Wake with a ferocious appetite. I want a hearty breakfast, which is unusual for me, but I know I need sustenance if I am to catch this Paul red handed. His larceny is my singular focus, well that and breakfast.
I arrive in the oak room and grab a plate from the sideboard. Tradition here, from my father at least – may well have gone back before but I don’t know – is that you do not speak and nobody should address you directly until you have selected all of your breakfast, sat down and had the first bite.
I realise that the black pudding is in season and have to go back and remove a selected sausage to make room. Finally I sit and start to become conscious to the ongoing conversation which seems to be largely involved with the late stage planning specifics of tomorrow’s garden party.
Luckily I haven’t been hooked directly into the conversation as yet, and I call for some coffee to help clear the old cranial hemispheres. My rudimentary understanding is that the two key bits of the brain are supposed to keep there distance up there, but something about the Château Margaux from last night seems to have resulted in the two halves clanging into one another a bit more than expected when I move my bonce.
Aunt Clara leans over after she senses a sufficient quantity of the black stuff has bucked up my system. “How,” she asks, “are you getting on with Paul.”
“Yes, wonderful, very well, he’s a smasher,” she looks unconvinced, I add, “we are planning to go for a long walk” mainly so I can think the rest of the sentence in my mind “off a short cliff”.
But at the news of a long walk Clara noticeably brightens, and I realise that my opportunity to tell my own brain a secret joke has doomed me to actually gad about with the blighter.
When I break the news to Paul one rather gets the impression that in his mind I haven’t merely taken all that he clings dearly to in his life and trampled upon them. The look in his face suggests that I have instead hired a steam roller, flattened his hopes and dreams and posted them back to him through his letterbox.
We head out for the walk and actually, after a short acclamation period, it turns out that he’s largely a good egg. Goodness knows what I’d have been like if this ill fate had occurred in my young life.
We exchange tales of youth and dangerous pursuits which seems to keep him engaged. At one point I broach the broach and he bristles. I use all my wiles and suggest that while I don’t mind that it’s missing personally I am worried about the big stink that it will cause tomorrow, especially for Aunt Clara. Nothing. His stomach contents might have been curdling as we spoke but he gave no outward signs I could latch upon.