“Look, there’s a Parsonage section,” I say to my colleague. We’re in Marks and Spencer, or that’s what it says on the outside of the shop anyway. Inside, it’s full of furniture and ornaments and decorative items: chairs, sofas, jewellery boxes, soft furnishings.
“What’s a parsonage?” She says.
“It’s where a parson lives,” I say. “They have them in Jane Austen. Seems a bit of a specific…”
“Maybe it means Jane-Austen-inspired furniture then,” she says. “Let’s have a look at it.” She walks towards the Parsonage sign.
Passing huge fluffy throws and enormous cushions, a display of wooden trinket boxes catches my attention. They’re painted with scenes of 1940s aerial warfare: Spitfires and Messerschmitts duel in a cloudless blue sky. Picking one up, I place it in my wicker basket. When I look up, my colleague has vanished.
“Hi, Tanya, what are you doing here?” Someone says behind me. Turning round, I see a school friend who I haven’t seen for about ten years.
“Oh, hi,” I say. “I just walked in, thought it was M & S but…”
“It is,” she says, smiling. She’s wearing a berry lipstick which doesn’t suit her – it’s too dark against her pale skin.
“So where are the sandwiches?” I say.
“Oh, there aren’t any. This is a Homeware shop. No food. There’s a restored Spitfire – do you want to see it?” She says.
“Yes, definitely,” I say, following her away from the Parsonage sign, past Persian carpets and curtains.
We arrive at a wall with a large hole blown out of it.
“What happened here?” I say.
“Oh, there was a bomb a while ago and they haven’t fixed the wall yet,” she says, stepping over rubble. Following her, my sense of foreboding grows. Maybe that wasn’t the only bomb, I think, and we’re going to be killed.
“Do they know who planted the bomb or…I mean, could there be another one?” I say. We’re outside now and there are huge stones everywhere, and there it is – the Spitfire – sitting on the ground in front of us.
“Wow,” I say. “Amazing.”
“We’re allowed in,” she says, opening a door to the cockpit and we climb in. The seats are soft and furry. It’s roomier and more comfortable inside than they look on the television.
“So, I hear there’s a new chap on the scene,” I say.
“Yes, it’s going really well,” she says…
…waking up with a start, drenched in sweat, I look at my watch. 5.42am. Sigh. I’ve got a big day today and last night I set the alarm for 9am to make sure I got plenty of sleep. And now I’m wide awake.
Putting my Body Scan CD back on, I listen to it and don’t manage to fall back to sleep.
If I wasn’t going to be out all day, I’d go to the gym but I need to be awake for the day’s entertainment. Am going to Queens with Mum and brother to watch the tennis. Really wanted to have a good night’s sleep beforehand as it’s a long day with a lot of travelling. Must pull self together: have been looking forward to today for ages. All year in fact: since went to Queens a year ago.
Attached photo is a rhododendron who lives near the parentals I think.
Happy Monday everyone!
*2011. By D C Brod. Murder mystery set in a department store.