With Donald off on his sentimental voyage (although unfortunately, not on his last and final) Damien was enjoying the relative peace of not having the old git around. The relative part meaning that he still had to make the occasional input into the wedding plans, and highly significant decisions such as the correct font for the ‘Save the Day’ cards had been bitterly fought over. Damien had shot himself in the foot when, in exasperation at having been asked to look at the 14th example of a possible card layout, he had suggested that if they really wanted to personalise all the cards then they might as well get a calligrapher to do it.

The bittersweet result of that suggestion was that the ‘Wedding Committee’ thought that was a brilliant idea, all Damien had to do was quietly choke when he found out the cost of his suggestion.

Hey-ho, at least there were respites in wedding planning which allowed Damien a chance to escape and go fishing. He had almost forgotten what it was like to get out on his own without the old git tagging along and trying to tell how much better it was in the old days, and how he was doing everything wrong, and all of this new-fangled gear wasn’t making him fish any better.

Damien was sat quietly in his bivvy, looking at his perfectly matched triple rod and reel set up and enjoying just being out when a message pinged up on his phone. Now, just before Donald had set off, Damien’s parents had insisted that he had a more modern mobile phone and that Damien must show his uncle how to use it before he set off so that he could keep in touch. This, despite Donald’s insistence that ‘Post cards was good enough to get messages home in my day’ and then, rather ominously, ‘What you didn’t want laddie, was a telegram.’ And true to his word, so far, all that the family had received were picture postcards from the various ports Donald had called into on his trip so far.

Damien picked up his phone and looked at the message and tried to decipher what it said:

Hi Lady (Laddie?)

Jest wernted to say How U are

Hev sum nEws, will send pucs latter.

DOnuld Xx

Really, thought Damien, drifting back to his own daydreams, which certainly did not include anything wedding related. He did fleetingly wonder if he should ring Reuters with advance notice of this obviously very exciting ‘nEws’ but decided not to, as his bite alarms would wake him up if anything of real importance was happening in his immediate vicinity.

This idyll was broken a short while later by a ‘ping’ announcing another message on Damien’s phone. Wearily, Damien opened up the message to be confronted with just a slightly out of focus selfie picture of what appeared to a beaming Donald standing beside a lady. Damien’s brow furrowed deeply as he stared at this image as he was not sure what to make of it, and more puzzling was just why had the old git sent it.

There had been no mention of any ‘ladies’ in any of the postcards, so was this just someone Donald had made friends with, or heaven forbid, had the old goat started an onboard romance? Damien immediately had some strange, conflicting feelings sweep over him. Had his uncle met some gold-digger after his pension? (Damien was very protective of that). On the other hand, had Donald met up with a rich widow? (Damien would be very interested in that) so he sent a carefully worded and diplomatic response ‘Who IS that???? and he clutched the phone waiting for a response.

And Damien waited, about as long as his patience lasted, which was about 3 minutes. After which he started to furiously pack up one-handed as he couldn’t let go of his phone in case he missed the reply. Everything slung into the car he sped home and raced indoors to brandish his phone under his parent’s noses, with a demand to know what they knew.

Looking at the photographic evidence thrust at them, his parents were slightly taken aback, but assured Damien that his uncle may have just met an nice lady on the cruise and had sent a picture to show that he was OK. Damien’s mind was not put at ease by this, and he turned to his dad and said ‘Don’t you think it looks like MDL..? Damien’s dad snorted at this suggestion and his mum looked accusingly at both of them and demanded to know ‘And just what is an MDL..??’

‘Ahhhh’ said Damien’s dad, and after a pause whilst he scratched his chin, he said ’It means Most Delightful Lady, it’s a sort of shorthand that Donald uses from time to time to describe ladies he has met’

‘Ahhhh,’ said Damien’s mum ‘How sweet, just shows how gentlemanly your uncle is’

Damien caught the look his father shot him and was grateful that his dad had come up with an alternative to the letters MDL which they both knew meant ‘Mutton Dressed as Lamb’….