Branscombe Hall: Part Seven

This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 764 words.
My thanks to Sue Judd for allowing me to use her photo.

Julian Branscombe had been described to me as a Bohemian, but the young man I saw looked just like any fashionable Londoner at the time. Except he had an expensive camera around his neck, and a heavy bag that looked like it contained lenses, and probably more cameras. He might have been two years older than me, or two years younger, it was hard to say.

“I thought I could help by taking photos. I have some lights and a tripod in the car, but if you have already sorted that, I can take a back seat. I thought I would stay for a few days, and you could tell me how you are getting on”.

He was easy going, friendly, and nice to talk to. After university, he didn’t want to come back to an older than usual father, and a step-mother who took no interest in him. So they had bought him a flat in Chelsea, a sports car and some camera equipment, and he had decided to become a professional photographer. Like many others, he had sold little or no photos; but unlike many others, he had an income from his family that allowed him to live a wealthy lifestyle without actually having to do anything resembling work.

The young Lord was fun, but distracting. With him around, I would never get any work done. So I told him we were sorting the photos, and suggested that he drove around the county finding interesting things to photograph. After two days of that, he insisted I stayed for dinner with him that night. He had arranged something like a banquet, and did not want to eat alone. He talked a lot like a Victorian, which made me a little uncomfortable.

“Oh, come on, please. I have had the servants stay on to serve the dinner and clear up, and I would feel bad if it was only for me”.

During dinner, I felt incredibly awkward. The servants hardly knew him, and appeared to wonder what the hell I was doing there. Over the main course, I revealed that I was married, and that my husband was fighting in the Falklands. His reply was nothing like I had expected from an aristocrat.

“I’m sorry for your situation, but I think this war is ridiculous. Do you even know how close the Falklands are to Argentina? We should have handed them back decades ago. That Thatcher expects men to die to hang on to them is just bloody unacceptable”. His reference to Margaret Thatcher surprised me. My dad thought she was fantastic, and I had never let on to him that I thought she was horrible. Being an aristocrat, I had expected Julian to be on her side.

Although I had no intention of staying for dessert, he insisted. I had missed the early news, but was desperate to get home for the ten-o-clock bulletin. “Please stay. I asked for Spotted Dick, that was my favourite as a child”. As I tried not to appear greedy, but ate the pudding very quickly, he had another idea. “Why don’t you show me around? I haven’t been back here for so long, things must have changed. I have a nice car so I am happy to drive, and you could show me some interesting places to photograph”.

My explanation that time away from the Hall would seriously delay the sale just made him chuckle.

“Look, my lovely step-mummy has swanned off to Nice, and I am left in charge of everything. So a few days will make no difference to me. I have plenty of money to be going on with, and if I know anything about antiques and paintings, which is not that much I grant you, the anticipation of a forthcoming sale will only increase interest and eventually raise prices. How about I meet you here tomorrow morning, around eleven? I am not an early riser, so by the time we get into Gloucester I will be able to buy you lunch”.

He was a man who would not take no for an answer, so I said yes.

The next morning, I spent a long time choosing what to wear. Then I spent ages doing my make-up, until I looked as if I was going out to a nightclub, not lunch with a Lord.

Driving to the Hall, I started to feel guilty.

Gregg was in a South Atlantic winter war zone, and I was going on a date with another man.

38 thoughts on “Branscombe Hall: Part Seven

  1. (1) Overheard:
    Julian: “I have some lights and a tripod in the car.”
    Alicia: “What I really need is some playtime in the back seat.”
    (2) Actually, Julian’s father bought him a sports car with a flat tire.
    (3) The young Lord was fun, but distracting. “Who cares about the peasant revolt? Come look at this! I made you another castle with my LEGO bricks!”
    (4) Julian, with a wink: “And for dessert, I’ve got Rum Balls and Spotted Dick.”
    (5) According to an article in the Journal du Sablier, the servants hardly knew Julian Branscombe. In fact, because he’d been away for so long, they mistook him for Julian Sands.
    (6) King Tut: “My lovely step-mummy has swanned off to Aswan.”
    (7) Did you know that an alien, passing himself off as a god, helped the Egyptians build their pyramids? The story goes that as Yul-Bryn stepped aboard his Flying Thother, parked near the Sphinx, he turned to the pharaoh and said, “Ibis seein’ ya!” But he never came back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anybody that dislikes the Iron Maiden is okay in my book.
    When Ronald Reagan sought her advice on getting reelected, she told him to start a war, just like ‘I did in the Falklands’. So he invaded Grenada.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I bet the servants were confused. Julian may be fun but it’s time someone said no to him. The Falklands may seem part of Argentina but the people living there are more British than the British. Or they were, 40 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thatcher was in the process of changing their nationality status not long before the invasion. Argentina’s actions saved the residents there from losing British citizenship, in a roundabout way.
      Best wishes, Pete.


      1. I remember that the Falkland Islanders did not have right of abode in the UK which I simply could not understand, given that colonials from everywhere else did. Maybe if she had gone there she would have felt differently. There were almost no Argentines there. We did not feel that we were at the tip of South America. Off the coast of Scotland, more like. But with lots of penguins.

        Liked by 1 person

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