For all English readers of this little story, (completely true I assure you) may I start by giving you a wee dram of Scottish history.
When the Queen visits Scotland, especially Holyrood House, she is given an extremely fine group of guards –known as The Archers. These larger than life men are her escorts in Scotland are, when on Royal duty, dressed from head to toe in Loden green – topped with a jaunty bonnet festooned with the colourful glory of pheasant tail feathers. They wear gauntlets that hold huge bows (of the bow and arrow variety), and quivers of feathered arrows. They look very fine, and it is a great honour to be made an Archer.
Our friend Bill was an Archer, and on a visit to Edinburgh by our Queen several years ago, he was summoned to attend Her Majesty. Bill, and his wife Pam lived in Argyll and needed a bed for the several nights to be spent in Auld Reekie. We were delighted to oblige. There was to be a grand ball at Holyrood and, of course, Bill and Pam were invited.
They arrived one wintry morning in an enormous farm-worthy vehicle, and soon our hall was home to a loden bonnet – complete with the longest tail feathers I’d ever seen; a six foot bow and a quiver full of Robin Hood’s best; Bill’s loden cape draped across the banisters – and as Bill was a good six foot plus - the cape was enormous. Then there were the boots, the shirts, the umbrellas (just in case), the picnic basket and Pam’s bits and pieces. Even though Pam was a slim. graceful five foot four there was plenty of luggage and – most important – her ball gown.
As you can imagine, my main wide-eyed interest was Pam’s beautiful ball gown. It was a confection of gossamer silk organdie ruched with delicacy onto a soft silk underskirt. Shades of pink, orange, the palest yellow blended with little flashes of red and green. It was a gown to die for. Pam had worn it before and some of the little ruched gathers had become unstitched, so the night before the big event, as we sat chatting after dinner, Pam settled herself down with needle and thread to repair the damage. In the course of conversation Pam mentioned that the mysterious circular case on her bed contained her tiara. It was extremely old, and had been in the family for many years. This was something we had to see. It was as dainty as the dress. Silver filigree and would look lovely nestled in Pam’s fair curls. As I admired it Pam put down her needle and thread with a frown and said.
“I’ve got a problem. I’ve got an appointment to have my hair done tomorrow afternoon. Do I have my bath before I have my hair done – because they arrange my hair around the tiara - or after ?”
Now I don’t know about you – but that was a question I had never been asked before. It demanded careful thought. Eventually we decided that ‘tiara first and bath second’ seemed best, though Pam, with a big sigh, said -
“I’ll feel so silly, sitting in a bath with a tiara on! That would shock a window-cleaner, wouldn’t it!”
We all laughed.
At five o’clock the next day the men were chatting over a cup of tea and putting the world to rights. I was in the kitchen feeding the cat and the dogs. Pam was upstairs running her bath and preparing all her various stockings etc for the ball. Soon the smell of lavender bath oil filtered downstairs, and I heard the bathroom door shut. Then I suddenly became aware of a bumping, scraping noise, followed by a cheerful whistling. I knew that whistle well – it was Andrew - our window-cleaner – and his ladder was already in place. I rushed to the front door and rescued either him - or Pam – in the nick of time. I’m not sure exactly who!
I was sorry to deprive Andrew of one of the best stories of his life, and Pam of one of her more exotic experiences, but decorum won – just in time – alas!
Published on writebuzz®:
> True Stories