Dear Reader –
I am parched.
My morning tea has not arrived.
My Ming dynasty teapot – a Lamb family heirloom – has vanished.
My elephant-foot wastepaper basket is empty apart from a used teabag.
Worse is to come, dear Reader. For at precisely three minutes to eight o’clock – the time at which Cordelia has always presented me with my tea – I heard a muffled knock.
Naturally I assumed that Cordelia was struggling with my complicated door arrangement. I glid to the door. I opened it.
Yes, dear Reader, it was indeed Cordelia.
There she stood, replendent in a starched white pinny and bonnet. She was carrying a silver tray on which there stood my teapot, a Wedgewood cup and saucer, and an elegant arrangement of cupcakes.
Cordelia threw a quick glance at me over her shoulder as the door opposite* opened a crack.
‘Mornin’ Miss Asafetida, Miss!’ she cried. ‘I’ve brought yer yer t!’
At that, Cordelia shimmied sideways through the door of
the postgraduate common room the A. Lovage Hi-Tech Laboratory.
The door closed behind her.