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.