Novel Preview: The Winspeare Lot
There was triumph in Sir Osbert Winspeare’s step as he marched through the station one dreary Friday evening in November, 1945. It wasn’t just that another week of staring across the House at the Attlee Government was over; nor that Winston had given his POETS’ DAY nod, leaving just a handful of Tory stalwarts to keep an eye on the blighters in case they tried to pull a fast one while His Majesty’s Opposition benches were empty. This was like no other Friday that Sir Osbert, 12th baronet Winspeare, could remember, for on the last-but-one lap of his journey home he’s seen a light no less dazzling than the one seen by Paul on the road to Damascus. He, who’d done a fair imitation of a cat tip-toeing out of the Chamber, now strode through the booking-hall, his steel-tipped heels clacking in exultation.
Did he care if he’d missed the bloody branch-line to Winspeare? If there wasn’t a taxi or a bus, he’d jolly well walk the four miles home!
Then, as he left the station an enormous grin spread across his face, for there was his own car waiting for him and at the wheel, not Fielding, but Loveday, his wife of thirty two years.
‘Darling girl,’ He crowed as he bounced into the passenger-seat and aimed a kiss at her left cheek, while his hand sought the warm comfort of her knee beneath its protective travel-rug, ‘I’ve cracked it!’
‘Oh, Bertie!’ she winced, ‘Your hand’s cold.’
‘Won’t be for long,’ he promised, giving her knee another squeeze and patting the other by way of compensation.
‘No, but my knee will be. What exactly have you cracked?’
‘I’ll tell you when we get weaving.’
‘Wouldn’t you prefer to drive?’
He usually did and it was something of a turn-up for the books when he replied airily,
‘No, -no, -you carry on.’
So, dumping the rug and his own hand in her husband’s lap, Lady Winspeare did, amazed that she cleared the station yard without a single kangaroo jump.
‘No bloody Leftie lot is getting its hands on Winspeare Hall,’ began Sir Osbert.
‘What?’ Lady Winspeare crashed the gears, ‘-do they really want to?’
‘I can only see too clearly which way the wind is blowing, my dear. Give ’em a year or two and they’ll tax us out of it, -make it impossible for Ninian to inherit, -turn the servants bolshie and then offer to take it off our hands for peanuts and turn it into a Borstal Institution or some such tomfoolery, -but not while I’ve breath in my body, -oh dear, no.’