George and the Armadillo, Chapter 2
‘And may I ask how you came by this beautiful vase?’
‘It was left to me by my Aunt Tabatha. She died last year.’
‘Oh, so sorry to hear that, she must have been a lovely lady, and she certainly had an eye for beautiful objects. Have you ever thought about what this might be worth?’
‘Oh no, we would never part with it. It means too much, not only to me but also to my son and daughter. It has pride of place in our living room. It’s all we have to remind us of dear Tabatha.’
‘Well, it’s quite rare and in almost perfect condition. There’s just bit of wear here on the base, and also a small chip on the lip of the vase here – can you see? Even so, I think if you were to auction it today, although I appreciate that you never would, it could fetch about £2,500.’
‘Fuck me! Take it! Take the ugly thing. We always hated it anyway and Tabatha was a whining minger . . . ’
George watched Timothy, who was glued to Antiques Roadshow. He tenderly felt his arm which was slowly turning the shade of a tropical orchid, as yesterday he had tried to change the channel to watch the news and Timothy had leapt on him like a crazed koala bear on acid. It had taken all of Peter’s substantial bulk to pull him off.
‘Oh God! Yes!’
A sound of something breaking came from the bathroom.
‘Hope that’s not my toothbrush cup,’ said Nigel. ‘I bought that while on holiday in Brighton. It has a Far Side cartoon on it – a man sitting on the side of his bed reading a sign saying “remember, pants first, then shoes”—always makes me smile. Of course he meant trousers, pants is the American word for trousers. I wonder what they call pants? Do you know, George?’
‘Say my name! I want you say my name!’
‘Betty! Oh Christ, Betty!!’
‘No, my real name. Oh, you’re so big. Ooooooh!’
Timothy tsked, grabbed the remote and turned up the sound on the TV.
‘Well, this is a lovely little item; may I ask how you came by it?’
‘Take me, Mr. Benson. Take me from behind! Harder, harder!! I’ve been a really naughty girl!’
‘I know you would never part with it, but do you have any idea how much it may be worth, just for insurance purposes?’
‘You know she’s had six kids? It must be like a worm in a jam-jar.’
‘Yes! Oh God, yes! Spank me, spank me harder! I’ve been so bad!’
‘Your pretty visitor has arrived, George,’ said Peter, who had today chosen to match his green gown and mask ensemble with a rather fetching hat. ‘Oh dear, what are you wearing Mr. Scully . . . That tie just does not go with that shirt.’
‘Jail bait,’ observed Nigel.
George got up from the polished vinyl chair and pulled the back of his shirt where sweat had clamped it to his back.
‘Hi Julie. Are you OK?’
‘I’M COMING, MR. BENSON. OH JESUS!! YES!! YES!! OOOH!!!’
‘Yes, I’m fine. Are you OK? I brought you some of your clothes.’
A loud clattering sound could be heard followed by the sound of several items hitting the floor and smashing noisily.
‘Well, it has been a quite remarkable show this week; we’ve seen some really beautiful objects and we have been made to feel so welcome by the near-dead and greedy people of Chesterfield . . . ’
Timothy finally turned down the TV sound. All that could be heard was a single object slowly rolling across the floor of the bathroom before hitting the door. Someone started applauding loudly.
‘You’re better off in here today, George, the weather is appalling,’ said Julie brightly.
The door to the bathroom slowly opened.
‘Ah, hello Peter, my old son: I was just helping Betty in the bathroom. Here, this was clearly very insecure. Lucky I was there to help or else she might have fallen badly.’
Mr. Benson handed Peter the handicapped person’s toilet support rail.
George put his arm around Julie and escorted her up the ward to his bed. Timothy remorselessly turned up the sound on the TV.
‘Welcome to another episode of Antiques Roadshow, which this week comes from the once-beautiful seaside town of Morecombe . . . ’
Peter said, ‘Now Mrs. Winthrope, I think that’s enough applause for the time being . . . ’