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The Cotswolds
by Laura Solomon and Kerryn Young

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A property in the Cotswolds! I was a lady now and ought to start behaving like one. I signed some papers at a lawyer’s office and the property was mine. His family were furious. Apparently the house had been in the family for generations and they thought it should stay that way. I was an usurper, I had come barging in at the last minute, screwed Trev a couple of times and made off with the loot. In their eyes I was a witch – I had bewitched Trevor, cast a spell on his mind. They thought I had convinced him to change the will but I had done no such thing. The will had been made of Trevor’s own volition – I had not known anything about it until it had been read at the funeral.

I decided to make my way to the South Cotswolds to scope out my new property. I had the address programmed into my phone. I packed my suitcase and popped it in the back of the sports car Philip had left me. I jumped on the M4, and was there four hours later, after having gotten lost a few times and having to backtrack. The journey was something I would have to learn to perfect. When I arrived I saw that one set of neighbours were out watering their roses. I parked up and climbed out of my vehicle, still hungover from the night before. I waved and called out ‘yoohoo’ but they ignored me. I had them pegged as snobs, but as I was unlocking the house, the female of the species came across and introduced herself.

“Hello I’m Maude”, she said, holding out her hand for me to shake.

I shook her hand dutifully.

“Tiffany”, I said.

“Oh”, she said. “Funny name for a punk. We don’t get many of them round here. Punks I mean.”

“The thing is”, I said. “I’m not actually a punk. I know I look like one. I just happen to have a mohawk. Somebody gave it to me in an act of revenge.”

“An act of revenge? Whatever do you mean?”

“Well, it goes like this…I used to be a hairdresser, and I botched up a few hairdos. I got a little slap happy with the peroxide. Didn’t really know what I was doing. So they came for me after work one day. A boy band and a model whose career I ruined. I guess I got what I deserved. My just desserts.”

Maude raised one perfectly plucked eyebrow.

“I see. This is a quiet area. Serene. We don’t welcome disruptions.”

She handed me a brochure entitled ‘South Cotswold Etiquette for Ladies’.

I looked down at the first item.

‘No skirts above the knee’.

I was wearing a skin tight denim mini with gold studs around the hem. I was already in trouble. Did Trevor not think about how I was going to fit in here when he left me the property?

“So”, she said, looking me up and down. “What do you do for a living?”

I pulled myself up to my full height.

“I’m independently wealthy”, I said. “My boyfriend was a doctor. He left me this place when he died.”

“I see. So you didn’t afford it from your own money then.”

I was silent.

“And where are you from? Have you been to university? What high school did you go to?”

I knew she was checking out my pedigree.

“I went to the The Thomas Lord Audley School – they were voted the most improved secondary school in Essex in 2016. Then I became a hairdresser. Why what school did you go to then?”

“I attended Wycliffe and read English at Oxbridge.”

Oxbridge? Where the hell was Oxbridge? I was bewildered but tried hard not to show it.

“That’s great” I said, turning the key in the lock.

I felt suddenly intimidated by this lady. It was as if she was interviewing me. What’s the bet she belonged to ladies’ societies and ran luncheons? I hurried inside the house, grabbing my suitcase and pulling it in with me, hoping she wouldn’t notice that a pair of frilly knickers had fallen out on the way up the drive.

Inside, I sat on the sofa and drew deep breaths. How was I going to cope with these upper-classers? Was I going to live here long term or go back to London? I had bought a bottle of gin with me, so I poured myself a long drink.

I drank it too quickly, I was about to pour myself another then stopped myself, time to look around my new house, it was two story, the ground floor had a big kitchen, beautiful marble adorned the bench tops, ceramic tapware, glass leadlight covered cupboards, everything was so shiny, a far cry from my flat, the lounge had beautiful furniture, Queen Ann this and Queen Ann that, the biggest L shaped sofa I’d ever seen, cream in color, plush in texture. Matching cream Cashmere carpet throughout the house. I took my heels off and let my feet soak into the carpet, bliss, upstairs were five bedrooms, four poster beds in each, two with ensuites, a spa bath, smoky grey tiles on the bathroom floor, white tiles on the wall.

Antique mahogany furniture. Polished wooden floor boards covered with expensive looking rugs. Lovely pictures adorned the walls. I wasn’t sure who the artists were but they were bound to be somebody famous.

I had another drink and decided to take a walk into the township. I set off past the cottages with their thatched roofs and down to what seemed to be the main drag. It was Saturday evening and I was looking for something social I could lose myself in and forget the recent events.

I noticed flyers plastered to the walls of buildings advertising a band called Major Threat an all girl band playing at the Cotswold Arms later that evening. I thought it sounded interesting and resolved to attend. I took myself to a Chinese restaurant and ate a quick meal of chow mein, then made my way to the Cotswold Arms.

The place was packed to the rafters. Punters jammed in to every nook and cranny and the band not even on stage yet. Well this should be exciting, I thought to myself. It had been a while since I had seen live music. The last act I had been to see had been a couple of Milli Vanilli impersonaters in Brixton. They’d even had the fake hair. I brought myself another gin, and nestled in toward the front of the crowd. By the time the band came onstage, I was pleasantly tipsy. I cheered and hollered with the best of them.

The lead singer grabbed the microphone with both hands and started singing. Her gravely vocals filled the room. The drummer pounded out the beats, keeping good time. Her hair was blue and green at the front and hung down over one eye.
They played mostly original punk numbers but also did a great cover of Pretty in Pink by the Phychadelic Furs, also Here Comes the Sun.

I started dancing to the beat, inadvertently spilling my drink over the man standing next to me, I didn’t even acknowledge or apologise, with three dead men in my past, I decided it best I leave off liasing with men. I would be celibate for now. I couldn’t afford to have any more boyfriends die or people would start talking. I would be branded a witch and possibly burnt at the stake or stoned to death.

At half time, I saw the band head backstage and out through a side door. I nipped outside too. I had only seen them play for three quarters of an hour but I was a groupie, full of admiration.

They were standing near some garbage cans smoking, drinking and talking amongst themselves. I was a little intimidated by the lead singer so I approached the the drummer.

“Great show,” I said nervously

“Thanks,” she replied, then held out a hand for me to shake. “I’m Caitlin.”

“Tiffany.” I replied.

“Cool hair.” Said Caitlin.

“Thanks,” I said not mentioning that the hairdo had been inflicted upon me against my will. She gestured towards the rest of the band.

“This is my band Major Threat. This is Heather, Kate and Floss.”

Floss was the lead singer. She had black and white striped dreadlocks that reached to her waist and wore tight black leather pants and a black singlet top with ‘Boss’ written on it.

“This is the last night of our national tour,” Explained Caitlin.

“There’s been a stuff up with our B&B bookings we don’t have anywhere to stay for the night.”

She looked at me expectantly.

“Well,” I replied.

“As luck would have it, I have just inherited a lovely property not far from here. You’re welcome to come and stay with me?”

Caitlin glanced at the other band members.

“Did you hear that ladies? An offer of a bed for the night.”

Floss came over.

“Could you really put us up? We’d be ever so grateful. We can cook breakfast for you in the morning.”

So that’s how I found myself later on that night heading to my new home with Major Threat in tow. They packed all their gear into an old Combi van and we headed to the house I had just inherited. Life was good, never been better.

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