Tuesday, 4 October 2011

St Faith's Eve

'Today,' says Mrs Pumphrey, 'is Saint Faith's Eve.'
'Good,' says Mrs Slocombe.

There is a brief pause.

'Aren't you going to ask about the significance of Saint Faith's Eve?' says Mrs Pumphrey, who hates it when Mrs Slocombe doesn't play the game.
'Can I finish my Lego model of the Arc de Triomphe first?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'The Arc de Triomphe??' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'I thought it was the British Telecom Tower.'
'No,' says Mrs Slocombe, rather hotly. 'It's obviously the Arc de Triomphe.'
'It looks very tall to be the Arc de Triomphe,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'It's perspective,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Anyway,' says Mrs Pumphrey, 'back to Saint Faith's Eve...'
'I had an Auntie Faith once,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'She was World Conker Champion 1947 and she made a jolly good chips and cherry cheesecake.'
'Sounds disgusting,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'It was an acquired taste,' admits Mrs Slocombe.
'Whereas THE Saint Faith made a jolly good cake,' says Mrs Pumphrey.

Mrs Slocombe sighs. 'Tell me about Saint Faith,' she says. 'Just watch where you're treading. There's nothing more painful than treading on Lego in your bare feet.'
'There is,' says I. 'Treading on cat litter in your bare feet.'

'Saint Faith's Eve,' says Mrs Pumphrey, determined to tell her story this side of midnight, 'is the night to see a vision of future love by baking Faith Cakes. Three women must turn the cake twice during the baking...'
'Is it a very big cake?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'It must be very big if it needs three women to turn it...'
'Just shush,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Once the cake is baked, it must be cut into three, and each third is divided into nine morsels...'
'There's an awful lot of maths involved, isn't there?' says Mrs. S. 'But 'morsels' is a good word. I like the word 'morsels'. Morsels, morsels, morsels, morsels...morsels, morsels, morsels...ouch!'
'If you keep on,' says Mrs Pumphrey, 'I shall ding you round the head with an even bigger piece of Lego.'

'Okay,' says Mrs S. 'Who gets to eat the cake?'
'No-one yet,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'First, each of the pieces has to be passed through the wedding ring of someone who's been married for at least seven years...'
'That'll be Denise and Andy, then...'
'....whilst saying the rhyme, 'Oh good St Faith be kind tonight, and bring to me my heart's delight. Let me my future husband view, and be my vision chaste and true.' Then the ring is hung on your bed and you will dream of Mr Right,' says Mrs Pumphrey.

'Dave Wright?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'From the haberdashery? The one with the eyes that look in different directions?'
'No!' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'But you just said...' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Don't be difficult,' warns Mrs Pumphrey, who is hefting a Lego base plate a la discus-throwing mode.
'The rhyme's a bit predictable,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'I think it should be, 'Oh good St Faith be kind tonight and bring me a bowl of Angel Delight. Let it be strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch maybe, but never gorilla.'
'You can't get gorilla flavoured Angel Delight,' sniffs Mrs Pumphrey.
'You obviously shop in the wrong places,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Ahem,' I say.
'What?' snaps Mrs Pumphrey, who is beginning to wish she'd never tried to inject a bit of culture into the proceedings of the day.
'I hate to tell you this,' I say, standing at a distance that I judge to be safe from pieces of flying Lego, 'but St Faith's Eve is 5th October.'
'What's today?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'The 4th,' says I.
'And who does the 4th belong to?' says Mrs P.
'St Francis,' I say.
'That's better,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Someone who appreciates us birdies and animals.'
'St Francis' Day is traditionally the day that swallows start their annual migration,' I add, helpfully.

Mrs Slocombe looks at her watch. 'Do you know,' she says, 'I've had this feeling all day that I should be somewhere else.'
'You're not a swallow,' sighs Mrs Pumphrey.
'I don't think St Francis would be bothered by such trivialities,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'AND he'd appreciate a model of the Arc de Triomphe.'

Mrs Pumphrey sighs. 'I'm going to go away and try again tomorrow,' she says.

I know exactly how she feels.

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