By 10 pm in the middle of summer the sun was still shining brightly, filtering under the curtains and reflecting off the dormitory ceiling making it difficult to get to sleep. I am not sure what triggered the conversation but the thrust of the discussion as I remember was ‘When I leave college I want to be’
I was not surprised Tamzin took the lead; I would have been surprised if she hadn’t.
She opened with “When I leave college I want to be a Container Ship’s Captain”
This was followed by suppressed audible groans from the other boarders.
I put the question to Candice.
She answered “I want to be a Film Star”
Tamzin broke in ‘You cannot just WANT be a Film Star Candice, just like Rhonda cannot just WANT be clever”
Rhonda raised her voice and replied irately “There is no need to be personal Tamzin”.
There was a pause. “What about you Bridgette” asked Patience.
I said “I would like to be a Neuro Surgeon”
Tamzin broke in again, ‘That’s going to take a bit of practise Bridgette” followed by a giggle.
This was going to be interesting it was Rhonda’s turn.
“When I leave school I want to be a teacher” It was not met with a groan but rather more like someone throwing up from the direction of Tamzin’s bed.
It was Patience turn. She was the oldest of us. She responded “I would like to be the duty dormitory monitor like Nurse Mayo and throttle the life out of Tamzin”
Tamzin retorted authoritatively “That is not a profession Patience”
Phaedra, Elspeth and Jasmine had refused to be drawn into the conversation.
That was where the discussion ended.
Another beautiful morning greeted the Denham Hall girls; the days were an endless summer. The smell of freshly mown lawns was carried high on the zephyrs of a gentle breeze as did the heavy scent of Rhododendrons which filtered through the open windows. It was the beginning of the weekend. In the huge dining room Miss. Pringle watched over the girls at breakfast time like a circling Sparrowhawk. What will this new day bring?
Well it brought Mr Crisis out of the Science room for a start. It would take too long to explain, but Mr Crisis appeared one day and was offered the position of Science teacher by Miss Sefton due to the retirement of Miss. Myrtle.
The story goes it was eventually discovered that Mr Crisis came from the Constellation of Epsilon Boőtis which is only about 36 light years from earth, so you see it is quite close. He was from the planet Tau Boötis which is one of the planets orbiting Epsilon and he said he was on a Sabbatical. Tau Boötis yes maybe but I do not believe the bit about him being on a Sabbatical that stretches the imagination in anyone’s book.
Tamzin wanted to go to the shopping centre to buy mother a small gift in return for the hospitality of staying for the coming weekend. I pointed out to Tamzin she was not obliged to buy my mother anything as she is my second best friend; ………..that’s Tamzin not mother.
Stung, she said inquired “What do you mean second best friend who is your best friend then?”
Exasperated I said “Patience is. Look Tamzin it doesn’t matter, very best friend or second best friend it really doesn’t matter”.
She looked quite hurt.
We had a couple of hours spare before we were to leave for Scotland so we took a bus to the shopping centre. Tamzin wanted to look round the shops for a small gift for mother. I wanted to go with her in case she bought mother a packet of three triple A batteries or even a meter for testing printed circuit boards or something just as silly.
While Tamzin went into the Jewellers I sat on a seat in the main concourse next to the food emporium. The shopping centre seemed to float on a sea of marble, with the dimensions of a cathedral surrounded by huge windows like a mammoth conservatory or was it a Goldfish Bowl.
As I sat there a lady leading a large furry dog on a long leash passed my field of view. I held my breath for a heart-stopping moment as it paused momentarily to sniff the leg of an elderly lady shopper with a walking frame before it and its owner disappeared into the Food Hall.
I had never seen a dog being taken for walkies in shopping centres before not even a guide dog certainly not sniffing around a food hall. I was still pondering this when Tamzin arrived.
I asked “What did you buy my mother?”
She replied “A Brooch, what do you think Bridgette?”
“That’s lovely Tamzin she will like that, do you know what I just saw?”
“An aeroplane landing?”
“Be serious Tamzin just for a moment. No just I saw a lady walking a dog on a long leash in the food hall”
Tamzin said “well it would have to be a blind dog”
“You mean a dog for the blind”
“Yes that’s what I meant“
I explained “But SHE was leading the dog; dogs are not allowed in shopping centres”
There was a long pause while Tamzin reflected on this anomaly or better still while her thought patterns booted up. She countered with “Well that’s what I said, it proves my point it means the dog WAS blind that is why SHE was leading the dog”
I said “But if the dog was blind why would she bother to bring it to the shopping centre it cannot see anything, why not leave it at home?”
Again Tamzin thought about this briefly then said “Well if she left it at home while she was doing the shopping the dog would keep bumping into stuff in the house all afternoon, that’s cruel.”
It was a conversation best left alone.
This weekend Father had hired an Executive Jet to fly Mr. Crisis, Tamzin, Elspeth MacDonald and myself to Oban Airport where we were met by Beecham the family retainer and chauffeur who drove us to Invarary Castle. Both Father and Mother greeted us at the main gate.
Even at our earlier meeting Father was very impressed with Mr Crisis. He had previously told father he can move effortlessly between star systems as pure cosmic consciousness, not hindered by the constraints of space, time and distance and can take on the form of the species he comes into contact with.
Delilah, my mother turned to Tamzin and said “Tamzin my dear, Brigitte tells me you want to be a Container ship’s captain when you leave school is that right?”
“Well yes and no” replied Tamsin “you see that was yesterday, I have now decided I want to be a Vet”
I covered my mouth to stifle my giggling.
Tamzin haughtily replied “there’s no need to be sarcastic Bridgette”
Father looked at me, closed his eyes and shook his head.
It was to be an evening of Scottish dancing that had been arranged with a band in the Saloon. When I told Tamzin about the live band that had been hired she pointed it would certainly be a great improvement over a dead one.
Many of our friends were expected including the Mackenzie’s and the Atholls. Tamzin and Elspeth had both brought their Dress Tartans for the event. I assumed Father would find something for Mr Crisis to wear; there would be no need for him to go shopping at TartansЯus in the high street.
I warned Tamzin that tonight there was no way she was going to pull that same trick twice of stealing other girls partners who she preferred to hers by skilfully exchanging her own partner during an tricky manoeuvre during an Eightsome Reel, it was like a three card trick with her, but I was wise-up to her and I warned Elspeth about her too and advised her to watch Tamzin like a Hawk during these formation dances, Elspeth said “I am not that thilly I know what Tamthin geth up to”
The guests began to arrive and were shown into the State dining room. As the drinks were being served the noise level increased, aided by the children separated from their parents.
The venue for the dance was in the Saloon, much of the furniture had been removed to allow the dancers more room. Here friends met and long separated friends were reunited.
I must say Mr Crisis looked splendid in the Campbell Tartan, the stories he will be able to tell his friends on his return to Tau Boőtis do not bear thinking about.
The band commenced with the Eightsome reel the ‘Marquis of Tullrardine’. Tamzin should have been happy with her partner; Elspeth said he looked as she put it ‘quite hot’. I thought for a moment my partner for the night might be Elspeth before Beecham’s son Raymond asked me to dance. We danced Reels, Waltzes and Quicksteps; I don’t mean with Raymond ALL night but with different partners. Just thought I would get that straightened out.
There was a break of about a half hour when the second part of the evening started that’s when Reginald……. er something or other asked me to dance. I wanted the evening to go on forever but a tormented vision of blind dogs in shopping centres kept interfering with my train of thought.