Cousin Prue is a rather unusual lady who wends a graceful thread through all the books except one. During 'In Bed with the Cats' Pyjamas' she was living in a strange inaccessible place, and could not be contacted. Thank goodness she appeared again in 'Tricked By the Kippers' Knickers', apparently no worse for wear, though that is somewhat surprising, as you will see.
Cousin Prue is a lady who is rather similar in some ways to a second cousin of my father's, who also had a name beginning with P. This P was a mysterious character who was invariably knitting. She obviously wanted to convey the message that she was fond of woolly jumpers and so forth, but I suspect that the truth was more complex; I did notice when visiting Canterbury, for that is where she lived, that most of the people in the streets and shops were also wearing jumpers. I believe now that she was engaged in secret government work which involved knitting jumpers for the townsfolk. Anyone familiar with the James Bond film 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' will notice certain parallels. If you recall the film, it was Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, who attempted to take the whole world hostage by rendering all edible plants infertile. He did this by inviting girls with allergies to his pad up in the Swiss Alps – to be relieved of their allergies by submitting to his experimental cure, which naturally involved hypnosis. Of course it was all a subterfuge to get the girls to engage unwittingly somehow in biological warfare at home – all round the world.
Well I am pretty sure that P was unlikely to have been involved in biological warfare, yet questions remain. Her day job was as a telephonist in the Canterbury exchange, so it would have been easy to relay messages quickly to a foreign power, especially using the cover of a knitted jumper. Why did her father Harry spend so much time in the garden apparently making recordings of the sounds made by growing plants? I did notice that his tomatoes were enormous. Why also, when making a cup of tea, did her mother Eve never fill the cup to more than half-full? Was it to leave space for something else? Eve was not an inexperienced tea maker: she spent all day, every day making the stuff, while her husband was 'recording' and her daughter knitting, except when she was working I suppose.
That then is the background to Cousin Prue. Next time we shall discuss something of her strange life in the light of the mysterious P.