Despite Tilly Mannersworth’s usual calm and sensible demeanour, even she has fallen victim to the wantonly irrational and overpowering emotion that is love. However, all is not lost and a bucket of lard is the perfect antidote for most matters related to the heart.

Accidents and other disasters

One of the first things that come to mind when thinking of love is passion, and with that, a string of disasters that seem to follow. Romeo and Juliet poisoned themselves for God’s sake, so did that great beauty, Cleopatra; Helen of Troy was abducted; Tristan allowed himself to be stabbed; Bluebeard locked his ladies in a room, after he murdered them, of course; and Mr Mannersworth once tied himself to a tree, baring his birthday suit to the world, while playing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You on his iPod. I dare not tell you where he attached the speakers. Mortifying.

However sensible we may be, when love enters the equation, all rationale seems to fly out of the window. Reader, you may want to sit down if you have not already, but I too have been a victim of the love frenzy, as I like to call it.

I remember the first time I fell in love. Indeed, whoever coined the phrase could not have chosen a more apt expression. You see, before I met Mr Mannersworth I spent a year in the bush. I wanted to be one with nature, away from all the gismos and gadgets of the modern world.

But nothing could have prepared me for my encounter with Bush Man Gonzalo. This is a family newspaper so I shall spare the details, save for one. I was so besotted with this divine specimen of a man that one day I followed him everywhere he went, including past a booby trap. He went past it, I went in it. I found myself in a deep hole that had been covered with leaves. Thankfully the bucket of lard I always carry around with me helped soothe my bruises and I managed to use two broomsticks I found in Gonzalo’s backyard as crutches.

Lesson learnt? Keep your eyes wide open, even if they are love struck. And do keep lard in your bucket.

Manners and etiquette

With a surname like mine, you will surely have figured out how important manners are to the Mannersworths. Particularly so, since we are direct descendants of Philip Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, and master of manners par excellence.

Sadly, although the Stanhopes and Mannersworths are stalwarts of good etiquette, it pains me to even think of my cousins, the Mugpots, who have utterly destroyed our otherwise perfect lineage. Apart from Feathertop Hacksfroth, who redefined insanity, but then that’s an entirely different story.

But I shall share with you, dear reader, the story of cousin Eugenia Mugpot, so that hers may be a lesson to you. Poor Eugenia, it was bad manners that left her a lonely spinster.

The family was out to dinner some 57 years back and Eugenia brought along her new beau, Montague Friss. Clearly besotted by him, Eugenia must have lost all sense of reasoning when she burst into an orchestra of laughter. First she tittered, then giggled, then continued the disgraceful display by a hearty laugh, followed in turn by what can only be described as a cackle. A cackle I say!

I do recommend a daily broom thrashing in order to train the mind to quickly snap out of the folly that one falls victim to when in love

I rushed over with my bucket of lard with which I then proceeded to plug her mouth. But alas, it was too late. Montague had already risen for the table and was heading for the whisky bar. And by then, her reputation as a loud laugher had travelled miles on the gossip line, and no man would ever contemplate initiating conversation ever again with rude Eugenia.

Readers, as Philip Stanhope reiterated, frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and ill-manners. Do keep this in mind, or at least, keep that bucket of lard at hand, just in case you happen to find yourself on the brink of uncontrollable laughter.

General stupidities

Petrarch wasted a good chunk of his time writing 366 poems in which he waxed lyrical about a woman called Laura who probably did not even exist. The man could write, he had a way with words, so why he did not simply get off his little Renaissance armchair, head to the local pavilion and woo a female specimen about the breeze ruffling her gentle curls there is beyond me.

Love makes us do stupid things. And when under the influence of the love frenzy, as Petrarch most surely must have been, it is so very difficult to extrapolate oneself back to sound reasoning and to clarity of mind.

I know of an incident that occurred to a very dear friend of mine. In order to protect her identity, I shall refer to her as Goosey. This is not her real name, I assure you. Some two years ago, Goosey fell head over heels in love with a 95-year-old man. Now do not get me wrong, I have no qualms about people wooing those of a more mature nature. The problem, however, was that both Goosey and her suitor were so far gone in their emotional fever, that they completely forgot about the man’s metal heart and walked straight into Magnet Tunnel at the Love Attracts Day and Night Fun Fair. Poor Goosey still has not gotten over her loss.

We tried beating her with a broomstick in order to perhaps knock her back to sanity but, alas, this was not to be. Love stupidities are the most difficult to deal with but I do recommend a daily broom thrashing in order to train the mind to quickly snap out of the folly that one falls victim to when one is in love. It’s not easy I assure you, but it’s the best I can do.

Indeed I must go now, for I hear Mr Mannersworth calling me for my daily dose of broomstick.

Mrs Mannersworth is a figment of Veronica Stivala’s imagination. Bush Man Gonzalo is not.

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