My ears prick up. That cut glass English accent could only have come from one person. Lady Pricilla Armstrong-Flowers. The bane of my life at Roedean, the boarding school for girls set high on the cliff overlooking Brighton and the English Channel.
That was nearly 60 years ago, but instantly I am 15 years old again, gauche and unpopular.
I look towards the sound of her voice. Fully expecting to see the tall, willowy figure that I despised from then.
Instead my eyes are drawn down, to the twisted, hunched figure in the wheelchair.
She looks up, and our gazes lock.
Neither of us smile, make any move to acknowledge the other. Maybe she doesn’t even remember me.
She wheels herself over. I watch her the whole time, and as she closes in, I brace myself for unpleasantness, derision, ridicule. Leopards don’t change their spots, after all.
She holds out her hand. “Pricilla”, she says. “Prissy, to my friends.” She cocks her head. “I don’t remember very well these days. But you remind me of someone I went to school with. Pretty girl, vey sweet. I liked her a lot.”