The Plastic Hippo

April 3, 2013

Mrs Smith`s diary

Filed under: Fiction — theplastichippo @ 12:41 am
Jessie Matthews image via

Jessie Matthews image via

As the wife of an important cabinet minister, one has to endure all manner of tiresome interruptions to family life in order to further the political career of one`s husband. This is becoming rather dull.

I`m worried about Iain. I think he might be overdoing things at work. This evening at dinner, he told me that we are to become part of what he described as “a massive stunt”. At least I think that`s what he said. The good news is that our four grown-up children will be coming to stay. Iain says it`s something to do with spare bedrooms but I don`t understand any of that. The bad news is that we will have to stay in that ghastly little house in Chingford that he uses when he has to be seen with the dreadful plebs that live in that God awful town. I have to say, though, that I`m giddy with excitement at the thought of being in a BBC documentary. How splendid it will be to appear on television.

An early start as our driver conveyed us to the God awful Chingford. The staff had gone ahead and as per Iain`s instructions, the Polish girl who does the cleaning had opened the curtains to show the world that we were up and about and working. We call her the Polish girl who does the cleaning because she has a simply unpronounceable name known only in the circle around gypsy camp fires in her frozen native land. I was horrified to discover that Iain had arranged for an old car without wheels to be placed on the driveway and that the head gardener was spreading waste paper and cardboard boxes originating from somewhere called McDonalds all over the front lawn. I really must ask Iain about this later.

The children have arrived which is a joy. Their internships seem to be going very well and their bosses have given them unlimited time off to be part of our massive stunt. Iain called a family conference which brought some disturbing news. It would appear that the BBC documentary is not about our lovely homes but about how we can survive on £53 a week. I told Iain that I have no idea what £53 is and we all laughed.

The BBC film crew arrived today and Iain has given us lists of what we can and cannot say. The children are not allowed to mention private schools, especially Eton and have been told to park their Porches in the next ghastly street. I have to emphasize at every opportunity how hard Iain works and how easy it is to run a household. The rather charming young girl from the BBC came up with the marvellous idea of filming me making porridge. She seems well connected being related to the Dimblebys. No, not the vulgar ones on television but the more refined Dorset Dimblebys. The stunt was hilarious and when they had finished filming, cook threw the horrible mess away and brought us our splendid breakfast of swan egg omelette and Dover sole kedgeree. For some reason, Iain went into the garden and began attacking bits of wood with an axe. The under gardener, who was locked up out of sight in the potting shed where we allow him to live, was shouting advice as Iain kept missing. Such a scream.

Today the BBC came to film me making lunch. I have no idea what beans on toast is but cook showed me where to find a can opener before being told to “move out of shot” as we reality TV stars like to say. The girl from the BBC seemed less charming and was quite short with me when it took six “takes” for me to master the black art of a can opener. I shall have a word with her mother.

I am now becoming quite irritated by the girl from the BBC. She and her wretched film crew followed me all the way into town when I had arranged to meet Samantha for afternoon tea at Fortnum’s. It really is unspeakably rude to point a camera over ones shoulder when one is eating cake. The girl has no breeding. The day was saved, however, by the chauffeur who was instructed to change out of his livery and wear ghastly jeans and a West Ham shirt and deliver a “piece to camera” or “vox pop” as we in the media call it. He gave a charming Stanley Holloway impersonation extolling the good work that Iain is doing. He delivered the script brilliantly and told the nation in no uncertain terms that the working man will not tolerate scroungers draining benefits from the economy.

I have just about had enough of the wretched BBC film crew. This morning the awful little middle-class girl suggested that I go to a supermarket – a supermarket for goodness sake – and, and, and talk to a black person. I told her that I have already spoken to a black person. She was some wife of a business associate of Iain`s. I can`t remember the exact circumstances because my eyes glaze over when I hear the words “defence equipment procurement”. Anyway, I showed her the ivory ornaments we brought back from Rhodesia and had a jolly chat about how lazy and devious the domestic staff are in that part of the world. I have put my foot down and have told Iain that I am going back to the nice big house that Daddy, the fifth Baron, gave to us. Heavens to Betsy, how on earth can we keep three houses going on £53 a week? After the unfortunate misunderstanding regarding the payments I received, Iain can keep his own bloody diary from now on.


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