Paternoster Tales: Chapter 4

Hot chocolate

Having said hello and puzzled you with all those intro-diddly-ductions, yesterday, it’s time to return to Agatha’s red wellingtons and why they made Paternoster so cross. And why a full English breakfast is not … most Absolutely Definitely not better with fresh, uncooked, startled pigeon paddling in a puddle of baked beans and pecking at the mushrooms.

It really had nothing to do with Agatha. Or her new wellingtons. But everything to do with their colour. And Lucretia.

The wellingtons were red.

Red, with no fancy bows or pictures or laces.

What does the colour red mean to you? Christmas, reindeer noses, robins, ripe English apples, strawberries, hearts, tomatoes, fun, daring, naughtiness, summer pudding, poppies, a setting sun, embarrassment, fire, and hey-look-at-me-I’m-confident-enough-to-wear-red. All good things, generally. Fun things. Warm things.

To Lucretia, red is the colour of power. Blood is red. Red blood is warm. And spilt blood is exceedingly bad. It is also the colour of frantic flamenco dancers, of erupting volcanoes, of fiery chillies, of branding irons, of  bullfights, of war, of nuggety nobbles of bird droppings after the birds have been thieving red-currants, of rage and danger. Lucretia saw Agatha stomping her new red wellingtons when her mother refused to buy her a hot chocolate and Lucretia’s eyes flared red with shared indignation and excitement.

Hot chocolate; creamy, warm, chocolatey, topped with a rocky cairn of sweet marshmallows. Warming on a damp Monday morning and desired by a little girl with cold hands and new red wellies. It was the Monday before the burp. Agatha and her mother were a few minutes late – the yellow floral socks had clashed with the red wellies and they’d had to empty the wash basket to find some pink bunny ones.

Agatha’s mother was not in the mood for further delays. She brushed aside the request for hot chocolate. Without explanation.

It would probably have been better if she’d taken time to explain why on this particular Monday morning, they didn’t have time to practice their French and stop to order a small hot chocolate from the nice man in the French cafe. It would also have been better if she had remembered how very annoying it is to young children to be told ‘No!’ without explanation. But that is what happened and Agatha, restless and thirsty for hot chocolate in her new red wellies, saw red. Seeing red in case you don’t know means seeing Lucretia. I forgot to mention that very small children can usually see us. Agatha saw Lucretia at just the moment when her mother said ‘No!’

Lucretia sensed fun.

Lucretia can be very wicked.

It turned out that Agatha can be pretty wicked too.


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