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Hands, faces, collars and boots all spotless was the order of the day, GD even had a shave; high tea with all the trimmings on the house boat – Aunt Pru was to visit.  It was neither wise nor safe to go near the galley – Minnie Bannister was not to be trifled with and; the beer cellar had been locked, serious stuff.

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Was the elephants (of course) which first alerted us to the AP approach, they all know the call-sign of that magical beast – and the visit began.    Minnie had set up in the garden, everyone’s favourite chair – even a lampshade for Thorny – although he dare not wear it, twas not to be that sort of party.

Well, it was a splendid event, everyone relaxed and the cakes were truly amazing, then Aunt Pru with perfect timing said “Ahem” – dead silence.  From deep within her flight bag a piece of parchment appeared – “time to look at the numbers” she said.   P2, TOM and I exchanged glances, for this was our task.

“I have here a list of the nations who have been kind enough to visit, as you can see, it is extensive” a beat, “it is a pleasure to see so many meet in peace and with a common interest, most refreshing; well done boys”.

America, Australia, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Israel, Russian Federation, Netherlands, Hong Kong, China, Romania, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Philippines, Thailand, Macao, Viet Nam, Taiwan (Province of China), India, Korea (the Republic of), Malaysia, Italy, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Brazil, Turkey, Virgin Islands (British), Slovakia, Denmark, Singapore, Cyprus, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of, Spain, Bulgaria, Austria, Norway, Argentina, Byelorussian SSR, Cambodia, Egypt, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Belgium, South Africa, Yemen, Finland, Oman, Bangladesh, Slovenia, Qatar, Iran (the Islamic Republic of), Iceland, Algeria, Fiji, Moldova (the Republic of), Tunisia, Vanuatu, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Guam, Iraq, Jordan.

A quick smile for us and a sigh of relief; but there was more to come: “I am very pleased to see that the dreaded numbers continue to behave” the parchment was turned around, a beat, then “I notice some 26,000 visitors who have patiently ploughed their way through the offerings, over a 112,000 of them, well done again boys” – the quick kindly smile – then the PNR moment – “So why don’t they write to me?”,  the plaintive question, gently asked in a puzzled tone.

Well we had to admit to being as puzzled as she was; there was no short, concise answer we could provide.  So we left it at, and tucked into the pasties, pies, buns, cakes, jelly and trifle until just before sundown.  AP and her elephant slipped away into a beautiful sunset as we  headed for the cellar.

“Well”, say TOM, once we were settled; “any answers for the lady?”  Heads were shook, beers were sipped, feet were shuffled – but we could not work out why so few out of so many did not drop Aunty Pru a line once in while.  A letter from Iceland or Tajikistan would certainly make AP smile.

Aye well, time to saddle the elephant, work to be done, places to go, people to see.

Toot toot