Family Business Part 18

Family Business Part 18: what exactly is dad driving at?  Rosa’s confused in Family Business Part 18

To: Laura
From: Rosa
Date: 18th February
Subject: Weird Conversations
Hi my dear Laura
Have you noticed dad being at all weird since his resurrection?  He turned up here yesterday – quite out of the blue – and insisted on taking me out for supper without Nick.  (That went down well as you can imagine.)  We went to that smart boutique hotel on the coast for which we supplied the aluminium garden furniture, so we were treated like VIPs which added to the fun.  It’s seriously yummy – I’ll take you next time you’re up.  The brown shrimps are to die for. 
Ostensibly, the trip was to give him the opportunity to tell me about everything that’s been going on with Brenda and the firm.  Actually, it was more the chance for him to philosophize about life in general and how one shouldn’t stay in an unhappy marriage.  I swear I think he knows about Alex … You know dad, we don’t usually share intimate stuff at all and it didn’t half make me squirm.  He kept going on about how you could never tell when you might meet your soul mate and how we should all follow our hearts.  Quite unlike him! 
I’m afraid I’ve got a confession.  He was digging away about how everyone’s reacted to Brenda and I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I told him about her and Flora.  I’m afraid I had had a long day and one too many gins, so it just slipped out.  You mustn’t tell Flora that I told dad!  He actually didn’t seem fazed by the news at all.  It fits with his new hippy dippy outlook & all that “You’ve only got one life, so live the life you want to” stuff.  Even so, I’m sure he didn’t have a clue and I’m properly amazed that he was so cool about it.  The only glimpse of the old pater familias was when he insisted that we must never tell mum!  After feeling awful about spilling the beans, on reflection, I’m rather relieved.  It’s so silly to be tiptoeing round Flora and Brenda, especially now that Brenda’s been brought in to the firm as it were.  Don’t be cross!
The one thing he doesn’t seem to have mellowed about is our pesky baby brother.  Dad was adamant that for once Massimo should stand on his own two feet (or rather plonk them under your table!).  How’s that going?
Yours guiltily
Rose x
To: Rosa
From: Laura
Date: 21st Feb
Subject: Your Big Mouth
Honestly Rosie
You are a pain.  Why on earth did you have to meddle in Flora’s affairs?  What earthly good can come of it when Flora and Brenda were so keen to keep things quiet?  It’s all very well you stirring things up from the safety of Norfolk, but I have to live among these people.  And just because you are unhappy with Nick, it doesn’t seem fair to make everyone else suffer.  Imagine how badly you’d feel if Brenda and Flora do split up over this.  It only takes dad to have one too many (a trait that runs in the family, obviously), and to say something to mum, then the fat really will be in the fire.  As far as we know this is the closest Flora’s ever come to a long-term loving relationship.  You are such a child sometimes.  And yes, I’m cross.  And that’s why I haven’t been in touch for a few days. 
But, I can’t stay cross with you for too long since I really do need to have a moan about Massimo.  He’s really taking liberties – scoffs everything he can find and leaves a trail of mess behind him.  I’ve resorted to not buying any meat at all in the vain hope that he’ll troll off to the pub to get his supper but so far that’s not working very well since he’s never got the cash to pay for anything and Ant (who seems to be running the kitchen there) won’t let them put any more on his tab!  Good for Ant!  Also, it seems as if Petra’s got fed up with him since he’s not round there so much anymore.  701 wds  He seems a bit heartbroken by it actually.  He can’t get his head round the fact that she seems happy enough to be seen with him in public when she plays with him like a little puppy dog, but then when he goes round to her place, and it’s just the two of them, she’s not interested.  Something odd about that.  Do you think she’s got a married man stuffed away somewhere, so she just uses Massimo for public display?
I’ll leave that thought with you …
Laura x
To: Laura
From: Rosa
Date: 24th February
Subject: Dad on Carla
Dear Laura
Liking your thinking regarding Petra and an illicit lover.  A married man?  Can’t think of any suitable candidates but will mull it over.  Keep your eyes open.  You might float the idea past Daisy to see if she can shed any light.  You might even mention to Lucie in the pub since it would be music to her ears.
Don’t moan at me for telling dad about F.  Rather, you should be pleased with me, since I don’t think you need to worry about Carla too much.  I forgot to tell you the other stuff he mentioned when he was here. 
Dad was ruder about Carla than I’ve ever heard him and basically said she’ll be out once the Herb campaign is fully launched.  He’s obviously hoping that they’ll be able to persuade Herb to go on the stand at the Chelsea Flower Show and drape himself attractively over our new aluminium garden furniture range, so he doesn’t want to risk losing his good will.  Talking of which, Nick’s doing Chelsea again this year and I’ll go if you do.  He’s flogging a new rattan patio set that’s probably made by five year olds in an emerging market somewhere … Looks classy enough for Chelsea but is cheap enough for people to actually buy!  And at least those years of doing wooden outdoor furniture and worrying about the FSC certificates is behind us both.  Progress, heh?  Gawd, I’ve just realized if Herb’s going to be on your stand, Carla’s bound to insist on being there all week too.  Perhaps we should give it a miss this year.  We could always spend the afternoon in Peter Jones instead!
The other work thing I picked up on was that the sheen seems to have come off dear Charlie a bit too.  Dad doesn’t seem very impressed with how he’s been sucking up to first Massimo and now Lorenzo.  “Thought finally there was a lad in the family with some backbone he said”.  Then he did his usual bit about how if only we’d been boys, everything would have been different.  God love him, he doesn’t even realize he’s insulting us!
With love from your weak female sibling,
Rose x
To: Rosa
From: Laura
Date: 28th Feb
Subject: Matriarchal Madness
Hey sis
Thanks for the Intel re Carla’s position.  Can’t wait to have her safely back terrorizing the boutiques of Berkhamstead instead of interfering here at work. 
I saw Daisy for a dog walk and brought up the subject of Petra’s private life.  Daisy thinks there’s definitely someone but she hasn’t seen any likely candidates.  There don’t seem to have been any strangers around at all, but she has found the odd blokey bit of stuff lying around.  There’s always a golf mag in the loo apparently (!) and she did find a gold link bracelet.  Crikey – it can’t be Frank, can it?  Now I’m just being stupid …
Can’t do any work here today since mum’s had Cherish the Chilterns round for a research chat for their stupid Matriarch of Middle England competition.  They’ll do the formal interview and take pictures next week, but the photographer’s been walking round with mum lining up appropriately country style images.  It looks as if it might be in the bag – ridiculous though that sounds.    Mum not only knows the editor of the mag, she used to play bridge with her mother, but the photographer’s one of the Greens (the family that run the big garden centre here in town).  We’ve supplied their family with outdoor furniture for over 25 years which mum made much of, as you can imagine.  Slightly awkward moment when she was showing off the 5-door Aga, when she couldn’t identify the charred remains left in the warming oven.  Clearly hadn’t opened the door for weeks.
Mum has arranged to get her car in for a service on Wednesday next week when they come to do the proper piece for the magazine.  I heard her talking the garage into lending her a brand new Range Rover for the day!  She’s incorrigible.  She’s also asked to borrow Maurice, having splashed out on a rather sumptuous new dog bed which needs filling.  I think she and Carla have plans afoot to hold an impromptu meeting with Herb in the kitchen that morning, so it looks as if mum always has glamorous celebrities dropping by for some of her home cooking! 
I’ll give you a full account of how it all goes next week, unless you’d rather wait for the magazine piece?
Lots of love, Laura xx


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