Occasionally life in Oundle is so amusingly old-school that you wonder if you’ve inadvertently arrived on the set of Miss Marple. The Bev-encounter Bash is an example. (Was tempted to imply attendance at two Oundle-based parties, but knew few would be fooled.)
|Paragon of stability|
Since the shindig was to be outside and was being organised by a group of eager Oundle residents, a rain-shelter was deemed necessary. Not any old Ikea-or-Argos bought rain shelter. No, this was to be a plinth of epic proportions. A Pisa-like plinth.
Its slant, we were told, was structural – to allow rain to drip off. Stretched across three ladders of differing lengths, the hand-painted ribbons and holey tarpaulin wobbled unhappily, as did the wall, to which the thing was hitched. Said wall is in the process of falling down.
I know this because the party was held next to MD’s future home. Happily it did not rain (though it was damn cold). But as we wandered over to the festivities my precociously litigious boyfriend (PLB) observed that if the (weighty and unbalanced) structure were to fall on any of Oundle’s oldies she, as land owner, would be responsible. Screwed. He didn’t say ‘screwed’ because, quite frankly, it’s not the sort of word you use in front of Mother Dearest, but I think she got the gist.
Despite this, MD survived the bash admirably. She flinched only a little when children started scaling our 12-foot high gates (no matter – their fall was adequately cushioned by nettles and gravel). Indeed, when someone’s father started throwing children around and one boy seized a carving knife, she barely noticed. All senses were focussed on the rain-plinth.
Eventually, these youthful distractions were put to bed. Alas, by seven o’clock (of this lunchtime do), the Oundle Undesirables were settling in for the night. Not for them the lure of warmth or bed-time. They were sloshed.
‘Bloody hell ...’ (Undesirable 1 – grabbing for bottle on booze table) ‘what cheap-skate brought Lambrini, eh?’
Beat. Embarrassment all round.
Undesirable 2 (quietly, pink-cheeked): ‘Mate, I think it was you actually.’
U1 (with an air of celebration): ‘I’m so cheap!’
Lambrini in Oundle? Yes it was cold, and she had work in the morning, and we’d talked about leaving for a bit, but it was the Lambrini that clinched it. We left - MD now hoping the shelter would fall. We’d take the consequences. Justice has a price.
Next Episode: Kate in the Countryside on Holiday.
Are you a habitual Undesirable? Tell me about it. Do you love Lambrini? Comment if you like, but keep it to yourself.