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The People’s Friend - December 09, 2017

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this week
Inside The People?s Friend
If you like the ?Friend?
then you?ll love...
The People?s Friend Special
No 150, priced �99
On sale
now!
l 8 pages of puzzles
l 14 feel-good short stories
The People?s Friend Pocket
Novel No 849, priced �49
l A medical romance set in the
Fifties by Chris Elliott
Cover Artwork: The Brecklands by J. Campbell Kerr.
Available in newsagents & supermarkets
Fiction
Regulars
Features
4 Completely Crackers
by Julia Douglas
15 Winter Wedding
by Jean Cullop
21 Getting The Message
by H. Johnson-Mack
23 SERIES Tales From
Prospect House
by Malcolm Welshman
28 SERIAL No. 4, Whitehall
Gardens
by Alison Carter
41 Reindeer And Robins
by Val Bonsall
47 Silent Night
by Pamela Ormondroyd
53 First Impressions
by Jan Snook
56 SERIAL Ring Out The
Bells by Jan Snook
79 Some Female Company
by Alison Carter
85 WEEKLY SOAP
Riverside by Glenda
Young
7 This Week We?re
Loving
13 Maddie?s World
18 Health & Wellbeing
25 Brainteasers
33 The Farmer & His
Wife
36 Cookery: tasty meat
recipes that are
perfectly
proportioned
40 Reader Offer: Puzzle
Time
51 Our Next Issue
61 From The Manse
Window
66 Reader Offer: Great
Gift Ideas
71 Would You Believe It?
73 Crochet: our jolly
giraffe would make
the perfect Christmas
gift for young ones
86 Between Friends
8 Neil McAllister heads to
the beautiful Brecklands
27 Mary Berry shares her tips
and tricks for around the
home
34 Find out how families
around the globe
celebrate Christmas
43 Mhairi Thurston?s guide
dogs gave her the
confidence to help others
44 Pat Coulter escapes the
winter chill and explores
gardens under glass
55 Great last-minute gift ideas
62 Wendy Glass marvels at
the restoration of Perth
Theatre
64 Lose yourself in a good
book ? from new ones
through to a classic
68 Polly Pullar goes behind
the scenes to find out
about the Scottish SPCA
83 Extra puzzle fun
SUBSCRIPTION OFFER ? SAVE �
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? Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV
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www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk
www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine
I live just a short
distance from the Fair
City of Perth, and like
many people in the
area, I?ve enjoyed
some wonderful
evenings at Perth
Theatre over the years.
This little Edwardian
gem has been closed
for restoration for the
past four years, but it?s
now open once more,
and this week, on page
62, Wendy Glass has
been lucky enough to
go behind the scenes
to find out about the
work that has gone
into returning it to its
former splendour.
Another little slice of
history forms the
backdrop to our
exciting new serial by
Alison Carter, which is
set at the famous
address of No. 4,
Whitehall Gardens,
London, the residence
of Home Secretary
Robert Peel. I love this
story of Clementine,
nursemaid to the Peel
children, and the
intrigue she gets
caught up in, and hope
you do, too! The first
instalment is on page
28.
Finally, in my
opinion, books make
the best Christmas gifts
of all, and we have lots
of recommendations
for you on page 64.
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
twitter.com/@TheFriendMag
Sophie and
Thomas?s
business was
centred around
Christmas ?
was their
relationship,
too?
Completely
Crackers
Illustration by Helen Welsh.
S
OPHIE felt queasy
as she followed
Thomas into the
studio, which was
decked with as much
tinsel as a Christmas grotto.
She was glad it wasn?t
television. In the loo mirror
earlier her face had been as
white as a ghost.
?Thomas, darling!? Tara
leapt up from behind the
console.
Her sparkly make-up,
short skirt, scarlet top and
plunging neckline were
more suited to a party than
a breakfast show.
Sophie felt a stab of envy
as Tara embraced Thomas
with a theatrical air kiss.
She noticed the blush on
his cheek and wondered if
he still fancied the ravenhaired beauty. She quickly
reminded herself that that
had been years ago.
?Sophie!? Tara hugged
her in a cloud of perfume.
?You look wonderful!?
Sophie smiled, although
she knew Tara was lying.
?You, too!?
She wondered if she
should have worn something
more Christmassy than her
businesslike jacket and
dress, but knew that
whatever she wore she?d
feel overpowered by Tara?s
flamboyance ? she always
had.
She eyed the wedding
ring on Tara?s perfectly
manicured finger and
couldn?t help a pang of envy.
With the voice of a
newsreader coming over
the speakers, Tara settled
them into the guest chairs
in front of microphones on
the table.
Sophie wished she felt as
relaxed as Thomas looked
as he sat back in his casual
jumper and shirt.
?Here we go!? Tara
grinned, her eyes on the
clock.
Sophie?s heart quickened
as their hostess pushed
forward a fader and a red
On Air sign lit up amidst
the decorations.
?There are just ten
shopping days left before
Christmas,? Tara purred in
the melted chocolate tones
that caused male admirers
all over the country to
forget their tiredness as
they tuned into ?Breakfast
With Tara? each morning.
?For my next guests it?s
Christmas all year round.
Welcome to the show,
Thomas Keane and Sophie
Shaw of the Completely
Crackers Christmas cracker
company!?
Tara triggered a jingle
with the sound of cheers
and party poppers.
?Merry Christmas!?
Thomas grinned, his brown
eyes shining.
?Merry Christmas!?
Sophie echoed, hoping her
fizzy stomach would make it
through the interview.
?I?ve known both of you
for years,? Tara confessed,
?so before you tell the
listeners how you got into
the Christmas cracker
business, I think we?d
better pull one of these.?
She held a sparkly gold,
cream and silver cracker
across the console, keeping
it close to the microphone
as Thomas gripped the
other end.
Bang!
?Oh, that was a big one!?
Tara clasped her chest as
the cracker?s contents spilt
across her faders, glittering
in the bright lights. ?What
have we got inside here??
* * * *
Seven years earlier,
Sophie followed her friend
Joe up the creaky stairs of
a tall house converted into
student flats.
She was wearing a short
black dress and he was clad
in a dinner jacket that
contrasted with the dampstained wallpaper and
peeling paint.
?Are you sure he won?t
mind you bringing a friend??
Sophie fretted as Coldplay?s
?Christmas Lights? drifted
from upstairs.
?Of course he won?t!? Joe
called over his shoulder.
?There?s nothing Thomas
likes more than a party.
The more the merrier!?
What Sophie was really
wondering was why Joe had
been so insistent that she
go to the party with him.
They?d never socialised
off campus before and she
wondered if he intended it
SHORT STORY BY JULIA DOUGLAS 5
to be a date.
She hoped he didn?t,
because as nice as he was,
he wasn?t really her type.
She didn?t feel guilty for
accepting, though, because
he hadn?t framed it like a
date.
He?d said he wanted her
to meet some friends of his,
and although it was the first
time he?d suggested
anything like that, a party
was a party, wasn?t it?
She realised Joe had
some popular pals as they
went through an open door
to a top-floor flat packed
with well-dressed students.
?You know Tara, don?t
you?? Joe?s cheeks were red
as he squeezed through the
crowd to where a ravenhaired girl with a distracting
neckline was talking to a
good-looking guy with curly
hair. A string of tinsel was
tossed over the guy?s
shoulder like a scarf.
?Not really.? Sophie
smiled shyly.
Tara was the Queen of
Campus and Sophie had
never been in her elite
orbit.
?Joe, darling!? Tara
gushed. ?Is this your secret
girlfriend??
?Ha, ha, no! We?re just
friends!? Joe turned
crimson as Tara embraced
him. ?And this is our host,
Thomas. Say hi to Sophie.?
?Merry Christmas,
Sophie.? The curly-haired
guy offered his hand, and
as she met his interested
eyes, Sophie realised he
wasn?t just good-looking ?
he was gorgeous.
?I brought you this.? She
handed him a little brightly
wrapped box, topped with
a green satin bow.
?You needn?t have!?
Thomas began to unwrap it
eagerly.
?I couldn?t come to your
party without bringing
something.? Sophie
shrugged.
?You really shouldn?t
have!? Thomas?s eyebrows
shot up as he opened the
box to find a pair of
freshwater pearl cufflinks.
?These must have cost a
fortune.?
?Not really. I made them
myself.?
?Really? Well, here?s
something I made!? From a
table he grabbed a
homemade cracker and
cried, ?Pull!?
* * * *
?Glad you came?? Joe
asked.
?Mmmm.? With a paper
hat on her head and a
plastic Be Mine ring that
had come out of the cracker
on her finger, Sophie gazed
across the room to where
Thomas was laughing at yet
another cracker joke.
She wished she could
spend more time with him
but everyone seemed to be
a close friend of his and she
couldn?t monopolise him.
At least Joe hadn?t
started coming on to her as
if they were on a date. She
guessed he had invited her
in the spirit of friendship.
She was glad, because
Joe was a nice guy, but he
didn?t make her stomach
flip like a pancake the way
Thomas did whenever he
glanced her way, even
across the crowded room.
She wondered if she was
imagining the keen interest
in those sparkling eyes.
At one in the morning, as
people started drifting
away, Sophie saw her
chance to get closer to him.
?Would you like me to
help clear up?? she offered.
?You?re an angel!?
Thomas beamed.
The lights of the
Christmas tree dancing in
his eyes and on his shiny
curls melted her insides.
Fifteen minutes later, she
regretted her offer as she
came out of the kitchen in a
pair of washing-up gloves to
gather more glasses and
plates.
Joe was snoring on the
sofa, and as George Michael
sang ?Last Christmas?,
Thomas and Tara were
enjoying a snog under the
mistletoe.
* * * *
?I met you two in uni,?
Tara purred for the benefit
of her listeners. ?But it was
a couple of years later that
you started Completely
Crackers, wasn?t it? How
did it all begin??
Sophie?s bubbling
stomach tightened as Tara
pointed at her and smiled
encouragingly.
Having left most of the
talking to Thomas so far,
she leaned self-consciously
towards the microphone.
?I?d just got back from
working abroad and I
walked into the local
newsagent to buy some
Christmas cards . . .?
* * * *
?Oops! Sorry!? The man in
front of her turned away
from the counter with a
large box of Christmas
crackers in his arms and
almost bumped into her in
the narrow walkway
between the card rack and
the magazine shelves.
?Thomas!? Sophie
proving tougher.?
Thomas sucked his teeth.
?I?m afraid I?m a bit hand
to mouth at the moment.
It?s a difficult market for a
new company to break
into.?
?Well, I?m sure something
will turn up.? Trying not to
feel rejected, Sophie looked
out at a street where the
first drops of snow were
beginning to fall.
?That?s a beautiful
necklace.? Thomas sighed.
She turned and his wistful
expression as he eyed her
throat made her blush.
?Did you make it??
Sophie felt like she was riding a
roller-coaster
exclaimed, startled.
It was so long since she?d
seen that ready grin and
brown curls that her
stomach did a back flip.
?Sophie, fancy seeing you
here!?
?Buying some crackers??
She smiled, feeling her face
heat up.
?Trying to sell them,
actually! These are samples.
What are you doing here? I
thought you went to Spain.?
?Just got back.? The
memory of her failed love
affair with a Spanish chef
gave her a twinge of pain,
but seeing Thomas made it
feel unimportant somehow.
?There?s a coffee shop
across the road,? he said.
?Let me buy you a coffee
and we can catch up.?
Perched on a stool in a
window framed with tinsel
and fairy lights five minutes
later, Thomas smiled.
?I?ve got a little unit on
the industrial estate and a
couple of ladies making
crackers full time.?
?I don?t suppose you have
vacancies?? Sophie asked.
The coffee shop was
packed with Christmas
shoppers, Mariah Carey
was singing ?All I Want For
Christmas? and Sophie was
enjoying the intimacy of
being forced to sit knee to
knee with Thomas in the
limited space.
?Seriously?? he asked.
?I?m not doing anything
else,? she admitted. ?I was
a tour guide in Spain, but
the job market here is
?It?s just a hobby.? She
fingered the delicate
ornament.
?I?ve still got the
cufflinks!? He shot his cuffs
out of his jacket sleeves to
show her and her heart
gave a start at the thought
that he?d kept something of
hers so close to him all this
time.
?Have you ever thought
about designing
professionally?? he asked.
?Not really.?
?Hey, I?ve got an idea!?
His eyes gleamed. ?I?ve
been thinking about going
upmarket with the crackers
? putting some jewellery in
them instead of a tacky gift.
How would you fancy going
into partnership??
?Well, I . . .?
?Let me get more coffee!?
Thomas leapt off his stool
before she could finish.
Watching him weave
between the tables to the
counter, Sophie took a
moment to let the shock of
meeting him again sink in.
The suggestion of a
partnership was almost too
much to cope with,
although the thought of
working closely with him
was a heady one!
When he came back,
Sophie felt like she was
riding a roller-coaster as he
excitedly began making
plans.
Even as his enthusiasm
infected her, though, a
painful memory held her
back.
When he finally
6
calmed down, she tried
to sound casual.
?By the way, are you still
seeing Tara??
?Tara?? He blinked. ?Oh,
that didn?t last. We?re still
friends, but she wants
someone who can keep her
in a grander style than this
penniless cracker maker.?
Sophie smiled, feeling
strangely glad.
* * * *
?So what will be this
year?s Christmas Number
One?? Tara purred in her
seductive tones after the
interview.
?The clever money is on
the song we?ve been playing
like mad all week: ?Very
Special Christmas? by
Melissa Glittery, who
happens to be here in the
studio with me right now!?
Tara triggered the jingle
with the cheers and party
poppers.
?Merry Christmas,
Melissa. Pull one of these
marvellous posh crackers
left behind by our last
guests.?
Bang!
?Wow, look at these
earrings!? The singing star
cooed over the cracker?s
sparkling contents. ?And
this hat ? it?s silk, isn?t it?
You never got anything like
this in a cracker when I was
a kid.?
?Amazing, aren?t they?
They?re handmade by a
company called Completely
Crackers,? Tara said,
wearing one of the silk hats
in gold.
?I?m definitely going to
buy a box!? Melissa said,
hooking a pearl earring into
her lobe.
* * * *
?Excuse me!?
As an assistant led them
out of the studio, Sophie
clamped her hands over her
mouth and dashed towards
the loos.
?Sophie?? Thomas called
after her.
?I expect it?s nerves,? the
assistant said. ?Being on air
for the first time can have
that effect.?
As she barely made it to a
cubical in time, Sophie knew
it wasn?t nerves that had
given her an upset stomach
every morning that week.
Nor was it a winter bug.
She wondered if she
should tell Thomas or wait
until she was certain.
As she dried her hands,
she thought of the wedding
ring glinting on Tara?s finger
and suddenly felt insecure
without one of her own.
* * * *
While Thomas waited for
Sophie?s return, his phone
rang.
?Just heard you on air,?
his old friend Joe said. ?You
did great!?
?Thanks.?
?I was a bit worried about
leaving you alone with my
wife,? Joe joked.
?You know Tara only has
eyes for you, you lucky so
and so!?
?So when are you going to
make an honest woman out
of Sophie?? Joe rejoined.
?It?s OK for you,? Thomas
returned. ?You?re loaded!?
His old university friend
was making a mint in the
city, while Tara had a salary
to match her vast
listenership.
Thomas sagged against
the wall.
?I wouldn?t tell anyone
else except you, mate, but
Sophie and I have been
going through a rough
patch. I?m wondering if we
should call it a day,? he
confided in a low voice.
A shadow caught his eye
and he realised Sophie was
almost behind him.
?Gotta go, Joe.? He ended
the call. ?We?d better get
back to the factory.?
?Go on ahead,? Sophie
said, her face pale. ?I, um,
need to do some Christmas
shopping.?
* * * *
Glad to get outside,
Sophie took some muchneeded draughts of cool
December air as she
watched Thomas walk
towards the station. Had
she really heard him tell Joe
he was thinking about
calling it a day?
She wondered if she
should phone Joe to confirm
it. But no, Joe was too nice
to tell her the truth. She
almost called Tara, but Tara
was still on air, and she
shouldn?t be involving her
old friends anyway.
Knowing that she had to
face her worries alone,
Sophie fastened her coat
against the chill and headed
towards the shops, her
head in turmoil.
The stupid row she?d had
with Thomas on the way to
the studio that morning
echoed in her head. He was
right, they were going
through a rough patch.
Juggling a relationship
with a business wasn?t easy,
and when work was a
struggle, as it had been
lately, it was hard to keep
the tension out of their
private life.
Even so, she hadn?t
thought their problems
were anything that they
couldn?t get past.
As she walked, she
remembered her heady
feelings that late night at
the factory four years ago
when she and Thomas had
first decided not to go home
to separate flats.
When stay-overs drifted
into living together they
hadn?t talked about the
future. She?d been so
happy, she?d just assumed
they were meant to be.
Now, as she crossed the
street towards a chemist?s,
she wondered if their
relationship had been just a
convenience all along.
As her trembling fingers
took a pregnancy test from
the shelf, she wondered
what she would do if all her
suspicions were correct.
* * * *
?I didn?t think you?d stay
out all day,? Thomas said
when Sophie returned to
the office.
The cracker makers had
gone home and they had
the building to themselves.
?Sorry,? she said, her
throat dry from being out in
the cold so long. ?I had
some things to think about.?
?I?ve been thinking a lot,
too,? Thomas said seriously.
?You?d better sit down.?
Her knees were suddenly
so weak that she had no
choice.
Was this it, she wondered,
trying to read his face. Did
he want to split up with her?
Her brain racing, she
wondered if she should
break her news first. Would
it change what he was
about to say?
Knowing Thomas, she
knew it would. But she held
her tongue. She didn?t want
to live a lie. She wanted to
know where she stood.
?Pull this.? To her
bafflement, he was pointing
a red and silver cracker
across the desk at her.
?What??
?Just pull it.? He smiled.
Bang!
The cracker exploded in a
puff of ribbons and confetti
and a velvet ring box
dropped on to the desk.
?What?s this?? she
spluttered as she opened
the box and gazed at the
glittering diamonds nestling
on a red satin cushion.
?Read the motto,? he
urged.
With trembling fingers she
unrolled a little scroll that
had fallen from the cracker.
?Will you marry me?? she
read aloud.
?I should have asked you
a long time ago,? he said,
?but talking to Tara and Joe
made me realise I shouldn?t
put it off any longer.?
?But I heard you tell Joe
you were thinking of calling
it a day!?
?What?? he spluttered. ?I
was talking about the
business! I know how tough
it?s been and I didn?t want
the strain to come between
us. But after Tara and
Melissa Glittery raving
about our crackers on the
show this morning, orders
are going through the roof!
I think the business is going
to be fine.?
With tears blurring her
vision, Sophie slipped the
ring on her finger.
?I?ve got a Christmas
present for you, too.?
?It?s a good job I got the
champagne in!? Thomas
grinned when she told him
the result of her test. Firing
a cork at the ceiling, he
declared, ?This has to be
the best Christmas ever!?
He clinked his glass of
champagne with Sophie?s
glass of orange juice.
?Here?s to us!? he
proposed. ?And to Tara, for
saving Completely Crackers!?
?Don?t forget Joe.? Sophie
grinned. ?Didn?t he ever tell
you that he only brought
me to that Christmas party
all those years ago to try to
take your mind off Tara??
?You?re kidding me!?
Thomas laughed. ?How
crackers is that!? n
Foxy Feet
Lakeland?s Sticky Toffee Pudding In A
Mug With Saucer (�.99 from www.
lakeland.co.uk or call 015394 88100) is
the three-minute way to a perfect pud
for one. Just add the ingredients listed
on the mug, microwave and eat ? yum!
Nice Out?
?And Now The Weather . . .? (BBC
Books, �99) is a treasure trove of
trivia about our national obsession.
Introduced by weather presenter
Carol Kirkwood, this little book will
fuel conversations for years to come.
Alamy.
iStock.
Keep tootsies toasty with these
delightful Glitter Fox Slippers. The
snuggly slippers will fit ladies? size
4-7, and can be personalised with
the recipient?s name. Order from
www.prezzybox.com for just �.99.
Sweet Treat
iStock.
loving
This week we?re
BITS & PIECES 7
In winter, stoats living in colder areas of
the British Isles, such as Scotland, will
moult their chestnut and cream coat and
grow a thicker all-over white fur with a
black-tipped tail. It?s thought this helps
them avoid predators in the snow.
Many happy returns to Dame Judi
Dench, who will be eighty-three on
December 9. In constant demand
since her debut in 1957, her latest
role is in the film ?Murder On The
Orient Express?.
Cambridge University.
A California physics professor has
discovered that snowflakes are unique
because of the thousands of tiny
variations that happen in the air as they
are being made. In the laboratory, he can
produce snowflakes that are identical.
Elegant Ermine
Birthday Greetings
Courtesy of One Plymouth..
Singular Snowflakes
Vintage TV
Relive ?The Last Of The Summer
Wine? from beginning to end with
the collectors 54-disc DVD box set of
all 31 series. Priced around �4.99
from the usual outlets ? a special
Christmas treat for dedicated fans.
Details correct at time of going to press.
It?s Obaa-ma!
Sheep are cleverer than we think.
Cambridge University scientists have
shown they can recognise faces, even
from photos. The study will help the
scientists understand more about brain
disorders in humans.
Back In Time
Head to the Barbican, Plymouth, on
December 9 or 10 for ?A Christmas
Carol? walking tour as UnTamed
Theatre recreate the Dickens classic
along the cobbled streets. See
www.visitplymouth.co.uk for details.
The Beautiful
Brecklands
This
week?s
cover
feature
Factfile
n Early in his career,
Brazilian motor racing
legend Ayrton Senna
called Breckland home
whilst racing with the
Lotus team.
n The Charles Burrell
Museum is housed in
Burrell?s original paint
shop. The tractionengine maker once
employed 350 people.
n Thetford was the
capital of Saxon East
Anglia with its own mint
in the 10th century.
Photographs by Neil McAllister.
n Captain Mainwaring
and his Home Guard
attempted to demolish a
little bridge at Santon
Downham.
n The Grime?s Graves
site contains over 400
ancient mines.
n Thetford Forest has
become a popular venue
for outside concerts and
is home to muntjac, roe
and red deer.
Neil McAllister
travels to the
Thetford area,
one-time
capital of Saxon
East Anglia.
M
ANY times,
when returning
home from
Suffolk or south
Norfolk, we
have passed a huge
Corinthian column standing
beside the M11, so recently
I did a little research. It
turned out to be a World
War I memorial to those lost
in Elveden and surrounding
Breckland villages.
Today, this area of sandy
heathland is largely covered
by Thetford Forest, planted
after the Great War to
provide a national timber
resource. It is well known as
the location of Centre Parcs
? the family-friendly activity
centre.
Many people come to visit
the Forestry Commission?s
High Lodge Visitor Centre,
although their hefty parking
charge encouraged us to
explore the Brecks? other
delights, such as the
Devil?s Punchbowl.
I?m not sure the horned
one actually drinks from the
unusual circular depression
near Croxton. Sometimes
this chalk feature is dry, as
when we visited, while at
other times it appears as a
circular pond.
Stay on the correct side of
the road, however, as the
signs opposite warn not to
enter the shooting range.
Much of the forest is
occupied by the Army and
out of bounds, as it was in
1916, when a secret
weapon was tested in front
of the King and Lloyd
George: the first tanks,
which were trialled here
before being sent to the
Front.
Today, military activity is
never far from your
eardrums as jets flying from
local bases can often be
heard.
?Wait until they use
explosives,? one walker told
us, seeing us searching the
sky for a passing plane.
?Because it is so flat the
noise carries for miles.?
Lyndford Arboretum near
Mundford also borders Army
Elveden War
Memorial.
THIS WEEK?S COVER FEATURE 9
Grimes Graves,
the entrance to an
ancient flint mine.
Thetford Warren Lodge
was built around 1400.
ranges, but this area of
lovely woodland is open to
the public with well-marked
paths around the Hall,
formerly a military hospital
but now a luxury hotel.
Grime?s Graves, a
Neolithic flint mine, is worth
a visit.
The depressions which fill
the field are not the burial
place of giants, but mine
shafts dug by our ancient
ancestors with antler picks
in search of flint hidden in
the chalk.
Old pits were filled with
the spoil from each new
excavation, one of which
can be descended down a
30-foot-long ladder.
I didn?t fancy the descent,
unlike the twelve-year-old
granddaughter of the local
lady we chatted to. Her
other two grandchildren
completed worksheets
whilst awaiting their older
sister?s return.
?There is so much to do in
the Forest,? Gran explained.
When I suggested building
a tower or using a tethered
balloon to get a better view
of the ?graves? she
suggested that being
surrounded by Army land
might prevent getting such
an elevated view. Access to
the Stanford Battle Area is
strictly prohibited.
Expecting a battle for
parking in Thetford town
centre, we left our car near
the Salvation Army charity
shop.
We needn?t have worried,
however, as there are plenty
of car parks, many of which
appear to have no time
restriction. Only a few yards
from the centre, free
on-road parking encourages
locals and tourists to spend
time in the centre.
The town centre is
compact, but with plenty of
interest to occupy a half-day
stroll, especially if you visit
on a Saturday when two of
Thetford?s fascinating
museums are open.
On any day of the week
Thetford?s historic centre,
crammed with ancient
buildings, gives an
indication that this sleepy
Norfolk town has grander
origins. Before the Normans
arrived, under the
leadership of Danish King
Canute, Thetford was
England?s sixth largest town.
Indeed, it was his
marriage to Emma, daughter
of the Duke of Normandy,
which prompted William to
become Conqueror. The
Vikings made the most of
Thetford?s position both as a
river port and where
essential trading roads met.
A thousand years later,
despite being many miles
from the coast, it was
Ruins of Cluniac Priory of
Our Lady of Thetford.
immortalised on television
as the location of
Walmington-on-Sea.
The town?s timeless,
unspoiled appearance
attracted the producers of
?Dad?s Army?, whilst
Breckland provided ample
locations for outdoor action.
Forty years after filming,
the town makes the most of
the connection with a
remarkably lifelike statue of
Captain Mainwaring beside
Town Bridge.
Hopefully sausage
rationing has finished at
Jones?s on the high street,
while on Cage Lane,
volunteers open the Dad?s
Army Museum every
Saturday.
If you want to see the
famous butcher?s van,
complete with holes for
rifles, it can be found in the
Charles Burrell Museum on
Minstergate. During the
summer months this former
home of traction-engine
manufacturing opens on
Captain Mainwaring sits ready
for action by Town Bridge.
Tuesdays and Saturdays and
is free to enter.
A few minutes? walk
through an underpass leads
to the ruins of an ancient
priory, the scale of which is
breathtaking.
?I didn?t expect
somewhere so huge!? Hazel
exclaimed when it came
into sight.
For 400 years protected
by Norfolk nobility, it was
one of the last monasteries
to be submitted to King
Henry VIII, but once its
assets had filled the Royal
coffers, stone was robbed to
build houses around the
town.
Today one pinnacle
stands, buttressed by an
archway to hint at the grand
buildings which once stood
beside the river.
Many of the town?s
ancient buildings have
had their timber frames
covered over the years,
10
although some still have
jettied upper floors and
most display wavy rooflines
as timbers have twisted
through the centuries.
Up White Hart Street, the
Ancient House Museum,
located in a Tudor
merchant?s house, gives an
idea of how much of the
town would once have
appeared.
The house was a gift to
the town by one of its most
colourful, exotic residents
and the reason why so
many Sikh visitors make a
pilgrimage to Thetford.
In 1839, the ruler of
India?s Punjab died and
Maharaja Duleep Singh, his
heir, was made a ward of
the British Government. Ten
years later the young
Duleep was convinced to
relinquish his land and
property (including the
Koh-i-Noor diamond) to the
British.
With his coffers filled, the
?Black Prince? left the
breadbasket of India and
countless loyal subjects to
set up the Elveden Estate.
The museum contains
fascinating exhibits about
his involvement in local life.
A path past the modern
shopping area leads to a
small river island, where a
statue of the Maharaja
astride a horse stands as a
reminder of Thetford?s part
in Indian history.
White Hart Street?s
Ancient House Museum.
Another statue
remembers Thomas Paine,
the locally-born philosopher
and activist whose books
did so much to revolutionise
people?s thinking in the late
1700s.
Many will know about his
book ?Rights Of Man?
defending revolution in
France, but his earlier
?Common Sense?, written
on the other side of the
Atlantic, was a spark which
lit the fire of American
Revolution.
Who would have
imagined that such a small
town would have had such
a part in world history?
The statue of the last
King of Punjab.
We climbed the castle
mound up a seemingly
endless staircase. When you
think you must be at the
top, look up to discover you
aren?t even halfway up the
80-foot high bailey!
Past the old Dolphin Inn
we paused at the Old Gaol
House, each door marked
with manacles to warn the
illiterate against crime.
Back in 1820, 17 people
were being held in a tiny
cell and the smell was so
bad that the jailer had to
run away after unlocking the
door.
Around the corner, we
crossed the bridge to find
Old Bury Road?s
almshouses
date from 1610.
one of the town?s oldest
churches. Unfortunately
St Mary the Less is now
redundant, its churchyard
overgrown and unkempt.
Across the road we found
a strange line of
almshouses. Founded in the
early 1600s, when people
must have been a very
different shape, the doors
are extremely wide and very
short, so much so that
five-foot Hazel would have
to bend to avoid knocking
her head on the lintel.
Throughout the town
there are places to pause in
the sunshine, watching life
pass by.
The next time you pass
Elveden Memorial,
remember to turn off and
spend a while in this lovely
part of Norfolk. n
Getting there
For Further Information
Go to www.visiteastofengland.com or www.brecks.org.
By Road:
the Brecks
lies off the
A11. From
the M11
Junction 14
(Cambridge),
take the A14
towards Bury St Edmunds.
By Rail: trains run
through Thetford on the
Breckland line between
Norwich and Cambridge,
and via Ely from London?s
Liverpool Street Station,
Nottingham and Sheffield.
By Bus: Thetford Bus
Station is served by
National Express buses.
MADDIE?S WORLD 13
?Other curry makers
popped up out of
the woodwork?
Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg.
F
In her weekly column,
Maddie Grigg shares
tales from her life in
rural Dorset . . .
OR years now, we?ve
been hearing about
the curry-making
prowess of Mr Prayer,
one of our villagers.
It?s all talk, I used to think,
secretly resenting the fact
that I?d never been invited to
his house to sample his
exotic creations.
Then Mr Grigg decided it
was time to serve some food
at our pop-up bar, which
he?s been running since our
pub closed a little while ago.
?How about a curry night??
someone said.
?Yes,? I said. ?Let?s see if
Mr Prayer can rustle up
something.?
Not only did Mr Prayer
willingly volunteer two
different curries and several
side dishes, two other curry
makers popped up out of
the woodwork.
Record producer Ding
Dong Daddy, who is usually
busy making music and
touring with his band,
offered his services, and
Mr Costner, the shop
manager, volunteered his
wife, Whitney.
?She makes a mean prawn
curry,? he said.
With just a few flyers in the
Comrades Arms and a post
on the village?s Facebook
page, Lush Places began to
buzz with excitement.
Within days, 35 people
had booked in for the
evening, with some people
(Mr Grigg), unable to make
up their mind which dish to
have, ordering two.
You could smell the spices
in the air as you walked
around the village this week,
as our three chefs prepared
vats of curry in their homes.
?What about the rice?? I
asked Mr Grigg.
?Oh, I?ll do that. I?ll borrow
Mrs Bancroft?s rice maker.?
As curry day dawned,
there were a number of
people disappointed they
hadn?t booked a table.
?We would have come if
we?d known,? one said.
?Well,? Mr Grigg replied,
?we might do it again if the
pub doesn?t reopen.?
As the day drew into
evening, the Comrades Arms
got busier as people sat at
their tables, waiting for the
chefs to arrive.
Nerves were frayed in the
kitchen as people very used
to making curry for family but
not the public realised what
they?d left themselves in for.
What if no-one liked it? What
if Mr Wing dropped a kofta
on someone?s new shoes?
The three chefs then made
their way up the steps with
pots, pans and serving
spoons.
?Grub?s up,? Ding Dong
Daddy said. ?Come and get
it.?
Well, you couldn?t say
there was a stampede to be
served first, as all of us were
being terribly British and
polite.
But once one person went
up to get their chicken
korma, the others followed.
All you could hear was the
clatter of forks and rattle of
glasses as Curry Night was
well and truly launched.
?This is fantastic,? a regular
not known for hyperbole
said. ?It?s the best curry I?ve
Ding Dong Daddy
and Whitney.
had in years.?
And the verdict around the
tables was the same. We
couldn?t get over the range
of tastes, flavours, side
dishes and love that had
gone into what we were
eating.
As we finished our meal, I
prodded Mr Grigg.
?You need to get up and
say something. They?ve done
a terrific job.?
So he stood up, made a
speech and then everyone
got to their feet and clapped
and cheered. I almost wept
with emotion.
Our three chefs took a
bow and then promptly
announced there were
seconds left for anyone who
wanted some.
In a village in which the
pub?s closed, the only bus
has disappeared off the face
of the earth and the square
has seen busier times, it was
a sobering moment. We
have the power, if not the
technology, to be something
very special.
In the words of Joe Cocker
and Jennifer Warnes in that
hit song from ?An Officer
And A Gentleman?, who
knows what tomorrow
brings?
But I know one thing. The
community spirit is alive and
well and living in Lush
Places. n
SHORT STORY BY JEAN CULLOP 15
There was no way Sadie
and Mo were going to
wear frilly bridesmaids?
dresses, not even for Fran!
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
Winter
Wedding
I
F you ask me,? Sadie
said, scraping a meagre
layer of butter on to her
toasted tea cake,
?weddings are out of
date.?
Mo heaped butter on to
her scone.
?Actually, I read that
weddings are back in
fashion. More people are
getting married than ever.
Can I have the rest of your
butter??
Sadie pushed the dish
across the table in a
gesture of complete
disapproval.
?Your cholesterol will be
sky high,? Fran pointed out
mildly.
Mo shrugged.
?I love butter. My mother
bought margarine. If you
enjoy something make the
most of it. You only have
one life.?
?Exactly,? Sadie agreed
caustically. ?And you want
to stay healthy.?
Every week since they
had retired the three
friends had met up at
Marley?s Caf�, the
somewhat shabby, oldfashioned tea shop on the
town?s main street.
There was Fran ? petite
and independent with
brown bobbed hair; Sadie,
elegant with a strawberry
blonde up-do, and Mo,
comfortably round with a
silver layer cut that was
simple to maintain.
Mo had better things to
do than style hair.
Every week they shared
good-natured banter
sprinkled with a little
gossip, but nothing so far
could equal Fran?s shock
announcement.
Sadie had been lost for
words.
?You and Pete have been
happy together for thirty
years,? Mo said. ?What
made you decide to marry
now??
?And why Christmas?
And, why ask us for
bridesmaids? We?re far too
old!? Sadie wailed.
?Don?t worry. You won?t
have to wear frilly dresses,?
Fran replied airily. ?You will
support me when I walk
down the aisle as bridal
escorts.
?I thought you could each
choose a dignified twopiece outfit. Just make sure
your colours don?t clash.
I?m wearing cream and pink
so you won?t have a
problem there.?
Sadie spluttered.
?There?s nothing dignified
about pensioners being
bridesmaids . . .?
?Bridal escorts,? Fran
interrupted.
?. . . and pretending to
be sixteen.? Sadie groaned.
?You will look as you
always look ? in a nice
two-piece.? Fran spoke
calmly although her cheeks
were getting red. ?I have to
go: things to buy,
arrangements to make.
?I don?t know whether to
get Christmas presents out
of the way or concentrate
on the wedding.?
Quickly, Fran gathered up
her shopping and scuttled
out of the door as Mo
helped herself to the
remainder of Fran?s butter
and then refilled the teapot.
All things considered, the
idea of Fran and Pete tying
the knot at last had to be
cause for celebration.
A Christmas wedding was
romantic and who didn?t
need a little romance in
their life? It might even
snow when they came out
of church. It would be a
pretty background for the
wedding photographs.
Happily, Mo covered her
buttered scone with jam.
For once Sadie resisted
the opportunity to
reprimand Mo for the jam.
?What?s the matter?? Mo
asked, pouring more tea.
?Fran and Pete are
planning their special day
after all this time. We
should be happy for them.?
?I am, but ? you don?t
think . . .? I mean, perhaps
Fran is ill again.?
That had crossed Mo?s
mind but she shook her
head.
?She?d have said. She
had her all-clear years ago.
She?s not one for keeping
secrets.?
?She kept the wedding
secret,? Sadie pointed out.
?True.?
?Anyway, I suppose we
shall have to be
bridesmaids.?
?Bridal escorts.?
Suddenly Mo giggled.
?Do you remember when
we played the three little
maids in ?The Mikado? at
school?? Mo chuckled.
?That nasty Suzanne Jones
said we were like them and
the name stuck all through
school. ?Three little maids
from school are we?,? she
trilled.
Sadie put her dignity to
one side and joined in.
* * * *
Once across the road
Fran dived through the
door of Tiller?s Department
Store. Anything to escape:
telling her friends this news
had been hard.
Sadie and Mo were her
oldest and dearest friends.
They were nicknamed after
being given the parts in the
school production of ?The
Mikado?.
A lot of water had passed
under the bridge since
then, good and not so
good, but their friendship
had survived.
She and Pete had talked
about getting married
some years ago but
Fran discovered a
16
lump that needed an
operation followed by
chemotherapy. Then Pete
was made redundant.
?It?s just, when we talked
about it before, everything
went pear shaped,? she
told him as they snuggled
in front of the TV.
?But I found a better job
and you were given the all
clear,? he reasoned. ?Surely
those are good things.?
?We?ve had over thirty
happy years together. I
only wish we?d met sooner
so we could have had more
children. David would have
loved brothers and sisters.?
?David?s happy and he
and Gemma will have their
own family soon enough.
What you?re saying,? he
replied slowly, ?is that, if
something?s not broke, why
fix it??
?I suppose so.?
?Fran, my darling, we?re
pensioners, not silly
teenagers. We?re not
superstitious, are we? I?m
not even religious!?
Fran loved him more than
ever right then. She had
had her faith to cling to
during her chemo
treatment. She wished he
shared her beliefs.
Perhaps it was the right
timing, or perhaps not, but
Fran had a change of heart.
Maybe it had something
to do with the soft white
wool and knitting patterns
she had just bought. Or the
people?s lives and was still
changing them today.
With a sense of peace she
hurried off into the gloom
of a winter?s afternoon,
singing softly.
?Three little maids from
school are we, Filled to the
brim with girlish glee . . .?
* * * *
?I should go. I?m on
granny duty after school.?
Sadie raised her threaded
eyebrows to express her
disapproval but Mo didn?t
care. She was far too
content with her life.
She had always been a
home bird and enjoyed her
role as wife and mother
and, more recently,
childminder for the
grandchildren.
Rob was not the most
imaginative husband in the
world but he had arranged
a holiday in Venice for their
ruby wedding, although Mo
suspected the children had
a hand in that.
That didn?t matter. He
had wanted to please her.
?No time to browse the
shops, then??
?Not today. Maybe we
could get together next
week and decide on colours
for the bridesmaids, or
escorts, or whatever we are
meant to be.?
Mo had seen a dark red
two-piece last week in
town. The colour would suit
her silver hair. She wanted
Fran and Pete made a lovely
couple. Why change things?
idea of sophisticated Sadie
and butter-loving Mo in
frilly gowns!
She grinned. She wouldn?t
do that to them.
Tiller?s was ready for
Christmas with sparkly
decorations and cheery
Santas and Christmas trees.
Carols played softly.
Should they have carols
at the wedding? She would
have to ask the vicar.
Fran had chosen
Christmas because she
loved it: the presents; the
family round the table; the
smell of pine from the tree.
Most of all, she loved
church on Christmas Eve.
That one baby born into
obscurity could change
to get in first before Sadie
took over the dress code.
Tomorrow she might do
some Christmas shopping.
She had three
grandchildren to buy for.
She loved shopping for
children?s toys.
She dismissed the feeling
of unease niggling at her
about this wedding. It was
good that Fran and Pete
had something to look
forward to. After Venice,
her Rob was unlikely to
have anything else planned.
Married life could be
humdrum at times.
* * * *
Sadie fretted that Fran
and Pete might be doing
the wrong thing. Marriage
was not all it was cracked
up to be.
At eighteen she had wed
Jake and the marriage had
been a disaster. Jake had
set more store by nights
out with the boys rather
than building a home
together.
Sadie lost patience and
eventually asked him to
leave. He was eager to go.
Some years later she met
and married Russ ? strong,
capable and dependable,
all Jake was not.
They were happy, but
lately they seemed to be
following their own
interests, going their own
ways.
She had joined an art
class while Russ was never
happier than when he was
in the garden.
Sadie felt uneasy. Fran
and Pete made a lovely
couple.
Why change things?
* * * *
The Black Boar was
packed with family and
friends as the couple stood
together to receive their
wedding guests.
The wedding had been
beautiful, the church
festooned with candles and
holly and Christmas roses.
The bride was a picture of
understated dignity in a
cream velvet dress and
jacket.
Her bridal escorts
complemented her, Sadie in
sophisticated black and
white with a wide-brimmed
hat and Mo wearing the
dark red suit.
After her initial reluctance
Sadie had thoroughly
enjoyed today.
She glanced at her own
husband, looking
uncomfortable in his smart
suit. Russ hated wearing a
collar and tie.
She felt a wave of love for
the man who had stood by
her side all these years,
helped her through the
occasional crisis and
celebrated the good times.
In spite of her previous
misgivings, Sadie was
pleased for Fran and Pete.
Sometimes it took a
wedding to sort out your
own priorities.
Her own marriage was
not perfect but there was
love in abundance and that
was what mattered.
Maybe she could think of
an interest she and Russ
could share?
* * * *
Rob was eyeing the
buffet. Mo gave him a look
that clearly said, ?Leave it
alone? and he winked at
her.
He already had something
in his mouth.
Mo looked at the happy
couple. It was all so
romantic. Still, if Rob was
not romantic maybe she
could organise a surprise
herself. A weekend in the
Lakes at daffodil time?
* * * *
?I never realised we had
so many friends,? Fran
whispered.
Pete gave the slow smile
she had loved for so many
years.
?Most are yours. I have a
popular wife.?
?And I have a wonderful
husband ? at last. Now,
before we go any further we
are having some
entertainment. Then it?s
food and speeches.?
Quick as a flash the three
friends made their way to
the stage and Mo handed a
CD to the bar staff.
The music started to play
and they began to sing.
?Three little maids from
school are we ??
After the song ended,
amidst laughter and cheers
and applause, Mo squealed
and clasped her hands
together.
?Oh, it?s snowing ? fast!?
?We?ll have a white
Christmas!? Sadie
exclaimed.
Fran looked deep into her
new husband?s eyes.
?God?s blessing us,? she
whispered and he squeezed
her hand.
Sadie led the others in
another song as the snow
fell.
?We wish you a merry
Christmas ??
?Happy Christmas, Mrs
Bradshaw,? Pete whispered.
?And to you, Mr
Bradshaw,? Fran replied.
One day she would tell
Sadie and Mo the reason
they decided to get
married. It was because
they wanted to. n
wellbeing
Health &
Great advice to keep you happy and healthy
Q. I find that the balls of my feet can hurt when I
walk. It?s as if I have less ?padding? than I used
to. Is that possible and what do you recommend?
Sarah Walton,
Cosyfeet
podiatrist ?
www.cosyfeet.
com ? is here
to help.
We have a fibrous, fatty pad of tissue
that sits over the joints in the balls of
our feet. This provides an effective
cushion, but as we age it reduces and
becomes displaced forwards, towards
In The News
iStock.
Winter
Warm Up
A charitable project which
combines the forces of
Diabetes UK, the British Heart
Foundation and Tesco has
created a series of ?Winter
Warm Up? videos to
encourage everyone to be
active as the cold weather
really sets in.
The videos are packed with
tips and advice designed to
help reduce risk of diabetes
and heart disease, and come
as part of an online eightweek challenge designed to
motivate everyone to make
small, positive lifestyle
changes. You can get active
with exercises at home or get
out and about in the great
outdoors and there are tips
on healthy eating.
Check out the videos at
www.lets-dothis.org.uk.
the toes. The joints are then more
exposed to pressure when we are
standing and walking on hard surfaces,
causing the discomfort you describe.
I recommend supportive footwear
with a bar or lace fastening to hold
your feet securely, and a low heel to
relieve forefoot pressure. Also, make
sure your shoes have thick, spongy,
cushioned soles to put a shockWatch out
absorbing layer between your
for our great
feet and the ground. If necessary,
Cosyfeet shoes
insert extra cushioning with
competition in
insoles or pads, available over the
next week?s
counter.
issue.
Enjoy A Tipple
If you know you are going to
indulge in the odd tipple this festive
season, choose red wine if you can.
Although any drinking should be
done in moderation (no more than
two drinks per day), studies show
red wine really can make a positive
impact on your health ? it can:
? improve heart health ? people
who drink a moderate amount
with food have a 30% reduced
risk of heart disease
? reduce your risk of bowel and
lung cancer and non-Hodgkin?s
lyphoma by up
to 20%
? cut your risk of
developing
dementia and
improve
cognitive
function
It just goes to
show, a little bit of
what you fancy
does you good.
Health Bite
With the ever-increasing popularity of
low-carbohydrate diets, the humble potato
has been pushed to the back of the food
cupboard in recent years, but this great staple
is rich in fibre, vitamin C and potassium, and
studies show it can help reduce blood
pressure, decrease cholesterol and help calm
inflammation.
Furthermore, a portion of potato has 50%
fewer calories than pasta and 70% fewer
than white bread ? and keeps you feeling
fuller for longer.
Much of the goodness is in the skin, so
scrubbing rather than peeling prevents loss of
half the iron and a third of the calcium. In
fact, the skin is so nutritious, that you?ll get a
better dose of phytonutrients and indigestible
fibre if you choose to eat two or three small
potatoes rather than one giant one.
We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem.
HEALTH 19
Sleep Spray
Taking Care Of Gout
G
Our Health
Writer,
Colleen
Shannon,
looks at
this painful
condition.
OUT was a favourite subject for
storytellers in centuries past. They
liked to call it ?the disease of
lords? and they painted it as an affliction
visited on portly men who were too fond
of high living.
Today we know that gout is a very
painful form of arthritis. When it attacks,
the joint (often the big toe) gets red,
swollen and almost unbearably tender.
About one in 40 people has gout.
Although men are more likely to get it,
and the risk increases with age, anyone
can be affected.
To learn more about the condition and
how it?s treated, I asked Peter Stannett,
Information Officer at Arthritis Care.
He explained that gout is due to a
build-up of crystals in the joints. The
crystals are made of urate, a waste
product that the body usually eliminates
through the kidneys.
Someone can have gout for many
years without knowing it. For a long time,
it might not cause any symptoms or
problems. Once enough of these crystals
have formed, though, a sudden and
painful attack of gout may strike without
warning, often at night.
The symptoms of this attack usually
get better within a week. However, if
gout remains untreated, it can spread to
other joints and the attacks can become
Being
watchful of
what you eat
can reduce
your risk
more frequent.
If your GP suspects gout, they can do
some tests to confirm the diagnosis.
They?ll start with a blood test to measure
your urate level. If it?s high, that strongly
suggests a diagnosis of gout.
However, a blood test alone can?t
confirm the diagnosis. Not everyone with
raised levels of urate will develop crystals
in the joints, and some people will show
a normal blood level while they are
having an attack of gout.
So your doctor may also want to order
an X-ray to see if joint damage has built
up over time. During the early stages, an
X-ray is less useful to show effects on
the joint. An ultrasound scan is another
possibility.
It?s not always done but sometimes it?s
useful to withdraw a bit of fluid from the
joint, using a needle. This sample is then
checked under a microscope to see if
there are any crystals.
Gout can be treated with various
medications, including non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such
as ibuprofen, corticosteroids, or drugs
that reduce the level of urate in the
blood.
It also helps to put ice on the affected
area and rest it.
Keeping a healthy weight, drinking
plenty of water and avoiding too much
alcohol are other steps that can lower
the risk of an attack. So can a healthy
diet that avoids foods such as offal, yeast
extracts, oily fish and sugary drinks.
To learn more, you can get a free fact
sheet on gout from the Arthritis Care
website at arthritiscare.org.uk. Or call the
free helpline on 0808 800 4050 for
information and support on any aspect
of living well with arthritis. n
Essential oils have long been
known as a natural, gentle way to
aid relaxation and sleep, and if
you?re finding it difficult to drop off
at night or you?re waking up in the
early hours of the morning when
it?s still dark outside, a spritz of
Puressentiel spray may help.
This combination of 12 essential
oils has been selected to balance
the nervous system and promote
deep sleep.
It seems inhaling the aroma
molecules activates receptor cells in
the nose which then signal the
brain to release neuro-messengers
linked to our immune response
and other body systems.
Studies have shown it can help
ease tension and assist a peaceful
and restorative sleep.
Before bed, spray it
into the corners of
your bedroom, then
spray once on to a
tissue placed next to
your pillow. If you
wake in the night,
spray once more on to
the tissue and inhale
deeply six times.
Puressentiel Rest &
Relax spray is �.99
from Boots.
Beat Reflux
Heartburn is horribly common
at this time of year as we
overindulge and treat ourselves
to large portions of rich fatty
foods. But experts believe the
way you eat is just as important
as what you eat when it comes to
beating reflux.
If we eat too quickly, for
example, it means the stomach
has to churn out more acid to
cope with the sudden high
volume of food. A US study found
that wolfing down a meal in five
rather than 30 minutes increased
the probability of reflux by 50%.
So, take your time and chew
every mouthful. Not only will you
savour the food more, you?ll also
reduce your risk of reflux.
Savour
your food
to avoid
heartburn.
Getting The
Message
SHORT STORY BY H. JOHNSON-MACK 21
Jonas had difficulty
talking to girls, but
someone seemed keen
to give him a helping
hand . . .
Illustration by Martin Baines.
E
ACH morning on his
way to work, Jonas
saw her through the
bay window of the
coffee house. She
was enchanting, ethereal;
no wonder Jonas thought
about her long after he?d
passed by.
He?d also think about
what she?d said to him that
morning. Well, not to him
personally ? to anyone who
took the time to read her
printed aprons.
The first one had
proclaimed that life was for
living ? oh, and chocolate.
The second, that she
didn?t like Mondays.
Jonas paid an overdue
visit to the opticians as a
result of the sixth: he had
had to cross the road to
learn that ?If you?re having
trouble reading this, you
need glasses?.
So, what would she say
today? Something about
spring, perhaps. The
morning sun made him
think of parks, picnics and
long lighter nights.
How great if he could
share them with someone
like the coffee-house girl.
But it was always the
same with him ? struck
dumb the minute he tried
to tell a woman how he felt.
He watched her thread
expertly between the tables
wearing another cute little
apron. Today, her printed
message was two words.
Carpe Diem.
At that moment, she
looked up, right into his
eyes. Jonas felt his lungs
contract as her lips curved
into a smile. He wasn?t sure
if he smiled back.
He?d have been late for
work if someone hadn?t
barged into him and
brought him back to reality.
The smile stayed with
him, as did her message. It
ruined his concentration
during the monthly
professors? meeting.
Seize the day.
It was all he could think
about; all he could see . . .
?So, what?s your verdict
on that? Jonas! Are you
even listening??
Jonas was jerked from his
thoughts. Ten pairs of eyes
stared accusingly at him,
waiting for him to speak.
Flushing, he realised that
if he ever wanted to
concentrate properly again
(and keep his job) he would
just have to find a way to
ask this girl out.
Straight after work,
Jonas?s feet led him swiftly
back to the coffee house. It
was drizzling, the kind of
rain that wets you through
without you even noticing.
Using that as an excuse,
he went inside, where a
steamy atmosphere of
coffee beans and baking
enveloped him.
The rush-hour commuters
had left cups half full, and
the waitress was taking care
when stacking them.
Rebellious wisps of hair
had drifted free from her
bun and as soon as she had
pushed her laden tray on to
the counter she leaned
down to massage her foot.
Jonas watched her,
searching for how to break
the ice. All he managed was
a loud throat clearing.
She glanced over her
shoulder and smiled.
?Good afternoon,? she
said hospitably. ?May I
help you??
?Tea,? Jonas blurted. ?A,
a cup of tea, please.?
She raised her brows.
?Tea, in a coffee house?
I?m not sure if that isn?t
some kind of cardinal sin.?
Jonas frantically raked his
mind for something witty to
say in return, in vain.
She laughed but it was
kind, as if she understood
his discomfort, then waved
him into a window seat.
?Sorry. Earl Grey or
Darjeeling??
Jonas shrugged.
?Whichever?s nearest.?
She looked at him, a
question in her eyes. He
nodded toward her feet.
She blinked, then laughed.
?How sweet.? She cocked
her head. ?Your hair?s wet.
It must be raining.?
Jonas glanced outside.
?Yes. Didn?t you notice??
She shrugged.
?The world tends to pass
me by in here sometimes.?
Placing cup and saucer
on the table before him,
she paused, but before
Jonas could speak she was
already walking away.
True to form, he?d made
a terrible first impression.
So much for carpe diem.
Frustrated with himself,
he sipped his scalding tea.
It was then that he
remembered that he
loathed Darjeeling.
* * * *
Over the next few weeks,
Jonas doggedly kept
returning to the coffee
house and the waitress. Her
name was Nina, he learned,
and she made wonderful
biscuits and cakes.
She didn?t actually like
coffee, just the smell, and
brewing it for others to
enjoy. As for the
aprons, her brother
SERIES BY MALCOLM WELSHMAN: PART 15 OF 30 23
owned a T-shirt printing
outlet and she had fun
choosing the words to print
on to them and wearing
whichever matched her
mood for the day.
Jonas grew more
enamoured with every visit.
But his self-conscious mind
insisted the more attractive
she became, the more
unattainable she was.
Friday evening. There was
the coffee house, same as
always, and there was Nina,
cleaning tables.
Jonas paused at the
window, suddenly uncertain.
But she was already looking
at him and smiling. It was
too late now to turn back.
With a deep breath, he
peeled off his jacket and
pointed to the words across
his chest ? the words he?d
paid Nina?s brother to print
on to a T-shirt.
Please ask me out for
dinner.
Oh, no! She wasn?t saying
anything. Was that a frown?
What had he been thinking?
He had to get out of here.
Too late: he watched her
fling down her serving cloth
and march outside. He
wished that the pavement
would swallow him whole.
Then she was before him,
oblivious of the commuters
rushing past.
?Jonas,? she said sternly.
?For how long have you
known my brother??
She unfolded her arms
and he noticed the apron
she was wearing. Across it,
in large italics, was exactly
the same invitation as his, in
the same style and print
that her brother?s shop
specialised in.
She shrugged as he gaped
at her.
?I got bored with waiting
for you to ask.?
Heart soaring, Jonas took
a step toward her, then
stopped dead.
?Wait a minute, have you
been wearing that apron all
day?? When she nodded, he
scowled. ?Just how many
dinner invitations have you
had??
Nina only smiled.
With a shrug, Jonas closed
the gap between them and
gave himself up to the
wonderful feeling of having
her, finally, in his arms.
Seize the day? Well, he
had. Sort of. n
Two cats are in
cahoots in
Willow Wren . . .
U
NTIL the arrival
of Sabrina, there
had only been
one feline in the
Willow Wren
household ? Queenie,
Lucy?s grey and white
Persian, who treated me
with utter contempt.
As far as she was
concerned, I was a mere
underling, unworthy of
royal patronage. She kept
her distance and I mine.
It worked well ? until
Sabrina came. She was a
large, middle-aged feline,
green-eyed, with puffball
white fur, pink nose and
pink ears. I was to discover
that within all that puff was
a deadly deviousness.
Despite her sugar-candy
appearance, we?d been
assured she was an
excellent mouser. This was
why Lucy and I had
adopted her. The practice
cottage felt as if it had
become mouse central.
I swear there was a large
contingency from France, as
our camembert, brie and
Roquefort would disappear
while the local Cheddar was
never touched.
I began to dream of
beret-wearing French mice,
Gauloises stuck in the
corner of their mouths,
playing boules with peanuts
across the kitchen floor!
?I reckon they?ll get
along,? Lucy declared when
Sabrina met Queenie.
She was right. After a few
introductory sniffs and wags
of feathery tails, they got
on fine. Royal assent had
been granted.
But they immediately
started plotting. A certain
member of the household
was not to be trusted. Me.
I began to wonder what
lay ahead.
?You?re imagining
things,? Lucy said when I
suggested that Sabrina was
out to get me, alienating
Queenie against me further
in the process. ?They?re
only cats!?
?Sabrina hates me.?
?That?s because she
senses you?re not keen on
her. Let?s face it, you don?t
really like cats.?
?I tolerate them,? I
whinged. ?But Sabrina?s
really anti-me.?
It had been apparent
within a few days of her
setting paw in Willow Wren.
The first rule of the house
? no pet allowed upstairs ?
was blatantly violated.
I was undressing one
evening, Lucy already in
bed, when a puff of white
rolled into the room and
floated up on to her side.
There, it proceeded to
wrap itself round her neck,
lick her and rub noses while
giving vent to soft
inarticulate cries of
pleasure.
As Sabrina?s transports of
affection subsided along
with those she?d evoked in
Lucy, she cocooned herself
at the end of the bed and
fell fast asleep.
Within days, Queenie was
copying her.
There followed attempts
to banish me from the
bedroom altogether.
I was climbing our narrow
staircase one evening, my
head coming level with the
landing, when I was
suddenly aware of a silky
white paw flashing out
between the rails above
me.
?Ouch!? I roared as claws
scraped across my scalp
before disappearing back
on to the landing.
There was no sympathy
from Lucy.
?It?s just Sabrina playing
games with you.?
But when Queenie started
to join in, it gave me claws
for concern. Two sets of
them.
Lucy?s solution was to
throw a beanie at me.
?Here, wear this.?
The supposed games
continued when I attempted
to lay a new stair carpet.
I?d barely hammered in the
top tread before Sabrina
had ripped the bottom one
out.
?She?s just sharpening
her claws,? Lucy said. ?It?s
not deliberate sabotage.?
I was not convinced.
Then came the episode of
the water butt during a
hose-pipe ban ? a common
occurrence in this droughtstricken corner of West
Sussex.
I sneakily tried filling our
water butt illicitly by
snaking the hosepipe
through the herbaceous
border to the kitchen tap.
Sabrina settled herself on
top of the kitchen
extension, peering down at
the hosepipe trailing in
through the window and
proceeded to yowl.
It was such a spluttery
caterwauling that in my two
years as a vet I?ve never
experienced before. Her
rendition had our neighbour
dash out to peer over the
garden fence, bewilderment
on her face.
Reverend James, busy in
the vicarage garden across
the way, dropped his
shears and came running.
As both spotted the nearly
full water butt, Sabrina
stopped her caterwauling
and proceeded to wash her
paws.
Job done. I?d been found
out.
As for mouse-hunting, no
way was Sabrina going to
oblige. Hence my continuing
rant about the rodents
surely became music to her
ears ? every note a winning
score.
More next week.
Brainteasers
Missing Link
CANDY
SUGAR
HOME
HOUSES
EAT
BIKE
MOUNTAIN
CUB
BABY
CHAIN
FUNNY
BAND
WHITE
SHIELD
QUESTION
DOWN
LOVE
EGG
BIRTH
LANGUAGE
ACROSS
1
2
3
1 Flat pieces
of Italian
8
pasta (7)
9
5 Carry out
orders (4)
9 Programme
for the
11
promotion of
health (7)
10 Group of
14
15
experts (5)
11 Avant? ___,
artistically
18
experimental (5)
12 Narrow?
21
brimmed hat
with a dented
22
crown (6)
14 Neglect (6)
16 Tart?tasting (6)
24
25
18 Photo?taking
device (6)
19 Monk?s
DOWN
attire (5)
2 Irate emotion (5)
22 Scilly ___,
3 Lack of a goal (11)
group off
4 Bingo?s highest
Cornwall (5)
number (6)
23 Extra (7)
6 Sleeping arrangement
24 Minstrel?s
for two children (4?3)
instrument (4)
7 Howl (4)
25 Jamaican
8 Fire ___, emergency
song (7)
service (7)
With the help of the Across clues only,
can you fit the pieces into their correct
positions in the grid?
S A L T A B A C H L L Y
G
E
U L
O
E
F E L D EM I E S E S T
1
S
U
E B
I R
P E D T I P I M E E MA
R
T
R T
L
4
R
D
R E A O
N N A T
P A G A Y T E
V
R B A S
R
7
L E A P R E AM I L
N
E
T
D O D A
E A N C A B I N E C
S
10
ACROSS
1 Moralise
2 Chinese temple
3 Skin disease
caused by a mite
Answers
on p87
Try our quick crossword
Fit ten words into the
grid so each one connects
up with the words on
either side eg - wishing well - done. Read down
the letters in the shaded
squares to spell out a
word.
Pieceword
PUZZLES 25
2
4
5
10
12
13
16
17
19
10 The Queen?s
grandson (6,5)
13 Euphoria, delight (7)
15 Garlic?flavoured
species of onion (7)
17 Sick feeling (6)
20 Ed ___, politician
and 2016 Strictly
contestant (5)
21 Small mountain (4)
Fill the grid with the numbers
1 to 9 so that each row,
column and 3x3 block
contains the numbers 1 to 9.
2
5
8
5
5
6 2
7
4
9
5
3
9
2 3
1 7
8
9
5
4
9
3 6
2
7
9
6
1
9
11
12
4 Italian garlic sausage
5 Morning and afternoon,
but not night
6 Suggestive of a cat
7 In truth
20
23
8
8
7
Sudoku
3
6
6
8
9
10
11
12
Come (from)
Vilest
Striking scene
Spilt
Degrade
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ?
www.puzzler.com
only
�.99
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Mary?s Household
REAL LIFE 27
Tips & Tricks
When it comes to getting your house ship-shape in time for
Christmas, Mary Berry is full of great ideas!
That festive feeling
Made-up with discovery!
Once the house has been
cleaned, you can think about
setting the scene for Christmas.
If you?re having a fresh Christmas
tree, Nordmann firs are less
likely to drop their needles
than Norway spruces.
It?s a good idea to buy a
stand that holds water and
allows you to screw the
tree in place. Top up the
water daily to keep your
tree fresh looking.
I didn?t realise until recently that some fitted sheets come in
two depths ? regular (up to 30cm) or deep fit (generally
32?36cm). Regardless of how thick your mattress is, a deep fit
is easier to use when it comes to making up the bed. Brushed
cotton sheets are perfect for winter as they have a cosy,
flannel-like feel, great for the colder months.
Make a dinner date in your diary
Proper labelling is the efficient
freezer?s best friend. You may think
you?ll remember what?s in that funny
packet with no label, but you won?t. I?ve
been to a friend?s and we?ve cut into a
pie that was meant to be steak, only to
find that it was rhubarb!
Be specific when you?re labelling ? say
you?ve made double quantities of stew,
don?t just write ?beef stew? on the bag.
Write, ?Really good beef stew for four
for 12 September?.
Treat scratches on wooden furniture
by breaking an oily nut, such as a
walnut, in half and gently rub the
exposed area over scratches in the
wood. The oil of the nut should help the
scratches become less noticeable.
� Getty Images
A polished act
!
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Marketing (People?s Friend), Copy of your Competition
Terms, DC Thomson, 2 Albert Square Dundee, DD1 9QJ.
If you want to clean your bathroom
? or any other room ? with vinegar, but
are worried about your house smelling
like a fish-and-chip shop, then try a
fruit-infused alternative. Pour clear
vinegar into a glass jar until threequarters full. Add the peel of a citrus
fruit and a few sprigs of mint or
cinnamon (great at Christmas). Leave it
in a cupboard for a month. Strain and
decant into a spray bottle ready to use.
Finishing touch
All flower
arrangements on
dinner tables should be
low enough to enable
you to see over the top
when you?re sitting
down. Remove any
leaves below the water
level, otherwise they?ll
turn the water green
and make it smell.
� Georgia Glynn-Smith, unless otherwise stated.
� Loupe.
A fragrant alternative
ts !
r
a
St day
to
Set In
1829
No. 4, Whitehall
Gardens
Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar.
M
UST I brush my
hair,
Clementine??
Little Julia Peel
was once again
unwilling to be the young
lady her station in life
required her to be.
Clementine stared at her
hand as it hovered over
Julia?s head and wondered
what to do next. The child
was eight, but with a
determined character that
flummoxed Clementine, her
nursery maid.
Frederick, four and
curious, sat before them on
the dressing table, his short
legs bumping against the
gilding, getting in the way
of the looking-glass.
?Miss Everett will be
vexed if you don?t,? he
said, smiling cheerfully.
Clementine knew that was
true. The governess had the
highest standards in the
nursery, and had taken
Clementine to task on
occasions about the boys?
breeches (stained at the
knees), the girls? hair
(lacking in gloss) and Julia?s
shoes and frock.
Julia harboured an
ambition to be a soldier; a
career Clementine had
found herself utterly unable
to discourage.
No amount of explanation
that young ladies did not
enter military service
moved the child.
With this in mind, little
Julia regularly attached to
her shoes a pair of dress
spurs she had managed to
dig out of her father?s
wardrobe, and pinned
epaulettes on the shoulders
of her dress, and wore the
ensemble about the house.
Eight weeks ago
Clementine would meet many
important people at her new
appointment at Whitehall
Gardens . . .
Clementine had had no idea
that children could be so
difficult.
She thought now, as she
watched six-year-old
Robert pass outside the
nursery door with another
beetle jar in his hand, that
if the children had been
older, the job might not
have been so hard.
She was an only child,
and had no experience with
children when her mother
had secured her this post in
the Peel nursery.
Surely all Miss Everett?s
scoldings, and Clementine?s
many errors with diet and
hygiene, exercise and
discipline, should have had
her dismissed before now.
Mrs Peel must have
observed that she was the
worst nursery maid in all
London.
But then Mrs Peel was a
woman of importance, the
wife of the Home Secretary,
(no less) and her mind was
on other matters.
Clementine had no idea
what a Home Secretary did.
Her mother, employed at
No. 4, Whitehall Gardens
as second cook, had tried
to explain.
?Mr Peel?s responsibility
is home affairs,? she?d said.
It was one week before
Clementine was to attend
an interview in the nursery
at No. 4. ?For the care of
the nation.?
?Why home?? Clementine
asked. ?That word speaks
SERIAL BY ALISON CARTER: PART 1 OF 5
to me of four walls.?
They both looked round
at the walls of their tiny
parlour. Mrs Denny ?lived
out?, arriving at No. 4 early
in the morning, six days a
week, to prepare dinners
and luncheons.
?It means the home
nation. If you get the
position, it will be the Peel
children ? five of them and
another on the way ? and
many duties that you must
familiarise yourself with,
not the state of the country.
The governess is the person
you will look to, and you?ll
mind every word she says.?
?If I am successful.?
?If you are successful.?
Bridget Denny sighed. ?I
hope so. I have done that
much wheedling to get you
in and save you from Molly
Westall!?
?I?m done with that, Ma.?
?Yes, you are. Now, they
will ask you ??
?Who will??
?Miss Everett will ask you
questions. Mrs Peel may
attend if she has no
engagements. We?re to go
in the early morning, so she
may be at home.
?You?ve to make them
understand that you?ll keep
those children happy and
well, see that they get their
bread and milk, and are
always clean and pressed.
?You might get to read
with them, if you behave.?
Her mother eyed
Clementine. ?Did you hear
me??
?Yes, Ma,? Clementine
replied.
She had every intention
of doing well. She was sure
that five children could not
defeat her.
?Do your job and the
Home Secretary will be able
to run the country without
disturbance.?
Clementine and her
mother lived three-quarter
of an hour?s walk from
Whitehall, in the upper part
of a house in Walworth.
Bridget was a widow, and
often worried about her
daughter. When the
nursery maid at No. 4 had
gone off unexpectedly to
marry, Bridget had seized
the opportunity.
This was at a moment
when Clementine had
almost got herself into
trouble, and Bridget
employed her powers of
persuasion to get her
daughter an interview at
No. 4.
London was a tricky place
for any girl with nothing to
her name and no father to
guide her, and Clementine
had almost got entwined in
a confidence trick,
something she regretted.
Her mother was confident
a position in the household
of the Home Secretary
would pluck Clementine
from danger for good.
Mrs Peel had made a
space in her busy diary to
attend the interview.
Clementine was surprised
that such a lady gave
attention to the hiring of a
lowly nursery maid.
Her mother had been
adamant about who would
decide Clementine?s fate.
?It will be Miss Everett,
mark my words,? Bridget
said firmly.
But the exalted Mrs Peel
came and lounged on a
chaise longue at some
distance, yawning
occasionally.
They stood in a spacious
room on the second floor of
the finest, most modern
house Clementine had ever
seen.
Books lined a whole wall,
and two rocking-horses,
both in perfect condition,
sat proudly in the enormous
bay window. The chairs and
sofas all matched, and were
covered in the sweetest pink
and white striped fabric.
Bridget had already
pointed out to Clementine,
while they waited, the
elaborate tea set that she
warned was reserved for
Miss Everett alone, and
Clementine was staring at it
as the talk began.
Her mother nudged her
hard in the ribs and she
jumped.
?The children have been
sent downstairs for an
hour,? Miss Everett said,
gesturing for them to sit in
two chairs opposite her.
The chairs were rather
small, and Clementine felt
uncomfortable immediately.
She noticed that the
governess bore a marked
resemblance to a stuffed
dodo she had once seen.
She had been on just one
holiday in her life, a day
trip to Brighton, and very
memorable it was.
It had occurred while her
father lived, and he had
stopped in front of a glass
case at a travelling
exhibition, and pointed out
the bird.
Miss Everett resembled
the dodo with her hooked
nose, tiny beady eyes and
generally shrivelled aspect.
The lady of the house, in
contrast, was beautiful. Her
hair was arranged in the
latest style, in glossy
swathes around an oval
face, and she had dark
brown eyes that gave out a
soft glow.
29
desperation. Why was she
finding it so hard to think
of things? ?Though I?d not
touch ?em myself.?
?Go on.? The dodo
expression was inscrutable.
?Oh, fish. Children like
fish, if you don?t let ?em
see the eyes. Fillet your
fish, that?s what I suggest.?
Clementine heard a faint
rustling coming from Mrs
Peel?s direction, and
Clementine turned to see
the faintest hint of a smile
pass across her face.
She guessed from her
mother?s short sigh that
she was being too forward.
Clementine guessed that she was
being too forward
She wore a white day
gown with a narrow edging
of white fur at the breast,
and its whiteness,
contrasting with her lips
and hair, made her all the
lovelier.
Mrs Peel, on her chaise,
regarded them with a look
that was so lacking in focus
that Clementine wondered
if she were really paying
attention. It was only just
past eight in the morning,
yet she seemed to lack any
energy.
?Name four foods
wholesome for a child of
four years,? Miss Everett
said suddenly.
?Um,? Clementine said.
?Bread. Good bread, I
mean, not the rough kind.?
The dodo nodded.
?That is one, yes.?
?Milk ? warm.?
?Why warm??
?I don?t know ? I always
got it warm, and I?m
healthy, so I thought . . .?
Miss Everett frowned.
?Well, milk, then.?
There was a pause.
Bridget tensed in the chair
beside her. Mrs Peel?s eyes
closed and Clementine saw
the beautiful lady settle
further into the upholstery.
She longed to do the same.
If she got this job, she?d
certainly take advantage of
this luxurious upholstery.
There must be opportunities
for relaxation ? perhaps as
the children slept?
?Yes?? Miss Everett
barked.
?Greens are wholesome,?
Clementine said in some
It had always been a
failing.
?I mean, fillet the fish if
you say so, Miss Everett,?
she said firmly.
Mrs Peel rustled again,
and the governess gave a
loud cough.
There were more
questions. Miss Everett?s
aim appeared to be to fox
Clementine, and half an
hour later mother and
daughter left the nursery
and the house dejected.
Bridget had been granted
half a day?s leave for the
interview, and was not
needed in the kitchen at
No. 4 until the morning.
?I?m sorry,? Clementine
said quietly as they walked
out of the servants?
entrance and round the
side of the house.
Her mother gave a laugh.
?You and Miss Everett
would only come to blows
in that nursery.?
?I?m a match for any
dodo,? Clementine said
without thinking, and her
mother stopped.
?Oh, my child, you?re a
liability,? she said. ?But I,
too, remembered that visit
we made to Brighton
before your father died.?
They both laughed.
?Well,? Bridget went on,
?at least you know all
about that fine house I
work in.? She laughed.
?Greens! I have never
managed to get a morsel
down your throat!?
?Well, I will find work,?
Clementine said. ?No
more scrapes.?
30
?But I had such
hopes,? Bridget said.
?Come, let?s go.?
* * * *
William Grant knew all
about the soon-to-be
announced Metropolitan
Police Service. It was a
project of Mr Peel?s and Mr
Peel was the Home
Secretary.
William regarded Peel as
a person of wisdom and
intellect. Many of his
colleagues in the police
viewed the proposed new
force with suspicion, but
William had one goal, and
that was to rid his beloved
city of crime.
If the Home Secretary
had decided that a new
body would help in that
endeavour, William was a
supporter. It was already
1829, and the project had
been long in the planning.
?It?ll mean less respect
for us!? his friend George
Ainsworth said. ?They call
us the Bow Street Runners
already and it?s
disrespectful.
?Putting a new police
force alongside us, well, it?s
going to make us the poor
relation!?
?It?s not so disrespectful,
George,? William replied.
?We do run, and often!?
He laughed as he brushed
his hat free of street grime.
George, reclining on a
bench in the Runners?
Worship Street offices,
looked up idly at William.
?Oh, you run all the
blessed time, Will,? he said.
?You make the rest of us
dizzy with it.?
George meant it kindly.
William Grant had made a
name for himself in the
force the year before, at
the tender age of twentyfour, by infiltrating a group
of revolutionaries.
The Principle Officers (as
the Runners preferred to be
called) undertook many
daring activities in their
pursuit of crime, but
undercover work was rare,
and William had learned of
plans to assassinate a
senior member of the
British civil service.
He then led a party of
colleagues in storming their
meeting place above a pub
in Brewer Street, rooting
them out once and for all.
He smiled.
?It keeps me healthy,? he
said, ?running about.?
?You?re a born policeman,
Will, that?s what it is.?
William hid his glow of
pride behind his hat, but it
was important to him that
he did his job well and
made his mother proud.
Perhaps, he thought, one
day the Runners and the
new force would combine.
After all, Mr Peel had
merged the Marine Police
with his Metropolitan force.
Already he had heard
people call the proposed
new officers Bobbies, a play
on the Home Secretary?s
name, and even Peelers.
If there was, in the future,
to be a single city-wide
force to uphold law, William
wanted to be right there,
rising through its ranks,
despite his humble origins.
George stood up as a
portly figure entered the
room. It was Mr Davenport,
the Shoreditch magistrate.
?Morning, sir,? George
and William said in unison.
?Oh, sit down again,
Ainsworth. It is your natural
position anyway,? Mr
Davenport said as William
tried not to laugh. ?Now,
Grant, I need you to come
with me to Whitehall
Gardens tomorrow.?
?Has a crime been
committed, sir?? William
asked eagerly.
?No, Grant. A meeting.
Think of it as a
consultation.?
?I see.? William frowned
again. ?Yes, sir.?
?Whitehall Gardens.
Number Four. Get that
uniform spotless, and those
buttons shining like the sun.
?It?s the house of Mr
Robert Peel and you?re to
present yourself at eight
sharp.?
William blinked. The
house of Mr Peel? He
wondered if he was
dreaming.
* * * *
Thinking it unlikely that
she would be summoned to
work in No. 4, Clementine
returned to the laundry
where she?d been employed
since she was fourteen.
It lay south of Hyde Park,
and did well, not least
because more and more
houses were being built
there; large houses for
wealthy people who needed
their washing taking in.
The laundry had
expanded in recent years,
and employed close to 30
people, most of them young
women. It was among them
that Clementine?s troubles
had begun.
Molly Westall was at the
middle of it all. It was
usually Molly at the middle
of anything.
She was pretty, and
buxom, and she liked a
laugh, and she could never
stay still for a minute. She
was never content.
She also struggled to
behave herself, and seemed
not to mind when she was
berated.
?Molly Westall, you?re
drowning us again!? Mrs
Thompson would shout
across the shed where they
rinsed the linens.
Molly would be telling a
story, her arms waving
everywhere, some account
of a soldier or a sailor she?d
happened to meet by the
river, who was a ?caution?
or a ?sweet rogue?.
Recently, she had a new
beau, a tall and carefree
man named Silas, and
Molly had lain aside her
soldier friends and declared
she worshipped him.
Most of the unmarried
laundresses dreamed of
earning enough for a new
dress, of doing well, and
marrying a man with at
least some prospects and
having children. Molly was
too impatient to wait for all
that.
She said that a good
schemer could take a leap
over all the tedious parts
and make her fortune.
Clementine doubted it, if
truth were told. Molly was
keen and lively, but she had
a fragility to her that made
Clementine think she would
one day fall on her face.
Molly was full of selfconfidence, proud to have
done a little shoplifting, and
she talked a great deal
about confidence tricks.
?I follow the example of
my departed father,? she
told Clementine. ?He had a
sharp mind like mine, and
an eye for the soft spot on
a rich man?s hide.? Her
eyes twinkled.
Clementine knew that
Molly?s father John Westall
had been taken away to
Newgate gaol when Molly
was a child, and there he
had died of one of the
usual disorders a man
picked up in a prison.
He had been a con artist,
and Molly clearly felt it was
in her blood.
She had gathered a
meeting of the laundry girls
she could trust to be loyal
and silent.
Word went round that
Molly wanted to see her
friends after work that
night, and they were willing
enough.
When the laundry had
gone quiet for the night,
and the smell of soap and
lye had died away, six or
seven of them clustered
together in the street
opposite the laundry.
?Now, I happen to know
a soldier or two,? Molly
said, and they all laughed,
because Molly knew almost
every soldier resident in
London on any given date.
?I have made the
acquaintance of a fine
collection of men over
yonder in Hyde Park.?
The girls looked to where
she pointed up towards the
Knightsbridge Barracks.
?It?s a visiting regiment,
filling up the barracks to
bursting, they told me.?
Jenny Wade piped up.
?They ought to build
more on to the barracks for
the soldiers, instead of all
these houses! Where would
we be without the militias??
?Well said, Jenny,? Molly
replied with a chuckle.
?Where are young women
without handsome young
men in uniforms??
?Don?t let your Silas hear
that,? Dorcas called.
?I am his only, from this
day on,? Molly said, her
hand on her heart. ?But the
laundry at the barracks is
not big enough for the . . .?
She grinned round at her
friends, her slightly crooked
teeth on show.
?The unmentionables that
men on drill and on
horseback discard. I heard
that our own Mrs
Thompson has approached
the officers. She has offered
to take laundry in here to
relieve the barracks.?
?And Mrs Thompson is
charging over the odds, I
32
bet,? Clementine said.
Their overseer had a
flexible attitude to
charges, depending how
needy she felt a customer
to be.
?Clementine, you are a
person with her head on
her shoulders,? Molly said,
turning to her. ?Yes, indeed.
I happened to be passing
Thompson?s room and
heard mention of the sum
she means to charge.
?I thought to myself, what
if I were to scrub their shirts
and drawers for less??
?In whose tubs?? Jenny
asked, frowning.
?In these, dunderhead,?
Molly said, pointing to the
wooden doors of the
laundry. ?We can slip
extras in.
?And . . .? Molly leaned
into the centre of the circle
?. . . we could charge the
regiment less than three
quarters of what Thompson
asks, and still do very
nicely.
?The soldiers are happy
and we?re happy, too!?
?But Mrs Thompson
isn?t,? Clementine said.
?What care you for Mrs
Thompson?? Molly asked.
Clementine looked
around the group. She
could tell that the rest of
the girls were getting
sucked into the plan. It was
neat, Clementine had to
admit.
?No, I don?t care for Mrs
Thompson. She?s a mean
old stick. But ??
?The time has come to
get something back from
this laundry!? Molly
interrupted. ?Thompson
won?t know we?ve snapped
up the business. There are
other wash houses within a
mile, and any of them could
have made a better offer to
Ensign Walker.?
?Who?s he??
?He?s a man with the
finest curly hair and the
most well-turned calf ever
seen this side of the
Thames,? Molly said, her
eyes shining in the dusk.
?He has friends in that
regiment.?
Slowly her gaze passed
around the circle.
?I believe he has exactly
as many handsome friends
as there are young ladies
assembled here. So that?s
an additional attraction.?
She gave a nod to Dorcas
Barnes. ?Except you,
Dorcas, who is engaged to
be married, and me.?
They laughed. Clementine
felt the frisson of fear and
doubt from every one of
them, but Molly was so
confident. She oozed a
sophistication that they
lacked.
Clementine knew that
many of them would agree,
and she was right. Tasks
were assigned.
Sadly, Molly was not as
brilliant as she imagined.
From her position at the
very bottom of the social
ladder, she failed to see
that word of the cheaper
laundry work might spread.
Mrs Thompson wanted to
know where the business
she had touted for had
gone, and she began, along
with her henchwomen, to
notice the increased volume
of washing hanging out.
She one day took Molly
into her inner sanctum, and
had it out. Molly had been
noticed too often.
She was too loud, too
pleased with her talents
and too prone to
mentioning her father who
had scammed all of London
before his untimely death.
It turned out that this
sort of confidence trick was
by no means new, though
Molly had been proud of it.
?Undercutting,? Mrs
Thompson said when she
dragged a scowling Molly
into the centre of the circle
of huge, steaming coppers,
?is old hat. Now, who was
helping this wicked girl??
Molly had told her friends
that she never grassed.
?It?s the honour of the
street,? she said, vaguely
bringing her father into it.
Clementine felt uneasy at
her friend?s boasts about
Mr Westall. It puzzled her
that a girl should be so
proud of such a father, and
it suggested that Molly
lacked other sources of joy.
But Molly was true to her
word, and refused to give
up the names of her crew.
So it was only Molly
hauled before a magistrate,
though her friends were
questioned at some length.
It was Molly?s first
offence ? nobody knew
whether the little thefts she
was so proud of had been
real ? and she was merely
fined.
Every girl suspected of
being a friend of Molly?s
was summarily sacked
without the week?s pay.
Dorcas suffered most.
She was engaged to a
handsome subaltern, a
young man rather above
her in social status, and
considered a catch.
They had been saving to
marry, but the young man,
Dorcas told Clementine, felt
that her recent lack of
wages meant they?d have
to postpone the wedding.
?But your baby??
Clementine asked Dorcas
the day the girl came to her
in tears.
Dorcas was going to have
her subaltern?s child.
?Edward says we?ll marry
when we can,? Dorcas said,
drying her eyes. ?He said it
would all be all right.?
Clementine thought that
Dorcas?s fate seemed
especially cruel, and hoped
that Edward would be as
good as his word.
Clementine?s mother had
been horrified that her
daughter was drawn in to
Molly Westall?s plan.
Bridget knew it didn?t
take much to scar a young
woman?s reputation.
She had set about a
personal campaign to set
Clementine on a safer path,
and it was then she decided
to get her child employed in
one of the most respectable
houses in England.
* * * *
It was a cold morning
when Will stopped in front
of No. 4, Whitehall Gardens,
scrubbed and shined.
In the distance was Mr
Davenport, and William
raised a hand in greeting as
two women came around
the side of the house, deep
in conversation.
One was about the age of
his mother, and dressed in
the modest Sunday best of
a woman of lower class.
The other was younger,
with dark hair peeping out
from under a white cap.
Her dress, under a plain
coat, could not disguise a
sweet figure.
But it was her face that
made William lower his
hand and stare.
?Sir.? The older woman
nodded as they passed,
and then, a few steps
further along the pavement,
he saw the girl look back,
and that was when their
eyes met.
Later, recalling the
moment, and after the
meeting with Mr Peel and
all its interest, he could not
say for how long they
looked upon one another.
He told himself that it
could not have been more
than half a second, but her
face came back to him over
and again.
Inside the house, Mr Peel
struck awe into William.
This was the man in charge
of policing the nation.
?Gentlemen,? the Home
Secretary began, ?what I
am after is a broad picture
of policing ? its needs but
also its present failings, and
you?d oblige me if you?d
tell me what you know.
?Mr Grant, I know you to
be a man dedicated to the
principles of crime
prevention.?
William?s face burned
scarlet.
?Yes, sir,? he replied.
?This very summer,? Peel
continued, ?we will instigate
our new Metropolitan
Police Force.
?As we put a final plan
before Parliament, it strikes
me that I must be sure of
our purposes and certain of
our methods, which is why I
called you here today.?
William began to calm
down now that he knew
why he was there.
Trying to stop the shaking
of his hands, he reminded
himself that he was
interested in policing, and
that he had experience,
despite his youth.
They talked, and Mr Peel
asked more of William until
a carriage clock chimed and
Peel stood up.
?Thank you. This has
been illuminating.? He
looked at William. ?A man
like you, Grant, might go
places in my new force.
?Men with good clean
records of public service
like yours, from law-abiding
and God-fearing families,
have a bright future.?
William nodded.
As Mr Davenport ushered
him out of the room,
William thought carefully
about what Mr Peel had
said about his career.
?Men from law-abiding
families,? he had said.
He felt uneasy. Not all his
family was as upstanding as
he tried to be.
As he walked down the
steps to the pavement, he
thought of his older sister,
his only sibling.
His mother had admitted
only the night before how
much worry she had been
causing.
?I won?t take up your
time with detail, Will,?
Mariah Grant had said.
?She?s a good girl at heart,
but led astray.?
His mother knew that
William needed to guard his
reputation. She would try
to manage his sister herself,
and she sought to play
down her daughter?s errors.
?Is it men, mother?? he?d
asked carefully.
Mariah had laughed.
?Don?t concern yourself.
She and I had a little talk
last night and she promises
me she?s reformed.?
William did not see much
of his sister. They had little
in common. Her early years
had not been as happy as
his own.
?Your head nodded like a
jack-in-the-box,?
Davenport said as they
stood for a moment on the
pavement, ?but Mr Peel
seemed satisfied. Now, get
yourself back to work.?
William set off for
Worship Street, his head
swimming with policing, and
his sister and his career.
But the thought that took
over as he traversed the
streets of Westminster was
the beautiful girl in the blue
dress.
* * * *
Clementine and Bridget
had left No. 4, Whitehall
Gardens feeling that
Clementine must look
elsewhere for work. Then a
message came to Walworth
to say that Clementine was
offered the post.
?Six pounds a year and
board,? Clementine said,
astonished.
Now, almost two months
into her post, Clementine
wondered why the mistress
of the house did not have
her dismissed.
The children, though
engaging and with their
own charm, were
exhausting, and constantly
got the better of her.
Julia was seven and
nearly as pretty as her
mother, Robert (a stubborn
little creature) was six,
Frederick five and sweet as
a button, and William only
four but already bossy.
John was a doe-eyed boy
of eighteen months who still
wore napkins, which were
Clementine?s responsibility.
The napkins were even
worse than all the linens at
the Hyde Park laundry!
Miss Everett had said on
Clementine?s first day, and
with satisfaction, that she
had not touched a baby?s
napkin since 1799.
Clementine hoped that
baby John would grow out
of the habit before the next
child arrived.
Somehow Clementine
kept her job, although she
knew there were plenty of
young women in London
more capable.
Some respite came when
she had a chance to read to
the children, but after an
hour all of them would ply
her with questions on any
topic under the sun, then
they would begin jumping
on her until she was
exhausted.
Sometimes, at the end of
a long day when she ought
to go to bed, Clementine
would walk into Whitehall
Gardens and look at the
other houses, wondering
how many children lived
inside them, and who had
the task of controlling them,
and if they ever succeeded.
She would stand in the
frosty night and remember
the morning she first came
to No. 4, and a single
moment when she and her
mother passed by a young
man in the uniform of a
Bow Street Runner.
The man had looked at
her with eyes that she
remembered as being
brilliant blue.
She was not sure why the
moment kept returning to
her mind, but return it did.
To be continued.
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The
Farmer
& His
Wife
John Taylor is
hearing bumps
in the night.
W
E have two magpies in
the East Neuk of Fife. I
had better be careful
and say I?ve not seen one
during the last twenty years.
I once wrote that we had no
magpies in Fife. Did I regret it!
How was I to know there were
some near Dunfermline?
Well, there?s certainly one
magpie in our house (Anne
would say two).
Anne loves to collect bits and
bobs for the house and I also
sometimes buy things I think
she would like.
Well, it was one of those
?bits? which woke us up one
night, at about two a.m.
There was an unearthly clatter
in our hall and Anne gave me a
dig in the back and put the bed
light on.
?John, there?s someone in the
hall!?
I sat up and listened. There
wasn?t a sound. But Anne
insisted I got up to investigate. I
did as told.
I went downstairs, shivering in
the cold air. I soon found there
was no-one in the hall or
anywhere else in the house.
Both back and front doors were
still locked.
?I?m certain I heard a noise,?
Anne insisted when I got back
upstairs.
?You were dreaming, dear.?
?I was not! I heard it.?
We got to sleep eventually.
When I went downstairs at
6.30 next morning I spotted
what had made the clatter. We
have a long-handled church
collection box hung by string on
a picture hook.
It has been there for years
and the string had given up.
The box had fallen to the floor
with an almighty clatter.
How we laughed, but, as
usual, I got the blame.
?John, you should have
restrung it ages ago.?
The first time I ever saw a
long-handled collection box was
when Anne and I were on
holiday in Borrowdale, near
Keswick, in the Lakes. Our son
and daughter had paid for our
holiday as a present for our
fiftieth wedding anniversary.
We came across one in a
lovely antiques shop in Keswick.
When I heard the price I
thought it was a bit steep.
?Buy it, John,? Anne said, ?it
will be a nice memento.?
So I bought it.
The dealer told us these
boxes were commonplace at
churches in the Lakes where
shepherds came to church. The
shepherds often brought their
dogs to church and the animals
would sit under the pews.
As the dogs sometimes
snapped at strangers, the
long-handled collection box
allowed the elder to pass
around the box without leaving
the aisle ? staying well out of
the dogs? range!
It?s certainly one of our most
cherished possessions and brings
back happy memories. n
More
next
week
Christmas
Around The World
iStock.
We chat to families from all over the
globe to find out how they celebrate
the festive season.
Jason and Nancy with
their children Ross,
Erin, Blair and Lily.
Nancy McKenzie, Minnesota, America.
Christmas traditions in Minnesota are similar to many I
grew up with in Scotland. However, there are also a few that
were completely new to us, one being the cookie exchange.
You bake a set amount of cookies, wrap them up in
cookie bags or boxes and go to the hosts? home and
exchange them with the other guests. You then return
home with a fabulous variety of delicious cookies to share
with family and friends over the holiday season.
Yummy!
There?s also a Christmas tree ornament
exchange, which is a fun game to play. You
pick a number and when it?s called you
choose from the wrapped ornaments. But
watch out! If someone likes the ornament you
receive they can steal it from you when their
number is called, and on it goes. It?s a fun game
with much squealing!
We usually pick our tree from a farm in fall and
it?s then tagged ready for collection near the big
day. Not as easy as it sounds, as temperatures can
plummet and snow storms make driving difficult.
Lastly, the outside of houses are decorated with
flower pots to give a welcome splash of colour.
?
I moved to Germany in
November 1974, arriving in
time for my very first
Christmas market, with the
delightful smells of roasting
sugared almonds and
spiced punch at every
corner.
Christmas here starts on
December 1 with advent
calendars filled with
chocolate or little presents.
Then there are invitations to
Adventskaffee.
Neighbours, friends and
relatives compete as to who
can put on the biggest
spread of home baking with,
of course, the traditional
Lebkuchen which appear in
the shops as early as
September.
Decorations are often
Did You Know?
You?d better watch out, you?d better
not cry ? especially if you happen to
be a child living in Austria. They have a
fearsome figure called the Krampus who
seeks out naughty children to punish.
?
Mairi Cameron,
Altenboitzen, Germany.
It really is holiday time in Norway,
as cleaning is put on hold and
brooms tucked away out of sight in case
they are stolen by witches.
?
Get your skates on! In Caracas,
Venezuala, roads are shut to allow
people safe passage to church, with the
traditional way to get there being on
roller-skates.
?
Estonian families have the perfect
way to combat festive stress ? they
celebrate Christmas Eve with a trip to
the local sauna.
Mairi with a
typical German
festive ornament.
made with pine branches,
straw stars and little
wooden apples and toys.
The Erzbirge (Ore
Mountains) are famous for
their wooden nutcrackers
and carved figures puffing
out little clouds of incense.
Everybody has an advent
wreath with real candles!
Santa Claus (der
Nikolaus) comes on
December 5 when the
children leave their shoes
outside overnight and hope
to find them filled with little
presents.
Gifts are also put under
the tree to be opened on
Christmas Eve, when it is
normal to eat sausages and
potato salad. For me, the
most peculiar tradition is
that on Christmas Day
people eat fish (carp) and
not turkey. Thank goodness
goose and roast duck with
red cabbage have become
increasingly popular.
REAL LIFE 35
India and her brother
Devon, along with mum
Debbie and dad Paul.
India Stone, Cape Town, South Africa.
Twins Otto and Adam
Schweizer are looking
forward to tucking into
a Christmas dinner of
carp and potato salad.
Otto and Adam
Schweizer, Czech
Republic.
The Czech Republic has a
rich culture in terms of
Christmas customs. Perhaps
the first one to signify that
Christmas is coming is the
Advent chaplet.
iStock.
South Africa has 11 official languages and each culture
has its own unique way to celebrate over Christmas.
In Afrikaans they say ?Gese雗de Kersfees? and in Zulu
they say ?Ukhisimusi oMuhle?.
In South Africa, the Christmas period is particularly
festive because December and January are the summer
holiday months and the schools and offices are closed for
around four to six weeks over this time. So South Africans
are usually already on holiday on Christmas Day.
Typically we open our gifts, spend the morning on the
beach in Cape Town and then head back to the house to
cook in the afternoon. Christmas lunch is generally turkey,
chicken or beef, but it is cooked on a braai, otherwise
known as a barbecue.
Funnily enough, Christmas cards are always decorated
with snowflakes and winter features even though it?s
never below 30?C and the sun is blazing down!
One of the four candles
which are attached to the
chaplet is lit every Sunday in
December. It really gives
people the flavour of the
countdown to the special
time of year.
The traditional Czech
Christmas meal comprises
carp and a potato salad. The
fish scales are dried and put
under the plate on the
dinner table, as people
believe that they will bring
wealth to the household.
Similarly, many people
carry their fish scales in their
wallet to make sure they
will have enough money
throughout the coming year.
Our mum still carries on that
tradition.
Before the most
significant event of the day,
the Christmas dinner, many
traditional activities can be
performed. One of the most
interesting ones, especially
for kids, is the floating of
walnut shells.
The shell signifies a little
boat and a little candle is
put into it. Each person in
the family makes one boat.
The shells are then floated
in a bowl of water, and if
the boat crosses from one
end to the other without
sinking, the person will have
luck in the year coming.
As the family feasts, many
courses are served,
including the very famous
Christmas bread. Apple
strudel is also traditionally
served at Christmas.
However, some of the
many rich traditions of the
past seem to be fading out
through time, with younger
people less likely to carry
them on.
Perfect
Portions
Our tasty meat recipes are made
with health in mind.
Lamb Chops
with Cauliflower
and Quinoa
Course: Main Skill level: easy
Serves: 2
? 4-6 lean lamb chops or French
trimmed cutlets
For the Spiced Butter:
? 50 g (2 oz) butter, softened
? 1 tsp sweet paprika
? � tsp ground coriander
? Small handful freshly chopped
flat-leaf parsley or mint
For the Salad:
? 175 g (6 oz) cauliflower, cut into
small florets or pieces
? 1 lemon, grated zest only
? 2 tbs rapeseed or olive oil
? Salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste
? 100 g (4 oz) quinoa, rinsed in cold
water
? 600 ml (1 pt) good, hot vegetable
stock
? 3 tbs freshly chopped flat-leaf
parsley or mint
? 1 small shallot, peeled and
chopped finely
? 1 tbs red wine or sherry vinegar
? 1 tbs runny honey
1 To prepare the spiced butter, in a small
bowl mix all the ingredients together. Form
the butter into a sausage shape, wrap in
clingfilm or foil and set aside in a cool place.
2 Pre-heat the oven to 220 deg. C.,
425 deg. F., Gas Mark 7 and pre-heat the
grill to moderate.
3 Put the cauliflower, the lemon zest and oil
in a large non-stick roasting tray, season, toss
gently and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until
golden brown.
4 Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the stock
for 12 to 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve and
set aside to cool slightly.
5 While the cauliflower is roasting, place the
chops on a chopping board and season with
salt and pepper. Cook under the pre-heated
grill for 12 to 16 minutes, turning once.
6 Transfer the chops to a warm plate and
top with a disc of the flavoured butter.
7 Put the roasted cauliflower in a bowl
with the quinoa, add the remaining salad
ingredients, toss gently and serve with the
chops.
Five palm-sized
portions of red
meat a week stays
within expert
guidelines while
providing valuable
nutrients.
These recipes and images are courtesy of the Meat Advisory
Panel?s 5 A Week campaign. For more information and
recipes, visit http://meatandhealth.redmeatinfo.com.
COOKERY 37
Breakfast Frittata with
Sausage, Spinach and
Tomato
Red
meat is the
richest and most
readily absorbed
source of iron
and zinc in the
British diet.
Course: Breakfast or lunch
Skill level: easy Serves: 4
? 100 g (4 oz) new
potatoes
? 1 tbs rapeseed oil
? 6 medium eggs, beaten
? 2 tbs freshly chopped
flat-leaf parsley
? Salt and freshly
ground black pepper,
to taste
? 150 g (5� oz) cherry
tomatoes, halved
? A large handful baby
spinach leaves, torn
roughly
? 4 cooked sausages,
sliced
1 Cook the potatoes in boiling
water for 6 to 8 minutes until
tender, drain then slice.
2 Heat the oil in a 20 cm (8 in)
non-stick frying-pan, and fry the
potatoes for 2 minutes.
3 Beat the eggs and parsley
together in a jug or bowl and
season. Add the tomatoes and
spinach leaves to the pan, pour
the egg mixture over, add the
sliced sausages, reduce the heat
and cook gently for 6 to
7 minutes until the eggs are set.
4 Place the pan under the
pre-heated grill for 3 to 4 minutes
until golden and cooked through.
Allow to rest for a few minutes
before removing from the pan.
5 Slice and serve immediately.
Mini Roast
with Miso
Glaze
Course: Main Skill level: easy
Serves: 2-3
? 1 x 350-400 g (12-14 oz)
lean lamb mini roasting
joint
? 200 g (7 oz) prepared
egg noodles
For the Miso Glaze:
? 1 small jar prepared
miso paste
? 4 tbs Japanese rice wine,
sherry or water
? 4 tsp runny honey
For the Vegetables:
? 1 large courgette,
chopped roughly
? 2 red peppers, cored,
seeded and chopped
roughly
? 2 yellow peppers, cored,
seeded and chopped
roughly
? 2 small onions, peeled
and sliced roughly
? 2 garlic cloves, peeled
and chopped finely
? Salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
? 2 tbs rapeseed oil
1 Pre-heat oven to 200 deg. C.,
400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6.
A typical
70g portion of
cooked meat is
roughly the amount
that would fit into
the palm of an
adult?s hand.
2 To make the miso glaze, in
a small bowl, mix together the
miso paste, rice wine, sherry or
water and the honey. Set aside.
3 Arrange the vegetables in
a large non-stick roasting tin,
season and drizzle with oil.
Lightly shake the pan to coat the
vegetables in the oil.
4 Put the lamb on a chopping
board, make several slits
over the surface and season.
Position the lamb on top of the
vegetables, brush generously
with the glaze (including the
vegetables) and roast in the
pre-heated oven for 25 to
30 minutes.
5 Five to ten minutes before
the end of the cooking time
for the mini roast, prepare the
noodles according to the packet
instructions, drain and set aside
in a large saucepan or bowl.
6 Remove the lamb and
vegetables from the oven.
Transfer the lamb to a small
plate. Cover and leave to rest
for 5 minutes. Add the roasted
vegetables and any meat juices
from the roasting dish to the
noodles. Toss gently and divide
evenly on to serving plates.
7 Slice the lamb thinly, arrange
on top of the noodles and serve
immediately.
Remember: Recipes have been given in both metric and imperial. It is important to use one method throughout as they are not exactly the same.
Mediterranean Pork Bake
Red meat
protein contains
useful amounts of
each of the nine
amino acids we
need for good
health.
Course: Main Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 4 x 100 g (3� oz) pork loin
medallions
? A little oil for frying
For the Marinade:
? 1 tbs sugar
? 1 tbs salt
? Juice of half a lemon
? Large sprig of thyme
For the Bake:
? 450 g (1 lb) new potatoes,
sliced to the thickness of a
pound coin
? 3 red peppers, deseeded
and cut into rough chunks
? 3 yellow peppers,
deseeded and cut into
rough chunks
? 3 red onions, peeled and
cut into rough chunks
? 6 medium plum tomatoes,
cut into rough chunks
? 3 sprigs of rosemary
? � bunch of thyme
? 1 tbs rapeseed oil
? � garlic bulb
To Garnish: red pesto.
1 Pre-heat oven to 200 deg. C.,
400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6.
2 Put all vegetables for the
bake into a large shallow nonstick baking tray, and add the
herbs, oil, garlic and a pinch
of salt. Mix well and roast in
the oven, turning occasionally
for 30 minutes, or until all the
vegetables are cooked.
3 Mix together all of the
ingredients for the marinade in
a medium bowl with 225 ml
(8 fl oz) cold water, stirring well.
Add the steaks, cover and leave
for 10 minutes.
4 Heat a little oil in a non-stick
frying-pan. Remove the pork
from the marinade (discard
the remaining marinade) and
dry with kitchen paper. Fry the
pork in the frying-pan for three
minutes on each side.
5 Spoon the roasted vegetables
on to plates, place the pork on
top and spoon over any juices
from the baking tray.
Garnish each steak with a
spoonful of red pesto and
serve.
Beef and Red Pepper
Noodle Broth
Course: Main Skill level: easy
Serves: 4
? 450 g (1 lb) lean beef
stir-fry strips
? 2 tsp Chinese five-spice
powder
? 1-2 tbs soy sauce
? 1 tbs prepared chilli or
Szechuan sauce
? 1.2 lt (2 pt) good, hot
beef or vegetable stock
? 2.5 cm (1 in) piece fresh
root ginger, peeled and
chopped finely
? 2 cloves garlic, peeled
and chopped finely
? 175 g (6 oz) fresh or
dried fine egg noodles
? 200 g (7 oz) pak choi or
green cabbage, shredded
? 1 small red pepper,
cored, deseeded and
finely sliced and cut into
half widthways
? Salt and freshly ground
black pepper, to taste
? Small bunch spring
onions, chopped finely
? Large bunch freshly
chopped coriander or
flat-leaf parsley
1 In a medium bowl dust the
stir-fry strips in the Chinese
five-spice powder. Add the soy
sauce and chilli or Szechuan
sauce. Cover and set aside.
2 In a large pan add the stock,
ginger and garlic. Bring to
the boil, reduce the heat and
simmer for 5 minutes.
3 Add the noodles and pak
choi or cabbage. Simmer for a
further 1 to 2 minutes. Add the
beef with the marinade mixture
and the red pepper. Simmer
for a further 2 to 3 minutes or
until the noodles are tender.
Remove from the heat, season
if required and stir through half
Next week: scrumptious recipes
for Christmas
the spring onions and coriander.
4 Divide the broth between
four bowls and garnish with the
remaining, spring onions and
coriander.
Red
meat provides
potassium which is
needed for building
muscle and
supporting
normal blood
pressure
For more delicious recipes visit our website:
www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk.
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Robins
SHORT STORY BY VAL BONSALL 41
Sweden is an idyllic place to
spend Christmas, especially
with someone you love . . .
Illustration by iStock.
A
SNOWBALL
comes flying
towards me.
Happily, it?s not
very big and
made of soft snow, which is
already falling apart.
?Careful,? a woman tells
her two children. ?You
nearly hit that man!?
She smiles at me
apologetically.
?They?re just excited with
it being nearly Christmas.?
?Don?t worry.?
I smile back and watch
them hurrying off, the kids
in their bright anoraks and
woolly hats, and wish I
could conjure up more
enthusiasm for the
forthcoming seasonal
festivities.
I feel flat. I suppose it?s
the contrast to last year.
Christmas in Sweden. There
was proper snow there!
Proper snow and ?
?Oliver!? A voice calls me
back to the present and I
turn to see my neighbour,
Noel, coming along behind
me to the entrance to our
apartment block.
He is laden with shopping
and I imagine he wants me
to keep the door open for
him, which I do.
?Thanks,? he says.
He?s a nice chap, older
than me and retired, and
lives in the flat opposite
mine.
I take one of his bags as
we climb up the stairs,
since I?m completely
unencumbered.
Does he sense my
indifference to Christmas
this year and decide to try
to get me in the spirit?
?Will you come in for a
whisky to warm you up??
he says.
?It?s a bit early in the
day,? I say.
Then I change my mind.
He?s being kind and
hospitable.
?But thank you. ?Tis the
season to be jolly, so I
will.?
I follow him into his flat.
I haven?t been inside
before, though we?ve lived
beside each other for some
time now, and it?s
interesting to see his home.
There are a lot of books
about, and as we sip a
rather good malt, I learn
that he was a teacher. Art
history ? not a subject I
know much about. But the
conversation flows well.
France crops up and he
tells me he studied there
for a year.
?At the end of the
1960s,? he says.
As he speaks, he looks
far away, remembering.
?You enjoyed it?? I ask.
?It was a very interesting
time.?
He tells me about his
stay. Inevitably there?s
some art history, but
mostly it?s about politics
and the social changes
coming about at that time.
De Gaulle gets several
mentions.
?Yes, very interesting,?
he finally repeats, ?and
very happy ? for me,
anyway.?
As he?s been talking, I?ve
noticed his eyes constantly
straying to a framed photo
on a shelf.
It?s of a young man and
a young woman, his hair
not much shorter than
hers, standing on a Frenchlooking street.
The man is obviously a
young Noel, and . . .
?A woman I met shortly
after I arrived,? he says,
seeing where I?m looking.
?Was she like you, just
there for a year??
?No, she lived there. She
and her sister worked in a
caf� I went to. A family
affair, run by her father.?
He laughs. ?Or Jacques
thought he ran it. The girls
had their own plans for it!?
He becomes serious
again.
?We became close but
accepted it was just what
you might call an episode
in our lives. Staying in
touch wasn?t as easy then
as it is now, of course.
?Your generation, Oliver,
think nothing of going to
France for a weekend, but
it was different then. I had
things to finish and
ambitions here. As, too,
she had there ? with her
sister and the caf�.?
There was that distant
look again.
?But I do often wonder
how it would have turned
out if we?d done things
differently and found a way
of staying together,? he
finishes.
I don?t ask if he regrets
it. It would be intrusive.
We return to talking
more generally about the
decade of his youth in
which so much changed.
Later, in my own flat, I
find myself spinning back in
time, too, to last year. To
that Christmas with proper
snow and Astrid . . .
* * * *
I?d been sent to
Stockholm by the company
I work for. We?ve offices all
over the place.
It was a year?s
secondment and the fact
that I could speak a little
Swedish ? my maternal
grandmother spent time
there ? may have helped
me get chosen. Not that it
mattered ? English was
widely spoken.
I arrived in March and
met Astrid shortly after at
a party hosted by one of
my Swedish colleagues,
Nils, to which he?d kindly
invited me.
We hit it off straight
away, simple as that.
My intention for my
main holiday in the
42
middle of the year had
been to return home to
the UK. I did, but just for
a few days, spending the
rest of the time in Sweden
with her.
She took time off, too,
and we went to some
beautiful places ? she was
a good guide.
Come Christmas, I stayed
there for that, too, with us
escaping the city bustle for
the silence of the forest.
Think greeting-card scenes;
snow and dark trees
standing sentry, but with
reindeer rather than
robins.
?It?ll be lovely for you,?
my mum said when I told
her. ?Take the opportunity.
Anyway, you?ll be home for
good soon.?
It was true that my year
was nearly at its end.
Astrid and I never spoke of
anything beyond it.
I guess it was like Noel
said about his time in
France: we?d both
embarked on the friendship
knowing it was timecontrolled. It was an early
chapter in the story of our
lives, no more than that.
As my return date
approached,
communications from my
family and old pals at
home increased as they
started including me in
forthcoming plans.
?You?ll already be back
by then, Ollie, so we?ll get
you a ticket.?
Astrid saw me off that
last time.
I would let her know I?d
got home OK and that was
all. We would continue just
as a happy memory for
each other. That?s what we
said at the airport.
So why, when I think of it
now, do I feel so sad?
The question haunts me
for the rest of the night.
I remember what Noel
said, about wondering how
it might have turned out
between him and his
French girl, and I think
about the question that
had come to my lips but
which I didn?t ask. Had he
ever regretted it?
I didn?t need to ask, I
decide, as the sky finally
lightens on this, one of the
darkest days of the year. It
was there in Noel?s face.
He thought it was the
biggest mistake he?d ever
made in his life, just
walking away like that.
And, I decide as I make
coffee, it was the biggest
mistake I ever made, too,
with Astrid.
* * * *
I get a flight and two
days later I?m back in
Stockholm. I?m surprised
by how clearly I remember
the city.
I go immediately to her
address, then start
worrying on the way
whether she?ll still live
there. I?m at my same
We?d embarked on the friendship
knowing it was time-controlled
They filled me in on the
gossip, too, since I?d be
with them again soon and
wouldn?t that be great?
I was looking forward to
it.
I saw the same was
happening with Astrid as
well. In anticipation of the
imminent return to how life
had been before she met
me, she was increasingly
arranging things with her
old friends.
And she looked happy
enough. The thought
occurred to me more than
once that if we hadn?t
known there was an ending
to it coming up, would we
have finished it anyway?
address ? I rented my flat
out while I was away so it
would be there when I
returned ? but people
move, don?t they?
And move on in other
ways, too, a voice inside
me says.
She is still living there. I
find this out from a
neighbour who comes out
as I?m knocking on the
door.
He explains she isn?t
there at the moment.
?Gone away for
Christmas.?
The neighbour is himself
laden with baggage which
he bundles into a Volvo.
?I am leaving now to go
to my family,? he says as
he drives off.
Well, it?s what people do
at Christmas, isn?t it?
I know that her parents
live in a farmhouse ? we
visited it that Christmas.
But I don?t have the
address and there?s no way
I could find it again from
memory.
Anyway, just turning up
there, totally uninvited? I
accept the whole thing was
a daft idea and go back
into the centre.
Everywhere is decorated.
I wander round a market
that looks like a fairy-tale
village, people selling their
wares from little log cabin
structures. I make a couple
of purchases, though
frankly without much
interest.
It starts snowing and I
watch awhile, drinking hot
spicy wine, then find a
hotel. Next day I?m back
home.
* * * *
?He?s gone away for
Christmas, I think. A
last-minute decision, I
assume. I saw him just
recently and he didn?t
mention it.?
As I let myself into the
apartment building, I hear
from the floor above Noel
talking to someone, and it
occurs to me he could well
be talking about me,
though to whom I?ve no
idea.
Except there is just
something about her
pronunciation . . .
?Astrid!? I gasp.
It is her! I?m on our floor
now and it?s Astrid Noel?s
talking to!
?Ah, it seems I?m
wrong!? This is Noel again.
?Here he is now!?
She turns and we stand
grinning at each other.
Then she?s in my arms
and we?re saying how much
we?ve missed each other
and love each other and
Noel is turning discreetly
back into his flat.
In my flat, she explains
she got my address from
Nils ? my colleague for a
year at whose house we
first met.
?I had to come.? She
frowns. ?Something
happened and it was like I
saw into my future, Ollie.?
?You saw the future and
it said you should spend it
with me.? I pull her closer,
overjoyed.
?No, not necessarily.?
?Oh??
?It was more. That I
should find out . . .?
Sitting now in the dark,
she tells me about a
woman she recently talked
to, the aunt of a friend.
?She met someone in
similar circumstances to us
? he?d come over just for a
year. At the end, she?d
thought the same things
we did. They parted. But
she?s never forgotten him,
never married, and says
often she wonders how
things would have been if
they?d kept in touch.?
She shakes her head.
?It?s sad. At
Christmastime you should
be happy. But particularly
she always thinks about
him at Christmas.?
?So why didn?t she
contact him??
?She tried to eventually,
but too long had passed.
So I thought I would come
while I know where you
are. And if you weren?t
feeling the same ??
?Which I am.?
?Yes, but even if you
weren?t, at least I would
know and I wouldn?t be left
wondering the same as
Fran鏾ise.?
?Fran鏾ise,? I repeat.
Astrid nods.
?She?s French. She was
visiting her sister who
married a Swede.?
Suddenly my mind is
doing a ski-slope run.
She?s French. Apparently
she thinks of him, this lost
love, especially at
Christmas.
The French for Christmas
is No雔. And Noel studied
in France, and fell in love
there, in a caf� he went to
with one of two sisters.
?I think there was a caf�
in the family,? Astrid says
when I tell her. ?Oh, but
Ollie, it would be a miracle
if it was his girlfriend!?
But she?s getting her
mobile phone out now,
excited as I am. And they
say Christmas is magic,
don?t they? A time of
miracles?
Astrid here by my side
feels like one to me. So
why not another? n
INSPIRING LIVES 43
Mhairi with
her three
daughters
and Wanda.
Guide dog Eddie
has transformed
Mhairi?s life.
?Anything is
achievable,
every obstacle
surmountable?
Photographs courtesy of Mhairi Thurston.
With the help of her guide dogs,
Mhairi now aims to help others
suffering sight loss.
G
RADUATING is a
momentous
occasion in
anyone?s life. But
when Mhairi
Thurston stepped on to the
stage with her beloved guide
dog by her side, it truly was
the proudest of moments.
For 17 years before, in
2000, Mhairi was diagnosed
with a degenerative sight
condition and was left ?in a
deep depression.?
Life had been good. Mhairi
was thirty-nine, in a job she
loved as a teacher, and was
pregnant with her third
child. But the devastating
diagnosis meant she lost
her career, confidence and
independence. She admits
that life seemed hopeless.
Then along came Wanda,
the ?amazing? guide dog
who helped bring Mhairi
back from the brink.
?My diagnosis was
devastating and it came out
of the blue,? Mhairi, now
aged fifty-six, said.
?There had been
absolutely no family history
of sight loss ? I had just
noticed that it was getting
increasingly difficult to read
subtitles on TV.
?I was registered blind in
2002 and got my first guide
dog, Wanda, in 2004. She
was a Lab/retriever cross
and she absolutely
transformed my life.
?She was the first-ever
winner of the Guide Dog of
the Year Award.
?We went down to
London for the ceremony
and there was a huge
amount of publicity
surrounding it. We appeared
in newspapers and
magazines and even on TV?s
?Blue Peter?, where Wanda
was awarded a Blue Peter
badge.
?She was an amazing dog.
She retired when she was
eight and sadly passed away
earlier this year at the grand
old age of fifteen.
?It was Wanda who gave
me the confidence to leave
the house and eventually to
take up a counselling skills
course.?
Mhairi went on to further
study and gained an MSc in
Counselling, with distinction,
in 2008. She became a
lecturer at Abertay University
in Dundee and completed
her PhD last year, with
Wanda?s successor, Eddie, a
retriever/collie cross, there
by her side.
?Eddie accompanied me
on my first day of work at
Abertay and has been with
me ever since. He is
definitely a bit of a celebrity
around the university. Most
people know him. He is very
popular with the staff and
students alike.
?Having a guide dog has
been hugely
transformational not just in
my life, but in the lives of
my whole family.
?When they are not
working, the dogs are
wonderful family pets, but
my guide dogs really have
given me the confidence to
carry on and enjoy my life to
the full.?
Mhairi is passionate about
using her career to help
others who have been given
a similar diagnosis.
As an academic, her
research field is in the social
and emotional effects of
sight loss.
?I want to make a
difference to the quality
standards of emotional
support and counselling
provision for people who
have sight loss in the UK,?
Mhairi explained. ?I have
designed a model of
counselling specifically for
people with sight loss.
?I want to be defined by
my academic achievements
rather than by my disability.
I?m an academic first and
foremost. It just so happens
that I have poor sight.
?People sometimes have
low expectations about folk
with disabilities, so I think I
have had to work doubly
hard to prove myself.
?I would love to be a role
model for my three
daughters . . . to prove that
anything is achievable and
that every obstacle is
surmountable, even when
the outlook seems bleak.
?If I could write a letter to
my young self, I would tell
her not to worry so much,
because everything will
eventually turn out all
right.? n
Mhairi with Eddie.
Under Glass
Gardens
Escape the winter chill with
Pat Coulter as she explores the
UK?s finest garden glasshouses.
W
E have intrepid
Victorian plant
hunters to
thank for the
creation of our
original glasshouses, built to
house the exotic botanical
specimens brought back
from around the globe.
The tender plants required
a suitable environment to
mimic their native lands and
so the first glasshouses were
built, incredible engineering
feats, to house the plant
discoveries for all to admire.
Well over a century on,
glasshouse technology has
evolved into ultra-modern
structures using new
materials such as the
futuristic biomes at the Eden
Project in Cornwall. Here are
some of my favourites.
Photographs by Alamy.
? Belfast Botanic Gardens
The Palm House is a famous Belfast landmark, having
graced the city since Victorian times. The glasshouse boasts
a grace and elegance befitting the Victorian period. It is one
of the last remaining buildings of this type in the world.
A sub-tropical area is housed in the dome itself
which is covered from floor to ceiling in magnificent plants.
Every inch of space is used, from floor level where ferns
thrive in shady conditions to giant floriferous hanging
baskets overhead. The most venerable plant is a magnificent
specimen Australian Grasstree over 400 years old.
? Kew?s Palm House and Princess of
Wales Conservatory
Feel the temperature rise as you explore the historic
glasshouses full of tropical plants, galleries and museums.
Wander at your leisure, or learn about 250 years of history
at the world-famous Kew Gardens on a guided walk with a
volunteer guide.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory is Kew?s most modern
glasshouse. Inside you?ll experience ten different climatic
zones each with its own computer-controlled environment
to keep the plants in tip-top condition. Here you can marvel
at a vast diversity of plants from exquisite orchids to
carnivorous plants, agaves to cacti.
OUT AND ABOUT
? Birmingham Botanical Gardens
45
The gardens offer a ?world of wonder and discovery?.
Take a globe-trotting journey through four beautiful
Victorian glasshouses on a plant-hunting adventure to
diverse regions. Explore a subtropical rainforest and
enter the Mediterranean zone with its aromatic plants.
The gardens were opened in 1832, having been
designed by Scotsman John Claudius Loudon, a
pioneering designer of public open spaces.
? Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Come and celebrate 200 years of flourishing growth at the
free-to-enter Glasgow Botanic Gardens, situated alongside
the River Kelvin. Escape the hubbub of city life and enter a
tropical oasis of tranquility in the warmth of the elegant
glasshouses.
Events are held throughout the year, including concerts
and exhibitions and photography workshops. Whilst you?re
there, why not treat yourself at the tea room within the
former curator?s handsome residence?
? The National Botanic Garden of Wales
?
Opened in May 2000 in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, this
was the first national botanic garden to be created in the
new millennium. The garden prides itself on being
particularly family friendly with a host of themed events
throughout the year.
Perfect for winter escapism, step into the showpiece
glasshouse which looks more akin to a futuristic spaceship.
Known as the Great Glasshouse, it?s the world?s largest
single-spanned glasshouse, housing some of the most
endangered plants on the planet.
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens
Families are particularly welcome to explore the four
elegant glasshouses in east Devon, including the Palm
House built in the 1820s using 18,000 small glass panes
within slim iron glazing bars. Imagine yourself in Mexico in
the Arid House, featuring many large cacti, and the Tropical
House is home to the exquisite Bicton orchid, named in
honour of the park where it first bloomed in 1836.
Bicton Park even welcomes canine family members.
SHORT STORY BY PAMELA ORMONDROYD
47
For a little while
the shelling
ceased and all
was still . . .
Silent Night
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
I
T may have been
Christmas Eve on a
lonely field somewhere
near a place called
Ypres, but sporadic gun
fire and shelling still
persisted.
Overhead, ominous black
clouds, seemingly reflecting
the dark despair of the
ongoing destruction below,
suddenly released bulletsized hailstones which only
added to the freezing water
in the already sodden
trench.
Charlie Howarth sighed
and gazed along the line at
his fighting companions as
they leaned, weary and
battle worn, against the
mud-clogged sides of the
trench, their eyes closed as
if trying to shut out the
desolation.
So much for the season
of goodwill, he thought.
Charlie took his letter out
of his breast pocket and
read it for comfort once
more.
My darling Charlie,
We shall only have a
quiet Christmas this year.
It doesn?t seem right to be
joyful when men are
suffering so to keep us
safe, thus we are waiting
for your return to begin our
celebrations.
Little Trudy has drawn a
picture of the little robin
that sits daily on our
window-sill.
She has grown a lot
since you have been away
and understands now that
you are absent this
Christmas not by choice
but because you have a
very important job to do.
I have sent you a small
parcel; matches and a new
pipe and some tobacco
and also a plum pudding
which Trudy and I made
together with all our love
mixed in.
She has also sent you a
small gift which she made
herself (with a bit of help!)
though she insists you do
not open it till Christmas
Day.
We think of you all the
time, my darling. Not a
day goes by that I don?t
pray you will come back to
us very soon.
And I pray too for all
your friends and
comrades, that you may
support and care for each
other when things are
hard.
Your loving, ever faithful,
and devoted Grace and
Trudy.
Charlie took out the
small, well-worn
photograph which he kept
with him always. His
favourite. Of his wife,
Grace, in their pretty
cottage rose garden,
clasping the hand of their
four-year-old daughter,
Trudy.
If anything was to help
him survive the
bombardment in this lonely
place, it was the hope that
he would be back with
them one day.
?Took a bit of a risk
yesterday, didn?t you, old
son??
Charlie looked up as Sid
Atkins trod warily across
the duckboards to join him.
The hard rain had suddenly
stopped as quickly as it
had arrived, leaving a cold,
damp feel to the air.
?The lads are still talking
about it, you know,
Charlie. The way you
decided to rush out from
the front line to help one of
the Hun when any one of
his mates might have shot
you dead. Some of them
reckon you were just plain
mad.?
Charlie nodded and
replaced his letter and
photograph inside his
breast pocket.
?I don?t agree with them,
mind you,? Sid continued
in his affable way. ?It took
a lot of courage to do what
you did and that German
was in a bad way.
?It?s too easy to forget
we?re still human beings
when you?re stuck in a
place like this.?
?Thanks, Sid.? Charlie
said, shaking his hand and
patting his shoulder. ?It
was just instinct, I suppose.
I couldn?t have left that
poor soldier hanging on the
wire for much longer. He
was only doing his rotten
job like the rest of us.?
Sid leaned against the
trench and tried to keep
his balance whilst emptying
the water out of one of his
drenched, ill-fitting army
boots.
He looked up at the
sky.
48
?There?s a break in the
cloud over to the west.
A little touch of pink, too,
if I?m not mistaken. Looks
like Christmas Day might
not be such a bad one
after all.?
Charlie pulled the collar
of his greatcoat up to his
ears in an effort to keep
warm and drew on his
pipe.
He hated what the
Germans had started: this
crazy war, the wanton
destruction of peaceful
settlements, the killing of
innocents and the insane
craving for supremacy.
But then he could never
ignore a cry for help from
another human being,
either, whoever they were.
His conscience wouldn?t
allow it.
* * * *
Four hundred yards away
in an almost identical,
rat-infested trench, Max
Spiegel gazed up at the
small chink of light in the
sky, lost in thought.
Would his dear
sweetheart be looking up
at the same, distant hazy
moon? Would she be
thinking of him?
And would she still be
waiting for him once this
miserable war was over?
He sighed, for he wasn?t
optimistic.
The silence was soothing
yet scary at the same time.
At least, when the shooting
began, you had a job to
do, a definite target to aim
for.
But in the silent shadows,
with the gnarled and bare
trees dramatically
silhouetted against the
horizon, you felt
vulnerable, fearful of the
unknown.
He thought of the English
soldier who, just the other
day, had risked his life to
give water to an injured
enemy soldier. Who had
lifted him up and carried
him back, stumbling, to the
English line.
In Max?s experience of
warfare, British soldiers
were generally a fair breed.
He was confident that
they would do all they
could for the wounded
man, regardless of rank or
creed; maybe take him to
their military hospital
further behind the line.
This was what life should
be about, he said to
himself. Men respecting
each other, displaying
comradeship, showing
compassion.
He stood up, forgetting
to duck behind the edge of
the trench for once. Things
must change, if only for a
short time.
It was Christmas.
* * * *
?Charlie, Charlie, wake
up, man.?
Charlie?s eyes opened in
an instant and he grabbed
his rifle instinctively.
He tried to stand, but a
night on a groundsheet in
the cold and with only an
old biscuit tin for a pillow
had made him stiff as a
poker and his circulation
had virtually stopped.
?It?s all right, old son. No
need to panic. No call to
arms. It?s good news, for
once.?
Charlie wiped the dust
from his eyes. Sid
appeared strangely
animated this particular
morning.
?The German Captain has
called a Christmas truce.
They?ve sent us over
chocolate and a few barrels
of beer. No, you?re not still
dreaming, man, just take a
look over the top.
?The Hun have darn well
put up Christmas trees and
candles all along their
trench. By the way, old
son, I?d almost forgotten. A
very happy Christmas to
you.?
Charlie squinted and
stared. Out of the gloom of
a Christmas morning came
light. Men, a few hundred
yards away and dressed in
a different uniform, really
were standing on top of
their trenches, waving and
wishing everyone a merry
Christmas!
?Don?t know how long
it?ll last, mind,? Sid said.
?It?s not official or
anything, but even one day
of peace will be welcome.
We?ll take that, won?t we??
Charlie nodded and
smiled. A day of no
snipers, no blasting ? it
was a great Christmas
present. The best one he
could have hoped for just
now.
He would be able to
catch up on sleep, change
his socks and try to dry out
his boots. He could clean
out his equipment and
have a proper shave.
And he could write a
proper long letter to Grace
and Trudy.
?And, Charlie, the
German captain wants to
meet you. Your good deed
did not go unnoticed.
?When you?re done you
can come over and watch
the football match we?ve
organised. England against
Germany. We?ll thrash ?em
for sure.?
* * * *
The entire scene was
surreal. Charlie had to
blink a few times to make
sure he wasn?t still in a
deep sleep.
All around him in this
strange hostile land mixed
in a pungent fragrance of
rose petals.
The aroma was so
familiar that it could only
have come from one place:
the vibrant sweet-smelling
pink rose bush that burst
into blossom each year
outside the kitchen of his
little cottage back home.
Thoughts of his family
and of home would rest
with him nightly now and
he would sleep all the
sounder for them.
?Charlie, have you got a
moment??
The young private looked
up and there standing on
the top of the trench was
Sid, accompanied by
another uniformed man
who appeared to be a
German officer.
?This is Captain Max
Spiegel, Charlie. The soldier
I told you about. He?d like
to have a word.?
Was he dreaming? All along the
trenches candles were burning
groups of British and
German soldiers ?
complete strangers who
only just 24 hours ago had
been intent on killing each
other, were now
embracing, chatting,
laughing together, sharing
photographs and gifts.
The language barrier
seemed immaterial as cake
and chocolates were
distributed and beer
passed round in battered
tin mugs.
All hatred for the
moment was forgotten.
These men were human
again. Charlie found the
scene so unexpectedly
moving that he had a lump
in his throat and his eyes
misted over.
He remembered Trudy?s
Christmas present and
stretched his hand down
into the bottom of his
kitbag to retrieve it. A
special gift from a daughter
to her father.
He carefully unwound the
red ribbon and the brown
wrapping paper and
discovered a pretty, white
cotton, heart-shaped
pillow.
Charlie pressed the pillow
to his cheek and
immediately he was bathed
Charlie placed the pillow
back inside his kitbag and
then both Sid and the
German officer stretched
out a hand to help him up.
?I?ll leave you to it,
then,? Sid said, smiling.
?Just about to get the
football match under way
so come and cheer us on,
eh, when you?ve finished
here.?
There was a nervous
stand-off for a second or
two and then Max Spiegel
spoke.
?Private Howarth, I
wanted to thank you
personally for what you
did. You could have left my
man on the wire.
?You didn?t need to risk
your life to cut him free.
And then to put him on
your back and take him to
safety . . .?
Charlie noted the
weariness in the soldier?s
eyes and in his voice.
Here before him was a
German captain, a man
with huge responsibilities
and terrible decisions to
make daily, who had
crossed the line to offer a
simple English private his
thanks.
Charlie shuffled
awkwardly. He wasn?t
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50
a hero.
He had just been
doing what he thought was
right. Any decent person
would have done the same.
?I didn?t give it a
thought, actually. I just
went,? he said. ?The man
was badly injured. If it
hadn?t been me, I?ve no
doubt someone else would
have gone. And others
came forward in the dark
and helped carry him
anyway so I wasn?t alone.?
?Do you think he will
live??
?I hope so. He was only
young. Younger than me.
Eighteen, nineteen. He will
have a mother, sister,
girlfriend somewhere,
praying for him.
?The doc patched him up
best he could and then
they took him to the
military hospital a few
miles to the rear of us.
They will do their best,
Captain Spiegel.?
The captain sighed and
held out his cigarette case,
though Charlie declined.
?Do you have a mother
praying for you back home,
Private Howarth??
?No, but I have a wife
and child. A little girl.?
Charlie took out his
photograph and showed it
to the captain.
Max Spiegel took the
photograph and cradled it
in his hand. He seemed
fascinated, pensive.
Then he smiled.
?They are both beautiful.
You are very lucky,? he
said. ?It is like another
world over there, no??
He returned the
photograph and then
looked around at the
greyness, the desolation
and threw up his hands in
despair.
?No-man?s land. Where
no decent man should ever
have to be, would ever
choose to be.
?We did not want this
war, you and I. This is not
our fight. And, believe me,
no-one will be the real
victor.?
Charlie was quite taken
back by the ferocity and
power of the German?s
point of view and his heart
began to warm to him.
?Do you have family in
Germany??
The captain nodded.
?Yes. But do you know,
young man, it is in England
that my heart truly lies.?
?Sorry?? Charlie?s eyes lit
up in surprise.
?Eighteen months ago I
was working on your
attractive south coast. I
have an uncle there and he
asked me if I would like to
work in his butcher?s shop
one summer. I liked it there
and made many friends.
?A local girl used to help
serve the customers.
Rosemary.
?Our love grew over that
summer and went on until
late autumn.
?She was everything I
ever dreamed of: kind,
cheerful, loving, pretty.
?We used to go out
cycling on our days off.
Yes, I fell in love with
Rosemary and your country
that year. Then the trouble
started. People took
offence at anything
German.
?Our shop was attacked,
wrecked. My uncle said he
would lie low for a while
and suggested I returned
to Germany or I was in
danger of being interned.
?I didn?t want to leave,
of course but I was
threatened once or twice
by locals and Rosemary
begged me to return for a
while until things blew
over. But they didn?t blow
over, did they? So here we
are.?
Max looked round again.
?I have not even a
photograph of her. I try
every day to remember her
face, her voice.?
He turned and looked at
Charlie, the sadness
apparent in his voice.
?All the while I wonder if
my Rosemary will
remember my face. Will
she wait for me? Will we
ever meet again??
There was a pause and
then he cleared his throat
and spoke again.
?I must get back to my
men. But before I leave
you . . .? He reached down
and picked up a small
rucksack, out of which he
took out a metal box with
four glass windows in each
side.
He opened one window
to reveal a candle set firm
in the middle.
?In Germany, many
houses have one of these.
It is one of our Christmas
traditions.
?We light a candle and
place the box where
everyone can see it.
?We do it to spread
warmth and welcome, hope
and light. I want you to
have it as a small gift for
your own trench.?
Charlie took a match
from his pocket, struck it
and lit the candle.
The faces of the two men
lit up in the greyness and a
warm smile and a firm
handshake were
exchanged.
held the pillow to his cheek
just as Charlie had done.
?Thank you, young man,?
he said.
The two soldiers saluted
and then both turned and
went their separate ways.
* * * *
?Hey, what?s taken you
so long, Charlie??
It was Sid waving to him
from a makeshift football
pitch where most of the
soldiers were gathered.
?You missed the first
half. It was a cracker, too.
Mind you, we?re a goal
down and now our centre
In different circumstances the two
men might have been friends
?Thank you, Captain
Spiegel,? Charlie said.
?Merry Christmas to you.?
The captain turned on his
heels and walked away.
Charlie watched him go
with a sense of sadness
and loss.
Max Spiegel seemed to
be an honourable, just
man. In different
circumstances they might
even have been friends.
Charlie wondered what
would become of him?
Would he survive the war?
And if he didn?t, who would
be around to give the news
to his Rosemary?
?Wait a moment, Captain
Spiegel!?
Charlie had had an idea.
He jumped into his trench
and pulled out little Trudy?s
heart-shaped pillow. It had
been made with love and
filled with love.
It might help make the
captain?s day a little
special. Give him some
hope, help him sleep at
night.
And Charlie knew that
what he was about to do
would be with the blessing
of Grace and Trudy.
He caught up with the
captain and handed him
the pillow.
?I?d like you to have
this,? he said. ?It?s a pillow
filled with the finest,
sweetest English roses and
I hope, while you are apart
from the one you love, it
will remind you of your
own English Rose.?
The captain nodded and
half?s gone down with an
ankle knock.?
?Well, we can?t have
that, can we, mate??
Charlie unbuttoned his coat
and rubbed his hands
together. ?Right then, let
Charlie Howarth get at
?em!?
The game was a draw,
which seemed a fair result
in the circumstances, and
afterwards the men were
rewarded with a Christmas
meal of tinned turkey and
an ample serving of plum
pudding, followed by much
joking and banter and an
improvised concert.
By night-time frost had
set in, but the trench had
mercifully dried out and
silence reigned once more.
Charlie and Sid raised
their heads above the
parapet and gazed out at
the German candles, still
flickering brightly just a
mere few hundred yards
away. The truce was
holding.
Then someone started
singing, a low, melodious
tone that charmed the chill
night air. One by one,
more voices joined in
unison.
Over the boggy fields,
ruined hamlets and broken
byways, the gentle strains
of ?Silent Night? echoed far
and wide.
And all along the English
and German lines men
relaxed and bowed their
heads, and remembered
loved ones and happier,
peaceful times. n
Inside next week?s bumper issue
l Handmade
decorations
to add a
seasonal
touch to
your gifts
Our cover feature:
Willie Shand
visits the iconic
Kelpies in
Falkirk
144
pages
of festive
reading
l Our final
visit to the
RDA is full
of yuletide
cheer
l Wendy
Glass goes
behind the
scenes to
chat to panto
legends
On sale
every
Wednesday
Plus
l The
exhibition
that tells
the story of
Scotland
in ice
17 short stories
l Fantastic
news from the
Winnie Mabaso
Foundation
l Indulge
in our
feast of
fabulous
Christmas
recipes
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SHORT STORY BY JAN SNOOK 53
First Impressions
Susie didn?t
take to Joshua
immediately.
He seemed to
like himself just
a little too
much . . .
Illustration by Martin Baines.
S
O what do you do??
Joshua asked,
looking over Susie?s
shoulder ? to see if
there was anyone
more interesting he could
talk to, she guessed. ?I
didn?t catch your name??
He barely waited for a
response, but carried on
telling her about an audition
he?d attended. He seemed
surprised that they?d wanted
him to audition at all, and
looked at her for support.
What made him so special,
Susie wondered, then was
forced to acknowledge that
there were a number of
things: his smile (when it
appeared) for one.
But that didn?t stop him
from being arrogant, she
thought crossly, wondering
how she could escape.
In the ten minutes she?d
been talking to him he had
looked up every time
anyone new had arrived at
the party.
She would have liked to
escape, but he was a good
friend of Geoff?s, and Geoff
was usually very astute
when it came to people.
Just at this moment,
though, she felt she?d never
met a more self-obsessed
man, which was a pity as he
really was exceptionally
good-looking. Perhaps you
couldn?t have everything . . .
She hoped this wasn?t one
of Geoff?s matchmaking
efforts. She had a sneaky
feeling that, knowing she
had to be in London this
weekend, Geoff had thrown
this party specifically for her.
He was an incurable
romantic and always trying
to marry her off. That wasn?t
on her agenda, though. She
was too busy, particularly
at this time of year.
Joshua was still scanning
the room as he talked, as
well he might, she reflected.
There were numerous people
whose faces were familiar to
her from TV, and it dawned
on her that perhaps Joshua
had been expecting her to
recognise him.
His next question seemed
to confirm it.
?You work in the theatre,
do you?? he was asking.
Was he implying that
anyone who didn?t wouldn?t
be worth talking to?
She moved backwards
slightly, suddenly aware
that she was standing under
a sprig of mistletoe and not
wanting to take any
chances.
?Behind the scenes, yes,?
she replied coolly.
?Ah.? He looked at her
properly, appraising her.
?The classic reply of
someone who?s a . . . let?s
see,? he began. ?You don?t
look like a scenery painter.
Have you maybe written a
one-act play??
Susie took a sip of wine.
?Why only one-act?? she
asked.
He had the grace to look
abashed, but carried on.
?So what are you doing
here?? he asked. ?I don?t
think I?ve met you at one of
Geoff?s parties before. Have
you known him long??
He had been unable to
suppress a pleased smile as
he said Geoff?s name, proud
that he was one of the inner
circle, someone who could
call the famous playwright
Geoffrey Cobley ?Geoff?.
?Since birth,? she replied.
?He?s my twin.?
There couldn?t have been
a faster transformation on
the man?s face, and
suddenly she could see why
Geoff might like him.
?You?re Susie! I knew you
were coming, and I?ve been
looking round trying to spot
you!? He looked her up and
down, doubtfully. ?I must
say, you don?t look at all
like your brother.?
?Well, I?m glad of that at
least.? She laughed,
glancing across at her
rather short and rotund
brother, who was
surrounded by friends.
Geoff looked up and
caught her eye, then
extricated himself from his
guests.
?Susie, do you have a
drink? Oh, good, I see
you?ve met Josh. I hope
he?s not boring you to
death with tales of his
many successes.? He
paused and looked from
Susie to Josh. ?Oh, dear,
you two haven?t hit it off,
have you?
?One of the things about
being twins,? he added,
turning to Josh, ?is that we
can tell pretty fast what the
other?s thinking.?
He smiled at his sister.
?Josh is unbelievably shy,
and boasts a great deal
when he?s nervous, but take
it from me, he?s nice. Give
him a chance, OK?? Then
he laughed and added,
?But if you need to cut him
down to size, ask him what
he?s doing at the moment!?
?Thanks, Geoff,? Josh
said ruefully.
?He was just commenting
on how unalike we look. For
twins, I mean.?
Geoff roared with
laughter and gazed
admiringly at her.
54
?How I wish we were
identical ? if it were
possible ? but as you see,
Susie is tall, elegant, slim,
beautiful and superb at her
job, whereas I?m ??
?Just world-famous!?
Joshua said. ?And you must
have been able to give
Susie a leg-up, what with
your influence in the theatre
world, mustn?t you??
?She does sometimes
need a leg-up,? Geoff
agreed, ?but not from me!
We work in very different
fields. Literally.? He winked
at her, and Joshua looked
nonplussed.
A waiter came to top up
their glasses, and another
guest joined them to
discuss Geoff?s next play.
The talk was soon way
over Susie?s head, and she
made her excuses and
found someone else to talk
to ? a woman called Trish,
whom Susie had seen in
sitcoms on television.
Before long, Joshua
reappeared at her side with
a plate of warm mince-pies.
?Peace offering,? he said.
?I?m sorry. I suffer from the
chronic actor?s problem of
insecurity, so I was trying to
impress you.?
?He needs everyone to
recognise him, he means.?
Trish laughed. ?Make my
day. Tell me you?d never
heard of him!?
?She hadn?t,? Joshua
confessed. ?You have to be
on the box to be well
known these days.?
?Oh, and you?re much
too highbrow for that,?
Trish said in mock horror.
?Imagine the indignity of
being in a sitcom! Joshua
hardly plays anything that
isn?t Shakespeare.
?Except for works by
brilliant playwrights like
your brother, of course,?
she added. ?Oh, but it?s so
good for him not to be
recognised. Susie, I could
kiss you!?
?I?m sorry,? Susie said,
colouring and not knowing
how to respond. ?I live in
the country and hardly ever
come to London, and when
I do I?m working. So what
are you working on at the
moment??
Joshua drew himself up
to his full and impressive
height.
?Geoff?s written me the
lead in his next play. We
start rehearsing in
February. It?s exciting!?
?Wow,? Trish said, and
Susie nodded in agreement.
?But what are you doing till
then?? Trish persisted,
winking at Susie.
?Did Geoff put you up to
this?? Joshua asked crossly.
?If you must know, I?m
doing a couple of months in
panto.?
Trish roared with laughter.
?Which one?? Susie
asked.
?It?s ?Aladdin? and I?m
playing the ??
?Dame?? Trish asked, still
giggling.
?No! I?m the villain,
Abanazar. I?m . . .? The rest
of his sentence was
drowned by hissing and
booing from the
surrounding guests who?d
been eavesdropping.
Joshua looked around,
then grinned.
?OK, laugh, but I can?t sit
around doing nothing till
February, can I??
There were good-natured
cries of ?Oh, yes, you can!?
until at last the guests
resumed their previous
conversations.
?Anyway,? he added to
Susie, ?it?s turning out to
be rather a lot of fun!?
?Why shouldn?t it be??
Susie asked in surprise.
?Don?t you remember going
to the panto as a child? The
magic of it all? The velvet
curtains and the lights, the
dame?s fantastic costume
changes, the cries of ?He?s
behind you?, and the
orchestra! I used to love it.
I still do.?
Joshua smiled at Susie?s
enthusiasm, and her eyes
shone as she continued.
?And what about the
ice-creams at the interval,
and the spectacular
wedding finale in
?Cinderella?? I love panto. I
never tire of seeing the
wonder on the smallest
children?s faces.?
?Do you know, you?re the
first person who hasn?t
made fun of me for taking
the job,? Josh said, then
smiled. ?What I loved most
was the pantomime horse.?
?Ah, so Geoff?s told you,?
Susie said. ?Told me what??
?Well, that?s what I do,?
she said. ?I train them.?
?Pantomime horses need
training?? Joshua asked
with barely suppressed
incredulity. ?When you said
you were involved behind
the scenes, did you mean
you were the back legs??
He began to laugh, then
stopped as he caught sight
of her raised eyebrows.
?Of course, I expect
there?s more to it than ??
?It?s quite an art,? she
interrupted. ?It doesn?t
come naturally. I have a
rehearsal room and
everything. Why don?t you
come and see? How about
a week tomorrow??
* * * *
The week passed very
slowly for Susie.
She followed her normal
routine, spoke to her
contacts in various theatres,
made sure everyone knew
where they had to be when,
and watched the normal
countless rehearsals.
But Joshua?s face kept
swimming in front of her
eyes, distracting her.
He might think her
fascination with
pantomimes na飗e but that
didn?t stop him being
devastating to look at.
But it wasn?t just his
looks: his voice when he
called her (three times by
Thursday!) felt like a caress.
You could see why he did
Shakespeare: he was a
perfect hero.
Now that she?d met him
(and looked him up online)
she felt herself go pink
every time she remembered
her total failure to react
when he introduced himself.
She must be the only
woman in the land who
didn?t know who he was.
She was amazed that he?d
agreed to come and see her
out in the sticks, as well as
making her promise to see
him in rehearsal.
Nobody was that polite. It
could only mean he was
interested, couldn?t it?
By the time Sunday
arrived Susie was a nervous
wreck, though she was as
ready as she would ever be.
The doorbell rang and she
took a deep breath.
Joshua was standing on
her doorstep bearing a
bottle of fizz and an
enormous poinsettia.
?Not what you
expected?? Susie asked,
catching his look of surprise
as he gazed up at her
thatched cottage, made
even more picturesque by a
light dusting of snow.
He was just as goodlooking as she remembered.
Joshua switched his
attention back to her and
kissed her on the cheek,
before following her into the
cottage, where a delicious
smell of a roast dinner and
mulled wine wafted from
the kitchen.
?Come through,? she
said.
But rather than showing
him into the sitting-room,
with its Christmas tree and
roaring fire, she pulled on a
jacket and led him out of
the back door, across a
yard and into a large barn.
?It?s a proper little
theatre!? he said, looking
round in amazement.
It was true. Most of the
barn was taken up with a
stage, complete with
curtains and wings and
scenery. There was a sound
system with large speakers,
and rows of spotlights hung
from the beams.
?And you just use this for
rehearsing? Nothing else??
he asked, looking
perplexed.
?Well, local schools
sometimes come to watch,?
she said, waving at the rows
of chairs for spectators.
?It?s useful to get used to
having an audience, as well
as the lights and the music.
?Being a pantomime
horse is quite disorientating,
as you can imagine.
?There?s a lot to learn,?
she added, smiling. ?I?ll
show you.?
She led him behind the
curtains, past a golden
coach, and opened a door.
In the paddock beyond
were at least twenty pure
white Shetland ponies, who
trotted up at the sight of
her.
?Meet the stars of the
show,? Susie said proudly.
??Cinderella? wouldn?t be
the same, would it, without
real ponies pulling the
coach??
Joshua?s dazzling smile of
utter delight told her that
Geoff was ? as usual ? right
about people. And in true
fairy-tale style fashion he
bent down and kissed her.
Who needed mistletoe? n
Last-minute Gifts
GIFT IDEAS 55
Need to pick up something quickly? We?ve got some great ideas . . .
5
1
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From � selections to Fortnum &
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garden centre and fill it with your own
selection of goodies.
2
Photo Calendars
A number of websites now offer the forgetful
a last-minute card delivery service, and many
of them also give you the chance to upload
your own photos and make a calendar. It?s the
perfect way to create something personal
that?s also useful! Try vistaprint.co.uk or
funkypigeon.com. It?s online only, though, as
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6
7
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Most people live within close
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at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
join-us or call 0344 800 1895.
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4
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If you know a fan of good,
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iStock.
3
What An Experience!
Ring Out
The Bells
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
The Story So Far
AMY has driven to the
airport through a
Connecticut blizzard to
collect DANIEL, her
fianc�, on his way from
England to join her for
their wedding in three
days? time. But then she
learns Daniel didn?t get
on the plane! LISA, her
mother, explains that
Daniel?s mother,
CAROLINE, has had a
heart attack and is in
hospital.
Amy must now tell folk
that wedding has been
postponed, a sad task
made worse by her ex,
SCOTT, placing doubts in
her mind. What if he?s
right and Daniel, having
second thoughts about
marrying her, is using his
mother?s illness as an
excuse?
She arrives in England
on what ought to have
been her honeymoon and
heads straight to the
hospital where Caroline is
making a good recovery.
She looks forward to
joining Daniel there, but
the reunion is marred by
the unexpected
appearance of TIM,
Daniel?s father, who
walked out on Caroline
four months ago . . .
I
ASKED what you were
doing here,? Daniel said
again more quietly,
looking his father up and
down in fury.
He became aware that
everyone in the ward was
looking at him.
He?d left the ward to get
a coffee, feeling calm and
even happy despite the
turmoil of the past few days
? his mother was looking
forward to being at home
for Christmas and he had
been counting the minutes
until Amy would be with
him. He?d even begun to
look forward to organising a
fresh wedding.
Then his father appeared
and knocked the whole
world upside-down again.
It would be
months before
they could
organise a new
wedding date.
Such a pity . . .
He looked towards his
mother, whose mouth was
open, but no sound was
coming out.
He did a double take.
?Amy!?
Then she was in his arms,
and it didn?t matter that his
father was upsetting the
apple cart ? again ? or that
they?d had to postpone
their wedding.
He wished this moment
could last for ever.
?Tim?? Caroline looked at
her husband, then frowned.
?You look different. You
need a haircut.?
Tim looked sheepish.
Daniel released Amy but
kept tight hold of her hand.
?Never mind haircuts,? he
protested. ?Dad, why are
SERIAL BY JAN SNOOK: PART 3 OF 4 57
you here? And how did you
know where Mum was??
Tim seemed relieved that
he?d been asked such a
straightforward question.
?It was on the news,? he
said simply.
Amy gave a gasp.
?He sounds exactly like
you,? she whispered to
Daniel. ?His voice ? it?s
exactly the same!?
Tim was still talking.
?I was about to switch
the TV off when suddenly
there was your mother, in
hospital, talking to Father
Christmas and looking . . .
fragile.? He hung his head
and his shoulders slumped.
?And I?d had no idea.?
?So you decided to come
and visit,? Daniel said
harshly. ?After four months
without a word. Well,
you?ve seen her now.?
Amy drew him gently
away. She put her hands
on his shoulders and looked
intently into his eyes, her
expression saying quite
clearly that he should stop.
Tim took the opportunity
to sit on one of the plastic
chairs at his wife?s bedside.
?You don?t understand,?
Daniel whispered urgently
to Amy as soon as they
were out of earshot. ?He?s
treated her abominably. He
can?t just turn up again!?
?Hush,? Amy said,
standing on tiptoe and
kissing him to stop him
talking. ?They?ve been
married for, what is it,
thirty-five years? You have
to let them talk.
?Even if they end up
shouting at each other or
your mother throws him
out. It?s not up to you.?
?But she?s been very ill!
Really ill!?
?I know that,? Amy said
with a small wry smile, ?but
she seems to be recovering
well, doesn?t she??
?I?m sorry.? Dan pulled
an agonised face. ?You
must be wondering what all
the fuss was ? why I
couldn?t have just got
married and then come
back to Mum.
?But they told me to
come at once, that she was
seriously ill. Of course I
wish now . . .?
?I know,? Amy said with
a sad smile. ?But you
didn?t know how it would
be at the time. Right now,
though, I think we should
leave your parents to talk.
?Besides, I haven?t had
much rest recently. I could
use a few hours? sleep.?
Daniel looked at her,
taking in for the first time
just how pale and drawn
she was.
He?d been so wrapped up
in his own thoughts he?d
barely considered how she
must be feeling.
?Right,? he said. ?Home.
And when you wake up
we?ll talk about us and start
planning our next wedding.?
* * * *
Amy opened her eyes and
felt for the switch on the
unfamiliar bedside lamp,
then squinted as the room
filled with light.
She was snuggled under a
snowy-white duvet in the
spare room of Daniel?s
parents? cottage.
She had only a hazy
memory of getting there ?
she had fallen asleep in the
car on the way back from
the hospital ? but someone
had opened her case and
hung up her clothes. Daniel,
presumably.
The curtains at the small
diamond-paned windows
didn?t quite meet, and it
was dark outside. She
looked at her watch. Five
o?clock. Evening? Morning?
How long had she been
asleep? She could see lights
glowing through lancet
windows not far away.
Daniel had said he lived
near a church.
A bell began chiming
close by. So it must be
evening: there wouldn?t be
lights on in the church at
five in the morning.
She heard tinkling sounds
from the room below and
smiled. Daniel was making
a cup of tea. Her Daniel.
How could she ever have
doubted him?
She might not remember
much about arriving at this
cottage, but she did know
that Daniel had made it
abundantly clear he still
wanted to marry her ? and
the sooner the better.
She got up, washed her
face and found the narrow
back stairs which led
straight into the warm cosy
kitchen.
Daniel was standing by
the range waiting for the
kettle to boil, and taking
something out of the oven.
?Mince-pies,? he said,
following the direction of
her gaze. ?I thought you
might be hungry. And I?ve
lit the fire in the sittingroom.?
He led her into a
surprisingly large room with
a crackling fire in the
inglenook fireplace and a
Christmas tree in the
corner.
The ceilings throughout
the cottage were low, with
heavy oak beams, and
Daniel had to duck here
and there as he crossed the
room and put the tray
crunched their way over
the frosted grass. Her
cheeks were tingling by the
time they reached the open
oak doors and joined the
people inside.
The bells were ringing,
and the dimly lit church
was simply decorated with
trails of ivy and red-berried
holly circling the fat church
candles.
Amy looked around her
in wonder. It all looked so
old.
?We don?t have anything
like this back home,? she
said quietly to Daniel.
?People must have been
praying here for nearly five
Daniel still wanted to marry her.
How could she have doubted him?
down on a coffee table.
?Sit near the fire,? he
said, indicating a chair.
?Then you?ll be warm and
you won?t see the mess in
the corner behind you!?
Amy immediately turned
round, to see a pile of
cartons, the top one
overflowing with strings of
Christmas lights.
?It?s what my mother was
doing when she collapsed,
apparently. She was about
to go into the loft to get the
rest of the decorations
down. I think it was in your
honour, actually.
?So I went up there and
got them down this
morning, but I haven?t had
a chance to put them up.
I?ll try and do it this evening
as she?s coming home
tomorrow.?
?That would be fun,? Amy
said. ?Maybe we could do
it after tea??
Daniel looked at her
assessingly.
?I did wonder whether
you?d feel up to going to
the village carol service this
evening?? He looked at his
watch.
?It starts in about an
hour, and it always makes
me feel that Christmas
really is just around the
corner.?
They left the house 45
minutes later, warmed by
tea and mince-pies, and
walked the short distance
to the small 16th-century
church.
Amy was glad of her hat
and thick coat as they
hundred years. It?s
awesome!?
They found a pew and sat
down. The atmosphere was
convivial as neighbours
greeted each other, many
of them stopping to say
hello to Daniel and to be
introduced to his fianc閑.
The vicar, Jonathan,
came over to ask after
Caroline and to
commiserate about the
postponed wedding.
Amy felt a lump in her
throat and the familiar
pricking of tears.
?I?ve been reading the
banns with such joy,?
Jonathan said sadly. ?You
must be so disappointed.?
?You read the banns
here?? she asked,
surprised.
?Of course. Daniel?s one
of my parishioners. The
banns are always read in
the bride and groom?s
parishes.
?Never mind, I?m sure
you?ll be back in the States
soon, and the wedding can
go ahead.?
?I certainly hope so,?
Daniel said fervently. ?We
had to book the church
months in advance to get a
free day, so we?ll be getting
on with that tomorrow ? as
soon as I?ve collected my
mother from the hospital.?
Jonathan nodded and
hurried off, and a moment
later the lights in the
church dimmed until only
one candle was alight. The
murmur of voices
ceased, and the
59
congregation rose to its
feet.
There was a moment of
total stillness before the
piping voice of a single
young chorister pierced the
silence with the opening
notes of ?Once In Royal
David?s City?, and the
villagers watched as he led
the procession up the nave.
The rest of the choir
joined in for the second
verse of the carol, their
candles gradually lighting
the church as they made
their way to the choir stalls.
The volume rose as the
congregation sang the third
verse, though Amy
wondered whether she was
the only one who found it
so moving that it was
difficult to sing.
She looked up at Daniel
who held the service sheet
they were sharing, and
smiled. How could she have
listened to Scott, even for a
moment?
The service continued as
the Christmas story
unfolded through the
familiar lessons and carols,
and it seemed no time
before the organ was
thundering out the opening
chords of the final carol and
the congregation, now in
full voice, was filling the
little church with sound.
?Hark! The herald angels
sing
Glory to the new-born
king!?
* * * *
?That was so beautiful,?
Amy said, as they slowly
edged their way to the exit,
where Jonathan was
shaking hands with the
villagers as they left.
?Coming across to the
New Hall?? he asked, as
Amy thanked him for the
service. ?There are mincepies and mulled wine.
?Do come ? it?s a chance
to meet your neighbours.
Besides, there?s something I
want to talk to you about.?
Daniel looked at Amy.
?Not too tired??
?Nothing that a glass of
mulled wine won?t fix,? she
said happily.
The New Hall was a
recent addition to the
village, Daniel explained to
her, his eyes twinkling as
they followed the rest of
the congregation to a large
stone building a couple of
minutes? walk from the
church.
?I guess the clue?s in the
name,? Amy agreed, then
frowned as they went
inside. ?But this looks old,
Daniel.?
?Well, it?s not as old as
the church. But, yes, it
dates from the late 1700s.
It was a new hall then.?
Amy was still shaking her
head and marvelling when
the vicar came up with two
glasses of mulled wine,
followed by a lady with a
plate of mince-pies.
?This is my wife,
Georgina,? he began, but
couldn?t get another word
in as Georgina started
sympathising about the
cancelled wedding,
enthusing about Amy?s
beauty, fretting about her
own Christmas preparations
(behind, apparently) and
asking after Caroline, who
was a close friend.
?And Tim turned up at
the hospital?? she said,
interest lighting up her face.
?I couldn?t believe it when I
heard.?
?And I can?t believe how
fast gossip travels,? Daniel
said, giving Amy an
exasperated look. ?This is
what village life is like, Amy.
Nothing?s private round
here, so don?t say you
weren?t warned.
?Before you ask,
Georgina, I have no idea
what?s going on there, OK??
?Oh, dear, yes,? Georgina
said happily, smiling at
Amy. ?I am dreadfully
indiscreet. Not a good thing
in a vicar?s wife at all.?
?Let?s change the
subject,? Jonathan said
swiftly. ?I?m ashamed to
admit my mind was hardly
on the carol service at all, it
kept returning to the two of
you and your forthcoming
nuptials.
?It set me wondering,
would you consider getting
married here instead??
?In England?? Amy asked.
?Yes, but I actually meant
right here in this church. I
mean, the banns have been
read. The only possible snag
is that I?m not sure what
the position is about foreign
nationals getting married.?
?But Amy?s not a foreign
national,? Daniel said
suddenly. ?Her mother?s
American but her father
was English and she was
born here. She?s as English
as I am.?
?I?d hardly say that,?
Amy argued, laughing, ?but
yes, I have a British
passport.?
?Then there wouldn?t be
a problem,? Jonathan said,
his face clearing.
?I don?t know about
Amy,? Daniel said, glancing
at her, ?but I just want to
be married as soon as
possible.
?Even if we had a very
simple ceremony here and
went back to the States for
a reception afterwards. At
least we?d be married.?
?It would be months
before we can rearrange a
wedding back home,? Amy
said wistfully. ?When I
spoke to Mum the pastor
was talking about trying to
fit us in around April at the
earliest.?
?Why don?t you go home
and discuss it,? Jonathan
said.
Daniel nodded.
?We?ll do that, and I?ll
get back to you in a few
days.?
Jonathan frowned.
?Actually, Dan, for what
I?m thinking I?d need to
know sooner than that. You
see, I wondered whether we
could fit in a wedding a
week today ? on Christmas
Eve.?
Any tiredness Amy might
have been feeling
disappeared like magic,
and back at the cottage she
and Daniel spent the
evening working out the
logistics of organising a
wedding at less than a
week?s notice.
?And this time next week
we?d be married!? one or
other of them would say
delightedly at intervals as
they decorated Daniel?s
mother?s house.
By nine o?clock they had
strung lights from the
beams, put up all the
cards, hung stockings by
the fireplace, placed a
wreath on the front door,
garlanded the main
staircase, covered every
available surface with
candles and filled vases
with holly from the bush by
the back door.
?You must be starving!?
Daniel said suddenly,
looking at the clock. ?It?s
after nine and all you?ve
had are a couple of mincepies! What was I thinking?
?I?d planned a romantic
little candlelit dinner, and
instead I?ve made you work
all evening!?
In the kitchen he set
about frying steak while
Amy tossed salad and lit
candles on the scrubbed
oak kitchen table.
?There is one thing
missing,? Daniel said at
last, as they sat down to
eat. ?But I can?t get it now.
?When it?s daylight I?ll
take a ladder out to the
garden and cut some
mistletoe. I noticed some in
the hawthorn by the fence.
I need any excuse I can get
to kiss you,? he added,
smiling.
?Well, don?t wait for the
mistletoe!?
* * * *
The following morning,
once mistletoe had been
liberally distributed round
the house, Daniel set off for
the hospital to collect his
mother.
Amy decided not to go,
thinking that he might want
to sound his mother out
about weddings, and about
what his father was up to.
Daniel had been
muttering about Tim over
breakfast. She hoped
Caroline wasn?t going to be
in for too much of a grilling.
?I?ll stay here and decide
what we can have for
lunch,? she said as she
waved him off.
Once she?d returned to
the kitchen, though, a
problem arose. Now that
Amy came to examine the
Aga, as Daniel called it, she
found that she had no idea
how the range worked,
except that it seemed to be
on all the time, keeping the
kitchen wonderfully warm.
Really, Scott didn?t know
what he was talking about,
going on about how cold
English houses were!
Maybe if she stuck to
something that could be
cooked on one of the hot
plates on the top? She?d
practise by making herself a
cup of coffee.
She couldn?t see a
coffee-maker anywhere, so
she filled the kettle,
carefully lifted one of the
60
hinged heavy metal
covers up, and was
rewarded with a sudden
blast of heat from the iron
hotplate below.
The kettle began to hiss
and seethe almost
instantly, and Amy started
looking in cupboards for
some coffee, but was
interrupted by the jangle of
the doorbell, which was
instantly followed by a
familiar voice.
?Hello, can I come in??
Why was Daniel asking
her if he could come in?
Then the penny dropped.
Of course it wasn?t Daniel.
And the only other man
in the world who could
sound so much like him was
his father, the man she?d
met at the hospital. The
man Daniel had seemed
ready to strangle yesterday,
and whose house this was.
She had just predicted
that Daniel might be angry
if she invited his father in,
when Tim appeared in the
kitchen doorway.
?Oh!? he said, clearly as
surprised to see her as she
was to see him. ?Is Daniel
here??
?He?s gone to the
hospital to pick Caroline
up.?
?Ah. I thought she might
be home by now.?
There was an awkward
pause. Steam started to
issue from the nowspluttering kettle, and Tim
strode over, grabbed an
oven glove and moved it on
to a trivet in one practised
movement.
?You can?t overfill this
kettle ? it doesn?t like it.
Were you making tea?? he
asked pleasantly.
?Coffee, but I haven?t
found any.?
In seconds Tim had taken
a cafeti鑢e from a cupboard
and spooned coffee into it.
?Do you mind if I join
you?? He opened another
cupboard and took out a
biscuit tin.
?It?s not my house,? Amy
began.
?Nor mine, really, now,
the way I?ve behaved,? Tim
said, examining his fingers
and not looking at her. ?I
expect you think I?m a
complete heel.?
?I ? I really don?t know
much about what
happened,? she said.
?I barely understand it
myself.? Tim paused. ?But I
know Daniel will probably
never forgive me. I?ve lost
my son as well as my wife.?
?Perhaps that depends
on what you do next,? Amy
said slowly. ?Caroline?s
heart attack came as a
huge shock to Daniel and
he?s obviously feeling very
protective towards her.?
Tim pressed the plunger
down on the cafeti鑢e and
went to the fridge to find
some milk, then carefully
poured out two mugs.
?Biscuit??
?No, thanks. I?ve a
wedding dress to fit into.?
Amy found herself telling
this stranger all about the
cancelled wedding and the
vicar?s proposal that they
should get married on
Christmas Eve.
Only Tim didn?t feel like a
stranger. He felt like a
father, something she
couldn?t really remember
having before.
?Why did you leave?? she
asked tentatively as she
sipped her steaming coffee.
Tim looked at her quickly.
?Well, I didn?t meet
anyone else, if that?s what
you?re thinking.?
Amy shook her head.
Tim frowned.
?It sounds so pathetic. I
just suddenly looked
around one day and
wondered what I was going
to do with the rest of my
life.
?I mean, I?d just retired
and all at once I?d got the
prospect of years and years
? probably decades ?
ahead of me, with nothing
to do. I?d like to travel, but
you can?t do that all the
time.?
?But surely . . .?
Tim waved his hands and
went on.
?I mean, it?s years since
Caroline stopped work, and
she?s already filled her life
with book groups and
bridge, she does a lot with
the church and she
volunteers at a charity shop
a couple of mornings a
week.
?She has lots of friends,
she does the garden
single-handed and she
bakes. I just couldn?t see
where I fitted in any more.?
?Well, but, you could
have taken over the
gardening, couldn?t you??
Tim gave a hollow laugh,
reminding Amy yet again of
Daniel.
?The garden has always
been Caroline?s domain.
She tends every plant like a
child! I?m allowed to sit in
it, but that?s about all.
?You?re right, though, I
could do something. I
realised that about a day
after I left.
?But I panicked, I
suppose. I decided that I?d
just stay away for a few
days and get my head
together, and then I found
that I didn?t know how to
come back.
?I can?t tell you how
much I regret it.?
?It?s not me you have to
tell,? Amy said quietly, ?it?s
Caroline.?
She paused.
?Couldn?t you just have
told her you needed a bit of
time out? Sort your head
out, like you said? And tell
her where you were??
?You?d think so, wouldn?t
you? It seems so obvious
now.? Tim looked at her
curiously. ?It?s odd, but it?s
helped enormously just
talking to you. I haven?t
spoken to anyone about it,
not a word.
?In fact, I?ve barely
spoken to anyone about
anything since I left. A bit of
a failing with men, I?m told
? not talking. Not talking
about feelings, anyway.?
?Well, when they get
back you should tell
Caroline everything you?ve
told me,? Amy said firmly.
She looked at her watch.
?They could be back soon
and I said I?d see about
some lunch!? she added.
She looked towards the
range. ?But I haven?t got a
clue how this thing works.?
Tim was just initiating
Amy into the finer points of
Aga cooking when they
heard Daniel?s car draw up
outside.
?I think the day of
reckoning has arrived,? Tim
said quietly.
Amy was shocked to see
how pale he?d gone. She
reached out and touched
his arm.
?You know what?? she
said. ?I think I?m going to
leave you to battle with the
Aga and lunch while Dan
takes me out to one of your
famous pubs. Besides, we
need to go and see the
vicar.?
?But I need to talk to
Daniel, too,? Tim objected.
?Talk to Caroline first,?
Amy advised. ?I?m sure
Daniel will go along with
whatever makes his mother
happy. So talk to her.
Properly,? she added with
a smile as they heard
footsteps in the hall.
?By the way ? please
come to our wedding.
We?re going to be a bit
short on fathers.?
* * * *
Caroline lay on the
daybed in the study,
resting. Or trying to rest.
There was so much to think
about. It had been an
exhausting day and an
extraordinary one.
Just the journey home
from the hospital had tired
her out, not to mention the
events of the last few
hours.
From the moment she?d
entered the house
everything had been
topsy-turvy.
She?d barely had time to
say hello to Amy before the
girl had hustled Daniel out
of the house, insisting that
they go and see Jonathan
about a wedding and
asking about the food in
the village pub.
Then Caroline had
watched while her husband
? and yes, he was
technically still her husband
? bustled about heating up
soup and cutting bread
while he talked. And talked.
She doubted Tim had
talked this much in years.
He?d clearly been talking to
Amy, too. It was
extraordinary that a girl
she?d never met until
yesterday seemed to have
taken charge.
Amy had been quite
right, too, to remove Daniel
from the scene, Caroline
thought with a small smile.
She could just visualise
the shouting match
between Daniel and Tim if
they?d both been there.
She was sure Amy would
have tactfully removed
herself from such a private
situation, but Daniel would
have wanted to stay and
defend his mother.
And he and Tim were so
alike that neither of them
would give in to the other.
Amy must really be very
special if she could convince
Daniel to leave his parents
to sort things out for
themselves. Very special
indeed.
She would make a
wonderful wife. And a
perfect daughter-in-law.
By the time Amy and
Daniel returned ? Caroline
suspected Amy had kept
Daniel out of the house for
as long as was humanly
possible ? she and Tim were
having a cup of coffee in the
sitting-room (her with her
feet up, at Tim?s insistence).
It was almost as though
he?d never been away.
But not quite. She
couldn?t let him off the
hook that easily, though she
was conscious that part of
her wanted to.
And, although he was
clearly desperate to return,
he also seemed aware that
they needed to take things
slowly.
Daniel was civil to his
father (though looks he and
Amy exchanged confirmed
Caroline in her suspicion
that Amy had laid down a
few rules), if a little cool.
Amy, however, was
friendly, and sat on the
floor by the Christmas tree,
talking excitedly about their
forthcoming wedding.
?I rang my mom to tell
her while we were out,? she
said, ?and I promised her
we?d go back to the States
for a party just as soon as
we can.?
?It?s just going to be a
ceremony, really,? Daniel
said, though he couldn?t
keep the smile off his face
at the idea of finally being
married.
?There isn?t time to
organise anything else.
Anyway, if we have a party
in Connecticut, Lisa will feel
more included.?
He looked at Caroline
sternly.
?You?re just out of
hospital, Mum, so we?re
certainly not having a
reception here. You?ve got
to take it easy.
?In fact, I think you?d
better go and have a rest. I
made up the daybed in the
study so you wouldn?t have
to tackle the stairs just yet,
OK??
Caroline had done as she
was told, though there was
so much to think about that
she really couldn?t sleep. A
wedding, on Christmas Eve!
Right here, in the village
Daniel had grown up in.
Just when she had
resigned herself to not
being present at the
marriage of her only son. It
was a dream come true.
Yet now Amy?s mother
was missing out, she
reflected.
Caroline felt her heart
swell with relief at the
thought of Tim standing at
her side at their son?s
wedding. She would simply
have to try to put the last
few dreadful months behind
her.
There was far too much to
do to just be lying here,
Caroline thought. She felt
suddenly more energetic
than she had for weeks,
heart attack or no. It
undoubtedly had a lot to do
with seeing Tim again.
Whatever the future
might hold for the two of
them, she was determined
their son?s wedding was
going to be no bleak
ceremony with no reception.
She started counting on
her fingers. There was the
church to decorate, people
to invite, food, a cake,
presents, service sheets,
and a million other things.
Not to mention, she
thought happily, the
purchase of a very large
hat!
First, she needed to make
a phone call. She got out of
bed and picked up the
telephone off the desk, then
scrolled through the stored
numbers.
Daniel had told her the
phone lines in Connecticut
had been down with the
snow ? she hoped she could
get through.
The phone hummed and
popped before there was,
at last, a ringtone. She
crossed her fingers. Please
let her be in . . .
?Lisa? It?s Caroline,
Daniel?s mother. I know, it?s
so exciting! Listen, I know
it?s really hard getting
flights at Christmas, but can
you make it over here? You
and I have a wedding to
plan.?
To be concluded.
On
Reflection
From the manse
window
by David McLaughlan.
I
NEVER wanted to learn to
drive. And, mostly, I have
managed fine without that
particular skill. But, now, our
family is spread around the
country and, so we can see
them more often and do
more things with them, I?ve
decided it?s time to teach
this old dog a new trick.
But I?m going to miss the
people I meet on buses and
trains. Some I would happily
never see again, but others
make my day, teach me,
and live long in my memory.
?The weirdo on the bus?
has become a clich�, but
sometimes the encounter
can be wonderful.
I met James on a train,
not a bus. A dapper, older
gentleman, he sat across
from me and we exchanged
comments about the
atrocious weather.
I was about to read a
book, but the conversation
seemed to roll on.
?I don?t often talk to
people like this. But I feel I
can talk to you,? he said.
We moved from the
weather to the relative
merits of political leaders. At
the age of eighty-six he had
a YouTube channel where
he recorded his thoughts,
read poems, sang songs,
and told stories from his life.
?I had seven incurable
illnesses,? he told me.
?Three were terminal. One
was stealing my sight.? Then
he recounted a faith
experience that took all of
those illnesses away in the
one day. ?Although I?m not a
religious man. But I know
God exists.?
He talked about the time
he spent on trains and buses,
travelling the country to check
in on friends, visiting people in
hospital, and acting as legal
guidance in court cases for
people who had no other
representation.
Having spent twenty of his
younger years as an addict he
had several ex-addicts he now
visited and supported.
I kept expecting his stories
to tip over the border of belief.
But he was a very believable
man. I just became more and
more entranced.
I was an interested
audience and he assured me
he had more than enough
stories to fill many train
journeys but, eventually, we
reached journey?s end and the
parting of the ways.
Of course, as soon as I got
home I put the first of his
stories to the test. Did this
eighty-six-year-old really have
his own YouTube channel? He
did!
Another of his statements,
however, stood up less well to
scrutiny. He had told me he
didn?t often talk to people like
he had with me.
But in the comments under
his videos were countless
thanks from people he had
talked to; people who had
been uplifted by the
encounter; people who
wanted to thank him for all his
advice and help.
?That,? I thought to myself,
?is the way to travel.?
So, in my future journeys,
whether with family in the car
or sitting with strangers in
trains, or even when out
walking, I will remember
James and try my best to be a
blessing to whomever I meet.
And hope that, even if they
don?t think me wonderful,
they think me just the right
side of weird. n
Next week: Sister
Tessa Fisk considers
the coming of Jesus.
The Stage Is Set
Wendy Glass marvels at the restoration
of Perth Theatre as it opens its doors
after a four-year closure.
Photographs courtesy of Perth Theatre.
S
ATURDAY,
DECEMBER 9 sees
the curtain rise on
the �.6 million
restoration project
which has returned
117-year-old Perth Theatre
to all its sumptuous
Edwardian glory.
?By restoring the
magnificent auditorium, as
well as creating a smaller
studio theatre, we?re
ensuring one of Scotland?s
oldest and best-loved
theatres will continue to
entertain audiences for
generations to come,? Lu
Kemp, Artistic Director at
Perth Theatre, tells me.
The restored and
revamped Perth Theatre
continues a tradition of
theatrical performances in
the Scottish city which dates
back to the 16th century,
when performances were
overseen by church
ministers and there were
very strict rules, including no
women on stage!
Thankfully, by the end of
the 19th century, the rules
had been relaxed ? and the
people of Perth were such
enthusiastic theatre-goers,
they clubbed together to
pay for a theatre to be built
in the city centre.
?The theatre was largely
funded by the people of
Perth buying �shares,?
Caroline Donald, Perth
Theatre?s Head of Creative
Learning, reveals. ?Everyone
had a stake in it ? and they
must have been delighted
when Perth Theatre was
described as ?One of
Scotland?s finest? when it
opened on September 6,
1900.?
The first show performed
at Perth Theatre was a
long-forgotten opera called
?Maritana?.
?It would almost certainly
have played to a full house,?
David Dewar adds. As a
member of Perth Theatre
Memory Collective, he has
carried out in-depth
research into the theatre?s
history.
?In those days, Perth
Theatre?s auditorium had
eight hundred seats, but
there would also have been
people standing in the aisles
and at the back, as well as
crammed on to the benches
high in the gods.
?One hundred years ago,
going to the theatre was the
main form of entertainment
and a relatively cheap night
out,? David continues,
?Cinderella? in 2013 was
the last panto in the theatre
before restoration began.
Joseph?s
Technicolored
Dream Coat.
The original High Street
entrance has been retained.
adding that as part of his
research he has listed every
production performed at
Perth Theatre.
?It wasn?t unusual for six
different Shakespeare plays
or six different operas to be
performed in a week, with
many of those in the
audience visiting the theatre
three or four times in one
week.?
One of the plays featuring
in the 2018 season is
Shakespeare?s ?Richard III?.
It was last performed at
Perth Theatre in 1926 and
starred an actor who
travelled all over Britain
playing Richard III, with the
other parts played by actors
from the repertory company
at each theatre he visited.
Perth Theatre has been at
the heart of cultural and
community life in the Fair
City, as Perth is fondly
known, for over a century,
and has always had a knack
for showing just what its
audiences want to see.
?The actress Lesley Mackie
was in ?Joseph And The
Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat? when it was
HERITAGE 63
Star Quality
Over the years, Perth
Theatre has provided
many top film and
television stars with their
big break. In 1939, a
young Alec Guinness
appeared in ?Romeo And
Juliet?, while Hollywood
icon Donald Sutherland
joined Perth Theatre?s
repertory company after
dropping out of drama
school.
?It was the first theatre
I ever played where the
audience actually
laughed when I was
being funny,? Donald
Sutherland recalled.
Edward Woodward was
also a member of Perth
Theatre Repertory
Company, as were Roy
Kinnear and Kevin Whately,
now best known as the TV
detective Robbie Lewis.
Another local boy, Ewan
McGregor, worked at Perth
Theatre as a stagehand
when he was sixteen and
is now one of the patrons
of the theatre?s multimillion pound restoration
project.
Fond Memories
?When I was growing up in
Perth the theatre was very
much part of my life,? Liz
from our Features Team
says. ?My father was in
business across the road and
often donated materials to
be used as props. As a thank
you, we received pantomime
tickets every year ? front row
of the Dress Circle on Boxing
Day. At the time I had no
idea how special these seats
were.
?As a teenager I would buy
tickets for the Saturday
matinee and recall being
transfixed by ?Wuthering
Heights? and ?Jane Eyre? and
baffled by Agatha Christie?s
?An Inspector Calls?.
?We had family outings to
the Summer Shows featuring
favourites such as Rikki
Fulton, the Alexander
Brothers, Will Starr and many
more. I recall both runs of
?Joseph And The Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat?, the
second starring Jason
Connery.
?I can?t remember the name
of the tall, dark handsome
actor in the first run but I do
remember he was my first
teenage crush . . .?
funding requirements ?
even the gold leaf on the
auditorium?s ceiling has
been revamped.?
As Lu, David and Caroline
show me around the
beautifully restored
auditorium, which is an
opulent blaze of burgundy
and warm yellow, they
proudly point up to the
gods, which are once again
open to the public after
many years of being used
for storage.
?There?s great excitement
about the gods being open,
especially as the seating is
on benches, just as it was
when the theatre opened,?
Lu continues, saying that the
gods was often used for
school parties.
?My first Perth Theatre
memory is a school trip to
see ?Macbeth?.? David
smiles. ?In that particular
performance, everything
that could go wrong did go
wrong, including one of the
actors having to stop to
straighten his sword halfway
through a fight and Lady
Macbeth, played by Valerie
Lush ? a famous actress
who lived in the theatre
during the war ? getting her
long dress caught on a step
as she walked up the stairs
and being unable to move.?
The pantomime ?Aladdin?
is the first show in the
restored theatre and Caroline
reveals there?s going to be a
special preview evening for
an invited audience of local
children who have appeared
in Perth Theatre?s pantos
over the years.
?The response to this
special preview has been
incredible!? Caroline
declares. ?Panto ?kids? are
coming along who were in
our pantomimes in the
Sixties and Seventies, as well
as more recent years.?
As we step backstage, Lu
shows me the back wall of
the auditorium, which is
covered in what looks like
graffiti.
?Over the past century,
many of the theatre?s flymen,
who operate the curtains,
scenery and backdrops, have
written their names on this
wall,? Lu says. ?We couldn?t
paint over such a visible part
of our history.
?This theatre is packed full
of memories of people, of
actors, of music and of
fabulous shows. And now
we?re about to raise the
curtain on our beautifully
transformed theatre. It?s
show time again!? n
Kevin Whately performs.
performed here,? Caroline
recalls. ?Lesley described
how people who couldn?t
get tickets would stand in
the Cutlog Vennel, a narrow
lane that runs along one
side of the theatre, and
press their ears to the wall
so they could hear the
music!?
The local community?s
fondness for its theatre
became evident when
fund-raising began for the
current restoration project.
?Through donations and
fund-raising, the people of
Perth have once again made
a very impressive
contribution to their
theatre,? Lu says, adding
that the majority of the
�.6 million funding came
from Perth & Kinross
Council, Creative Scotland,
the Gannochy Trust and the
The renewed gold
leaf looks stunning.
Heritage Lottery Fund.
?Rather than spending
three million pounds on
repairs, it was decided to go
all out and spend four years
and over sixteen million
completely restoring and
refurbishing the theatre in
line with Heritage Lottery
The exterior looks suitably glamorous.
Rikki Fulton and Anne Kidd
in ?Blithe Spirit? in 1972.
Want To Know More?
For more information about Perth Theatre, including
the 2018 programme, visit www.horsecross.co.uk.
64
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Set In 1945
Contemporary Tale
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Christmas At Little
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A Christmas
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Nightingale Hospital is coming
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Amongst the damaged buildings,
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Polly and her friends are gearing
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Eve Armstrong heads to Devon
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Living on a farm, attending the
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BOOKS
5 minutes with
DEBBIE
MACOMBER
Debbie Macomber is a
bestselling popular author
who combines writing with
owning a tea room and yarn
store. Her Christmas stories
are regarded as the highlight
of the season by her fans.
How do you spend Christmas?
Christmas is spent with our children
and grandchildren. I learned as a
young wife and mother not to spend
all my time on Christmas Day cooking.
Instead, I prepare favourite dishes
ahead, and on Christmas Day, I have a
large buffet. People arrive at different
times, adding to the spread with
various favourite side dishes. I guess
you could call us a ?foodie? family!
Do you have any special
traditions?
Let?s start with trees: I have one for
each family, so that?s a total of five!
The grandchildren know which tree
belongs to their family. It?s fun to
watch them race to find presents
under their own tree. Since I want to
be sure to keep the focus on the real
reason for the season, I have a large
What We?re
Reading
SLEEPING
BEAUTIES
Stephen King
and Owen King
This is a collaboration
between Stephen King and
his son, Owen. Women are
being covered in a mysterious
cocoon when asleep and
become violent when woken
up. With just men left society
takes a turn for the worse,
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causing this
phenomenon?
It?s not horror,
but it is creepy
and thoughtprovoking.
Tracey,
Fiction Team
collection of nativity sets displayed
throughout my home. One of the
most fun traditions we have as a
family is playing Bingo on Christmas
Eve, with white elephant gifts as
prizes.
Do you have a gift you
particularly treasure?
I treasure the gift of time with
family and friends, my children and
grandchildren, and time with my
husband, Wayne. This year we
celebrated our 49th wedding
anniversary. He was my biggest
supporter early in my career, and still
is. I hold special Christmas Teas every
December for my fellow author
friends, knitting friends and swimming
buddies. We look forward to sharing
a cup of tea and spending time with
each other.
65
Did you enjoy setting your novel
around Christmas?
I believe it was 1986 when I published
my first Christmas book, and I?ve
written one every year since. It?s been
an honour to be given the title,
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even more so that several of my books
have been made into movies. My most
recent Christmas book, ?Merry And
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family determined to find romance for
their daughter and sister.
Merry And Bright
With little time in her busy
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with what seems to be the perfect
man, and things seem hopeful.
Only the path of true love is never
smooth, and when Merry sets out to
meet her mystery date she has
second thoughts. From then on it
would seem that no matter how hard
they try, the
relationship is
doomed.
Fortunately, her
family decide to
take matters into
their own hands
and give Cupid a
little festive
push . . .
Merry And
Bright by Debbie
Macomber, �99
The Classic
Portrait Of A Murderer
Anne Meredith
The setting is 1931 and Adrian Gray is
surrounded by his extended family in his isolated
home. But none of his six children is fond of him,
several have cause to wish him dead and by
Christmas morning their wish has been granted.
Reprinted as part of the British Library Crime
Classic Collection, this is a traditional whodunit.
The Autobiography
Only Fools And Stories
David Jason
With charm and wit, Sir David Jason looks at the
many characters in his professional life varying
from Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost.
Peeking behind the scenes and telling tales of
some of the best loved acts, he reflects on how
those characters changed his life, too. A
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68
At Work With The
Scottish
SPCA
Part
1 of 6
Photographs courtesy of Polly Pullar.
Polly Pullar speaks to
Wildlife Rescue Centre
Manager Colin Seddon in
the first of a new series.
S
INCE its beginning
in 1839, when the
importance of
founding a
dedicated
organisation to help protect
over-worked and badly
treated urban draught
horses was recognised, the
Scottish Society for
Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals has developed into
a huge, vitally important
charity.
When the Scottish SPCA?s
first dedicated wildlife
rescue centre was built
near Dunfermline in 1986,
it was designed specifically
to deal with oiled birds and
seals following some of the
horrors of oil spills.
The Torrey Canyon
disaster off the English
coast in 1967 wreaked
havoc in the marine
environment. The tanker
had the capacity to carry
120,000 tons of crude oil,
and much of this spewed
forth into the sea with fatal
results.
This gorgeous
otter is just
12 weeks old.
Other similar tanker
disasters highlighted the
growing need for Scotland?s
first dedicated oiled
bird-cleaning centre.
But though Scottish SPCA
Middlebank was initially
built as a specialist unit,
staff and volunteers began
to deal with around 3,000
assorted casualties a year,
from water birds to tiny
fledglings, mammals and
birds of prey, and it quickly
became clear that
Middlebank was no longer
adequate to deal with such
an influx.
There was a growing
requirement for an
extensive dedicated wildlife
hospital, and in 2012 a
wonderful 65-acre site
with state-of-the-art
facilities for every wild
creature imaginable
was opened at
Fishcross, near Alloa.
Since then, casualty
numbers have risen
dramatically ? last year
alone the centre received
over 9,000 injured,
orphaned and needy wildlife
patients ? and that number
still grows at an alarming
rate.
There is not much that
Centre Manager Colin
Seddon doesn?t know about
treating and handling wildlife
patients.
He came to Scotland in
2007 to run Middlebank,
having previously worked at
the RSPCA Wildlife Rescue
Centre at West Hatch in
Somerset for 15 years where
he developed, along with his
team, various wildlife rescue
Young osprey.
NATURE 69
A splendid
golden eagle.
and release techniques.
Colin also established the
RSPCA?s main oiled birdcleaning facility, treating
several thousand oiled and
contaminated birds and
mammals.
He then worked at
Somerset?s Secret World
Wildlife Rescue for five
years. His remit there was
working with badgers,
otters, foxes and deer
whilst also carrying out
survey work and developing
various successful release
methods.
To Colin, the importance
of suitable release sites
once an animal is fit to
return to the wild is of
paramount importance, and
to that end much of his
work involves liaising with
landowners and farmers.
?It?s no use releasing
foxes close to a poultry
farm, or a heron where
there is a fish farm. Great
care has to be taken to put
the animals back where
they stand the best chance
to continue life in the wild.?
Colin has an
encyclopaedic knowledge
of wildlife rehabilitation
and tells me that the more
you learn, the more you
realise how much there is
to learn on the subject.
?Nothing is ever sure, and
things cannot be taken for
A cheeky pine
marten, a fairly rare
sight in the wild.
granted, and there are
always disappointments
and incidents that are
baffling,? he says
philosophically.
Colin is quick to point out
that much of the centre?s
success in rehabilitating
creatures back to the wild is
down to the extraordinary
dedication of his loyal team
of staff.
He proudly records much
of their work through his
burgeoning collection of
beautiful photographs.
These are valuable
reminders of just how
much love and work goes
into each and every animal
and bird.
They are also a valuable
record of the centre?s vital
work, and in turn its
importance to Scotland as a
whole.
With increasing
urbanisation, new roads
and loss of habitat on a
daily basis, it is inevitable
that our precious wildlife
suffers as a result.
The Scottish SPCA?s
National Wildlife Rescue
Centre goes a long way to
help rectify a little of the
damage man inflicts.
Casualties that are
brought in are dropped off
at a special reception area
before being taken to their
relevant department.
Many kind members of
the public also bring in
mountains of newspapers
? this is something that is
always required,
particularly where
hedgehogs are concerned
? as well as stacks of old
towels and other useful
items.
Some bring dog and cat
food as well as a range of
other animal feedstuffs. All
donations are gratefully
received, the cat and dog
food especially appreciated
by the hedgehogs.
This is not a facility that is
open to the public, for all
the animals and birds are
ill, injured or orphaned.
Returning them to full
fitness is the aim, and Colin
explains that nothing must
jeopardise that.
?We treat all our
casualties with the same
dedication, whether it is a
pigeon or a sea eagle.
Incidentally, we had a
young sea eagle from Mull
How you can
get involved
In 2016 alone the
SSPCA?s wildlife
hospital cared for over
9,300 wild animals,
including 6,119 birds
and 123 seals ? a huge
increase on the 3,917
animals the charity was
able to care for in its
last year at Middlebank,
its previous premises.
If you?d like to
support the SSPCA?s
work, donations can be
made by calling 03000
999 999 or sent to
Scottish SPCA, Kingseat
Road, Halbeath,
Dunfermline KY11 8RY.
Cheques should be
made payable to
?Scottish SPCA?.
A rehabilitated grey seal
ready to be released.
a couple of years ago.
?It had a broken leg and
wing and was treated by
our excellent vet, Romain
Pizzi, who works with many
exotic species.
?Eventually it was
successfully released back
to the same area and was
seen regularly over the next
four years.
?Previously we relied on a
number of other
organisations to help us
rehabilitate wildlife, but
we?ve now been able to
keep human interaction to
a minimum by being able
to care for the animals in
one place right up until
they are ready to be
released.
?It?s gratifying to see just
how much of a difference
we are now making.? n
Next week: Polly meets
Lorraine Gow, Head of
Birds at the centre.
believe it?
Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail
wouldyoubelieveit@dctmedia.co.uk or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
I?D LIKE TO KNOW
Q
70 million
A
With the average female
weighing around 3,000 lbs,
it?s amazing that hippopotami
don?t just sink to the bottom! These
water-loving animals can, in fact, hold
their breath for around five minutes and, according to
?National Geographic?, spend up to 16 hours per day in the water. Fittingly, a hippo is
also known as a water horse.
I visited the cinema with my daughter recently
to see ?Breathe?, starring Andrew Garfield and
Claire Foy. The movie was both moving and
inspirational, and the scenery stunning. Can you tell
me where it was filmed?
Mrs S.J., Ayr.
A
The movie was filmed in Hertfordshire, with the
stately home Hatfield House featuring. Directed by
Andy Serkis, the film is based on the true story of
producer Jonathan Cavendish?s own remarkable parents.
Claire Foy has filmed at Hatfield House before ? the
historic mansion was in the first series of ?The Crown?
in which the actress starred as Queen Elizabeth II. Other
productions to have been filmed here include ?Wonder
Woman?, ?Paddington? and ?The King?s Speech?.
Q
Can you settle
an argument,
please? My
husband and I
disagree on who
sculpted the
Thinker.
Mrs J.B., Great
Yarmouth.
A
French sculptor
Auguste Rodin
created the
Thinker, which was
originally called the
Poet.
iStock.
Something we didn?t
know last week...
Drones are definitely one of this year?s
?must-have? gadgets but, perhaps
surprisingly, not amongst the younger
generation! Research by DronesDirect.
co.uk found that the majority of drone
users are ?silver soarers? over the
age of fifty-five, while only 12% are
between the ages of twenty-five and
thirty-four. In addition, almost all drone
users (96%) are male, with many of
them using their drones to take aerial
photographs.
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
13 million
Brits will be heading
south this Christmas
when they head off on
a winter sun holiday.
I recall seeing a nature
programme showing hippos
swimming underwater, but how
long can they actually stay under
water for?
Mr K.B., Liverpool.
Q
TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71
is predicted to be the
UK?s population by 2029.
3 a.m.- 8 a.m.
? Winston Churchill?s
five-hour sleep routine
during World War II.
1,542
? how many
billionaires there are
in the world, sharing
a combined wealth of
�trillion!
4%
of children
believe
telling lies
can make
you put on weight!
64%
of British
parents
no longer
have time to read their
children a bedtime story.
CROCHET 73
easy
If you
intend giving the
toy to a young child
then please make sure
all components are sewn
on very firmly and
regularly check that
parts are fully
attached.
Giraffe
A Jolly
Who could resist her?
The perfect gift for all ages.
Important Note
When writing to us with your
queries, you must enclose a
stamped, addressed envelope
if you would like a reply.
TO MAKE
MATERIALS
1 150-gram ball of Bernat
Blanket Brights in Carrot
Orange (12002) M and 1 ball
in School Bus Yellow
(12003) C; few metres of DK
yarn for the eyes. 10 mm and
5 mm crochet hooks; largeeyed needle or bodkin for
sewing up; toy stuffing. If you
have difficulty obtaining the
yarn locally, you can order
directly from Wool Warehouse
tel: 0800 505 3300, website:
www.woolwarehouse.co.uk
TENSION
Tension is not critical for this
design but if you have a
particularly loose tension, use
an 8 mm hook.
ABBREVIATIONS
3 ch picot ? make 3 ch, insert
your hook in the third ch from
hook, yarn over hook, and
draw the yarn through the st
and through the loop on the
hook; beg ? beginning;
ch ? chain; dc ? double
crochet; dc2tog ? double
crochet 2 sts together ? insert
hook into next st, draw loop
through, insert hook into next
st, draw loop through (3 loops
on hook), yrh and draw yarn
through all loops on hook;
dc3tog ? double crochet 3
stitches together ? ?insert
hook into next st, draw loop
through, rep from ? twice
more (4 loops on hook), yrh
and draw yarn through all
loops on hook; htr ? half
treble; rep ? repeat;
sl st ? slip stitch;
st(s) ? stitch(es); tr ? treble.
Legs (make 4) ? With
10 mm hook and M, make an
adjustable slip knot and work
2 ch.
1st round (right side)
? Work 7 dc into slip knot, sl
st into first dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 14 dc.
3rd - 4th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
5th ? 7th rounds ? With C,
1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc.
8th ? 9th rounds ? With M,
1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc.
Note: You can work up to an
additional 6 rounds at this
point to extend the legs.
1st three legs ? Fasten off.
4th leg ? Do not fasten off
but continue to work body.
Mark stitch on hook.
10th round ? 1 ch, work
1 dc in next 8 dc on 4th foot,
?beg in the st after the
fastened off tail of the next
foot, work 10 dc, rep from ?
twice more until you have four
feet in a row. From the
marker, count back 2 sts, 1 dc
in each st back to the marker
? 40 dc.
Continue to move marker up
each row. Change to C and
continue to work 3-row stripes
keeping the join in the middle
of the back.
11th - 14th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc.
15th round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 35 dc.
16th round ? 1 ch, work
34 dc, make 12 ch, sl st into
2nd ch from hook, sl st in next
10 ch, 1 dc in last dc of round,
sl st to first dc.
17th round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 30 dc.
18th round ? 1 ch, dc to end
of round, sl st to first dc.
19th round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 25 dc.
20th round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 20 dc.
21st round ? 1 ch, ?2 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 15 dc.
Stuff the feet and body firmly.
22nd - 27th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc ? 15 dc.
28th round ? 1 ch, ?2 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 20 dc.
29th round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 25 dc.
30th round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 30 dc.
31st round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 35 dc.
32nd round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 40 dc.
33rd - 38th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc ? 40 dc.
39th round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 35 dc.
40th round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 30 dc.
41st round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 25 dc.
42nd round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
Stuff the neck and head firmly.
Horns ? Work from the
middle of the back of the
head in M:
43rd round ? 1 dc, dc2tog,
4 ch, 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in each of next 2
ch, 1 dc in next 2 sts, dc2tog,
1 dc in next 2 sts, dc2tog, 1
dc, 4 ch, 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in each of next
2 ch, 1 dc in next st, dc2tog,
2 dc, dc2tog, 1 dc ? 15 dc.
44th round ? ?1 dc, dc2tog,
rep from ? to end of round
? 10 dc.
45th round ? [Dc2tog]
5 times. Do not fasten off.
Mane ? With C, work 1 ch,
24 sl st straight down back of
head and neck towards tail.
Turn, 1 ch, 1 dc in each sl st
back to top of head. Fasten off
leaving a tail to sew up top of
head.
Nose ? With C, make 4 ch.
1st round ? 2 dc in 2nd ch
from hook, 1 dc in next ch, 4 dc
in next ch, turn nose and work
1 dc base of ch, 2 dc in base of
next ch, sl st to first dc? 10 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc, 2 dc
in next st, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 15 dc.
3rd round ? ?1 dc, 2 dc, 2 dc
in next st, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
4th- 5th rounds ? 1 ch, work
in dc, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
Fasten off leaving a long length
of yarn for sewing nose to the
head.
Ears (2) ? With M, make 6 ch.
1st row ? 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in next 4 ch, turn.
2nd row ? 1 ch, 1dc in each
dc to end, turn ? 5 dc.
3rd row ? 1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc,
dc2tog, turn ? 3 dc.
4th row ? 1 ch, work in dc,
turn ? 3 dc.
5th row ? Dc3tog. Fasten off.
With right side facing and C,
attach yarn to bottom right hand
corner and dc all round ear
working 2 dc at the point
dc3tog was worked, sl st to first
dc. Fasten off.
Right eye ? With 5 mm hook
and 2 strands of Black, make a
slip knot and work 2 ch. Work
12 dc into sl st, join with sl st to
1st dc, make 3 ch, 3 ch picot,
1 dc in next ch, 1 h tr in next
ch, 1 tr in next ch, miss 3 dc, sl
st in next dc. Fasten off.
Left eye ? With 5 mm hook
and 2 strands of Black, make a
slip knot and work 2 ch. Work
12 dc into slip knot, join with sl
st to 1st dc, sl st into 6 dc, 3 ch,
3 ch picot, 1 dc in next st, 1 htr
in next st, 1 tr into next st, miss
3 dc, sl st in next dc. Fasten off.
To Make Up ? Using the
photograph as a guide, attach
the nose to the head, adding a
little stuffing as you go. Attach
ears and eyes. Create 2 nostrils
by oversewing 2 angular stitches
and eyelashes by working a
couple of large stitches. n
Next week: a felt
decoration to make and
a party bolero to knit
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Some
Female
Company
SHORT STORY BY ALISON CARTER 79
It didn?t take
long for Annette
to realise she
wouldn?t fit in!
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
T
HIS is Mrs Annette
Ellison,? Mrs Ferrier,
the lady of the
house said.
Annette was
standing beside Mrs Ferrier
in the doorway of a large
and elegant drawing-room.
Mrs Ferrier smiled round
at the assembled company.
?I wonder, Marie,? she
began, ?if you might find a
place for Mrs Ellison on the
chaise beside you. I?ll have
more mint punch brought.?
A murmur of welcome
went round, but nobody
knew Annette socially, so
the murmur was muted.
Annette made her way to
the chaise and looked down
at two overly large skirts
worn by two overly large
ladies. There appeared to
be little room on the chaise,
taken up as it was by silks.
Annette guessed both
occupants wore their
dresses � la polonaise, with
large quantities of fabric
swagged up behind and
held by loops and bows.
Annette had noted the
fashion at the time it was
popular, and had ignored
it, feeling it took up too
much furniture per female.
?Do you know,? Annette
said, ?I believe I will stand
and look out of this window
at the sea, Mrs Ferrier.?
?That?s a striking gown,
Mrs Ellison, with your
colouring,? the other lady
on the chaise said.
Annette smiled.
?Redheads wearing lilac,?
she said. ?A practice that is
against the law in nine
colonies.?
The room fell silent.
?I don?t mean it,? Annette
said. ?I barely know the
laws of Carolina, let alone
the other colonies!?
Mrs Ferrier giggled.
?Isn?t it charming to have
a new person at our
gatherings?? she said.
Annette was not sure that
Mrs Ferrier?s friends were
warming to her.
It was 1785, and South
Carolina had settled down
again after the traumas of
the War of Independence.
The ladies of the better
families had been able to
resume lives of visiting and
fashion, and were very
relieved about that indeed.
Annette was a newcomer
to their circles. She had
married Ellis Ellison at the
height of the war, after he
came to her father?s house
in Georgia to talk about
domestic defence, and they
fell in love in five minutes.
The wedding had been
swift, which suited Annette,
who was a practical person.
As battles and skirmishes
flared across the region,
soir閑s and parties were the
last thing on Annette?s mind.
After the war, she had
waved away her husband?s
suggestions that she enjoy
herself more. He had heard
of Mrs Ferrier?s salons, and
encouraged her to attend.
?You?ve spent little time
in feminine company,? he
said. ?I don?t think you?ve
bought a gown since we
married, if I recall rightly.?
Annette laughed.
?I have two gowns and
they both fit. One is always
on my back, and the other
with Mabelline for cleaning.?
But he had sent to
Charlestown anyway, and a
gown had arrived ? the one
she wore now. It had almost
stood up on its own when
she?d drawn it from its crate
and it itched about the
waist.
But Ellis had said she
looked beautiful, so she?d
worn it for this outing.
The ladies? talk was about
the marriages of daughters
and nieces, or upcoming
confinements, their difficult
children or the financial
success of their husbands.
The war was also a topic.
Anecdotes were shared
which, Annette guessed, had
been told repeatedly and
embroidered in the telling.
Listening to the ladies,
one might have understood
that all the British forces
had been repulsed by the
efforts of a small band of
Set
in
1785
South Carolinian gentlemen
? each of them related to a
woman in that room ?
armed with nothing more
than a sword and his
extraordinary valour.
?We didn?t think Alan?s
ankle would ever heal,? a
thin woman remarked. ?He
faced a battalion, I declare,
and all while he was merely
supposed to be out back
supervising the timber!?
There was a great deal of
nodding and tutting.
?Mrs Ellison,? Marie said.
?Where is your house??
?A few miles up along the
river,? Annette replied.
?You didn?t walk here,
surely?? Mrs Ferrier asked.
?No, Ellis drove me, and
will come for me at five.?
?Did you get much
trouble from the British??
the thin lady asked.
Marie stood up and came
a little closer.
?We never saw you at our
Homespun meetings,? she
said. ?I believe all women
of our class attended.?
?Yet I didn?t,? Annette
said in a mild voice.
She was beginning to feel
a chill in the room; a
challenge from these
Southern belles. They were
questioning her credentials.
?Perhaps you had
children to attend to??
Marie asked. ?Many
children??
80
?No children,? Annette
said.
?Well, it must be that you
were unaware of our efforts
through those terrible
months.?
?Now, Marie, you are
sharp with our new friend,?
a woman sitting nearby
said. ?Don?t frown at Mrs
Ellison for staying at home
and taking her ease. Who
has a right to judge??
Annette knew about the
Homespun Movement.
Patriotic women had turned
their hands to much sewing
? and even spinning and
weaving ? to keep families
clothed and to avoid using
imported British goods.
?This very room saw a
hundred blankets stitched
for the Continental Army,?
Mrs Ferrier declared. She
had a hand laid on her
heart all of a sudden. ?My
goodness, fingers got
perforated!?
?The revolutionary cause!?
two ladies said in unison.
They turned to each other
with what Annette could
see were damp eyes.
Several of the ladies had
their eyes fixed on Annette.
?No doubt you found
ways of assisting the war
effort,? somebody else said.
?Every loyal woman of
the thirteen colonies did,?
Marie said.
Annette was beginning to
regret coming. The clock on
the mantelpiece chimed the
quarter, meaning there was
forty-five minutes before
Ellis would come by again.
She wondered what he
was doing that afternoon.
Whatever it was, she?d like
to be doing it.
The bow at the front of
her gown was making an
odd noise as she moved,
and she had begun to feel
like a doll, wearing it.
She was surprised that
Mrs Ferrier had asked her
to the salon, and suspected
undue influence exerted by
Ellis.
The invitation had come
at a church service in
Mount Pleasant, where Mrs
Ferrier had been hugely
polite, but had definitely
looked her up and down.
?So, did you have trouble
up there on the river?? Mrs
Ferrier asked.
?Trouble?? Annette asked.
?Marauding bands of
British,? Marie said with
impatience, as though every
sane person knew what
trouble meant, and every
lady had been chased up a
tree by a grenadier.
?Oh, some of that,?
Annette said. ?The punch is
delicious, Mrs Ferrier.?
?The trouble was knowing
when the brutes were to
come,? the thin lady said.
?All those sallies, and not a
moment?s warning, and the
servants useless.?
?I would sometimes go
out myself, just to see what
was afoot,? Annette said.
Mrs Ferrier?s eyebrows
rose.
?Indeed?? She giggled.
?Almost like a scout??
?Just like that.?
?Well, I am glad you
suffered nothing untoward,?
one of the ladies said. ?Our
housemaid nearly died of
fright when she saw a whole
dragoon in the distance.?
Annette didn?t recall
saying she hadn?t suffered,
but she said nothing.
?You walked about your
own land, scouting?? Mrs
Ferrier went on. ?Alone??
?I rode about.?
?Rather for pleasure, then
? side-saddle, yes??
?No. I prefer speed. I
know the trails well.?
The room was quiet
again, but only briefly.
?I declare that if servants
had been more useful on
our estates, we?d have
forced the British home far
earlier,? another lady, stout
in green satin, said.
There was general
agreement.
?I have two excellent
servants,? Annette said. ?I
seem to be lucky there.?
?We don?t mean servants
good at domestic tasks,?
Marie said patronisingly.
?We mean in a crisis, Mrs
Ellison.?
?So do I,? Annette said.
?Mabelline and Georgette
were of great assistance
when men broke into our
house.
?Georgette brought them
tea with every efficiency,
and then brandy when the
gentlemen grew less polite.
?Mabelline helped me to
pass their weapons back to
some men who had arrived
and were waiting below the
kitchen window.?
Annette took a slow sip of
her punch.
?To explain: I had sight of
the coming of the enemy,
and had sent word with the
houseboy to our soldiers.
The British were very poorly
behaved, and inside another
person?s house, too!
?When they threatened
my Georgette with injury, I
felt that I needed to take
their weapons out of harm?s
way, as I?m sure you can
appreciate.?
The clang of somebody?s
punch cup hitting the floor
broke the silence.
?Mabelline and I have
known each other since
babyhood.? Annette smiled
around the room. ?You
know when two females
understand each other, and
can pass wordless
messages?
?Well, after the soldiers
had drunk enough brandy,
we began simply to take
their weapons, one at a
time, and deliver them back
through the house.
?The comings and goings
of three women obeying the
constant demands of men
may hide a great deal, you
know.
?This continued until we
had handed everything to a
Captain Marshall of the
sixth Caroline, an amusing
gentleman my husband
plays cards with to this day.
?I retained a rifle for
personal use. Ellis, you see,
had taken our modest store
of weapons off on his own
mission.?
Annette laughed.
?He was apologetic that
evening! But you know how
it?s best to be generous
towards a husband, so I
said I didn?t mind, and that
Mabelline, Georgette and I
had managed very well.?
Mrs Ferrier?s mouth stood
open, and Annette swatted
away a fly that was circling
with a view to flying inside.
?Later, when the British
had been taken away by
our troops, Mabelline was
sassy enough to laugh at
the way I?d spoken to them.
?I find that on some
occasions one cannot bring
oneself to scold a servant,
either. ?Ma?am,? Mabelline
said. ?What did you say to
the soldier with all the gold
braid??
?I had to admit it: I had
stood there and told their
leader I?d shoot the next
man who moved across my
sitting-room, until I gave
him leave to depart.?
Annette heard the rustle
of a skirt. The lady who was
not Marie was whispering.
?Did you . . . did you
shoot a man??
Annette laughed.
?Good heavens, no! I?ve
never killed anybody. I
have barely even disabled
anybody with a bullet in the
foot.?
They were all staring now.
?I admire that upholstery
immensely, Mrs Ferrier,?
Annette said, pointing to a
screen. ?You must tell me
where you got the chintz.?
She heard the noise of a
buggy outside, Ellis?s pair
of horses by the sound of
them. Had he sensed that
she?d want fetching early?
?Ladies, I must leave
you,? Annette said. ?Thank
you for allowing me into
your circle. It has been
interesting to be among a
feminine set again. I will
show myself out.?
* * * *
Ellis was trying to get the
horses to calm down as she
climbed up beside him. She
kissed his cheek.
?Where have you been??
she asked.
?Rabbiting. I decided to
whisk you away early. I
missed you.?
?So there are more
rabbits to be had??
?There always are, my
darling.?
?Will you drive via the
house ? to the woods north
? so I can change my
clothes? Will you be angry if
I reject this gown for today??
He considered for a
moment.
?I know it?s feminine,?
Annette went on, ?and
elegant, but it makes me
hold myself a little like a
broom handle.?
?It does clash with the
trees ? I see that now,? he
said. ?How was the female
company??
?It was female in its own
special way,? she said.
Ellis grinned, put the reins
into one hand and put the
other arm around her waist.
?And you are female in
your own special way, my
scout and my fighter. Your
way will do for me.?n
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FINO, FORTIFIED, VINE, JEREZ,
OLOROSO, AGEING, CASK,
AMONTILLADO, PRODUCER,
FLAVOUR, CHEERS, TASTING,
SHERRY, VINTAGE, MANZANILLA,
SCHOONER, SPAIN, DRYNESS
L P S R O M O N C G E AMONTILLADO OLOROSO
L A I E N A L T N I G CASK
PRODUCER
I N N Y N D L I O F A CHEERS
SCHOONER
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FINO
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each and every letter once, and may twist up, down or sideways,
but never diagonally.
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COMPETITIONS
GARDENING
DAILY SERIAL
SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85
OUR
WEEKLY
SOAP
The rain in
Ryemouth
doesn?t look like
stopping any
time soon . . .
iStock.
H
ELLO, Ruby!? Big
Jim said. ?We
don?t often see
you in here in the
middle of the day.
Have you been Christmas
shopping? What can I get
you??
Ruby folded her umbrella,
stuck it inside a plastic
carrier from her handbag
and took off her scarf.
?Just orange juice, please,
Jim,? she replied.
As Jim poured the drink,
he glanced across the bar
at her.
?You all right, Ruby?? he
asked. ?You don?t seem
your usual self, if you don?t
mind me saying.?
Ruby yanked off her coat,
pulled a stool to the bar
and plonked herself down.
?Have you ever been on a
blind date, Jim?? she asked.
?No,? he replied, shaking
his head. ?Mind you, if
you?re offering . . .??
She smiled.
?Why do you ask?? Jim
said. ?Are you planning on
going on a blind date??
?I?ve been on one,? she
replied. ?That?s the trouble.
That?s why I?m here instead
of being at home putting
my tree up and wrapping
presents like everyone else
in Ryemouth.?
Riverside
Jim placed a bottle of
juice on the bar with a glass
beside it.
?I met this man, you see,?
Ruby began, pouring her
orange into the glass. ?On
one of those internet dating
sites.?
Jim raised his eyebrows.
?It was all perfectly
respectable, Jim. I met him
in the Old Engine Room for
lunch and it was all above
board.
?He seemed really nice,
but after an hour or so I
knew he wasn?t right for
me, so I told him I thought
it was best if we didn?t see
each other again.?
?It sounds like you can
chalk that one down to
experience,? Jim said.
Ruby took a swig of her
drink.
?That?s what I thought.
Then he started texting me,
asking for another date. I
said no, but then he started
ringing and getting in touch
on Facebook. I?ve had to
block his number from my
phone and cut all contact
with him.?
Jim leaned on the bar.
?You?ve done the right
thing.? He nodded. ?He
sounds a bit obsessive.?
?That?s not the half of it,
though.? Ruby sighed. ?It
got worse. That?s why I?m
sitting here instead of being
at home.?
?Why??
Ruby nudged her glass
across the bar towards him.
?Can you pop a splash of
gin in there for me? I?m
going to need something
stronger before I tell you
any more. I might as well
stay for another one, too,
as the rain outside shows
no sign of letting up.?
?That rain?s been
something else, hasn?t it??
Jim replied.
He raised Ruby?s glass to
the optic behind the bar as
she continued her tale.
?The last couple of nights,
before I go up to bed, I?ve
been hearing a funny noise
at the front of the house.
?I looked out of the
window and there he was,
walking around the front of
my house. I didn?t want to
confront him, but I?m
feeling a bit scared.?
Jim watched as Ruby
took a sip of her drink. He?d
never seen her so shaken
before.
He reached across the
bar and laid his hand on
her arm.
?Don?t you worry,? he told
her. ?I know how to help.?
* * * *
Up in their riverside flat,
Dave and Susan were
preparing for their first
Christmas together.
Dave picked up the string
of fairy lights and took
them over to the tree.
Susan stood on the other
side of the tree and the
lights were passed between
them as they draped them
around the branches.
?I used to watch Mum
and Dad do this every
year.? Susan smiled at the
memory. ?And here we are
now, our first Christmas
together, married, with a
baby on the way.?
?There?s a lot to look
forward to,? Dave replied,
concentrating on the task in
hand. ?I think we?re ready
for the big switch on.?
Susan sank on to the
sofa, positioning herself so
that her baby bump was
comfortable.
?Go on,? she told Dave.
?Let?s turn off the livingroom light so we?ll see the
tree twinkle in the dark.?
Dave did as she said and,
sure enough, the lights
nestling in the tree shone
out into the room.
?Perfect!? Susan gushed.
?And once Christmas
dinner?s over at the Old
Engine Room next week,
that?s work done and my
maternity leave starts.?
?Should be a good day,?
Dave agreed. ?The place
has been fully booked since
Clive changed his menu. He
finally saw sense, offering a
traditional Christmas dinner
with all the trimmings and
none of the fuss.?
?I hope it stops raining,?
Susan noted, looking out of
the window across the river.
?It?s been coming down
hard for days.?
Dave walked over to their
floor-to-ceiling window
where the reflection from
the tree lights twinkled in
the darkness.
?Dad said he?s never seen
the river so high before in
all his years working at the
shipyard. I saw a post on
Twitter that said North
Ryemouth was on flood
alert last night,? he said,
looking out at the
rainstorm. ?The river?s at
hazardous levels up there.?
?But it wouldn?t flood
down here, would it??
Susan asked.
But Dave was lost in
worrying thoughts about
the raging river below.
More next week.
A ?Purrfect?
Christmas
My cat Kitty loves
Christmas. She
absolutely adores being
in the thick of it and has
hours of fun exploring
the tree and all the gifts
underneath.
By the look on her
face, it looks like she
knows there?s one there
for her!
Mrs J.N., Torfaen.
Between
Friends
Write to us at Between Friends, ?The People?s Friend?,
2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at
betweenfriends@dctmedia.co.uk.
Star Letter
We had great birthday celebrations
for my mum Jean MacLeod, who
recently turned one hundred and three
years old and is still looking
remarkable.
She enjoyed two parties, three
clootie dumplings and three cakes, but
among her favourite gifts were the
two ?Farmer And His Wife? books I
bought for her ? she?s a huge fan of
the ?Friend?.
My mum is an inspiration. She
recently met the French Consulate
General and enjoyed asking him
questions about France. She?s also
still busy knitting for premature
babies.
She?s one in a million.
Ms I.B., Kilmarnock.
Our Star Letter will receive a Dean?s all-butter shortbread tin worth
�.69 RRP. Consume as part of a balanced diet.
All other printed UK letters will win one of our famous tea caddies
and a pack of loose tea. Our friends from overseas will receive an
alternative gift of a pen.
On The Right
Track
While at home in Newcastle,
Australia, I was watching a
programme on TV called
?Great British Railway
Journeys?, featuring Michael
Portillo, the retired politician
who tours the UK?s rail
network and discusses the
many aspects of the various
places he visits.
In a recent show he
highlighted the old railway
station at Alnwick and how it
had been turned into a very
popular library. I couldn?t
believe it when I got my copy
of ?The People?s Friend? which
featured the very same library
? what a great feature and
what a wonderful way to use
this old station.
Mr T.A., Australia.
Competition
Winners
Congratulations to C. Day of
Luton, L. Williams of Hemel
Hempstead and J. Martin of
Aberdeen ? the lucky winners
of our recent Beldray Turbo
Vacuum Cleaners competition.
The recent winners in our
JML Grill Circle Deluxe website
competition were M. Holder
from Cardiff and R. Sanders
from Lairg.
Diamond Couple
This is my mum and dad
? Doreen and Colin
Sanderson ? on their wedding
day, 60 years ago.
They met while they were
on holiday with their families
in Great Yarmouth ? proof
that holiday romances can
actually last!
As there are three
generations of our family all
reading ?The People?s Friend?,
we?d all be delighted to see
them in the ?Friend?.
Mrs C.A., Suffolk.
YOUR LETTERS 87
An Eye For Detail
It has taken me almost two
years to finish this cross stitch
as I had to have cataracts
removed from both eyes.
The op went surprisingly well
and I can now see better than
in my youth ? I will be seventynine this month. It?s such a joy
to take up handicrafts again.
Miss J.G., Shrewsbury.
Christ Child
Jesus
Cute Count
I thought your readers
would enjoy this picture of my
ten-week-old great-grandson
Lennon in his Dracula outfit.
I?m sure everyone will agree
that far from looking scary for
Hallowe?en, he simply looks
cute.
Mrs A.K., East Yorkshire.
Christ Child Jesus sleeps on
hay.
Herald angels sing to say,
?Royalty?s come from
Heaven to Earth,
Incredible love made flesh
through birth.?
Shepherds hear the angels
call,
Take their lambs to lowly
stall.
Mother Mary looks with joy
At her precious baby boy.
So let us all rejoice and sing
Hallelujahs to our King!
Ms M.H., Warrington.
Lovely Memories
I have seen a few letters recently about long-time pen friends.
I thought you might be interested to know that my friend
Elizabeth Martin and I have been writing to each other for 70
years. We started in November 1947, after a teacher at the
school I was attending returned to New Zealand and organised
pen friends for pupils here.
I?m lucky enough to have been to New Zealand several times
over the years, and have loved every trip. Elizabeth has been
over here a few times, too.
Unfortunately my health now prevents me from making
another visit to that lovely country and the friendly people there,
but I have such lovely memories of my trips there and, of
course, my long-lasting friendship with my pen friend.
Mrs B.F., Oxon.
Pecking Order!
When my husband Doug and I were on holiday recently on the
beautiful Hebridean island of Islay, I spotted these three hens
proudly walking along the grass verge, just like follow-my-leader.
They looked so comical I just couldn?t resist taking a picture of
them! I hope the result makes readers smile.
Mrs I.D., Swansea.
Puzzle Solutions from page 25
Missing Link
The words in order
are Cane, Town,
Dirt, Lion, Food,
Girl, Heat, Mark,
Nest, Sign.
The word is
CORNFLAKES.
Crossword
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Sudoku
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write to the Readers Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
a
special preview evening for
an invited audience of local
children who have appeared
in Perth Theatre?s pantos
over the years.
?The response to this
special preview has been
incredible!? Caroline
declares. ?Panto ?kids? are
coming along who were in
our pantomimes in the
Sixties and Seventies, as well
as more recent years.?
As we step backstage, Lu
shows me the back wall of
the auditorium, which is
covered in what looks like
graffiti.
?Over the past century,
many of the theatre?s flymen,
who operate the curtains,
scenery and backdrops, have
written their names on this
wall,? Lu says. ?We couldn?t
paint over such a visible part
of our history.
?This theatre is packed full
of memories of people, of
actors, of music and of
fabulous shows. And now
we?re about to raise the
curtain on our beautifully
transformed theatre. It?s
show time again!? n
Kevin Whately performs.
performed here,? Caroline
recalls. ?Lesley described
how people who couldn?t
get tickets would stand in
the Cutlog Vennel, a narrow
lane that runs along one
side of the theatre, and
press their ears to the wall
so they could hear the
music!?
The local community?s
fondness for its theatre
became evident when
fund-raising began for the
current restoration project.
?Through donations and
fund-raising, the people of
Perth have once again made
a very impressive
contribution to their
theatre,? Lu says, adding
that the majority of the
�.6 million funding came
from Perth & Kinross
Council, Creative Scotland,
the Gannochy Trust and the
The renewed gold
leaf looks stunning.
Heritage Lottery Fund.
?Rather than spending
three million pounds on
repairs, it was decided to go
all out and spend four years
and over sixteen million
completely restoring and
refurbishing the theatre in
line with Heritage Lottery
The exterior looks suitably glamorous.
Rikki Fulton and Anne Kidd
in ?Blithe Spirit? in 1972.
Want To Know More?
For more information about Perth Theatre, including
the 2018 programme, visit www.horsecross.co.uk.
64
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off the
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Trying to do one thing a day that
scares her results in a sprained
ankle, a misbehaving dog and an
unforgettable doctor, leading
Harriet to the scariest challenge of
all. Is she up to it? Sarah Morgan
keeps you guessing to the end.
A distillery is not the usual place
you would find executive life
coach Alex Hyde. Her task is to
work with the CEO but he is
unlike anyone she has ever
worked with before. Will she walk
away the same person?
Alexia Kennedy is converting an old
pub into a community caf� when
disaster strikes and the funds are
stolen, forcing her to rethink her
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help comes from two unexpected
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Set In 1945
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together again after the War.
Amongst the damaged buildings,
the staff deal with their own
heartaches. Christmas is
approaching and a show is just
what the doctor ordered . . .
Polly and her friends are gearing
up for the festive season but there
is a secret that could destroy
everything. Meanwhile, the past
catches up with Polly and she
knows her life will never be the
same again.
Eve Armstrong heads to Devon
and a life that is alien to her.
Living on a farm, attending the
village school and helping care
for her younger brother is her
focus now. But there is still time
to make friends ? and enemies!
BOOKS
5 minutes with
DEBBIE
MACOMBER
Debbie Macomber is a
bestselling popular author
who combines writing with
owning a tea room and yarn
store. Her Christmas stories
are regarded as the highlight
of the season by her fans.
How do you spend Christmas?
Christmas is spent with our children
and grandchildren. I learned as a
young wife and mother not to spend
all my time on Christmas Day cooking.
Instead, I prepare favourite dishes
ahead, and on Christmas Day, I have a
large buffet. People arrive at different
times, adding to the spread with
various favourite side dishes. I guess
you could call us a ?foodie? family!
Do you have any special
traditions?
Let?s start with trees: I have one for
each family, so that?s a total of five!
The grandchildren know which tree
belongs to their family. It?s fun to
watch them race to find presents
under their own tree. Since I want to
be sure to keep the focus on the real
reason for the season, I have a large
What We?re
Reading
SLEEPING
BEAUTIES
Stephen King
and Owen King
This is a collaboration
between Stephen King and
his son, Owen. Women are
being covered in a mysterious
cocoon when asleep and
become violent when woken
up. With just men left society
takes a turn for the worse,
but what?s
causing this
phenomenon?
It?s not horror,
but it is creepy
and thoughtprovoking.
Tracey,
Fiction Team
collection of nativity sets displayed
throughout my home. One of the
most fun traditions we have as a
family is playing Bingo on Christmas
Eve, with white elephant gifts as
prizes.
Do you have a gift you
particularly treasure?
I treasure the gift of time with
family and friends, my children and
grandchildren, and time with my
husband, Wayne. This year we
celebrated our 49th wedding
anniversary. He was my biggest
supporter early in my career, and still
is. I hold special Christmas Teas every
December for my fellow author
friends, knitting friends and swimming
buddies. We look forward to sharing
a cup of tea and spending time with
each other.
65
Did you enjoy setting your novel
around Christmas?
I believe it was 1986 when I published
my first Christmas book, and I?ve
written one every year since. It?s been
an honour to be given the title,
?Official Storyteller of Christmas,? and
even more so that several of my books
have been made into movies. My most
recent Christmas book, ?Merry And
Bright?, was fun to write ? the magic of
Christmas, blended with an interfering
family determined to find romance for
their daughter and sister.
Merry And Bright
With little time in her busy
schedule, a reluctant foray into
internet dating puts Merry in touch
with what seems to be the perfect
man, and things seem hopeful.
Only the path of true love is never
smooth, and when Merry sets out to
meet her mystery date she has
second thoughts. From then on it
would seem that no matter how hard
they try, the
relationship is
doomed.
Fortunately, her
family decide to
take matters into
their own hands
and give Cupid a
little festive
push . . .
Merry And
Bright by Debbie
Macomber, �99
The Classic
Portrait Of A Murderer
Anne Meredith
The setting is 1931 and Adrian Gray is
surrounded by his extended family in his isolated
home. But none of his six children is fond of him,
several have cause to wish him dead and by
Christmas morning their wish has been granted.
Reprinted as part of the British Library Crime
Classic Collection, this is a traditional whodunit.
The Autobiography
Only Fools And Stories
David Jason
With charm and wit, Sir David Jason looks at the
many characters in his professional life varying
from Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost.
Peeking behind the scenes and telling tales of
some of the best loved acts, he reflects on how
those characters changed his life, too. A
poignant, honest and heartwarming story.
Great Gift Ideas
With Christmas almost upon us, we have been on the
lookout for some brilliant gift ideas that would suit
almost anyone on your list. Whether you are looking
for a gift for a loved one or a friend or neighbour
why not browse through these fantastic ideas and
shop from the comfort of your own armchair. You
can avoid the cold weather and the crowds and we
can even deliver your chosen gift straight to the
lucky recipient. Browse our full range of gifts at
www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk.
Blue Cotton Tea Towel Pack PFTT8 �.00
Yellow Cotton Tea Towel Pack PFTTY �.00
Pink Cotton Tea Towel Pack PFTT0 �.00
These beautifully designed packs each contain two
100% cotton tea towels designed by Clarissa Hulse
for Ulster Weavers.
Great British Gin Tasting Set PFT10 �.00
Tipple Box includes: 1x William?s Elegant Gin 5cl; 1x William?s
Seville Orange Gin 5cl; 1x Six O?clock Gin 5cl; 1x Six O?clock Sloe
Gin 5cl; 1x Dr J?s Gin 5cl; 1x Nightingale Rhubarb Gin 5cl; 1x
Brecon Welsh Gin 5cl; 1x Darnley?s View Gin.
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Vintage Gin Cocktail Set PF011 �.95
Tipple Box includes: 3x Premium Gins (5cl); 1x
Vermouth (5cl); 1x Campari (4cl); 1x Grenadine
(50ml), two illustrated recipe cards with step by
step instructions on how to make your cocktails
and a copy of Muddle Magazine (RRP �95).
White Willow Basket WGB01 �.00
Basket contains: St Kew Clotted Cream
Shortbread 200g; St Kew Cornish Spiced Biscuits
200g; Strawberry & Vanilla Conserve 227g; Seville
Orange Whisky Marmalade 227g; St. Kew Clotted
Cream Fudge 100g; St. Kew Luxury Malt Whisky
Fudge 200g.
OnLine: www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk
Non-Alcoholic Nibbles PF115 �.50
Includes: The Bees Knees Alcohol Free Sparkling Brut 75cl;
The Kindness Bakery Original Cheese Straws 100g; Radfords
Handmade West Country Crumbly Butter Fudge 100g;
Linden Lady Handmade Giant Milk Chocolate Buttons 100g;
Border Sweet Memories Butterscotch Crunch Biscuits 150g;
Oloves Lemon & Rosemary Natural Green Pitted Olives 30g;
Cambrook Brilliantly Caramelised Sesame Peanuts 45g.
Prosecco & Chocolates
PF104 �.00
Includes: The Secret Truffletier
Irish Cream Truffles 55g;
Prosecco Spumante Special
Cuvee DOC Zonin Italy 75cl.
Dean?s Gluten Free Gift Bag PFD28 �.50
Includes: Dean?s mini jute lunch bag; Dean?s Gluten
Free Cinnamon, Orange & Chocolate Shortbread
125g gift tube; Dean?s Gluten Free Gingerbread
Spiced Shortbread 125g gift tube.
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68
At Work With The
Scottish
SPCA
Part
1 of 6
Photographs courtesy of Polly Pullar.
Polly Pullar speaks to
Wildlife Rescue Centre
Manager Colin Seddon in
the first of a new series.
S
INCE its beginning
in 1839, when the
importance of
founding a
dedicated
organisation to help protect
over-worked and badly
treated urban draught
horses was recognised, the
Scottish Society for
Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals has developed into
a huge, vitally important
charity.
When the Scottish SPCA?s
first dedicated wildlife
rescue centre was built
near Dunfermline in 1986,
it was designed specifically
to deal with oiled birds and
seals following some of the
horrors of oil spills.
The Torrey Canyon
disaster off the English
coast in 1967 wreaked
havoc in the marine
environment. The tanker
had the capacity to carry
120,000 tons of crude oil,
and much of this spewed
forth into the sea with fatal
results.
This gorgeous
otter is just
12 weeks old.
Other similar tanker
disasters highlighted the
growing need for Scotland?s
first dedicated oiled
bird-cleaning centre.
But though Scottish SPCA
Middlebank was initially
built as a specialist unit,
staff and volunteers began
to deal with around 3,000
assorted casualties a year,
from water birds to tiny
fledglings, mammals and
birds of prey, and it quickly
became clear that
Middlebank was no longer
adequate to deal with such
an influx.
There was a growing
requirement for an
extensive dedicated wildlife
hospital, and in 2012 a
wonderful 65-acre site
with state-of-the-art
facilities for every wild
creature imaginable
was opened at
Fishcross, near Alloa.
Since then, casualty
numbers have risen
dramatically ? last year
alone the centre received
over 9,000 injured,
orphaned and needy wildlife
patients ? and that number
still grows at an alarming
rate.
There is not much that
Centre Manager Colin
Seddon doesn?t know about
treating and handling wildlife
patients.
He came to Scotland in
2007 to run Middlebank,
having previously worked at
the RSPCA Wildlife Rescue
Centre at West Hatch in
Somerset for 15 years where
he developed, along with his
team, various wildlife rescue
Young osprey.
NATURE 69
A splendid
golden eagle.
and release techniques.
Colin also established the
RSPCA?s main oiled birdcleaning facility, treating
several thousand oiled and
contaminated birds and
mammals.
He then worked at
Somerset?s Secret World
Wildlife Rescue for five
years. His remit there was
working with badgers,
otters, foxes and deer
whilst also carrying out
survey work and developing
various successful release
methods.
To Colin, the importance
of suitable release sites
once an animal is fit to
return to the wild is of
paramount importance, and
to that end much of his
work involves liaising with
landowners and farmers.
?It?s no use releasing
foxes close to a poultry
farm, or a heron where
there is a fish farm. Great
care has to be taken to put
the animals back where
they stand the best chance
to continue life in the wild.?
Colin has an
encyclopaedic knowledge
of wildlife rehabilitation
and tells me that the more
you learn, the more you
realise how much there is
to learn on the subject.
?Nothing is ever sure, and
things cannot be taken for
A cheeky pine
marten, a fairly rare
sight in the wild.
granted, and there are
always disappointments
and incidents that are
baffling,? he says
philosophically.
Colin is quick to point out
that much of the centre?s
success in rehabilitating
creatures back to the wild is
down to the extraordinary
dedication of his loyal team
of staff.
He proudly records much
of their work through his
burgeoning collection of
beautiful photographs.
These are valuable
reminders of just how
much love and work goes
into each and every animal
and bird.
They are also a valuable
record of the centre?s vital
work, and in turn its
importance to Scotland as a
whole.
With increasing
urbanisation, new roads
and loss of habitat on a
daily basis, it is inevitable
that our precious wildlife
suffers as a result.
The Scottish SPCA?s
National Wildlife Rescue
Centre goes a long way to
help rectify a little of the
damage man inflicts.
Casualties that are
brought in are dropped off
at a special reception area
before being taken to their
relevant department.
Many kind members of
the public also bring in
mountains of newspapers
? this is something that is
always required,
particularly where
hedgehogs are concerned
? as well as stacks of old
towels and other useful
items.
Some bring dog and cat
food as well as a range of
other animal feedstuffs. All
donations are gratefully
received, the cat and dog
food especially appreciated
by the hedgehogs.
This is not a facility that is
open to the public, for all
the animals and birds are
ill, injured or orphaned.
Returning them to full
fitness is the aim, and Colin
explains that nothing must
jeopardise that.
?We treat all our
casualties with the same
dedication, whether it is a
pigeon or a sea eagle.
Incidentally, we had a
young sea eagle from Mull
How you can
get involved
In 2016 alone the
SSPCA?s wildlife
hospital cared for over
9,300 wild animals,
including 6,119 birds
and 123 seals ? a huge
increase on the 3,917
animals the charity was
able to care for in its
last year at Middlebank,
its previous premises.
If you?d like to
support the SSPCA?s
work, donations can be
made by calling 03000
999 999 or sent to
Scottish SPCA, Kingseat
Road, Halbeath,
Dunfermline KY11 8RY.
Cheques should be
made payable to
?Scottish SPCA?.
A rehabilitated grey seal
ready to be released.
a couple of years ago.
?It had a broken leg and
wing and was treated by
our excellent vet, Romain
Pizzi, who works with many
exotic species.
?Eventually it was
successfully released back
to the same area and was
seen regularly over the next
four years.
?Previously we relied on a
number of other
organisations to help us
rehabilitate wildlife, but
we?ve now been able to
keep human interaction to
a minimum by being able
to care for the animals in
one place right up until
they are ready to be
released.
?It?s gratifying to see just
how much of a difference
we are now making.? n
Next week: Polly meets
Lorraine Gow, Head of
Birds at the centre.
believe it?
Would you
Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail
wouldyoubelieveit@dctmedia.co.uk or *write to
?The People?s Friend?, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
I?D LIKE TO KNOW
Q
70 million
A
With the average female
weighing around 3,000 lbs,
it?s amazing that hippopotami
don?t just sink to the bottom! These
water-loving animals can, in fact, hold
their breath for around five minutes and, according to
?National Geographic?, spend up to 16 hours per day in the water. Fittingly, a hippo is
also known as a water horse.
I visited the cinema with my daughter recently
to see ?Breathe?, starring Andrew Garfield and
Claire Foy. The movie was both moving and
inspirational, and the scenery stunning. Can you tell
me where it was filmed?
Mrs S.J., Ayr.
A
The movie was filmed in Hertfordshire, with the
stately home Hatfield House featuring. Directed by
Andy Serkis, the film is based on the true story of
producer Jonathan Cavendish?s own remarkable parents.
Claire Foy has filmed at Hatfield House before ? the
historic mansion was in the first series of ?The Crown?
in which the actress starred as Queen Elizabeth II. Other
productions to have been filmed here include ?Wonder
Woman?, ?Paddington? and ?The King?s Speech?.
Q
Can you settle
an argument,
please? My
husband and I
disagree on who
sculpted the
Thinker.
Mrs J.B., Great
Yarmouth.
A
French sculptor
Auguste Rodin
created the
Thinker, which was
originally called the
Poet.
iStock.
Something we didn?t
know last week...
Drones are definitely one of this year?s
?must-have? gadgets but, perhaps
surprisingly, not amongst the younger
generation! Research by DronesDirect.
co.uk found that the majority of drone
users are ?silver soarers? over the
age of fifty-five, while only 12% are
between the ages of twenty-five and
thirty-four. In addition, almost all drone
users (96%) are male, with many of
them using their drones to take aerial
photographs.
*Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies.
13 million
Brits will be heading
south this Christmas
when they head off on
a winter sun holiday.
I recall seeing a nature
programme showing hippos
swimming underwater, but how
long can they actually stay under
water for?
Mr K.B., Liverpool.
Q
TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71
is predicted to be the
UK?s population by 2029.
3 a.m.- 8 a.m.
? Winston Churchill?s
five-hour sleep routine
during World War II.
1,542
? how many
billionaires there are
in the world, sharing
a combined wealth of
�trillion!
4%
of children
believe
telling lies
can make
you put on weight!
64%
of British
parents
no longer
have time to read their
children a bedtime story.
CROCHET 73
easy
If you
intend giving the
toy to a young child
then please make sure
all components are sewn
on very firmly and
regularly check that
parts are fully
attached.
Giraffe
A Jolly
Who could resist her?
The perfect gift for all ages.
Important Note
When writing to us with your
queries, you must enclose a
stamped, addressed envelope
if you would like a reply.
TO MAKE
MATERIALS
1 150-gram ball of Bernat
Blanket Brights in Carrot
Orange (12002) M and 1 ball
in School Bus Yellow
(12003) C; few metres of DK
yarn for the eyes. 10 mm and
5 mm crochet hooks; largeeyed needle or bodkin for
sewing up; toy stuffing. If you
have difficulty obtaining the
yarn locally, you can order
directly from Wool Warehouse
tel: 0800 505 3300, website:
www.woolwarehouse.co.uk
TENSION
Tension is not critical for this
design but if you have a
particularly loose tension, use
an 8 mm hook.
ABBREVIATIONS
3 ch picot ? make 3 ch, insert
your hook in the third ch from
hook, yarn over hook, and
draw the yarn through the st
and through the loop on the
hook; beg ? beginning;
ch ? chain; dc ? double
crochet; dc2tog ? double
crochet 2 sts together ? insert
hook into next st, draw loop
through, insert hook into next
st, draw loop through (3 loops
on hook), yrh and draw yarn
through all loops on hook;
dc3tog ? double crochet 3
stitches together ? ?insert
hook into next st, draw loop
through, rep from ? twice
more (4 loops on hook), yrh
and draw yarn through all
loops on hook; htr ? half
treble; rep ? repeat;
sl st ? slip stitch;
st(s) ? stitch(es); tr ? treble.
Legs (make 4) ? With
10 mm hook and M, make an
adjustable slip knot and work
2 ch.
1st round (right side)
? Work 7 dc into slip knot, sl
st into first dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, 2 dc in
each dc to end, sl st to first dc
? 14 dc.
3rd - 4th rounds ? 1 ch,
1 dc in each dc to end, sl st to
first dc.
5th ? 7th rounds ? With C,
1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc.
8th ? 9th rounds ? With M,
1 ch, 1 dc in each dc to end,
sl st to first dc.
Note: You can work up to an
additional 6 rounds at this
point to extend the legs.
1st three legs ? Fasten off.
4th leg ? Do not fasten off
but continue to work body.
Mark stitch on hook.
10th round ? 1 ch, work
1 dc in next 8 dc on 4th foot,
?beg in the st after the
fastened off tail of the next
foot, work 10 dc, rep from ?
twice more until you have four
feet in a row. From the
marker, count back 2 sts, 1 dc
in each st back to the marker
? 40 dc.
Continue to move marker up
each row. Change to C and
continue to work 3-row stripes
keeping the join in the middle
of the back.
11th - 14th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc.
15th round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 35 dc.
16th round ? 1 ch, work
34 dc, make 12 ch, sl st into
2nd ch from hook, sl st in next
10 ch, 1 dc in last dc of round,
sl st to first dc.
17th round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 30 dc.
18th round ? 1 ch, dc to end
of round, sl st to first dc.
19th round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 25 dc.
20th round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 20 dc.
21st round ? 1 ch, ?2 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to
stitch-marker, sl st to first dc
? 15 dc.
Stuff the feet and body firmly.
22nd - 27th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc ? 15 dc.
28th round ? 1 ch, ?2 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 20 dc.
29th round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 25 dc.
30th round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 30 dc.
31st round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 35 dc.
32nd round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
2 dc in next st, rep from ? to
end of round, sl st to first dc
? 40 dc.
33rd - 38th rounds ? 1 ch,
dc to end of round, sl st to first
dc ? 40 dc.
39th round ? 1 ch, ?6 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 35 dc.
40th round ? 1 ch, ?5 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 30 dc.
41st round ? 1 ch, ?4 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 25 dc.
42nd round ? 1 ch, ?3 dc,
dc2tog, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
Stuff the neck and head firmly.
Horns ? Work from the
middle of the back of the
head in M:
43rd round ? 1 dc, dc2tog,
4 ch, 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in each of next 2
ch, 1 dc in next 2 sts, dc2tog,
1 dc in next 2 sts, dc2tog, 1
dc, 4 ch, 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in each of next
2 ch, 1 dc in next st, dc2tog,
2 dc, dc2tog, 1 dc ? 15 dc.
44th round ? ?1 dc, dc2tog,
rep from ? to end of round
? 10 dc.
45th round ? [Dc2tog]
5 times. Do not fasten off.
Mane ? With C, work 1 ch,
24 sl st straight down back of
head and neck towards tail.
Turn, 1 ch, 1 dc in each sl st
back to top of head. Fasten off
leaving a tail to sew up top of
head.
Nose ? With C, make 4 ch.
1st round ? 2 dc in 2nd ch
from hook, 1 dc in next ch, 4 dc
in next ch, turn nose and work
1 dc base of ch, 2 dc in base of
next ch, sl st to first dc? 10 dc.
2nd round ? 1 ch, ?1 dc, 2 dc
in next st, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 15 dc.
3rd round ? ?1 dc, 2 dc, 2 dc
in next st, rep from ? to end of
round, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
4th- 5th rounds ? 1 ch, work
in dc, sl st to first dc ? 20 dc.
Fasten off leaving a long length
of yarn for sewing nose to the
head.
Ears (2) ? With M, make 6 ch.
1st row ? 1 dc in 2nd ch from
hook, 1 dc in next 4 ch, turn.
2nd row ? 1 ch, 1dc in each
dc to end, turn ? 5 dc.
3rd row ? 1 ch, dc2tog, 1 dc,
dc2tog, turn ? 3 dc.
4th row ? 1 ch, work in dc,
turn ? 3 dc.
5th row ? Dc3tog. Fasten off.
With right side facing and C,
attach yarn to bottom right hand
corner and dc all round ear
working 2 dc at the point
dc3tog was worked, sl st to first
dc. Fasten off.
Right eye ? With 5 mm hook
and 2 strands of Black, make a
slip knot and work 2 ch. Work
12 dc into sl st, join with sl st to
1st dc, make 3 ch, 3 ch picot,
1 dc in next ch, 1 h tr in next
ch, 1 tr in next ch, miss 3 dc, sl
st in next dc. Fasten off.
Left eye ? With 5 mm hook
and 2 strands of Black, make a
slip knot and work 2 ch. Work
12 dc into slip knot, join with sl
st to 1st dc, sl st into 6 dc, 3 ch,
3 ch picot, 1 dc in next st, 1 htr
in next st, 1 tr into next st, miss
3 dc, sl st in next dc. Fasten off.
To Make Up ? Using the
photograph as a guide, attach
the nose to the head, adding a
little stuffing as you go. Attach
ears and eyes. Create 2 nostrils
by oversewing 2 angular stitches
and eyelashes by working a
couple of large stitches. n
Next week: a felt
decoration to make and
a party bolero to knit
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Some
Female
Company
SHORT STORY BY ALISON CARTER 79
It didn?t take
long for Annette
to realise she
wouldn?t fit in!
Illustration by Jim Dewar.
T
HIS is Mrs Annette
Ellison,? Mrs Ferrier,
the lady of the
house said.
Annette was
standing beside Mrs Ferrier
in the doorway of a large
and elegant drawing-room.
Mrs Ferrier smiled round
at the assembled company.
?I wonder, Marie,? she
began, ?if you might find a
place for Mrs Ellison on the
chaise beside you. I?ll have
more mint punch brought.?
A murmur of welcome
went round, but nobody
knew Annette socially, so
the murmur was muted.
Annette made her way to
the chaise and looked down
at two overly large skirts
worn by two overly large
ladies. There appeared to
be little room on the chaise,
taken up as it was by silks.
Annette guessed both
occupants wore their
dresses � la polonaise, with
large quantities of fabric
swagged up behind and
held by loops and bows.
Annette had noted the
fashion at the time it was
popular, and had ignored
it, feeling it took up too
much furniture per female.
?Do you know,? Annette
said, ?I believe I will stand
and look out of this window
at the sea, Mrs Ferrier.?
?That?s a striking gown,
Mrs Ellison, with your
colouring,? the other lady
on the chaise said.
Annette smiled.
?Redheads wearing lilac,?
she said. ?A practice that is
against the law in nine
colonies.?
The room fell silent.
?I don?t mean it,? Annette
said. ?I barely know the
laws of Carolina, let alone
the other colonies!?
Mrs Ferrier giggled.
?Isn?t it charming to have
a new person at our
gatherings?? she said.
Annette was not sure that
Mrs Ferrier?s friends were
warming to her.
It was 1785, and South
Carolina had settled down
again after the traumas of
the War of Independence.
The ladies of the better
families had been able to
resume lives of visiting and
fashion, and were very
relieved about that indeed.
Annette was a newcomer
to their circles. She had
married Ellis Ellison at the
height of the war, after he
came to her father?s house
in Georgia to talk about
domestic defence, and they
fell in love in five minutes.
The wedding had been
swift, which suited Annette,
who was a practical person.
As battles and skirmishes
flared across the region,
soir閑s and parties were the
last thing on Annette?s mind.
After the war, she had
waved away her husband?s
suggestions that she enjoy
herself more. He had heard
of Mrs Ferrier?s salons, and
encouraged her to attend.
?You?ve spent little time
in feminine company,? he
said. ?I don?t think you?ve
bought a gown since we
married, if I recall rightly.?
Annette laughed.
?I have two gowns and
they both fit. One is always
on my back, and the other
with Mabelline for cleaning.?
But he had sent to
Charlestown anyway, and a
gown had arrived ? the one
she wore now. It had almost
stood up on its own when
she?d drawn it from its crate
and it itched about the
waist.
But Ellis had said she
looked beautiful, so she?d
worn it for this outing.
The ladies? talk was about
the marriages of daughters
and nieces, or upcoming
confinements, their difficult
children or the financial
success of their husbands.
The war was also a topic.
Anecdotes were shared
which, Annette guessed, had
been told repeatedly and
embroidered in the telling.
Listening to the ladies,
one might have understood
that all the British forces
had been repulsed by the
efforts of a small band of
Set
in
1785
South Carolinian gentlemen
? each of them related to a
woman in that room ?
armed with nothing more
than a sword and his
extraordinary valour.
?We didn?t think Alan?s
ankle would ever heal,? a
thin woman remarked. ?He
faced a battalion, I declare,
and all while he was merely
supposed to be out back
supervising the timber!?
There was a great deal of
nodding and tutting.
?Mrs Ellison,? Marie said.
?Where is your house??
?A few miles up along the
river,? Annette replied.
?You didn?t walk here,
surely?? Mrs Ferrier asked.
?No, Ellis drove me, and
will come for me at five.?
?Did you get much
trouble from the British??
the thin lady asked.
Marie stood up and came
a little closer.
?We never saw you at our
Homespun meetings,? she
said. ?I believe all women
of our class attended.?
?Yet I didn?t,? Annette
said in a mild voice.
She was beginning to feel
a chill in the room; a
challenge from these
Southern belles. They were
questioning her credentials.
?Perhaps you had
children to attend to??
Marie asked. ?Many
children??
80
?No children,? Annette
said.
?Well, it must be that you
were unaware of our efforts
through those terrible
months.?
?Now, Marie, you are
sharp with our new friend,?
a woman sitting nearby
said. ?Don?t frown at Mrs
Ellison for staying at home
and taking her ease. Who
has a right to judge??
Annette knew about the
Homespun Movement.
Patriotic women had turned
their hands to much sewing
? and even spinning and
weaving ? to keep families
clothed and to avoid using
imported British goods.
?This very room saw a
hundred blankets stitched
for the Continental Army,?
Mrs Ferrier declared. She
had a hand laid on her
heart all of a sudden. ?My
goodness, fingers got
perforated!?
?The revolutionary cause!?
two ladies said in unison.
They turned to each other
with what Annette could
see were damp eyes.
Several of the ladies had
their eyes fixed on Annette.
?No doubt you found
ways of assisting the war
effort,? somebody else said.
?Every loyal woman of
the thirteen colonies did,?
Marie said.
Annette was beginning to
regret coming. The clock on
the mantelpiece chimed the
quarter, meaning there was
forty-five minutes before
Ellis would come by again.
She wondered what he
was doing that afternoon.
Whatever it was, she?d like
to be doing it.
The bow at the front of
her gown was making an
odd noise as she moved,
and she had begun to feel
like a doll, wearing it.
She was surprised that
Mrs Ferrier had asked her
to the salon, and suspected
undue influence exerted by
Ellis.
The invitation had come
at a church service in
Mount Pleasant, where Mrs
Ferrier had been hugely
polite, but had definitely
looked her up and down.
?So, did you have trouble
up there on the river?? Mrs
Ferrier asked.
?Trouble?? Annette asked.
?Marauding bands of
British,? Marie said with
impatience, as though every
sane person knew what
trouble meant, and every
lady had been chased up a
tree by a grenadier.
?Oh, some of that,?
Annette said. ?The punch is
delicious, Mrs Ferrier.?
?The trouble was knowing
when the brutes were to
come,? the thin lady said.
?All those sallies, and not a
moment?s warning, and the
servants useless.?
?I would sometimes go
out myself, just to see what
was afoot,? Annette said.
Mrs Ferrier?s eyebrows
rose.
?Indeed?? She giggled.
?Almost like a scout??
?Just like that.?
?Well, I am glad you
suffered nothing untoward,?
one of the ladies said. ?Our
housemaid nearly died of
fright when she saw a whole
dragoon in the distance.?
Annette didn?t recall
saying she hadn?t suffered,
but she said nothing.
?You walked about your
own land, scouting?? Mrs
Ferrier went on. ?Alone??
?I rode about.?
?Rather for pleasure, then
? side-saddle, yes??
?No. I prefer speed. I
know the trails well.?
The room was quiet
again, but only briefly.
?I declare that if servants
had been more useful on
our estates, we?d have
forced the British home far
earlier,? another lady, stout
in green satin, said.
There was general
agreement.
?I have two excellent
servants,? Annette said. ?I
seem to be lucky there.?
?We don?t mean servants
good at domestic tasks,?
Marie said patronisingly.
?We mean in a crisis, Mrs
Ellison.?
?So do I,? Annette said.
?Mabelline and Georgette
were of great assistance
when men broke into our
house.
?Georgette brought them
tea with every efficiency,
and then brandy when the
gentlemen grew less polite.
?Mabelline helped me to
pass their weapons back to
some men who had arrived
and were waiting below the
kitchen window.?
Annette took a slow sip of
her punch.
?To explain: I had sight of
the coming of the enemy,
and had sent word with the
houseboy to our soldiers.
The British were very poorly
behaved, and inside another
person?s house, too!
?When they threatened
my Georgette with injury, I
felt that I needed to take
their weapons out of harm?s
way, as I?m sure you can
appreciate.?
The clang of somebody?s
punch cup hitting the floor
broke the silence.
?Mabelline and I have
known each other since
babyhood.? Annette smiled
around the room. ?You
know when two females
understand each other, and
can pass wordless
messages?
?Well, after the soldiers
had drunk enough brandy,
we began simply to take
their weapons, one at a
time, and deliver them back
through the house.
?The comings and goings
of three women obeying the
constant demands of men
may hide a great deal, you
know.
?This continued until we
had handed everything to a
Captain Marshall of the
sixth Caroline, an amusing
gentleman my husband
plays cards with to this day.
?I retained a rifle for
personal use. Ellis, you see,
had taken our modest store
of weapons off on his own
mission.?
Annette laughed.
?He was apologetic that
evening! But you know how
it?s best to be generous
towards a husband, so I
said I didn?t mind, and that
Mabelline, Georgette and I
had managed very well.?
Mrs Ferrier?s mouth stood
open, and Annette swatted
away a fly that was circling
with a view to flying inside.
?Later, when the British
had been taken away by
our troops, Mabelline was
sassy enough to laugh at
the way I?d spoken to them.
?I find that on some
occasions one cannot bring
oneself to scold a servant,
either. ?Ma?am,? Mabelline
said. ?What did you say to
the soldier with all the gold
braid??
?I had to admit it: I had
stood there and told their
leader I?d shoot the next
man who moved across my
sitting-room, until I gave
him leave to depart.?
Annette heard the rustle
of a skirt. The lady who was
not Marie was whispering.
?Did you . . . did you
shoot a man??
Annette laughed.
?Good heavens, no! I?ve
never killed anybody. I
have barely even disabled
anybody with a bullet in the
foot.?
They were all staring now.
?I admire that upholstery
immensely, Mrs Ferrier,?
Annette said, pointing to a
screen. ?You must tell me
where you got the chintz.?
She heard the noise of a
buggy outside, Ellis?s pair
of horses by the sound of
them. Had he sensed that
she?d want fetching early?
?Ladies, I must leave
you,? Annette said. ?Thank
you for allowing me into
your circle. It has been
interesting to be among a
feminine set again. I will
show myself out.?
* * * *
Ellis was trying to get the
horses to calm down as she
climbed up beside him. She
kissed his cheek.
?Where have you been??
she asked.
?Rabbiting. I decided to
whisk you away early. I
missed you.?
?So there are more
rabbits to be had??
?There always are, my
darling.?
?Will you drive via the
house ? to the woods north
? so I can change my
clothes? Will you be angry if
I reject this gown for today??
He considered for a
moment.
?I know it?s feminine,?
Annette went on, ?and
elegant, but it makes me
hold myself a little like a
broom handle.?
?It does clash with the
trees ? I see that now,? he
said. ?How was the female
company??
?It was female in its own
special way,? she said.
Ellis grinned, put the reins
into one hand and put the
other arm around her waist.
?And you are female in
your own special way, my
scout and my fighter. Your
way will do for me.?n
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