It was great to see you last week ... obviously not good that it was at a funeral but you know what I mean. Hope you enjoyed visiting your sister afterwards – or at least that you managed not to fall out too much with Harold. Has he still got the pigeon loft? I remember being a bit freaked out by all that cooing and the way they looked at me out of those beady little eyes – made me more of a fan of pigeon pie than I might have been otherwise!
Sorry it's taken so long to write again – you know it would be much easier if you'd let me email you but I know that's an argument (another one!) that I'm not going to win. So, I've got the good writing paper out and Mom's Parker pen and I'm sitting nicely at my desk rather than writing this on my lap in front of the TV. It takes me back to writing those weekly letters home from boarding school. Come to think about it, it was probably you I was writing to you in those days. We all know Senior wasn't really interested – unless some new rich boy had been enrolled whose father might turn out to be a potential business 'partner'.
Anyway, I've just come back from Arizona. Yeah, Arizona – where I swore I'd never go again. Turned out that the power of Gibbs' glare pretty much swept that resolution away. I just nodded and went home to pack: packing those fancy cowboy boots Petey gave me was probably not the best idea I ever had. Well, that's what the grumpy local sheriff thought anyway and Gibbs just sighed. We ended up on horseback riding up a mountain to find a local artist who had some connection with an NCIS agent who'd been murdered in DC. Gibbs managed to do a sort of one man Die Hard (yes, that's another movie) stunt when he brought down a helicopter single-handed. Sheriff (good guy really) took a bullet but he's going to be OK. Don't worry, I'm all right too apart from being a bit sore in the ... well, you know where. It's been a long time since those pony parties in Long Island.
Gibbs was a bit grumpy with me the whole trip and had been for a few days before and not just because of the NCIS agent being killed, although that didn't help. I'd been playing phone tag with Uncle Clive's solicitor for a couple of days and, yes, perhaps I'd got a bit overexcited in case it was about the WILL. Ziva thought I'd made up the whole thing about going to Uncle Clive's funeral just to get time off and McGee hadn't even bothered to Google what his surname was. Some investigators they are – although I can almost hear you saying that perhaps they're just not as nosy as I am!
I was excited at the thought that Clive might have remembered me in his will – I loved the guy. That summer I spent in England was great but perhaps I went over the top a bit talking about it to the Probie and perhaps waving a Ferrari brochure around was a mistake. All that 'yabba yabba' probably got on Gibbs' nerves and then he asked me, all gruffly, whether I'd be leaving NCIS if I inherited Uncle Clive's money. You know, Mary, I hadn't really thought it through what I'd do with the money but I started thinking after that conversation over a tin of cold beans (don't ask).
There was a letter from the solicitor waiting for me at home when I got back from Arizona – made sense really that they wouldn't want to tell me over the phone. Once I read the letter I decided what to do. I went to work the next day and made 'the phone call to Uncle Clive's lawyer'. Except that it was Petey on the other end and he fed me the lines we'd agreed. I told the others that Crispian had inherited everything including an IOU I'd given Uncle Clive when I was at OSU and that he was demanding payment with interest. That's probably being a bit mean to Crispian but I still think it was him who locked me in the pigeon loft so a bit of character assassination is some revenge. Anyway, everyone was happy. DiNozzo disappointed again but the team can go on as before. Nothing changes. Gibbs almost smiled.
And what was in the letter from London, you want to know. Well, good old Uncle Clive left me half a million pounds worth of stocks and bonds. Don't worry, I haven't gone out and bought the red Ferrari. Uncle Vincenzo recommended a good broker (an honest one, I checked) and I'm letting him get on with it. I think it was the right thing to do – best to keep it quiet; can you imagine what Senior would do if he found about it? And no-one at work would have believed it if I'd said that I wanted to carry on working – not sure I believe it sometimes!
I'll finish now. Kate sends her love and I send mine too.
'Mary' smiled as she finished reading the letter. Tony was a good correspondent although she knew that she'd hear from him more often if she got an email account ... or rather, if she told him her email address. For a nosy investigator he'd never really probed her about apparently not being on-line but perhaps he enjoyed the ritual of writing the Sunday letters as much as she enjoyed receiving them.
She thought back to the day over thirty years ago when she had first met the DiNozzos and found her life changing. She had been thirty years old, an experienced and trained nanny from England. Clive Paddington and his family had employed her to go to New York to be nanny to eight year old Anthony DiNozzo whose mother Elizabeth DiNozzo née Paddington had died a few months before. The Paddingtons had been a bit tight-lipped but the implication was clear that they didn't quite trust the parenting skills of their beloved Elizabeth's husband. They had tried to persuade Anthony Snr to send his son to England to be cared for but he had refused. The next best thing was to send a British nanny over to make sure all was done properly.
She had arrived at the impressive DiNozzo residence in Long Island where she had first met the very charming Mr DiNozzo who was obviously a bit wary of the whole set up but was determined to keep on the right side of his son's wealthy English relations.
She thought back to what happened next …
After listening to Mr DiNozzo talk for about an hour she finally suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to meet her new charge. Mr DiNozzo seemed a bit surprised that anyone would want to meet his son but agreed that this would be a good idea.
"And where is Anthony at the moment," she asked. Senior was puzzled,
"I don't know. I'll call Simpson and ask him, He'll probably know." He pressed a bell and the butler soon entered the room.
"Where's Junior, Simpson?"
"I think he's in the garage, Sir, looking at your new car." Senior looked a bit anxious,
"Go and get him, will you, Simpson. I don't want him to get finger marks on the paintwork and I want him to meet Miss Poplar, the new nanny."
"Yes, Sir." Simpson cast an appraising look at Miss Poplar as he left on his errand as he tried to weigh up her future place in the DiNozzo household.
Shortly afterwards, they heard the sound of running footsteps as the child approached. A small boy ran into the room clutching a wet, soapy sponge to his chest and dripping suds on to the parquet flooring.
"Daddy, Daddy, I've been helping Trevor wash your new car. He's going to show me how to wax it later ... oh, hello," he said when he saw that there was a stranger in the room. He looked a bit uncertain and suddenly rather conscious of the wet sponge which he tried to hide behind his back.
"Simpson, take that away from Junior and return it to Trevor. Tell him that Junior won't be helping him wax the car."
"Yes, Sir. Will that be all?"
At Senior's nod, he took the soggy sponge off Tony, smiled at him encouragingly and left the room.
"Junior, you remember that I said that your Uncle Clive was sending you a nanny from England to help me look after you?"
"Good, well, say hello to Miss Miriam Poplar ..."
"Mary Poppins!" said Tony in a tone of wonder. Miriam disliked the movie version of Mary Poppins – she thought she gave nannies a bad name and she never gave her children sugar to help their medicine to go down. Up to now she had managed to keep a professional distance from the children in her care but somehow, on that day, as she looked down at the hopeful, bright-eyed young Tony, something in her heart shifted.
Senior sighed in irritation,
"No, Junior, Miriam Poplar, not Mary Poppins. I'm sorry, Miss Poplar, my son is having some hearing difficulties at the moment. He has an appointment with the paediatrician tomorrow".
"I'm sorry," said Tony, "Miri ... Mari ... Miriay ..."
Miriam took pity on him.
"Miriam – but it's quite a difficult name to say. Why don't you call me Mary?" Miriam's former colleagues would have been astonished to hear this. The particular, professional Miss Miriam Poplar inviting a child to give her a nickname? Tony looked relieved,
"Mary ... er, welcome to America. I didn't mean to be rude but I sort of hoped that you might be Mary Poppins. Mommy and I watched the movie and she read the books to me as well – but I liked the movie more." Tony gazed up at her rather sadly. Miriam, or rather, Mary, looked at him and realised that, indeed, this small child did probably long for a Mary Poppins to come and bring warmth and healing to a sad household. She resolved that she would do her best for this lost soul.
"That's all right, poppet, I may not know any ... er sweeps, but I'm sure I can find my way to your doctor."
"My name is Anthony Daniel DiNozzo, not poppet," said Tony anxiously.
"'Poppet' is an English word for something small and sweet", said Mary, wondering what on earth had made her use the endearment her mother had always used.
"Do you think I'm small and sweet?" asked Tony in a tone of disbelief.
"Well," said Mary briskly, "you're certainly small. We'll have to work on that. Come on, why don't you show me your bedroom." They walked hand in hand out of the room – the beginning of a great friendship.