Family Business Part 23 sees no change at the hospital but a famous friend is on hand to lighten the mood.
To: Laura, Rosa
Date: Thurs 2 April
Subject: Jinx Jardinière comes to town!
How the devil are you???
I was always intending to make contact with the twinnies when I got to Staveley but fancy my surprise when whom should be here to meet me and show me round but your very own big sis. She’s told me about the old man – GHASTLY business, darlings. I need to hear every last thing about it all.
But back to Flora. I had simply NO IDEA petals that she was anything to do with this place. If I had known, I’d have got her to put in a word for me before now – this is ABSOLUTELY the cushiest number I’ve ever come across (and that from the cunning minx who married a filthy rich octogenarian!). As of 1st April (no joke darlings!!), Jinx Jardinière (your very own Jinty Moss, house captain, scourge of the hockey 1st XI and purveyor of snobby, crappy crime, is official Writer in Residence at Staveley Country Club, as sponsored by that intellectual organ, Cherish the Chilterns. Clearly cherishing one of their own. Probably helps that papa is on the board …
Actually, it’s a relief to hole up somewhere for a couple of months and have an excuse to get away from the slog of Jinx’s facebook page, twitter account and publisher demands. My agent, Coriander, has been UTTERLY FABULOUS in keeping everyone off my back while I nuture my muse. Officially, I’m coming to terms with tragic widowhood. But, entre-nous – hurrah! I’m free to come out to play again!
To be honest, honey pies, this gig couldn’t have come at a better time. I expect you saw Raphael the Roué’s obit in the Telegraph? (Here’s the link). The truth is that all the euros in the world aren’t payment enough for five years with that old humbug. His diabetes was already quite advanced when we tied the knot, and he spent the past 3 years in a wheelchair. You’d have thought that would have stopped all the bottom pinching and general goaterie, but not a chance – he just got sneakier and sneakier. In the end, I decamped to the attic floor of the chateau and barely ever went downstairs to see him. My revenge was to install a spiral staircase to his precious wine cellar and make sure all the booze upstairs was on shelves in full sight but out of reach! I employed seriously strict nurses to keep him away from it all too. And made sure they were male! Ha ha!
Fact is, I’m rather enjoying being a wealthy widow and it’s been great for my PR profile (I know, I sound sooo cynical, but us writers have to be professional about this stuff). Loads of women’s mags want profiles now and there’s even the slim possibility of You Magazine – it’s the title + the wheelchair + widowhood + bestselling novelist = winning PR formula. If I’d planned it, it couldn’t have worked out better – but of course, I didn’t – plan it, I mean!
Come over for bubbly soon, won’t you? A bientôt, mes braves,
Subject: Jinty Moss!
Date: 2 April
Who’d have thought it? Old Mossy ensconced at Staveley – as writer in residence! I know she’s never looked back since Richard & Judy picked her début for one of their Reads, but an all expenses paid couple of months courtesy of Brenda’s place? Seems fluky even for her.
She sounds same as ever, doesn’t she? Still jolly hockey sticks with healthy doses of self obsession – I mean she mentioned dad, but got that out the way sharpish and was back on her specialist subject – herself! Actually, I think it’s a breath of fresh air. Just what we all need to take our minds off the accident. I guess there’s still no news on that front?
That detective, Carly Wood emailed me to ask me to ring her on my return. She wants to arrange to interview me (!). Has she done all the family? Sounds like she’s got a massive list of potential suspects and is after background on all of them.
Her call sort of decided me. I’m coming straight to Oak Farm from the airport. Mum’s said I can stay with her and Massimo (I note he didn’t waste any time moving back into his old bedroom now that dad’s unable to object). But, I s’pose it gives you a bit of time to yourself with the returning wandering minstrel. How is Paul? He got back as planned yesterday, yes?
No doubt you’ll have seen Mossy before I get back, so do give her my love and let me know whether she’s changed much. Honestly, when I think of how I used to charge her to write her English compositions, I can’t believe she’s actually making money from her books!
Thinking of you, Rosa x
Date: 2 April
Subject: Welcome back
Your email was a real tonic since I’m still stuck in NZ with the family (husband Nick – who surprise, surprise is also in the garden furniture business, plus 2 stepsons Joe & Freddy, 7 and 9). Actually, I met Nick when he was working as a marketing advisor for Outside Edge Metal Garden Furniture. He lasted 18 months then whizzed off to set up his rival aluminium outdoor furniture firm in Norfolk, taking me with him. You can imagine how that went down with the family at the time – but it’s all water under the bridge now. Nick even went on a buying trip to China earlier this year with Lorenzo and they bonded over the cast aluminium dining garden chairs!
Seriously though, I was sorry to hear about your husband. I imagine you’re putting rather a brave face on things, knowing you. I’ve followed your career with great interest (it isn’t every day that an old school friend crops up on the radio and in the papers!) and am so pleased it is all going so well. Is it true they might be doing a Morse on you, and that a telly series beckons? I think I read that in a magazine at the Dentist!!
Because of dad’s situation, I’m flying back early and going to drive straight up to the family home for a few days. It will be wonderful to catch up with you over a glass of champagne (far cry from the awful hooch we used to sneak out of the dorms to drink on the roof!). So, I’ll be in touch when I’ve got over the jet-lag. I daresay you’ll have seen Laura before then, so have a drink on me.
All love, and not a little envy,
Date: Sat 4 April
Subject: Last Night
I thought I’d pop off a speedy email for you to read while you’re stuck in some dreary airport somewhere. I saw Laura last night and we had an absolute HOOT! I’m feeling rather delicate this morning but I daresay the ever efficient Brenda can sort out some powerful Columbian to see me right. Calm down, dear – I mean the coffee! Publishing gave up all that other stuff in the nineties with the net book agreement, worse luck.
Laura-pops had me practically wetting myself with her tales of metal garden furniture intrigue! I had no idea that it was such a hotbed of passions. I’ll never be able to plonk my derrière down on an aluminium patio chair without pausing for thought. Actually, I might set my next novel in a garden centre. It’s got everything – glamour, hunky men in dungarees and designer wellies (whoops I typed willies initially!), land rovers, verdant shoots poking up everywhere, a whiff of Lady Chatterley’s gardener etc, etc. Might have to get together with your naughty little brother for some research!
Anyhow, we’ve made a plan to get together for supper when you’re straight. I’m here all the time, so pick a night and we’ll do it.
Date: 4 April
Subject: The Police – and Jinty
Hope all goes well. Such a ridiculously long flight to do on your own – especially when you’re so anxious. There’s no news on dad – the doctors are very hard to read on that. Can’t even bring myself to type no news is good news, but still…
But I did want to warn you about D I Wood. She’s interviewed everyone except you now. As you know, I couldn’t tell her much at all. She really dug deep about usual procedures and was it odd for dad to have snuck off behind mum’s back? No one’s mentioned the Petra thing yet, but I think it will come out. After all, it is precisely because dad is so adept at sneaking around that he managed to carry on with his Croatian supermodel mistress right at the bottom of the garden for 3 months.
Apparently, the police have done some experiments and don’t think that box of chairs could possibly have toppled unless it was given an almighty shove. Apparently, that number of aluminium garden chairs has too much weight at the base (something to do with the casting) for the carton to be top-heavy enough to move under its own auspices. I’ve wracked my brains but can’t think of anyone who’d intentionally set out to murder him though. We need to talk this one through.
You do need to know that Mossy is all fired up with her crime writer’s imagination. She’s pretty sure its foul play and that she can get to the bottom of it before the police. I have an awful feeling she might be planning to turn us into some sort of BBC 4 documentary!
Anyhow, bon voyage as Mossy would say, and call me when you can face breakfast. We’ll be together soon.
Lots of love, Laura xxx