Lady Diana Heliotrope

One of Branwell’s talents, that he liked to keep quiet about because of the teasing, was the art of flower arranging. He liked nothing better than to dress the hallways of Ricketts with his decorative arrangements, but always pretended that his sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte did all the work, as it was not viewed as a manly pursuit by all.

He had worked as a gardener and groom at Ricketts man and boy and kept an area of the grounds and one of the hot houses to rear his outstanding blooms; his Golden Balls were often remarked upon when he chose to put them out on show.

He had shown aptitude at Queen Mab junior mixed infants when a lad for all things creative, but his brute of a step father tried to beat it out of him. It was onlyto Miss Bunty that he had confided his secret in who told him he wasn’t a big girl’s blouse or a jessy for liking all things floral and she gave him plenty of encouragement.

As he pondered how to make some money to buy Bunty a ring he saw an advertisement on the wall in the foyer of the hotel announcing a flower arranging competition; for ladies only.

Branwell knew that he could not be beaten when it came to arranging his blooms, but he was hardly a dainty creature and could not hope to pass himself off as a woman, but then he had an epiphany.

Branwell stood before Bunty’s mirror and admired the results; he had found her second best tweed suit, which no longer fit her, as she had lost so much weight, but fit him nicely. He had borrowed one of Lulu’s wigs and some of Lola’s make up.

The end result was something that resembled Margaret Rutherford and a drag queen but he believed he could pull it off-he had to-the prize for the winner was one thousand guineas!

The competition was that very night and Branwell hobbled down to the reception desk with his application form and only received a few odd looks as it was a resort were a lot of plastic surgery was performed.

He entered the ballroom with his hastily gathered nose gays to the sound of hissing and the general call of “Ooh look at her!”

Bunty stopped at an off license on Lola’s insistence and stocked up on gin, Pimms and copious amounts of cigarettes whilst Lola made her way back to the hotel.

They had both seen the advertisements for the competition and Bunty had insisted on going.

Lola had huffed about it but then thought it might be fun to sneer at the blue rinse brigade and as her sneering needed frequent practice in order to be up to par, changed her mind and went to find them both a seat at the front of the ballroom, pushing old ladies aside in scorn as she sought the best seats in the house.

Branwell, or “Lady Diana Heliotrope” as he was announced, was first.

Lola stared in horror at the specimen in the frumpy old hat with long black hair and a face made up like Coco the Clown wearing Bunty’s distinctive Harris Tweed.

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed inwardly, “It’s that gardener from Ricketts and he’s done up like Bingo on a very bad day! Wait until Bunty sees this.

“Lady Diana” was just about to clip her first stalk when Bunty came rushing breathlessly into the room.


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