Saturday 7 September 2019

The Queen of Baked Alaska

Cathy Leonard  

a cup of Earl Grey tea

A shadow eclipsed the wedding shot of Lady Reece Beverly to Squire George Winthrop. Maisie Taylor clicked her tongue and raised her head to view the orbiting source of this hiatus in her perusal of last month’s copy of Hello. Ethel Stillman’s large frame filled the door of Dr Henry’s surgery and behind her, a double-shot to her pint-size, Arlen Stillman emerged hugging a crooked shoulder.

No caps tipped to Her Highness today. Most of the patients were blow-in yokels who didn’t know that Mrs Stillman had aspirations. Aspirations and one seat to share with the double-shot. Maisie watched the sixty-plus matron scope out the territory before directing her second-in-command to the three-legged stool at the end of the corridor that passed for a rural doctor’s waiting room.

Her skeletal smile belied the eruption flaring across Ethel’s neck and the unsoftened glare that followed her sighting of Albert Sweeney stretched across the battered two-seater, eyes buffered on the Dandy. It’s few Dandys that lad ever saw in his piggery, so not even a cosmic event was likely to scupper his gaze.

Maisie stroked the feather in her lapel, for Ethel was her arch rival in the Baked Alaska competition in the County Fair, and to downsize Ethel was accolades to her. She could forgo the fopperies of Hello would-be celebs for the foibles of a local one. And she knew something that Ethel didn’t.

Quietly steaming as the matron was now, fur rising on her faux-fox collar, hackles would soon eject at high speed. For Maisie Taylor was advised to keep her varicosed legs raised at hip level, and when Joe Carbery beside her went in to get his weekly blood check, she planned to ease her right calf into the much coveted vacated chair.

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