Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Thieving Cow

My neighbour came to visit me today. We are so very much out in the sticks here that hardly anybody just drops by – apart from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Reverend Coleshaw Grimm of course, upon whom one can rely absolutely for assiduous devotion to duty. The nearest building is the Thieving Cow at the end of the village, a public house that Hermann and Gerda Backfatt took over two years ago.

I believe they advertise home-cooked food as one of their attractions, and I think Mrs Backfatt first began to call here to purchase some of Sybil’s herbs for her chef. The cooking herbs I mean, of course, not the other ones – at least, I assume so.

And then Mrs Backfatt seemed to take to us rather, and pops in from time to time when her full schedule permits - for running a public house is indeed no small venture, and the Thieving Cow is immensely popular. She is very frank and sometimes surprising in her conversation. Last time she was here, she gradually inclined in my direction until she resembled the leaning tower of Pisa on the verge of a landslide and whispered in the tones of a coy conspirator that she had been to Knightsbridge to purchase a strapless brassica. I felt a little nonplussed for a moment, but I hope my face did not betray any bewilderment.

Today she was brimming over with excitement, wanting to share her news, poor thing – her husband is a more taciturn individual: approaching the concrete bollard level in fact; abnormally under-vivacious. Anyway dear Mrs Backfatt practically shoved Ellis into the door-jamb in her haste to enter the drawing room.

‘What do you think?’ she cried as she swarmed in my direction (Eustacia had to leap adroitly to prevent an upset of the tea-table): ‘Bärbel’s poinsettia has had nine puppies! Nine!’

Eustacia and I nodded and smiled in delighted amazement: ‘Nine is a lot for a poinsettia,’ Eustacia volunteered; ‘do you have any photographs yet?’

Eustacia can really be very tactful, when she tries.

Apparently there will be photographs when the bitch will let them near. Poinsettias, Mrs Backfatt assured us, can be astonishingly possessive.


  1. Dear Mrs Backfatt. Where does she obtain that rather alarming lipstick?

    Hermann can be positively loquacious over a game of poker, after closing time. A very good player, by the way.


  2. Henry! Hello darling! How too lovely to see you here on my little blog!

    I am alarmed by your remark about poor Hermann - I had no idea you had been playing poker after closing time at the Thieving Cow - I thought you were in Singapore! Unless perhaps you had this information from Ponty?

    Anyway it's so sweet of you to drop a little note to me in your busy day!

    xxxx your fluffy bunny

  3. My dear Lady Borealis, I can't express my delight at discovering your wonderful blog. Here in Oxfordshire, of course, we are not blessed with the beauties of Sussex (no hills, you see), but we, too, have our share of family trials and triumphs. So I felt I must write with fellow-feeling about the baby-led weaning, which has been adopted by my own dear Artemisia for her infant prodigy Algernon. How concerned I was when I saw the poor little mite mumbling away on a ripe, raw pear. The skin went round and round in his mouth like a washing machine, but just when I was sure he would choke, out it popped. I'm sure it's all terribly good for the child's development, but it is very nerve-wracking to observe. Still, if it had been invented when Artemisia was a babe, perhaps we would have avoided that trying business with the Weetabix setting solid on all the light-fittings.
    I am running on - but I must just say how wonderful it was to see the admirable photograph of your darling Henry (looking so very distinguished). And I shall watch this space very closely for future instalments about your lovely family. With my best love, Lady Amelia Arbuthnott.

  4. We must come and visit soon. I do miss that wonderful Backfatt cooking!

  5. Dear Amelia! Aurora! How charming to see you both! I am reading your lovely letters with binoculars as we are away on our world cruise just at present.
    Darling Amelia, I shouldn't like to embarrass you, but any time you would care to use poor Mrs Swan's services to clean that very old Weetabix off your light fittings, I shall send her right along!
    How is dear Artemesia? And Algernon? And little Amnesia? All well?
    And yes, Aurora - you are always welcome to visit the Thieving Cow - an evening together would be lovely!
    My love to you all darlings!

  6. The lipstick is very alarming & the distance presently beyond my means or I would take great delight in joining you for an evening at the Thieving Cow.

  7. Ganeida darling, you would be so very welcome! I wonder if you could project your image into the Thieving Cow by Skype? I'm sure lipstick would not be obligatory!