Tag Archives: Hats

Today’s the Day

Granny on computer

Procrastination – well, it’s alive and well here in Wellington New Zealand.

Every day since I wrote the blog on Continuing the story on 23 March I have planned to live up to the promise.  Good intentions but so much gets in the way.  So two weeks later I am continuing the story.

You will recall that we left our ladies in confusion following the visit of Thomas Anthony William Fotheringham known as Billy AKA the Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat.  The fellow had arrived at Maisie’s door unannounced a couple of days ago and then had returned at an agreed time, to present Maisie with the claim that he was related to her husband.

So to continue…

As the three friends were quietly contemplating what he had said., the door to the room burst open and there stood Maisie’s daughter Julia.  Knowing her and how she acted, Juliet and Imogen decided to leave and decided they would catch up by telephone later in the day.

“Whatever have you been up to now, Mother?” demanded Julia in that voice so like Reggie’s.  “Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to hear that one’s mother had been away from home for two nights and nobody knew where?”  Oh, how truly tedious her daughter was, thought Maisie.

“What have you heard that has upset you so much?” enquired Maisie, making no attempt to answer her daughter’s questions.

“Oh Mother,” said Julia.  “I do wish you would act responsibly and see rather less of that Juliet Drummond who is such a bad influence on you.”

Julia had never really liked her mother’s close friend Lady Juliet Drummond, after whom she had been named.  Julia being quite a different person and having a totally different personality to her mother, found nothing attractive about her mother’s closest friend.

She discoursed at length about how unseemly it was for these two women to have been missing over two nights.  Gossip as to what they had been up to was rife and Julia felt strongly that any hint of scandal, should it fall upon her mother, should not be allowed to fall upon her.  To Julia, being in the right ethically and morally was paramount.  Any hint of impropriety was abhorrent to her.

Oh, she liked her mother well enough but she considered her weak and easily led.  It was to her father that she was most drawn.  She shared his puritanical outlook on life.  She looked up to him as a paragon of virtue and hoped that her betrothed, The Hon Toby Grimshaw, would turn out to be as upright as he.

She strongly disapproved of the new trend of women smoking and drinking cocktails in public.  She thought that once a lady was married she should be content to remain at home, running her household so that her husband and children would be totally comfortable in their environment.

Julia was aware that her mother smoked both in public and at home and also drank cocktails every day and was quite convinced that her mother would do neither without the unsavoury influence of Lady Juliet.  She also knew of course, that Juliet had been her mother’s friend and confidant for many years, ever since they had met at school and that nothing would break this friendship.

“You haven’t answered my question” she railed at her mother.  Whatever could you have been doing that you can’t even tell me?  And have you told Father yet?”

Her daughter was unaware that Reggie had moved out to the house in town, so of course, Maisie hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him of her adventures,  She knew that he would be strongly disapproving of her having been to the cinema without a proper escort.  And the only proper escort in his considered opinion would have been himself or one of his brothers.  And she knew how he would react to the rest of those adventures, with supreme disapproval.

So “No I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with your father yet.” She told her irate daughter.  “He has been in town for a few days, but I shall, of course, do so at the first opportunity.”

When Julia looked as if she would then burst into questions about opportunities, Maisie thought it time to change the subject.  She and Reggie hadn’t discussed the issue of telling their offspring about the separation.

In Maisie’s estimation, Julia had always been a difficult child and as she grew up her proselytizing became more marked and to Maisie, very infuriating.  Just how she would react to the news was something Maisie dreaded to even think about.

“Now let’s talk about your engagement and the plans for the wedding, shall we?” asked Maisie.  There followed a pleasant 30 minutes when mother and daughter discussed these plans.  And no thank you, Julia declined the offer of a cocktail when her mother asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and tonic.

And Maisie had more important things to worry about than wedding plans.  She knew her overbearing daughter would arrange everything with little or no input from or discussion with her mother.  But how and when would she tell Reggie about Billy Fotheringham and his claims of relationship?

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Continuing The Story

Two women on beach

Oh yes, they still had on their hats but…

Way back in March 2012, I started the story of Maisie Benton-Smythe and her friend Juliet Drummond whom we met having woken on a beach.  They had no recollection of how they arrived there but both were particularly pleased that they still had on their hats.

We learned that the day before, the two women had met up with another friend from school days, Imogen Carruthers.  In fact, these three were the scourge of the teachers and staff at their school, Struthers Hall, and were named The Terrible Trio.

Maisie eventually recalled that the two of them went to Imogen’s house where they had tea and after that, Imogen suggested they raid her husband’s wine cellar.  After several hours and several glasses of Sir Percy’s special wines, Imogen suggested a ride in her new, racy little Jaguar roadster to the County seat of the Carruthers family in Horley.  They all agreed.

Arriving at Sir Percy’s country retreat and having managed to outrage the housekeeper with the way they were acting, and the fact they had nothing to change into for supper, they decided to spend the night

After consuming a bottle of wine at dinner, Imogen declared that more wine should be brought from Sir Percy’s cellar and unfortunately, in getting the wine, she slipped on the cellar steps landing quite heavily on her shoulder.

An ambulance was called and Imogen was taken to hospital where she spent the night.

We are introduced to a very angry Sir Percy.  Mostly angry because he thinks the activities of his wife and her friends, react very badly on him, his position in society,  and his reputation.

There are some rather risque friends, or acquaintances, and a hilarious encounter in a house of ill repute.

But really to read the rest of this “gripping” saga, you will have to read the blog posts.  Much more fun than my just telling you here, without all the frills and furbelows that accompany the story.

And starting tomorrow, I shall continue the story from where we left off in January 2013, having been confronted by the swarthy gentleman in the Panama hat

Those related posts:

Hats on;   Hats On Again;  New Hats; The Beach;
The Bonnets; The Bonnets 2; T he Bonnets 3;  The Bonnets – Lost;
In Search of the Bonnets;
Found at LastYet More on the Bonnets; Keeping Promises;
The Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat;  The Swarthy Gentleman

The Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat

We left Maisie and her friends, way back in October, fidgeting and worrying about the Swarthy Gent due to call upon Maisie the following day.  The story continues..

After a restless night during which Maisie was convinced she had no more than a few snatched minutes of sleep, she was awakened by Jackson with her morning tea and the morning newspaper.

Usually Maisie was content to lie abed and sip her tea while reading the newspaper, but this morning she had too much on her mind to settle.  So she asked Jackson to pour her bath and having drunk the tea repaired to the bathroom to attend to her morning ablutions.

Dressed, she descended the stairs to breakfast.  This over she decided to call her friends to confirm that they would be with her well before the appointed time for Fotheringham to call.  They each assured her that they would and Juliet suggested that they have lunch together at a new tearoom that had recently opened in the area.  Imogen agreed with this suggestion and so it was decided.

None of the three friends felt like shopping even for new hats and so they met at the tea room at the appointed time and it was a subdued trio who sat down to a light lunch.

Lunch over they retired to Maisie’s house to await the arrival of the guest.  They were still worrying about him and the reason for his calling upon Maisie right up until the time of his arrival.

Promptly at 4pm the front door bell rang, followed by the tap-tap of Jackson’s feet on the tiled front entry.  This then was followed by Jackson’s knock on the door of the drawing room.  The gentleman had arrived and Maisie instructed Jackson to bring him in.

What a handsome fellow he was and how gallantly he greeted each of the ladies in turn.  He appeared just a little surprised to see three ladies instead of the one he expected.  However he quickly recovered his equilibrium.

Jackson was instructed to bring tea and while they waited for this they indulged in the usual small talk about the weather (very English), what friends they had in common but no talk about the depression or the recent stock market crash.  Ladies did not discuss such disasters.

Tea arrived and when all had been served, Maisie decided to take charge of the meeting.  She expressed her surprise at the intrusion into her life of a complete stranger and in her usual straight forward manner asked him what he wanted.

Thomas Anthony Winston Fotheringham, aka “Billy” Fotheringham was unused to being addressed in such a forthright way by a lady and spluttered into his tea cup.  When he had recovered his breath he said that what he had to say should probably be told to the Countess of Waverley in private.  “What nonsense” snapped Maisie.  “Whatever you have to say may be said in front of these two ladies”.

“Well then,” countered Fotheringham “the truth of the matter is that I am the illegitimate brother of your husband, the Hon Reginald Benton-Smythe.  His father had a liaison with a local woman in India and I am the result. ”

He went on to say that Major Thomas Fotheringham had been the old Earl’s batman and when the pregnancy was discovered, he accepted a large gratuity from the Earl in exchange for staying in India, marrying the pregnant woman and bringing up the boy as his own.

Can you imagine the looks that passed between the three ladies at this news?  They were stunned; almost incoherent.  “But that’s not possible”  and “How could that be?” and “Reggie’s father would never do anything like that”.

Through all the spluttering and exclamations Billy Fotheringham sat unmoving with a small, sardonic smile playing around his mouth.  He assured Maisie that he was indeed her brother-in-law and proposed to remain in London making the most of this family ties.  Maisie was horrified.  What could she do to stop Reggie being ruined and his father and their family name being dragged through the mud.

“Just what do you expect to get out of this preposterous tale?” she enquired in an imperious voice; the voice that had been known to shrivel lesser mortals in their shoes.

“Just what is mine by rights” was the reply.  “And in case you are asking I can prove my claim.  I have come into possession of a pack of letters sent by your father-in-law to my mother.  And I have the deathbed confession of the man who I always thought was my father.  These things are irrefutable and are available for inspection by you, your husband or any other reputable person you wish to name.”

“Are these papers in your possession now?” enquired Maisie.

“Would I be foolish enough to carry them around with me when London is full of footpads and pickpockets?  No, they are in a safe place where only I can get ahold of them.  So what do you want to do now?  Do you want time to discuss it with your husband and father-in-law, or can we make a deal between us?”

The effrontery of the man quite took away Maisie’s breath.  How was she going to deal with him and the fall out if his claims became known in Society?  She would need some time to think and plan; perhaps consult Reggie; certainly consult Sir Charles (Juliet’s brother) and his friend Sir Hector Ryder, Head of the Metropolitan Police and maybe even  the ailing Earl.

But time was certainly needed.  She would put this scoundrel off for a couple of days to give Sir Charles and Sir Hector time to delve more deeply into this man’s past, although the thought of bringing the fellow’s claims to their attention  horrified her.

“Well obviously I shall need some time to consider what you have told me this afternoon” she said. “And equally obviously I shall need to see the so-called proof of the relationship between you and my husband.  So I suggest that you leave now and come back again in two days time, with some proof of your claim at which time I shall have an answer for you.”

With that, the swarthy gentleman picked up his Panama hat, gave each of the ladies a broad smile, thanked the Countess and took his leave.

A shocked silence remained in the drawing room after his departure.

To be continued….

Found at last

Bonnets in taxi

Photo thanks to Sallyann at Photographic Memories.
Click on the picture to go to Sallyann’s post.

You may recall that a couple of months ago, Sallyann at Photographic Memories posted a picture of a couple of hats reclining in an (abandoned?) taxi cab.  She also gave me a challenge to come up with a story as to why they were there.

Needless to say, my mind started to hum and I did come up with a story, but it was left unfinished at the end of June.  Since then the characters in the story have been hammering at me to finish it.  So…

We left Maisie Benton-Smythe, more properly called the Countess of Waverley and her good friend Juliet Drummond finishing off their day of frustration with a couple of large G & T and the promise of a good meal with Juliet’s husband, Major Sir Claude Drummond.

They agreed that they would start early the next day and call as many of the taxi companies as possible.  Meantime, they would enjoy their evening.

The next day dawned and as promised Juliet arrived early.  The two women had hardly had their first cup of coffee when Jackson, the parlour-maid came in with the telephone.  The caller was the helpful young woman from central booking who had provided Juliet with a long list of taxi owners, but more importantly a number for property left in taxis.  This helpful young woman had taken it on herself to call the property office to enquire whether the bonnets had turned up and to her delight, she was told they had.  So she wasted no time in calling Maisie’s house to give her the good news.

As the lost property office was in the centre of town, the two women decided to make an outing, have lunch, do a little shopping (for hats maybe) and then go and claim the bonnets before returning home in the afternoon.  Well as you can imagine, things did not necessarily go as planned where these women were concerned,

Oh, they finished their coffee and had a cab called to take them to their favourite department store where they spent a happy hour looking at hats and finally each buying one.  Then pleased with their purchases they went off for lunch.  A grand time was had as they met up with their other great friend, Imogen Carruthers who was now completely recovered from the damage to her shoulder.  She was a little put out that they hadn’t included her in this adventure and declared that she would accompany them when they picked up the bonnets.

So after lunch, another cab was called and off they went.  Once at the office it was relatively easy to claim the bonnets having proved that they were the owners and so they left in high spirits after deciding to all go to Maisie’s for tea.  Yet another cab was called and they chatted happily all the way to Maisie’s.

It wasn’t until Imogen was leaving to meet Sir Percy for dinner and Juliet was leaving to meet Sir Claude that they realised they didn’t have the two new hats they had bought before lunch.  What had happened to them?  Were they left in the department store, at the lost property office or had they left their hats in the taxi cab?

To be continued … perhaps

Related Posts – The Bonnets, Part 2, Part 3, Lost, In Search of the Bonnets and
Hats, Hats on Again, New Hats, The Beach

Thanks for reading.

Sunrise

In Search of the Bonnets

 

After Daisie and her friend had left, Maisie sat back and considered the situation.  The bonnets were mislaid, not lost.  The girls knew when they last had worn them and they were quite sure that they had been left in the taxi after arriving at Charlotte’s house.   It was now necessary to find the taxi in which they had been left.

Photo thanks to Sallyann at Photographic Memories.
Click on the picture to go to Sallyann’s post.

The two girls had been so worried that Maisie couldn’t bring herself to tell them just how upset she was at the loss.  And one of the bonnets didn’t belong to her.  Although she knew that Juliet, the owner of the other mislaid bonnet, would take the loss in her stride, she was determined to do all she could to find them

First a cup of tea and Jackson was summoned to produce one.  Then Maisie set to work to find the bonnets.  She thought it would be a simple matter to find the taxi company and a telephone was brought to her so that she could start.  But it wasn’t that simple.  Oh there was a central booking service that handled  requests for a taxi but most of the taxis were individually owned.  And many of the owners didn’t use the central service.  And while the girls thought they had ordered a regular London cab they couldn’t be sure.  They might have been in a minicab one of the thousands of unlicensed and unregulated cabs that operate in the city.

After an hour and seemingly endless calls, Maisie was no closer to finding the taxi or the bonnets.  She decided to enlist help.  Another call to her best friend, Juliet (after whom she had named her only daughter) brought reinforcements.  Juliet duly arrived clutching her cellphone and so they now had two phone lines to use.  And really what was becoming such a dreary exercise suddenly became so much more fun when she had a friend with whom to share it.

More tea and cakes were called for as Juliet hadn’t had her afternoon tea before being summoned to Maisie’s side.  Then suitably refreshed the two women set about their task.

Another call to central booking was made, this time by Juliet, who managed to elicit a fairly full list of possible taxi owners and indeed, a number for property left in taxis.  It seemed fairly obvious to Juliet that this latter was the place to start.  However, no luck there but the very helpful person on the other end of the line suggested that it might be a day or two before the bonnets were handed in.

Anther hour passed without success, but as she expected, it was much better now that Maisie had a chum to talk to in between the phone calls.

gin and tonic

By now it was 5 pm and the ladies decided that a little drink would be appropriate as payment for their hard work and they decided to continue their search the next day.  Again, Jackson was called into service and produced two very large G & Ts for the ladies.

And so began a very pleasant evening, starting with the drinks and ending several hours later with dinner in the company of Juliet’s husband at a nearby restaurant.  The two women couldn’t resist laughing at their exploits in a totally different establishment some years ago.**

To be continued….

**For more about this click here

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

And some utterly useless information on gin and tonic – According to various sources, the gin and tonic was an invention of the employees of the British East India company, who were quaffing bitter tonic water as a prophylactic against malaria.  The story goes that gin—a Dutch medicinal invention of grain spirits flavored with juniper berries—was added to the tonic water to improve the taste (!?). Did they perhaps add the lime to ward off scurvy?

 

The Bonnets

First off may I have a rant about WordPress?  And may I ask you to look in your spam folder to see if that is where my recent comments have landed.  I sat for a good part of yesterday reading and responding to your posts only to find that they didn’t appear in the comment section of many of them.

Added to this is that I have recently changed my email address so I went in and unsubscribed from all the blogs I follow – 60 plus- only to find the reader and I don’t have to resubscribe (I think).

So once again, bah humbug to WordPress.

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You may remember that recently I had fun with Maisie and the hats.  If you missed the posts please click here to find them.  There are four posts making up the series and they follow each other.

So why am I telling you this?  The other day, Sallyann at Photographic Memories posted some pictures among which was one of the back of a taxi with among other things, a bonnet on the back shelf.  Robin from Life in the Bogs commented “Interesting catches. I’m curious about that display too.” To which Sallyann replied “The hats are very old and very sunbleached but I’ve still not thought up a good story about why they are there, maybe Judith can think of one like her friends on the beach ?”

As you know by now, I never miss out on a challenge, so here’s my take on why the hats are there.

Photo thanks to Sallyann at Photographic Memories

Her grandmother was Maisie Benton-Smythe, Countess of Waverley; her mother was Juliet Fortescue (named after her mother’s best friend Juliet Drummond) and she was Caroline Fortescue (more usually called Daisie).  Three generations of women and what did they all have in common?  A love of hats!

Of course, in Maisie’s day hats were de rigueur.  From babyhood, through school days and into adulthood, no self-respecting child or woman would go out without her hat.  By Juliet’s time, hats were compulsory in the nursery days, at school and for some special occasions.  And in Daisie’s day very few women, young or old, wore hats.

So Daisie was the exception that probed the rule.  She had almost as many hats in her wardrobe as shoes.  And she couldn’t resist a sale of hats so she was an avid follower of sales on EBay.

She wore each of her hats regularly as and when the occasion called for a particular one, but her very favourite was her cap.  This she could wear when dashing out to the market in the morning, or when (heaven forbid) she hadn’t washed her hair and suddenly had to leave home to meet somebody.  It was a godsend to Daisie.

Her friends laughed at her “hat fetish” but were quick to ask to borrow one when the occasion arose.

One of Daisie’s favourite people was Maisie.  She loved to go around to her grandmother’s house for tea and a chat.  And invariably the chat turned to hats!  Daisie loved the collection of hats, grand and simple, that Maisie kept in a separate cupboard, each wrapped in tissue and in its own hat box.  As a small child Daisie loved the rustle of the tissue paper after a box was opened and then the surprise at which hat emerged.  Going to Grandmother’s was a special treat then and it still was even though she was a young woman now.

And as is often the case, the connection between grandmother and child grew and strengthened as the child grew older.  Daisie loved to hear tales of Maisie’s younger days and the antics and adventures that she and her chums got up to.  It made Daisie’s life seem very tame.

But then one day, Daisie and her friend Charlotte Farquhar had an equally exciting adventure…..

To be continued…