In the weeks following the family gathering in Cambridge, to mark Uncle Herbert’s 60th Birthday, my mother was still in shock.
The news of my proposal and subsequent engagement to Dorcas had taken her completely by surprise.
She had apparently come to terms with the fact I would end my days as a bachelor and even though it had been confirmed and verified to be a “genuine engagement” she was still skeptical.
I have to admit there were moments when I didn’t believe it myself.
But we were engaged and everyone seemed to be as pleased about it as we were.
Though my mother was a confirmed skeptic on the subject, plans had already begun in earnest with both sets of parents jockeying for position even though a date hadn’t even been set yet.
Dorcas and I left them to get on with it for the most part as we had plans of our own to finalize, we would rein them in later when we were clear what we wanted.
We never thought at the time that we might live to regret our attitude of laissez-faire in this regard.
But there were more immediate things to occupy our attention, because although we hadn’t yet set a date for the wedding we had set another significant date on the calendar which was fast coming up on the horizon.
Dorcas was moving in with me.
By the time October came around she was already staying over at mind for three days a week so it seemed silly not to go the whole hog.
My place was bigger than hers so it made more sense for her to move in with me rather than the other way around.
We were going spend October packing up her place in Finchbottom so it was ready for renting from the 1st of November when she would move in with me, with as much of her possession as would fit.
When I asked her why she wasn’t selling her house, she said
“I want to keep it just in case”
“In case of what?” I asked
“In case you turn out to be a swine” she replied
As I said she had been spending a lot of time at mine and for the most part things went without a hitch but it wasn’t all plain sailing, there was one bone of contention.
That is apart from the age old chestnut, the toilet seat, what is it with women and their obsession with toilet seats.
Anyway I digress, my particular bone of contention was namely articles of underwear, that were particularly delightful when she was inside them but were very annoying when she was not.
They lost their allure somewhat when they were left hanging from the shower rail or draped over radiators.
When she wasn’t looking I would gather them up, in ones and twos, and put the wet ones in the airing cupboard or the dry ones in a drawer in the bedroom.
Dorcas didn’t seem to notice or if she did she didn’t say anything.
That is until the beginning of October when she enquired
“Have you seen my green knickers?”
“No hon, not since you were in them” I replied
“Are you sure?” she quizzed “I know what you’re like with your tidying”
She had noticed then.
“Definitely not honey” I answered
“I don’t understand it I’ve found the bra upstairs so I know they’re here somewhere but I can’t find the pants anywhere”
“They’ll turn up” I suggested
“That’s not very helpful” she replied
“There are some blue ones in the airing cupboard” I said helpfully
“I can’t wear blue pants with a green bra” she said crossly
“Honestly, what kind of a girl do you think I am?”
Over the next few weeks her green panties didn’t turn up and it transpired they weren’t the only items to disappear.
She went on to lose an assortment of knickers, three odd socks and a pair of tights.
Even my lucky pants did a disappearing act.
I had never experienced any loss of laundry all the time I had lived there so I was at a loss to explain the disappearance’s and could offer nothing but my stock answer of
“They’ll turn up”
Dorcas was unconvinced, as was I, and I’m sure she was beginning to think I was some kind of fetishist who had a secret stash of her knickers.
However any such suspicion’s she might have harbored would have been readily dispelled by a visit from my next door neighbour.
It was on Sunday morning, we had just returned home from church, when there was a knock on the front door.
When I opened it I was faced with a very shamefaced and embarrassed character holding a carrier bag out in front of him.
It was my long time neighbour John Elliot, a normally gregarious chap who on this occasion was stooped over like he had the whole world on his shoulders and was staring at his shoes.
“I think these might be yours” he said quietly thrusting the carrier bag in my direction.
“What is it?” I asked and took the bag
“Open it” He said shuffling his feet nervously
I did as he instructed and opened the bag and found inside sundry items of underwear.
“You’d better come in” I said
I had known John and his wife Carole for several years and we had always gotten on very well.
When I first knew them they had two cats, Madeline and Emily who were sisters, and they had them for several years but after Emily was killed on the road in the village Madeline ran away.
They were both huge cat lovers so they decided they would get a rescued cat from an animal rescue center.
Well what they got was a tabby called Tabitha who was a very sweet looking cat that unfortunately suffered with psychological problems.
It was a very nervous and timid creature who was very suspicious of everyone but what none of us suspected was its darker side.
While the humans of the village were all at work Tabitha roamed the local area indulging in her particular passion namely stealing from the neighbours.
She stole knickers, pants, socks, tights, handkerchiefs and the occasional bra as well as bibs and booties.
The troubled animal preyed on the unsuspecting locals stealing from washing lines, wash baskets and clothes airer’s though thankfully even with her psychological problems she only stole clean items, nothing soiled or un-fresh.
We were all oblivious to this dastardly crime putting the loss of missing items down to mischievous house elves.
The dastardly crime only came to light when John was clearing his spare room prior to decorating when he discovered a nest of other people’s underwear.
This could have been more awkward than it already was and John might well have had some explaining to do it Carole had found the pantie collection before he did.
When John told her of the stash he had found Carole thought it was very funny, she did however after sorting the not inconsiderable collection into bags for the prospective owners, dispatch him to return the items.
“I have never been so embarrassed” John said
“How many houses have you had to go to?” Dorcas asked
“You’re number 10” he said
“You poor thing” Dorcas said sympathetically the she looked at me and we both burst out laughing.
When we had regained control of ourselves he continued
“Luckily Tabitha’s is scared of her own shadow so she never strays more than a few houses either side of us, so it narrowed down the field”
After he had gone I looked at the contents of the bag
“You see I said they would turn up” I said
“Pah” Dorcas said unimpressed
“Still you’ve got to hand it to Carole she was spot on with her sorting”
“And look even my lucky pants are here”
“Oh, it’s a shame they came back I threw them out once” she said
“You threw them out?” I asked
“Yes I did” she replied
“But they’re my favourite’s” I said indignantly
Dorcas chuckled and from the doorway she said
“Well you can either stay down here with your lucky pants or you can come upstairs and get lucky in mine” and she went out the room.
About thirty seconds later I got up and followed her, pausing briefly by the kitchen bin to dispose of my former lucky pants.