Authors: Duncan Ball
For Selby Tso
(a very cute puppy named after the Selby of this book)
Mrs T Gets a Life
âGuess what?' Mrs Trifle said when she came home from work. âMelanie Mildew has invited me to her very first drawing class.'
âA drawing class?' Dr Trifle said. âI never knew you were interested in drawing.'
âOh, I don't have to do the drawing part,' Mrs Trifle explained. âShe wants me to be the model. It all started when I made that speech about bringing some culture to Bogusville. Melanie thought of the idea of having drawing classes and she asked me if I'd pose.'
âPose? You, a model?'
âIt's not like being one of those skinny fashion models,' Mrs Trifle said with a blush. âMelanie just wants me to stand there and be me.'
âWell, that should be easy.'
âThe hard part is standing still for an hour while the class draws me. I guess this is what they call a
âI don't think so,' Dr Trifle said. âA
would be a drawing of a bowl of fruit or something. You don't look anything like a bowl of fruit.'
âYou say the nicest things, dear,' Mrs Trifle said. âAnyway, the life-drawing class will be at Melanie's house tomorrow at midday.'
-drawing?' Dr Trifle said. âIsn't life-drawing when you draw a picture of someone who is â¦ well â¦ who is â¦?'
âWho is what?'
âNo, I don't. Tell me.'
âAs I understand it, life-drawing is drawing people who don't have any clothes on.'
âNo clothes on? Me?' Mrs Trifle said. Mrs Trifle thought for a while and then she said, âSurely Melanie doesn't want me to pose like that in front of all twelve women in her class.'
âI think she does.'
âGoodness me! I don't know what to think,' Mrs Trifle said.
Selby was just waking up from his nap and was half in a dream as the Trifles talked. In his dream he pictured Mrs Trifle standing in front of Melanie's drawing class totally nude. Suddenly his eyes snapped open in horror.
âThank heavens it was only a dream,' he thought.
âI can't pose in the nude,' Mrs Trifle said. âI'm just not a nude sort of person. But I don't know how to get out of it. Melanie did say I could get someone else to pose instead of me, but I couldn't possibly ask someone else to do something that I'm not prepared to do.'
âGood point,' Dr Trifle said. âThen you'll just have to do it.'
âI can't believe it!' Selby thought. âIt wasn't just a dream! I can't let Mrs Trifle let people see her in the nuddy! Nude is rude! I've got to get her out of it!'
That afternoon, Selby paced around the back yard wondering what to do.
âI'll ring Melanie,' he thought, âand pretend I'm Mrs Trifle and I'll just tell her that I can't do it.'
Selby dashed indoors and then crept into the study. He found Mrs Trifle's mobile phone and dialled Melanie Mildrew's number.
âHello, Melanie,' Selby said, doing his best imitation of Mrs Trifle's voice. âIt's me, Mrs Trifle.'
âHi, Mrs T, this must be a bad line, it doesn't sound like you. Can you speak up?'
âI would, but I don't want to wake Selby,' Selby said. âI'm calling about the life-drawing class.'
âOh, yes,' Melanie replied. âIt's wonderful of you to agree to pose for us.'
âI know, but â'
âEveryone is so looking forward to drawing a real live nude,' she added.
âWell, yes,' Selby said. âI mean no. I don't think I can do it?'
âBecause â¦ I-I'd be too embarrassed to stand there in the nuddy â I mean, the nude.'
âMrs Trifle, this isn't about nudity. It's about
art. Haven't you ever seen old paintings with naked people in them?'
âYes, but they were painted long, long ago and in foreign countries where people were different. Maybe they hadn't invented clothes yet. In Bogusville we always keep our clothes on.'
âTell me about it,' Melanie said. âThat's why I was so glad you agreed to do it. I think there are people in this town who shower with their clothes on.'
âThat wouldn't surprise me,' Selby said.
âBut you're the mayor,' Melanie said. âYou're a leader. You have vision. You're brave. And you're going to lead this town to culture and sophistication, aren't you?'
âWould it be okay if I kept my clothes on?' Selby asked.
âHeavens no! My students don't want to draw clothes. If they did we could have the drawing class in a clothing shop. Besides, this is a life-drawing class and they wouldn't have signed up if they weren't going to draw people in the nude.'
âThey could draw my face. My face could be nude.'
âFaces are very difficult to draw. Bodies are so much easier. Just remember when you're standing there without any clothes on that this is
And when it's art it's okay to be nude. We'll be expecting you at midday, okay?'
âWell, I guess so,' Selby said. âAt least only twelve people have signed up for the course and they're all women.'
âYes, they are. Hmmm, I wonder if I could get some men to sign up too? You've given me a great idea! Thanks, Mrs Trifle!'
âHey, hang on,' Selby said. âOh, no, she's hung up. And now she wants to get men in the class too! And it's all my fault.'
For the next hour, Selby felt himself getting angrier and angrier.
âI shouldn't have let that Melanie talk me into it,' he thought. âThe problem with Mrs Trifle is that she's just too polite. And when I pretend I'm Mrs Trifle, I get all polite too! I've got to be tough. I'll use Mrs T's voice but I've got to be me. I've got to stand up to Melanie.'
Selby was back on the phone to Melanie in a flash.
âI was just about to ring you,' Melanie said. âThere's been a change in plans.'
âYou've called it off?' Selby asked.
âNo, I've moved the class. We're in the meeting room in the library now. We've had to change the venue because my house is too small for forty-five people.'
âYes, all the women's husbands have signed up and there are twenty-one new people. Isn't that great?'
âButâbutâbut â' Selby started.
âHang on, I've got to be tough,' he thought. âShe's not going to steamroll this dog into anything.'
âMelanie,' Selby said very firmly, but still using his Mrs Trifle voice. âI'm not doing it. I'm sorry but I'm just not. You can get someone else.'
âI can't get anyone else to pose,' Melanie said. âBefore I asked you, I think I asked just about everyone else in Bogusville.'
âMrs Trifle,' Melanie added, âremember all the work I did on the Rose Garden last year? The council didn't have any money to pay me so I
said I'd do it for free â and I did. You said you owed me a favour. And guess what.'
âIt's favour time,' Melanie sang. âAnd now you, the mayor of the town and the most trusted person in the community, want to break your pledge, your sacred word of honour. You said that you wanted to bring culture to Bogusville. And now when you have a chance, you're going to let the citizens of this wonderful town down â¦'