Meantime it occurred to me that my papa may not have received the letter from me informing him of the aunts arrival. I had told him over the phone of course but his memory is like a sieve so it is always best to reiterate things in writing, so he can pin it on the ice box and refocus his pink eyes on it every time he goes to get some prune juice. Meantime my aunts were on their way to Palm Springs, 3000 feet above sea level on a zeppelin (they insisted on travelling thus, garbed as pseudo-historically as the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). It must be said my aunts have some bizarre habits it’s impossible to argue with: they are so old they would travel to the Riviera for the skiing. But as you well recall they have not travelled anywhere at all since the teen years of last century. My Aunt Olga who is the eldest insisted on travelling in a fur-lined coat, dust veil and rubberised girdle; she also took with her in her luggage chest a small burner, like a gas heater, ‘for the discreet & hygienic destruction of sanitary products’ as she told me. “But Aunt Olga,” said I, “You are no longer a young woman… more to the point you are at least 107 years old, surely…” But all Aunt Olga would say was “Ah!” and with a lifted brow enigmatically hint that excessive laudanum consumption had a preservative effect.
In contrast Aunt Tatiana was swathed like a black widow who is looking to make a sexual connection on the Orient Express. I reminded her too that it had been many years since anyone had remarked ‘She is a fine figure of a woman’ (assuming they ever had) but Tatiana assured me that she was on a new kind of diet, “Now I can eat as much ice-cream as I want because it’s Lite,” she said, failing to understand that the word ‘lite’ has no actual meaning in English whatsoever. “For the first time in years I feel very gay,” said Aunt Tatiana.
Finally Aunt Stacy nervously agreed to go too when I assured her that Palm Springs had an attractive and sophisticated night-life, a cocktail hour that started at 3pm and a dinosaur park. “My father will be able to show you the very brightest spots in town,” I lied. He keeps some very low company but I did not mention that.