A slight rustling on the exterior side of the exterior of the original 14th Century oak doors of Gripewater Grange and a deep rumbling, snoring noise alerted us to the fact we had a vagrant asleep on our doorstep.

Skrowte gingerly opened the door to be greeted by the site of a bundle of rags and a sleeping bag containing none other than Pongo Trumpington Trubshaw, Teddie’s younger brother. Two empty whisky bottles were tossed casually across the gravel on the drive and three crushed cigarette packets littered the porch. The smell of stale alcohol and fags wafted upwards from him.

“What ho, Scroters!” Pongo greeted Skrowte, Lady F and myself sleepily as he divested himself of his sleeping bag and stumbled into the hallway almost tripping over me as I skittled across the floor, my claws extended for grip on the shiny tiles.

Lady F raised her eyes to heaven, scooped me up and instructed Skrowte to make coffee, … strong and black.

Later as we sat on the horsehair sofa, Pongo reeled out his tales of woe, of money lost, investments failed and abandonment by friends. All he had left was family. He looked pathetically and pointedly at Lady F.

“Rather unfortunate you are no longer family, Sir” Skrowte pointed out as he handed Pongo a pack of extra strength ibuprofen.  “Since Sir Teddie’s demise your position, Sir, is now officially the ex-brother-in-law of Her Ladyship; the widow Trumpington Trubshaw!”

“And sadly,” Lady F joined in, “with no claim to the Trumpington Trubshaw or Gruffington-Gussets estate, as you blew your inheritance when it was released to you aged 21, you had become a burden upon your brother ever since. I’m afraid I am both unable and unwilling to continue to finance your feckless lifestyle.”

Pongo looked quite shocked .

“I can only suggest, Sir,” Skrowte continued smugly, “That you seek help with your addictions, preferably, your alcoholic based addiction,”

“What?!” exclaimed Pongo, “You mean Alcoholics Anonymous?!”

“Precisely,” confirmed Skrowte inspecting a fingernail.

“But how can it be Anonymous when the first thing you do is stand up and say I’m Pongo and I’m an Alcoholic… which I’m not, by the way. Definitely not. What’s anonymous about that?”

“Do you know when you’re an alcoholic?” asked Skrowte.

“Surprise me,” yawned Pongo.

“You can’t wait for the Kwop to have a sale.”

“Well, I’m not an alcoholic then,” Pongo advised, “I only shop at Fartnums Wine Department.”

“What do you enjoy most about being drunk?” asked Lady F trying to bring the conversation back to sensibility.

“Catching VD,” replied Pongo rather childishly.

“And? …. Anything else?” asked Her Ladyship quite exasperated.

“Well... being really, really drunk, coming round in the park being made love to by a large Labrador. Do you know, I was so drunk once I spiked my own drink with rohypnol.

“So what happened?” Skrowte asked impassively.

“I don’t know I forgot, old thing!” chirped Pongo.

Lady F sighed with frustration.   “You’re driving yourself to an early grave, Pongo. You must know that?”

“When I die, I want my funeral to be a national day of mourning, full
military honours, brass band, cenotaph...” Pongo declared.

“You’ll be lucky if they throw your old carcass into the cut,” muttered Skrowte.

“I suppose I’ll just have my ashes scattered somewhere that reflects my life,” mused Pongo.

“What thrown at a barely legal eastern European male escort,” Lady F retorted. “After all, you have been open to most things sexually. Mainly criticism.”

She quite annoyed by now. I sat on my cushion quite enthralled, my ears pricked up with interest. I love ‘domestics’.

“That will do for me,” grinned Pongo. “Now where’s the cooking sherry, Sroters? Time for a snort!”

“I think not,” Lady F replied quite firmly. “I think it’s time you left Pongo.”

“Yes,” agreed Skrowte. “After all, Sir, you are about as useful as a one-legged man at an arse kicking competition.”

As he staggered towards the door Skrowte then whispered, “There are seven trillion nerves in the body Pongo, and congratulations, old chap, you have a gift of getting on every single one of them, and even if you think you’ve won the rat race Pongo, you’re still a rat.”

And with that he shut the door on Pongo and reached for the air freshener.

Carol Lake


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