Letters the Thirteenth and Fourteenth:
From Rogers to Lady Effingham; and from Lady Effingham to Rogers
Dear Lady Effingham,
It’s all a to-do in the servants’ quarters. Helga is always kind enough to help out the local Blindingham Players with her harmonium, but it seems her offer is not appreciated this year.
Their production ‘War Whores’ has become an international hit (Mr Chu from the local take-away sent a video of it to his cousins in Shanghai, and they liked it). It commemorates the Battle of Blindingham, where the local officers used under the covers agents to infiltrate the enemy and cause a droop in morale. The performance uses life-sized puppets to great effect, and considerable interest. Vauxhall has been to see it several times.
Unfortunately, they have sacked all of the musicians who were helping them out, replacing them by a Casio keyboard plugged into the Vicar’s hi-fi system. Helga is outraged, and we have all offered what little we can to help. I’m planting a herbaceous border that will spell out ‘I (heart) Helga’s Organ’ when it blooms (I didn’t have enough osteospermum for ‘harmonium’), Daisy is auctioning off her baps and even Mr Dawson seemed interested in the idea of a whip round.
Now the Blindingham Borough Council (the BBC) sponsors Blindingham University Musical Society in a series of promenade concerts every year. The BBC Proms programme for this year’s series – BUMS Off Seats – has just been announced, and Helga’s not happy.
On the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Blindingham, there is a concert of war-themed music, all based around ‘War Whores’.
Do you think it was a mistake for the BBC to name a well publicised concert after a show in which musicians are not welcome?
Incidentally, have you been discussing the shrubberies with Vauxhall? He told me that you might like to plant okra around Solidago hispida. At least I think that’s what he meant when he told me that he was sure you would like your lady’s fingers around my hairy goldenrod.
Your humble servant as ever,
I am horrified at what you tell me. No wonder Helga was so out of sorts this morning – muttering under her breath in German (“verdammt elektronische Tastatur“, etc.) and failing to re-charge my batteries.
I had not picked up the excitement about ‘War Whores’, though of course I was present at the premiere some years ago, as the Vicar offered me a place in his box. Once we had sorted out any misunderstandings, we had a delightful evening – he of course is what we would once have called an advocate for muscular Christianity.
But I digress. My previous letter to you emphasised how very important live music is to me – and indeed I look forward to hearing about its effect on Daisy in due course (in that context, what you tell me about her zeal in supporting Helga strikes me as a good omen for you).
I can assure you that I will Take Action. I have a number of useful insider contacts at both BUMS and the Blindingham Borough Council, whose previous contact with me must incline them to oblige me, and I will make them aware of my extreme displeasure and disappointment. You may tell Mr Dawson that when he has finished his whip round, I shall need my whips back. I shall certainly have a use for them! I shall probably require some Wagner to keep me going.
I am also setting up a petition with the help of the Musicians’ Union, which you will be able to find by searching online.
I’m sorry to hear about your lack of osteospermum – you should try a high potash feed, which Lord Effingham always used to swear by. Also, it isn’t around the hairy goldenrod that I wish my lady’s fingers to be placed, but the golden zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) – you’ll find they come out at the same time.
Ophelia, Lady Effingham.