Branscombe Hall: Part Eight

This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 742 words.
My thanks to Sue Judd for the use of her photo.

Julian Branscombe splashed out on a nice lunch in one of Gloucester’s best hotels. To be honest, it wasn’t my thing. Tiny portions of mis-matched ingredients arranged to look nice on a plate, and served up at a ridiculous price to the diners. At least he was paying. I declined wine as I was driving, so he had a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé to himself as he happily told me his life story.

Expensive boarding school to get him away from the woman he considered to be a wicked step-mother. No contact with his real mother, who spent most of her life in alcoholic rehab before committing suicide. No siblings, and a young life overshadowed by being told he would inherit the house, land, and title as soon as his father died.

The result was an academic wasteland, only rescued by his father paying the fees to attend a minor art college in London and complete a non-authorised Diploma in Photography. Then a carefree life in London, numerous girlfriends, some hangers-on, and a brief dalliance with hard drugs. I was surprised when he told me he was nearly thirty-two. I would have put him a good few years younger than that.

At the end of it all, he was a man of little substance. Never had a job. Never sold a photo, except to some sycophantic friends who owed his dad a favour. Got two girls pregnant and arranged their abortions, and employed a cook/housekeeper to look after him in his swanky London apartment.

“She’s an absolute treasure, Alicia. Irma is originally from some remote part of Russia, speaks pidgin English, and must be pushing fifty. But she looks after me like the mother I never had. The bonus is that she doesn’t seem to like me very much, so I have never had to contemplate sharing my bed with her”.

By the time he ordered himself a large Cointreau to finish off the meal, I had decided that I didn’t like him very much either.

His idea of taking photos in Gloucester was soon abandoned, and on the way back to the Hall, I had to keep moving my leg away to avoid him trying to grope me. When he staggered out of my car and invited me into the house, I invented a reason to have to go and see my dad and drove off before he could argue.

The next day when I went to work at Branscombe Hall, I was edgy for the first time. Julian had definitely missed his chance. He was undeniably attractive, and I was a lonely wife. But his personality was intolerable, and I would never have succumbed to his clumsy advances. I fully realised why the staff and his step-mother almost sneered when they mentioned his name.

He turned up not long before I was due to leave. Clicking away with a stupidly expensive camera, and interrupting my cataloguing.

“Alicia, my dear. I thought I would make a photographic record of my heritage, before it is all sold off. Can I tempt you to stay for dinner? PLease don’t make me eat alone”. I knew better, but agreed to dine with him. I was hungry, and had no intention of staying on once I had eaten. The waitress gave me such a look, I knew she thought I was shagging him. But as I knew better, I ignored her raised eyebrows. During dinner, Julian talked about his favourite subject.


Oh, he had been everywhere. Tibet, Utah, Iceland, India, the South Seas, even backpacking in Laos, of all places. I just knew he was going to ask me where I had been, and when he did I told him the truth. He tried to sound gracious, but his tone was patronising.

“Well, Wales has a lot to offer of course. Neolithic history, a Celtic heritage, and not least providing many of our kings and queens with the Tudors”. I had stuck to one glass of wine, and almost had to physically hold him off from pouring me a large Cognac. He was so entitled in every respect, he was like a dictionary definition of the word. When I got back to the cottage that night and sat in front of news at ten, I was so relieved to have got away from him.

But the news from the Falklands was far from good.

35 thoughts on “Branscombe Hall: Part Eight

  1. I’m still on Utah as a place to visit. been there if you count driving through several times (But I did have a fraternity brother who went to school out there for a semester in the 60s but could not take the difficulty of finding coffee there) Warmest regards, Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julian sounds like a world class a…hole! But I’m sure that’s intentional. I’m a little worried because people who feel entitled can become rather abusive when they don’t get what they want. Where or where is this story going? Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  3. (1) It was nice of the folks in the U.K. to honor the U.S. by naming Gloucester after a seaside town in Massachusetts.
    (2) Apparently, Pouilly-Fuissé was legendary drinker Andre the Giant’s favorite wine. He must have grown up drinking it.
    (3) As Julian talked about his mother’s time in rehab, the hotel was playing a song by Amy Winehouse.
    (4) If he had a brief dalliance with hard drugs, he must have been soft on drugs at the time.
    (5) “At the end of it all, he was a man of little substance.” (Thomas Marvel, writing about Griffin, a man he rarely saw)
    (6) Before she became a cook, Irma was a prostitute in Paris nicknamed “La Douce.”
    (7) In an unreleased sequel to the Disney film, Bambi staggers to the side of the road and dies after being hit by a drunken driver.
    (8) Julian was clicking away with a stupidly expensive camera. He should have joined Amazon Vine.
    (9) Julian talked about Wales, but failed to mention Jona. I find that omission ard to swallow. (My keyboard is missing the letter that comes between “g” and “i” in the alpabet.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How’s this… Greg gets killed, Alicia marries Julian even though she doesn’t like him, and bumps him off with a secret ntraceable Egyptian poison she came across on the internet, inherits the house and all the artworks, her Dad moves in too and they live happily ever after? Job done! 🤣

    Liked by 5 people

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