‘It’s so lovely to visit and not be deafened by that bloody cockerel. I swear, Melanie, Revenge should be the West Country champion for volume, not beauty.’
‘Perfect!’ Melanie closed Nigella’s Feast and smiled serenely.
‘What’s perfect? Gérard Depardieu’s Adonis-like body – although he’s currently rather unwoke – or my current bank balance; I do believe some mathematicians say zero is the “perfect” number, whole but unviolable.’ Giselle reached for the cool green bottle. ‘You don’t mind… this Sancerre is wonderful.’
Melanie nodded; her immaculate blonde bob swayed. ‘I’m serving it with the vichyssoise on Saturday.’
‘Melanie, when we first met, what, 32 years ago, at Cheltenham, your habit of talking in riddles was intriguing, even charming in a first-year boarder. Now it teeters on the dull side of infuriating. Would you mind terribly explaining what is perfect, before delineating your son’s graduation dinner menu?
‘La vengeance est un met que l'on doit manger froid.’ Melanie’s accent was, of course, perfect.
‘Even my fading O level recalls “Revenge is a dish that must be eaten cold.” Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, if I’m not mistaken, more usually, if incorrectly, quoted as “dish best served cold.”’ Giselle’s normally animated face disappeared in on itself. She shivered minutely and a hand covered her mouth. ‘Oh no, no, you can’t… look, I know yours was a messy divorce.’ The hand splayed, revealing a sly smile. ‘Well… poor Revenge.’
‘Former husband insisted on a “happy-fucking-families” graduation dinner for George, not me. I wanted to take George out on my own, somewhere nice. But no. So, we’ll start with vichyssoise: some leeks, onion, a few potatoes, all cooked in freshly made cockerel stock. A little milk, a pinch of salt and pepper and voilà. I’ll even be wearing earrings made from Revenge’s feet.’
‘I didn’t see that coming.’
© John Quinn