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Today Lady Melville lost her glasses. She promptly rang the bell three times. I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when I heard the ding-ding-ding. The ding-ding-ding meant that she was in the living room, if it had been a dong-dong-dong she would have been in the bedroom, and a ding-dong would have placed her in the bathroom among the crocheted toothbrush holders and velvet toilet paper covers. I knew it was a matter of urgency because it was three dings and not two, a mere ding-ding could have been the remote control out of reach or Lord Melville needing to go to the toilet or Lord Melville having a burst catheter and requiring immediate hospitalisation or Lord Melville needing to be diverted for a few minutes of wakefulness between naps or Lord Melville trying to tell a joke. One could never quite know what Lord Melville wanted so it was safe to assume that any bell-ringing on behalf of Lord Melville was a two-ding or dong situation.
Claire Harris is an Australian who has spent the last few years travelling and working around the world. She has taught English in the Middle East and Africa and art classes in Bolivia, and looked after ageing aristocrats in England. She recently returned to Sydney to study creative writing.