Annabelle had been a worry since the moment she was born. Once initial concerns had been allayed by a rigorous check-over by the Consultant Paediatrician, it turned out that she was absolutely fine. But before long, colic kicked in and for six months solid, Cordelia’s sleep was interrupted to the extent that she turned into a complete zombie, barely functioning and thirty-odd years on, still wondered how she managed to get through it.
Felicity had been a toddler at the time and Cordelia had morphed from an elegant woman into a tracksuit-wearing wreck who hardly had time to breathe, let alone wash her hair, and the very thought of spending a few hours in a salon while gossiping with her hairdresser about the latest episode of Changing Rooms with the handsome Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would have sent her into an orbit of dizzying delight. Just to be free from the needy baby and toddler for a few precious hours.
Basking on a steamer chair in her beautifully manicured garden wearing a brightly coloured fitted summer dress, a huge floppy straw hat and sunglasses, she waited for Fliss to come floating across the lawn like a mirage. She was beautiful and elegant and she had always got along well with her firstborn but sadly she couldn’t say the same about her relationship with Bella, although she was glad to hear that the girls got along well, which of course had been a huge relief.
Bella had a way of rubbing her up the wrong way. She would say things like, ‘Mum, why don’t you do something with your hair?’ rather than, ‘Have you thought about changing your hairstyle?’ Even though she moved to London at the very first opportunity, her trendy lifestyle funded, of course, by her Daddy, Cordelia sometimes wondered if Bella cared about anybody but herself. She seemed to have what is termed as a ‘transactional’ relationship with her father to Cordelia’s untrained eye, because she only ever contacted him when she needed something.
Fliss was different. She would call her father to see how he was doing and always bought him the most thoughtful gifts for his birthday, at Christmas time and on Father’s Day. Bella barely remembered to thank him for his generous gifts and sometimes only sent him a perfunctory text on Father’s Day instead of a card and a present. He didn’t seem to mind but it bothered…