14 February 2013


My mother had exquisite taste and an eye for beauty, so the house was full of the right things in the right place.

I'm thinking of the shells she dotted round the place, as conversation pieces, to beguile the eye - and generally fill boring spaces. 

These most beautiful conversation pieces are now, alas, dumpster bound and will find their final resting place in the next dry day  in the local rubbish tips and gutters outside the de Bono hotel. 

Sic transit and all that, and down with thievery.

They usefully filled a gap during one of our discussions and dissections of the team-theft of the girls' personal jewelry when I wanted to share a rare perspective of the contempt that wells up when very first confronting filcheurs one has caught red-handed stealing a precious possession - in this case, all my precious jewelry bequeathed to the girls.

I confessed that, as I climbed the Villa Thefti stairs to where they both sat in my brother's work study,  I wasn't  actually sure how I would feel or react.

That wonderful quote from a pal when I first informed her that my jewel box had been snaffled in toto and taken to Italy:

"Oh good God, can you imagine how far down the moral sewer you would have to swill to find a double act like that.
What a piece of work!"   

Those succinct words resonate with everyone.

Interesting, but to understand my reaction, you would have to have been there, seen the cake-mouth contortions of guilt and self-disgust.

I tell you, as I gazed on them ... all moral stature and standing drained from their every guilty twitch and pore. 

Almost a vacuum in ones very bowels. In that instant, all interest or curiosity in anything they have to sell simply gurgles down the toilet. 

Naturally, this explanation provoked a torrent of gyaku gire and hurling of the nearest foodstuffs/utensils at  hand - then I hit on the wheeze of using my mother's shells to ram home the point.

I asked her to imagine a visit by her simpering lawn-and-lorgnette brigade, and to picture one of them hefting her handbag to take her leave and one of the house's precious shapely shells tumbling forth from a side pocket and crashing to the marble before all eyes. 

That seemed to bring home the level of disgust and disgrace attached to the jewels heist. 

Having found the right example and parallel, my memory segued to that dinner when maman was excitedly declaring that she didn't think she knew an UN-nice gardener, and me churlishly chirping in  that I didn't see what was so nice about thieving. 

People must have got the hang of the story by then because I recall one or two discreet snorts of mirth - by the Pilfering of Perseus! Is there another hobby as over-size for its boots and over-weening in its arrogant assumptions.

I thought the image a rather good one, of one of their precious gardening pals behaving like 'family' - and, as I pointed out to my mother, benefited from visual cues partout

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