TV presenter Mary-Ann Ochota uncovers Britain’s hidden history 7 short stories Take just five ingredients! £1.30 SPAM® Hawiian-style Pizza The best fiction • Katie Ashmore’s 1920s murder mystery • A whimsical tale of redemption by Ellie Edwards 9770262238299 AU $4.50, NZ $4.50 04 £1.30 27-Jan- 2018 UK Off-sale date - 31-Jan-2018 Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated. Jan 27, 2018 No. 7711 Bake a delicious Chocolate Marmalade Cake Aviemore Roast Pork Dinner Away to Enjoy a day out in the Scottish Highlands Tributes to Robert Burns around the world Free Pattern Inside Knit this fitted waistcoat in a tweed effect yarn this week Inside The People’s Friend If you like the “Friend” then you’ll love... The People’s Friend Special No 152, priced £2.99 On sale now! l 8 pages of puzzles l 14 brand-new short stories The People’s Friend Pocket Novel No 853, priced £3.49 l An exciting modern story set in the Welsh hills Available in newsagents & supermarkets Cover Artwork: Aviemore, Highlands, by J. Campbell Kerr. Fiction 4 Daisy Turns Detective by Katie Ashmore 15 Snow Days by Brenda Storey 21 Blackcurrant Jelly by Simon Whaley 23 SERIES Tales From Prospect House by Malcolm Welshman 28 SERIAL The Wooden Heart by Mark Neilson 41 The Best-laid Schemes by Joyce Begg 47 Let It Be by Marianne Harman 53 The Miracle Man by Ellie Edwards 56 SERIAL Return To Langrannoch by Joyce Begg 79 Out Of Balance by Paula Williams 85 WEEKLY SOAP Riverside by Glenda Young Regulars Features 7 This Week We’re Loving 13 Maddie’s World 18 Health & Wellbeing 25 Brainteasers 26 Reader Offer: Unique Hydrangea 33 The Farmer & His Wife 36 Cookery: scrumptious dishes using just five ingredients 51 Our Next Issue 61 From The Manse Window 71 Would You Believe It? 73 Knitting: look stylish in a touch of tweed with our beautiful knitted waistcoat 76 Reader Offer: Travel Insurance 86 Between Friends 8 Morag Fleming discovers there’s so much more to Aviemore than just skiing 27 Alexandra Pratt finds out about the pioneering Victorian Order of Nurses 35 Polly Pullar takes a lighthearted look at rural life 44 Mary-Ann Ochota points out signs of “hidden” history while out and about 65 Revive those 45s with advice on choosing a turntable 67 Serve up a slice of deliciousness with a marvellous chocolate marmalade cake 68 From the Birks of Aberfeldy to New York, we celebrate Burns in bronze 75 Looking for new crafting ideas? Take a look at what’s on offer 77 Enjoy our fun facts about TV in the week of its anniversary 83 Extra puzzle fun SUBSCRIPTION OFFER – SAVE £25 13 issues for *£6 when you subscribe – Call 0800 318846**, quote PFCOV Subscribe and save £25! *Payment by Direct Debit only. Saving based on first quarterly payment of £6 and standard rate of £12 every 3 months thereafter. UK bank accounts only. One year minimum term. For overseas enquiries, please call +44 1382 575580. **(8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.) Free from UK landlines and mobiles. www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk www.facebook.com/PeoplesFriendMagazine Every year, on January 25, Scots the world over celebrate the legacy of poet Robert Burns. It’s over 220 years since he died, but his influence remains as strong as ever, as our article about Burns monuments around the world on page 68 shows. And the Bard continues to inspire other writers, too – look no further than Joyce Begg’s wonderful short story “The Bestlaid Schemes” on page 41 for proof of that! I hope you enjoy this tale of a Burns Supper with a difference as much as I did. It’s just one of an outstanding selection of stories for you this week. Other highlights include Katie Ashmore’s lively murder mystery set on a cruise ship, which conjures up an evocative sense of the 1920s and features a feisty young heroine named Daisy and a simply gorgeous illustration by Mandy Dixon. “Daisy Turns Detective” is on page 4, and there’s more magic afoot in the whimsical “The Miracle Man” on page 53, which is by Ellie Edwards. Happy reading! Angela Gilchrist, Editor. twitter.com/@TheFriendMag Daisy Turns Detective Illustration by Mandy Dixon. D AISY squealed and dropped her copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald on to the library floor. “Whatever’s the matter?” The dashing head of Mr Andrew Turnpike appeared from behind a bookcase. Daisy stood to one side, swaying slightly. She was feeling sick for the first time since she’d boarded the Emperor Of The Seas, and it wasn’t due to the swell of the waters. Andrew rounded the corner and turned a little green himself. “Gosh!” he exclaimed. “This is a rum do.” There, on the floor of the liner’s mahogany library, lay a body. It was as cold as the ocean and paler than a cockle shell. “Who is she?” Daisy whispered, moving closer to Andrew. The woman wore a long evening gown, its silver sheen catching the rays of the morning sun. A fur clung round her shoulders, half-obscuring an ugly chest wound, and a lock of hair lay across one waxen cheek. Andrew rubbed his chin. “Seems familiar. I suppose she’s a passenger. I’ve not been introduced to everyone. In fact,” he went on, turning bashfully to Daisy, “we haven’t been introduced, though I was hoping we would be.” “Daisy Fossington,” she said, extending her hand. “Andrew Turnpike.” He made a bow, squeezed her fingertips and turned red. Daisy smiled at him. “I suppose we should tell the captain,” she remarked. “Yes, of course.” Andrew pulled himself together. “I’ll see to it, but first let me escort you to your friends.” Daisy’s “friends” consisted of one formidable aunt, Mrs Honoria Grimsby. This lady was pacing the cabin, her face puce, her chins wobbling. “I don’t like it,” she declared. “Mixed up in a murder. Outrageous! And who’s this boy you’ve picked up with?” Set in the 1920s The discovery of a body had left the whole cruise ship baffled . . . “His name’s Andrew Turnpike, Aunt, and he seems very nice.” “Nice, indeed. What’s that to do with it? Who are his family? His connections?” “I believe he’s from Wiltshire.” “Wiltshire.” Aunt Honoria stopped pacing and her expression changed. “The Turnpikes from Wiltshire? I see. Well, we’re expected at the captain’s table. Come along, Daisy.” Daisy raised an eyebrow but did as she was bid, and soon they were seated with Captain Heydon and Mr Turnpike, awaiting luncheon. The captain was a tall man, weathered and greying, but immaculately dressed. SHORT STORY BY KATIE ASHMORE 5 “I hope you’re feeling better, Miss Fossington?” he enquired gruffly. “I’m perfectly well, thank you.” Daisy’s eyes twinkled. She had been momentarily distressed, but it would take more than a corpse to upset her. “Good. Well, at least Mr Turnpike was present to assist you.” “It was jolly shocking,” Andrew declared. “I say, have you discovered who the lady was?” The captain shook his head and stroked his walrus moustache. “No, but we’re checking the passenger lists. Meanwhile, you must keep this matter quiet. I will not tolerate panic on my ship.” “Quite right, Captain,” Aunt Honoria said approvingly. “We are not tittle-tattlers.” “I wonder why no-one’s reported the lady missing?” Daisy mused. “Perhaps she was travelling alone, as I am,” Andrew suggested. “Nonsense, my lad. Unusual even for a fellow such as yourself to be travelling alone.” Andrew’s colour deepened. “Father thought it would be educational – good for my health. It was rather a last-minute decision.” The captain patted his shoulder. “Yes, yes. See the world. Learn all you can.” As Andrew shifted uncomfortably in his seat, Daisy wondered why he’d really come, but her attention was claimed by Captain Heydon. “I’m sorry to pain you, Miss Fossington, but I have to ask if you noticed anything else this morning.” She thought for a moment, absently twisting a curl of blonde hair. “The woman’s nails were unfashionably short,” she said, “and her dress was too long – though I don’t suppose that matters.” The captain coughed and cleared his throat. He obviously thought the woman’s fashion sense was of no importance. At that moment, luncheon was served and the conversation returned to mundane matters. While Aunt Honoria confirmed that Andrew was a relative of Lord Turnpike and set about interrogating the captain, Daisy looked around the dining salon. The room was filled with the buzz of conversation. Ladies with bobbed hair, drop-waisted dresses and Mary Jane heels were flanked by moustached and suited gentlemen. It was hard to believe, in this luxurious atmosphere, that anything as horrid as a murder could have taken place. “I say, I hope you really are all right.” Daisy smiled at Andrew. “Perfectly, thank you.” “Terrible business, but super that we bumped into each other.” He reddened. “I mean, it’s dull travelling alone and all that.” Daisy nodded. “Auntie and I only know the Babinglys. It’s very tedious.” “Who are the Babinglys?” She pointed to a nearby table which held a family of four – a large, red-faced gentleman, his tiny wife and two elegant daughters. “That’s Walter Babingly and his wife, Clara. Their elder daughter, Violet, is talking to the steward, and there’s Maud, who is only sixteen. Violet seems fairly sensible but Maud’s rather silly. I’ll introduce you.” * * * * The Garden Lounge was quiet. Daisy found a seat beside some ferns and a potted palm. She settled down to wait for Andrew, who had invited her for afternoon tea. She’d left Aunt Honoria on deck, wrapped in a mink coat and cloche hat – the sunshine had tempted many passengers outside today. Hearing voices, she looked up and saw the Babingly sisters. They were arguing and Daisy hoped they wouldn’t notice her. Luckily, they were absorbed in their own conversation and walked past. “For goodness’ sake, Maud. You can’t borrow my dress. How many times do I have to tell you?” “It’s not fair. Your clothes are more elegant than mine.” “That’s because you’re still a child.” Daisy smiled as they disappeared and decided to order tea. Just then Andrew arrived. “Have they gone?” He’d been introduced to the sisters earlier and, to his horror, Maud seemed to have taken a shine to him. “Yes, the coast’s clear.” He heaved a sigh of relief and sat down beside Daisy, looking dapper in plus fours. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. Daisy laughed. “She’s an awful snob. Now she knows your pedigree, she’ll be a pussycat.” He didn’t look convinced. “She’s a dreadful old hypocrite, too,” Daisy went on. “She married beneath her and the family disowned her. “Then Uncle struck oil. Now she’s a widow and rich, they’ve welcomed her back with open arms.” Andrew shook his head. “Families, eh?” They lapsed into companionable silence, but Daisy was jolted from her “I think the body was moved. There was no blood in the library” “Been playing racquet ball with Bertie – decent chap from the next cabin.” A steward interrupted them, bringing a feast of petits fours, and poured their tea. When he’d gone, Andrew spoke again, his eyes shining. “I’ve had a thought – about the murder.” “Tell me, Andrew.” “I think the body was moved. I mean, there was no blood in the library, was there?” “Then the murder took place somewhere else?” “That’s it. No sign of a struggle, either.” “I think you’re right.” Daisy’s cheeks glowed. “The woman had no bag or gloves. I thought that was odd at the time.” They felt rather proud of themselves for working this out and tucked into their tea with gusto. Daisy soon discovered that Andrew was the eldest of seven children and, although he complained about his siblings, she decided he was rather fond of them and missing home. “I’m an only child,” she told him. “My parents are darlings, but Mummy doesn’t like society – it makes life dreadfully dull. I’m thrilled to be here with Auntie.” Andrew blanched at the mention of Aunt Honoria. “She’s rather formidable, isn’t she? Don’t think I made a good impression.” reverie by a particularly discordant note from the pianist. “Goodness. This man’s playing is simply dreadful.” Andrew nodded absently. “He’s not the usual chap. Normally, a woman plays. She’s quite –” He broke off suddenly, trembling with excitement. “That’s her!” “Who’s it?” “The woman. The pianist. I knew I’d seen her before. She’s the murder victim!” They stared at each other, wide-eyed. “I believe you’re right!” Daisy gasped. “That would explain why she kept her nails so short.” “Hello, you two. What are you talking about?” Daisy looked up to see Violet Babingly smiling, looking the height of daring in her flapper dress. Maud was behind her, gazing at Andrew. “Nothing much,” she said. “Andrew’s been telling me about racquet ball.” “Have I? Oh, yes, great fun. Do you play?” They ordered more tea and cake and were soon discussing the ship’s facilities. Violet had braved the gymnasium and Daisy loved the swimming-pool. Maud didn’t say much but sat giggling and glancing at Andrew, though she was eager to point out the merits of the chocolate shop. “I wonder they don’t have more shops on board,” Violet commented. 6 “Yes,” Maud piped up. “Violet’s so careless, you never know what she’ll need to replace.” “Don’t be silly, Maud.” Maud subsided, but a moment later, when Violet was talking to Andrew, she turned to Daisy. “It’s true, you know. She’s even lost a dress. I wanted to borrow it, but it wasn’t there. Daddy will go mad. It cost a fortune – a silver Lanvin creation, no less.” “Really?” Violet exclaimed suddenly. “How clumsy!” The steward, who had brought over more tea, had spilled some on Violet. “My apologies, madam.” He was about to dab the stain with his cloth, when Violet leaped to her feet. She blushed fierily and averted her eyes. “No, no,” she said. “I’ll see to it. You’ll only make it worse. Come along, Maud.” As soon as they were out of earshot, Daisy grabbed Andrew’s arm. “Did you hear that?” she cried. “Violet’s lost a silver Lanvin dress!” He looked bemused. “A bit careless, but . . .” Daisy shook her head. “The pianist was wearing a silver dress. I’m sure it was Lanvin and it was too long for her. What if it’s Violet’s? What if she was the target?” * * * * The next afternoon, Daisy found herself on deck with Andrew and Maud. Mrs Babingly and Aunt Honoria were tending Violet who, after the events of the morning, had taken to her bed. The captain had confirmed that the murdered woman was Olive Parks, the pianist, and that morning Violet had been taken to see the body. “Such a shock for her,” Maud said, “but terribly thrilling. She was the intended victim! It was definitely her dress.” Daisy shook her head. “She must be terrified.” “What I don’t understand is what Olive Parks was doing with Violet’s dress in the first place,” Andrew cut in. “Jolly poor show.” “Haven’t you heard?” Maud gazed at Andrew. “Olive Parks was a thief. I heard the captain telling Daddy. They searched her cabin and found jewels and all sorts.” “That still doesn’t explain why anyone would want to kill Violet.” “Exactly,” Andrew agreed, smiling at Daisy. Maud pouted. “Something to do with Daddy, I think. Threats over some land dispute or other.” She waved her hand. “I could be at risk, too.” She drew her chair closer to Andrew. “I’m terribly frightened. Perhaps you could escort me to the ball this evening?” Andrew spluttered and turned scarlet. “I’ll do no such thing. Your father can protect you. I . . .” Maud burst into tears and fled from the deck. “I say, that’s a bit much.” “It’s just a crush,” Daisy reassured him, smothering a laugh. “She’ll get over it.” Andrew still seemed worried. “Girls get the wrong end of the stick so easily,” he confided. “I haven’t been forward, have I?” This time Daisy couldn’t contain her laughter. “Of course not, Andrew. In fact you’ve done your best to avoid her.” He nodded distractedly. “I’ve been in a spot of bother before, you see.” “Andrew, is that why you’re on this cruise?” “Yes,” he admitted. “Father thought it a good idea if I went away. It was Rose, the vicar’s daughter. Been close since we were children, but she thought I intended marriage. All rather awkward.” Daisy took his hand. “Enough of that. I think we should see Violet.” When they entered the cabin, Violet seemed fairly calm. She was sitting, wrapped in a silk dressinggown, drinking tea. “We’re terribly sorry,” Daisy said, pressing her hand. “So horrid for you.” “It is rather. Seeing that woman.” She shuddered. “Wondering whether one will be next.” “Steady on.” Andrew looked shocked. “No need to talk like that. They’ll catch the blighter soon.” “Is there anything we can do?” Daisy asked. “Thank you, but I don’t think so.” “We could try to catch the fellow,” Andrew interjected. “After all, we’ve already solved half the clues.” “What clues?” Violet looked terrified. “The woman’s identity, that sort of thing. It was Daisy who worked out she was wearing your dress. Oh, and I nearly forgot,” he added cheerfully. “We think the body was moved.” Violet dropped her handkerchief, her hands shaking. “Let me.” Andrew knelt to rescue it, but didn’t get up. “What’s the matter? Andrew, are you all right?” There was a pause. “I think you’d better take a look at this.” Daisy got down beside him and her eyes widened. There, beneath the bed, was a large bloodstain. “What is it?” Violet jumped to her feet, just as Aunt Honoria and Clara Babingly burst into the cabin. “It’s all right, Violet. You’re safe after all.” Mrs Babingly gasped for breath. “It was a crime of passion. Olive had been in a relationship with a steward named Stokes. “They searched his quarters and found a blood-stained glove. He’s under arrest.” There was silence, then a crash. Violet had fainted clean away. * * * * “You know, there’s still something troubling me.” “What’s that?” Andrew asked, looking concerned. “They’ve caught the bounder and Violet is safe.” Daisy and Andrew were dancing in the liner’s Grand Salon. “It doesn’t make sense.” She frowned. “Why did the steward kill Olive? Their relationship was over.” Andrew raised an eyebrow and Daisy blushed. “I questioned the maid. They were quite cordial, apparently. And why do it in Violet’s room?” “Must have followed her there. Caught her stealing. “I’ll tell you what is odd.” “What?” Daisy looked up questioningly into Andrew’s handsome face. “That steward, Stokes, has been cropping up all over the place.” “He has?” “Yes, he’s the fellow who was talking to Violet when you first pointed her out. He spilt tea on her, too.” “Then it was him I saw leaving her cabin that day, taking her dress to clean. He had another one with him – the blue one she was wearing the night of . . .” Daisy stopped, dismayed. “What is it?” She didn’t reply but led him from the dance floor. When they entered the cabin, Violet looked up, her eyes startled. Daisy sat down beside her and took her hand. “Will you let him take the blame?” she asked quietly. “I don’t know what you mean.” Violet pulled away. “You killed her and Stokes moved the body.” There was silence, then Violet began to sob. “He did it for me,” she whispered. “Only for me.” “But why?” “We’re in love,” she said simply. “Olive found out. She was blackmailing me. A Babingly with a steward – what a scandal! It was the only way.” Much later, when land had been sighted, Daisy and Andrew stood on deck watching the lush shoreline drawing near. “What a trip,” Andrew said, “and we’re only just reaching our first port.” Daisy sighed. “The last for Violet. It’s terribly sad.” Andrew looked down into her eyes and smiled. “I would like the job of cheering you up,” he said. Daisy smiled. “Are you sure? Because if you show me too much attention, I might get the wrong end of the stick.” Andrew coloured deeply. “I don’t think you could,” he said. “You’re the most splendid girl I’ve met and I’m going to spend as much time with you as possible.” “I’d like that.” Daisy grinned and linked her arm through his as the ship sailed safely into port. n loving Bright Spark One hundred years after Muriel Spark’s birth, 2018 will see events celebrating her work – including an event combining archive material and personal items at the National Library of Scotland. Free entry. Rex Features.. Alamy. This week we’re BITS & PIECES 7 Taking Cover A wee vole was caught on camera in Russia, sheltering from the rain under this mushroom. It stayed there for a full 15 minutes, before a bird frightened it off! Word Play Gone Girl Rosamund Pike was spotted by an agent while at school. Her career took off with her role in the James Bond film “Die Another Day” and her appearance in “Gone Girl”. She turns thirty-nine this Saturday. “Classic”, the new cookbook from Mary Berry, features a selection of traditional and modern British recipes from her new BBC series. They’re all written with minimum fuss in mind – simple to make and even easier to enjoy! Lightbulb Moment The Beam Smart lamp projector is the size of a large bulb and screws into light fittings or lamp sockets. When in place, it can connect to your phone or the internet and show TV and photos on any surface – and it can also be just a light! On Amazon.co.uk for £349.99. Alamy. Lexicon-Go! is a new word game from Winning Moves. It’s the perfect travel game for up to four players, and is out now, RRP £9.99, and available from www.winningmoves.co.uk. Instant Classic Serious Viewing Flying the “Star Wars” spaceships might look fun, but you wouldn’t want to foot the bill. Insurance provider www.insurethegap.com has calculated the annual cost of insuring the Millennium Falcon at £414,533. Ouch! Alamy. Astronomical Cost Alamy. Caring For Cats Details correct at time of going to press. In the largest single act of environmental philanthropy in history, Chinese billionaire Madame He Qiaonv is donating over $1.5 billion to conservation projects on wildcats. Plans are already afoot to create two huge reserves to protect rare snow leopards. Telling the story of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe’s famous match in the Wimbledon Championships of 1980, this film gives new insight into two of tennis’s biggest characters. Out now on DVD, RRP £9.99. Away To Aviemore Photographs by Morag Fleming, unless otherwise stated. A This week’s cover feature This popular spot in the Highlands isn’t just for skiers and snowboarders. Morag Fleming finds out more. VIEMORE is one of the most popular destinations in Scotland, especially in winter, but in a way it is the least important element of a visit here, as it is the surrounding area which really is the draw. Visitors use the town as a base and it does very well in that regard. Every third establishment in the town is either accommodation, an outdoors shop or a café and they are all extremely busy, especially in ski season. So much competition makes the standard very high. Haughtily overlooking the whole thing is the relatively new “resort” which comprises hotels, cabins, activities, restaurants, leisure centre, cinema and a wee shopping mall. I base myself at the wonderful Rowan Tree Country Hotel, just outside the town, and my first excursion takes me to the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig. This began in 1972 as a private enterprise with the modest remit of conserving Scottish wildlife, past and present, and pine martens, wild cats, wolves and lynx can all still be seen here. In time, more exotic wildlife has been introduced, such as tigers, polar bears and snow leopards. The idea is that these are animals that are native to high altitudes, so, for example, the tigers are Siberian. While we are on the subject, if you do nothing else when you visit the park, see the feeding of the tigers. They hang the food up and hide it so the tigers have to stretch and climb for it. The sight of these incredible animals straining every muscle and wrapping their immense jaws round a lump of meat reminds us how wild they are and how impressive. Feeding time is a great chance to see the snow leopards up close, as well, as they can be a little elusive. Each feeding is Who’s watching whom? A macaque at the Wildlife Park. accompanied by a talk by the keepers so it is worth keeping an eye on the schedule. My next stop is Loch Insh. This is a beautiful loch, surrounded by sometimes THIS WEEK’S COVER FEATURE 9 Strathspey Steam Railway. The ski centre in full swing. snow-capped hills and rippled by sometimes not-so-gentle winds. There are outdoor activities to be had here, mainly on the water, but one day when I go past I see children flying down an artificial ski slope, clearly oblivious to the feet of snow at Cairngorm just a few miles up the road! There’s a restaurant here, too, and some lovelylooking cabins right at the water’s edge with stunning views. On the way back to Aviemore is Loch an Eilein. A walk round the loch is an easy one, an undulating three miles or so, and it’s very pretty. There is a ruined castle on an island in the middle of the loch. The island gives the loch its name, and if you clap your hands on the reindeer centre which runs trips up into the hills to see “‘wild” reindeer as well as having a few in paddocks in the centre as well. Feeding the reindeer on the hill is an experience not to forget and is understandably popular with children around Christmas! For the grownups, Glenmore Lodge is just up the hill and specialises in walking and climbing courses. The road gets quite steep in places as it heads up Cairngorm and I pass a couple of secondary car parks, which are eerily empty in summer months and utterly hoaching when it is snowy! In fact, in winter the Hill – as all the locals call Cairngorm – is totally transformed into a brilliantly white city full of people in estate cars, SUVs or camper vans, and those on foot will usually be wearing skis. The road last winter was so covered in snow that when it was cleared it left a sheer white cliff face of snow 20 feet high! The Cairngorm plateau stands at 3,000 feet and is home to wildlife you rarely find anywhere else, such as the mountain hare and the ptarmigan. But this world used to be inaccessible for a lot of us, leaving only the experienced walkers, climbers and Munro-baggers to sample the views. This all changed, of course, when they built the funicular railway. There was a furore over the funicular at the time, but it has opened things out considerably. There are guided walks from the top, and skiing, of Bactrian camels are used to the cold steppe of Central Asia. iStock. The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd is at home in the wintry hills. shore, it will echo superbly. There is a pottery here, too, and an art gallery, so this is a day out in itself. I drive through the woods the few miles to the looming Cairngorm ridge, and it is certainly impressive. On the way I pass the beautiful campsite at Rothiemurchus which is set amongst the pines and is wonderfully peaceful, with walking and cycling paths spreading out on all sides. There is a farm shop, café and restaurant at Rothiemurchus as well, so it is a good base. Further on is Loch Morlich, at the foot of the mountains. Here there is a watersports centre, a beach, lots of picnic areas and parking for walks, and another camp site which is right on the water’s edge. Across the road is the It’s also an area of secluded lochans and woodland walks. Factfile n Within the Cairngorms National Park, 25% of Britain’s threatened native species make their home, including black grouse and pine marten. They benefit from the protection of the park, which was Scotland’s second, established only recently in 2002. LOCAL WILDLIFE 400 million years ago these hills were higher than the Alps. CAPERCAILLIE: This large grouse eats only pine needles, so while it is a rare bird, places like Abernethy Forest are home to a few of them. It certainly pays to keep your eyes and ears open. OSPREY: These fisheating birds of prey winter in Africa, but in the summer months ospreys nest at Loch Garten. If you are not lucky enough for a live sighting, you can view them from the visitor centre which has a camera trained on the nest. n While walking on Ben Macdhui, Britain’s second highest mountain just south of the town, Professor Norman Collie though he heard something with long strides following him – one of a few claimed encounters with the yeti-like “grey man” of the mountain. RED SQUIRRELS: The Aviemore area is a stronghold for reds, who are doing better than greys – so much so that they’re exported to other parts of Scotland to fortify local populations. It also helps that pine martens prefer to hunt greys. n At the top of the funicular, above 3500 feet, the Ptarmigan is the UK’s highest restaurant. course, but this access has been carefully managed so it is not possible just to get off the train and head out into the wilderness yourself. If you want to access the plateau on your own terms you need to climb up there the old-fashioned (aka hard) way. But as well as the skiing and the walking, this has allowed people like me just to get up there and take photographs or drink in the views, which many don’t get to experience. There’s a shop and a café, yes, but that’s actually quite The Highland Wildlife Park is worth a visit in any weather. Want to know more? nice, and it’s great for the tourism industry in the area all year round. My next destinations are Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge, a few miles from Aviemore. Before I reach either of these, though, I find myself in Abernethy Forest, a remnant of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest and a great place for a walk down to Loch Garten. I wander the banks of the loch for a bit, then the path veers away from the water and back into the woods before arriving at Loch Mallachie. This has been a real treat of a walk – not too long but very pleasant, with a wee sample of what the more remote corners of this area have to offer. Back in the car now, I drive along to Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge, which have hotels and restaurants, making them good bases from which to explore the area. These pretty villages are also stopping points for the steam train from Aviemore, which is a massive draw for tourists young and old in the area. There are various options – to dine, or to partake of “specials” such as the Santa Express. Whichever you choose, however, the real draw is the train itself and the beautiful countryside it travels through. This is just part of the enduring appeal of Aviemore and why people like me just keep coming back. n Getting there Aviemore is 30 miles south of Inverness on the A9. Trains stop in town from Inverness and Perth, and CityLink’s M90 and M91 bus services run between Edinburgh and Inverness. Rowan Tree Country Hotel, visit www.rowantreehotel.com or call 01479 810207. Highland Wildlife Park, call 01540 651270 or visit www.highlandwildlifepark.org.uk. Find out more at www.visitcairngorms.com, or try the Aviemore VisitScotland iCentre on Grampian Road or call them on 01479 810930. MADDIE’S WORLD 13 “Walking netball sounds far more up my street” Photographs courtesy of Maddie Grigg and iStock. T In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . . HE women in the village have been talking about setting up a walking netball team. Just like the men, who have been playing walking football in the next town for several years now, the ladies are thinking this could be a good way of keeping fit and having fun. It’s a team sport they enjoyed at school, but at a slower pace. Leading the charge is my neighbour, Mrs Bancroft, who was apparently a pretty nifty goal shooter in her time. The position I made my own, back in the day, was wing attack. I remember I had to do a lot of running up and down the wing and wasn’t allowed to try to score a goal. But I was happy at being the key play-maker of the netball court. It was my job to create as many goalscoring chances as possible by passing the ball to the shooters. I was quite nippy in those days, but not an accurate goal scorer, so the position suited me well. I don’t know about you, but I much preferred netball to hockey. In my school hockey was a pretty rough game, with girls being whacked (accidently on purpose) in the shins or hit in the face by a ball. It was not uncommon to see fat lips and bruised legs as we limped off the pitch when the final whistle sounded. Walking netball sounds far more up my street. And for ladies over fifty here in Lush Places, it could be a goer because there are plans to create a multi-use games area next to the primary school. On weekdays it will be used by pupils then handed over to the community in the evenings and at weekends. All we need is the funding to make it happen, which is a long game in itself. Currently, my fitness regime consists of three- to five-mile dog walks on my own and the occasional visit to the gym. I enjoy the former because I can just walk out of my back door with Arty and be somewhere green and pleasant in no time. It gives me time to think and admire all the natural beauty around me. This week, for example, I was so much on a different plane, I didn’t even notice when Arty slipped her lead and I was walking down the road without her. Luckily, she was sensible enough to stay in the copse we’d just walked through and was there when I went back to get her. What the neighbours made, though, of this mad woman forging ahead with an invisible dog on a lead I dread to think. As they say these days, I was well and truly in the zone. It’s clear that I’ve fallen out of love with the gym. I have to drive the car to get there and I find myself planning my days around sessions. I find it boring, even though I know it’s doing me good. The more I put it off, the less likely I am to do it regularly. It’s really not for me. So the idea of walking netball, here in my own village, alongside ladies I know and like, fills me with enthusiasm. Mind you, Mr Grigg was extremely keen when he first joined the walking football sessions. So much so, he persuaded five other men from the village to take part. Every Monday they’d be huffing and puffing in their hi-vis jackets and squeaky boots, trying not to run but bursting out into a jog when the referee wasn’t looking. But for the past few months, Mr Grigg’s been out of action because of a cranky knee. There are other players with groin injuries, back pain, problems with Achilles tendons and hamstrings, twisted knees and ankles. There have even been fights on the pitch. Now I can’t imagine that happening with the ladies in Lush Places, but never say never. It’s just as well we’re not considering hockey. n Walking netball is coming to Lush Places! Snow Days SHORT STORY BY BRENDA STOREY 15 Isobel and Ken were enjoying the lighter side to a skiing holiday . . . Illustration by iStock. I SOBEL finished the postcard she was writing. It’s a beautiful place with lovely scenery. I’m even getting a suntan – or snow burn! That would do. She knew people didn’t really write postcards any more, but she thought her granddaughter would appreciate the snowy alpine scene. And what she’d said was true: the place was really lovely, and all she had hoped of from Austria. Unlike skiing, which was definitely not what she had hoped for! When she’d told her young colleagues at work that she wanted to try skiing as the first step in her early retirement plan, they’d given shocked warnings about how it was harder than it looked, and about broken bones taking a long time to heal. They had stopped short of saying “at your age”, but the message was there. Someone had suggested cross-country skiing as a gentler alternative, and Isobel had jumped at that as an excellent compromise. She was retiring early to enjoy a bit of life, and she couldn’t do that with a broken leg. So cross-country it was, though it was definitely not the easy option. By the third day Isobel could hardly lift her head off the pillow, her muscles ached so much. “I think I’ll take a day’s rest,” she’d told her instructor, which was why, instead of sliding her way round the course, she was sitting at an outside table overlooking the square with a mug of hot chocolate in front of her. “Rats! Sorry.” Her drink sloshed across the table as a man’s hands grabbed at her chair. “I’m so sorry. I slipped,” he said unnecessarily. “You didn’t get burned?” He brushed snow off his knees, trying at the same time to mop up the mess on the table – without much success with either action. Isobel laughed. “I think we need to worry more about you. Are you OK?” “Oh, good, you’re English.” She shook her head. “Scottish,” she said firmly. “Really?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. “Me, too. I thought I was going to have to summon up every foreign word I know to apologise. “I can’t believe I’ve spent the whole week skiing, then nearly come a cropper on a flat path. “Let me get you another drink. Do you mind if I join you for a few minutes while I gather my dignity, which I seem to have lost somewhere under your table?” Isobel laughed again and felt her cheeks grow warm, and not from the sun. How could she refuse such blatant charm, especially from a gentleman with sparkling blue eyes that crinkled pleasingly at the corners as he smiled at her. She’d been on her own for so long now, she could hardly remember the last time someone looking at her had made her heart drum against her ribs as it was doing now. Ken, he told her over the new drinks, was here with his son’s family. “They’re a bit keener than me, not to mention younger and fitter, and want to ski all day. I like to explore a bit more, and the cross-country trails are ideal walking routes, too, so I do that in the afternoon. Have you tried the routes?” Isobel admitted that her skiing so far had consisted of walking up and down a few lengths of prepared route in the village centre. “I don’t think I’ll be trying anything much more adventurous than that,” she told him. “Anyway, I have photos of me on skis to show people, so no-one needs to know I was on the ground three seconds later. You’re not the only one to lose your dignity.” He laughed warmly, and the afternoon continued in the same vein, until the lights coming on in the village square opposite made Ken realise he had to meet his family. Before he left he asked Isobel to join him for his walk the following afternoon, and promised he wouldn’t fall again, so she laughingly agreed. A pattern developed. They both skied in the morning (Isobel assumed that Ken’s trips to the slopes were more successful than her own tours round the village tracks), then met up for a walk before completing the afternoon with a coffee in the café where Ken had “fallen for her”, as he put it. She liked his turn of phrase, even if he was only jesting. The rest of the holiday flew by with this pleasant routine, and on her last day Isobel realised with a pang that there would be no more walks after this one. They were both heading home the following day, and her flight was an early one, so there would be no time to catch up before she left. How ridiculous, she thought as they walked and laughed together. A woman of my age getting caught by the 16 holiday romance thing. But she knew she had fallen for Ken, and not in the way he had fallen for her. She really had been quite happy on her own, saddened by her divorce but knowing it was the right thing to do. She had always taken care to see the positives in it, but now the thought of being alone was distinctly less appealing. She was more than disappointed when at the life. And he’s right. Just get on with the life on your own you’ve planned for yourself: it’s a good one, after all.” With a deep breath and a straightening of her back, she got on with packing. On the bus to the airport the following morning, Isobel filled her time with texting her children, telling them her schedule, which helped to lessen the loneliness she was fighting. Suddenly everyone around her seemed to be in happy, laughing couples, The thought of being alone was distinctly unappealing end of the walk Ken said he was going to give the coffee in their café a miss, as he needed to get back for an early family meal. He kissed her cheek and gave her a quick hug. “I must rush. It’s been great to spend the time with you. I’ve had a lovely holiday, thanks.” Then he turned before she had a chance to formulate any sort of response, and left her standing alone on the icy path. Back at the hotel room, Isobel gave herself a stern talking to. “You are not going to let this spoil your holiday. You’ve had fun, and pleasant company. It’s nothing more than that, and Ken never pretended it was.” But although he’d never said anything to suggest it was, she was sure he’d felt something from his actions and his looks. They’d had so much fun and laughter together, but maybe that was just holiday high spirits. “Maybe he’s decided that at our age romance is nonsense; that we’re both too old and heart sore from though she was by no means the only single. It was amazing the difference 10 days could make. The airport was hectic and by the time she got through security, she had to head straight to her gate, stopping only to get a coffee from a kiosk. At the gate there was nowhere to sit, so she stood with her coffee in hand and bag at her feet. Suddenly a voice near her ear said quietly, “Mind you don’t spill that.” Startled, she turned. “Ken!” She didn’t know whether to laugh at the surprise, or cry at the fact that he was here, rubbing salt into the wound he had left on her heart. “Why are you here?” she asked. “Your flight’s not till later. I thought you were having a last shot on the slopes.” She knew her confusion was making her babble, but she couldn’t stop herself. Instead, Ken stopped her by taking her bag in one hand and her hand in the other, then leading her towards a quiet corner. “The others are still at the slopes, but I got sent here presents early,” he explained. Isobel was confused. “Sent? By who? I mean whom.” Her command of English seemed to have deserted her in her flustered state. “Believe it or not, by my grandson.” He grimaced and laughed. “At dinner last night, and then breakfast this morning, my lack of good humour was noted. “My twelve-year-old grandson suggested I should get my act together, stop being a coward, and come and find you. “Apparently your company has improved my temperament considerably, or, as he put it, I’ve been smiling like an idiot since I met you. He couldn’t believe I didn’t ask for your number. I’ve come to rectify that.” He pulled a pen and paper from his pocket. “May I have your number?” he asked formally. Isobel hesitated. “I don’t understand the change of mind,” she said, still reluctant to build up any hope. He took her hand again. “Kyle was right,” he assured her. “I’ve been on my own a while, and thought I was doing fine, and I didn’t want to upset that. “But according to the family consensus this morning, I wasn’t doing fine. I have been miserable since my divorce, right up until the moment I met you, they tell me. “I can’t argue with that last part,” he continued. “Being with you certainly hasn’t made me miserable. Anything but.” She couldn’t argue with it, either. Although she couldn’t vouch for what he’d been like before, when they were together there was plenty of smiling and laughter. There was no-one less like a miserable old anything. With less than perfect timing, her flight was called and the crowd around them instantly started moving forward. Ken raised her hand, which he was still holding, and brushed his lips against the back of it. “I’d really like to see you again, if it’s possible, and if you want to.” She nodded, feeling her cheeks glow like a lovestruck school girl. “Yes, I’d like that,” she said, laughing at herself and her understatement. She grabbed his paper and pen and wrote down her mobile number. She really hoped she had remembered it correctly. The queue through the gate was nearly gone, so there weren’t too many people to see their romantic goodbye before she, too, had to show her boarding pass and head through. She turned as she went through the doors, and Ken was still there, hand raised, waiting for her to look. * * * * At the other end of the flight, her daughter met her at Arrivals. As they walked to the car park, Isobel remembered to turn her phone off flight mode, and within seconds a text arrived. Taking the boys skiing in Glenshee next Sunday – care to join us? No skiing required. There’s a very nice coffee shop. I promise not to spill anything! Isobel laughed. “Something funny?” Claire asked lightly. Then she saw her mum’s glowing face. “Mum! You’ve fallen for someone, haven’t you?” “No, darling,” Isobel said through her laughter. “He fell for me!” n Discover a new way to enjoy our favourite short stories with weekly audio readings which are easy to listen to. Each one lasts 15 to 25 minutes – just the right length for listening to with a cup of tea! www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/category/audio wellbeing Health & Great advice to keep you happy and healthy Q. My eyes often feel dry and bloodshot and I am quite self-conscious in front of others. Is there anything I can do to relieve the problem? Optometrist and Dry Eye Specialist Niall O’Kane is here to help. First of all, you are not alone! It’s extremely common, but it’s important to know that it can be treated. Red, sore and watery eyes can actually be a sign of Dry Eye Disease, when our eyes water too much to compensate for the dryness. In The News Snuggle Up It seems Granny was right after all when she told you to get a scarf on and wrap up warm against the cold. Asthma sufferers have been advised to do exactly this and wear a scarf to cover their nose and mouth when they go out this winter, because studies have found inhaling cold air can increase the risk of an asthma attack. In fact, the charity Asthma UK say wearing a scarf could be a life-saver because it warms cold air before you breathe it in, reducing your risk of attack. This dryness can be triggered by the weather, so wearing sunglasses whilst outdoors can help, and using preservative-free eye drops like Hycosan (£8.99) will help to soothe and rehydrate your eyes and stop them becoming inflamed. If it’s an ongoing problem it’s better to see an optometrist. Some optometry clinics now offer a service called Tear Clinic which will help to identify the cause of your sore eyes and find the most suitable treatment for you. You can visit www.Tearclinic. com to find your nearest one. Sore Throat Survival Guide Doctors advise a yellow coating or white spots in your throat could indicate a bacterial infection (which may require antibiotics), but a red, sore and swollen throat most likely indicates a virus. Try these tips from ear, nose and throat consultant Alasdair Mace: • drink water to stay hydrated as this boosts mucus and saliva production which helps protect the throat • gargle with salty water (stir 2 tsp salt into 500ml water and chill) to help loosen mucus and draw excess fluid out of inflamed throat tissue • avoid the dehydrating effects of alcohol and caffeine iStock. • use an anaesthetic throat spray which contains benzocaine • take paracetamol rather than ibuprofen or aspirin which can impair immunity Health Bite Although they might be a little more expensive than some other nuts, cashews make a nutritious addition to winter salads and stir-fries and are well worth enjoying in meals as well as snacks. They are a great source of plant nutrients called “proanthocyanidins” which are believed to help fight cancer cells by stopping them dividing. Not only are cashews lower in fat than many other nuts, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These include vitamins E, K and B6, along with minerals copper and iron (which help form healthy blood cells) and phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and selenium, as well as antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) which help protect the eye from light damage and can decrease the instance of cataracts. We are unable to offer individual advice to readers. Please see your own GP if you have a medical problem. HEALTH 19 Advice can help you to get back on your feet Benefits Of A Declutter Help For Heel Pain P Our Health Writer, Colleen Shannon, explains a common cause and how to get relief. AINFUL feet can make you miserable, so it is worth finding out the cause and getting professional advice. There is always a way to help you feel a bit better. The heel is one part of the foot where pain often strikes. Most of the time, heel pain is caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis, which affects one in 10 people at some point during their lives. The name comes from the part of the foot’s anatomy that is affected. This condition can clear up on its own, but this can take a year or more, which is a long time to keep limping around in pain. And if it goes untreated, it can turn into a lasting problem. To learn more about the causes of plantar fasciitis and how to manage it, I asked Emma McConnachie, a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry. She explained that the plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that runs down from the toes, through the arch of your foot and then into your heel. It helps to form the arch of your foot and it distributes force as you move. In plantar fasciitis, it’s generally thought that this tissue becomes inflamed. This could be caused by squashing or overstretching the foot, perhaps because of badly fitting or worn-out shoes. Repeated injuries, or an accident like a fall or tripping over something, might also start it off. There’s an interesting scientific discussion about plantar fasciitis and some studies now suggest that inflammation might not be the whole story. It’s possible that the tissue is actually breaking down (degrading). The most common symptom is sharp pain in your heel area, especially when you get out of bed in the morning or when you have been sitting for a while. This pain will often ease off after a short time, but in some cases it will continue to bother you for the rest of the day. There are other possible causes, so if your pain has lasted more than three weeks then it’s best to get a firm diagnosis. One route is to get advice from a podiatrist. These health professionals are specially trained experts on foot care. They must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and you can look them up on www.hcpc-uk.co.uk. You can find a podiatrist near you by checking the College of Podiatry website at www.scpod.org You might be able to see a podiatrist on the NHS or you might have to go private. Ask your GP surgery about the policy in your local area. Once you have a diagnosis, your podiatrist might recommend shoes that raise your heel height by 1 cm. They might tell you to avoid long walks, going barefoot or high-impact exercise while you recover. They might also give you supportive insoles and teach you stretching exercises. Strapping, ultrasound and acupuncture are other possibilities. Some people need steroid injections or surgery, but most of the time these straightforward measures will get you back on your feet. n Psychologists warn that when your surroundings are chaotic it’s very easy to become distracted, stressed and anxious, making concentration and focusing more difficult. However, a clean, orderly space makes it easier to focus and creates a sense of calm. So now is a great time to do a bit of decluttering for an early spring clean! Instead of surrounding yourself with clutter that might be unwittingly causing you stress, you could find fresh new space for tools that promote your health, such as creating space to roll out a yoga mat for some health-boosting stretching – it’s also great for calming the mind, too. Promensil Cooling Spray Sometimes when a menopausal hot flush strikes it can be tricky or inconvenient to remove some clothing or open a window to cool down, but now there’s a clever new solution in the form of Promensil cooling spray. This combination of menthol and peppermint oil borrows the swift muscle freezing technology from the sports world, but combines it with red clover extract to calm errant hormones. Keep it in your handbag or by your bed to tackle night sweats and spritz across the neck and chest to get an instant cooling effect. Promensil menopause cooling spray is £14.99 from Holland & Barrett. SHORT STORY BY SIMON WHALEY 21 Blackcurrant Jelly It was his daughter’s favourite thing, and Donald hoped it would get her through this difficult day . . . Illustration by Jim Dewar. D ONALD drummed his fingers against the steering wheel of his Ford Focus, his eyes fixed on the school entrance. Any minute now, those doors would fly open and hundreds of happy kids would stream out, overjoyed at their freedom. Then he would see Suzie emerge, alone and despondent from the challenges she’d had to cope with today. His stomach cramped as if someone had pushed their hand inside him, wrapped their fingers around his intestines and squeezed. Fingers. Everything was about fingers. Ever since that day three months ago. He crossed his arms, trapping his fingers. His stomach cramped again. Donald fought the wince, but failed. It was nothing, though. Nothing to what Suzie had endured. Was enduring. It had started with a sniffle. An ordinary sniffle. Colds are part of the school curriculum, like Maths, English and semolina pudding. Donald smiled. Surprisingly, that had been Suzie’s worst fear when he’d dropped her off this morning. “What if it’s semolina pudding? I hate that.” In the rearview mirror, he watched her nose turn up at the thought. “Imagine it’s your favourite,” he suggested. Suzie frowned. “Blackcurrant jelly?” “Close your eyes.” He said, then watched Suzie’s reflection in the mirror. “Now imagine the biggest spoonful of blackcurrant jelly in your mouth.” Suzie giggled, her eyes scrunched shut, causing them to disappear under her blonde fringe. “Now swallow it,” he suggested. Suzie’s lower jaw rolled the imaginary jelly around her mouth several times, before her throat bobbed as the imaginary jelly journeyed south. “That was lovely. Thanks, Dad. I’ll definitely do that.” He laughed. “It’s all in the mind, you see.” He tapped the side of his forehead. “Our brains are amazing. If there’s something you can’t do, or don’t want to do, let your imagination take over. You can do anything then.” “I’m going to have blackcurrant jelly during Maths.” “Not if it gets you into trouble with Mrs Hopkins, you’re not.” Donald arched his eyebrows, then grinned. “Go on. Off you go. Can you manage?” Suzie unclipped her belt. “Yes, Dad.” She sighed, as she jumped out of the car. “Bye.” The door slammed and the car wobbled. Sometimes the strength of his seven-year-old daughter astounded him. She didn’t look back as she ran into the playground. Within seconds her friends were gathering round, yet all he could see were the five stumps on each hand where her fingers and thumbs should have been. His stomach churned as he remembered Helen rolling the glass against the rash on Suzie’s arm. Their horror was reflected in each other’s eyes. Helen dialled 999, but Donald had scooped up his daughter in his arms and hurried out to the car. If only they’d acted sooner. That first sniffle. The doctors said they shouldn’t blame themselves. Another hour would have made no difference. But Donald’s stomach thought otherwise, torturing him as they’d watched over Suzie, lying in the hospital bed, with wires and tubes coming out of her, and the tips of her fingers and thumbs slowly blackening. He didn’t remember hugging Helen when the doctor explained the need to amputate. But he’d hugged her so tightly his finger marks were still visible on her skin three days later. Finger marks. Something Suzie couldn’t leave now. The operation had gone well. The doctors had saved Suzie’s hands. Only her fingers and thumbs had to be sacrificed. Three months’ recovery had arrived at today – her first day back at school. He knew she’d been dreading it. They all had. But it was also the first day of normality, whatever that was. A cheer of screaming children erupted from the school’s double doors as they escaped into the playground’s freedom. Donald’s stomach rolled like a cement mixer, constantly churning its produce to stop it setting. Then he spotted her. Her arms were draped around the necks of her two best friends. His eyes fixed on the stumps resting on their shoulders. She saw him and waved. Her limb rocked from side to side like a windscreen wiper on its highest, most frantic setting. No more delicate finger waves. Donald flapped his fingers at her, then regretted it. He still felt awkward at times. All fingers and thumbs. Suzie hurried to the rear door and grappled with the handle. Twice it slipped from her grasp. Donald stretched to open the door from the inside. “I can do it!” Suzie stared at him defiantly. Helen did the same whenever he overstepped the mark. The door clicked open and he sensed Suzie’s relief as she jumped into the car. “How was your day?” For the first time since arriving, Donald’s stomach froze. “Brilliant! We had semolina pudding, so I imagined blackcurrant jelly, and it worked. The dinner lady said she’d never known me to eat all of it before.” Donald grinned. “See? I told you. SERIES BY MALCOLM WELSHMAN: PART 21 OF 30 Imagination can turn the worst things into the best of things.” Suzie nodded. “Mrs Hopkins said I did really well in Maths today. I was the only one to get seven times seven right.” “Well done.” Donald relaxed. Her excitement put him at ease. He’d imagined the worst, but it hadn’t happened. “It was easy,” Suzie continued as she struggled to secure her seatbelt. “I used my imagination, like you told me to.” Donald frowned. “Oh?” A satisfying click resonated around the car interior and Donald released a breath of relief. Such a simple, ordinary sound now meant so much. Growing independence. “I used my fingers and thumbs.” In the rearview mirror, Donald watched the grin grow on Suzie’s face. “I thought that if I could imagine blackcurrant jelly, then all I had to do was imagine lots of fingers and thumbs on my hands. It was easy! I had fifty. Twenty-five on each hand. “I had one left over, so I threw it away.” Suzie beamed. ‘Everyone else on my table had to borrow someone else’s fingers to keep track, but I didn’t. I did it on my own.” The anguish in Donald’s stomach dissipated. It hadn’t occurred to him that Suzie would find advantage in her situation. All he’d imagined was the worst. If Suzie could be positive, then he could try focusing on the positives, too. For the first time in weeks Donald felt hungry. “Come on. Let’s go home. What do you want for tea?” “Blackcurrant jelly!” Suzie cried. “Blackcurrant jelly it is.” Donald pulled out on to the road, sensing butterflies in his stomach. Not nervous butterflies this time, but butterflies of excitement. Suzie was going to be OK. He could see that. All it took was a little imagination. And some blackcurrant jelly. n 23 There’s some monkey business going on in the surgery! I ’M not one for taking astrology seriously. So when the Chinese New Year comes round, it has no significance as far as I’m concerned. Take the year before last, for instance: 2016 was the year of the monkey. As it happens, I did see two primates during that year. Beryl often mentions the encounter with the first one. “How could I forget it, Paul? That woolly monkey.” She shudders at the recollection. In fairness to Beryl, it had been rather traumatic. Both for the monkey and her. Bolton was the monkey’s name and he was brought into the hospital by Kevin Winters, Westcott Wildlife` Park’s keeper. The monkey had swallowed a bolt, then post-operatively had managed to escape from his pen in the hospital and turned up in reception. He rummaged through Beryl’s handbag, extracted her lipstick and applied it with much smacking of lips. “I was furious,” Beryl often reminds me. “It was my favourite colour.” I remember it well. “You’ve another monkey booked in,” Beryl informed me one morning early last year, just before the start of the year of the rooster. “It’s a squirrel monkey called Bimbo. Mrs Morello is requesting a house visit as the monkey’s poorly. It would be too distressing to come to the hospital.” Later that morning, I found myself at Mrs Morello’s house in a quiet suburban avenue, staring across a dining-room table to where a squirrel monkey was curled up on the floor of a cage. “Bimbo only goes in there to sleep,” Mrs Morello said. “But he hasn’t wanted to come out for two days.” She blew kisses at the monkey. “My poor little Bimbo. You aren’t well, are you?” Even though I had little experience of monkeys, I could see this one was off colour. He was huddled up with his tail curled over his yellow-furred body. The kisses blown made him look up. His black eyes were dull and, as if to accentuate his illness, he blinked and a large tear rolled down his cheek. That provoked similar tears from Mrs Morello who dragged a large white handkerchief from the sleeve of her blouse and blew her nose violently. “He’s been off his food for days,” Mrs Morello explained between sniffs. “Even chocolate-coated peanuts which he adores.” I could see a pile of them untouched inside the cage. “I’m going to have to catch him,” I warned Mrs Morello as I donned a stout pair of leather gloves that I’d brought with me. Even poorly, Bimbo could summon sufficient strength to give me a nasty bite. Gingerly I opened the cage door, inserting one gloved hand while barring the exit with the other. There was no movement or springing to the door. There was only the merest chatter of protest as I grasped Bimbo and lifted him out. I took his temperature. It was high. I checked his nostrils. Each was moist with a clear discharge. Listening to his chest, I could hear a distinct wheeze. I caught hold of his legs which had been curled round my wrist and stretched him out. Pinpoint red spots were visible in his armpits and groin. With a syringeful of antibiotic already drawn up, I got Mrs Morello to hold Bimbo’s legs while I gave the injection. There was no reaction from the monkey, though a little squeak was emitted by Mrs Morello. “What do you think is wrong with him?” she asked. “Looks like he’s caught a cold,” I said, far from convinced of my diagnosis. “Has anyone in the family got one?” Mrs Morello shrugged. “My Katie was a bit off colour this morning. But she still went to school.” The front door banged. “That will be her now. Funny though, she’s early.” Her daughter walked in. “They sent me home as I’ve come out in a rash,” she explained. Suddenly it dawned on me. The spots on Bimbo. “Who’d have thought?” Mrs Morello wailed. “Poor Bimbo. Catching measles.” “Who, indeed?” Beryl echoed when I told her about it. “Oh, by the way,” she added. “The year of the rooster starts tomorrow.” I remember thinking, “So what?” It didn’t mean I’d be confronted with masses of chickens that year. More fool me. Next day we discovered a cat carrier abandoned on the steps of Prospect House. In it was crammed eight cockerels. Clear evidence of fowl play, and there was more to come during the year. More next week. Brainteasers Word Ladder Move from the word at the top of the ladder to the word at the bottom using the exact number of rungs provided by changing one letter at a time (but not the position of any letter). C O L D F E E T Pieceword ACROSS 1 Lutherans, eg (11) 9 Dance for four couples (9,4) 10 Resident of Khartoum (8) 12 Subject of Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen (4) 14 City of NE Italy (5) 15 Large Nigerian port and city (5) 19 ‘Terrible’ Russian ruler (4) 20 Symbolist in 19th‑century French literature (8) 22 Sunset Boulevard star (6,7) 24 Creator of the Three Laws of Robotics (5,6) DOWN 2 Inspector Wexford’s first name (3) 3 Strong light metal (8) 4 Liverpudlian (6) 5 Cain’s biblical brother (4) 6 Atomic number of scandium (6‑3) 7 First name of 1980s javelin thrower Sanderson (5) 1 2 3 1 MOR P M T E R T I C I E I E E A L A E N D R R A I R D 4 S O E O C U E U RO E D S R O N N T E A R U 7 W I T I A N D I A E A C O M I D S I E RO P S A P 10 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 18 20 21 22 23 24 8 Irish county east of Mayo (5) 11 1950s/60s TV blonde bombshell (5,4) 13 Female WWI spy (4,4) 16 Beatles’ drummer (5) 17 Former name of Iran (6) 2 18 Surname shared by actresses Emma and Sharon (5) 21 Ms Hobley, TV actress (4) 23 1960s TV panda puppet (3) Sudoku Fill the grid with the numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 block contains the numbers 1 to 9. 7 3 5 2 3 5 6 1 4 9 4 7 7 8 5 5 9 7 6 4 3 8 1 4 9 1 5 2 8 9 11 12 Pertaining to sight Overstep Deserved Prattle (on) Brand of Mexican lager 5 7 With the help of the Across clues only, can you fit the pieces into their correct positions in the grid? 4 5 6 7 8 Answers on p87 Try our general knowledge crossword L A R K T O WO R O I E E A X C E N E D N S C T R A S ACROSS 1 Undertaker 2 French for ‘noon’ 3 Landing of supplies by parachute PUZZLES 25 9 Mountain range in the Americas 10 Flat kitchen surface 11 Slovenia’s currency unit 12 Rise above 7 8 All puzzles © Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com Unique Hydrangea A new world-exclusive Hydrangea SAvE uP TO £19.98 With truly unique colouring and flower shapes, this stunning Hydrangea Black Diamonds Shining Angel Blue produces masses of unusual purple-pink-blue flowers on dark, almost black, stems. With multi-tonal colours the flowers can look different every time you look at them and, once established, this plant will provide total colour coverage from June to November. If you are looking for incredible garden performance and really unusual colour-changing flowers, this is the hydrangea for you. * Supplied as a 10.5cm potted plant which is perfect for the patio, you can buy individual plants or why not take advantage of our special offer and buy three plants for only £24.99, saving almost £20. Height & Spread 1.2m. Name .................................................................................. Address .............................................................................. ............................................................................................... ............................................................................................... ............................................ Postcode ............................... 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Lady Aberdeen (right) with Henrietta Edwards, who jointly founded the National Council of Women. Hard at work digging for gold. The Klondike Nurses Alexandra Pratt finds out about the Victorian Order of Nurses, who were pioneers of their time. Photographs courtesy of Library Archives Canada. I N 1896, in Canada’s Yukon Territory, three men discovered gold. Word spread quickly, but it was only when a steamship arrived in San Francisco a year later, carrying miners with suitcases full of gold nuggets, that the Klondike Gold Rush began. At its peak in 1898, the Dawson area, previously home to around 100 mainly First Nations people, swelled to over 100,000 fortune hunters, dealers, storekeepers, dance-hall girls and anyone desperate enough to risk the journey to, and the privations of, Dawson City. Tensions rose with so many Americans on Canadian land, so the Canadians sent a force of 200 soldiers to man the border and maintain order. With them travelled four nurses (three were Canadian and one, Amy Scott, was British), the wife of a police officer and a journalist named Faith Fenton. Nursing was still a relatively new occupation for women. Yet the region needed medical care, so Ishbel Aberdeen, the wife of the Governor General, established the Victorian Order of Nurses, named in honour of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, and she sent the first recruits to the Klondike. The restrictions were excessive by modern-day standards. The nurses had to be single, fully hospital trained, required to dress modestly and not curl or crimp their hair. The journey was an indication of the trials to come. While most prospectors travelled the shorter route via Alaska and the steep Chilkoot Pass, the nurses, soldiers and 20 mules made the longer journey up the Stikine River and through the Yukon bush. Often sleeping just three hours a night, they walked 150 miles through swamps and forests, then over a high mountain pass to Lake Teslin, where they paddled a handmade boat downstream to Dawson. The journey took several weeks and the women cared for the sick and injured along the way, but it was Dawson that truly tested their resilience, determination and ingenuity. Initially, Amy Scott stayed at Fort Selkirk with the soldiers, to nurse those with typhoid. The other women continued onwards to Dawson before one went to a hospital still only half-built in Grand Forks. Georgia Powell and Rachel Hanna worked at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Dawson itself. In the early days, they slept in a tent, their beds no more than sacks stuffed with shavings. Only candles lit the “hospital” which consisted of two simple log buildings, 25 by 50 feet. A typhoid epidemic raged, with every kind of complication from neuralgia to rheumatism. Some men lay only on blankets on the bare floorboards. Disinfectants, dressings and other supplies were limited. Both Amy and Georgia contracted typhoid, too, yet it was recorded – “Not [a patient] had a bed sore, or even a chafe, so closely were they watched and attended”. Typhoid was not the only epidemic. Scurvy was also rife, described by Georgia as “at best disgusting work . . . the scrubbing of these miserable creatures and how some would fight against the bath!” Yet the nurses were held in such high regard, it was said a man would walk for a day just to take a cup of coffee from a woman’s hand. Unsurprisingly, the work took its toll and Amy was invalided back to England. The nurse working alone in Grand Forks resigned, but Rachel and Georgia remained in Dawson, until Georgia left to nurse men fighting in the Boer War. Faith Fenton, the journalist, married and stayed in Dawson for several years. Having faced pneumonia, filth, unrelenting labour, frostbite and typhoid, the VON nurses’ selfless work saved hundreds of lives and brought comfort to the despairing; all for an annual salary that was less than a miner could earn in a day! n The VON uniform in 1897. Stephen had an important decision to make, so he turned to Gabrielle for help . . . The Wooden Heart Illustration by Helen Welsh. The Story So Far ASHA MELVILLE is fresh out of college in the Borders. Her dad STEPHEN is a widower and recently lost his job as an engineer in the oil industry. His only focus other than Asha is his Austin 7 car, which he is restoring. When Stephen married his Indian wife, his father disowned him. Upon his father’s death, he finds he has inherited his estate, including his cottage and woodcarving shed. GABRIELLE MADELEY, once a professional violinist, lives a reclusive life since a car accident left her unable to play the violin. One day she trips while walking FRANZ, her dog, and hurts her wrist. Stephen comes to her aid and drives her to A&E. Ash sees a future for her father living in her grandfather’s cottage, but Stephen has other ideas . . . C AN we really afford this bottle of wine, Dad?” Ash asked doubtfully. Beside her in the garden seat, Stephen smiled. “My daughter has just graduated, so if we can’t celebrate with a bottle of discounted white wine from the local Co-op, then what’s the point?” He raised his glass. “To you, my beautiful daughter.” Ash’s face felt warm. “Embarrassing,” she said. “But thank you.” It was one of those rare perfect Borders summer evenings, when the sun had real warmth and was pouring down on to the rarely used garden at the back of their house. She basked in it, her Indian genes soaking up the heat, while her Scottish genes were fanning themselves. “We should be preparing dinner,” she said. “Later,” Stephen replied. “First we’ve got to reach a decision about the old cottage my father left us.” “Left you,” Ash corrected. “Us,” he repeated firmly. “That’s why what we do has to be a joint decision. I think we should sell it, using the money we get to pay off our overdraft. “We can keep some back for you to start up your own design business, then live on what’s left until I find another job.” Ash sipped her wine. “Why are you so keen to get rid of it?” she asked. “It carries too many bad memories.” Slowly turning her glass, Ash watched the sun reflecting through the wine. “Was your childhood miserable?” she asked. Stephen looked round. “Not always. There were good times as well as bad. I was a mother’s boy, and my father had little to do with me, except glower when I made a noise or annoyed him. “He was so wrapped up in his work that we barely got a word from him for days on end.” “Then it was only the final argument which was truly bad?” Ash asked. Stephen looked away. “Maybe. It wasn’t all a bed of roses after my mum died. We were always annoying each other.” “Still,” Ash said, “your main reservations about the cottage are based on memories of that final row, aren’t they?” “I suppose so.” “But those would have happened anywhere. They were relationship issues and had nothing to do with the cottage itself.” Stephen sipped his wine, his eyes never leaving her. “What are you driving at?” he finally asked. SERIAL BY MARK NEILSON: PART 2 OF 6 29 Ash sighed. “I don’t think selling the cottage is the best way forward,” she said. “It’s big enough for us to stay in, and that old shed would be perfect for working on your car. We would probably get at least twice as much for selling this house.” “I don’t want to sell it,” he said gruffly. “We were happy here.” “Then don’t sell it,” Ash said. “Rent it out and use the money as a source of income until we both get a job.” Stephen’s frown deepened. “I don’t like the thought of other people using our furniture,” he said. “Your mum bought most of that and was so proud of it.” Ash reached across and gently touched his hand. “Silly,” she said. “Mum’s furniture – and anything else that you want to keep – would be coming with us to the cottage. Anyway, it’s our memories of her which are important.” He turned slowly, a wry smile on his face. “You are so like your mum,” he said. “Able to see straight to the heart of any problem. “She could always look at the most complex issues, then tell you exactly what they meant.” He paused. “You make good sense,” he admitted. “Both of your options are better than running blindly away from the cottage. It’s big enough for both of us and carries no outstanding debt. “OK, so we seriously consider keeping the cottage. That means we have to decide whether to sell or rent this house, then get the lawyers to sort out whatever paperwork is involved.” He raised his glass again. “To my bright and practical daughter.” “And my open-minded father,” Ash added. They clinked glasses, and settled back to enjoy the evening sun. Minutes passed, then Ash stirred. “Dad?” she said. “Yes?” The length of the pause which followed made him turn to look at her. “Spit it out.” Ash’s eyes dropped. “Do you ever mind the racial mix thing?” she asked quietly. “The fact that I’m half Scottish, half Indian?” “What has race got to do with it?” he asked. “You’re my daughter. The most wonderful treasure your mother could ever have left behind for me.” Gently, he squeezed her arm. “We married because race didn’t matter to either of us,” he said quietly. “I loved her for the wonderful woman she was. She loved me for the man she saw inside me. “What has the colour of skin got to do with that? Your skin is only what you happen to be wearing.” Tears stung Ash’s eyes. “So it’s all right, then,” she said. “Me being half and half?” “All right?” He smiled. “It’s more than all right.” Reaching for his glass of wine, he added, “Every night, I thank God that I’ve been blessed to have you as my daughter.” * * * * Ash walked along the riverside, her eyes searching the buildings opposite. Most streets in Hawick generally led to a derelict mill, relics of what had once been a prosperous past. She was chasing up a contact address which her college tutor had given her. “It’s a producers’ commune,” he had told her. “Some very good young people, all working at their own thing. It might give you a place to start.” Maybe so, Ash thought. The trouble was that she still wasn’t clear how she wanted to develop herself as a textile designer, or which aspect of design she wanted to specialise in. But a start had to be made somewhere, and today she was simply prospecting, having a look at the place and its people. No commitment, no real plans as yet. She was simply taking time out to search for a first possible step in her own career, before looking for part-time work over the summer. She found the building, an old dyeing mill within a scatter of low brick-built premises in wasteland under the shadow of a gaunt riverside mill. It looked pretty grim, but she could commute here easily from the cottage, catching the bus through the village to Hawick. The flaking brown door hadn’t seen fresh paint for centuries, and there was no sign of any bell to ring. Ash hesitated, then knocked on the door. Its A couple of tables had a mix of metalwork and jewellery tools stacked neatly at their sides. At the far end, under a bare light bulb, the whistler was hunched over something he was working on. “Hello?” she called again. The man started in his chair and looked up. “Don’t creep up on me,” he complained. “I nearly lost a finger there.” Ash walked over. “I was given this address by Jim Roberts at the college in Gala,” she said. Ash could scarcely turn back at this stage timbers were so heavy that she made no real noise at all. With the heel of her fist, she hammered on the door. Still no answer. She could scarcely turn back at this stage. Ash took a firm grip of the old door handle and the door opened with a series of tortured squeaks. She stepped inside into relative darkness and shivered. There was almost total silence, then she heard the faint sound of someone whistling. “Hello?” she called, but the whistling continued. Carefully, she edged across the dark floor, lit through small, grimy windows, most of which had been broken and stuffed with newspaper. The floor seemed clean enough, but she was glad to get to the far side of the space, where another door had patches of light showing round the edges of its frame. Taking a deep breath, she opened it and stepped inside. This was the main space of the dyeing works, with a long area with a few desks and tables set under the grimy widows, using what light there was. On these tables were some textiles, folded and with a scatter of scribbled drawings beside them; on another, what looked like decorative leatherwork. “What are you doing?” The man grinned. On his face was the kind of stubble beard that most young men were wearing, but this was more fair down than stubble. Reddish hair tumbled down his forehead above sparkling blue eyes. “I’m saving the world,” he said. “What are you doing?” “Watching you,” Ash returned. “What’s that you’re making?” “A salad spoon.” He smiled. “A very special salad spoon. “A day ago it was lying in a builder’s tip outside an old cottage. For decades before that, it was a good old oak bed. Now I’m bringing it back to life. “People throw out furniture, but you can recycle some of it as mahogany, teak, ash and oak supplies. Plus, it’s usually free.” In his right hand was a narrow and hollowed chisel. He began to work again, holding the wood in one hand while he carved dextrous little shavings from what was clearly the bowl of a large wooden spoon. “It’s my contribution towards saving us from global warming,” he said. “Don’t ask me where it fits in to helping climate change, but it must do somewhere.” Ash perched on the edge of his bench. “How do you know 30 when it’s a spoon and when it’s a bowl?” she asked. He looked up, smiling. It was an infectious smile and Ash felt her own lips twitch. “Depends,” he said. “On simple things like the size of the block of wood – and how many mistakes I make. “Or on more complicated things, like knots, grain, the texture of the wood, or how I think it would look waxed up.” She watched, fascinated, as a spoon emerged from the shavings. “Where did you get that kind of chisel?” she asked. He shrugged. “Like all the rest of my gear, from market stalls. They always have a tools stall, and it usually has some older tools bought up from house sales.” He turned the finished spoon this way and that. “Ready to be sanded down and waxed to a shine,” he murmured. “And what do you do?” He paused. “I want to be a textile designer,” Ask said, colouring. His eyes opened hopefully. “Are you a knitter? Wool?” Ash shook her head. “Drat,” he said. “We’re all praying that Jim sends down an old-fashioned knitter to make us good thick jerseys. It gets freezing in here.” “The only time I tried to knit, I stabbed myself,” Ash admitted. “OK, then. Are you into making fabrics, or putting designs on them?” Ash relaxed. “I haven’t really decided which area I’m going to specialise in,” she said. “Up until now, I’ve gone where I was pushed by the college. Taking what fabrics appeal to me, shaping them into something, and creating the designs I want to put on them. “What I would like to do is take time to build up a more professional portfolio of designs,” she continued. “Go out into fresh territory and find my own theme or style, as well as keeping the best of the college stuff.” She paused. “Have you space for another person here in the dyeing house, or is that a decision that everybody in the commune must make?” He rocked back on his seat, considering. “There are five of us. One is away, using borrowed metalworking machinery, two are having the afternoon off with their boyfriends, and the other two are having a long brain-storming session. Which, coincidentally, happens to be in a pub.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “We have use of this place for a token rent. If you’re happy to pay your share of rent and lighting then you’re in.” Standing up, he held out a dusty hand, took it back to wipe on his faded jeans, then offered it again. “I’m Calum,” he said. “Welcome home.” Ash shook his hand. “I’m Ash,” she said. “Short for Asha. That means hope and inspiration in the Indian culture, but I’m still waiting for the inspiration bit to kick in.” “Join the club,” Calum said cheerfully. “How about I treat you to a coffee to seal the deal?” He frowned, reclaimed his hand, and dug out some coins from his pocket and grimaced. “I’ll buy you a coffee,” he repeated. “If you lend me fifty pence . . .” * * * * The River Tweed was running low, murmuring more like a stream than a river as it flowed round the outskirts of the town. In the patchy cloud, Gabrielle went to one of her favourite places, the suspension bridge across the river, and walked halfway across to where she normally stood to watch the river run through the valley. A slight breeze lifted her dark hair and she sighed. The strapping was due to come off her wrist tomorrow. She couldn’t wait. Why, as soon as it became inaccessible, did skin begin to itch? Unladylike it might be, but she was looking forward to being able to give that itch a good scratch. A grumble sounded at her feet. “Quiet, Franz,” she warned. “This isn’t our private bridge. Behave.” The bridge began to bounce under someone’s approaching footsteps. Even after many years, it was still disconcerting. She tightened the extending lead, getting ready to pull her terrier towards her feet. However, Franz had other ideas. His ears pricked up and his tail wagged, then he was haring off towards the footsteps, almost spinning her off her feet. She braced herself and, with her good hand, began to pull him back. Franz stood on his rear legs, leaning against the lead, his tail wagging furiously. What on earth had got into him? Shielding her eyes with her strapped hand, she peered at the approaching walker. It was a man, and not just any man. This was the man who had helped her when she’d hurt herself two weeks before. By now Franz was dancing, his front paws waving. Stephen leaned down, caught his paws with one hand and ruffled his ears with the other. “Hooligan,” he joked. “I don’t even look like a rabbit.” Straightening, he smiled. “We meet again,” Stephen said. “I’ve been walking up the far side of the river. How are you? Are the wrist and hand healing nicely?” “None the better for this wild creature,” Gabrielle said, struggling to bring Franz under control. “Let me.” He took the lead from her, dipping it under the dog to sort out the tangle and letting it rewind. “Here. Sorry for causing the disruption.” Locking the lead, he handed it back to her. “Thanks – once again.” She grasped the handle of the lead more firmly. “In answer to your question, the strapping comes off tomorrow. I can wriggle my fingers again and even flex my wrist slightly.” “Good,” he said. “No lasting damage, then.” Stephen hesitated, as if about to pass her and head back to the town. “Your scarf,” she said. “You left it with me – the emergency sling you made.” He looked surprised. “So I did. It’s not a problem.” Gabrielle smiled. “It might be, come autumn.” Stephen’s eyes crinkled. “There are plenty more scarves at home. I had an aunt who always sent me a scarf at Christmas. It was her default gift.” “You, too?” she said. “I still have a dozen boxes of hankies I’ve never used. “Why don’t we walk back home to my place and I can give you back your scarf? I’d hate your stock of Christmas presents to be depleted.” “That would be lovely. Shall I take Franz?” “Maybe you’d better.” Gabrielle sighed. “Until now, I’ve only had rabbits to worry about. No, Franz, there are none in sight.” She shook her head. “He even knows the ‘R’ word,” she lamented. “In fact, he has a wider vocabulary than some of the conductors I worked with.” Stephen grinned. “But I wouldn’t trust him with a baton,” he said. Her answering smile became a chuckle as the image grew. “There would be a lot of prestissimo.” She laughed. “Especially when he shook his head.” They walked back in the summer sunshine, comfortable in each other’s company. She found herself chatting about some of the great conductors who had visited the Scottish National Orchestra when she had played among the first violins there. “They were obsessive, in what they saw and wanted from the music,” she finished. “But they were usually such nice guys when they were offstage, 32 full of fun stories about their disasters with other orchestras in other countries.” The conversation switched naturally and she found herself asking him about his past employment. Stephen explained his job as a marine engineer and the work he had done on the oil rigs and supply vessels. He told her about the wild storms out in the open North Sea, and flights out and back in helicopters. “I hated those.” He shivered. “Not just the vertical landings and take-offs, but because I knew enough about aerodynamics to recognise that if those two rotors stopped working, then the pilot was left to fly a very large brick.” “I understand,” Gabrielle said, opening her front door. “Let Franz tow you into the lounge while I make us a cup of tea. Milk and sugar?” “Just milk,” he said. “And not too much of that.” He turned into the lounge, stooped to let Franz off the lead, then stepped aside as the terrier bolted back to the kitchen. “Sorry!” Gabrielle called through. “He’s only checking if the food fairy has been. He would eat until he exploded if I didn’t ration him.” She came through with the cups, a teapot and a plate of biscuits on a tray, to find him studying the wall of her lounge. “So much music,” he said quietly. “LPs, CDs, stacked floor to ceiling.” “Once an obsession,” she replied, pouring tea. “Tell me, what have you been doing since we met?” Stephen sat down. “You won’t believe this. Remember the story of my father? How he threw me out and told me never to darken his door again?” “The Dickensian ogre.” Gabrielle smiled. “Yes, I remember.” Stephen puffed out his cheeks. His gaze slid away to the sunlit front garden. She could sense that he was struggling to marshal difficult thoughts and to control his feelings. She gave him time. “How can you spend most of your adult life virtually hating a man,” he finally said, “then, when he dies, suddenly realise that, deep down inside, you still love him? “After all, he was your dad. He was a huge figure in your childhood and, now that he’s gone, you actually feel orphaned. Crazy, isn’t it?” Musicians know their role in silences – the passages where you don’t have to play, but simply sit and listen, becoming a silent and supportive partner. Gabrielle waited. He was still staring blindly out of the window. “Ships that pass in the night,” she quoted back to him. “All secrets are safe, whatever they are.” He turned to her and grinned. “I have a daughter who can also read my mind,” he said. “I don’t even pretend to do that.” Gabrielle smiled. “I’ll simply listen and respect any confidences. As we did before.” He nodded. “OK, I feel guilt and grief, intermingled. Guilt that I wasted so much time and energy disliking the man. “Grief that he’s gone now, and I will never be able to say I’m sorry, or even to thank him for what he did.” Another pause, without stress this time. “He left me everything in his will,” Stephen finished. “Everything he had, though it was only a few pounds here and there, plus the cottage I grew up in. It was the house where he lived all the years I knew him.” He looked down at his fingers and flexed them. “Owning two houses doesn’t make sense. Ash and I have talked it through, and we’re moving in there, under his shadow almost. “The granddaughter he never knew, like her mother, will find the colours and the fabrics which will bring the house alive and turn it into a home.” “I think he’d like that,” Gabrielle said quietly. “Who knows?” “And what are you doing with your own house?” she asked. “That’s just it,” he answered quietly. “Ash insists that I make the decision to rent or sell, but I don’t know which.” More pause signs in the music score. Gabrielle waited to be called in. His eyes flicked up at her. “What do you think?” he asked. Her eyes were level. “Permission to speak freely?” Stephen nodded. “Go ahead.” Gabrielle took a deep breath. “Being a professional musician turns you into a gypsy, always moving between places, people and orchestras. “I have known people who lost a partner, then either turned their onceshared home into a shrine or, worse still, a jail. It doesn’t work. “Putting your life on hold never brings them back. All it does is waste the life that has been left behind.” She paused. “I had an old grandmother,” she said quietly. “Her advice was to look forward, never try to look back, because nobody can change what has happened in the past. “From what I’ve seen of life, it is the very best of advice. “Therefore, I’d advise you not to hold on to your old home and rent it, but to sell it and walk away. Don’t try to cling to the past. Set out to do something new with your life.” Gabrielle swallowed. “I never met your wife, but she sounds very special. If she was the person I think she was, she would tell you to set out to build new memories. “The good memories will never be lost, but they’re not enough on their own to justify standing still, looking backwards.” This time there was a very long pause; so long that Gabrielle feared she had over-stepped the mark. Then Stephen nodded. “One of the wonderful things about women is that they can see right to the heart of an issue, then tell you straight. “Thank you – and your old grandmother. You’ve helped me make up my mind.” “To do what?” she asked. “Start again,” he said simply. “What else?” * * * * It should have felt like an adventure, but it didn’t. Ash watched her father close the front door of the near-empty, echoing house, turn the key in the lock, then slip it slowly into his pocket. “I’ll come back and scrub out the place once the house clearance men have taken away what we’ve left behind,” he muttered. “We both will,” Ash replied. She looked around as they walked down the path towards their car. Where was everybody? Then she realised and bit her lip. Gossips loved a story, and where they didn’t have facts they made them up. Their leaving for Denholme had grown arms and legs. The rumour mill had broadcast that they were financially ruined, selling off everything and leaving their home a step ahead of the bailiffs. The neighbours she had known all her life were staying away, embarrassed. Defiantly, she waved goodbye to the empty street. A hand fluttered uncertainly from one of the windows opposite. “Despite that silly rumour, I’m going to miss the house,” she said unsteadily, slipping into the passenger seat of their car. “In fact, I’m missing it already.” Stephen said nothing, simply started the engine and glanced in the mirror at the small trailer they were towing, with its precious tarpaulin-covered classic Austin 7. They pulled slowly away in the wake of the removal van, turning up past the abbey ruins, then climbing the hill to the market cross, to turn left and leave the town behind. She had known no other place to live. “I think I’m going to cry,” Ash said in a small voice. “Feel free,” Stephen told her. “I did my crying last night.” They turned on to the road towards Gala to pick up the main road south. “Goodbye, my lovely Tweed,” she said sadly. “And the number of times you sang me to sleep at night. I’ve never lived in a place without a river.” Stephen glanced round. “There’s still a river,” he said. “There’s a stream half a mile above the village. I used to guddle trout there, then run like mad if I saw the gamekeeper.” “What did your dad say to that?” she asked. He turned round to her, a grin on his face. In it she glimpsed the boy he once had been. “He never knew,” he replied. They turned on to the A7, travelling slowly behind the removal van. She glanced out of her side window when they passed the old grey town at a higher level. “Goodbye, Melrose,” she said. “Goodbye, hills.” Stephen shook his head. “Not so final. You can come back to see your friends. You can get here by bus, and it’s only half an hour by car. “You’ve plenty time now for driving lessons. That way we can both come and go as we please.” Ash heard, but her mind was elsewhere. The move had seemed so sensible when they were discussing things, she thought. Now it was actually happening, she felt like curling up and crying. It was just a house, she told herself firmly. It was the people who lived in it who had turned it into a home, and they could do so again. She sniffed, searching for a tissue. Stephen glanced across. “A wise woman told me that you should never look back,” he said quietly. “What has happened in the past is out of reach, and we can no longer change it. “We can only face the future and start again, to write the next chapters in our lives.” He touched her arm. “And you have so much still to write, my darling,” he continued. “Your whole life is waiting to open out in front of you. To take whatever shape, whatever direction, you make of it.” “Who was this wise woman?” Ash asked. “Somebody I know,” he said after a slight pause. They followed Hawick’s one-way road system, before finally climbing out of the town and turning east for Denholme. Her three hills, the ancient Romans’ Trimonium, had gone, but there were fields and minor hills in plenty round about them, and another small river to cross. “Not far now,” Stephen said. “About a mile to go.” A few minutes later, the van in front of them slowed down at the approach to the village. A hand appeared from the driver’s window, waving them forward, asking them to lead the way. Stephen checked his mirrors and, slipping past, turned up beyond the village green into the rows of small grey cottages. He stopped in front of their new home, switching off the engine and forcing a wry smile. “The ancient Romans used to burn their boats,” he said. “To stop them going back and forcing them to go ahead and conquer. “We haven’t burned our house, but it comes to the same thing.” In his voice, she sensed the same doubt and uncertainty as in herself. That would never do. “Right,” Ash said more briskly than she felt. “Let’s go. Let’s make a start in turning this old cottage into our new home. “Are you ready, Dad?” To be continued. Love reading? Don’t miss the Daily Serial on our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. The Farmer & His Wife John Taylor tries a declutter! I HATE to admit it, but my memory isn’t what it used to be. One Saturday morning, the phone rang. It was our daughter on the line for Anne. Apparently, one grandson was coming home for the weekend, and another was coming up from an English university to play rugby against Edinburgh University. As the other grandson lives in Edinburgh, it meant she’d be seeing them all. Well, that news was manna from heaven to Granny. “I’ll make three steak and kidney pies and three plate pies.” Anne usually makes steak pies in Pyrex dishes, but not when they’re for the boys. Then they’re made on tinfoil plates. We have a big, deep cupboard for pots and pans. As you can imagine, all sorts of things get thrown to the back of this cupboard – including the tinfoil dishes. Well, it was February. In other words, marmalade time. I told you how I’d bought some partially green oranges and Anne decided to make the marmalade on Saturday night. What I didn’t happen to tell you was what happened when I was looking for the mincer. It was somewhere in the pan cupboard, lurking amidst colanders, a deep-fat fryer and an assortment of items I couldn’t even identify! I eventually found the mincer hidden beneath a heap of those tinfoil dishes. Anne had gone out to see to the hens. I got so annoyed with the mess in the cupboard that I pulled everything out on to the kitchen table and made a pile of the things I was going to throw away. No such luck. Anne announced she needed everything there. However, the tinfoil trays went into a carrier bag without Anne spotting me and were disposed of. Then, when Anne announced recently she needed some tinfoil plates, I went to unearth them from the cupboard and searched everywhere before realising I’d thrown them out. The outcome was I got in the car, drove into Anstruther and bought four new packs. And hopefully Anne will never know. n More next week NATURE 35 A breath of country air Renowned nature writer Polly Pullar takes a lighthearted look at rural life. Photographs by Polly Pullar. A T this time of year we have a brief window of opportunity to look in on the private life of the toad, a fabulous yet greatly misunderstood amphibian. There is frequent confusion between frogs and toads, yet when examined even from quite a distance, they are different. Toads have warty, bumpy skin, whilst the frog’s is smooth. Toads are slow, ponderous creatures, whilst frogs move at far more speed and can take enormous bounding leaps. Toads have eyes the colour of amber, whilst frogs’ are grey-green. Toads spend the greatest part of the year hidden away in dark, dank places, emerging in the evenings to feed. They love to lurk under vegetation in the garden where they devour slugs, invertebrates and snails in large number. Though they favour a damp habitat, they usually only tend to go to water during the breeding season. Frogs, on the other hand, are far more aquatic. Some people find toads repellent; this may be because they still have an association with witchcraft, spells, charms and potions mixed in bubbling cauldrons. Toads and their various body parts were indeed frequently used as a cure for a range of injuries and ailments, including cancer. Kenneth Grahame brought one particular toad to fame with his classic, “The Wind In The Willows”. The toad’s warty lumps secrete a toxic substance that helps to protect it from predators. It does no harm whatsoever to humans, but Toads prefer to move at their own slow pace. on occasion a dog picking up a toad may end up frothing at the mouth. This gave rise to the idea that toads carried rabies. Human toad-eaters once performed bizarre displays in circus and funfair acts. It is thought that they cleverly enacted swallowing a live toad, but actually never did. Instead, they had soap in their mouths that led to the copious frothing. Then they would feign an unpleasant ritual of a near-death experience whilst a macabrely fascinated audience looked on, horrified. Poor toads! It was also once believed that the eggs of certain birds, in particular the wheatear, hatched out into young toads. The reason for this was because toads were often seen hiding in piles of stones around field margins, in close proximity to the places that wheatears in turn chose as ideal nest sites. Every year in early spring I look forward to the arrival first of vast numbers of frogs, and then a little later of parties of toads. They arrive slowly at first, but soon the path to the nearby pond is littered with rampant toads – little croaking males in hot pursuit of big bloated females swollen with eggs. Their breeding desire is so strong that nothing stands in their way, and sadly, as they use traditional routes they have followed for generations, and with our increasingly busy roads, many are squashed in the process. Whilst frogs lay their eggs in great clouds, usually around the edges of ponds and puddles, dew pools and loch borders, toads lay theirs in neat chains, often further out into the water body. Toad chains develop in exactly the same way as frogspawn, though are often far harder to spot in among waterweed. Later in the summer the same migration routes that the adults have used in the spring will be thick with minute toadlets – perfect replicas of their parents. Some summer nights, whilst driving home late across the moors, my journey may take far longer, for I stop to scoop them up to carry them to safety. Whilst they say you have to kiss a lot of toads to finally find your prince, I cannot admit to kissing too many, but I do admit to a huge love and admiration for these perfect little creatures. Take a closer look and you won’t be disappointed. n We take another Breath of Country Air in our February 24 issue. Give Me Five! 36 All these tasty recipes need only a handful of ingredients. For all our recipes, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. SPAM® Hawaiian-style Pizza Course: Lunch or snack Skill level: easy Serves: 4 ■ 1 x 200 g can or tub of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham, cut into small cubes ■ 1 x large pizza base ■ 250 g passata tomato sauce (for pizza base topping) ■ Drained pineapple chunks ■ 150 g (5½ oz) grated mozzarella cheese 1 Pre-heat oven (according to pizza base instructions). 2 Spread the passata (tomato sauce) evenly over the top of the pizza base. 3 Top with cubes of SPAM® Chopped www.spam-uk.com. Pork and Ham, pineapple chunks and the mozzarella cheese. 4 Bake in the pre-heated oven for around 15 to 20 minutes, until the topping is slightly browned/crispy. 5 Serve and enjoy. Roast Pork Dinner COOKERY 37 Course: Main Skill level: easy Serves: 4 ■ 2 loins of pork ■ 2 large onions, diced ■ 4 cloves garlic ■ 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) potatoes To Serve: seasonal vegetables of choice. 1 Pre-heat oven to 240 deg. C., 475 deg. F., Gas Mark 9. 2 Score the skin of the pork loins with a sharp knife in a crisscross motion. 3 Pour boiling water over the pork to help the crackling. Pat dry with kitchen paper, then rub salt and pepper into the pork. 4 Place the onions on a baking tray with the garlic and place the pork loins on top. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. 5 While the pork is cooking, peel the potatoes and chop www.crabbies.co.uk. Leek and Potato Boulangère Course: Main Skill level: easy Serves: 4 Vegetarian ■ 1 tbs olive oil ■ 3 leeks, about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) trimmed, washed and sliced ■ 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely ■ 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) Charlotte or Maris Piper potatoes, sliced thinly ■ 300 ml (½ pt) vegetable stock For extra richness, add some grated Cheddar on top for the last 15 minutes of cooking. into evenly sized pieces. Place in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and boil until nearly done. Leave them undercooked. Drain well, then put the lid back on the top of the saucepan and shake the potatoes so they start to go fluffy. Set aside. 6 Turn oven down to 190 deg. C., 375 deg. F., Gas Mark 5 and continue roasting the pork for an hour. 7 Remove the pork from the oven, and let rest on a cooling rack. 8 Put the potatoes into the roasting tray with the onions and pork fat, season well, and cook until golden brown, roughly 20 minutes 9 Slice pork and serve with the potatoes and vegetables of choice. www.discoverleeks.co.uk. 1 Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. C., 400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6. 2 Heat the oil in a large fryingpan and fry the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes. 3 Grease an ovenproof casserole dish. Place one third of the potatoes on the base, top with half the leek mixture, then repeat the layers, finishing with potatoes. 4 Pour over the stock and season. Lay a circle of baking parchment over the potatoes, cover with a lid and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes. 5 Remove the lid and parchment and cook for a further 15 minutes until potatoes are tender and golden on top. 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. Steak and Chips Course: Main Skill level: easy Serves: 2 ■ 2 large floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward, cut into chips ■ 150 ml (5½ oz) rapeseed oil ■ 1 x 113 g pack Castle MacLellan Oven-roasted Mushroom Pâté ■ 100 ml (3½ fl oz) single cream ■ 2 fillet steaks 1 Pre-heat oven to 220 deg. C., http://castlemaclellan.co.uk. 425 deg. F., Gas Mark 7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. 2 Place the chipped potatoes in the pan and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then drain well. Pat the chips dry with kitchen roll and place in a baking tray. 3 Place the dry chips on a baking tray and drizzle with extra virgin rapeseed oil (this nutty oil perfectly complements the mushroom sauce). Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes for an even golden finish. 4 Meanwhile, to make the sauce, add the mushroom pâté and cream to a saucepan and heat slowly until simmering gently. Keep warm till ready to serve. 5 Remove the steak from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking and rub on both sides with extra virgin rapeseed oil and a little salt and pepper. 6 Place a frying-pan over a medium heat and fry the steaks until cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes in a warm place. 7 Once rested, plate up the steak and drizzle with the mushroom sauce. Remove the chips from oven and serve with the steak. Cauliflower Cheese Course: Side dish Skill level: easy Serves: 4 Vegetarian ■ 1 cauliflower ■ 4 tbs Freee Organic Cornflour ■ 500 ml (18 fl oz) milk (or vegan milk) ■ 150 g (5½ oz) grated cheese (or vegan cheese) ■ 1 tsp wholegrain mustard 1 Chop the cauliflower into florets and cook in boiling water until almost soft. 2 Put the cornflour and 4-5 spoons of the milk into a bowl. Stir into a paste and set aside. 3 Heat the remaining milk in a large pan until almost boiling then remove it from the heat. Stir the cornflour and milk mixture back into a paste and stir the paste into the milk. Return the pan to a gentle heat and stir until the sauce thickens. 4 Stir in the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. 5 Grease a 1 lt (2 pt) ovenproof dish with oil and pre-heat the grill. 6 Drain the cauliflower, add it to the sauce and stir. 7 Tip everything into the prepared dish. Place the dish under the grill for a few minutes to brown the top. Next week: tasty baked dishes. www.dovesfarm.co.uk. For more delicious recipes visit our website: www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk. Set in the 1950s SHORT STORY BY JOYCE BEGG 41 The Best-laid Schemes My mother’s carefully planned Burns Supper was heading for disaster . . . Illustration by Nick Spender. A N experienced member of the Inverkeltie Bowling Club, my mother was heavily involved in the club’s annual Burns Supper. As secretary, she had organised all of the performers for the event, and had also recruited the kitchen staff from the ranks of the primary school dinner ladies. The club president agreed to chair the occasion, and everything was finally in place. So it was unfortunate when all my mother’s schemes began to unravel. The main speaker for the occasion, who was to propose the toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, was to be the local GP, Dr Hamish McKenzie, her husband and my father. “I’m no speaker, Jean,” he argued when asked. “You know that. Any talk I give will probably mention his drinking habits and his rheumatic fever. I know nothing about his poetry.” He paused. “I could mention his women, I suppose.” My mother clicked her tongue. “Of course you know his poetry. You learned it in school. Just say something about his life and work and why he is so greatly loved in Scotland, not to mention the rest of the world.” “That sounds like a lecture.” “Nonsense,” she said briskly. “Bert Smith did it last year for the Masons, and he’s an electrician. You don’t have to be erudite. You just have to be sincere. And, if possible, funny.” He drew himself up. “I’m a doctor, not a comic. What if I get called out in an emergency?” “We’ll worry about that when it happens.” Even I could see that was a bad idea. Anyone taking on the Immortal Memory would need more notice than you would get with a suspected heart attack or a premature confinement. “What I mean is,” she clarified, “if the worst comes to the worst, Elspeth could read your notes. Couldn’t you, Elspeth?” She turned to me, and I held up my hands. “Don’t look at me. Girls don’t do that kind of thing. It’s the men who make speeches.” It was true. Burns Nights were male-dominated affairs in our neck of the woods. Even the Reply to the Toast to the Lasses was often given by a man. The women did have their place, mashing spuds and neeps in the kitchen. There was no suggestion of the men rushing to take over that domain. * * * * In the event, things were taken out of our hands. Seven days before the supper, my father was laid low with an attack of lumbago which prevented him from even writing the speech, far less delivering it. A locum replaced him in the surgery, and my mother had to think again about her principal speaker. As the day drew nearer, things got no better. The music teacher already in place to accompany the singer phoned to say he had accidentally double booked himself, but since he had felt it his duty to find someone to stand in for him, he had engaged the services of the church organist, Mrs Niven. “She’s happy to do it,” he said. “She says it’s decades since she’s been at a Burns Supper, and she’s looking forward to it. “I’m really sorry for my mistake, Mrs McKenzie, but I’m sure Mrs Niven will be splendid.” My mother thanked him and said she was sure Mrs Niven would be fine, but in reality she was cross. Mrs Niven was a nice woman, but she played the hymns at a speed normally reserved for particularly lugubrious funerals. The members of the church choir were the only singers in the building who could get to the end of the line in fewer than four breaths. We would certainly struggle to make “Comin’ Thro’ The Rye” sound jaunty. My mother was still having no luck finding someone to replace my father, and I was beginning to think I was going to have to do it after all. Then I thought of my sister Alison, up at the university, who could possibly get home for the weekend if there weren’t too many unmissable parties. Before I could mention her, however, my mother had a thought. “I’ll ask Isabel.” Mrs Isabel Airlie had a hidden talent. She was a farmer’s wife, but she herself did not come from farming stock. It was not generally known in Inverkeltie, but in a previous life Isabel had been a deaconess. “I don’t talk about it,” she said once to my mother, “because I spend my life explaining it. I worked in parishes where there was no minister’s wife, or where they needed extra female support.” When asked if she could help out at the Burns Supper, she was quick to agree. “Well, I have a few days to prepare, haven’t I?” she said cheerily. “I was never allowed to baptise or bury 42 anyone, but I gave a few stirring sermons if the minister was unavailable. I could certainly have a go at a talk on Burns. “Yes, Jean, I will be happy to do it, if they don’t mind a woman at the rostrum.” “They’ll be delighted,” my mother said firmly, “and so will I. Thank you, Isabel. You’ve saved a life.” She had. I could breathe much more freely now. * * * * That was before the postman who had tentatively agreed to do the Reply to the Toast to the Lasses backed out. “I’m in a panic even thinking aboot it,” he said to my mother. “I just cannae dae it, Mrs McKenzie. You’ll hae to get someone else.” By that late date, there really was only me. I could sense my mother’s desperation. “You’re sitting your Higher English, aren’t you, Elspeth? What’s a fiveminute speech to someone like you? You’d be just the ticket.” Family loyalty made me say yes, but I didn’t get to sleep till five the next morning. All I could hope for was that Ian Fraser, grocer of this parish, booked to do the Toast to the Lasses, would also fall by the wayside, and we could miss out that bit of the programme entirely. Mr Fraser, however, appeared to be in perfect health, and was looking forward to showing off his wit and wisdom at the expense of the opposite sex. By the time the next two cancellations came round, my mother was getting blasé. The tenor booked to sing four songs had unexpectedly to attend a family funeral 200 miles away, and was desolated to have to cancel. So was I. Nigel was a lawyer and a fine specimen of young manhood. I had rather fancied sitting beside him at the top table. Instead, at my suggestion, two of my more musical friends from the high school agreed to stand in. They were both girls, and attracted by the thought of a haggis dinner and the chance of a sly whisky. “They say it’s very good for the vocal cords,” Marion said. “In moderation, of course,” Hazel put in. “We’re responsible adults, taking on a professional engagement. We will moderate our consumption.” “Whatever you do is fine by me,” I told them. On the morning of the supper Peter the plumber, who played the pipes at all village events including weddings and Remembrance Day, woke up with a temperature of 102. His wife phoned my mother, full of apologies. My mother was almost cheerful. “Not his fault. I quite understand. Tell him not to worry, and give him our best. I hope he’s better soon.” She put down the phone, and smiled bravely. “Do you think Nan Barclay would play her fiddle? We could fiddle in the haggis instead of piping it in, couldn’t we?” I grinned. “I don’t see why not. Let’s make it a take-over by the girls. It’s about time.” When the word got out that the performers engaged for the Inverkeltie Bowling Club Burns Supper were almost exclusively female, there was much scoffing and merriment among the males. The chairman of the club, a local businessman whose company manufactured fancy soap, was so affronted that he pleaded a late unavoidable business meeting in London to get him out of presiding at the dinner. My mother was grim in her condemnation. “Business meeting, my foot. Nobody in London wants his rotten soap, and I will certainly never buy it again. He just doesn’t want to be associated with the Supper. How could he do that to his own club? Who am I going to get to chair the thing at this late date?” I had no hesitation in naming the obvious candidate. “Do it yourself, Mum. You’d be leagues better than him, anyway. All you have to do is introduce everyone and keep the thing together. And another thing . . .” “Yes?” I took a breath. “I phoned Alison last night, and she asked who was performing ‘Tam O’ Shanter’. When I said no-one, she said the Supper wouldn’t be legal without it, so I asked could she get home in time and do it for us. She said never in a million years, but I think she will if you ask her.” My mother stared. “Why didn’t I think of Alison? She could get home in plenty of time. You are brilliant, Elspeth. Your father might be laid low, but the rest of the McKenzies will rally. Lead me to the phone.” Alison did reluctantly agree, and my mother came off the phone triumphant. “She says she can’t do it from memory, but she’ll read it. Isn’t that great? I’m beginning to look forward to this.” I felt that was tempting Providence, but I held my tongue. * * * * In the event, my mother was right to be optimistic. The supper was a huge success, if a little unusual. Everything ran like clockwork. Nan Barclay danced down the length of the village hall, fiddling her heart out, while the chief dinner lady strode after her, bearing the haggis aloft. Alison addressed the haggis – another small chore undertaken – and the evening got off to a swimming start. Although Mrs Airlie was a fine farmer in her own right, she was also a great loss to the Church of Scotland in terms of her capacity to address the public. She gave us lots of food for thought about the Bard, while making us laugh at the same time. She was just brilliant. Marion and Hazel sang like larks. Realising early on that Mrs Niven was never going to accompany them at anything like an appropriate speed, they decided to sing unaccompanied, and the full beauty of the melodies flowed round the room. The only thing Mrs Niven actually played was a medley of Burns tunes which sent three elderly members into a happy doze. Mr Fraser the grocer made a good job of the Toast to the Lasses, and was quite funny, if a little predictable. When my turn came to give the Reply I was a touch apprehensive, only ever having made a speech in public at the school debating society. However, my offering seemed to go down all right, and Marion and Hazel said I was much funnier than Mr Fraser, which I hoped was true. The thing about the Inverkeltie Bowling Club Burns Supper that year was that the village saw that something run by women could be just as well done, and possibly better, than something normally run by men. The one man on the top table performed well enough, but then so did everyone else. As for the kitchen, that was female territory, with the exception of Malcolm Barclay, student son of Nan, who washed the dishes. “I know my place,” Malcolm said with mock humility. In fact, Malcolm had no false pride, and was happy to undertake a domestic chore. He was young, the same age as Alison, and he knew things were changing. Gender equality was some way off in those faraway days, but surely one day women would be taken seriously and given the same chances as men. It was gratifying to think that Inverkeltie Bowling Club had shown the way. n Histories Hidden TV presenter Mary-Ann Ochota reveals how to spot the secret signs of our past that surround us. P EOPLE have been living in Britain for tens of thousands of years, and every generation has made its mark on the landscape – building monuments and graves, shaping the land for agriculture, travelling, fighting, raising families and growing communities. The earliest folk were hunter-gatherers who were smart, sophisticated and knew how to live off the land. Then came farmers around 4,300 years ago – and that transition marks the start of the late Stone Age, or Neolithic, and some of our most famous archaeological sites like Stonehenge. After them, a succession of farmers, raiders and Old Churches The earliest Saxon churches (from 600 to 1066) were usually built of wood, but sometimes had a circular stone tower, or used decorative patterns called long-and-short work and “pilaster strips” designed to make the building look timber-framed. Photographs courtesy of Mary-Ann Ochota. Mediaeval Ploughing Spotted a grassy field with a pattern that’s like wide strips of corrugated iron? They’re ridges and furrows made by mediaeval oxen pulling a plough! Mediaeval farmers often shared space in large, open “great fields” that were owned by the lord of the manor. They’d each plough their “strip” separately, creating a flat bed for planting (the “ridge”), with a “furrow” on each side. The pattern only survives if the field was never ploughed again. traders – ours has been a melting-pot island from the first! Wherever you go in Britain this history is woven into the landscape around us – often we spot the clues from car or train windows, when we’re out on a walk, or even looking at photos. What are those lumps and bumps in that field? Why is that old wall such an odd shape? Even the grass under your feet can hold evidence about the hidden history of an area. And at this time of year, when the hedges are bare, the ploughed fields stand naked, and the winter sun casts long shadows over the scenery, you can spot even more clues to help you become a landscape detective. On your next walk or drive, keep an eye out for these intriguing features – they’re all clues to the hidden history of our incredible countryside. Hedgerows This is the best time of year to spot hawthorn hedges that have been “laid” – a traditional technique where the hedgelayer cuts part-way through the vertical stems (“pleachers”), and weaves them into one another. The most common type is the “Midland Bullock”, where all the pleachers are laid to face the animals in the field. The thorny barrier is strong enough to contain even the most wayward cows! If the hedge is straight, it was probably planted between 1700 and 1850. If it’s curvy, it may be much older. HERITAGE 45 Ancient Burial Mounds You can spot round barrows or “tumuli” on the crests of hills, as uncultivated lumps in farmers’ fields, and sometimes with trees planted on top of them as “tumps”. They’re the most common prehistoric monuments in the country, and date from between 2400 BC and 1200 BC, during the Bronze Age – about as old as the Egyptian pyramids! They’re earthen burial mounds with cremations or burials inside them. Many have never been excavated, and we don’t know who might be inside! Raise The Roof Roman Roads The famous “High Street” in the Lakes is of Roman origin. The Romans arrived in AD43, and within a hundred years, they’d built 10,000 miles of new roads across the British Isles. They didn’t stop at Hadrian’s Wall – the most northerly evidence is near Inverness! Dead giveaways are straight roads, bridleways and footpaths that link places with -cester, -caster and -chester placenames (from the Latin castrum meaning “military fort”). Pub Names The Romans were the first to hang a marker outside places that served beer or wine – they’d use a vine, ivy leaves or a holly bush. The tradition continued, and in 1393 in the reign of Richard II, it became law that a landlord had to display a sign if he or she was selling beer. Richard’s heraldic badge is the White Hart – still one of the most common pub names in Britain today. Discover if a house used to have a thatched roof by looking at the chimney. Because thatch is much thicker than the roof tiles that replaced it, the chimney will look strangely tall. The other clue is the “weathering” – projecting masonry part-way up the chimney. This would have originally been at the point where the roof met the chimney, to prevent rainwater seeping in. If it’s now stranded above the roof-line, bingo! It used to be thatched. Mary-Ann Ochota is a TV presenter and author of “Hidden Histories: A Spotter’s Guide To The British Landscape”, published by Frances Lincoln, RRP £20. She’s passionate about British history and helping people get outside and learn more about our landscape. Visit www.maryannochota.com. SHORT STORY BY MARIANNE HARMAN 47 I hadn’t spoken to Kay for years. Could I forgive her after all this time? Illustration by Jim Dewar. T Let It Be HE last time I sang in public was in “South Pacific” in my third year of senior school. I had been given the solo of “Some Enchanted Evening”, but could barely hear myself over the school orchestra, so I was all over the place. A particularly sweaty boy, Michael Jarvis, was parping away on his trumpet right in my ear, enthusiastically spraying spittle everywhere. When I felt a big wet gob of his spit land on my neck, my enchanted evening was well and truly over. I just wanted to stop and “Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair.” “Stand still, Moira, and keep your head up,” Mrs Burton hissed though her teeth. I squirmed and somehow kept going. Then I saw her, across the crowded room. Kay Thorn was smirking at me. I froze. We’d been best friends since we started school. We’d been to all the discos together, played in the netball team together and joined the choir together. Never the wilting wallflower, Kay had persuaded me to go with her because she fancied herself as the next Belinda Carlisle. When I was picked for solos while she was still third soprano she started getting sniffy. “Choir’s rubbish anyway,” she’d say. “Why would I even want to sing that stuff?” Eventually, she fell in with a crowd who persuaded her that I was too boring to hang around with and she dropped me. Clever Jo and Carol were lovely, but no substitute for Kay’s raucous good fun. I was heartbroken. I’d never expected to see her and her new friends at the school production. They were supposed to be way too cool for that. Kay could barely hold it together as I warbled my way through, singing the words “someone may be laughing.” The sound of them all sniggering echoed through the years and I haven’t sung in public since. Today, though, is the regional final of “Sing It Loud!” There’s a rumour doing the rounds that head judge Daniel “It’s a yes from me” Waterman will be coming, which has brought quite a crowd to the local leisure centre. I watch the show every Saturday, and for the past few years I’ve hosted a garden party for our choir, Top Notes, on finals night. We borrow a projector and screen from the school and one of the baritones sets it up in Gill’s gazebo. We’ve entered for the first time this year, but we’re up against the formidable Vocality, who have got through every year since the start. They even made it to the televised live final last year. Apparently, they’re including a dance routine this time, which got a mixed reception from our members, to say the least. I’m just grateful that, as chairwoman, I am purely the provider of tea and sympathy. Mind you, I’m quietly hopeful it’ll be prosecco and congratulations as we’ve got Julia doing our solo. Vocality may be a good amateur set-up, but Julia is ex-West End chorus line and has hoofed and sung her way through masses of musicals. She can put on a show to rival anything Vocality’s got. The TV people have set up a large stage in the leisure centre. First on is the Golden Years Rock Choir singing a Beatles medley. It’s a good solid performance but, to my untrained eye, lacks the sparkle needed for Saturday night telly. Then it’s a men’s group in full barbershop blazer and boater get-up, singing rock songs arranged for barbershop. I don’t recognise most of the songs, but Jake, our choirmaster, is a big fan of that sort of thing and is not happy. “‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ in barbershop? I’m all for choirs doing modern stuff, but that’s a travesty. ‘Ace Of Spades’? Lemmy will be spinning in his grave, and so will I if I hear any more of this. “I’m off,” he huffs. “Have you seen Julia?” “No,” I reply. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her all day. “She didn’t come on the coach because she’s meeting friends afterwards. I hope she finds us all right. I’ll text her and see where she is.” The signal is awful in here so I head outside, grateful for a reason to get out from under the heat of the television lights. “Moira?” Turning, I see a woman in a pair of wide-legged white trousers and long floral tunic. 48 Gold-rimmed glasses sit on a chain around a neck topped by a head of glossy blonde highlights. She is much taller than me and seems scarily self-assured. I don’t recognise her, but perhaps she knows my name from the programme and has seen me with Top Notes. “Yes. I’m terribly sorry – I don’t think we’ve met,” I say, trying to stuff my mobile into my bag but realising it’s still zipped. It falls straight to the ground. “Oh, dear. You want to try unzipping that first!” “Between you and me, it’s just a formality really. I mean, these last two are OK, but . . .” She pulls a face. “And it’s Top Notes’ first year, so they won’t have a clue. Oh, you’re not . . . are you?” She giggles, theatrically clapping her hand to her mouth. What was that about leopards and spots? I decide not to tell her whether I’m with Top Notes or not, and since her favourite topic is probably still Kay Thorn/Parnell, I doubt she’ll bother to find out. “Actually, I rather liked She is much taller than me and seems scarily self-assured She laughs, watching me scrabble in the grass. Feeling flustered, I have to stifle a sarcastic retort. She bends down, scooping up the phone in one surprisingly fluid movement. “Here you are,” she says, smiling. No, she’s definitely smirking, I decide. Kind thoughts, Moira, I tell myself. Perhaps I’ve just misjudged her. I am pretty hot and bothered, after all. “Moira, it’s me – Kay Thorn from school. Well, Kay Parnell now,” she says, nudging my shoulder a little too roughly. Of course, I think, vaguely remembering seeing on Facebook that she’d recently moved back to the area. Not that I dwell on Kay’s updates, or spend too much time deliberating whether to accept her friend request. “Kay, how lovely to see you,” I lie, calling on my mother’s mantra that there’s no excuse for bad manners. She must be with Golden Years, though I don’t remember seeing her. “You must be relieved you’ve already sung.” “What? No, I’m with Vocality. Just waiting for this barbershop lot to finish, then it’s us.” She leans in. the barbershop group,” I say. “I thought what they did was really interesting. But you’re right, Vocality are very good. “Mind you, I hear Top Notes have a fantastic soloist who sang in the West End for years,” I continue, “so they may be the dark horse.” That reminds me, where is Julia? “It was nice to see you again, Kay,” I say. “I’m really sorry, but I do have to make a call. Would you excuse me?” Kay looks shocked that I’m not bowled over to see her and sheepishly ducks away. Well, well, I think. Perhaps she has mellowed a bit over the years after all. Then I hear her shouting at someone to bring her a drink. For now, I’ll just have to put her to the back of my mind and find Julia, or we won’t be competing with Vocality at all. “Are you Moira from Top Notes?” a bearded man with a headset and clipboard says, peeping round the heavy door. “Yes.” I sigh. “You need to round everyone up,” he says. “Vocality are on in five, then it’s you. We want to wrap up this first round sharpish so we can do the final straight after lunch.” “OK, thanks. I’ll let everyone know. “Where are you?” I ask Julia’s voicemail. * * * * Vocality are mustering on stage, which takes some time. The rumours of a dance routine can’t be right as there’s barely room for all of them to stand, never mind dance. They’re all wearing black trousers and red shirts with white belts – apart from Kay, an operatic diva asserting her position in her billowing floral kaftan. She takes her place at the front next to the two male soloists. I thought choirs were beneath her, but it has been a long time and people change. I stifle a snigger of my own this time. “Come on, Moira. Kind thoughts,” I remind myself. The choirmaster brings them together with a dramatic flourish. Vocality launch into the rousing opening harmony of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”. I have always found massed voices very moving, and when the younger of the two male soloists begins singing I have to admit Vocality are very good. They sing a couple of Tom Jones numbers and then it’s their final piece. The band launches into the old Aretha Franklin song “Rescue Me.” Kay steps forward, scanning the room, enjoying her moment. She catches my eye and her expression changes to blind terror. I smile in what I hope is an encouraging way, but she misses her cue and the band go into another loop of the intro. Their choirmaster flaps his arms in panic and the choir starts singing over each other in confusion. As Kay’s cue comes round a second time, she takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and shouts, “Rescue me. Take me in your arms . . .” The choirmaster starts desperately trying to rouse the choir ever louder to drown out poor Kay. By the third “Rescue Me”, there are murmurs in the hall and embarrassed giggles. Kay opens her eyes and in that moment we are back together in Swanfield High School hall. While I’d be lying if I said a little bit of me isn’t enjoying her getting a taste of her own medicine, I know how this feels and I just can’t watch her go on. Her arms stretch out into the hall, reaching for a life raft, and out of nowhere I start singing. For the first time in 35 years. “Cause I need you by my side . . .” I sing as I walk to the stage. We sing the whole song together, clinging to each other. When she calms down, Kay’s voice is pretty good. At the end, everyone claps and whoops. “Thanks, Moira. I just lost it. You were amazing,” Kay whispers. “You weren’t too bad yourself.” * * * * “Brilliant,” the Vocality choirmaster says. “But, well, that’s it, we’re not going through. And who, pray tell, are you?” he says, sniffing in my general direction. “This is my friend Moira,” Kay says. “If it hadn’t been for her we wouldn’t have done anything.” “Um, and this, of course,” he says, gesturing wildly at the choir, “is so much better, I suppose, is it?” He is shouting now and one of the older women comes forward, putting an arm around his shoulder. “Come on, Charles, these things happen, and it was lovely in its way.” She looks us up and down before leading Charles away. We collapse into each other’s arms, laughing. “I’m sorry I was such a nightmare at school,” Kay says once we’ve stopped giggling. “I’ve really missed you, but I didn’t know how to put it right.” “It’s OK,” I say. I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn to see a young woman with an iPad. “Daniel wants to see you,” she says. “Head judge 13 ISSUES FOR ONLY £6!* SUBSCriBerS eNJOy… + Free UK Delivery Money-off coupon inside for Liz Trenow’s great new book shop price – pay just 46p per issue* 7 feel-good stories • FREE UK DELIVERY direct to Perfect pudding recipes to try Jan 20, 2018 No. 7710 Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated. • SAVING OVER £25 on the £1.30 Fabulous fiction! 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You don’t mind, do you?” I call back as I rush off. “No, of course not. Is there anything I can I do to help?” “Just keep the floor manager talking long enough for me to find her, will you?” “Got it,” she replies, smiling. I can’t take it all in. All these years and it seems I’ve finally got my best friend back. “Julia!” I shout desperately across the room. “Is she here?” Jake is rushing around looking for her, too. “I don’t know. I called her. Maybe she’s left a message. I’ll have to go outside to get a signal.” I run into the car park frantically waving my phone in the air. It blips and I swipe my finger from the top. It’s a new message from the phone company offering me an upgrade. “Come on, Julia, where are you?” “Nothing?” It’s Kay. “No.” “The floor manager says you’ve got two minutes, then you can either pull out or . . .” She puts her head down and says quietly, “You could do it.” “What? That’s ridiculous.” Don’t Miss Out! your local newsagent to order this magazine “Why? You’ve already sung once today,” she says. “That wasn’t on my own, remember. I can’t sing the solo!” I exclaim. “You’re right enough there. Sing my solo? I don’t think so.” Julia’s deep throaty laugh bounces off the leisure centre walls. “Julia! Where have you been?” I begin. “Later,” she says, waving me off with a smile. “Where am I going?” Julia is predictably amazing. She comes through like a real trouper with no hint of the four hours she’s spent on the side of the motorway. That woman would be glamorous on a farm, and if she weren’t so lovely I’d definitely be jealous. “Right, everyone, let’s break for lunch,” the floor manager calls. “Moira, Kay,” he calls, waving at us. “Can I just see you both for a minute? Daniel would like to speak to you.” * * * * “Ladies, how lovely to meet you both,” Daniel Waterman says, smiling warmly. I’ve heard that people on the telly are always smaller than you think, and that definitely holds true for Daniel. “I saw you both out there, singing together, and I thought it was fantastic, Moira. It is Moira, isn’t it?” he says to me. “Yes.” “Moira, it was a lovely thing that you did – helping someone from a rival choir.” “Oh, we’re not rivals,” I say quickly. “We’re old school friends. We lost touch and this is the first time we’ve seen each other in donkey’s years.” “Well, we didn’t really lose touch,” Kay says quietly. “I was really horrible to Moira and I haven’t been able to pluck up the courage to contact her to say sorry. “I only joined Vocality when I moved back into the area because I hoped she’d be there, too,” she admits. “She was fantastic in our school choir and I was always envious of her standing up on stage and singing so well. I would have loved to do that, but I was never good enough. “I wanted to be pleased for you, I really did, but I just couldn’t get over my jealousy. Anyway,” she says, turning back to Daniel, “I thought she must have carried on singing and would still be in a choir. It was the only way I could think of to get back in touch.” She turns to me. “Especially after you ignored my friend request on Facebook,” she whispers. That stings, but can you blame me? “That’s lovely.” Daniel smiles, trying to lighten the mood. “It’s just the kind of feel-good story about the power of music in people’s lives that we love to showcase on ‘Sing it Loud!’ “Which is why I’ve decided that there won’t be a final this afternoon. Both choirs are going through to the televised shows.” “Are you sure?” I ask. “What about Golden Years and the Barbershop Boys?” “Well, they were good, but to be honest they weren’t really right for the show. Now, do you want to tell your choirs, or shall I?” * * * * “This is pretty good,” Jake says. “I mean, it’s nice To guarantee you receive each issue of “The People’s Friend”, just ask your newsagent to place a regular order for you. Your copy of the “Friend” will then be held for you to collect, saving you having to search the shelves. Some newsagents may even offer a home delivery service, so just ask them about this service as well. Simply complete this form and hand it to your local newsagent. being on TV and all, but to be honest I think it’s more fun watching it at your house, Moira. “At least we can have a glass of fizz or two,” he adds, taking a healthy swig. “You don’t seriously think it’s better not to be in the final, do you?” I say. “No, but . . .” “I know exactly what he means,” Charles says, grumpy as ever. “I can’t be doing with all those silly make-up girls constantly dabbing me with their powder.” “Which is why he kept calling them over and asking for more, I suppose,” I whisper to Kay. “Mind you, if we joined forces and made one super choir of our best people we would definitely be up there,” he says, pointing at the finalists on the wobbly projector screen. “Oh, you think you’d go straight to the final, do you?” Kay says, laughing. “Foregone conclusion,” Charles says without a trace of humour. “I thought of Vocality Plus for a name.” “What about us? I think “Top Notes V,” Jake says. “V? Five in Roman numerals? But that makes no sense.” “More sense than Vocality. That’s not even a word.” “Come on, let’s leave them to it. I hid a bottle of prosecco in my bag before Jake snaffled it all,” I tell Kay. “That’s assuming you’ve mastered the zip.” “Oh, I’ve done the course and I can even manage Velcro now, I’ll have you know,” I joke, and we head off to find some glasses to toast our rekindled friendship. n Please reserve/deliver* a copy of “The People’s Friend” on a regular basis, commencing with Issue No........ *delete as appropriate Title/Mr/Mrs/Ms ...................... First Name ........................................ Surname .................................................................................................... Address ...................................................................................................... ....................................................................................................................... .......................................... Postcode ............................... Telephone No ................................................................. Inside next week’s issue Our cover feature: Neil McAllister explores London’s Borough Market and the south bank of the River Thames l Wendy Glass pays tribute to the life and work of author Muriel Spark l Our cute knitted dinosaur hoodie is perfect for little ones On sale every Wednesday Plus 7 short stories l Make a meal of our delicious selection of savoury bakes Never miss The People’s Friend again, with a subscription from our shop. Visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk or call 0800 318846. A new Special on sale every Out 3 weeks! now Available to buy from all good newsagents and supermarkets You can also take out a subscription – call 0800 318846 or visit www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk SHORT STORY BY ELLIE EDWARDS 53 The Miracle Man Illustration by iStock. T HERE was a small, striped tent perched on the village green. It had appeared there overnight. It had an expectant air; a jauntiness, even. A single banner proclaimed its owner and its purpose. Dr Incredible: Cures Guaranteed. Marnie saw it the moment she raised her kitchen roller-blind that morning. It sat directly opposite her house like an invitation. She felt her insides leap, and told herself sternly to calm down. She was a head teacher, not a fantasist. Initially, there were whispered wonderings behind the net curtains of neighbouring households and half-hearted jokes in the public house. Children dared each other to peek inside while mothers shushed and chided; men feigned disinterest while their wives threw sideways glances at the new arrival. What was it doing there? Did it require permission from the parish council? Marnie spent that Sunday morning at the kitchen sink, lost in thought, entranced by that banner. She snapped back to herself with a shake of the head. “Cures guaranteed, indeed! Charlatan nonsense.” She shut the blind and spent the afternoon sorting through photographs of her dear mother, lost so many years ago along with all Marnie’s hope and optimism and belief in the general fairness of life. Her grief mutated into the familiar bitterness brought by a sense of injustice. She stamped up the stairs, brushed her teeth furiously and seethed into a deeply unsatisfying sleep. * * * * Morning dawned, unbiased and golden over the village, washing its light across the thatched roofs and gleaming cars, the neat flower-beds and that innocent-looking tent. It was a beautiful day. Children on the way to school craned necks towards the mini-marquee, while youngsters in pushchairs pointed, kicking their chubby, strapped-in legs in a vain attempt to divert their mothers towards it. In the bakery, villagers were talking. “He can’t be a real doctor, can he? Not with a name like ‘Doctor Incredible’. Doctors have names like Doctor Brown or Doctor Mackay.” “I had to see a Doctor Patel, once, in the city. He was a specialist.” “Not all doctors are for healing the sick.” “True. Some are for your One by one people slipped into the little tent. And each of them left with a lighter heart . . . head. Or for books.” “You think he’s a university type of doctor, then?” “Heavens, no! It’ll be a made-up title. To get people’s attention.” “Scandalous.” “He won’t get my attention. I don’t care who he is: he can’t just pitch up here! I won’t be giving him a moment’s thought, I’ll tell you that.” Everyone went about their usual Monday, very definitely not thinking about the curious little tent or the doctor inside. Postie delivered the letters, the teachers taught and the office workers ploughed through to-do lists, and they all kept reminding themselves not to think about Dr Incredible. The tent was visible from nearly every window in the village, and finally a single villager was seen slipping between the canvas flaps by Joan Robertson. A naturally curious person, she saw it her duty to report any untoward activity. By phone. “Just now! Mary Elston: I recognised her coat.” “She’ll have gone because of her baby.” “It can’t be for that. She lost the poor mite three years ago.” “It could still affect her, though.” “But ‘cures guaranteed’? What can she be hoping for?” No-one witnessed her emergence from the tent, but the next day Mary Elston was in the churchyard, laying flowers and smiling. Smiling! “He’s given her some of those drugs from the city.” “Drugs. She’ll probably overdose herself.” “Poor thing. It’s not normal to look that happy on a weekday.” * * * * The following evening, Mrs Tippins told the book club that she’d seen Norman Jacobs walking back across the green from “in there”, talking with that doctor. “Can you blame him? He’s at his wits’ end since his business went bust.” “Wasn’t his fault. That London firm never paid his last three invoices; owed him thousands.” “Not all his staff understood that. Plenty blamed him. Including his wife.” “Look at him, now, though.” “Good morning, ladies!” “Morning, Norman.” He looked as if the weight of the world 54 had been shifted from his shoulders. Marnie spent her days in the classroom, refusing to engage in talk of Dr Incredible. She spent her evenings watching television, browsing family photos and rereading old letters. Avoiding the windows. Finally, having put it off as long as she could, Marnie ventured out to the supermarket. Her spaniel had no tinned food and she’d been drinking her tea black for two days. She heard gossip in every aisle. “Dulcie Gould, who’s been stuck in her house since she fell in the town, seeing no-one but mealson-wheels nigh-on two years. There she was yesterday at that tent. “Next morning, she’s sitting in the tearoom with her paper and her scone, chatting away like the old days, happy as you please!” “Heard about Harry, Jenny’s youngest?” “That little bully! He’s never been in there, has he?” “Wouldn’t credit it, would you? He strode off across the green like a cockerel, boasting to his friends that he’d grab anything worth taking from that tent. Two hours later he’s running to his mam with tears in his eyes! I heard he went and apologised to anyone he’d ever hurt.” “I’ll believe that when I see it. What’s this doctor said to him, then?” “No idea. He’s like the others: can’t seem to remember exactly what happened.” “You going in yourself, Val?” “Oh, I shouldn’t think so. No . . .” Standing at the till, Marnie’s heart raced. These people had no idea. Only she knew . . . * * * * Within two weeks, all but one of the villagers had slipped into that rosy, warm interior with its fragrance of warm childhood summers. Each was met by a tall, pleasantly rotund man whose clear hazel eyes shone above his melting, knowing smile. The welcome was almost hypnotic, a relief and a homecoming. Everyone experienced something similar, yet none felt able to describe it accurately afterwards. “I’m so very glad you came,” he would begin, guiding his visitor to a comfortable chair. “Unburden yourself. Tell me every worry and ailment that troubles you, and leave nothing out. “Only when I have heard every hurt and pain and slight concern can I help you. And I will; I will help you.” Most would hesitate at first, feeling bashful and a little silly; a few launched easily into their list. Some consultations took three hours. Always, they emerged looking lighter and unburdened. Always, they came out beaming. Always, they came out feeling better. Guaranteed. Marnie couldn’t escape the tent with its seaside stripes and fluttering bunting. From her bedroom window, her bathroom, even the lounge, it remained in view. At the school gates, parents whispered about the bemusing doctor, swapping tales without giving details. Marnie buttoned herself up tightly. Habitually aloof, as befits a head teacher seeking to maintain her status in a village, she didn’t indulge in gossip, nor did she linger in the post office. But she couldn’t ignore this influence on the community. It became apparent that everyone else had visited the tent. The entire village seemed giddy with goodwill. “He’s a smasher, isn’t he?” “Oh, Sandra, he’s changed my life. To say nothing of our Frank. Thank heaven that doctor came when he did. It’s made my world brighter, that’s the truth.” How long had it been since she’d felt that warm and positive herself? Certainly she had happy memories from when her mother was still alive. Makeshift picnics in the park, building forts from sofa cushions, baking apple tarts together. Splashing in the sea while her mother held her upright, showing her the striped seaside tents. Father was still very much a part of their lives, then. Even when Marnie went to teacher-training college she’d felt bright about the future, secure, loved. The first signs of her mother’s illness weren’t immediately obvious, but the tumour progressed so rapidly that all Marnie could do was reach out and hold her mother’s hand through the worst of it, trying in turn to keep her upright, willing her to hold on. And what did he do, all this time? Nothing. He stood by and did absolutely nothing. There was no taking away the pain, no stopping the decline. Death rushed towards them and swept her mother away. And Marnie found herself alone, her hand still outstretched, but empty. Years had gone by and she still blamed him. She hadn’t even said the word “Father” for years except to shout and scream and rail against him, and even then he’d said nothing to defend himself or make her feel the slightest bit better about losing her mum. Eventually they’d fallen into silence. But she knew, the moment she saw that candy-striped apparition on the green. She knew precisely what it meant and saw it for what it was. She already knew who was behind that ridiculous boast of “cures guaranteed”. He was there. He was waiting. * * * * Finally, it was time: Marnie walked across the green, head high. She slipped inside the canvas tent and felt tears flow the moment she saw his face. The name came naturally. “Father.” “Marnie. My lovely child.” He took her hands, drawing her to him, and in his eyes she saw a peace she’d never known before. “You might not believe it, but when you and your mother were going through the worst, I was with you. When you held her hand, I held you both, sending you love. “When you lost her, you lost so much love that your pain is understandable, your anger is understandable, but it was her time, Marnie. “I guided your mother and she is there in warm, golden light, waiting. I can help you to let go of the pain and to feel at peace again.” “I can’t. I lost my faith, Father, and I couldn’t find my way back.” “You were always on exactly the right path, it was all as planned, however hard that is to see. “I have stayed within you and around you all this time, sending you love through the children you teach, through each dawn and sunset, even through the birdsong that wakes you. “I knew you weren’t about to step into a church to find me again, but I felt this little striped tent might appeal. “I truly am so very glad you came, my child. More love is around the corner in your life. And children of your own. Everything will be better now.” “I believe it, Father. I believe again.” As Marnie leaned into him, it was as if a collective sigh ruffled the rooftops and rippled the fields. She walked home that evening knowing that life was unfolding afresh, feeling love in her heart, and a new sense of peace. The very next morning, a round patch of yellowed grass was all that remained on the village green. That, and a sort of glow around the village; shared, yet secret. n Set in the 1800s Return To Langrannoch Illustration by Ruth Blair. I SA and Tillie were quick to come to Mrs Lightfoot’s assistance, suppressing their surprise. Isa put her hand to Margaret’s forehead, while Tillie watched for signs of recovery. “Whatever can have happened?” she asked Isa. “Could she have done something to make her leg hurt again?” “I dinna ken how. She was sittin’ doon, and she was fine a minute before.” Mr Philips asked everyone to stay calm, a quite unnecessary request. There was quiet astonishment on all sides. Maisie was round-eyed and Arthur had his mouth open, but no-one was excited. “I suggest,” Mr Philips said, “that Isa and Tillie take Mrs Lightfoot to her apartment. Mrs Lightfoot is obviously a little unwell, but I am sure she’ll recover in a few moments.” That was exactly what happened. Margaret came round and tried to get to her feet. Isa and Tillie helped her up and escorted her out of the kitchen. Mr Philips looked round the assembled company. “I don’t want to hear any gossiping about this. No-one else needs to know.” There was a murmur of “Yes, Mr Philips” round the table, and everyone returned their attention to their plates. But the air of mystery remained. Why should someone who seemed perfectly fit one minute suddenly faint clean away? What had prompted such a collapse? Back in her room, Margaret Lightfoot thanked Isa and Tillie for their help, and insisted she was fully recovered. “Would you like me to By the end of their conversation, Luke was already captivated by this quick-witted girl . . . get Miss Caroline?” Isa asked, anxiety making her revert to Caroline’s premarriage name. “She might think you should see the doctor.” Margaret shuddered. “No doctor, Isa. I think it was just a little hot in the kitchen, and it overcame me. I’ll be fine. I feel much better already.” Isa refrained from saying that she didn’t look it. Her colour was still poor and her voice shook. But Margaret’s will prevailed. No doctor. “Thank you for your concern, ladies,” she said, SERIAL BY JOYCE BEGG: PART 3 OF 3 57 with her usual formal manner. “I’ll be perfectly fine now. I may retire a little early, but I’ll be right as rain tomorrow. Please say nothing to Mrs GrantSmyth.” Whatever their misgivings, Tillie and Isa had to acquiesce. “I’ll look in a little later,” Isa said. “Just to be sure. You have a good rest.” * * * * Although still not looking her best, Margaret was sufficiently recovered by the morning to institute a programme of domestic housework that amounted to a proper spring clean. “Every spare bedroom will be used by our guests, so they must be properly washed down and aired.” The main house was always kept in a state of cleanliness and order, especially since Margaret had arrived, but the spare rooms were another matter. Isa and Tillie stood, ready to face the challenge, while the tweeny, Maisie, was open-mouthed and wideeyed. Margaret gave the girl a small smile. “Just do what Tillie and Isa tell you, Maisie. They will instruct you. Can I suggest you start with a proper apron? You’ll find one in the airing cupboard on the top landing.” She turned and set off along the corridor. “If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the diningroom, counting the cutlery.” “She seems fine again, doesn’t she?” Tillie whispered. Isa was unconvinced. “She still looks upset, if you ask me. However, ours not to reason why, as my granny used to say. I think it was yon poet chap, Tennyson, that said it. You ken who I mean? The Queen likes him.” “Does she?” Apart from what she had read out of the Langrannoch library, encouraged by Caroline, Tillie’s knowledge of literature was limited, thanks to an idle dominie in the village school. Fortunately, he had recently been replaced with a younger and more inspiring teacher. Tillie’s brother, Leckie, was much more highly educated than Tillie had ever been. “Right,” Isa said. “Let’s find you an apron, Maisie, then we’ll get your bucket filled.” * * * * Arthur Robertson’s training as a footman had some way to go. He was a willing worker, and wanted to learn, but Mr Philips reckoned that the gap between the boy’s own experience and the tasks required of a footman was possibly too wide to bridge. At least, not at the kind of speed necessary for him to operate successfully at a grand dinner. Mr Philips had never had occasion to visit the seamier side of Glasgow, but he had heard that there were areas of vice and squalor that defied imagination. The boy seemed guileless enough, but how would one know? Just because Arthur came from a povertystricken background did not make him a villain, but there would always be an element of risk. And it certainly didn’t make him a footman. He was never going to be a Sandy. While Mr Philips pondered on the problem, the boy himself was well aware of how lucky he was. His mother had done her feeble best to instil some moral values in her children, but was defeated by circumstances and by the brutality of her husband. That said, Arthur had picked up the idea of the virtue of honest labour and was determined to repay those who had rescued him from what he now saw was a desperate way of life. And now that his breathing was causing him less trouble, he worked all the hours he could. So it was unfortunate that he came to grief while serving dinner to the same people to whom he owed so much. The family only had one guest, so it could have been worse. The guest was Doctor Luke Jardine, who was staying for two nights while he and the Grant-Smyths worked on the detail of how the grand dinner would go. “I’d be very happy to address the company, and give a lecture perhaps on the living conditions of some of our less fortunate citizens. I want people to know exactly where their money will be going.” Luke looked from one to the other. “It’s all very well helping the poor in a general sort of fashion – everyone sees the logic in that – but I want it to be more clearly defined. I want to set up a clinic and “In the sideboard, sir.” Philips clicked his tongue in exasperation. “Bring them out, boy. They should be on the table.” The boy moved quickly to obey, and in the process dropped one of the pepper pots. The lid, insecurely attached, flew off across the carpet, and the contents of the pot blew up in a fine mist. That was all Arthur’s chest needed to set up a paroxysm of coughing. Luke Jardine looked up automatically, recognising a Arthur was a willing worker, and wanted to learn offer free advice and, if possible, free medicines. Just to get it established will take a lot of cash, and I’m hoping people will respond to that.” “I’m sure they will.” Caroline spoke in encouraging tones. “I would suggest you include lots of practical detail, without . . .” Luke smiled. “Without boring folk to death. Yes, I’ll try to strike a balance.” He was interrupted at that point by Tillie offering more potatoes. “Straight out of the garden,” Rory said proudly, as though he personally had dug the soil and grown the crop. “They’re delicious,” Luke said, helping himself to a healthy spoonful. “Just plain potatoes, served with butter and mint. Perfection.” Rory agreed. “I quite like a dash of pepper myself. Can I offer you some, Jardine?” He looked around for the appropriate container, at which point Mr Philips stepped forward from the side table. “I’m sorry, sir. The pepper pot seems to be missing.” He signalled to Arthur, also at the side table. The butler’s voice was a whisper, but Arthur heard the rebuke just the same. “Did you fill the pepper pots as instructed?” Arthur nodded enthusiastically. “Where are they?” deep-seated cough when he heard it. Tillie carried on offering the potatoes, her eyes swivelling to where the pot and its lid had landed. Mr Philips apologised to Mrs Grant-Smyth, put down the second pepper pot in front of her and escorted the hapless Arthur, still coughing his head off, out of the dining-room. “I’m really sorry, Mr Philips,” Arthur tried to say in a series of squeaks. “Go on outside and get some air,” the butler said, half magisterial, half exasperated. “Tillie and I will manage. Don’t come back till you can breathe without exploding.” Back in the dining-room, Rory was explaining Arthur’s presence at the table. “He’s a lad I had working in the factory. He was in a shocking state with his chest, and I thought a spell in the country might improve things. Our butler, Mr Philips, is training him in the art of being a footman. I’m not sure he’s succeeding.” Luke smiled. “Well, it was a kind thing you did, Rory.” “Arthur’s health has improved a lot,” Caroline interposed. “The fresh air has done him a power of good. The pepper was just unfortunate. Any of us would have had the same reaction.” Luke nodded. “You’re probably right. What kind of 59 background does the boy have?” Rory mentioned the address that Arthur had given Dr Webster in the factory. Luke winced. “He’s well out of there. That’s just the kind of place I mean when I talk of setting up a clinic. These people have so little, it’s criminal. Not everyone will get Arthur’s chance, but they’re entitled to more than they have.” He stopped to think a moment. “Perhaps Arthur could help to illustrate the point in my lecture.” He paused again. “I’ll have to think about that.” “Meanwhile,” Caroline said, “have some more butter with your potatoes, Luke.” * * * * Outside the house, another drama was taking place. As Arthur made his way through the garden and round to the stables, his cough easing as he breathed the summer air, he could hear the head groom Mr Spowart’s voice raised in what sounded like a heated argument. A horse whinnied fiercely. Arthur had an instinctive liking for the horses. Without ever getting in Spowart’s way, he often came and watched the big animals, especially Samson the Clydesdale. Very occasionally, when he was sure he wouldn’t be found out, he chatted to Samson over the stable door. For some reason, in spite of the straw and the horses themselves, he never coughed in the stables. His chest didn’t seem to protest at all. This time, a mighty fight seemed to be going on between Spowart and Roger, the horse usually ridden by Mr Grant-Smyth when he had the time. Roger was high spirited and occasionally objected to being put in his stall. This evening was one of those occasions. Spowart was losing his temper, which even Arthur could see was counter-productive. Acting purely on instinct, with no knowledge of horses to go on, Arthur ran towards the handsome animal and grabbed hold of his bridle. The horse rolled his eyes, but Arthur spoke calmly and deliberately, stroking his neck and encouraging him towards the open stable door. Spowart loosened his grip slightly so that Arthur had more control, and in two minutes Roger had calmed down, lowered his head, and strolled into his stall. If Arthur had expected Spowart to glower at him, he was not disappointed. In fact, he cowered before the older man, expecting a rebuke for interfering. “What did you think you were daein’? Have you dealt with horses before?” Arthur shook his head. “I just thought – I mean, I didnae think.” “You certainly didnae,” Spowart agreed. “Roger’s a mean beast. He could have kicked you to Kingdom come. You wouldnae have been worried about your cough then, I can tell you.” “Sorry, Mr Spowart.” “Aye, well. You were lucky this time. Away back to your domestic duties, son, and don’t mess with the horses.” Arthur found an unsuspected courage. “Can I say goodnight to Samson?” “What? Say goodnight –?” Spowart stopped and gave a wry grin. “Och, all right. He’ll no’ give you any trouble, I’ll grant you that.” Arthur approached the gentle Clydesdale, stroked his nose and chatted quietly, while Spowart looked on with a speculative eye. * * * * It was the following morning that saw Dr Luke Jardine enjoying a corner of the Langrannoch garden. If Rory had thought that the country air would help Arthur, Luke knew that it was likewise helping him. He had found a bench against a bank of azaleas and was working his way through his lecture notes when he heard the voices of small children and the quiet, authoritative voice of their nanny. Although he had been hoping to see more of Alice Macleod on this visit, she had rarely crossed his path. He suspected that Alice had her meals in the nursery with her charges, which must make her feel a little isolated. Certainly, he had only met her briefly, when Helena came to say goodnight to her parents. There was something appealing about the young woman, something he would like to follow up on. The trio of Alice, Helena and Isa’s son, William, came round the corner of the bushes. Helena spotted the bench and its occupant. “Look,” she said, “it’s Luke,” which caused confusion all round. There was always some doubt with Helena about what she was actually saying, which was compounded this time by the similarity of the words themselves. “Doctor Jardine,” Alice corrected automatically. Helena barely listened, intent on renewing her acquaintance with the doctor by showing him her dilapidated but much-loved grey elephant. William was persuaded to join in, though he was always a few steps behind Helena. The adults indulged the children for a few minutes, till Alice felt they should move on. “Come along, children. Doctor Jardine is busy writing. He’s got a very important speech to make, and he needs to concentrate.” The chances of either of the children understanding that was very low, but it made Luke smile, which in turn elicited the same response from Alice. It was Luke who extended the conversation, asking how Alice was enjoying Langrannoch, and whether or not she would be able to attend the dinner. “I would love to,” Alice said, “but my duties with the children come first.” Luke nodded. “I’m pleased you’re interested. It’s a very worthy cause.” “I’m sure it is, and I’d love to help.” “Would you?” Luke’s eyebrows rose. Alice took a deep breath, then spoke out. “Do you have anyone on your team, Doctor Jardine, who will be in charge of the donations you hope to collect?” Luke was open-mouthed with surprise. “Well, I – I imagined I would do that.” “It might be something I could help with.” She met his gaze levelly. “I’m good with money. My father owns a grocery shop and many times I’ve been put in charge of organising the finances.” “So why are you . . .?” Alice shrugged. “My parents thought that life as a nanny was a step up from a shop girl. They meant well, and my life here is extremely pleasant, but I’d really like to be more useful.” At that point, all four of them found themselves sitting on the grass while Alice made daisy chains for both the children to wear round their necks. The conversation with Luke carried on throughout, as they exchanged information on what was the best way to proceed. Luke’s admiration for the nanny grew by the minute, her cleverness adding to her understated good looks. He was well on the way to being totally enchanted. As the children tired of the game and wanted to wander further afield, Luke got to his feet. “Would you like me to mention to Mrs GrantSmyth that you have offered to help? I think she would be very glad of your support.” Alice smiled widely. “Always provided I can care for Helena and William at the same time. I do understand that. I’m sure I could manage both.” Luke decided to forgo his morning of planning, and stayed with Alice and the children for fully an hour as they wandered round the extensive gardens 60 of Langrannoch. By then he was convinced that Alice Macleod was going to figure in his life for some time to come. Perhaps even for ever. He would have given a great deal to know if Alice Macleod felt the same. * * * * Once it came to Mr Philips’s ears that Arthur had shown an interest in the horses and an aptitude for handling them, he took it upon himself to approach Spowart and ask his opinion. “To tell you the truth, Mr Spowart,” he said, “the boy will never make a decent footman. He’s willing enough, but he just doesn’t have the skill. “He tells me he likes horses, and you have in the past complained about being short-handed. So, what do you think? Could he learn a bit more from you than he has from me? “I’m sure Mr GrantSmyth will go along with the idea. He just wanted the boy to get some country air. I don’t think he’ll mind how.” Which was how Arthur moved out of the room he shared with Sandy, and into the rooms above the stables. He still came in and out of the kitchen, but was rarely in the house proper. As Mrs Campbell remarked to Isa, it was a joy to see a lad coming along so well. “He’s put on weight and everythin’.” She beamed. “He just looks great. I wish his mother could see him.” Isa grinned. “You’re feedin’ him too well, Mrs Campbell. How are the plans comin’ along for the grand dinner?” Mrs Campbell was instantly diverted, and went to check her lists yet again. While Arthur was moving from one job to the other, it also came to Mrs GrantSmyth’s attention that Mrs Lightfoot had been unwell and fainted in the kitchen. It was something the little maid Maisie let slip that alerted her, after which she looked more intently at the housekeeper, and noticed her pallor and even more exaggerated reserve. It was during one of their regular meetings about the running of the house that Caroline mentioned Margaret’s accident in the Sauchiehall Street store. “I take it you’ve fully recovered, Mrs Lightfoot? It was a really bad fall you took, and I just assumed you had made a complete recovery. Have you?” “Yes, madam. I’m fine.” “Mmm.” Caroline looked at the other woman in a considering way. “You still look pale. Are you sure you aren’t doing too much, what with this dinner coming up and everything?” “I’m perfectly well, madam. I never did have much colour, I’m afraid.” “Very well.” She decided not to mention Maisie’s accidental slip. “I forgot to tell you that Doctor Jardine was asking how you are.” Margaret took a sharp intake of breath. “What did he say about me?” Caroline paused. “He asked after your health, Mrs Lightfoot. It was he who treated you, after all. He would regard it as his duty to ask how you are. What else would he say?” “Nothing. Nothing at all,” Margaret said, looking down at her feet. Her agitation showed in her face, and Caroline laid her hand on the other woman’s arm. “Something is bothering you, Mrs Lightfoot. If you take me into your confidence, I assure you it will go no further. I’m happy to help if I can.” Caroline’s kindness was Margaret’s undoing. Her eyes filled with tears, and there was a racking sound from her throat. “Let’s sit down. Here, take this chair.” They both sat, Margaret still choking. “Are you unhappy about something here? Has something happened in Langrannoch?” Mrs Lightfoot shook her head violently. “No, madam. I’ve been so happy here. It’s been so wonderful after – oh, madam!” At this point, she broke down entirely. Caroline waited, and then spoke. “Were you not happy with Mrs Thorn in Bristol? She gave you a reasonable reference.” Margaret collected herself. “Yes, she was a perfectly good employer until she heard about – about –” She paused, and took a deep breath. “I was Miss Lightfoot when I worked in Bristol, and then quite by chance, Mrs Thorn found out that I had had a child. I wasn’t married. I had never been married. That was enough for her, I’m afraid. I was given notice to leave.” The bleakness in her voice touched Caroline in an unexpected way. “Why don’t you tell me what happened, Margaret. From the beginning. Tell me about your child.” Margaret took a shaky breath. “There was a young man. Edward, his name was. My father didn’t approve of him, but I loved him, and he loved me. We were engaged to be married, in spite of my parents. “He had to go to America on business, only for a few weeks. We took a farewell of each other more fervently than perhaps was wise, but it didn’t seem wrong, it really didn’t. “We were to be married as soon as he returned. But he didn’t come back.” Her voice shook, but she fought the tears and carried on. “He took ill on the voyage and died at sea. It was very quick, apparently. And then, no sooner had I heard the news than I found out I was pregnant.” She paused. “In one way, I was horrified. But I would have had his child. He would live on in his son.” She was silent until Caroline prompted her. “What happened?” “I was sent to a stranger in Yorkshire with no contact with my parents until my son was born. Then my father came and took him away. He took him from my arms – my little Edward!” Caroline was appalled. “Where did he take him?” Margaret shook her head. “I never knew. I would like to think he gave him to people who would love him, but the steps of an orphanage would be more likely. It would be done anonymously.” She paused. “I used to dream that he had been left in York Minster, where at least he would be sure of a little Christian kindness. I even asked once, years later, if they had any record of such a child. But they didn’t.” There was silence. Caroline could only imagine how she would have felt if someone had snatched Helena from her arms. To be in a situation like Margaret’s would have been intolerable. “When Mrs Thorn dismissed me, I became Mrs Lightfoot. It seemed safer, though it wasn’t true. When I landed in hospital in Glasgow and Doctor Jardine examined me, I could see he had noticed the marks on my body. He knew I had had a child. He said nothing at the time, but –” “He said nothing to anyone, you can be sure of that,” Caroline said. Margaret nodded briefly. “I’m sorry I doubted him.” She sighed. “Then Arthur appeared.” Caroline was astonished. “Arthur?” Margaret half smiled. “Oh, I didn’t think he was Edward come back to me. Not with the poor boy’s history as it was. No, but he was much the same age, and he had the same birthday: January twentyfive. The same as Robert Burns, and my little Edward. I was momentarily overcome.” There was a long silence, then Margaret went on. “Mrs Thorn spoke of moral turpitude, and my being a bad influence on the young. If you wish me to leave, madam, I will quite understand.” Caroline looked at the older woman and thought she had never heard anything so sad. “You must stay,” she said firmly. “Rest assured, no-one will hear your story from me. Not only are you 61 a fine person, but you are needed. The house needs you and so does the family. If you are happy here, then do not think of going.” This time, Margaret didn’t try to fight the tears. * * * * The Langrannoch charity dinner was talked of for many years after the event. The house was filled with conversation and laughter. In the kitchen, Mrs Campbell reigned supreme over a team of kitchen maids and waitresses drawn from neighbouring houses. Isa was at her side, as was Lady Grant-Smyth’s companion, Grace, who showed a surprising capacity to work like a Trojan. The end result of all this labour was a series of buffet tables filled with a wide selection of delicacies. Throughout the meal, Tillie and Sandy worked like a well-oiled team, so that Tillie began to see that they might do well together on a more permanent basis. She found herself looking at Sandy with fresh eyes. Not only was he in tune with her way of doing things, but he was better looking than she had noticed before. Her ambitions to be housekeeper at Balmoral might well have to wait. After the meal, when everyone was replete with food and wine, Luke took the floor in Langrannoch’s handsome hallway. The company crowded in, filling the corners and doorways. On the top floor, the tweeny Maisie held on to Helena, who had been allowed to stay up to see the pretty ladies with their elegant dresses before being taken off to bed. Luke’s talk was absorbing and enlightening. He decided not to use the example of Arthur as someone who had benefited from a helping hand, not wishing the lad to feel he was some sort of exhibit. Luke’s talk was sufficiently impassioned to stir the company into unparalleled generosity. His address was helped by the presence of Alice, whose charm and persuasiveness masked a ruthlessness unsuspected in someone so young and presentable. The offers of cash and support were noted in ink in Alice’s ledger. Luke was delighted, and completely captivated. For her part, Alice was pleased to be using her mind and her talents in a different way, and looked forward to doing a lot more of it. The question of Luke was something she’d ponder, though possibly not for long, before deciding that her future lay with him. The evening marked another turning point for Mrs Lightfoot. Her powers of organisation had been tested and found excellent, and she had loved the whole experience. As she watched the company from the doorway to the kitchen quarters, she realised that she had at last found a home. After her father’s cruelty, she had resisted his demands that she return to the parental home. She had found work, and had prevailed. She had found happiness and her future was full of contentment and hope. As the evening drew to a close, Rory and Caroline Grant-Smyth stood together at the door, waving farewell to their guests. On her way back to the Dower House with Grace, Lady Gertrude stopped on the doorstep, and turned to her son. “That was well done, Rory. You have helped a great cause. I speak as one who has a lot of experience with charity work.” “Well, thank you, Mother, but it was really –” “I know,” Lady Gertrude smiled. “It was Caroline who did most of the work.” She put her hand on her daughter-in-law’s arm. “I know you had a team behind you, but you should take the credit for getting it to come together. The evening was a big success.” She turned to her companion. “Now, I would be grateful for an arm, Grace. Let’s go home.” The End. On Reflection From the manse window by David McLaughlan. I N younger days, James was an agricultural worker. He enjoys sharing stories of those times with greatgrandchildren, who listen as enthralled as if he was telling them about living on Mars. None of the little ones can imagine living in a dirt-floored cottage where the only running water ran through a nearby stream. They love to hear about it, but most of all, they love to hear how Papa James met Granny Helen. The story began when James opened his cottage door and saw nothing but white. A snowstorm had almost buried the cottage. For many it would be the perfect excuse to go back to bed and pull the quilt over our heads, but James knew the farmer would need help finding the sheep before they froze, so he set to digging. Once he had space, he surveyed the fields between his cottage and the farmhouse. Normally, they made for a mucky, tussocky walk. He had twisted an ankle more than once crossing them. Now, they were all the one flat blanket of snow. Except . . . He could make out the top of the hawthorn hedges. They were tough. They had to be to keep the cattle in. The branches twisted and intertwined, providing strength and support for each other. Now they were full of snow. With more digging and the aid of a stout gate, James stepped on to the flat top of the hedge. It held his weight. He tried a step or two. The surface crunched underfoot, but the snow was hard-packed and the hawthorn provided sufficient reinforcement. From his vantage point he saw Helen. She was a maid at the “big house” and had made her way as far as the road-end. Deciding their fleeces would provide enough of a heat and air cushion for the sheep to survive a while longer, he set about negotiating the hedges until he reached the road. Once there, he bent down and offered a hand to the surprised young woman. He then escorted her all the way to the big house before heading off to work. She was there with the other women, providing a warm welcome and hot food to the men who brought the flock safely home. Years later, she said the thing she liked about James was that he looked for solutions where others would only see problems. We say, when one door closes another one opens, but most of us are too busy staring in frustration at the closed door to look for the open one. James looked beyond a doorway filled with snow and found a way in something that had once been a barrier. Hedges that were supposed to be obstacles became new paths. It’s a trait James and Helen delight in seeing in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and one we might adopt to good advantage. This world is not set up to stop us living life to the full. It does open new doors when old ones close. But it also challenges us to find them. And rising to that challenge, finding the positive, wherever it might be, is the best way to get to where life wants to take us. Just ask James. n Next week: Janice Ross celebrates Candlemas. KNOW HOW 65 How To Choose A Turntable Revive those 45s with advice from consumer expert Lorna Cowan. I F your treasured collection of LPs is sitting idle in a cupboard because you don’t own a record player, here’s some good news. Vinyl sales are having a revival, so with everyone listening to records again – you’ll even find them on supermarket shelves – it’s easier than ever to buy a turntable. However, with prices ranging from £50 to well over £1,000, what should music lovers look out for? First of all, it’s worth noting that although there is technically a difference between a record player and a turntable, the words are often used to describe both, so do check what you are buying. If we’re being pedantic, a record player comes with a built-in amplifier and at least one speaker, whereas a turntable is a standalone unit and needs to be connected to an amp and separate speakers. The latter can end up being an expensive purchase if you don’t already have some sort of stereo set-up. When buying a turntable, make sure it will play all the records you own. Ideally you want one that is compatible with LPs, as well as 7-inch, 45-rpm singles, and perhaps even 78-rpm records. Also, if you don’t want to disturb others in the house, check it has a headphone socket. What’s on offer? Portable record players If you simply want to reminisce while listening to iStock. Digitising your record collection If you want to transfer your music on to a Windows PC or a Mac so you can listen to much-loved tunes while writing e-mails or surfing the internet, look for a turntable with a USB outlet. This is the easiest way to convert your records into digital files as a USB cable and software will be provided, and you’ll be guided through the process step by step on your computer screen. Some software also allows you to edit out the sound of any scratches on the surface. songs from yesteryear, and you’re not too concerned about top-notch sound quality, a value-for-money portable record player, such as those found in Argos, Currys and HMV, is worth considering. Today, many have a retro design and can be carried like a briefcase, allowing you to move it around your home or take it along to a dance – some even have a rechargeable battery. Wireless turntables Perhaps a better option, especially for anyone with a valuable record collection, is a wireless turntable. Sometimes referred to as a Bluetooth record player, these connect with Bluetooth speakers and produce a decent sound. Brands such as ION can be bought for under £100 from John Lewis, are compact, have no visible messy wires and when you use with a Bluetooth speaker, music can be listened to in any room. Automatic turntables A turntable with auto operation, which automatically starts playing at the push of a button, is a good idea if you don’t have Tempted to buy a second-hand turntable? Check its condition first. The base needs to be level so that the tonearm can move across the record without causing any damage. A new stylus is a wise investment, too, but they can be difficult to find for older models. the best eyesight and you’re not confident moving the tonearm and putting the stylus on to the record yourself. The tonearm will also return to its starting position after the record ends. n If You Only Bake One Thing... COOKERY 67 Make it this marvellous Chocolate Marmalade Cake The cake freezes well. Wrap well and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost, in the wrappings, at room temperature for about 2 hours. Ice once defrosted. Marmalade moments The word marmalade comes from “marmelo”, the Portuguese for quince, the fruits originally used to make the sweet treat. Early marmalades were a type of thick fruit paste that could be cut and served in squares, and were usually eaten in the evening. However, when Janet Keiller, a sweetmaker living in Dundee in the 1760s, acquired a cargo of Seville oranges, she used them to adapt a recipe for spreadable quince marmalade. Her idea was to include evenly distributed “chips” of peel. The new product proved popular at breakfast, changing the habits of a nation. Janet’s son, James, took over the business and by the mid-nineteenth century, Keiller’s Dundee marmalade was being exported all over the world. Prep time: 20 minutes plus cooling Cook time: 1¼ hours Serves: 10 Per portion: 462 Kcal, 23 g fat (14 g sat. fat) u 175 g (6 oz) lightly salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing u 175 g (6 oz) golden caster sugar u 3 medium eggs u 200 g (7 oz) plain flour u 1 small orange, finely grated zest and juice u 150 g (5 oz) dark chocolate chunks u 75 g (3 oz) thick marmalade u 25 g (1 oz) cocoa powder u 1½ tsp baking powder For the Icing: u 110 g (4 oz) icing sugar u ½ small orange, grated zest and juice u 3 squares plain chocolate u 1 tbs chopped mixed peel 1 Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg. C., 350 deg. F., Gas Mark 4. Butter and triple line a deep 18 cm (7 in) round cake tin. 2 Beat the butter and sugar together for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of flour with each egg, then whisk in the orange zest and juice. Add the chocolate chunks and marmalade and sift the remaining flour, cocoa powder and baking powder on top. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture using a large spoon. 3 Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 to 1¼ hours until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn on to a wire rack to finish cooling. 4 When the cake is cold, carefully peel off the paper. Store in an airtight tin until ready to decorate (the cake will keep very well for up to 2 weeks). 5 To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add enough orange juice (approx. 1 tablespoon) to make a smooth, spreadable icing. Spread over the top of the cake, right to the edge, allowing it to drip over the sides. Using a vegetable peeler, shave pieces of chocolate and sprinkle on the top of the cake with the orange zest and the chopped peel. Leave the icing to set for a few minutes before serving. This recipe is from “Cook It Slowly!”, the Dairy Cookbook published by Eaglemoss Ltd. It’s available to buy for just £8.75 online at www.dairydiary.co.uk or by calling 0845 0948 128. UK readers of the “Friend” can get FREE P&P – just quote DDPR when ordering. Bronze Burns In New York Central Park’s seated tribute to Burns was made by John Steell, the Aberdeen-born sculptor behind a large number of Edinburgh’s statues. In his lifetime he produced at least five likenesses of Burns. He was also credited with introducing the art of bronze casting to Scotland. The statue was built relatively quickly, as the city’s Burnsians had not wanted to be outshone by the statue to Sir Walter Scott erected in the park in 1872. It was officially the first statue of Burns unveiled outside of Scotland. Photographs © Alamy. Vancouver Sydney The Sydney Burns was unveiled in January 1905, and Australia’s largest city saw a good turnout for the event, though things were kept abrupt as the weather wasn’t feeling generous. Wearing a Kilmarnock bonnet and resting on a plough still in a furrow, the statue is a homage to Burns’s rural background, though in fact he was well educated by a private tutor. Burns stands on a plinth of Melbourne granite. The Canadian city’s statue was the very first built in the city, having been erected in 1928. The Vancouver Burns Fellowship formed in 1924 to study and promote the poet’s works, and several fund-raising events were held to drum up funds. By the time the money was available, commissions for local artists to do the job failed when the Fellowship decided the likenesses weren’t good enough. In the end, they commissioned an exact copy of George Lawson’s statue in Ayr, which was shipped to the city from Britain through the Panama Canal. In time for Burns Night, we look at tributes to Scotland’s Bard around the world. HERITAGE 69 Dunedin The second-largest city on New Zealand’s South Island is a stunning combination of Victorian and Edwardian architecture with a strong Scottish and Maori heritage. Its name is a contraction of Dùn Èideann, the Gaelic name for Edinburgh. The 1887 statue of Robert Burns is particularly relevant here as for many years in the mid-19th century, the poet’s nephew, the Reverend Thomas Burns, was the town’s spiritual leader. San Francisco The Birks Of Aberfeldy The woodland walk around the slopes of the Moness Gorge just outside of Aberfeldy, called “the Birks”, so inspired Burns on a tour of the Highlands that he penned a poem in its honour. In commemoration of this, a statue of him sits pensively in the woods overlooking the lovely Moness Burn. A campaign for a statue in the city was started in 1905. Melville Earl Cummings was commissioned to produce it, but while it was at the foundry for casting in 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake struck and the whole building and its contents were destroyed. The project began again in the city’s rebuilding and it was unveiled in Golden Gate Park in 1908. n The Farmer and His Wife The bestselling title and the sequel together in one great value pack! For many years, the stories of John and Anne Taylor and their life on the area of Fife known as the Riggin have been a mainstay of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Enjoy the first and second collection of these much-loved tales, accompanied by the original watercolour illustrations created by Dundee artist Douglas Phillips. VOLUMES 1 2 AND FREEPHONE: 0800 318 846 And quote the appropriate code. Lines open 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon-Fri and 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat free from UK landlines only. Please have your credit/debit card details to hand. www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk BY POST: Send coupon with credit card details or a cheque/postal order payable to DC Thomson & Co. Ltd. to: “The People’s Friend” Farmer and His Wife, DC Thomson Shop, P.O. Box 766, Haywards Heath, RH16 9GF. The Farmer and His Wife Volumes 1 and 2 PLEASE SEND ME CODE PRICE OVERSEAS PRICE The Farmer and His Wife Volumes 1 and 2 PFFHP £12.00 £16.00 TOTAL COST OF ORDER £ QTY TOTAL Name .................................................................................... Address ................................................................................ ............................................................................................... ............................................................................................... Postcode ............................................................................... 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Ltd and its group companies would like to contact you about new products, services and offers we think may be of interest to you. If you’d like to hear from us by post, please tick here telephone, please tick here or email, please tick here . From time to time, carefully chosen partner businesses would like to contact you with relevant offers. If you’d like to hear from partner businesses for this purpose please tick here . Please allow up to 28 days for delivery. Offer closes 31/03/18 or while stocks last, is open to UK readers only and is subject to availability. ©DC Thomson & Co Ltd 2017 believe it? Would you TEA-BREAK TRIVIA 71 1,850 feet Got a question? Get in touch through e-mail email@example.com or *write to “The People’s Friend”, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ. how far under the water an Emperor penguin can dive. I’D LIKE TO KNOW Q I am puzzled. I know that cats are supposed to hate water, so why does my kitten like to jump into the shower cabinet once I’ve got out in order to catch the drips? (I really must get that fixed!) Mrs L.B., Ipswich. 60% of men prefer to be clean shaven. Beards are so 2017! A While most cats will interact with water, drinking from a running tap or pawing a few drops from a shower, most felines like to stay in control of situations and so being immersed in water is something they would aim to avoid. One exception is the Turkish Van cat, which is also known as the swimming cat, in recognition of its love of having a dip. Q I know about the Great Fire of London which happened in the 17th century. However, my friend told me there was also a big blaze in Edinburgh which destroyed hundreds of homes, but I’ve never heard of this and I live in the city! Is she right? Miss K.M., Edinburgh. A Your friend is correct. The Great Fire of Edinburgh occurred in November 1824 and the fire raged in waves for four or five days. The blaze began in a high street printer’s shop. Thirteen people were said to have perished, including two of the brave firefighters who were poorly equipped. It is said that a heavy downpour eventually helped bring the blaze under control, but not before 400 homes were lost to the flames, as well as notable buildings such as the Tron Kirk being badly damaged. Q I heard someone talking about sparrow grass – what on earth is this? Mrs E.H., Leeds. A Sparrow grass is another name for asparagus. Did you know this vegetable is also mentioned in what’s believed to be the oldest surviving book of recipes? The book is thought to date back to the 1st century AD. iStock. Something we didn’t know last week... How old are you? If you knocked three years off your age before answering that question, you’re not alone! According to research carried out by Soap Supplier, on average, Brits say they are three years younger than they actually are. And it turns out that men are much more likely to tell little white lies about their age than women, proving that men are the vainer sex after all! *Please do not send an SAE as we cannot give personal replies. July 21 was the original date chosen for Burns Night – the date of the poet’s death. ¾ of the British population regularly go to the cinema. 645 guests attended the world’s biggest Burns Supper, which was held in Glasgow on January 25, 2016. 3 hours, 15 minutes is the length of time it will take to fly from London to New York in 2025, thanks to a supersonic plane currently in development. Tweed A Touch Of KNITTING 73 intermediate Add a stylish top layer with our fitted waistcoat. MEASUREMENTS To fit sizes: 76/81 cm (30/32 ins), 86/91 cm (34/36), 97/102 (38/40), 107/112 (42/44), 117/122 (46/48), 127/132 (50/52). Actual size: 88 cm (34½ ins), 98 (38½), 108 (42½), 118 ( 46½), 128 (50½), 138 (54½). Length: 52 cm (20½ ins), 53 (21), 54 (21½), 55 (21¾), 56 (22¾), 57 (22¾). Photographs by Ally Stuart, www.allystuartphotography.co.uk. Hair and make-up by Linda Wilson. Photographed at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews, www.rufflets.co.uk. MATERIALS 3 (3, 4, 4, 4, 5) 100-gram balls of Stylecraft Tweedy Double Knitting (shade Moss 3710). One pair each 3.25 mm (No. 10) and 4 mm (No. 8) knitting needles. 6 buttons from Duttons for Buttons, tel: 01423 502092, e-mail: michelle@ duttonsforbuttons.co.uk. For yarn stockists telephone 01535 609798 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. TENSION 22 sts and 28 rows to 10 cm measured over st-st using 4 mm needles. ABBREVIATIONS Alt – alternate; beg – beginning; dec – decrease; K – knit; P – purl; rem – remain; rep – repeat; st(s) – stitch(es); st-st – stocking-stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row); tbl – through back of loops; tog – together; tw2 – slip next st, K1, pass slipped st over st just knitted and knit into back of it. 74 dec 1 st at centre of sts – 32 (34, 36, 36, 38, 40) sts. Divide these sts into 2 groups of 16 (17, 18, 18, 19, 20) sts and slip each of them on to a length of yarn and leave. TO COMPLETE Important Note Directions are given for six sizes. Figures in brackets refer to the five larger sizes. Figures in square brackets [ ] refer to all sizes and are worked the number of times stated. When writing to us with your queries, you must enclose a stamped, addressed envelope if you would like a reply. RIGHT FRONT With 3.25 mm needles, cast on 47 (53, 59, 65, 71, 77) sts. 1st row (right-side) – K2, [P1, K1] to last st, K1. 2nd row – K1, [P1, K1] to end. 3rd row – As 1st. 4th row – Purl, inc 1 st at side edge on 1st, 2nd and 3rd sizes only – 48 (54, 60, 65, 71, 77) sts ★★. Change to 4 mm needles and pattern: Next (right side) row – K1, [tw2, K5, tw2, P5] 2 (3, 3, 3, 4, 4) times, tw2, K5, tw2, P10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11). Next row – K10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11), [P9, K5] 2 (3, 3, 3, 4, 4) times, P10. These 2 rows set the pattern. Continue in pattern until work measures 31 cm from beg, ending after a 2nd row. Shape front slope – Dec row – K1, K2tog tbl, work to end. Next row – Work until 2 sts rem, P2. Rep these 2 rows 3 times more, then dec row again – 43 (49, 55, 60, 66, 72) sts. Shape armhole – Cast off 7 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15) sts at beg of next row – 36 (40, 44, 49, 53, 57) sts. ★★★Dec 1 st at front edge on next row, then on every foll 4th row, AT THE SAME TIME dec 1 st at armhole edge on next 5 (5, 7, 7, 9, 9) rows, then on every foll right-side row until 23 (26, 29, 32, 35, 38) sts rem. Continue to dec at front edge only on every 4th row until 17 (19, 21, 25, 27, 29) sts rem. Work straight until front measures 52 (53, 54, 55, 56, 57) cm from beg, ending at armhole edge. Shape shoulder – Cast off 6 (6, 7, 8, 9, 9) sts at beg of next row and foll alt row – 5 (7, 7, 9, 9, 11) sts. Work 1 row straight. Cast off. LEFT FRONT Work as given for right front to ★★. Change to 4 mm needles and pattern: 1st row – P10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11), [tw2, K5, tw2, P5] 2 (3, 3, 3, 4, 4) times, tw2, K5, tw2, K1. 2nd row – P10, [K5, P9] 2 (3, 3, 3, 4, 4) times, K10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11). Continue in pattern until work measures 31 cm from beg, ending after a 2nd row. Shape front slope – Dec row – Work until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1. Next row – P2, work to end. Rep these 2 rows 3 times more – 44 (50, 56, 61, 67, 73) sts. Shape armhole – Cast off 7 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15) sts, work until 3 sts rem, K2tog, K1 – 36 (40, 44, 49, 53, 57) sts. Work 1 row straight. Complete as right front working from ★★★ to end. BACK With 3.25 mm needles, cast on 99 (111, 123, 133, 145, 157) sts and work 1st to 3rd rows as given for right front. 4th row – Purl. Change to 4 mm needles and pattern: 1st row (right-side) – P10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11), [tw2, K5, tw2, P5] 5 (7, 7, 7, 9, 9) times, tw2, K5, tw2, P10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11). 2nd row – K10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11), [P9, K5] 5 (7, 7, 7, 9, 9) times, P9, K10 (2, 8, 13, 5, 11). These 2 rows set the pattern. Continue in pattern until back measures same as fronts to armhole shaping, ending after 2nd row. Shape armholes – Cast off 7 (9, 11, 11, 13, 15) sts at beg of next 2 rows – 85 (93, 101, 111, 119, 127) sts. Dec 1 st at each end of next 5 (5, 7, 7, 9, 9) rows, then on every foll alt row until 67 (73, 79, 87, 93, 99) sts rem. Work straight until back measures same as front to shoulder shaping, ending after a wrong-side row. Shape shoulders – Cast off 6 (6, 7, 8, 9, 9) sts at beg of next 4 rows – 43 (49, 51, 55, 57, 63) sts. Next row – Cast off 5 (7, 7, 9, 9, 11) sts, work to end. Next row – Cast off 5 (7, 7, 9, 9, 11) sts, work to end, Join right shoulder seam. Right front border – With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 77 sts evenly along right front edge to beg of front slope, then 54 (57, 60, 62, 65, 68) sts evenly up to shoulder seam, finally knit across first 16 (17, 18, 18, 19, 20) sts at back of neck – 147 (151, 155, 157, 161, 165) sts. Beg with a 2nd row, work 2 rows in rib as on right front. Next row – Rib until 76 sts rem, [cast off 2 sts, rib 12 – including st on right needle after cast-off] 5 times, cast off 2 sts, rib to end. Next row – Rib, casting on 2 sts neatly over those cast off. Rib 3 more rows. Cast off evenly in rib. Left front border – Join left shoulder seam. Work to correspond with right border, omitting buttonholes. Armhole borders – With 3.25 mm needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 101 (111, 121, 125, 135, 147) sts evenly round armhole. Beg with a 2nd row, work 6 rows in rib as on right front. Cast off evenly in rib. To Make Up – Press work very lightly on wrong side following pressing instructions. Join side seams and armhole borders. Join front borders at back of neck. Sew on buttons. Press seams. n Next week: knit a dinosaur hoodie for a little one CRAFT 75 A Good Cause Clare Young, from Gloucester, supported by friends, crafters and community groups, is working on a full-size knitted show garden installation for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival (May 10-13). The “Work of Heart” garden is in memory of her husband, and she aims to help raise £50,000 for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. If you would like to contribute by knitting, find out more at www.workofheartgarden.org. Sharp Tailoring The perennial classic pencil skirt is never out of favour, whether you opt for a kneeskimming business skirt, a sassy, shorter version or calf length. You’ll find a selection of patterns at www.sewdirect. com including McCalls Learn to Sew design 7631. enjoy SewMAKE New ideas for knitters and crafters Blooming Marvellous Do you remember making loom flowers years ago? Well, they are back in vogue and Haafner Linssen’s new book shows you how to make over 30 flowers and transform them into stylish makes following her step-by-step instructions. Available in book and craft shops or order from www. searchpress.com, price £10.99. A RE you looking for some new crafting challenges, needing a gift for a friend or just interested in what’s out there? We have some great ideas, and you can find out about one inspiring lady’s charitable enterprise as she sets out to knit a garden. The Focal Point This giant floor cushion comes in a kit which includes DMC Woolly 100% Merino yarn, cotton printed tapestry canvas, and everything else needed to create a stunning soft furnishing. At £200 it is a considerable purchase but will offer you up to 200 hours of stitching, great for your well-being. The Big Chill kit is available from DMC stockists nationwide. OUR PICK OF COSY LEAFLET DESIGNS Sirdar 8105 Hayfield 8101 Wendy 5942 If you’re looking to get away for some winter sun make sure you have the right travel insurance. People’s Friend Travel Insurance starts at just £18.10 for a family of four* A t this time of year a lot of people think about getting away from the cold days and dark nights to find a bit of sun and relaxation. For peace of mind it’s also important to know you have the right travel insurance should you need it. With the People’s Friend Travel Insurance we offer a range of travel insurance policies with: • No upper age limit on all single trip travel insurance policies • Annual or multi-trip policies with an upper age limit of 85 • 24 hour emergency assistance • Additional covers for things like golfing holidays Plus we have cover for many pre-existing medical conditions that you can choose to cover or not as part of the quote and buy process meaning your policy will be bespoke and tailored to you and your circumstances. • Buying your policy is easy: • Buy online safe and securely or talk to one of our friendly UK based advisors • Simple to compare multi quotes • Tailor your quote; simply choose cover and options that are appropriate • Receive your documents via email in minutes or through the post Let us help you get your travel insurance sorted and leave you to enjoy your well deserved break. CALL US TODAY FOR A NO OBLIGATION TRAVEL INSURANCE QUOTE: CALL 0330 606 2520 quoting PFD01096 Calls to this number from a BT landline are charged at local rate or using your call allowance. OR VISIT www.peoplesfriendmoney.co.uk/travel-insurance Travel insurance arranged by A+ Insurance The People’s Friend Money is a trading style of DC Thomson Enterprise Finance Ltd. DC Thomson Enterprise Finance Ltd is an appointed representative of A+ Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. *Quote based on a single trip to France for 7 nights for a family of four: two adults aged 35 and 40 and two children under 10. No medical conditions. No extras (i.e. winter sports cover) with documents delivered by email. Correct as at 23rd November 2017. This insurance is available to UK residents only. REAL LIFE 77 Photographs by Alamy, unless otherwise stated. John Logie Baird On January 26, 1926, the Scottish inventor gave the first public demonstration of television in front of a room of scientists in London. Progress was quick afterwards – in 1927 he transmitted images from Glasgow to London through a telephone line, and in 1928 across the Atlantic to New York. Bring On The BBC As Seen Man On The Moon ON SCREEN On July 20, 1969, over 600 million people tuned in around the world to watch Apollo 11 land on the moon. It held the record for most viewers of a televised event until Prince Charles married Diana in 1981, with 750 million viewers. Choices, Choices iStock. It’s estimated that we spend over eight years of our lives watching TV, with viewing hours per week increasing with age. And now we have so many channels to choose from, we spend nearly a year and half flicking through them and deciding what to watch! The BBC launched on November 2, 1936, and had its first major outside broadcast with the coronation of King George VI in 1937. During World War II, BBC TV shut down completely, for fear that the signals could be used to help German bombers find London. Enjoy our fun facts about TV on the anniversary of its invention. Famous Faces Carol Hersee and Bubbles the Clown (whom she still owns) are the two faces that have spent the most time on air in television history. Test Card F was used by the BBC when programming finished for the day, and has been on screen for over 70,000 hours – just shy of eight solid years! Clean Viewing Early American TV dramas were sponsored by companies like Proctor & Gamble and Lever Brothers. As the firms were all famous for producing soaps, the shows quickly picked up the name of “soap operas”. Big Spenders The first TV advert cost watchmaker Bulova $9 in 1941 for 20 seconds before a baseball game. Now the most expensive advertising slot is during American football’s Superbowl. Thirty seconds of air time will set you back a hair under $3 million. SHORT STORY BY PAULA WILLIAMS 79 Out Of Balance Jane loved Conor, but they were too different ever to have a future together . . . Illustration by Michael Thomas. J ANE bristled as she read the birthday card. Old accountants never die. They just lose their balance. The card was wrong on so many levels. First, thirty-five was not old. Second, she had never lost her balance in her life, either literally (thanks to her daily yoga practice) or metaphorically (thanks to her being a totally consistent, even-handed Libran), and she wasn’t about to start doing so just because she was now halfway to her three-score years and ten. And last of all, that it should have been Conor who sent such a card proved what Jane was beginning to suspect – that she and Conor were totally incompatible. In fact, to paraphrase his silly card, they were completely out of balance. Her doubts were confirmed later that day. As always when there was a special occasion coming up, she had everything planned. She’d treated herself to a glitzy new dress, she was off to have her hair done that afternoon and she’d managed to book a table at Luigi’s, the smartest restaurant in town, for this evening. She couldn’t think of a better way to spend her birthday. It didn’t bother Jane that it was always down to her to do all the arranging, even for something like this. Conor was hopeless at that sort of thing. But that was fine. She was good at organising; he wasn’t. She was OK with that. No, it wasn’t his lack of organisational skills that was giving her these crippling doubts, but something much more fundamental. The truth was, they were total and complete opposites. He was a dreamer, she was the practical one. He was an optimist, she a realist. He liked dogs. She liked cats. The list was endless. Their relationship simply wasn’t going to work. Should she cancel this evening, feeling the way she did? It was hardly the right thing to dump someone in a place like Luigi’s, was it? Being the true Libran she was, she weighed up all the possible options. She was in a right mardle, as Conor would say. Then her phone rang and things got a whole lot worse. “Hi, sweetheart.” The excitement in Conor’s voice made his Irish accent even more pronounced than usual. “I’ve got some terrific news, so I have!” No “Happy birthday, Jane.” Not even a “Did you get my card?” Just “I’ve got some terrific news, so I have.” This better had be terrific, Conor O’Mallin, so it had, she thought. “What is it?” she asked. “Remember that agent I was telling you about? Well, he’s in town tonight. He’s going to be at the Three Bells checking out some local bands, and he wants to hear us. “Apparently he heard us at some gig we did a few weeks back and thinks we may be what he’s looking for. This could be it, sweetheart.” “I’ve booked Luigi’s for tonight. I told you.” “Cancel it. We can go to Luigi’s any night. I’ll never get this chance again.” “But it’s my –” she began, then stopped. He was so caught up in the excitement of this big chance that he’d obviously forgotten that today was her birthday. Disappointment flooded her. Actually, it wasn’t about him forgetting her birthday – he had, after all, remembered to send her a card. It was just one more example of how very, very different they were. “You will be there tonight, won’t you?” he pleaded. “Because I’ve got something really special . . .” “No, Conor,” she cut in, wishing she didn’t have to do this but knowing she must. “I won’t be there, I’m afraid. I’m going to spend the evening with Mum. I might even persuade her to come to Luigi’s with me. 80 She’s still very low, you know. Missing Dad.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. Jane could imagine the puzzlement on his face. She steeled herself not to give in. “Oh, how could I have been so stupid? It’s your birthday!” He’d finally remembered. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart. I sent the card days ago and then, well, the call from the agent pushed everything out of my head. I’ll make it up to astonishment. “I really thought he was the One. You were so good together.” “Because, well, because . . .” Jane twisted her hair around her fingers and avoided her mother’s eyes. “Because I don’t want to end up with a man like Dad.” The words came out in a rush. She ploughed on, trying to ignore her mother’s shocked intake of breath. “He – he was an irresponsible dreamer, just “I don’t want to end up with a man like Dad” you, I promise. But I can’t –” “I know you can’t,” she said, struggling to keep the tears at bay until she could end the call. “Don’t worry about it. Best of luck for tonight,” she added. “Not that you’ll need luck. You’ll be brilliant, as always. We’ll talk tomorrow, OK?” The call ended and she sat staring at her phone. She knew she was doing the right thing, but why did it feel so bad? Was it because she couldn’t imagine life without Conor? He made her laugh, he made her cry, but he always made her feel gloriously, zingingly alive. But you couldn’t build a future on zing, could you? You only had to look at the mess her father had left behind when he died to realise that. It didn’t add up. And for Jane everything had to add up. * * * * “Don’t get me wrong, love,” her mother said. “It’s lovely to see you. But why aren’t you out with Conor? I thought you had a special night arranged?” “We broke up,” Jane said, unprepared for how much saying those words hurt. “Or we will when I get around to seeing him so that I can tell him to his face. It’s hardly the sort of thing to do in a text, is it?” “But why?” Her mother’s eyes widened with like Conor. Always looking for the next best thing but never quite finding it. Lurching from one failed dream to the next. “And then, when he died, leaving you with such a mountain of debts that you had to get a job in that pub to earn enough to pay it off –” “Stop right there, young lady!” There was an edge to her mother’s voice that Jane had never heard before. “For starters, if you do find a man like your father, then you’ll be one very lucky girl, believe me. And I always thought Conor was that man.” “Then you thought wrong. I’ve just realised how incompatible we are. He’ll never change.” “And why would you want him to?” her mother said. “I knew what your father was like when I married him and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about him. Yes, he was a dreamer, Jane, just like your Conor.” “Not my Conor any more.” “Just like Conor, and I was privileged to share that dream. And yes, we had some hard times. But he was a good, loving husband and a kind and caring father. You can’t ask more.” Jane shook her head. She didn’t want to remember what a kind and caring man her father had been. Didn’t want anything to breach the wall she’d built so carefully around her heart since his sudden shocking death from a heart attack eight months earlier. Her mother looked at her intently. Then her voice softened. “I’d no idea you felt like this about your dad. But, sweetheart, you’ve got it all wrong. I didn’t take that job to pay off his debts. Where on earth did you get that idea from? “Yes, there were a few, but they were covered by his life insurance. I took the job in the pub to get me out of the house during the long, lonely evenings. “And I love working there. It’s really helping and the people are so nice.” Jane stared at her mother without speaking. Then, slowly, the wall around her heart crumbled and the hard lump that had lodged in her chest ever since that awful day began to dissolve as the tears flowed unchecked down her face. Her mother put her arms around her. “It worried me that you never cried for him, darling,” she said, her own voice choked with tears. “It’s time to let go of all that anger. I felt angry, too, you know. Still do sometimes, in fact. “I look up at the stars some nights and I want to scream and curse at him. It’s all part of the grieving process, so I’m told.” “Why didn’t he take better care of himself, Mum? Why didn’t he go to the doctor, like we told him to when he first had those chest pains? If he had –” Her mother put a gentle finger on Jane’s lips. “It was his time,” she said softly. “That’s all. And what you need to do now – and what I need to do as well – is focus on the good times we all had together. “The grieving process is hard because he was so very, very much loved. But it’s the price you pay for loving someone. And if I had my time over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. “Except,” she added with a wry smile, “I’d frogmarch the stubborn old fool to the doctor instead of believing him when he said it was only indigestion.” An hour later, Jane’s tears had all been spent, her make-up repaired and she felt better than she’d done since her father’s death. She’d also made a discovery. Something her accountancy training should have made her realise sooner. It was all about debits and credits. The first rule of doubleentry book-keeping, that she’d learned all those years ago, was that for every debit there is a corresponding credit. And that was what achieved perfect balance. Total opposites, balancing each other out. Just like she and Conor did. His yin to her yang. * * * * The Three Bells was so packed she had some difficulty getting across the crowded bar. Conor and his band were in the middle of a number. It was one of her favourites and she was disappointed to have missed it. It ended with huge applause and her heart swelled with pride. Conor held up his hand and spoke into the microphone. “Thank you so much,” he said. “Now, for our last number, this is a song for a very special lady who sadly can’t be here tonight. I wrote the song for her but I’ll sing it anyway.” Suddenly, he looked across to where she was standing and a huge smile lit up across his face. He began to sing. “I spread my dreams at your feet, My life, my love and my song. Together we are complete. One life, one love and one song.” Old accountants needn’t lose their balance, Jane realised. Not if, like her, they’d found the perfect person to keep them on an even keel. n PUZZLES 83 Wordsearch Find all the words related to golf in the grid. Words can run horizontally, vertically, forwards, backwards or diagonally. AIM FLAG BIRDIE GREEN BOGEY LINKS BUGGY LOFT BUNKER PUTT BYE RANGE CADDIE RULES CART SHOT DIVOT SPIN EAGLE WEDGE A R O H E L G A E I T C T E N H B U G G Y K S A O G T S A T E C S N D R L R R F E G N A R U E T M E A L I N E A P B S O L E T A R F I I S E L H U N U G E A M N B S K D E O C D R I R W T O T I N I A C A D D E G F L N I V M S B R K D O E O R T I L O A Y P Y L S P I N W T E B H E I I E E G Can you fit the listed numbers into the grid? O N G Y N E O U O A V L N H S A K D T L N C C M O W A O E S R M E U D A S A T P R I A L E T G R D B Y E N U C O R A A E I D R I B M L T G R L I A R I K E H S T E T F I R M W E D G E Number Fit 7 3 5 3 4 5 1 5 5 2 2 2 2 9 6 0 2 4 7 7 8 5 6 6 2 1 1 2 2 1 8 8 7 1 6 4 8 6 0 8 3 6 5 3 4 0 0 2 6 3 2 5 3 1 7 4 1 1 8 4 5 1 7 5 7 3 2 3 8 0 2 4 6 6 6 3 7 0 6 1 7 6 5 1 6 3 0 1 1 3 6 0 5 1 0 6 7 1 2 5 3 4 1 7 5 digits 53174 53417 70617 85662 85734 8 digits 14720667 24802467 53400260 97811885 S A L G S U S H E I I I I 7 digits 1887164 2175734 3676101 Wordsearch C R E G C R B L D N N T P 4 digits 1552 3033 3534 6712 Solutions V T H U E A P E K I L R S 6 digits 136050 452041 606227 651632 676286 W C O B T N A S S T F O L 3 digits 118 221 322 601 752 M P R H A G E I B O G E Y 2 2 1 O P C T R A N S O R U L H O A N S E N F N T E O P Number Fit H M W V C S O H A P N M S All puzzles © Puzzler Media Ltd www.puzzler.com SOAP BY GLENDA YOUNG 85 OUR WEEKLY SOAP Jim’s new puppy is making himself at home. . . iStock. J IM’S got a new dog already?” Mary said, her eyes wide. “Buster’s only been gone five minutes!” Ruby lifted her mug towards her. She tried at first with just one hand, then realised she needed both to steady the cup in front of her. Mary laughed when she saw Ruby struggling. “What on earth is that?” she asked. Ruby tried to take as delicate a sip from the coffee as she could, but still ended up with a milky moustache. She picked up a serviette, wiped her lips and smiled at Mary. “The new drinks menu called it a caramaccino.” She laughed. “It’s caramelflavoured cappuccino.” She stirred the drink with her spoon, trying to make the frothy milk at the top of the cup disappear. She glanced over towards Mike, who was working behind the Old Engine Room’s counter. “I wish I’d just asked for a plain white coffee now. It’s Mike’s fault for talking me into trying this.” “So is it true about Jim’s new dog at the pub?” Mary asked. Ruby nodded. Riverside “It followed us home the other night when we walked along the riverside. Jim said he was only going to keep it until they found its owner, and I could tell he was trying not to fall in love with it. “He rang around all the vets in the area asking if anyone had reported it missing, and no-one had. He even took it into the vet to see if it was microchipped and it wasn’t. What else could he do?” “Well, when you put it like that . . .” Mary said. “It’s just a puppy. Yet do you know what it did, Mary? The first thing it did when it walked into the pub?” “I dread to think.” Mary smiled. “It walked straight to the seat where Buster used to sit and curled itself underneath it and fell asleep. Jim said it slept there all night.” “Has he given it a name yet?” Mary asked. Ruby picked up a spoonful of frothed milk and popped it into her mouth. “Ooh, this caramaccy whatsit is lovely. Would you like to try some?” Mary shook her head so Ruby continued. “Jim’s reluctant to give the pup a name. He says naming it will mean he’s keeping it, and he’s not over the loss of Buster yet. But he’s such a little cutie.” Mary raised her eyebrows. “Who? Buster or Jim?” “Well, Jim’s not bad, either.” Ruby smiled. “But we’re taking things slowly. Neither of us are spring chickens. But it’s nice to have someone special, you know?” Mary reached across the table and laid her hand on top of her friend’s. “I know, love. I wish you both all the luck in the world.” * * * * Meanwhile, up in their apartment, Jenny was in the middle of applying online for an admin job at the local hospital. She was concentrating so hard on the application that she hardly heard the door as Eric walked in. “What are you doing here?” she cried in surprise when she spotted him. “That’s a fine welcome,” Eric huffed. “But it’s the middle of the day. You should be at the office. Are you feeling all right? You’re not sick, are you?” Eric sank down on to the sofa still wearing his coat and scarf. Jenny shot him a look. “Should I put the kettle on?” Eric shook his head. “I need something a bit stronger,” he said quietly. “You might, too, Jenny, once you hear what I’ve got to tell you.” Jenny felt her stomach turning cartwheels. She sat in the armchair opposite him, but Eric couldn’t look her in the eye. “Are the council making redundancies again?” she asked. Eric shook his head. “I was called in to see the boss this afternoon,” he began. “He claims that I’ve been taking bribes from Harry Mason, the land developer. “He said they’ve got evidence that I’ve been giving him insider information on the land that’s for sale along the riverside.” “And have you?” Jenny said firmly. Eric shook his head, still refusing to glance up from the carpet. “I don’t know.” “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Eric! How can you not know if you’ve been taking bribes or not?” she cried. Despite the sorry state that he was in, all she could feel was anger. Finally, he lifted his gaze and Jenny softened when she saw tears in her husband’s eyes. “I’ve been stupid, Jenny. I’ve been so stupid.” She went to sit by Eric’s side and took hold of his hands. “I thought Harry Mason was my friend, you know?” he pleaded with her. “He said he’d cleared the way with the council already, so I took the money he offered me. He said it was commission. He lied to me.” “But what exactly has happened?” Jenny asked. “I’ve never seen you like this before. What on earth happened today at work?” Eric took a deep breath. “They’ve sacked me, Jenny. The council have sacked me for fraud.” More next week. Charity Knits This rainbow of colour shows just some of the hand-knitted baby coats and hats I have completed for the premature baby unit at our local hospital. I enjoy knitting and have had plenty of practice over the years, with two daughters, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren! Even though I’m in demand for knitting items for my own family – I just recently completed a pattern featured in the magazine – I always ensure I have time to donate items to the hospital as I know how much they are appreciated. I’ve never lost my love of knitting – I learned when I was just ten years old and I’m now nearly eighty. Mrs A.E., Cwmbran. Between Friends Write to us at Between Friends, “The People’s Friend”, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ, or e-mail us at email@example.com. Special Carol Whilst reading “The People’s Friend” recently, I was delighted to see a story written by Annie Harris set in my home town of Coventry. Although it was set in 1534, the places mentioned were well known to me. The story revolves around the Coventry Carol, a beautiful carol with particularly haunting music and one of my favourites. When my son married on December 23 some years ago, this was the carol which was sung beautifully by the church choir whilst the signings took place. Although I retired to Wales two years ago, it was lovely to be reminded of Coventry and our special carol. Ms L.T., Rhyl. Fabulous Artwork It was very interesting to read about “The People’s Friend” Illustrations Editor Sarah Holliday in a recent issue. I have always admired the drawings and artwork in the “Friend” and especially loved the Wild West drawings by David Young for the story “The Dividing Tide”. Not only that, the stories are great, too! Ms A.J., Goole. Star Letter It’s amazing how much joy a family pet can bring. Sitting looking at our much-loved cat, I decided to write a poem to mark how much Mog means to us. To Mog You’re an old cat now, you no longer run, But like to doze in the warmth of the sun. Your lovely fur’s still soft to touch; You seem content, don’t ask for much. A bit of food, a comfortable lap On which to settle for a nap. What do you dream when you sleep all day? Do you think of a time when you used to play? Chasing some string or a tennis ball, Do you remember the past at all? Stretched out relaxed on my daughter’s bed, Purring when I stroke your head Or scratch that spot between your ears, Our loyal friend for eighteen years. Mrs F.A., Surrey. Our Star Letter will receive a Dean’s all-butter shortbread tin worth £13.69 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. Serving Up Memories Following Mrs P.D’s letter of December 2, I wonder if other readers remember white Pyrex tableware? From when my husband and I got engaged in 1963 until our marriage in 1965, my widowed mother saved hard and bought us a complete dinner and tea set for a wedding present, which we used for many years. The pictured items are the only ones to have survived, but they are still in regular use for family roast dinners. I treasure what I have left of the tableware and also the memories created around the dinner table over all those years. Mrs D.L., Essex. YOUR LETTERS 87 Warming Smile Sitting Pretty I thoroughly enjoy reading “The People’s Friend” each week and especially love reading the articles and Between Friends, including the photos that are sent in. So I thought I’d share this photo of my beautiful great-granddaughter Ivy, at fourteen months old, enjoying a slice of her favourite fruit – watermelon. The smile says it all! Mrs J.W., Huntingdon. I agree with the reader who wrote about the power of a smile. My great-aunt Jessie was a farmer’s daughter and one of her father’s employees, Lizzie, had a gift of writing poetry and wrote one called “Jessie’s Smile”. It was about Lizzie’s visit to church on a wintry day and the church was cold with just a few people inside who, it has to be said, were looking pretty miserable. The line or two I remember are: “Nae silly pride was in her mind, And aye, I think I see The smile that chased the gloom away, That Jessie gied to me.” A smile costs nothing and you can always rely on it warming the heart. Any time I feel a little low, I always think of this poem. Mrs A.N., King’s Lynn. Test Of Time One of my favourite gifts that I received at Christmas was a “Friend” Annual. I’ve never read one before, which is surprising as I never miss my copy of the magazine. The “Friend” has certainly stood the test of time, moving through the different generations from my own mother to me and now my daughter. I can see the Annual becoming a regular fixture in our family, too! Mrs J.B., Dundee. Puzzle Solutions from page 25 Word Ladder One answer is: Cold, Hold, Bold, Bolt, Belt, Beet, Feet. Crossword P RO T E T E I E I GH T S S A S UDAN E A I I P ADUA R N M I V AN D N D T G L OR I A O R N I S AAC S T A N T S C B W S OME R E E L U L N I S E S T AG E M Y O L AGOS P T N S E CAD E N T R H O SWA N S ON I R O E A S I MOV Winning Ways Here’s a picture of my bichon frise Nia with some of the prizes she won last summer – 23 rosettes, a trophy and a diploma. The other picture shows us at an RSPCA charity show in September in which we got a prize for our joint fancy dress! Mrs S.J.H., Somerset. Heroines In History I enjoyed reading the “Hall Of Heroes” article which took me back 10 years to the first visit that I made to the Wallace Monument with my daughter. My mother’s ancestors were supposed to have fought alongside William Wallace, so we felt a connection when we visited. We made it to the top – no mean feat as I discovered I don’t really like spiral staircases! What I really like, however, is that women are now being recognised as heroines of Scotland. Thanks for my weekly treat. It’s lovely to read such an interesting magazine. J.L., Australia. Pieceword I MO M I D I P L OCU L A S I E ARN E D E CORO S A U WO R K T A E T RAN S R T I C E A A I RD R O E X C E D S W I T N A E S I E OP M I E C E ND I A N A ROP O E E D T T E R E RRA S URO N Sudoku 9 4 5 2 3 1 6 8 7 1 7 3 8 6 5 4 2 9 6 2 8 9 7 4 5 1 3 7 3 1 5 8 9 2 4 6 8 5 4 6 2 7 3 9 1 2 9 6 4 1 3 8 7 5 4 8 7 1 5 6 9 3 2 3 6 9 7 4 2 1 5 8 5 1 2 3 9 8 7 6 4 Terms and conditions. We’re sorry, but we can’t reply to letters or return photographs and poems unless you enclose a stamped addressed envelope. All contributions must be your own original work and must not have been sent elsewhere for publication. The Editor reserves the right to modify any contribution. 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