Today, I'm cheating a little. This is not a new post - it's a repeat of an experiment I started when I was mostly on MySpace (now abandoned), where I introduced the seemingly mild-mannered respectable librarian, Bambi Fancipants, and asked readers to help me run with her story.
I'm resurrecting her today in honour of Red Nose Day, one of those things that makes me proud of my British roots (comedy and compassion is always a winning combo for me), and in the hope that it might raise a small smile for someone, somewhere....
The Secret Life of Ms. B. Fancipants
As she closed the church door after making sure the flowers were in place for the Sunday morning service, Bambi Fancipants – spinster of the parish - smoothed out the wrinkles in her tweed skirt and straightened her twin-set as she prepared to face the world. As she did, her hand brushed against the outline of the suspender belt attached to the black-and-red basque trimmed with scarlet feathers beneath her schoolmarmish apparel. She smiled secretly to herself as she considered how very different she really was to the meek and modest librarian that everyone in Holthorne-by-Sea thought they knew....
As she turned to leave the covered doorway a loud voice startled her. "Tart!"
Bambi stood stock still, a thousand thoughts tumbling through her mind.
"For the fete tomorrow afternoon," continued the vicar. "Don't forget to bring one of your fabulous tarts!"
Bambi relaxed and smiled. "Of course," she replied.
"I fear Mrs Miggins’ baps will take a lot of beating on Sunday," said the Reverend. "But your tarts should give her a run for her money in the cooking competition."
As he mounted his bike and turned to leave, the Reverend gave her a wink and shouted "You provide a wonderful service for the village folk" as he cycled away.
A pensive look flitted across Bambi's face. Could he know? She shook her head to banish the thought. "No" she said out loud "He couldn't!"
Walking down the High Street, she paused at the window of Barnabas' Greengrocers. A prodigious grower, Barnabas was renowned throughout the county for his massive cucumbers and juicy plums.
"Ah, Ms. Fancipants," his eyes twinkled as she entered the shop. "You'll be looking
at my prize fruit, I'll warrant. Sunday's fete looks like it'll be a good'un."
He licked his lips. "I've always been partial to your cherry offerings."
"Actually, I was thinking of raspberries this year," Bambi shyly ventured.
Barnabas give a whoop of delight and clapped his hands. "Even better! There's nothing like a pouty red fruit atop a tart!"
Bambi left the shop puzzled, her pace slower than usual.
Was it her imagination, or were all the villagers beginning to sound like Sid James on an off day? No matter.
She patted her basket and sighed, brushing her fingers over a large punnet of berries and Barnabas' enormous carrot and cauliflowers. The man was a magician with soil. Many was the time she had spent bent over in his allotment watching him get stuck in.
Before long, she ran into across the local schoolmistress, Aida Romp. Miss Romp was known throughout the village as a strict taskmistress with her young male pupils. Once Bambi had witnessed her having it out with the young William Hung, after catching the poor young lad playing with the farmer’s cock: the biggest, proudest bird to be found at any village fete. She had chewed him up and spat him out - poor William had looked so pale, as if all the life had been sucked out of him.
"Morning Miss Romp," Bambi chirped.
"Oh, morning Fancipants." Aida always called people by their surname – an occupational habit she had never grown out of after years of teaching.
"I’m off to find something sticky and sweet to put inside..." started Bambi.
"...your hot tarts, Bambi." Miss Romp interrupted.
"Well, to be sure, it’s something that will have everyone drooling. I do so love to get my tongue around your juicy fillings."
As she opened the front door to the ivy-clad cottage she shared with her one-eyed cat, Madrigal, Bambi could barely contain her excitement at the thought of the fast-approaching village fete – the event of the year as far as she was concerned. This year, there was more than usual array of home-baked goodies and tombolas to look forward to. This year would see the return of Holthorne-by-Sea's prodigal son - and her first love.
After years carving out a distinguished career in Tinsel Town, Rick River (a.k.a little Dickie Pond) was returning to the village to open the fete in true Hollywood style. And Bambi Fancipants planned to be there to welcome him with open arms.
She sighed at the thought of their innocent stolen kisses behind the bike-sheds all those years ago. Even then, they had sent a thrill through her that she had never experienced since - try as she might.
If only Dickie's lipstick hadn't clashed so violently with her own modest shade....
It had been a long day and she needed to wind down. She took a book from her shelves and turning to Madrigal (who was now rubbing around her ankles), announced: “The cooking can wait, I need something to relax me a bit, and welcome as your attentions are, it isn't you...”
She went to the kitchen, fed the cat, and remembered some wine chilling in the fridge.
Just the thing.
"But relaxing is something you can't do in tweeds, least of all when there are tarts to make ...later.”
She took a long sip of her wine, put down her glass, and went upstairs to change. Off came the twinset and skirt, discarded as a butterfly sheds its chrysalis. She paused, turning sideways to approve of her profile in the mirror, smiling to herself, thinking: “Red always suited me; yes, I like red.”
She came downstairs to settle with her wine, a good book and her cat for company. But Madrigal was fussing to be let out, so Bambi stretched and rose from the sofa. She was about to open the front door when there was a knock. There was no mistaking the silhouette of her visitor even though she hadn't seen him in the flesh for years.
'Dickie!' she breathed. Madrigal escaped as she opened the door...
She slowly, shyly lifted her eyes to the face she remembered oh-so-well. She took in the well-honed golden-tanned body and… was that the suspicion of a visible corset line she could see beneath the expensive fitted silk shirt?
No matter, it was Dickie alright. That much she knew as she met his expectant gaze.
The spark was still there, and she was relieved to see that he had not added the ubiquitous blue contact lenses to hide his unique set of unmatched khaki-green and mud-brown peepers.
Nervously fingering the fur trim of her basque through the flimsy fabric of her trousers, Bambi took a deep breath – which, to her horror, came out as a star-struck gasp – smiled awkwardly and said "Well, hello stranger!"
"Hello yourself," drawled Dickie arrogantly, in a voice flattened by Hollywood and now completely devoid of any character. "It doesn't get much stranger than this, does it dahling?"
Dickie entered and stood looking around Bambi’s humble living room.
“How deliciously cheap, dahling!” he exclaimed at last “I always was impressed by your simple tastes.”
“None simpler than you” thought Bambi tartly.
“Tea?” she asked.
“Darjeeling?” enquired Dickie.
Dickie guffawed theatrically before delicately mopping the spittle from the corner of his mouth with a silk handkerchief flamboyantly produced from inside his blouse.
"You'll be the death of me!" he said. "Forget the tea. Let’s sit! You’ll be wanting to hear all about my wonderful life, dahling. While you’ve been here tending the vicar’s blooms I’ve been on a magical journey.”
Bambi sat down on the sofa opposite Dickie and listened politely as he went on – and on, and on.
“It wasn’t all plain sailing, dahling, I can tell you” he continued. “You know of my humble beginnings at the local Am Dram society but I left so hastily and without a word to you!
I had a calling you see. Kismet, if you will.
For two years, I worked the cruise ships to open my passage to the Land of The Free.”
Bambi frowned. It was going to be a long night. Sensing he was losing her attention, Dickie raised his voice a notch.
“DAHLING! Have you any idea how hard it is to work your passage with 200 sailors tossing about on the open sea? It really takes it out of a performer. Even one of my calibre.”
“Dickie, this is all fascinating,” Bambi retorted. “But I really must ask why you chose to visit me after all these years? After all, you had so many …. erm ….. ‘good friends’ in the village, didn’t you?”
She noted the tone of voice, the inclination of the head, so different from the image in her memory, yet there was still a vulnerability hiding in there somewhere, she was convinced.
“Well,” he said. “I have this fan site on the internet, where all my friends and fans can keep up with what I'm doing.”
“Fascinating,” said Bambi stifling a yawn. “Do go on.”
Hardly pausing for breath, he added: “The vicar is a great one for correspondence, and has kept in touch since I left. He knew that I’m planning a movie memoir, and wanted to return to do some research, so he volunteered in his own little way....”
("Lord, I need my wine!” thought Bambi. Her patience was beginning to wear thin.)
“So when he asked me to open the village fete, well, who was I to turn down free publicity? I decided to combine business with pleasure and come down here for a few days, back to dear old Holthorne. So Bambi darling, here I am...at your service!”
He ended with a flourish and waited expectantly, as if he had just delivered a momentous and well rehearsed speech. He moved earnestly toward her along the sofa.
“Wine?” she asked, standing suddenly and moving out of arms reach, deciding that she didn't want to take part in his research project tonight.
Dickie looked stunned that he had been so effortlessly out-manoeuvred.
“Thank you,” he replied meekly, remembering that Bambi Fancipants had never been a woman to trifle with, and that manners and decorum had always been demanded in his relationship with her. She had always been the soul of discretion, and his secrets had been safe with her. He watched at her as she poured his drink, noting how trim and firm her figure still was, how her voice had the same pleasant familiarity it had always had - and he began to regret his sudden departure.
She returned with the drinks, curling up opposite him in an armchair, and as time passed, shades of the old Dickie she knew reappeared. The cruise ships and Hollywood certainly had not, in reality, been nearly as glamourous as he had imagined they'd be, and his time there had taken its toll. But now he was back in England, and ready to relax a little in the company of old friends.
“Not so old!” scolded Bambi.
“Ahh!” he smiled slyly. “But old enough to remember the first strawberry flavoured
There was a sudden gasp, “I'd completely forgotten...”
Crestfallen, Dickie said. "But darling, how could you? After all, we..”
“No, not you. Tarts! I have to do tarts."
He looked deeply shocked. “You? You’re a? I thought you were still at the library!”
She snatched his glass, saying “If I don't get on with it, there’ll be no time, and I'll be in big trouble. You must go Dickie. At once. I'll see you tomorrow…”
And with his head whirling, Dickie found himself unceremoniously bundled out the door….
....Now, neglect is a terrible thing, and when you fail to nurture something, events will sometimes punish you for your indifference. Such was the fate of Bambi and Dickie, as people joining in their story and left them to wither. It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Bambi Fancipants and Rick Rivers, as reported in the “Daily Scum”:
Film star and librarian
crushed by flying ice boulder
by Dirk Digger
Hollywood and a sleepy Sussex village are today reeling after a freak accident claimed the lives of one of Tinsel Town’s hottest properties and the local librarian.
Rick Rivers and Bambi Fancipants were killed instantly when a one-tonne block of ice and frozen waste plummeted from the sky onto the main stage at the Holthorne-by-Sea fete, where Rivers was presenting the prizes for the local cooking competition.
Investigators believe the ice boulder formed as a result of a faulty waste release valve on the toilet of an aeroplane that had taken off from Gatwick Airport 20 minutes earlier. It is believed that accumulated waste and water formed the massive frozen sphere, which fell off just as the plane was crossing the English coast. Rivers and Ms Fancipants were the only victims of the tragedy.
Hollywood’s last lumberjack
Rick Rivers is best remembered for his impromptu performance of Monty Python’s “The Lumberjack Song” when accepting the Oscar for his supporting role in “Mounting Miss Maisy” earlier this year.
Born Dickie Pond in Holthorne-on-Sea, Rivers had returned to the village to conduct research for his next project, a documentary about his rise to fame – and to open the annual village fete.
Fighting back the tears, his Hollywood agent Barbra Heinschleck said: “Rick can never be replaced. Since he arrived in LA, he had turned our world upside-down with his cute English accent and his brilliance for playing bad guys. The tragedy is that he was poised for greatness – both professionally and personally, this was going to be his year. Not only had he been on the verge of signing for a major new deal, we were also about to announce our engagement.”
She dismissed rumours that the real reason Rivers had returned to his home village was to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Bambi Fancipants.
Heart of the village
Back in Sussex, residents of Holthorne-by-Sea were today clearing the debris from yesterday’s disaster. Sweeping away the last remnants of dozens of devastated strawberry tarts, the Reverend Obidiah Digby, vicar of St. Mary’s-On-The-Side, said the entire community was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
“Of course, we are saddened by the death of little Dickie Pond – I mean, Mr. Rivers,” he said. “But the greatest blow is the loss of Bambi Fancipants - the very heart of our village, who represented everything that is worth preserving about rural English life. She was the very soul of discretion and respectability, and was always eager to serve her community in any way she could.”
Neither Rick Rivers nor Bambi Fancipants had any family. However, a Last Will and Testament found in the spinster’s cottage bequeaths her extensive collection of Anne Summers memorabilia to the Brighton Home for Wayward Strumpets and her recipe book to her neighbour, Mrs. Amelia Miggins. She also expressed the desire that her cottage be converted into a new 20th Century Erotica wing of the county library.
A memorial service for both victims of Monday’s tragedy will be held in Holthorne-by-Sea in October.
Bambi is keenly missed by those who knew her. And sadly, her secret life will remain one of those great untold stories that is lost in the sands of time.
She is survived by her cat, Madrigal, who was last seen wandering up the lane out of Holthorne-by-Sea, presumably in search of a new mistress.