The Bronte ladies were well known to my brother and I, as from an early age we were taken to Bronte Hall during school holidays and left free to run around the huge Becketts Park campus until the 10.30 tea break when we would return for a weak orange juice and chocolate Yo-Yo biscuit, then sit and watch in amazement as twelve women conversed with each other without apparently drawing breath or waiting to hear what the others had to say.
I seriously believe that it was during the Bronte years that I became aware that women are a totally different species to men, for no man that I know of can talk and listen at the same time, or even talk for 30 minutes on a completely inane subject such as knitting without apparently exhausting their repertoire on the subject.
Even in that crowd of a dozen outstanding conversationalist, two women stand out as being exceptional – the ladies known as Hilda and Lily Liar.
Hilda had a face like a horse – long and toothy and she could talk as well as the next Bronte lady, but her amazing talent lay with her laugh. When Hilda laughed, the whole room laughed, nay the whole college laughed for you could hear Hilda laughing all over Becketts Park.
Like hear conversational skills, Hilda’s laugh had no breaks, she laughed on the inhale and the exhale – a quite incredible talent, a talent that would have had her hung as a witch just one hundred years prior.
Her inhale laugh was funnier than her exhale laugh, as the air was drawn in over her larynx she made a sort of long, grating Heeeeeeee noise, very deep in tone, sounding to all the world as though she were choking, but just as you were getting out of your seat to slap her on the back the full force of the exhale part of the laughter would hit you – an ear-piercing hysterical scream of a laugh that would reduce you into convulsive fits of laughter yourself, even if you didn’t know why Hilda was laughing in the first place.
Hilda’s laughter fits could run into several minutes for the more that she laughed, the more the room laughed with or at her, and the more that the room laughed, the more that Hilda laughed until eventually people had to leave the room in order to just survive.
Lily Liar did not have a compulsive laughter problem; instead she had a compulsive “ours is better” problem.
When one of the Bronte ladies bought an item at the shops, then Lily Liar already had one – and it was bigger and better. She lived in a modest, small terrace house, but I was the best small, modest terraced house in Leeds and when Lily Liar described it, it had several reception rooms, at least a dozen bedrooms – all en-suite, live-in staff and a liveried chauffeur to bring her to Bronte every morning.
Of course when the other Bronte ladies expressed a wish to visit such an impressive residence it was always inconvenient, or the family would be guests at Harewood that weekend.
When Lily Liar polished the Bronte Hall refectory table then no one else could polish the refectory table like Lily Liar.
When Lily Liar cleaned the craphouse at Bronte Hall then no one else could get their hand around the U-bend like Lily Liar could.
And when Lily Liars husband died of a heart attack then no-one else’s husband could die of a heart attack as spectacularly as Lily Liars husband did.