A scream woke Lola from her gin soaked reverie and she staggered towards Bunty’s cabin.
Bunty was standing in front of her bowling bag holding one of her baby crocodile skin shoes staring at lignum vitae dust and a very ugly caterpillar.
“Oh my God Bunty! Is that some sort of pet?” asked Lola in disgust.
“I’ve no idea what it is, but it’s eaten my bowls!” complained Bunty, “They were given to me by Bingo after an African campaign.”
The caterpillar burped and seemed to smile at the two.
“Ah!” came a Gallic voice from behind them, “It is the Omnivorous Munching bug which lives only on the Lignum Vitae wood but will devour anything in its path. It lies dormant for as much as seventeen years then it wakes and feasts then breeds and dies.” It was Monsieur Puree.
Lola glared at him-he smelt of garlic and she didn’t like short men with moustaches, or French men, or bowler hats, cheap clothes, or…
“That’s all very well, ” said Bunty, “but what are we to do with it?”
“There is only one thing. We must drown it!” declared Puree.
“Now hang on!” said Lola, “It’s Bunty’s pet we can’t drown it!” the gin had started to kick in.
“Lola, it’s not a pet, and if Mr Puree..oh no!” cried Bunty, for the caterpillar had eaten through the bowling bag and was nowhere to be seen.
“We must alert the Captain!” cried Puree, “That thing will devour the ship!”
Branwell was getting very comfortable in the armchair that Vita had placed him in and his head was reeling with her ideas for his show.
“You see Branwell, ” she said breathing out a plume of smoke from her cigar, “it has to have the “wow factor” your floral arrangements are splendid, but you have to give it something extra.”
“Like puppets?” asked Branwell, “Or performing mice?”
“Branwell, Branwell, Branwell!” laughed Vita in a throaty manner, “You adorable man! I wasn’t thinking of puppets or mice! I got a glimpse of that flesh that you are hiding beneath that hideous suit! You are a man! A man I say and you should show it to the world!”
“You mean do the arrangements with my pinny on and my bare arse hanging out?” asked Branwell.
“Arse! Arse!” cried Vita, “Oh you horny handed son of the soil! Yes, show everyone what you are made of!”
Branwell was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable-he had read that book by that Mr Laurence and knew what posh ladies like Ms Vita got up to with their game keepers. Vita’s game keeper was a surly individual called John Thomas, and Branwell didn’t like him.
Yet, he had felt slighted by Bunty going off without so much as a by your leave with her friend, and part of him wanted to show her a thing or two.
“You’re right Ms.” said Branwell, “But without hurting your feelings there’ll be none of that rumpy pumpy.”
“Of course not!” said Vita, trying to sound shocked, “I am a Lady!”
“An ice berg!” cried Bunty, “How on earth can there be an ice berg in the Mediterranean?”