Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Best Friends

Rose and Penny had known each other since childhood. When someone said they were just like sisters, both chirped up in unison “Oh no, we’re much closer than that!”

The girls”, as they were known in their circle, had always done everything together. Their lives had run in parallel since their meeting in Miss Bradshaw’s class in the juniors.

They had seen each other through senior school and college, Pony Club and teenage years onto jobs in admin at the Vale of Vaysey Cottage Hospital and married life with George and Jack.

Each found her Mr Right within months of the other through Young Conservative Dances in the village hall.

As Mrs. Bush and Mrs Black, Rose and Penny would compare notes on wedded bliss over coffee in the kitchen of their bungalows a few doors down from each other in the picture-postcard
village of Wibble.

As well as being the scene of their courtships, the village hall provided facilities for many shared hobbies. Over the years these had included upholstery, yoga and even car maintenance.

Equal first amongst their shared passions was ballroom dancing and in particular Latin American. Rose and Penny considered themselves “aficionados of the dance”.

They enjoyed appending a definite article to nouns. It always made the word sound so profound.

Each thoroughly involved her other-half in the dance. Both husbands threw themselves into the process with commendable gusto, although their competitive edge declined with the passage of time.

George’s spangled Lycra cat-suit for the samba was less than alluring as he entered his sixtieth decade and Jack found it harder to clutch a rose between his ill-fitting dentures at the climax of the tango.

Their other chief passion was riding. They were amongst the longest established of Bunty Pargeter’s liveries at Vaysey Pastures and, with Patsy Pottle and Rita Palgrave, constituted the core of the mature set on the yard.

Following retirement, much of their time was spent caring for their mares Margot and D’Arcy, hacking around the lanes and practising for unaffiliated dressage competitions on Wednesdays at the Vale of Vaysey Riding Club.

Both ladies could be prevailed upon to judge some Prelims occasionally. They were pleased to help out and enjoyed the opportunity to gain revenge for past misjudgements and perceived slights. At local level in the Vale, what goes around comes around - sometimes with interest.

The competitive edge, apparent in the dance, also extended to dressage. Each took competitions very seriously. The test was practised to the nth degree and both mares and riders were immaculately turned-out.

Their shared background in the dance meant each saw herself as quite the glamour-puss and neither was a stranger to the sequined snood or diamante nose-band.

After competing, both Rose and Penny awaited the results anxiously. The winner was congratulated fulsomely and floated off to the canteen, as though on wings.

Outwardly the loser smiled sportingly; inwardly she knew the bitter truth of the saying “every time a friend succeeds, something inside me dies a little.

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