Dear Reader,

I went to the university kitchens today to see how preparations for the state banquet Vice-Chancellor’s dinner are coming along.

I made my way through low, gloomy, underground caverns, past scullery maids scrubbing floors, butlers reading royal circulars, plump-cheeked stable-boys winking while carrying buckets of coal, ladies’ maids playing poker, red-coated valets carving a giant ice statue of the vice-chancellor, and the malnourished, illegitimate children of the local aristocracy licking lead paint off the skirting-boards.

I came to the heart of operations – a vast, medieval fireplace.

There, overseeing a dozen urchins turning a boar on a spit, stood Cook.

I knelt, cleared my throat, and held out my offering.

She turned, silhouetted against the flames.

Her tiny beady eyes narrowed.

‘The entree for the Vice-Chancellor’s dinner, oh Cook’, I said. ‘Puffer fish. It is from the Professor of PLDO, sadly currently in custody for Oyster card fraud.’

Cook took the parcel in her great hammy fist.

‘B’aint it be furrin?’, she said. ‘I ain’t ‘avin’ no furrin muck in me kitchin.’

‘Oh no’, I said. ‘It’s not from Europe’.

Cook spat in the inglenook.

‘Orrite then’, she said. ‘Now git aaht before I sets the dogs on yer’.

Dear Reader, I fled back upstairs, humming pride, pomp and circumstance all the way.






5 thoughts on “Downstairs, upstairs

  1. I brought back only washi items in my valise. I have sent word to cook that if you have indeed procured fugu and are not bluffing, you perfidious creature, then it will be absolutely delicious as long as it is properly prepared. I have sent her this link If she thinks her hammy hands are not up to it then she will burn the lot.

      1. Marguerite has managed to persuade the authorities that she is 60+ and is now enjoying the unlimited travel opportunities that possession of the Boris card affords us lucky Londoners. She ascribes the mix up to her fastidious beauty routine which includes the nightly application of Pond’s Cold Cream as recommended by Kylie.

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