L.C.Spinetti here again, Cherry’s too busy with Arachne Press to cover the unfolding drama at court, so REALly!? have given me a short commission to keep up with action in the small kingdom of BlackHeath. Quite a change from covering Crufts.
So you’ll never guess who I met on the heath this morning. The Royal Poodles! All four of them, being walked by a couple of footman and the Prince’s ex nanny.
One of the poodles – Horatio – bounded up to me and almost knocked me over, and she came over to apologise. Of course she’s used to being recognised especially if she’s out with the dogs, so she wasn’t terribly impressed when I said hello, but actually, I do know her – she’s a friend of Mother’s. So after I reminder her who I was we had a bit of a chat, mostly about Signor Spinetti, who is off covering the Grand Prix, however I couldn’t help noticing she was looking rather strained. So I asked, is one of the dogs ill?
Oh no, she said, no, they’re all fine, it’s the prince. He’s been moping for days, and now he says he wont go to the ball.
Now, even I know a scoop when it’s dropped in my lap, so I persuade her that she needs a cup of coffee, from the stall by the pond, and sit her down on a bench. The poodles scamper in and out of the water and the footmen sneak off for a quick fag and a pint in the PoW, and nanny unburdens her anxieties onto my willing ears.
Nanny: The atmosphere at the palace is dreadful, Charming moping, his father stamping about in a temper – and normally I’d rely on Henry Fortescue-Smythe, to sort it out, you know what a fixer he is, but there’s been that incident – well, in his absence his uncle, (ginger-beer-peer, Lord H F-S) can generally get one of them to come round, but he got stomped on by a horse in the winner’s enclosure at Ascot, and has a broken foot, so he’s not really up to shuttle diplomacy from one wing of the palace to the other.
The Prime Minister has tried, but he has about as much tact as a rhino on heat – no, it’s very stressful.
LCS: What’s caused all this? I mean it’s not like the prince to sulk, he’s always been such a sweet boy.
Nanny: Well, just so – that’s how he got his nick name, it was me who coined it, as it were – I remember when he was just a little boy – well, never mind that – he grown now and he needs a wife.
LCS: You don’t think…
Nanny: Good heavens, no!
LCS: Well, it’s just that…
Nanny: No Elsie, put that thought from your mind.
LCS: It’s L.C. actually. Anyway, if he’s sulking about being asked to marry – it’s not like there aren’t plenty of pretty girls he can choose from.
Nanny: Handsome is as Handsome does, Elsie dear. Most of them are scheming gold-diggers only interested in his money and position. It’s not easy for a prince to meet the right girl; although there was a very sweet girl at the party rehearsal – he seemed quite taken with her at the time. I had a long chat with the Mother, somebody de la Villette – daughter of a rent collector, can you imagine! She has great hopes for her Hortense, but – a little – provincial – I don’t think the King would wear it – it would take forever to get her polished up. No, sadly, I don’t think Hortense is the girl for my Prince Charming, though she’d be a better bet than either of those toxic Haltiere girls.
LCS: Oh! Do you know them?
Nanny: Know them? I was at school with their mother, and a right madam she was too, bullied everyone. Even the headmistress was frightened of her. She thinks her girls are good enough for my Charming. He wouldn’t give either of them a second glance – except of horror possibly. Not their fault of course, it’s just… Madame. ghastly woman.
LCS: So what do you think the Prince looks for in a potential wife?
Nanny: All the traditional princessly virtues of course. Beauty, charm, grace, kindness, a lovely voice, her own money, good breeding…
LCS: Intelligence? Courage? Humour?
Nanny: Let’s be realistic Elsie, we are talking about Princesses. He’d be lucky to find one with any of those qualities.
Lucky indeed. We’d finished our coffee at this point so I couldn’t drag it out any longer. Well, the party starts at seven on Tuesday, so we shall see: will the prince make do with a vacuous god-digger or will he find the princess of his dreams?
© Cherry Potts 2012
Sadly this blog is a work of fiction and noneof the characters depicted in it should be taken to represent any real person or company living or dead. They spring from the fertile imaginations of Mssrs Perrault and Massenet as channelled by Harry Fehr with a bit of help from Cherry Potts and other members of the cast of Cinderella;
this year’s community opera at Blackheath Halls. Today’s installment features Mme de la Villette, a character created by Laura Sparkes.