I stomped hard on the brakes, causing my Edwardian hat to go sailing from my head and settle on the dashboard. My daughter shouted at me.
“Mum, what the fu-”
“Sorry, Mum, but you frightened the shit out of me!”
I softened my tone. “It’s just that I forgot the rest of the costumes for the dress rehearsal. I need to go back for them.”
Andrea’s face creased and that teenage whine started.
“I’ll be late!”
“I’m sure your friends will wait for you -”
“You don’t understand, you never do. I’ll get out and walk.”
Andrea got out of the car and flounced down the road in the way that only 14-year-olds can master. I watched her go with a mixture of apprehension and relief.
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that the road behind me was clear. A feeling of devilment took hold of me. Putting the car into reverse, I shot backwards at high speed. Still got it, I thought. Sometimes it was handy being an ex-rally driver. After 20 yards, I felt a lurch in my stomach… strange, perhaps age is making me nervous. I finished the drive at a more sedate pace and saw with relief that I could park right outside the house – in fact, the road was unusually clear of parked cars. Pulling up to the kerb, I dashed round to the back of the house worrying about those costumes. Can’t really have a dress rehearsal with no dresses. My Fair Lady in jeans and t-shirts…
A small chuckle started to escape my throat at the thought of the musical being performed in 21st-century clothing but was quickly choked off at the sight of a man in shabby clothes exiting my back door, laden down with assorted household items, including my heirloom silver tea tray. It might be old and battered… hang on, it’s not!
The robber looked as shocked as I was. I shoulder-charged him and we both went down in a heap. I grabbed my silver tray, pausing only a moment to wonder again why it wasn’t bent out of shape, then cracked it across the robber’s skull. BLAM! He went down, hitting his head on the path for good measure. Now my tray looks like it should! I looked down at the tray-burglar. My eyes skimmed his ragged outfit and filthy skin. Good grief, I mused, no wonder he’s out on the rob, poor bastard. The enormity of what I’d done hit me like a Ford Cosworth slamming into a brick wall. Bad memories. The ground rushed up to meet me and then — blackness.
I came round slowly. I could see the man I’d lamped over the head, still lying comatose, but between us was a pair of cute button-up boots skimmed with a skirt hemline. Must be Marie come to find me. Then I realised that unlike my wife’s rather crudely put-together costume, this skirt had no hanging threads. The owner of the boots and skirt must have bent down because her face appeared in my vision. A face surrounded by feathery tendrils of hair escaping from a chignon bun spoke: “I say, are you alright? You appear to have stopped this scoundrel from absconding with my property. I’ve sent a runner to fetch the police.”
Lady, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.