'Oh Nigel what are you doing in here? I've been looking for you everywhere! We've got to discuss the fete which is only a week away and we haven't got anyone to open it.'
Elizabeth Pargetter looked immaculate in her powder blue Chanel suit as the pale winter sun cast its weak rays through the window of the small breakfast room at Lower Loxley, ancestral home and family seat of the Pargetter's since the early 12th century.
'I've been doing sums with Freddie,' replied her husband, 'and I'm afraid it's taken a bit of time. Dear Mrs Pugsley made me some soldiers with my breakfast egg and we've been trying to count them, only not very well. I've been eating them and asking Freddie how many are left only he is struggling a bit. In fact more than a bit as we're on the third loaf now and I must say I am starting to feel rather full.' Freddie, Nigel's 11 year old son, squirmed away from his father's embrace and stood looking downcast in front of his mother.
'Well there is no time for that now. Your display of Amazonian carniverous plants has just eaten Titcombe and we've still no star guest to open the fete.I am am really starting to get very cross with you. Run along Freddie, go and play in the nursery.' The small boy rushed off making aeroplane noises and headed down the long corridor framed with oil paintings of ancient and long dead Pargetters.
'Don't panic Lizzie, there's no need to worry yourself. I've sorted it. I've got a top BBC editor on the job. I spoke to her agent yesterday and she's all set to do it. Rotten luck about old Titcombe though.'
'Never mind about Titcombe,' snapped his wife, 'who have you got and how?'
'Oh I thought it was rather clever of me, actually,' said Nigel brightly. 'I got in touch with the BBC after that programme about Great Uncle Rupert getting hopelessly lost in Abyssinia during World War One and ending up stealing an Italian tank. Well the researcher there put me in touch with an agent who acts for a BBC big-wig called Vanessa Whitburn who edits a programme called The Archers. Fancy that Lizzie a programme with your own family's name. Anyway she's on Woman's Hour today telling them how she plans to have a wheelchair bound lesbian Aboriginal from Queensland who has emigrated because of the floods in her programme. Apparently this Aboriginal lesbian is going to take over the village pub and there is all sorts of stuff about being a lesbian in a wheelchair and ramps and all that sort of thingy. I must say it all sounds a bit grim...... '
'Yes, yes. Get on with it!' Elizabeth knew only too well how her husband was prone to go off in tangents.
'Right-ho! Anyway, this Whitburn bird is more at home opening miners' galas because she is a bit of a red by all accounts but as there aren't too many miners left or indeed their galas and I explained there would be an awful lot of the proletariat about at the fete she agreed. So she is going to come along and say a few words before we unfurl the Lower Loxley banner.'
'Well that's better than nothing,' remarked his wife a touch sourly, 'although where on earth do you plan having that wretched banner unfurled?'
'Oh I had a rather splendid thought about that too,' beamed her adoring husband. 'I thought it would be great fun if we had it up on the roof. I am sure Vanessa thingy won't mind going up there.' and he cast his wife a look that she could only describe as pure Machiavellian even if her husband had no idea who Machiavelli was.