumes, darlings?” she asked when we had eaten half the box. I told her about the dressing up box in the playroom and then she said she would try to remember to find some more interesting clothes for us once she was home.
And little Daisy twirled and wriggled and squealed, “I found my belt in the garden. It’s the most beautiful belt in the whole world. It’s got real diamonds.”

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