"What's for breakfast?" asked Megan as she sat down at the table. She had to pull the chair out quite a long way before she could fit between the seat and the table, and the chair creaked as she rested her weight on it. She'd spent a good part of yesterday complaining to the staff that their Louis XIII furniture seemed too old and battered to be serviceable, and the staff had spent the evening trying to reinforce the bits of it that Megan seemed inclined to sit on. Which, unaccountably, appeared to include the trouser-press in her room.
"Muesli," said Barbara, her mother. "They've given us the spa-menu again instead of the full-board one. I say!" She waved her menu threateningly at a waitress. "I say! Waitron! We've been given the wrong menu. Again!"
"Waitron?" asked Megan looking over the condiments on the table in case there were any she could eat while she was waiting. The brown sauce looked appealing, so she scraped some out with a butter knife and tried it.
"It's the neuter term for a waiter or waitress unit in catering establishments," said Barbara carefully, checking that she got all the long words right. "Your father told me about it."
"Dad's dead," said Megan, scraping more sauce from the bottle. It was tangy, and she wasn't sure she liked it, but not enough to stop eating it.
"In the seventies," said Barbara. "When he was alive."
"Do they still call them waitrons now then? I thought they were front-of-house staff, or place-faces, or something like that."
The menus arrived, clattered onto a side plate with a meaningful glance, and their spa-menus with the healthful and calorie-free items disappeared into the waitress's arms. "Tea or coffee?" she asked, her tone suggesting that she was biting back something she really wanted to say.
"Hot chocolate," said Megan immediately. "With marshmalllows, whipped cream, caramel syrup and sugar cubes. Please."
"Hot grapefruit juice," said Barbara. "Not boiling, but hotter than lukewarm."
The waitress disappeared without another word, and Barbara watched until she thought she was safely out of earshot and said, "Bitch is what I'd call her. So ungrateful."
"I know," said Megan. "They had the cheek to tell me that room service only served the spa-menu after 11 last night."
"I heard you shouting," said Barbara, who had the room next to her daughter's. "Did they hear reason?"
"Oh yes." Megan got a smug look on her pimply, plump face, and a mean little smile dimpled her cheeks. "I made sure of that." She leaned across to another table, swapping her now-empty bottle of brown sauce with the one there. "What have you got planned for today then?"
"Well, I've got a massage with Thierry first," said Barbara. "You had him yesterday didn't you? Is he good?"
"Oh, he's lovely," said Megan. "A bit shy, when I took my towel off you'd think he'd never seen a naked woman before! He's so polite, he was covering his eyes and whispering prayers, and then he asked me to put something on again. Apparently there are rules about remaining towelled at all times."
"I told him he could towel me any time," said Megan, grinning again. Her little black eyes glinted. "You'll like him, he's got strong fingers. I think he might be gay though."
"Oh." Barbara sounded chastened. "Well," she said, cheering up a little, "the walk after that has been cancelled due to Foot-and-Mouth, so I'm going to try the hot-stone therapy and then lie by the pool for a couple of hours."
"Indoor or outdoor?"
"Oh indoor," said Barbara immediately. "They've got tanning beds round the indoor pool. It's all very convenient."
"Oh nice," said Megan. "I want to visit the third floor restaurant today, so I thought I might do brunch there, and then lunch in the Greenhouse Café back on the ground floor. Then there's a knitting circle that meets here on Thursday afternoons, so I thought I'd go along to that, and after that maybe we can do tea?"
"And supper," said Barbara. "They're doing some kind of late buffet this evening for the marathoneers which I thought we could gatecrash. We could pass for runners, easily."