Sitting on the high backed,v Ercol sofa in the large sitting room of her new neighbours Tom and Edina, Mary sipped at the PG Tips tea she had been given in a pseudo-art deco mug.The tea tasted pseudo as well!
Would you like some delicious cake,Mary? Edina asked her rather loudly
Oh excuse me, my nerves are all on edge, she cried.I’d love some home made cake
Edina took out a penknife and cut a slice of the large cake.Alas it was coffee flavoured and Mary was not fond of that.This was agony to her especially coffee flavoured butter cream filling as she liked all the other flavours..Suffering from this is a new psychiatric disorder called uncakeophilia disorder
Why are you using a penknife in here ,Tom asked his wife angrily.We have lots of kitchen knives and other silver ones
I found it on the floor,Edina said pensively
I don’t suppose you washed it, Tom answered wildly
Mary leaned back and shut her eyes for a moment.I hate noise, she thought.
No, dirt is good for the immune system, Edina murmured
What rubbish, you are so lazy I can’t believe it! her husband told her.
After 39 years you should be used to it,Edina told him sensibly.Who made all these new curtains and vacuumed the roof? she went on languidly
Did you vacuum the roof in your last house,Mary asked her?
We lived in a flat before so I never had to do it.
Well, it’s unneccessary,Mary said , why not learn Esperanto?
Where do people speak that?
I have no idea but it’s a language,Mary cried decisively
But can it really be a language if it’s not the native tongue of any country?,
Well Yiddish is a language yet few people speak it,Tom told them
It would be difficult for the dead to speak,Mary said in a sad voice
It used to be spoken by millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe.
Why didn’t Hitler teach them English,asked Edina?
You think he only hated their language,said Tom in surprise.I’ve never heard that before.
It is bloody ridiculous,Mary said in her soft yet vibrant voice…he didn’t kill them because of their language and they spoke German as well,Maybe even French,Polish and other tongues
Just then they heard a strange choking sound .It was Emile the talking tomcat trying to get out of Mary’s large plastic handbag
Good grief ,Tom shouted.Did we invite this cat? Does he drink tea from cups? Is he real?
Well, yes , I love tea, Emile mewed.And don’t shout at Mary like that!
I am not letting a cat order me about,Tom screamed like a lunatic
But it’s not nice for Mary.She is a highly sensitive person and I love her
Now, they tell us,Edina whispered.She is married to her cat
I didn’t hear you,Tom said,Is she harried ,did you say?
No I said married
But her husband is dead
Well, now she has taken the cat, for better or for worse.Edina said in a humorous yet angry manner.
For richer for poorer… a cat can’t earn a wage
Edina and Tom were shouting at each other not realising what impression they were making
Mary called out,
Why invite me to tea and shout like this?
Did you never shout at Stan?
No,I didn’t need to.He listened to me.
Well, you are very quiet, said Emile, so Stan had no fear you might shout
I might have shouted when I read Fermat’s Last Theorem.Mary admitted furtively
Was Fermat your teacher,Edina asked?
No he died a long while ago
Fancy dying and all you have to leave is a theorem
Well, it stops the family fighting,Mary said wisely
Suddenly the door opened and in flew Annie, the flame haired mistress of the late Stan
Why was I not invited to this tea party ,she asked rudely?Are we in Boston?
Sorry,dear,said Tom.Not many people like to come here because Edina has a bad temper
No I don’t she shouted.You have a bad temper
I get so tired of all these projective misperceptions,Emile said in his intelligent voice
My therapist was not a cat, but I kept projecting on to him and he looked just like a cat to me until he barked one day.He was in fact a dog.I realised
Was that the end of your therapy?
Yes, I stole all the money from Mary’s purse and there was none left.And I learned about projection, that was enough
Good heavens,Mary murmured.I thought Annie had taken the money
What!You thought I was a thief.Annie bawled What next?
Well, you’re more like a sister and I didn’t mind as I know it’s so demeaning to ask for money.
See, said Tom to Edina,I said you should not ask me for money after we make love
Why not, she enquired? I need some new art materials
Can’t you use the housekeeping money?
Well, if you are happy to starve,Edina said sarcastically
Don’t use sarcasm.Only prostitutes take money.,Tom added.I did say you can buy whatever you like in the way of clothes and so on on our credit card
How do you know it’s only whores? Many women do need the money as they may be single mothers trying to feel their family and not getting Universal Benefit on time,Edina told him But other women might demand jewellery, and expensive houses like Wallis Simpson
That’s a fair point,Tom muttered.It’s more complicated than I realised.
Money is a big problem in many marriages,Mary called
But I earned my own and Stan retired early and got a pension so I had no need to
beg him for money
But did he beg you,Edina asked?
No, we just kept in the bathroom under the soap.So it was clean.
I wonder if viruses can spread on money? Tom said
I feel sure it is possible but how would we test that out. his wife asked
Best to wear gloves but when you take them off the viruses might fly all over the place
I didn’t know they could fly, said Emile.Are they invisible?
Well, we don’t really know but people often get bad colds when they go on aeroplanes
Annie turned pale.
Are you ill, Annie? asked Tom
I am having a nervous breakdown.I’ve caught paranoia from a £5 note.
You can’t catch it,Mary said in her kind voice.It’s not a physical illness and they are plastic nowadays so they can be wiped down
Well where does madness come from? It is horrible feeling so anxious.
This is not much fun, said Edina.I thought it would be lovely meeting the neighbours but we go from tarts to paranoia and back.Is this wise?
They all sat looking glum,Then Annie revealed all
I am a Russian agent sent here by Putin.I befriended Mary on Putin’s orders
He must be stupid.Why spy on Knittingham?
Well, you will be surprised.Mary is an expert on differential operators
On bicycle chains, asked Tom?
How ignorant people are.Annie shouted.Did you never see anything odd about calculus and little things appearing and disappearing?
Well, to be frank, no!
I don’t believe we learned calculus said Edina
We learned quadratic quotations
Do you mean equations,Mary asked?
I don’t know what I mean,Edina said nervously
And neither do we, said the others
Calculus is a bit like the Mass.Important things happen but we can’t see them.Everything looks the same but it’s not
Then they heard a siren.In ran Dave, the heroic paramedic in his new pink dress. and coat
Don’t drop the bomb, he told Tom audaciously
I’m not President Trump,Tom informed him gravely
That’s what they all say,Dave said to Annie
Who can we trust
Just Emile,said Mary.And Annie.
Why don’t you trust me said Tom?
I am waiting to see how you behave,she replied
Like a kind of exam?
Yes, it’s called
Trust your neighbour and yourself? How to know the people who might be dangerous
to your life and mental health
There’s not much mental health in Britain now,said Tom.I’m a doctor!
Well, don’t shout at the patients, said Annie
I only shout at home,
That is horrible, surely those you love need kindness?
Tom burst into tears and Emile lent him his hanky
I don’t think we’ll meet any more of the neighbours Edina said
Enough is enough.Kindly go home
Pleased to meet you, said Dave.Do call me when you need coal bringing in or have a heart attack
No way,thought Tom as he drank a bottle of brandy in the bathroom
I feel we made a mistake… we will have to move as soon as we can
And so say all of us