The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler

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      (And her struggles with editorial and cleaning staff anarchy)

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        “It’s quiet here, don’t you think?” Godfrey was enjoying a moment, gazing through the Victorian windows of the silent mansion at the piglets running outside chased by Roberto.
        “Not in small parts thanks to Elizabeth Madam being abroad for a visit to her Uncle Bob.” Finley raised her nose off her wool balls, as she was indulging in a little knitting break from the cleaning duties by the fire.
        “God knows what it will bring though. I have an idea, she might come all shaken from so much family time.”
        “Certainly, no one wants to see her shaken though, we all remember too well the last… episode.” Finnley sighed.


          All of them were lined up like an army of tin soldiers on the manicured turf in front of the mansion. Some more at ease than others, but all feeling the looming of an impending return.

          Someone broke the silence. “Boss is late, no?”

          A sigh, a pair of rolling eyes. Nothing more needed to be said.


            “You have NO idea!” announced Elizabeth, dramatically throwing the front door open, “No idea what I’ve been through!”

            “We do have an idea,” replied Godfrey, a welcoming smile playing about his lips.

            “You have NO IDEA!” Liz glared at him. “You think it was all about family, but no! Oh no!” Liz tried unsuccessfully to remove her long purple scarf with a flourish, but it caught on the hook of the hatstand and tightened around her throat. Finnley came to her rescue ~ rather slowly, if truth be told ~ by which time Elizabeth’s face matched the puce of her scarf. Liz coughed, and then took a few deep breaths.

            Roberto, take care of my suitcase will you? It’s heavy. It’s full of gargoyles. Finnley, put the kettle on!”


              “Boss is back” someone muttered in the dark.

              “Took her long enough” The other sockmoth said with a grin.


                “I would have been home much sooner but I misread the ‘airport’ sign as ‘carport’ and kept on driving. Of course I missed my plane but what a jolly laugh I had about it!”
                “Very droll,” said Finnley.


                  Godfrey laughed good naturedly…

                  “Of course, your story kept changing like a rainbow after a tornado. We really got to focus to grasp it entirely, us poor humans.”

                  As he stood by the window, looking at the piglets he seemed to be the only one capable of discerning, entered with a spring Paul Anna, the fashion journalist who had booked an appointment for a groundbreaking Liz’ interview.

                  Finnley shrugged loudly toward the door she closed, her throat dry from the black soot of her latest cleaning adventure.

                  The late arrived journalist of stylish and powerful people looked greedily at the room, not impressed in the slightest, wondering what sort of question she would ask that could be easily twisted into a scandalous piece of rumour mill fodder.


                    Liz, who had been out in the garden, waxing lyrical about the glorious sun for this time of year, the colours of the flowers and at the same time regaling Roberto with tales of the places she had been, paled when she noticed Paul Anna writing notes into his phone.

                    She stopped dead in her tracks.

                    “It’s that powerful journalist, Paul Anna! I can’t possibly do an interview now!” she hissed at Roberto, “I’ve not even unpacked my case … I don’t have any clean clothes! Where is that maid .. what’s her name … Glynis? Oh no, that’s not right. Ah, Finnley!”

                    Liz looked frantically around.

                    “Here I am. All ears, as per usual,” said Finnley.

                    Finnley!” Liz hissed. “It’s time to do some work for a change. Get me out of this interview and make no bones about it!”

                    “Oh okay, If i must,” said Finnley. She had been looking forward to the interview. She well remembered the last interview when Inspector Olliver had come to question Liz over the missing maid in the suitcase misadventure. Most entertaining.

                    She cleared her throat dramatically. “Oh Madam Liz!” she said loudly. “Your Great Aunt Lottie is on the phone and it’s very urgent indeed.”


                      “Aunt Lottie the dwarf, you mean? The one who stole my candlesticks? I don’t want her anywhere close to me!” exclaimed Liz, who was extremely flustered and not at all prepared for the subterfuge.

                      Finnley rolled her eyes, saying cryptically, “It’s early for those trees to be losing their leaves. I wonder if Roberto is nearby with his gardening hands and that new braid in his hair.”

                      “I think he’s dealing with those hooligan birds,” remarked Godfrey helpfully, “He’d made a carved decoy, free standing and heavy.”

                      The voice of a dog stopped the conversation, a talking dog. “It’s alright. The sadness was just a dream.”


                        “Enough of all that nonsense!” exclaimed Liz, who was brimming with enthusiasm, a bit like a frothing glass of cava. “Now then, Finnley, pay attention please! I’m calling a meeting to be held this evening for ALL of our story characters. I’d like you to make sure they are all made welcome and have suitable refreshments. Yes, I know it’s short notice, but I’ll give you the key to the special pantry in the Elsespace Arrangement. Some of the characters will help you, you just need to make a start and it will all fall into place.”

                        Liz beamed at Finnley, who was looking aghast, and then fixed a piercing gaze on Godfrey.

                        Godfrey, my good man. You know what I’m like with technical details. Your job will be to write my questions, with the relevant technical minutia. Don’t interrupt my flow with questions! Use your powers of intuition and telepathy!”

                        Roberto attempted to slip out of the French windows, but his yellow vest got caught on the latch.

                        “Not so fast, young man!” Liz had plans for the gardener. “There won’t be room inside for all the characters, so it will be a garden party. I’ll leave it to you to ensure there is plenty of outdoor furniture for people to make themselves comfortable. I’ll give you the key to the special garden shed in the Elsespace Arrangement.”

                        “May I ask”, Godfrey ventured, “What the meeting is to be about?”

                        “Indeed you may! I want input, lots of input. And ideas. The topic is Alternate Intelligence. That is a slightly better way of saying it than Artificial Intelligence, but not quite the perfect term. But we can change that later.”


                          The first character to arrive was Bea , with patches of dried custard flaking off her lapels.


                          Elioctyl and Ella Marie Tindale were the next to arrive…..


                            Liz glanced up from her communication device with a satisfied smile. She’d just invited some more characters to the garden party, characters from Elsewhere, and a few from Elsewhen. Come any time, she’d said. A riot of colours beyond the French windows caught her eye. Roberto was working wonders out there preparing for the party, it looked most enticing.

                            “I say, Roberto, nicely done!” Liz squinted in the bright sun as she emerged from her study into the garden.

                            “Oh it wasn’t me, Liz, I think it was someone called Petunia.”

                            “Well, that was fast! I only just invited her!”

                            “She has lined the pathway with colorful ROTE flowers. They’re like Alice’s bite me cookies, she says, Choose wisely.”

                            “Oh, so it’s a Rotes Garden is it,” Liz snorted.

                            “Petunia’s big into decorating with color”, Roberto said, “Looks like a tulip farm. Rainbows of ROTEs…”

                            “Well, that’s one less thing for you to have to take care or, which is most excellent! As I said to Finnley, just make a start and the characters will help…”

                            “Oh, er, by the way, Liz,” Roberto said. “I think the idea is that they are rare jewels of condensed information. Consume slowly, savor, and enjoy. The nectar is a tonic for the soul.
                            Like, don’t pick them all at once and shove them in a vase, kind of thing.”

                            Liz gave the gardener a withering look, and then changed it to a smile, thinking that withering looks in a freshly blooming garden perhaps wasn’t the thing.

                            “Splendid, Roberto, everything is coming along fabulously.”

                            Roberto continued: “To digest them is to know. and the knowing is both deep and fresh. Something new she says, that you already knew.”

                            Elizabeth was impressed.


                            Elizabeth was even more impressed when the Obviously Intelligent Daily Comment Generator mentioned something very similar to Alice’s cookies .
                            She was delighted to see that Sanso was one of the early arrivals to the garden party, and that he’d brought with him a rag tag assortment of strapping young Arduino time hackers.

                            And who was that following then? Hypatia ~ and someone else. Could it be Galatea? Liz clapped her hands delightedly. What a party this was going to be!

                            Finnley bustled past with her arms full of colourful bed linen, muttering under her breath.

                            “Would you like me to write that the French maids arrive next Finnely, perhaps they’d give you a hand with that….I’ve forgotten their names though ~ Mirabelle?”

                            Liz scratched her head, perplexed. Suddenly it came to her along with the sounds of a carriage approaching with a deafening clatter of hooves. “Adeline and Fanella, of course!” she exclaimed.

                            The horses snorted as they were reined in to a halt an the front entrance. A young woman in what appeared to be a fancy dress costume descended from the carriage.

                            “I ‘ave come to ‘elp Finnley wiz ze bedding!”


                            Liz felt someone tug at her almost transparent pink silk gown. She tried to ignore it as she worked hard to recall the young woman’s name, she had it on the tip of her tongue.

                            The tug got stronger and Liz feared that whomever was doing it they were going to tore her silk veil. She turned around, her irritation colouring her high cheekbones with a nice tint of pink and gasped.
                            “What I do with the spiders,” asked a small woman with dark skin and wearing a rainbow sari. “They’re so big big, and SOOOO hungry. They’re going to eat the guests only.”

                            Liz shook her head, seeing the curls of her newly acquired blond wig bounce about her face. She looked at the cocktail. What did Roberto said was in those? she wondered.

                            “What spiders?” she asked. The maid pointed behind Liz with her chin. When Liz looked she almost dropped her glass. A swarm of colourful giant jumping spiders were running and jumping near the swimming pool, frightening the human guests, while Roberto was riding one of them in his sparkling cowboy costume, laughing like a teenager.
                            “So?” asked the maid insistently. “What I do?”
                            Liz was confused.
                            “Why are they here?” she asked, “I don’t understand. Where’s Godfrey?”

                            “They are the daughters and sons of Narani from the giant spiders island,” said a man with a beard in a WWII uniform. A ghost dog barked silently at his feet.

                            “Of course,” Liz said. But it was too much for her and she gulped, all at once, the remaining fifteen jewels of condensed information floating in her cocktail. She shoved the glass in the maid’s hands and said: “Bring me another,” before she collapsed under the afflux of so much knowledge.


                              Liz had strange visions of a nine tailed fox before tumbling backwards onto the sofa. That was when she noticed the awful pink gown. Why on earth do my characters insist on dressing me in such outrageous clothes, she wondered, not for the first time. She scratched her head and noticed the Folly Tart On blonde wig. Oh, really! she cried, exasperated. This is just too much!


                                Finnley thought about Liz’s predicament for a few minutes. “You should get a job,” she said at last. “Do something useful with your life and stop obsessing about what you are supposedly wearing.”


                                  Liz gave Finnley a withering look, but the insubordinate wench wasn’t looking.

                                  “A job? have you lost your marbles? Can’t you see how busy I am? Can’t you see the value in everything that I do? It’s not about JOBS you daft tart! Are we ever going to move on from JOBS and JOBS and JOBS…” Liz started slamming her hand down on the arm of her chair.

                                  “Steady on, old bean,” said Finnley as Liz began to sob.


                                    Godfrey started to think that his participative management initiative went a little astray.
                                    Getting more done with more personal fulfillment was to be had for a small cost of less control over things. Obviously on the paper, it would have done wonders.
                                    With a little bit of machine learning, and AI whatnot, everything would have been agile and sorted out.
                                    Obviously, his strategic plan for the extremity transformation needed some refining.


                                      The garden was a mess. Roberto was emerging slowly out of the blissful haze of his stone elixirs where nothing really mattered into the harsh reality of the aftermath of the all out characters party.

                                      He found cocktail glasses, plastic cups and even toilet paper scattered under and on the bushes, hidden behind the marble statues that had been dressed with scarves, blond and red wigs and false moustaches.

                                      He looked clueless at a dirty muddy bubbly pond. He wondered what it could have been for a moment. Images of half naked guests throwing buckets of champagne at each others, of firemen extinguishing the barbecue appeared in front of his eyes, but it wasn’t quite right. Then he recalled the ice sculpture fountain he was so proud of. It was completely melted, like his motivation to clean everything.
                                      A noise alerted him that the cleaning team was also emerging from their slumber. They arrived before the guests left and it soon had become a foam party, hence the bubbly pond.

                                      Well, he thought, at least we had fun.


                                        “What you all don’t realize,” Liz said, “Is that all of this so called fun is in fact highly significant. You think we’re all playing around scribbling nonsense and gadding about on the lawn acting the fool for no reason just for something to do. But this is a vital and rare artifact in the future! My dears, you have no idea!”

                                        “I think it might be vascular dementia,” Finnley whispered to Roberto, “I read about it in a magazine this morning.”

                                        “Mint tea from the Basque country?” replied Roberto, holding his glass up to the light for a closer look.

                                        Finnley rolled her eyes and inched closer to Godfrey, hoping for a better response when she told him her theory.

                                        “Imagine her in a denim basque, you say? I’d rather not! HA!” Godfrey spit out a few bits of peanut with the final HA!, which was forceful enough to send a few of them flying across the room.

                                        “You’ve got bits of nut in my Basque mint tea now!” Roberto exclaimed ~ somewhat rudely; he forgot for a moment he was just the gardener.

                                        “I think they’ve all lost their marbles,” remarked Liz, just for the written record for the historians in the future who would find this story; and for the benefit of the AI they had unwittingly been programming all along. Although what the AI was actually being programmed with perhaps didn’t bear thinking about. A further though nagged at Liz despite her efforts to ignore it. What if it did matter? What were they creating?

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