“Yes I’m fully aware that I’m your mother, Leonie, but it’s a very inconvenient moment. The Mayhews are coming for dinner tonight and I’ve had to dash out for new napkins. I’m waiting for a taxi outside John Lewis.
“No, I can’t swing by The Croft. Isn’t there a neighbour who can help? What about that cat woman, who looks after the twins when you take Chelsea to the child psychologist? Or the couple who rescued Ethan when his head was stuck in the fence?
“No don’t ring your father. I’ve left him strict instructions to polish the cutlery and the candelabra. And you know he faints at the sight of blood.
“Well, goodness, Leonie, three children isn’t so very much to cope with. Heavens – the trouble I had getting au pairs to stay when you and your brother were young.
“You don’t understand. If we let down the Mayhews your father may not be accepted into the golf club. I do prefer it when he’s not under my feet. And Anthea Mayhew’s topiary was featured in Warwickshire Life. Think of the contacts she must have.
“Of course my grandchildren matter, Leonie. How can you say such a thing? Look at the money your father spent on giving you all a nice long holiday in Tuscany.
“Oh, do get a grip. I’m sure it’s not that bad. Half these allergies are in the mind, you know. Yes, I can hear then screaming, but they’ll wear themselves out. Do what I used to do, and have a quiet five minutes on the patio. With the what? Oh, why do you always drag that up, Leonie? It was only the once, during a particularly stressful time having the new parquet laid. You were just unlucky, that horrid old man coming to the front door while I was having a bit of peace at the back. Anyway the flooring chap chased him off for you, didn’t he? No harm done.
“Look, I must ring off and see where my taxi’s got to. I need to go home and iron these napkins so I can fold them into swans. Phone me tonight when it’s all blown over. Or better still, tomorrow.
“Aaaargh! What are you doing? He’s got my bag! Thief, thief! Stop him someone! Oh, my arm. Help! Police!
“Leonie, are you still there, dear? Something dreadful’s happened. Leonie, I need you to come. Are you there? Leonie? Leonie? Leonie!”