Life at Lupin Towers has been fairly uneventful since I last recorded our doings in these pages. I have even had time to make some modest progress on my paper on The Early Novels of George Gissing.
Sandy left us early on Christmas Eve to visit a cousin in Norfolk. "Last Tango at the Towers, Last Exit to Cromer", he bellowed from the taxi before patting the taxi driver's knee and saying "Drive on, old chap!" He left us still believing that his talk to the W.I. had been a triumph. I have to concede that it provoked more ongoing discussion than my own talk on the poetry of John Donne. The only feedback that I ever received was a lady who tugged at my arm in the Post Office and said "Do you like Pam Ayres?"
Lee gave Carlo a skateboard for Christmas. I thought this a somewhat juvenile present for someone approaching his nineteenth birthday and I was disconcerted to find the name 'Darryl' painted on the underside of the board. However, Lee said Darryl was a cousin of his. The skateboard had become surplus to his requirements because he was now resident in a young offenders' institution. I am not sure whether I believe this and have been scrutinising both the Lost and Found column and the crime reports in the local paper.
Carlo will only ride the skateboard in a seated position with his knees under his chin and only indoors. The oak floor in the hall has taken a terrible battering. Lee called him a big wuss, whatever that might be.
Our Christmas was mercifully quiet although Lee spent rather more time here than I might have wished, claiming that his siblings were 'doing his head in.' I'm still not sure how many siblings there are. Every time I think I've worked it out another one crops up in the conversation. There's a discernible depression in the chaise longue where Lee's Rockport boots have spent many a restful hour. As I said to Carlo, that boy spends more time on his back than Joan Collins.
As we begin a new year, a cloud no bigger than a man's hand has appeared on the horizon but it fills me with mild foreboding. Jonquil Skidmore has volunteered to give Carlo English lessons. Not so much volunteered as announced that she will do so. Her post as a teaching assistant at the village school is part-time, leaving her ample free time to make a nuisance of herself and she told me she had recently taken a course in teaching English as a foreign language and was eager to put her newly-acquired skills into practice. I told her that Lee might be a more suitable and challenging pupil. However she has always had a certain tendresse for Carlo and I suspect that spending afternoons with him in the Pink Drawing Room has an appeal wider than irregular verbs.
One day Jonquil's prince may come but I don't think he will be a Filipino houseboy who enjoys a close friendship with a village car mechanic. I have always thought that a blind piano tuner would be her ideal partner. He could ensure that her renderings of Chopin études were perfectly in tune whilst remaining ignorant of her equine features. Admittedly, there would still be the small hurdles of her high-pitched giggle and the tactile horrors of those mohair jumpers.
In any event, I shall make sure I am seated at the Davenport when these lessons take place. I would hate to be responsible for any unpleasantness that might result from Jonquil's hormones throwing their last dice.