Alfred my old cat
The weather in Knittingham was rather hot.Mary was away giving a lecture on Dirac’s thoughts in Oxford and Stan felt lonely.He rang Annie but she was out.
So he said to Emile
I am going to bed early.Have you had enough to eat?
Definitely,cried Emile,who had just licked all the cream off two meringues in the larder.So Stan went upstairs.He took off all his clothes and admired his thin body in the mirror.
Not bad for 97,he muttered.
Now what shall I put on?
He found his pyjamas too hot so on an impulse he opened Mary’s wardrobe and found a cotton nightdress.It was a bit big for him but definitely cooler than his pyjamas.He cleaned his teeth and washed himself before falling into bed with,The Other Ariel a book about Sylvia Plath’s poetry and how Ted Hughes had altered the order of her poems and even removed some from the book .Ariel,which made her name.The doorbell rang.Each time it played a different tune out of the 90 in its repertoire.
He ran downstairs and opened the door.There stood two policemen.
They stared a the handsome old man with elegant hands
Hello.Sir.I hope we have not interrupted you?
No,I am just reading in bed. on my own
Do you always wear a nightgown?
This is the first time,he told them humorously.
I felt very hot so I decided to wear my wife’s gown.
And just where is your wife?
What’s it got to do with you,he enquired unceremoniously.
Just tell us,the older policeman said brusquely
She’s at a conference in Oxford giving a talk.About Dirac or Riemann or another nitwit.
Can we come in? the policeman said.
May we come in,Stan corrected him;not a good idea on the whole,especially in the USA where the police have guns.Luckily all our police have here are rubber gloves in case people ask them to wash up after having a cup of tea.
What is wrong? said Stan.
We have found a naked woman walking in the High Street.She says a man stole her clothes.For various reasons we think it might be you.
But if she was in the High Street she’d be in proper clothes not a nightdress,surely ,Stan murmured.
But you like women’s clothes….. we can see.
No,I don’t, the old man shouted.
I told you I was too hot.And in my own home I can wear anything I like.
Sometimes I wear a prayer shawl
Are you Jewish? they asked.
Only a little, but I inherited it from a great grandfather who married out.
Out of what? the police asked
He married out of his faith.He was longing for a bacon sandwich.
Surely marrying just to eat a bacon sandwich is a bit over the top.
Well,that was his story.Maybe he was tired of obeying the Ten Commandments so he broke most of them.
He committed adultery once when his wife had a nervous breakdown ; he lost his head and went to bed with his neighbour’s wife.
And where was his neighbour?
At the psychiatric unit visiting my great grandmother.Stan admitted uneasily.
Well,at such times we all do odd things,the older policeman advised him.
Thank you for your frankness,Sir.I can see you are not a criminal.
Thank the Lord,said Stan as he went into the kitchen and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea to save ringing 999
I am lucky not to be in a cell and Mary would have had to come home.She would have been cross, he told Emile.Anyway monks wear habits.
But who had stolen the clothes off the woman in town? A mystery to be studied with Annie when she got home.
At last Stan relaxed and went back to bed with his books
This is the last time I ever wear a nightdress he whispered to Emile who was by his side.
And so hope all of us.