Saturday, 1 January 2011


After the truamas of the previous months, Christmas Day in Tilling passed quietly and pleasantly.

Despite their regular confrontations during the year, Diva Plaistow joined Elizabeth Mapp-Flint for lunch at "Grebe." A convivial time and much pre-war whisky, pate de foie gras and nougat chocolate was had by all.

After her dramatic disappearance and motherhood, the dispeptic Puss-cat split her time between "Grebe" and her favourite spot under the border in the walled garden of "Mallards House." One of Puss-cat's kittens, a diminutive tom, duly joined the Mapp-Flint household and was named "Puffin" in honour of Major Benjy's late friend (and his spouse's adversary) of the same surname. After lunch on the anniversary of the tragic death of the aged sea-dog by drowning in a bowl of oxtail soup,  Major Benjy quietly raised a glass to the old salt and hoped that "somewhere up there Old Puffy is doing just the same."

At "Mallards House," Lucia and Georgie Pillson dressed for Christmas dinner in the evening, as was their practice and then enjoyed a dweffull diffy setting for four hands of some polonaises by Chopin in the Garden Room by candlelight. In the corner in her basket slept their kitten which Lucia had eventually nobly consented to be named "Olga," after the diva Olga Bracely, whom Lucia described (with strong emphasis on the third word) as " a very old, mutual friend."

For the Morrisons, the festivities were a great success. Bunty's dinner of turkey and Christmas pudding, purchased with her savings from Mrs Plaistow's club, was much praised and the twins were delighted with their gifts of chemistry sets and roller skates. They were also particularly overjoyed with their new kitten "Bibelot" with whom they played constantly.

All the way through the last week in December, however, one small dark cloud hovered over several homes in and around the town, following Lord Ardingly's hint at the dinner at "Mallards House". Everyone waited with bated breath to find out how Tilling was to be "further honoured" following the Queen's private visit earlier in the year.

Neither Lucia Pillson, Elizabeth Mapp-Flint, Irene Coles nor any other member of their circle had received any formal correpondence intimating that any award was to be offered to them and each opened the newspaper with trepidation on the day on which the Honours List was published.

It was immediately apparent that no Damehoods had been awarded to anyone in Tilling and, indeed, nothing whatsoever to Lucia, Elizabeth or Irene.

The answer to the question of what Lord Ardingly had meant was apparent on perusing the awards to Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. There for all to see, was the award of an OBE to Mr Hubert Gascoyne, the proprietor of the antique shop in Tilling, from whom the Queen had made so many purchases and by whom, indeed, she been given so many gifts on her private visit.

A little further down the list of Officers of the British Empire was the award to Herbert Stanley Morrison, Inspector of Police, Tilling Constabulary "for services to law enforcement."

It had, after all, been a remarkable year.

Events in the following year in Tilling are described in "Inspector Morrison: Another Year in Tilling" at

Copyright 2011 Deryck Solomon. All rights reserved in appropriate territories

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