A middle-aged woman, Penelope, is showing a potential buyer, Mr Bond, around her mother’s bungalow. It’s on the market for £387,500.
This is the dining room, Penelope says. In the centre of the room there’s a large oval mahogany dining table covered with a considerable number of porcelain horses.
Likes nags, does she? Mr Bond asks.
This is the master bedroom, Penelope says, opening a door. The windows are curtained in black velvet and contrast with the white wooden Rococo four-poster in the very centre of the room. Its white canopy, glistening with gold embroidery, depicts lions and unicorns. The counterpane and padded eiderdown are white satin and monogrammed ‘ER’.
What do you think? Penelope asks.
It’s not what you expect to find inside, is it? From the outside it’s just a bog standard bungalow.
Let me show you the lounge. The walls are adorned with reproductions of the many commissioned portraits of the monarch made during her reign. Occasional tables house a multitude of silver framed photographs of the extended Royal family including one of Princess Diana in a jet frame. A tartan pattern wing-backed chair faces the picture window.
Impressed? Penelope asks.
Mr Bond frowns. Is that chair on fire? he asks, seeing a rising plume of smoke.
That’ll be Mum, Penelope sighs. She said she’d be out.
Is all this royal crap included in the asking price? Mr Bond asks. If it is, I’ll want a handsome discount because I’ll be skipping the bloody lot.
Oh, will you indeed? a female voice bellows. An elderly woman in twin set, pearls and a lilac pleated skirt emerges from the wing-backed chair brandishing a smouldering cigarette.
Jesus! Mr Bond gasps. You’re the dead spit of Liz, aren’t you?
I have the privilege of being her Majesty’s double, yes. I have stood in for her for many, many years, as was necessary, though, sadly, never overseas.
Hang on a minute. What you’re saying is that you pretend to be the queen, correct?
Correct, and that’s why I have all this royal crap, as you call it, to help me in my role. I believe it’s called method acting.
I’d call it bloody lying. What a bunch of tossers. Can you do her voice, and all?
I can, Mrs Windsor replies.
That’s good. What about waving and shaking hands?
Mrs Windsor waves before shaking Mr Bond’s hand.
But why do it?
Because she’s suffered and needed help. Would you want to spend time amongst the great unwashed?
I’d rather be with them than with that hoity-toity lot. But why are you selling up? The old girl’s still alive, isn’t she?
Penelope intervenes. Mum, you don’t have to explain anything.
But I do. I need the cash. I’ve been made redundant without any compensation. I don’t even know if her Majesty knows. I blame Charles and Camilla – mean bastards.
You should go to an industrial tribunal for wrongful dismissal, Mr Bond suggests.
Mrs Windsor laughs. That would be difficult. I don’t exist.
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© Phil Cosker 2021
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