Cedric is not the kind of man that you would want to annoy. His normally florid countenance is something to behold but when annoyed it turns into something altogether more unpleasant. It doesn’t take much to provoke him. Cedric is used to having his own way or more precisely, he is the centre of his own and many others’ universe. People who know him tend to tip-toe around him, half scared, half excited to see what may happen next. Today is Saturday, the day that Cedric always drives into Hampstead in his little silver sports car, believing himself to be the coolest person in North London. He may actually have been so at one time, many, many years ago but now, a rather sad, unusual sight in Wayfarers and a dusty pink flat hat, driving in third gear up and down the streets of NW3, he most definitely is not. Cedric does not need to drive to Hampstead; he lives there, between the Heath and the High Street in a big, red-brick Victorian stack of a house with crumbling masonry and rotting window frames – but it is Hampstead. Hampstead is of course de rigeur for Cedric’s “artistic” type. At one time there was much coming and going of friends, mostly from the theatre or the wider world of the arts but most of them now have the structural integrity of Cedric’s house and are likely to crumble away altogether with any protracted journey on a Northern Line Tube journey. So, they stay at home with their two bar electric heaters in drafty apartments nursing half a Guinness and fading memories, leaving Cedric to face the twenty first century alone. Cedric likes to be seen in his little open top car. He is a character, sitting proudly, one hand on the leather-bound steering wheel, the other tucking what’s left of his silver grey hair into his hat and wants to be recognised – as or for what is anybody’s guess.
As well as being Saturday today is rather different. Cedric is beginning to wish it wasn’t. For today, Cedric’s latest lady friend has come to stay for the weekend. Elspeth is a lady of indeterminate age but young enough for Cedric to think he’s onto a good thing. They had met at the bar of the Everyman cinema some months ago following an embarrassing incident involving a glass of house red and a wayward peanut and had since struck up a fairly fluid relationship, suiting Cedric’s rather flighty attitude to the opposite sex. Elspeth’s invitation had seemed a particularly good idea a few weeks ago when arranged over the telephone and most of a bottle of Claret. Now, he wasn’t quite so sure.
“Come on Cedric, we’ve got shopping to do” called Elspeth from her position by the large front door with its’ cracked stained glass and peeling paint.
“Oh my God” thought Cedric.