We return home en masse, mid-day and sweltering, to hear a voice on the telephone shouting ““Natalie!” Are yah there?”
The answering machine flashes.
“Hey Mom pick up the phone already!”
Surely not! I thought we’d “sorted” this all out! I drop six bags full of groceries on the floor and dither.
“Here, I'll do it!” she offers, which cattle prods me into action, “yes, hello, Madeline here, how can I help?”
“Where were yah? I've bin callin all morning!”
“Er food shopping.” Why did I say that?
“D'ya have Jay's address?”
“Um…..….Jay Jones, Jay Smith or Jay Higginbottom?”
“I dunno their last name.”
“She went for a sleepover to Jay's last night. I gotta go pick er up now.”
“She's the little kid with the ratty hair, glasses and goofy teeth.” I run this description through my lexicon of Jays. “Oh…..would that be Higginbottom perhaps?”
“Let me see. I don't know the address exactly but I can give you driving directions to their home or the telephone number.”
I think I prefer my new role as Yellow Pages substitute. Who’d have thought that Anglo Americans could seek shelter in a castle? I consider myself to have escaped quite lightly.