Rita, The Fur Coat and a Gin Sling

I have just been watching the dolphins again and trying to get some photos of them.  Crafty creatures see me trying to snap them and hurtle down under the waves.  I am pleased in any event as I thought they had swum away…..

Friend who lived across the road

Some of you will remember Rita, my rather lovely, but totally eccentric,  friend who lived across the road from me and used to offer me a Gin Sling mid morning. This was her idea of Elevenses!  Having sadly had a stroke and ended up being sent to a Warden Assisted Apartment, I don’t see her as often as I would like and ” life on the street” is not so exciting.   So I ventured to take myself off to deepest Suburbia and visit her in Horsham!  I know, I know, some things shouldn’t be admitted in print  but there you are! I do know where Horsham is, but I promise I only visit out of necessity.  Let’s keep it between ourselves, eh?

So off I went to visit Rita, armed with some biscuits ( Waitrose of course, as she told me once she didn’t eat Value Biscuits or anything like them) and a very nice pot plant.  In truth I hadn’t seen her for some months and felt somewhat guilty, so I added a bottle of Sicilian Lemon Gin into the basket and felt rather vindicated.    The place where she now lives is very nice and I mentally made a note that if I ended up somewhere like this, it wouldn’t be the end of my life.  Okay, I don’t want to be there anytime soon, but Rest Homes have certainly come on a long way in the past twenty years.

Having had to sign in; have a retina scan and offer proof of ID whilst they took my fingerprints, Rita was finally summoned.

” We cant be too careful with the welfare and safety of our guests now can we?”  the rather stern receptionist told me before she let me through the door.

I had told Rita I would be there at 10am and it was now just after eleven.  I guess you could say I was fashionably ” en retard”  but I just didn’t want to be hanging around on such a lovely day and by now, I felt that she should surely be ready.  Rita’s idea of time-keeping is somewhat like the Spanish…..  but there I was at just gone 11 o clock, drumming my fingernails and feeling tense.  When she finally  arrived, she was wearing a coat done up to the neck, and a fur one at that.   Readers, you may recall that the summer the UK enjoyed these past few months, with temperatures barely dipping below 30 degrees, Rita appearing in a full length sable fur coat is somewhat of an oxymoron.  Hell – I think I started to sweat just looking at her….

Rita immediately told me what she had to do in the Town and to make it snappy as she had to be back for a lunch date with ” the Captain!”  Yes it would appear that Rita had already made somewhat of a splash at the Wednesday Tea Dances and had two or three suitable ( when Rita says ” suitable” she really means ” wealthy” ) suitors wanting to share lunch with her in the communal dining room.  This also saves Rita cooking any meals, because cooking and Rita are not a natural synergy.    We approach my car and Rita sits in the back.  ” Rita, wouldn’t you like to sit with me in the front? Its easier to chat!”

” No dear, I get a better view from her” and she plonked herself in and shut the door with a determined slam.   ” Air con.  Air Con.  Can you put the air con on, its quite warm in here”

” Well I can, but how about taking your coat off ?”

I decided to open a window

” Oh, I cant, dear. I haven’t anything on underneath.  You were a bit early and I wasn’t ready, so I just pulled on my longest coat” and her eyes focused on the Air Con button.  Torn between a rock and a hard place comes to mind.  I either had to let Rita fry in her fur coat and possibly expire permanently if I didn’t put the air con on, or I had to freeze my chops off if I did. I decided to open a window and see if that struck a happy medium

” Can you close the window, as its blowing my hair around”  and indeed, Rita’s platinum blonde confection, perched on her head like a cottage loaf had already started to come undone around the edges.  The arrival at the supermarket was not a second too soon!

” Here’s my list.  I can wait in the car.” and with that I was dispensed to the Trolley Park, whilst Rita snuggled down in the back and took a nap!  I was longer than I anticipated on account of not being able to read Rita’s handwriting too easily and that some of the things she asked for ( blue bag?) had gone out of production twenty years since.  The funniest thing on the list was a jar of Earth Mama Bottom Balm, but politeness prevented me asking her what she used it for!

Fur coats and Gin, a heady combination

I arrived back at the car to find Rita had indeed fallen asleep and was gently purring in the sun.  Her (fur) coat was still done up to her neck but before dropping off she had opened the Sicilian Lemon Gin and made her way through at least a quarter of it.  ( I could see this because it was still being clutched by her and was balanced precariously on the arm rest)   I could feel my blood boiling and it wasn’t only because of the unusual summer temperatures.

” Rita! Rita!  Wake up… I am back”   and with that she opened one eye.  Looked at me squarely and holding up the open Gin bottle said ” Drinkie, Darling?  Little Drinkie, before we go home?”

Its fair to say that Rita was well and truly, ” back in the room!”

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