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The People’s Friend Special - Issue 147 2017

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8-PAGE CRIME MYSTERY
People?s
2017
No.147 �99
Autumn
Heritage
Bringing the Battle
of Hastings to life
Island Walks
#147
Stitch a decorative
cake frill
Take a break in
beautiful Barcelona
Nutty chocolate
treats to make
9771479046974
�99
Discover three
of Scotland?s
finest
47
Celebrate
the season
at Siddington
Harvest
Festival
UK Off-sale date - 25-Oct-17
AU $11.99, NZ $13.00
Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.
14 JOYFUL STORIES
3
Dear Readers . . .
Our new Autumn Special comes complete with our popular
15-month diary and pen set, which this year features adorable
photographs of cute puppies and kittens ? I hope you enjoy using
it to note down all your important dates and appointments.
Inside the Special, you?ll find lots of wonderful seasonal reading,
with 14 short stories by favourite ?Friend? authors such as Wendy
Clarke and Pamela Kavanagh, and a gripping eight-page crime
mystery by Mhairi Grant. We?ve puzzles to keep your mind active, a
pretty decorative cake frill to stitch, and nutty chocolate treats to make.
Our feature writers have been taking advantage of the fine autumnal weather to get
out and about. Gillian Thornton explores England?s White Cliffs Country, Willie Shand
reveals his favourite Scottish island walks and Jan Fuscoe soaks up the sun in beautiful
Barcelona. Neil McAllister joins in the celebrations at Siddington Harvest Festival, and
Susie Kearley has a thrilling day out at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of
Hastings.
If you like
this Special
then you?ll
love our
weekly mag
and our
fortnightly
Pocket
Novels...
Angela Gilchrist, Editor.
What?s Inside
On Sale
Every
Wednesday
Fiction
Regulars
Features
4 The Gift Of Life
by Isobel J. Sayer
11 The Blue Grotto
by Angela Petch
16 SERIES The Vintage
Girls by Della Galton
21 The New Curiosity Shop
by Nicola Mostyn
24 BIG NAME AUTHOR
On The Edge
by David M. Barnett
30 What Friends Are For
by Alison Carter
33 Good Things Come
by Keith Havers
35 LONG READ Out Of
The Mist
by Mhairi Grant
43 Caf� Of The Year
by Wendy Clarke
48 The Piano Fund
by Pamela Kavanagh
57 Patterns In The Sand
by Em Barnard
59 Got Your Number
by Valerie Bowes
62 The Midnight Train
by Jessma Carter
66 The Bolt Hole
by Pauline Bradbury
72 Just One More Year
by Jan Snook
7 Things To Do This
Month
14 Puzzle It Out!
26 Poetry
by Chrissy Greenslade
45 Poetry
by Norman Lindsey
51 Craft: make a decorative
cake frill
54 Cookery: tasty chocolate
recipes
58 Poetry
by Dorothy McGregor
68 Poetry
by Maggie Ingall
69 Learn To Speak Cat
74 A Day In The Life:
a deputy stage manager
8 Gillian Thornton
explores White Cliffs
Country
18 Jan Fuscoe enjoys
beautiful Barcelona
23 Nina Hoole celebrates
200 years of mobile
libraries
28 Willie Shand shares
three of his favourite
island walks
60 Neil McAllister finds out
more about a special
Harvest Festival
64 Writer and bibliophile
Alex Johnson talks to
Gillian Thornton
70 Susie Kearley enjoys the
annual re-enactment of
the Battle of Hastings
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Published in Great Britain by DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., Dundee, Glasgow and London. Distributed in the UK and Eire by MarketForce UK Ltd, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf,
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Website: www.seymour.co.uk. � DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2017. Editorial communications to ?The People?s Friend?, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
While every reasonable care will be taken, neither DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., Ltd., nor its agents will accept liability for loss or damage to any materials submitted to this publication.
We are committed to journalism of the highest standards and abide by the Editors? Code of Practice which is enforced by the Independent
Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). If you have a complaint, you can e-mail us at Readerseditor@dcthomson.co.uk or write to the Readers
Editor at The People?s Friend, DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
4
This emotional short story by Isobel J. Sayer welcomes you
to a brand-new Special.
Illustration by Martin Baines.
I
The Gift Of Life
GAZED at Geoff. He might be
nearly forty, but he still reminded
me of my vulnerable little boy from
all those years ago.
?What did the specialist say??
He smiled at me.
?Don?t worry, Mum, I?ve had a bit of
an infection, and as a result, my kidney
function is a little lower than normal.
They say they?re going to keep an eye on
it for the next few weeks.?
Patsy, his wife of 14 years, gave him a
worried look as he told me the news.
I tried to smile, but tears were filling
my eyes. Already I was thinking of all
the worst possible scenarios.
This had been a constant occurrence in
my life, ever since he was diagnosed
with diabetes as a young boy.
He?d proved to be surprisingly mature
and accepting of his lot back then. We
almost forgot about his illness
sometimes, what with how well he
managed it, on top of holding down a
demanding job as a vet, and bringing up
my two beautiful grandchildren.
?I?ll put the kettle on,? I said as
brightly as I could, turning my back so
that I could wipe my eyes.
?Foolish old woman,? I told myself
sternly. ?He says he will be fine, so stop
fretting.?
But as I glanced through into the
living-room I could see him and Patsy,
heads together, murmuring quietly to
each other.
?I take it you are allowed tea?? I called
from the kitchen.
I glanced lovingly at the drawings
from our grandchildren, stuck
haphazardly on the fridge as I got the
milk out.
Geoff came to the kitchen door and
leaned against the frame.
?I?m fine to drink most things at the
moment. I?m just making a few dietary
adjustments: a bit less protein, cutting
out coffee, that kind of thing.?
I should have guessed he would take
all the medical advice he was given; he?d
be following it to the letter, if I knew my
son.
?Please stop worrying, Mum. Patsy is
doing enough fretting for all of us at the
moment.? He chuckled, and his dark
brown eyes sparkled at me. ?I?m made of
tough stuff, you know.?
?I know, but it doesn?t stop me
worrying about you. Just keep me posted
on how things are going, and if you want
Geoff was my son, and
I would do whatever I
could to help him . . .
any babysitting doing for hospital visits
or anything, just call us.?
He crossed the tiny kitchen in two
strides and planted a kiss on my head.
?I love you, Mum. Let me take the tea
through.?
* * * *
I was snuggled up on Geoff and
Patsy?s sofa, three-year-old Eliana on one
side of me, and five-year-old Daisy on
the other.
The girls? attention was focused on the
cartoon they were watching, while my
ears strained for the sound of the car
returning.
Doug sat opposite me, sipping on a
mug of tea. He gazed unseeing at the
television screen, then at me.
?You OK, love?? he mouthed silently.
I nodded and put a finger to my lips.
We were trying to keep cheerful for the
sake of the two girls, but Geoff was
uppermost on both our minds.
The last few weeks had seen him grow
increasingly tired and edgy. Patsy had
dragged him to the GP, who promptly
sent him to the hospital for further tests.
He had even called in sick to work,
which was unusual for him.
The veterinary surgery had told him to
take as much time as he needed, and
booked a locum to cover him while he
was away.
The crunch of wheels on gravel made
us both jump. The girls leapt off the sofa
and ran to the front door.
?Daddy?s home!? Daisy exclaimed
while Eliana followed her big sister,
holding her scruffy, grubby rabbit toy.
I tried to smile at Doug, but it was half
hearted. We knew the news wasn?t likely
to be good, as we had seen how Geoff
had gone downhill recently.
His deep voice resonated through the
hallway as he greeted the children, and
he came into the lounge, a girl in each
arm. He kissed each one in turn, then put
them down.
?Daddy?s tired, and needs to have a
chat with Nana and Grandad, so off you
go upstairs; Mummy is running you a
bath.?
Eliana?s bottom lip wobbled.
?I want Nana to take me up.?
I got up from the sofa.
?I?ll take her up, Geoff. Dad can make
us all a cuppa, then I?ll come back down
and you can let us know how you got
on.?
I tried to sound cheerful as I took my
granddaughter?s hand, and she chattered
away happily as we made our way
upstairs towards the sound of running
water.
?In here, Glenda,? Patsy called from
the bathroom, where wisps of steam were
already curling their way through the
door.
I deposited Eliana on the floor and
helped her wriggle out of her clothes. I
could see Patsy had been crying, but
knew better than to raise the subject in
front of the children.
They knew their daddy was poorly
sometimes, but they were too young to
understand any more than that.
I dipped my hand into the water, and
helped Eliana into the scented bubbles.
She turned straight to the foam shapes
stuck on the tiles and began rearranging
them.
?We?re here for you,? I reassured
Patsy, giving her a hug.
She gave me a weak smile.
?Geoff will update you. I?ll keep the
girls up here for as long as I can.?
I squeezed her hand as I left her, the
squealing and splashing noises indicating
that an exuberant Daisy had just leaped
into the tub alongside her sister.
* * * *
?It?s all a bit much to take in.? Doug
stared at our son, worry etched on his
face.
?We thought we might end up going
down this road, Dad. We just didn?t want
to give you anything more to worry
about until we knew for sure.?
My mind was whirling with the words
that had rolled off Geoff?s tongue easily,
as if he had been getting used to them
over the last few weeks.
End stage kidney disease.
Suddenly, like a light bulb going on, a
moment of clarity hit me.
?You can have one of mine.?
Geoff frowned at me.
?One of your what??
?Kidneys. If we?re a match, of course.
It makes complete sense to give you my
kidney before it gets to the point where
5
you need dialysis.?
I didn?t know much about it, but I
knew the dialysis would make life
challenging, not to mention the
implications for his job. It all seemed so
simple and clear to me. I would put
myself forward.
?Hang on, Mum. Have a serious think
about this before you start offering away
your organs. I appreciate the thought, but
there?s no way I?m letting you put
yourself at risk for me.?
Doug got up from the sofa and joined
me where I had started pacing the floor
in my excitement.
He took my hand and faced Geoff.
?We?ll both get tested. Surely one of us
will be a match.?
?Patsy offered, too,? Geoff
volunteered. ?But because she had
gestational diabetes with Eliana, they
won?t consider her. There are masses of
tests to get through even if we are a
match.?
Suddenly I saw the first sign of
emotion in my son since this all started.
His eyes filled with tears.
?I can?t ask you to do this. It?s too
much.?
?Nonsense!? My husband snorted.
?We?re getting tested and that?s all there
is to it.?
That was how Daisy found us, tearful
but smiling at the thought that between
us we might help Geoff beat this.
?Why?s everyone sad?? Daisy, wet hair
dripping down the back of her pyjama
top, queried.
Geoff knelt down and pushed a strand
of wet hair out of his daughter?s eyes.
?It?s a happy sad,? he explained. ?Nana
and Grandad are going to see if they can
help Daddy get better.?
That simple explanation sufficed, and
Patsy entered the sitting-room clutching
a towel-wrapped Eliana, looking
somewhat bewildered as she gazed in
turn from one of us to the other.
?Mum and Dad have offered to get
tested for compatibility.?
Patsy came over to us and wrapped me
in a big hug, until a set of wriggly legs
demanded to be put down.
* * * *
I stared at the consultant.
?Are you sure?? I queried.
She nodded.
?I?m afraid so. You both come up
pretty healthy, and Mrs Henshall, your
kidney function in particular seems
excellent, but neither of you is a match
for your son.?
I sank forward, my head in my hands. I
felt like such a failure; I couldn?t even
give my desperately ill son a kidney.
I barely heard the consultant?s next
words.
?There still might be a way forward, if
you are willing to donate anyway.?
I raised my head, not caring that she
could see the tears running down my
face. Doug looked distraught, too.
We were so sure one of us would be a
match, the fact that neither of us might
be hadn?t occurred to us. All through the
discussions and planning, it was always
just the question of which one of us it
would be.
?How can I donate if we?re not a
match?? I asked.
?There is a living kidney sharing
scheme,? she explained to us, digging
through a drawer in her desk to find a
leaflet.
She placed it on the table in front of
us.
?It is a little complicated, but basically
you could choose to donate your kidney
anyway, and someone else in the scheme
then donates theirs to your son. That way
Geoff gets his kidney, and so does
someone else in need. You still get to
donate one of yours ? if you are suitable
after testing.?
I had never heard of this, and judging
by Doug?s puzzled expression, neither
had he.
?It could mean Geoff gets one more
quickly than waiting on the general
transplant list, but there are lots of
potential hurdles along the way,? she
warned us.
My mind was racing. This wasn?t what
I had planned, but maybe this could be a
way.
?Yes, I?ll do it!? I burst out.
The consultant smiled.
?I am glad to hear you might consider
it, but go home, read through all this,
and I?ll put you in touch with our local
transplant co-ordinator if you have any
questions. Please don?t rush into a
decision. Geoff is not at the critical
6
point yet, so you can take
your time.?
* * * *
I sat in the waiting room,
holding Doug?s hand.
?I?m more nervous about
this bit than any of the other
tests,? I whispered.
We were at the transplant
centre, an increasingly
familiar place for me, where
several unpleasant but
necessary tests had been
carried out over the last few
months.
Once I had decided to go
ahead with the kidney sharing
scheme, the wheels had
started to turn frustratingly
slowly. Geoff improved
slightly, and had been able to
go back to work, although on
reduced hours.
I had been tested, poked,
prodded and pricked with
more needles than I cared to
count, then hovered by the
phone in nervous anticipation
as I waited for each call to tell
me whether I had passed the
latest bout of testing.
At the most recent one I had
been injected with dye while
holding an impossibly full
bladder for longer than I
thought humanly possible.
So far so good, though. I
had been through the final CT
scan to ascertain the state of
my veins and arteries this
morning, and due to the
distance I travelled each time,
they scheduled in this final
test for later the same day.
My name was called and
Doug gave me an encouraging
grin. I was on my own for this
one, and I followed the cheery
nurse down the corridor to
where she held a door open
for me.
A kindly looking gentleman
got up from the chair and held
his hand out, shook mine
warmly, then indicated the
seat opposite his.
?I?m Doctor Parson, the
clinical psychologist. My job
is to make sure you are doing
this for the right reasons.?
He poured me a coffee from
the jug on the bookshelf
behind him, and offered the
sugar bowl.
I declined.
?I?m trying to look after this
spare kidney as much as I
can,? I joked.
The doctor smiled.
?Now, why don?t you tell
me your story from the
beginning, as to how you have
got this far down the road of
offering to donate your
kidney,? he prompted.
I felt myself relax as we
chatted about my life, my
grandchildren and Geoff. He
even offered me a tissue when
I welled up when talking
about the diagnosis and my
son?s cheery disposition
through all his struggles right
from childhood.
After we had gone through
all the things that could go
wrong, from my own recovery
to the fact that the transplant
might not be successful in
either case, and how I would
feel about that, he smiled as
he made a final note.
?Well, Mrs Henshall, I have
no doubts about
recommending you go ahead
with this, providing you pass
the final stages of testing and
the Human Tissue Authority
assessment.?
I grinned at him.
?Thank you. I was worried
that having got this far, you
were going to find a reason
why I wasn?t going to be
mentally strong enough for
it.? I laughed with relief. ?I
was more worried about
seeing you than going through
any of the medical tests.?
He shook my hand and held
the door open.
?I wish you and your son all
the very best.?
As I walked up the corridor,
my step was lighter. As I
turned the corner to see
Doug?s anxious face, I gave
him a big thumbs-up.
?We?re almost good to go,?
I announced proudly. ?As
soon as the CT results come
back, we see the surgeon, then
it all goes into the system and
we wait for a match.?
Doug kissed me, not caring
about the waiting room full of
patients.
?I am so proud of you, my
darling.?
I took his hand as we
wandered back to the car,
ready for the long drive home.
I turned to him.
?You know, if by some
miracle Geoff suddenly
recovered, I would do this
anyway now. Just donate a
kidney. I had no idea how
important it is for living
donors until I started this
process.?
* * * *
I could hear someone
calling my name.
Confused about where I
was, I blinked and opened my
eyes. A blue-clad nurse was
sitting next to the bed, chart in
hand.
I coughed. My throat was
sore, and the lights seemed
too bright.
?Did something go wrong??
I whispered hoarsely,
convinced it was only
moments ago that I had slid
swiftly into unconsciousness.
?Well, hello there.
Everything went fine and your
kidney is on its way to its
recipient.? She glanced at her
watch. ?It should be almost
there by now.?
I shut my eyes and allowed
the painkilling drip to send me
back into a comfortable doze,
a smile playing on my face as
I realised, after all this
waiting, testing and patience, I
had finally donated my right
kidney successfully.
I knew Patsy was waiting
with Geoff, while Doug
looked after the two girls,
hanging anxiously by the
telephone waiting for the
various calls to let him know
that both Geoff and I were
doing fine.
I tried to raise my head off
the pillows.
?My husband?? I croaked
again, and a warm hand took
mine.
?We?ve called him to tell
him you?re fine, and as soon
as I get some news of your
son, I will let you both know
right away.?
It was only a few hours later
that the transplant coordinator I had come to know
well in the last few months
popped into the ward.
?Geoff has his new kidney
and is doing really well. We
have had a message from your
recipient?s co-ordinator. She
says that the kidney is in, and
started working immediately.?
Despite the discomfort, I
grinned. That had to be one of
the weirdest thoughts I have
ever had: my right kidney,
miles away, in someone else I
didn?t even know, and already
doing its job.
* * * *
I watched Geoff chase
Eliana and Daisy round the
garden. He was down on all
fours, growling at them, while
they shrieked in scared
delight.
Turning to Patsy, I gave a
deep, contented sigh.
?A few months ago we
could never have pictured
this, could we??
Patsy gave me a hug.
?Glenda, we wouldn?t be
here without you. Words can
never describe how grateful
we are that you did this for
us.?
I shrugged.
?I think deep down most
people would do the same for
their child. I?m nothing
special.?
?But you gave yours away
to someone we don?t even
know. It blows me away when
I think about it. You are sure
you are doing well??
I nodded.
?Honestly, I almost forget
about it most of the time. No
big lifestyle changes for me as
the donor.?
I was surprised at how
quickly I got back to normal
after the first few weeks.
I glanced at the row of
tablet bottles standing on a
high shelf, testament to the
anti-rejection drugs Geoff
would have to take in varying
doses for the life of his new
kidney, which hopefully
would be a long and healthy
one.
The telephone disturbed our
reverie and, as Patsy went to
answer it, I turned back to the
window to watch Geoff on the
trampoline, holding Eliana in
his arms as Daisy bounced
around them both.
Patsy returned to the
kitchen.
?It was the transplant
co-ordinator. She said Geoff?s
donor would like to send a
reply to his thank-you letter,
and wanted Geoff to know a
little about her. It turns out she
wasn?t even in a donor chain!
She was what they call an
altruistic donor ? someone
who donated a kidney to a
stranger for no other reason
than she wanted to change
someone?s life.?
I turned to Patsy.
?Wow, that puts me to
shame,? I muttered, annoyed
with myself for never even
considering such a thing until
it affected my own family.
Patsy hugged me tightly as
we both watched Geoff with
his girls.
?Every single organ donor
has given the most precious
gift anyone could ever give,?
Patsy said. ?The gift of life.?
The End.
Month
THINGS TO DO 7
Things to do this
1
2
3
4
DCT.
Our pick of the best events over the
coming weeks . . .
The first Montgomery Historic Landscapes Walking
Festival takes place from October 6 to 8. Featuring
seven walks of varying lengths and levels of
difficulty, the festival seeks to take in some of the
outstanding archaeological features of the area,
including hillforts, moated farms, castles, ancient
earthworks and much more. The walks are free, but
places must be booked in advance. There will be
evening entertainment at the town?s first Oktober
Fest with local brews, pickles and music. For more
details and booking information, visit www.
montgomerywalkingfestival.co.uk.
iStock.
BFI London Film
Festival
Film buffs can choose from
more than 200 films at London?s
famous annual film festival.
From October 4 to 15 the capital
will be screening the best world
cinema releases in venues
across the capital. The festival
also includes world premi鑢es,
IMAX specials, archive films and
animated shorts as well as
interviews and Q&A sessions
with directors and producers at
selected events. For the latest
programme news visit
http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff.
Perfect Poppies
Brilliant Bramleys
5
From October 13 to December 3, Belfast International
Arts Festival and the Ulster Museum will be hosting
Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and
designer Tom Piper. The sculpture reaches Belfast as
part of the UK-wide tour of the poppies by 14-18 NOW,
the UK arts commemoration of the centenary of World
War I. The cascade of several thousand hand-made
ceramic poppies will pour down the fa鏰de of the Ulster
Museum to the ground below. To find out more, see
https://belfastinternationalartsfestival.com.
Head to Southwell on Saturday, October 21
for the annual Bramley Festival celebrating the
origins of Britain?s favourite cooking apple. The
Food and Drink Festival is held in Southwell
Minster with all kinds of apple-themed products,
producers and craftspeople. Shops and
businesses throughout the town will also be
taking part. Visit www.visitsouthwell.com/
events/the-bramley-festival/ to find out more.
Alamy.
Walking In Wales
The Great Tapestry of Scotland will be on show at
the Verdant Works in Dundee until October 22. The
tapestry is believed to be the longest in the world.
Designed by artist Andrew Crummy (pictured), the
160 panels and 143 metres of stitching tell the
story of Scotland?s history from the prehistoric era
to the reconvention of the Scottish Parliament in
1998.
Adult entry to the Verdant Works is �25. The
exhibition is free to view once entry has been paid.
Visit www.verdantworks.com for more details.
Alamy.
iStock.
Verdant Tapestry
8
White
Cliffs
Country
Photographs by Gillian Thornton unless otherwise stated.
Gillian Thornton enjoys history
and heritage on a trip to
south-east England.
TRAVEL 9
Dover Castle from
the roof of the
Great Keep.
D. Bogu�.
T
HE White Cliffs of
Dover are amongst
the most iconic
images of Britain for
travellers across the
world, immortalised by
Dame Vera Lynn in the
poignant World War II
melody.
I?ve often looked at the
sheer chalk cliffs from a
cross-Channel ferry, but
never set foot on the
summit until now. And what
a view.
There are none of Dame
Vera?s bluebirds flying
overhead today as I look
across calm seas to the
silhouette of the French
coast. But I?m treated
instead to the sound of
skylarks.
There?s even a small herd
of rare Exmoor ponies,
installed by the National
Trust, which looks after this
historic area of natural
heritage for the nation.
The White Cliffs visitor
centre stands immediately
above the world?s busiest
passenger-ferry and freight
port, and down below me,
cars and trucks move
seamlessly along marked
lanes like a slow-motion
Scalextric.
Up here, though, the
marked paths are tranquil,
winding over open
heathland towards South
Foreland lighthouse.
The light changes
constantly over the Channel
and on the walk back, I?m
treated to a panoramic view
of hilltop Dover Castle
which served continuously
as a garrison from 1066
until 1958.
I?m usually skirting the
foot of the castle en route to
the ferry port, but at long
last I?ve come to explore
White Cliffs Country, the
stretch of coastline that runs
eastwards from Dover
through Deal to Sandwich.
So after the fresh air of
the cliff tops, I wind up the
steep hill between ramparts
and barrack blocks to the
gateway of Dover Castle,
one of English Heritage?s
flagship properties.
The grounds can get busy
at peak times, so I head first
for the Secret Wartime
Tunnels where 45-minute
guided tours depart three
times an hour.
Operation Dynamo was
planned here beneath the
chalk cliffs, and the Dunkirk
Evacuation of 1940 has
made movie news again this
summer with the premiere
of a new Christopher Nolan
film which is starring
Kenneth Branagh, Tom
Hardy and Mark Rylance.
Also inside the hill, the
Underground Hospital tour
recreates the arrival of a
wounded airman. Then I slip
back 700 years to the time
of Henry II in the Great Keep
and even further at the
Roman lighthouse within
the castle walls.
But if that feels old, Dover
Museum behind the Tourist
Information Centre has an
even more ancient treasure
that?s not only unique but
free to view. Discover the
fascinating story of the
world?s oldest boat in the
Bronze Age Boat gallery.
Back outside, I follow the
Blue Bird Heritage trail to
discover the historic
buildings of the world?s
oldest port. But Dover
moves with the times, too,
and I enjoy a glimpse of
things to come over a
delicious fish supper at
Hythe Bay Seafood
Church Street,
Sandwich.
Restaurant, second branch
for a local group based in
nearby Hythe and also now
in Deal (www.hythebay.co.
uk).
Currently located at one
end of Dover?s tranquil
Marine Parade with views of
the harbour and castle, this
bright, spacious restaurant
will soon find itself in the
centre of Dover?s swish new
harbour area.
There?s so much to see
along this short stretch of
coast that I?m staying over at
Monks Barn, one of four
delightful self-catering barn
conversions at Abbey Farm
Cottages (www.
abbeyfarmholidays.co.uk)
on St Radigund?s Abbey
Farm, just 15 minutes? drive
on a hill above Dover.
Admire the 12th-century
abbey ruins and follow
marked circular walks
through an area of
Outstanding Natural
Beauty.
Bronze Age Boat
Dover was an important port in Roman times, but in the mud
beneath their harbour wall lay a Bronze Age boat that was
already 1,600 years old. Discovered in 1992 during building
works, the section of oak vessel measures 31 feet by eight feet
but could have been up to 65 feet in length, built in sections and
assembled on the shore.
Carbon dating proves the boat is 3,500 years old and the gallery
at Dover Museum puts this vividly into perspective ? older than
Moses and Tutankhamun, it was sailing the Channel as men were
putting the last touches to Stonehenge. Staggering stuff!
10
Dover Castle
WWII tunnels.
Must-see
Views!
l Dover Castle from the
battlement or, best of all,
the roof terrace of the
Great Keep. Look out over
the garrison church and
the Roman lighthouse
across a building that has
changed little in
centuries. From here you
get a real sense of the
castle?s strategic
importance from the
Middle Ages to World
War II.
l The English Channel
English Heritage.
Next day I head
towards Deal and
Sandwich, both members of
the Confederation of Cinque
Ports. But just outside Deal,
I stop off first at Walmer
Castle, built under Henry VIII
as a circular bastion to
defend the English coast.
Today it is the official
residence of the Lord
Warden of the Cinque Ports,
a role which has been
carried out by legendary
figures such as Prime
Minister Pitt the Younger,
military hero and politician
the Duke of Wellington, and
the Queen Mother. The
walls are hung with historic
portraits and the furniture
dotted with intriguing
artefacts.
My favourite is the rare
pair of black leather
?Wellington Boots? worn by
the Duke himself. Despite
the grandeur of his life in
London, the Duke preferred
to live simply at Walmer,
sleeping on his portable
military bed.
And it?s poignant to see
the chair where he died
peacefully in 1852, just days
after playing with his
grandchildren in the
gardens. Pick up the free
English Heritage audio-guide
for the full story.
Deal?s castle comes as a
complete contrast ? the
same Tudor design but
completely unadorned, so
you can really appreciate its
military purpose.
From here it?s a short walk
into town, past fishing boats
and lobster pots hauled high
on the shingle beach. Deal
was voted the ?High Street
of the Year? by ?Daily
Telegraph? readers in 2014,
and it buzzes with
independent shops, caf閟
and creative workshops.
Spoiled for places to eat, I
plump for more fresh fish,
this time at Dunkerley?s
(www.dunkerleys.co.uk), a
pretty hotel and restaurant
on the waterfront where the
two-course lunch menu
represents great value
at �.
My final stop in White
Cliffs Country is Sandwich,
one of the best-preserved
mediaeval towns in England.
Once a busy port, Sandwich
no longer stands on the
coast, but there are still
plenty of small boats here,
and if you want to get out
on the water, you can take a
seal-spotting excursion to
the Stour estuary.
I enjoyed following the
trail of 18 story boards that
highlight the town?s history
and development. Part of
the route follows the Walls,
a circle of fortifications made
of earth mounds and ditches
to protect against Viking and
French invaders; the rest
winds through quaint streets
lined with historic houses.
Stop off to visit the
gardens of the Salutation.
Now a hotel, the mansion
was built in 1912 by
Sir Edwin Lutyens and in
1950 became the first
20th-century building to be
granted a Grade I listing. And
visit the newly refurbished
Guildhall Museum to see
Sandwich?s own copy of the
Magna Carta. You?re never
far from a historic gem in
White Cliffs Country! n
Want To Know More?
Visit www.whitecliffscountry.org.uk or call the Dover Visitor
Information Centre on 01304 201066.
from the path over the
heathland above the
White Cliffs. Watch the
ships leaving harbour but
also look back over Dover
itself, the houses clinging
to the steep valleys that
run down to the sea, and
the gentle curve of
Marine Parade and its
period properties.
l Deal from the pier. No
amusements, no pier
furniture, just a lovely
view back at the broad
promenade with its
multi-coloured cottages
and fishing boats, all
against a soothing
soundtrack of waves
swooshing on shingle. If
you?re feeling peckish,
relax at a table over the
sea in the restaurant right
at the end.
Sandwich
Guildhall.
l Sandwich from above.
If you?re feeling energetic,
climb the staircase of
St Peter?s Church Tower,
passing through the bell
and clock chambers, until
you reach the roof. The
views are stunning over
the ancient rooftops and
winding streets, and there
are plenty of cosy caf閟
to relax in afterwards.
11
A lasting love is recalled in this poignant
short story by Angela Petch.
The Blue Grotto
It was where a young man had professed his love for me,
all those years ago . . .
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
M
Y grandson, Guido,
turned up this morning
on my doorstep.
?Hello, Nonna,? he said,
bending to kiss my
cheeks. ?Mamma sent me to help sort
your things.?
He smiled sheepishly when I raised my
eyebrows. I imagined my daughter-inlaw wiping clean her already spotless
kitchen worktops, grumbling at him.
?Go and help your grandmother
declutter, Guido. If she?s coming to live
with us, I?m not having all her rubbish.?
So we started at the back of the cave
that serves as my store room. We sifted
through a box of chipped crockery and
cooking pots and Guido broke up an old
kitchen chair riddled with woodworm to
use as firewood.
It was hot, dusty work and I went to
pick two lemons from my little garden to
make us some fresh juice.
When I returned, Guido had pulled
away an old sail at the back of the cave
and found the Vespa.
?Nonna, this is amazing!? he
exclaimed. ?A vintage Vespa! Does it
still work??
?I don?t know. It?s been there since
your grandfather passed away. I?d almost
forgotten about it.?
?They are really sought after,? he said,
pushing the scooter off its stand and on
to the cobbled alleyway outside.
?Sought after?? I laughed. ?In the
Sixties it was all we could afford for
getting around. All four of us used to ride
on it. Your father in my arms and your
Uncle Beppe standing between us ? and
all of us without helmets.?
?No way!? my grandson cried. ?Didn?t
the carabinieri fine you??
?Of course not.? I shrugged. ?It was
normal back then.?
When Guido had gone and I was
chopping tomatoes and mozzarella for
my supper, I thought about the many
things we used to consider normal when
we were young, and how times had
changed.
After eating I usually sat outside with
my neighbour, Elena, to catch the dying
day?s warmth. We chatted about this and
that and I wound bobbins of cotton for
her while she made lace for tablecloths
to sell to tourists.
But this evening I wanted to be alone. I
closed my front door and walked a little
way up the hill until I reached the bench,
stopping now and then to catch my
breath.
Set in the lee of our ancient town
walls, my favourite seat commands a
wonderful view of the sea.
Tonight, the last rays of sun
12
danced diamonds across
the surface and I sat
enjoying the sight and
remembering the past.
Coming across the old
Vespa had stirred up
memories I had never before
shared . . .
* * * *
Fifty-four years earlier, all
preparations for my wedding
day had been completed.
Ribbons of home-made pasta
lay drying on the kitchen
table, ready to add to anchovy
On the eve of my wedding,
I slipped away from the
confusion of cousins and
aunts who had gathered in our
house, discussing what they?d
be wearing and if they should
sleep with curlers in their hair
all night.
I escaped from their chatter
to the bench overlooking the
island of Lipari. For a while I
observed two lizards chasing
each other through a cascade
of trailing pink geraniums and
I breathed in the air,
wondering when I?d be able
The old Vespa stirred up memories
I had never before shared
and caper sauce for the next
day?s feast.
A basket of freshly caught
tuna and red mullet covered
in ice was stowed in the cool
cellar. Scent from roses and
lilies permeated the house and
my dress hung on the back of
my bedroom door.
?But it?s so short,
Francesca!? my own
grandmother had said,
wringing her hands in dismay.
?It?s the fashion. It?s a mini
dress, Nonna,? I told her.
?And my white boots are
long, so the dress will seem
longer, too. Don?t worry!?
?How can you walk in
those wedge heels? You?ll fall
and break your ankle before
you reach the altar!?
But I?d stood my ground.
After all, it was my wedding
day, even though at times it
didn?t seem that way.
My fianc� Marco was the
worst culprit. He wanted
everything to be what he
considered perfect ? from
embossed invitation cards to
fancy favours of confetti
sweets each guest would find
on their place mats.
?Everything must be just
so,? he kept saying. ?We must
put on a good show.?
I had hardly seen him in the
past weeks amidst all his
preparations, and he spent
ages polishing up his shining
black Alfa Romeo Spyder.
?So it will look its best
when we drive to Sorrento for
our honeymoon ? where all
the fashionable people go.?
He?d even cut his hair short
and he no longer resembled
Paul McCartney. He looked
like all the other bank clerks
he worked with.
to enjoy its fishy, salty tang
again.
Marco was from an inland
city called Caltanissetta,
where we would be living in
an apartment above his
parents.
The tinny whine of a Vespa
approaching interrupted by
thoughts. It was Omero, my
old friend from school days.
?Hello, Francesca,? he
greeted me, parking his
scooter and coming to sit
beside me on the bench.
?How?s it going??
I burst into tears. He put his
arm round my shoulders and I
leaned against him.
?You?ve got wedding
nerves,? he diagnosed,
offering me a handkerchief.
I blew into it and asked him
if my nose looked red.
?Yes, but don?t worry.?
Grabbing me by the hand, he
said, ?Climb aboard my
Vespa.?
?I can?t, Omero.?
?Why not??
I couldn?t think of a reason.
I tried to sit side-saddle,
glad I was wearing my jeans
and not my favourite leather
mini-skirt, but he laughed at
me.
?Sit properly, Francesca.
And you must hold on tight.?
He set off at speed and I
clung to him. His hair curled
over his collar the way
Marco?s used to before his
wedding haircut. And he
smelled of musky aftershave.
?Where are you taking
me?? I shouted, but my words
were whipped away as he
negotiated a series of tight
bends down the cliff road.
With light fading, we
stopped at the sea?s edge
where a dozen fishing boats
were moored. Water slapped
against the sides of the
colourful vessels with the
incoming tide, and in the bay,
lanterns glowed from boats
already at work.
?We?re going to the Blue
Grotto,? he told me.
I clapped my hands because
I?d never been there before.
He loosened the moorings
and helped me climb aboard
his father?s boat, holding fast
to my hand when I slipped on
the wet wood.
With strong, firm strokes,
Omero pulled away from the
shore, smiling at me as he
rowed.
?Has your Marco never
thought to bring you here??
he asked.
I shook my head and then,
as if to excuse him, I added,
?But he?s taken me to the
theatre and to Pompeii. I?ve
learnt a lot from him.?
?Then why the tears,
Francesca??
I shrugged and watched as
he skilfully manoeuvred the
vessel into a cavernous
opening in the cliffs.
Dropping anchor, he let the
boat bob up and down in the
current for a few moments
before switching on a
powerful torch to point round
the walls of the grotto. Above
us, stalactites glistened and
hung in fantastical shapes.
I gasped at the wonderful
sight.
We swam to the back of the
grotto. Once we were out of
the sea I started to shiver and
he reached up to a ledge
where a basket perched.
From it he pulled a towel
and wrapped it round me. I
couldn?t believe my eyes
when he went on to produce a
box of matches and to light
candles in jam jars on the
rocks.
When he held up a bottle of
wine and two glasses, I
laughed outright, the sound
echoing around the cave like
music.
?Is this where you bring all
the girls you want to seduce??
?No,? he replied. ?This is
where I brought the girl I
want to marry.?
* * * *
Sitting on my bench
overlooking the bay, I smiled
to myself. My family
eventually forgave me for
abandoning the wedding, and
Marco soon found another
girl to live with him in the
city.
Omero and I had a simple
ceremony and went on to
enjoy thirty years together.
Fifteen years ago, when his
fishing boat failed to return to
harbour, I stored his bits and
bobs at the back of the store
room where I couldn?t see
them. Out of sight, out of
mind, I told myself in an
effort to banish my sadness.
I?d almost forgotten about the
Above us, stalactites glistened and
hung in fantastical shapes
?That?s the polar bear,? he
said, directing the beam at a
contorted rocky outcrop, its
surfaces weathered into the
shape of a large animal.
Then, flicking the light
towards an oblong rock on
the edge of a tiny beach
within the cave, he asked
what it reminded me of.
?An old woman?? I
ventured.
?Yes! An old woman
waiting for her life to start.?
Before I could comment, he
removed his shirt and trousers
and dived into the water. He
resurfaced after a few
seconds.
?Come on in, Francesca.
It?s not cold!? he called.
?Turn your back,? I ordered
and stripped to my underwear.
Vespa until Guido unearthed
it.
I pulled my shawl around
my shoulders and heaved
myself up from the bench.
Walking slowly back down
the path, I decided Guido
could keep the Vespa with my
blessing. It was his turn to
have adventures with it.
As for me, I made up my
mind to stay in the little house
in the piazza for as long as I
was able, no matter what my
bossy daughter-in-law said.
The sun was slipping
behind the sea with a final
golden flourish and the breeze
blew cold as I approached my
home. But my memories were
keeping me warm.
The End.
OnLY
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6 digits
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4 digits
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7 digits
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6 4 1 7
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Wordsearch
Find all the listed words relating to photography in the grid. Words
can run horizontally, vertically, forwards, backwards or diagonally.
F V E R U T C
I
P D Z E C
ANGLE
PLATE
E H D A H M C S S O A T C
CUT
PREVIEW
T O D W O R U U
DELETE
PRINT
ENLARGE
RAY
FAMILY
ROLL
HOLIDAY
SCREEN
IMAGE
SEPIA
INSET
SHOOT
MATT
SUNSET
MUGSHOT
UNIPOD
E R T R L E N L A R G E T
NEWTON
ZOOM
G O P R E N S O T O O H S
PARTY
R L
PICTURE
I
E L Y O E N M N T
L
I
Z
L S
E D N E
I
I
P S A A
I
E L S
O U R N P P
T V F G U
I
M
I
I
D A T S W M T E S S A H A
N Y S E E N A C R G H O C
D Y N R
I
I
T R F E P
I
O A
N A N G L E M A T T
A L Y A R P E W H N U E C
All puzzles � Puzzler Media Ltd ?
www.puzzler.com
The People?s Friend
15
Solutions on page 75.
Quiz Crossword
1
ACROSS
8 Which Verdi opera features Alfredo? (2,8)
9 What was the first name of Andy Warhol?s
1960s star Ms Sedgwick? (4)
10 Which Cumbrian town is famed for its mint
cake? (6)
11 Which long, green?skinned fruit is proverbially
?cool?? (8)
12 By what name is a group of people who run a
country known? (10)
14 Which 2004 swords?and?sandals epic starred
Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom? (4)
16 What is the largest city on the Baja California
peninsula, Mexico? (7)
18 Which Knightsbridge store was formerly owned
by Mohamed Al Fayed? (7)
20 Where in the body is the patella located? (4)
21 What is the common name for the clavicle? (10)
23 What green liqueur was once made from
wormwood? (8)
25 Which river runs through Preston in
Lancashire? (6)
27 What forename links an Irish novelist and an
Australian?s comic creation? (4)
28 What is a realistic approach taken in
19th?century arts? (10)
DOWN
1 Which early 19th?century Scottish canal links
Inverness and Fort William? (10)
2 What name is given to the area from which the
cars start a Grand Prix race? (4)
3 What was the name of the 1982 Roxy Music
album? (6)
4 What is a toothed lever screwdriver called? (7)
5 Which former capital of India was associated
with Mother Teresa? (8)
6 Which soft?bodied crustacean lives in the empty
shells of other molluscs such as whelks? (6,4)
3
2
3
5
6
7
9
10
11
12
13
16
14
17
15
18
19
20
23
27
Find one word that fits both clues. The first
letter of each word, read in order, will spell
out a type of cup.
1
4
8
21
24
22
25
26
28
7 Which river flows through Leeds? (4)
13 Which word means ?representing different Christian
churches?? (10)
15 What do we call the language spoken in Britain
before the Norman Conquest? (3,7)
17 What addictive substance is found in cigarettes? (8)
19 In which Canadian province is Edmonton
located? (7)
22 What is the name for the shimmering coloured lights
seen in the sky at polar latitudes? (6)
24 Which ancient historian had the epithet ?the
Venerable?? (4)
26 What was the first name of Dracula actor Mr
Lugosi? (4)
4x4
Two in One
1 Before tax/Vulgar
2 Microsoft email program/
Viewpoint
3 Strike/Party
4 Not heavy/Lamp
5 Fancy/Complex
6 Army vehicle/Vat
2
When you?ve unscrambled these four
anagrams, fit the words horizontally
into the grid so that reading down the
first column spells out a word meaning
to shout.
PART
4
TUBA
5
PANE
6
SIRE
Della Galton?s lively series about Dorset farming folk
appears in every Special.
The
Girls
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
A birthday
celebration
reveals an old
secret . . .
H
APPY birthday
to you, happy
birthday to you;
Happy birthday
dear Kenny and
Jonathan, happy birthday to
you!?
Jonathan winced. The
volume was deafening. Partly
because the entire restaurant
seemed to have joined in and
partly because Michael was
sitting next to him, slightly
drunk and even louder than
usual.
?Cheers, Dad.? He clapped
Jonathan on the shoulder.
?Have more wine. It?s not
every day you?re sixtyseven.?
?No, thank you.?
A few days ago he?d been
pleased to feel a part of this
extended family. But right
now it felt overwhelming. He
wasn?t used to it.
He wasn?t even used to
Michael spending birthdays
with him ? for the last 10
years or so Michael had been
in Spain.
Ruby was on his other side.
She winked at him, which
made him feel better. She was
coping amazingly.
Jonathan was the only one
here who knew she?d been
dreading tonight.
The pizza restaurant they
sat in, with its stained-glass
windows and beautifully
vaulted ceilings, had once
been a church.
The outside space ? the
cemetery with its graves ?
remained unchanged. And
only Jonathan knew that, a
stone?s throw from where
they sat, Ruby?s husband was
buried.
Almost as if he?d picked up
his father?s thoughts, Michael
spoke loudly.
?Bit weird, eh? Eating
pizzas in the middle of a
cemetery!?
Anna nodded. Kiara,
Michael?s fianc閑, frowned.
?I think it is bad thing. This
would not happen in my
country. It is lack of respect
for dead people.?
Ruby had gone a shade
paler, Jonathan saw. She
stood up.
?I?m just going to powder
my nose,? she said, and
disappeared.
Jonathan left it for 30
seconds, then he got up, too.
He was sure that Ruby hadn?t
gone to powder her nose ?
she had headed in the
opposite direction.
He made for the main
entrance and emerged outside
in the coolness of the October
evening.
Which way would Ruby
have gone? It didn?t matter.
The cemetery was tiny. She
had told him herself there
were fewer than 30 graves in
total.
He turned left and found
himself on a path that led
around the back of the
building. He passed the
kitchens, their interior a
well-lit bustle of activity.
Then he saw Ruby over to
his left. Not wanting to startle
her, he slowed his approach.
It was just starting to rain.
Just as he reached her, she
glanced up.
?I?ll go, if you?d prefer,? he
offered. ?I wanted to make
sure you were OK.?
?Thank you. You don?t
need to go.?
She smiled, then shivered.
She was only wearing a dress
and a thin wrap.
Jonathan took off his jacket
and put it around her
shoulders.
?This is Lawrence,? she
said. ?Lawrence, this is my
dear friend, Jonathan.?
There was such love in her
voice. No wonder she hadn?t
married again.
Jonathan looked at the
simple marble headstone.
Here lies Lawrence
Sinclair, beloved husband of
Ruby Sinclair.
1925 - 1950.
What must it be like, going
through your entire life
knowing that you?d already
met your soulmate and that
they were gone?
The rain was heavier now.
They should go back in. But
he didn?t want to be the one
SERIES 17
to suggest it.
?Hi, guys??
There was a question in
Kim?s voice, but she wasn?t
so insensitive as to ask what
they were doing.
Jonathan guessed that
must be pretty obvious.
* * * *
Kim had wondered
whether or not to follow
when both Ruby and Uncle
Jonathan had left the table.
At first she?d thought
maybe Ruby had felt unwell,
in which case she ought to
follow, as Jonathan clearly
couldn?t go into the Ladies.
But when she?d discovered
that room empty, curiosity
had driven her outside, to
find Ruby and Jonathan
standing in the rain by a
grave.
She touched Ruby?s arm.
?I?m so sorry,? she said,
reading the inscription. ?If
I?d realised, I would have
chosen somewhere else.?
?It?s not a problem. This
was a good excuse to visit
them.?
Them? Kim made out the
second grave which was
harder to spot than
Lawrence?s. It was smaller,
more overgrown, its
inscription a little more
obscured with lichen.
Our beloved daughter,
Emily Sinclair. Died at birth.
1950.
Kim swallowed hard.
She exchanged glances
with Uncle Jonathan, whose
expression of shock mirrored
how she felt.
It was Ruby herself who
spoke.
?It was a long time ago.
Almost seventy years.? She
cleared her throat. ?We?d
best get back in. The others
will be wondering.?
Kim looked at her but her
voice was quite steady, her
face serene.
?Really, pet, I?m OK. In
fact, I?m glad you both
know. My two favourite
people.?
She took a hand of each,
and all three walked back
into the restaurant.
* * * *
The following Monday, at
Crumbles, Pat relayed the
story of the birthday night
out to her boss, Sarah.
?We had no idea,? she
said, taking four Victoria
sponges from the huge
commercial oven and putting
them on cooling racks.
?We all assumed Ruby
chose Little Marshall to
retire to because she liked
the area.
?She spent most of her life
in Camden. We didn?t know
she had history here.?
?Everyone?s got a story,?
Sarah said sagely. ?Like your
brother turning up out of the
blue. That?s a story worthy
of a soap.?
?I suppose so.?
Pat was just about to
remark that soaps were a lot
more dramatic ? for a start,
not a single wedding ever
went smoothly ? when she
realised that she was in no
position to mention
weddings.
She had begun to think
that Anna and Paul were
never going to get married.
But just last night Anna
had brought up that very
subject, with no build-up
whatsoever, in typical Anna
fashion.
?Are you and Dad still
thinking of going to the Ice
Hotel for your anniversary?
Because Paul and I have
decided it would be a good
place to get married.?
Pat had looked at Ted,
whose eyes had lit up.
?Does this mean I might
finally get to see the
Northern Lights??
?There?s a very good
chance of that, yes, if we go
in December,? Anna had told
her father. ?Although it?s
never guaranteed, is it,
Paul??
They?d spent the rest of
the evening researching it all
on the internet.
?How about Kim and
Kenny? Will they be able to
afford to get out there?? Pat
had asked. ?It?s pretty
pricey.?
?Vets are a lot richer than
farmers,? Paul pointed out.
?And Uncle Jonathan?s
rolling in it,? Anna said.
?You don?t know that,? Pat
had chided.
?Yes, I do. He used to be a
spy,? Anna had insisted. ?I
know he says he?s a civil
servant, but that?s just his
cover.?
It had taken another ten
minutes of interrogation for
her to confess that this was
purely a story that she and
Kim had made up when they
first met him.
They had all laughed.
* * * *
Less than two miles from
Crumbles, at the cemetery
behind Posh Pizzas, Ruby
was amazed.
In her wildest dreams she
had never envisaged
standing at her husband?s
grave, biting her lip to stop
herself exploding with
laughter.
The reason for her laughter
was Michael, on his third
trip to the grave. Trip being
the operative word!
Each time he arrived ?
carrying various gardening
implements ? he tripped over
exactly the same tree root.
On each occasion he said
exactly the same rude word
and Jonathan told him to
remember where he was and
show a little respect.
It was like some comedy
sketch. Ruby caught Kiara?s
gaze. She was also trying not
to laugh.
Ruby couldn?t stop herself.
She burst into peals of
laughter which set Kiara off,
too.
?I am not laughing at you.
I am laughing with you,? she
soothed an outraged
Michael.
?Me, too.? Kim had just
arrived on the scene with a
strimmer.
Jonathan was the only one
who wasn?t suffused with
giggles.
?Give me strength! We?re
here to tidy up these graves,
not do a comedy act.?
But he was smiling.
?It?s all right,? she told
him. ?This is doing me a
power of good. And I
appreciate you all coming to
do this. Bending?s beyond
me these days.?
?We haven?t done anything
yet,? Michael pointed out.
?Well, the rest of you
haven?t. I?ve kept you
entertained for the duration!?
He gave a little bow.
?And I?ve checked with
the restaurant that we can
use their power,? Kim said
smugly. ?All these electric
tools wouldn?t be any good
without power.? She spread
her hands to encompass the
long grass.
Jonathan stepped forward
to open up the folding chair
they?d brought for Ruby and
she sat in it gratefully. For
the next half hour the place
was a hive of activity.
Ruby watched her friends
strimming, shearing,
weeding and trimming. With
the four of them working it
didn?t take long to clear not
just the immediate area
around her husband and
daughter?s graves, but a fair
bit of the surrounding area,
too.
Finally, Kim made one
more trip to the car and
returned with a bucket and
some cloths.
?I thought it might be nice
to clean the actual
headstones themselves,? she
said to Ruby. ?With your
permission??
?Thank you, my darling.?
Ruby could feel tears
welling up in her throat.
When Kiara disappeared
and came back with two pots
of fresh flowers that must
have come from the florists
across the road, Ruby gave
up the effort of trying not to
cry.
?Oh, my goodness,?
Jonathan said, flustered.
He pulled a pristine
handkerchief from his pocket
and handed it to her. He was
wearing a suit as usual,
despite the fact he?d been
gardening.
?Thank you,? Ruby said.
?We didn?t mean to upset
you,? Jonathan began.
?It is good to cry.? Kiara
straightened from placing the
flowers. ?This is right place
for flowers, no? Or shall I
move??
?Perfect. It?s perfect.?
Ruby sobbed. She couldn?t
seem to stop.
But Kiara was right ? it
was good to cry. She wiped
her eyes with Jonathan?s
handkerchief and when she?d
finally composed herself she
looked at them.
?Thank you so much,? she
began again, hear her voice
husky. ?My wonderful,
wonderful friends. I truly
cannot thank you enough.?
Continues in Special 148.
Barcelona
iStock.
Beautiful
Jan Fuscoe discovers
treasures in every
quarter of this
Spanish city.
Photographs by Jan Fuscoe, unless otherwise stated.
T
HE capital of Catalonia
is a beautiful beach city
that?s easy to navigate,
with stunning architecture,
great food and fabulous
museums. So it?s no surprise that
it?s one of the most visited places in
Europe.
Once a Roman city, founded in
15 BC, Barcelona is at once modern
and ancient, with fragments of
Roman walls found around the
city and even incorporated into the
walls of the cathedral.
Barcelona prides itself on its
distinctive roots, and though under
General Franco?s fascist rule until
1975, it is an autonomous province
of Spain with its own language,
Catalan, as well as its own public
holidays and distinctive culture.
The city is divided into barrios,
but there are three main areas: the
ancient Barri G騮ic, the extended
old town of Raval, and Eixample,
the larger surrounding area, where
some of the best shopping and
Modernist architecture can be
found.
Did you know?
There?s 1,000 years of
art inside the MNAC.
Perhaps the only good thing General
Franco ever did was introduce the
men� del dia, making it a legal
requirement for restaurants to serve
a reasonably priced lunchtime menu
for the workers. Happily, it still exists,
and you can get two, sometimes three
courses and even a drink, too, for
10 to 12 euros.
When should I go?
Barcelona has a fabulous climate,
with hot summers and mild winters,
often with bright blue skies and
sunshine from March on. Even in
winter, when there are fewer crowds
so that access to the sights is much
easier, you will see locals taking a dip
in the sea on warmer days.
Where should I stay?
There?s a wide range of
accommodation available, from cool
budget hostels like Generator to classy
boutique hotels such as the Mercer,
with its very own historic tower plus
a rooftop pool, and Hotel Neri, built
in a 17th-century mansion right
beside the cathedral. Alternatively,
rent an apartment with www.
apartmentbarcelona.com.
What can I eat?
Barcelona is the home of Ferran
Adri�, one of the finest chefs in the
world, so of course there is some
excellent food on offer here, from
casual tapas to have with a drink in
a bar/restaurant such as Cal Pep, to
Michelin-star blow-outs at the likes of
Alkimia restaurant.
Middling favourites include the
TRAVEL 19
Gorgeous Gracia district
was once its own town.
Gaudi?s iconic
and unfinished
cathedral, the
Sagrada Familia.
excellent La Singular for fusion
Mediterranean dishes (booking is
a must), and Can Sol�, close to the
beach, for authentic paella.
Alternatively, pick up superb fruits,
meats and cheeses from one of the
most beautiful markets ? La Boqueria
? and make your own picnic. We can
particularly recommend the food at
Bar Seco in Poble Sec; it belongs to
the Slow Food movement and serves
bio, vegan and gluten-free, and
always tasty, food.
What?s the wine like?
Of course it?s possible to drink
great wine and beer here, but don?t
miss the cider bars (sidreria) or an
increasing number of places serving
vermouth (vermut), the most popular
aperitif in the city. Try Morro Fi and
Mitja Vida, which also bottle their
own.
Things To Do
In the city
>Barcelona is the city of Antoni
Gaud�, born in 1852, the Catalan
architect who created wild and
imaginative buildings and spaces
around the city that he loved.
La Sagrada Familia is his
unfinished masterpiece, which he
worked on until his death. Parc
G黣ll, with views over the city, also
showcases Gaud�s imagination.
Another of his designs is the
exquisite Casa Batll�, and Casa Mil�.
Owing to their popularity, visits to
all of Gaud�s buildings must be
booked in advance.
The Gothic Quarter ? Barri G騮ic
? is the oldest part of the city.
Wander the narrow, twisting lanes
and discover quirky gothic and art
nouveau buildings. The Picasso
Museum suffers from long queues
but, for an additional euro, buy a
pass from the ticket office and head
straight to the front of the queue.
The famous tree-lined La Rambla,
popular among tourists, is where to
find good shopping opportunities.
Take a walk along the promenade
and enjoy the sea. The sandy beach
wasn?t always there ? the port area
was remodelled for the 1992 Olympic
Games. From here it?s a short walk to
Ciutadella Park ? 70 acres of green
space with a zoo, lake and museums.
Taking the cable car from the
harbour up to Montj黫c, you?ll find the
Castel de Montj黫c, an old fortress, as
well as Botanic Gardens, the National
Art Museum of Catalonia and the
nearby Joan Mir� Foundation.
Bullfighting has been banned in
Catalonia, so Las Arenas, once the
bullfighting ring, has been converted
into a swanky new shopping and
leisure centre, designed by
Richard Rogers.
Take a cable car up to Tibidado
for more incredible views of the city,
as well as the TV tower designed by
Norman Foster, and an amusement
park.
Coffee and cycling at
Placa de Joan Capri.
Insider tips
Take the airport blue bus into
the city centre. The fare of ?5.90
includes a city map showing where
the free WiFi hotspots are.
Watch your valuables. Despite all
efforts to stop them, pickpockets
still target tourists, especially along
Las Ramblas, so don?t flash jewellery
and cameras and keep your money
and valuables close to your person,
rather than in a backpack.
The Barcelona Card offers free
transport and free entry to many
of Barcelona?s best attractions,
including the Joan Mir� Foundation
and the National Art Museum of
Catalonia, as well as discounts on
many more, including walking tours
and restaurants. The card costs ?48
for a three-day pass, with a 15%
discount when bought online.
Day trips
>FC Barcelona is one of the most
famous football teams in the world,
and its Camp Nou stadium offers
a popular tour that includes visits
to the dressing-room, stadium and
tunnel, as well as a museum.
The Dal� Theatre Museum in
Figueres was designed by the artist
himself so eccentric exhibits go
without saying. Go by train and, if
there?s time, stop off at beautiful
Girona, renowned for its mediaeval
architecture and pretty painted
houses overlooking the River Onyar.
HOLIDAYS IN
SCOTLAND
6 DAYS
FROM
�5
PF094
UP HELLY AA WINTER FESTIVAL TOUR
Departing 29 January 2018
Join us in Shetland for the annual
festival of Up Helly Aa - a colourful
affair that dispels the gloom of winter.
A wander through the streets of
Lerwick is normally a quiet, peaceful
experience, but take a walk there
at the end of January and it?s quite
likely that you will bump into a squad
of very large, very bearded Vikings,
resplendent in gleaming chain-mail
and winged helmets.
Up Helly Aa celebrates the
lengthening of the days and the
coming of another year.
Tour highlights:
? Fire festival of Up Helly Aa
? 3000 years of
archaeological
history at Jarlshof
? Stunning sea-cliffs at
Eshaness
? Bobby?s bus shelter in
Baltasound ? surely the
most famous
in the world!
CHRISTMAS IN THE
SCOTTISH BORDERS
4 DAYS
FROM
Price includes:
? Return coach travel available from various departure
points throughout Scotland and ferry transfer
from Aberdeen to Lerwick
? 3 nights? accommodation with dinner, bed and full
breakfast at the Moor?eld Hotel, Brae - in a room
with private facilities
? 2 nights? accommodation in 2-berth cabins on Serco
Northlink Ferries Hrossey or Hjaltland with dinner
and full breakfast. All cabins have private facilities.
Outside cabins are available on request for a small
supplement
? Comfortable coaching throughout
? 3 full day guided coach tours of mainland Shetland
and the islands of Yell and Unst, including all ferries
(weather permitting) and entrance to Jarlshof
? Free day in Lerwick to enjoy the events of Up Helly Aa
CHRISTMAS IN
PERTHSHIRE
�5
PER PERSON
PF677
PER PERSON
4 DAYS
FROM
PF112
�5
PER PERSON
Departing 24 December 2017
Departing 24 December 2017
Join us this Christmas at The Cardrona Hotel, Golf and Country Club,
nestling on the banks of the River Tweed for a relaxing, stress-free
Christmas break. From the moment you arrive at the hotel, welcomed
with cream teas, you will enjoy the best of Scottish hospitality and a full
festive programme that includes carol singing, light entertainment and,
of course, a traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.
Calling all toe-tappers and admirers of good music: for a truly
tuneful Christmas break, join us in stunning Perthshire. From
our base at the luxurious Dunkeld House Hotel, we enjoy pipers
accompanying afternoon tea, talented trios over Christmas lunch,
and a rousing Ceilidh. Discover the sounds of Scotland, and so
much more.
Please ask us about connecting ?ights, rail travel and extra accommodation as this can be
packaged for those outside our designated pick-ups ? for more details, call 01334 657155.
Please send details and a brochure of:
PF094
PF677
PF112
Name ..................................................................................................................
Address ...............................................................................................................
............................................................................................................................
............................................................................ Postcode
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contact customers about new products and offers we think may be of interest. We?ll assume that we can
contact you by post or telephone unless you tick the relevant box. No contact from DC Thomson & Co. Ltd,
or its group companies unless relating to an existing order
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FOR BROCHURE CALL
01224 338004 & quote PF reference code
TO BOOK CALL
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EMAIL brochures@thepeoplesfriendtravel.co.uk
OR VISIT www.thepeoplesfriendtravel.co.uk
To receive a full detailed brochure, complete the
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Organised by Brightwater Holidays ABTOT 5001; ATOL 4498. Single room supplements apply. Subject to availability.
21
This captivating short story by Nicola Mostyn centres
around a strange little establishment.
The New Curiosity Shop
What he would find, Mike didn?t know, but it was worth a look, wasn?t it?
Illustration by Mandy Dixon.
M
IKE must have been
standing outside the shop
for five minutes,
deciding whether to go
in.
?What am I doing here?? he muttered,
peering through the dusty windows in an
attempt to see what lay inside.
The sign gave no clue. The New
Curiosity Shop was all it said, in a gold
ornate swirl that had long begun flaking
away.
Then it started to rain and Mike
realised he was either going to walk back
to the car park and get utterly soaked,
knowing that he had wasted the morning
of his day off, or he was going inside.
Sighing, he pushed the door, half
expecting it to resist ? the shop certainly
didn?t look open. But the door opened
easily. No excuses.
Inside, he was surprised to find himself
in a warmly lit and cosy shop.
Everywhere he looked were rows of
shelves and cabinets, all crammed with
objects. Picture frames complete with
images of happy families here, crossstitch wall hangings there. There were
stuffed animals, books, jewellery and
ornaments, and other things he hadn?t
seen before and couldn?t place a use for:
large hexagonal stones, cords of knotted
rope, fluffy pom-poms and plastic coins.
Still, welcoming though it was, Mike
knew he?d made a mistake. Why he?d
listened to Roxanne he didn?t know.
She meant well, of course. Mike knew
that she felt a sense of responsibility
towards him, having worked with him all
these years. She?d seen how rough a time
he?d been having since Kathy left.
But to come to this random shop
simply because Roxanne had told him it
would do him good, without specifying
in what way that was to happen, was,
Mike thought now, a sure sign that he
was either losing his marbles or in
desperate need of a hobby.
He had just turned back to the door,
looking forward to the feeling of relief he
would experience as soon as he was back
in the car, when he heard a gentle voice.
?Welcome. It is lovely to see you.?
Heart sinking, Mike turned around.
The woman in front of him was around
eighty, small and wearing bright
clothing: pink scarf, red bangles, purple
cardigan, green skirt and orange tights.
In such an outfit, staring at him with
her bright, inquisitive eyes, she reminded
Mike of a tropical bird.
?Oh,? he said. ?I was just browsing.?
This, Mike knew, was accepted code
for ?Please leave me alone?, but the shop
owner didn?t leave. Instead she wandered
up to where Mike was standing.
She glanced into the cabinet next to
where he had randomly stopped. She
pointed to a pair of gold cufflinks in the
shape of little dogs.
?Those are very interesting,? she said.
?Hmm,? Mike said noncommittally
and moved away. He didn?t want
cufflinks. Where on earth was he going
to wear cufflinks?
No, he wouldn?t be buying anything
from this strange little shop. It had been
a silly idea entirely. Still, he didn?t want
to appear rude, so he wandered a little,
pretending to look at this and that, but
really making his way towards the exit.
Then he saw them. A set of old football
cards ? the sort he used to collect as a
child.
?Oh!? he said involuntarily.
The woman was by his side in an
instant, her birdlike face breaking
22
into a wide smile.
?Those? Yes. Wonderful,
aren?t they??
?Are they a complete set??
Mike asked, his heart
hammering and his vow not
to purchase anything
altogether forgotten.
?They are.? The woman
took a key out of her pocket,
unlocked the cabinet and took
out the cards.
?Would you like to have a
closer look??
Mike reached for the cards.
They felt wonderful to his
touch, taking him back to
those bygone days and the
excitement of getting a packet
of chewing gum, wondering
who he would find inside.
He felt a flutter of
happiness ? the momentary
bliss that only remembered
joy can bring.
?How much are they??
Mike asked.
They would be expensive.
He knew it already and was
preparing himself to refuse.
The woman seemed to
ponder Mike for a moment,
then named a price. A quite
reasonable price, all things
considered.
?I?ll take them,? Mike said
without hesitation, surprising
himself.
?Splendid,? the woman
replied, not seeming at all
surprised.
Beaming, she took the
cards over to the till and
began to ring up Mike?s order.
?It?s a strange shop, this,?
Mike commented. ?Sorry, I
don?t mean to be rude. It?s
wonderful, but it sells a bit of
everything, doesn?t it??
The woman smiled, her
bracelets rattling as she took
Mike?s money.
?It does,? she said. ?But you
don?t know what someone is
going to need, do you??
She handed Mike a paper
bag containing his cards.
?You have a lovely day,
sir,? she said.
?And you,? Mike returned
with a smile.
As he stepped outside, he
saw that the rain had stopped
as soon as it had started, and
the sun was breaking through
the clouds.
He thought about going
back home to his flat, with the
TV and the sofa and the tin of
soup for lunch, but he decided
to treat himself.
So, instead of heading back
to the car, he walked to the
nearest caf�. There he ordered
a coffee, a toastie and a slice
of chocolate cake, then took
out his football cards with a
small thrill of happiness.
Just looking at them
brought it all back ? the boy
he had been; the hopes he?d
had. What a fun-loving little
thing he?d been back then.
The waitress came over to
the table with his coffee.
She smiled when she saw
what he was holding.
?Oh, that?s a blast from the
past! My brother used to
collect those!?
Mike looked up into the
smiling face of a woman
around his age, with blondegrey hair, and a warm smile.
?Where did you find them??
she asked. ?He?s been looking
for a full set for years.?
?From Jackson?s,? Mike
replied, flushing at the
attention. ?That little place on
the corner. But these were the
only ones, I?m afraid.?
The waitress?s face fell.
?The lady might have
something else your brother
might like?? he added
hurriedly. ?It seemed to sell a
bit of everything.?
He knew, though, that there
was nothing else quite like a
set of vintage football cards,
and he felt sorry for that.
The waitress nodded.
?I might have a look. He
lives in Australia. It?s his
fiftieth birthday soon and he?s
difficult to buy for. He?d love
something like those.?
Gazing up into her sunny
face, for one mad moment
Mike thought about giving
the waitress the cards. But, of
course, that wasn?t what
sensible people did, and he?d
only just found them himself.
What was he thinking?
Instead, he thanked her for
the coffee and, as she bustled
off to serve other customers,
Mike stared at the cards and
wondered. What was it
Roxanne had said to him?
?You need to rediscover
your curiosity. You are
shutting down, Mike.?
He?d been annoyed at her
words. Easy for her to say,
he?d thought. She?d married
Steve at eighteen, had three
kids, and they were happier
than ever.
Roxanne didn?t know what
it was like to have your
dreams for the future taken
away from you by the woman
you loved and who you had
thought loved you back.
He sipped his coffee, the
waitress delivered his food
and he quickly polished off
the toastie, then forked a
corner of cake. He smiled.
This cake was delicious.
The waitress passed and
gave him a distracted smile.
?Great cake,? he told her.
She looked pleased.
?I?m glad you like it!? she
said. ?I make them. That?s
what I do. I?m just filling in
for a friend today.?
Mike felt disappointed at
this news. He?d already
decided that he would treat
himself to lunch out more
often. What a shame this
cheerful woman wouldn?t be
here every time he fancied a
slice of cake.
?Well,? he said, gesturing
to the plate, ?it?s quite
possibly the best chocolate
cake I have ever eaten, so you
are clearly very gifted.?
?How lovely of you to say
so!? she replied with a blush.
* * * *
Mike made the coffee and
cake last for as long as he
could, but soon the light
outside was dimming and it
was time for him to leave.
At the till, the waitress
handed him his bill. Mike
patted first one pocket of his
jeans, then the other, then his
face grew pale.
The waitress laughed.
?Trying that old chestnut??
But her smile was kind.
?This is mortifying!? Mike
cried. ?I must have left it in
that shop.?
He cast a look outside.
?She?ll be closed now, I
bet. Oh, blast it!?
The woman shrugged.
?That?s OK,? she said. ?I?ll
leave a note, and you just
drop it in when you come to
collect your wallet. You seem
a trustworthy sort.?
She gave him a
mischievous smile and Mike
noticed she had dimples. He
could see the girl she would
have been. Excited, kindhearted. Much like the boy he
once was.
Then Mike had an idea.
?Listen,? he said. ?I can?t
go away without paying, so
how about we make a deal?
In exchange for my bill, you
take the football cards for
your brother??
The woman looked at him,
half smiling.
?No.? She batted his offer
away. ?I couldn?t do that.?
?Of course you could,? he
said firmly. ?In fact, I insist. I
was thinking about giving
them to you anyway, and now
I have to, or I?ll go away
feeling horribly guilty.?
She eyed him curiously.
?Are you serious??
?I?m serious,? Mike assured
her. ?What am I going to do
with them except put them in
a drawer and never look at
them again??
A smile tugged at his lips.
?I?ll tell you what. If you
still feel indebted to me, you
can make me one of those
delicious chocolate cakes. Is
it a deal??
The woman laughed.
?What a mad idea!? she
exclaimed. ?But yes, it?s a
deal. If you?re really sure??
?I?m sure,? Mike said.
On the back of the bill, he
wrote his e-mail address.
?My name?s Mike,? he said.
?Now, be sure to let me know
what your brother thought of
the cards, won?t you? And
about that cake . . .? He
smiled.
She grinned back.
?I?m Trisha,? she said. ?My
brother is going to love them.
And I will definitely be
making you that cake, don?t
worry.?
?Good!? Mike replied.
?Lovely to meet you.?
The bell jangled merrily as
he left the caf�.
On the walk back to the car,
Mike patted his coat pockets
for his car keys, and found his
wallet! He must have put it in
his inside pocket ? something
he had never done before.
What a strange and wonderful
day he was having.
Mike was in a fine mood as
he drove home, memories of
the chocolate cake still
lingering. He thought about
the shop, and the bright,
birdlike woman with her
colourful clothes, and the
cards, and the journey those
cards were going on, all
because of him.
He thought of Trisha and
her kind smile, and of life,
and how it could still surprise
you.
He felt a new feeling ? a
warm glow inside, like a
flower after a long, hard
winter, finally opening to the
sun.
The End.
HERITAGE 23
The Need
To Read
I
Alamy.
N 1817, Scotsman
Samuel Brown began the
first prototype mobile
library service, in East
Lothian. His ?itinerating
libraries? were boxes
containing 50 books, on
religion, science, agriculture
and travel.
They would be changed
for fresh stock every two
years by passing the boxes
to a different village, to bring
learning to those who were
unable to travel far.
His practical idea attracted
great interest, and in 1849
Parliament asked for a
report on how the scheme
worked. It spread to
Cumbria with
?perambulating libraries?
established around 1851,
and then on to Yorkshire.
The means of
transportation gradually
developed from a man
pushing a hand-barrow of
Nina Hoole celebrates 200 years of
mobile libraries.
books to a horse-drawn
carriage with shelves of
books which were taken
round the local villages
every six weeks.
The first motorised library,
where readers could actually
borrow books directly from
the van, was Manchester?s
?Bibliobus?, launched in
1931.
By World War II, such
facilities were still not
widespread, but charities
saw the need to provide
relief from the long periods
of inactivity experienced by
servicemen and women.
Funds were raised to
donate well-stocked mobile
libraries to personnel
stationed at remote antiaircraft posts and balloon
barrage sites around Britain.
The most requested topics
were fiction, especially
thrillers, and Westerns,
biographies and books on
Most councils
operated a
mobile library
service out of
vans, converted
buses and exArmy vehicles
mechanics and popular
science. Some organisations
even sent mobile library cars
to military camps overseas
in the Middle East, India and
France.
The benefits of providing
access to books for those
who couldn?t reach a library
was widely acknowledged
by the 1950s. Most councils
operated a mobile library
service out of vans,
converted buses and
ex-Army vehicles.
Plush, modern versions of
these still run today, with
cleverly designed shelving
housing thousands of books.
Around the world, the
power of reading is being
spread to isolated
communities in some exotic
ways. Kenya has its camel
library to bring books to
nomadic people, with each
camel able to carry two
crates containing 200 books
each.
Laos in Asia uses
elephants both to bring
books to schools and also to
promote elephant
conservation.
Colombia and Venezuela
use donkeys and mules to
reach impoverished villages,
sharing stories with the
children who eagerly await
their arrival.
Norway and Finland both
have book boats to access
coastal communities in the
summer months.
Alamy.
iStock.
The Road
To Reading
Cash-strapped councils
aren?t the only ones
spreading the word; some
charities have also
recognised the need to
read. The Royal Voluntary
Service offers a home
library service providing
books, audiobooks and
CDs to older people in
their homes.
In London, the Quakers
operate a mobile library
van serving the capital?s
homeless who, with no
fixed abode, would
otherwise find it
impossible to join a library.
Volunteers stop at
hostels and soup kitchens
and spend time talking to
their borrowers about
what they like to read,
with mysteries, science,
fiction and biographies all
popular choices.
Back in the UK, dedicated
mobile librarians battle
against budget cuts to keep
their services on the road. In
the heyday of the late
1960s, there were over 500
mobile libraries operating,
but in 2016 there were just
over 200 council-run mobile
libraries in service.
With their bright, enticing
liveries they bring books and
digital services to rural areas
and, increasingly, sheltered
housing communities.
Back in the 19th century,
pioneering Scot Samuel
Brown was determined to
change the lives of ordinary
citizens by bringing a love of
reading to those who could
not otherwise access books.
Two hundred years later,
this goal still drives many
librarians and volunteers
around the world keeping
this vision alive. n
24
Best-selling author David M. Barnett has written this
gripping short story especially for the ?Friend?.
I
On The Edge
F you were going to pick a place to
do it, this would be the one, Irene
thinks. Even this high up, on the
bridge that spans the space between
the rocky walls of the gorge, there?s
only the merest of warm breezes to ruffle
her white hair.
She chances a look over the metal
parapet and the view takes her breath
away. There?s a sign that says the bridge
is 106 metres above the river that flows
far below; she does some mental
arithmetic and works out that?s
somewhere near 350 feet. That should be
enough.
A flock of blackbirds wheels high
overhead, effortlessly held aloft on the
warm, rising air. Irene watches them for
a moment, wondering what it must feel
like, suspended in the air like that,
everything spread out below you.
Then she looks back over the edge of
the bridge.
She is, she supposes, going to find out.
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
* * * *
?Oh, Mum!? Beverley shook her head
and sighed.
Irene was sitting in her favourite chair,
her bandaged foot up on the padded
footstool, watching TV.
?Hello, love,? she said as Beverley put
two bags of shopping on the dining-table.
?What did you think you were doing??
Beverley tutted as though the bandage
wrapped around Irene?s ankle was a
personal slight.
?It?s something and nothing,? Irene
told her. ?Doctor Patel said I just need to
rest it for a couple of days, then I?ll be
right as rain.?
?Well, I?ve got you some bits from the
shop. I suppose you?ll be wanting to
come and stay with us until you?re back
on your feet??
She said it as though she?d suggested
that Irene might want to be carried to the
moon on a sedan chair made of golden
lolly sticks.
?I don?t want to be a burden,? Irene
murmured, her gaze drifting back to the
TV. The programme was one where
people buy houses cheap and try to sell
them dear.
?Well, then, I?ll call in every day,?
Beverley said quickly. ?You?re right, all
your friends are here. Besides, Jamie?s
studying for his exams and Andy?s
decorating the spare room. I don?t know
As she stared down
at the water far
below, Irene knew
she?d made the right
decision . . .
when he?s planning to do Emma?s
bedroom. He?s been talking about it for a
month, but ??
The doorbell rang, shutting Beverley
up.
Irene breathed a sigh of relief.
?That?ll be Eric collecting the pools
coupon,? she said. ?It?s on the sideboard
with the right money on top; can you
give it to him??
?I don?t know why you waste your
money.?
?Your dad always did the pools. I
suppose I do it for him. Besides, you
can?t take it with you.?
It was Dr Patel who told her she had
the cancer. Only he didn?t use the word
cancer, not at first.
He said lots of things Irene was too
tired to take in. She was tired a lot lately,
which was why he sent her for the blood
tests.
If she hadn?t been so tired, she would
have been on to him when she walked
into the surgery and he told her to sit
down and asked if she?d brought anybody
with her.
?No,? she said. ?They?re all busy.?
And they were. Beverley worked at the
insurance office and she had Jamie and
Emma and husband Andy, who might as
well have been a third child.
Annabel didn?t work, because she?d
married a man who thought she
shouldn?t, but then worked 80 hours a
week to make it possible, which Irene
thought was nonsense.
Annabel lived two hours? drive away,
and had book clubs and parish meetings
and parent-teacher-association
committees.
As for Tommy, well, she was sure
she?d see Tommy soon. He hadn?t
borrowed any money for a couple of
months. He was due to appear with some
sob story.
Dr Patel gave her the news.
?What does that mean?? Irene asked.
It was only when he said ?a type of
cancer? that she felt properly frightened,
like there was a weight in her stomach,
and like a big hole was open under her
feet.
* * * *
Irene shuffles along the studded metal
platform where there is a gap in the
balustrade. Now there really is a hole
beneath her feet, a big one. She looks
down at the river. It?s so blue. It seems to
be beckoning her, inviting her in.
She could just walk away. She could
go home, pretend all this never happened,
wait for the inevitable, whenever it came.
But nobody?s getting any younger. And
Irene doesn?t want to be a burden.
She takes a deep breath, and another
faltering step forward.
* * * *
Irene never told them about the cancer.
She was going to when they all came
round for her birthday. Even Tommy
came. He quietly asked her for some
money ? just a hundred ? and promised
he?d get it back to her at the end of the
month.
She was going to tell them about the
chemotherapy; how she was to go once a
week, and how the cancer was incurable
but it was treatable. Dr Patel said that
there was no reason at all why she
couldn?t just live as normal a life as
before, and probably for as long.
But when she was coming downstairs
from the bathroom she saw her offspring
all gathered around Anne?s tablet thing at
the table.
They were looking at a website with
pictures of houses for sale.
?There?s one just across the road that
went for one-seven-five last month,?
Beverley was saying.
Annabel nodded.
?It was in better condition, though.
This place would need a new kitchen.?
?Andy could do that,? Beverley
offered.
Tommy shrugged.
?It?s a moot point. If she has to go into
a home she?ll have to sell the house to
pay for her care. Unless she comes to live
with one of you.?
?Why not you?? Annabel shot him
daggers.
?He can?t even look after himself.?
Beverley snorted. ?And we?ve no room.?
BIG NAME
AUTHOR
xxxx
25
5 MINUTES
WITH DAVID
M. BARNETT
Q
Both ?Calling Major Tom?
and our story feature
realistic, slightly dysfunctional
families. Is this a common
theme in your writing?
A
As their squabbling rose in tone like
seagulls fighting over a discarded
sandwich, Irene marvelled. They were
talking about her as though she couldn?t
think for herself, or look after herself
perfectly well.
She quietly went back upstairs, flushed
the toilet again and tramped down again
making as much noise as possible.
That was when she decided that she
wasn?t going to tell them about the
cancer.
She didn?t want to be a burden.
* * * *
On the Saturday, after she sprained her
ankle, she decided to do it.
Dr Patel was right; the swelling had
gone down and she could put most of her
weight on it without a twinge now.
Beverley had dropped in with more
groceries, making it clear without words
that the errand had eaten into her day off
and her own plans.
Irene wondered when that girl had
become such a martyr.
Her ankle was better so she did all the
usual Saturday things. Put out some
washing on the line in the small, flagged
back yard; swapped the bedding;
checked the pools; made her tea.
She thought about all her children here
on her birthday, dividing up the proceeds
of her house as though she was already
gone.
She thought about what Dr Patel said.
She polished the photos of Arthur in
the bedroom, thinking about her husband
and all the plans they had made that
never happened.
That was when she made her decision.
She was going to do it.
* * * *
Irene?s toes are over the side of the
metal parapet. She doesn?t feel frightened
any more. She is calm and happy. She
closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of
the warm air.
She can hear birds chirping and the
flow of the river and the gentle sway of
the trees.
She could have done this nearer home,
but the family would have found out.
They?d have tried to stop her.
So she told them she was going on a
four-day coach trip to Hadrian?s Wall.
They expect her back today. She wonders
if Beverley is in the house right now.
She wonders if they?ve found the letter.
Irene inches forward until there?s more
of her feet over the edge. She pivots,
opens her eyes, and falls forward, the
blue of the sky and the green of the trees
and the glitter of the river spinning into a
kaleidoscope of colour.
She keeps her eyes open all the way
down and counts to four, and before she
gets to five the water of the river is
kissing her forehead.
Dear Beverley,
I?m addressing this to you because
you?ll probably be the first one to get it,
but really it?s for everybody. You,
Annabel, Tommy, Jamie, Emma.
Everyone. Please don?t get upset,
I think all families are a bit
dysfunctional in their own
way. When you throw a lot of
people of different generations
together for pretty much their
entire lifetimes, the dynamic is
bound to be interesting, and that
does fascinate me.
Q
In both, the older female
characters of Gladys and
Irene are spirited, a bit
rebellious and very likeable.
Based on someone you know?
A
Well, a lot of the humour
does come from my own
nans, who both died some time
ago, but the strength also comes
from the women in my life right
now ? my wife Claire, daughter
Alice and my mum. I?m lucky that
I?m surrounded by strong,
capable women who provide
endless inspiration.
Q
Is your next book some
jottings, or already half a
manuscript?
A
Well on with it! It?s called
?The Lonely Hearts Cinema
Club? and is set in a very
unorthodox rest home on the
Lancashire coast, and what
happens when a group of
students take up the empty
rooms there.
26
Autumn Pleasures
T
HERE?S a special, tingling feeling on a crisp, bright autumn day,
When the skill of nature?s artistry can take your breath away,
As leaves are painted yellow, orange, umber, red and gold,
In glowing, glorious colours, secret landscapes can unfold.
In the fullness of their beauty, leaf confetti?s all around,
Tumbling, twirling, weaving magic carpets on the ground.
Experiencing on forest walks, the joyful special treat
Of kicking crispy rainbow leaves that lie beneath our feet.
What childish joyful moments, as we and the year grow older,
Precious memories to hold when days get even colder;
Snuggling by a cosy fire, content, we can?t refrain
From hoping that tomorrow will bring sunshine once again.
iStock.
? Chrissy Greenslade.
but I never booked on a
coach trip to see Hadrian?s
Wall. I?m afraid my
destination is much further
than that. And by the time you
read this, I will be long gone.
And that?s exactly what it
feels like: a kiss.
The water is cool and even
as it wets her face she?s
moving away from it at speed.
She can hear distant cheers
and whoops.
Then she?s falling again,
and Irene realises that one of
the whoops is coming from
her.
The organisers didn?t blink
when she said she wanted to
do a bungee jump. She had to
have a medical, obviously,
and sign about 100 forms.
But Irene was by no means
the oldest person ever to do it.
A South African chap had
done it, right here in New
Zealand, a few years ago at
the age of ninety-six.
She?d always wanted to do
a bungee jump, and she?d
always wanted to see New
Zealand.
Even on that Friday, when
Dr Patel told her that she was
responding well to the
treatment and could probably
have a couple of months off,
she didn?t believe she?d ever
do it.
But it was the Saturday that
had clinched it for her. When
she got six draws up on the
pools.
I?m sorry I fooled you all,
but I knew you?d try to stop
me from doing this. I?ll
actually have done it now. I
imagine I?m feeling pretty
good. Alive.
Because I am still alive,
Beverley. And I might well be
for some time to come.
And being alive means you
have to have a life, but to be
honest I?ve not felt anything
other than a problem for you
all for some time now.
So I?ve decided; if all goes
well I?m going to stay in New
Zealand. Dr Patel is
arranging for my treatment to
continue over here (you?ll
have to read on to find out
what treatment) and I?m going
to spend the next week looking
at places to live.
Life?s too short to waste
time, Beverley. You could all
do with thinking about that.
You can have the house. I?ve
seen a solicitor and signed it
over to the three of you.
Hopefully you?ll be able to
sell it without fighting like
cats and dogs.
I will miss you all, but
maybe you?d all like to come
out and stay with me for my
next birthday? My treat, of
course.
Don?t worry if not, though. I
know you?re all busy ? you tell
me that often enough.
And the last thing I?d want
is to be a burden . . .
The End.
?Calling Major
Tom? by David M.
Barnett is out now,
published by
Trapeze in
paperback original
and e-book, �99.
walks
Willie?s
Distance: 2 miles.
Time: Allow a couple of hours.
Start: From Iona pier.
Paths: Relatively traffic-free road and
rough hill track on climb to summit.
Footwear: Any reasonable footwear.
Fitness: Nothing too strenuous.
www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/iona/iona/
www.calmac.co.uk/fionnphort-iona-iona-ferry-summer-timetable
iStock.
Willie Shand takes us on his
favourite paths round three of
Scotland?s most beautiful islands.
Dun I ? Iona
Although Iona is only three miles long
by one and a half miles wide, it offers
lots of fantastic varied walks.
Towards the north we find Iona?s
highest hill, Dun I (pronounced Dun
E?e). The hill is only 332 feet high yet
we can look out to 30 different islands
including Mull, Staffa, Skye and Tiree.
From the ferry follow the road to the
Abbey, taking time to visit the old
Nunnery, 15th-century Maclean?s High
Cross and the ancient cemetery of
Reilig Odhrain along the way.
Within the cemetery rest some 60
kings from Scotland, Ireland and
Norway.
Built on the site of Columba?s church,
the Abbey is likely to be top of most
visitor tick lists.
Not far beyond it, the well-trodden
track aims for the cairn on top of Dun I.
It?s a short but steep climb.
From the top you?ll win a magnificent
360� view over the surrounding seas
and islands. This is the place to watch
the sun rising and setting. Even if you?ve
to get up at three o? clock, it?s worth it.
Close to the top is a wee pool of
water known as Tobar na h-Aois. This
pool was even valued by the druids
long before Columba. Wash your face
just as its surface is touched by the
sun?s first rays and you?ll have the
promise of eternal youth. Well, it?s
worth a try, at least!
OUT & ABOUT 29
Distance: 2� miles.
Time: Allow at least two or three hours.
Start and parking: Large car park in Balmaha.
Paths: Woodland tracks with some stepped inclines.
Footwear: Boots preferable.
Fitness: Easy going and nothing too strenuous.
How to get there: From Balmaha car park, cross road and
head down to MacFarlane?s Boatyard on loch side. Regular
ferry service plies back and forth the five-minute crossing.
www.balmahaboatyard.co.uk/ferrytoinchcailleach.htm
www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/things-to-see/inchcailloch/
Distance: 2 miles.
Time: Allow most of a day to explore the island,
its wee museum and traffic-free village.
Start: Short ferry crossing from Ellenabeich pier
Footwear: Any reasonable footwear.
Fitness: Easy, level trail above shore with short
but steep optional climb to island?s summit.
www.easdale.org/easdale/
www.easdalemuseum.org/
www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ellenabeich-easdale-ferry-timetable
Inchcailloch
Inchcailloch is one of 30 islands
scattered around Loch Lomond. Inch
is an old Scots word for an island and
cailloch means an old woman.
This island no doubt owes its name
to St Kentigerna who, around
AD 700, founded a nunnery here.
Easy-to-follow sun-dappled tracks
wend their way around the island and
climb to its 200-feet-high summit for
unequalled views over Loch Lomond,
the Queen of Scottish lochs.
I wouldn?t be too surprised to
feel the odd rumble underfoot.
Inchcailloch lies on the ancient fault
line that cuts right across Scotland.
Little remains of the Church of
St Kentigerna, but the old graveyard
contains many interesting old stones,
one of which marks the resting place
of Gregor MacGregor ? a cousin of the
infamous Rob Roy MacGregor.
One thing you can?t see from
Balmaha or before you walk to the
furthest end of the island is the
beautiful sandy beach at Port Bawn.
It?s just the perfect spot for a picnic
lunch.
Willie Shand.
Easdale
Easdale Island?s main and only
place of settlement stands above
the pier ? a village of former miners?
cottages with a village hall, green
and even a pub, the Puffer. What you
won?t find, though, are any vehicles.
There are no roads on the island.
In its heyday, this little island was
at the very heart of the Scottish slate
industry and was home to as many as
450 slate workers and their families.
Following the foot track round the
island, you?ll pass some of the old
quarry holes. All the way there are
fantastic views to enjoy over the Firth
of Lorn and a host of other islands.
It was during a fierce storm in
November 1881 that the sea engulfed
the island. With the quarries, some
almost 200 feet deep, flooded
and unworkable, this once thriving
industry came to an end.
The fascinating story of Easdale?s
industrial past is well told in the
island folk museum. It really comes
to life when a visit to the museum is
followed by a walk round the island.
Willie Shand.
30
A maternity hospital is the setting for this light-hearted
short story by Alison Carter.
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
J
What Friends
Are For
ANE passed the green cup and
saucer across the counter. Doctor
Willis gave an almost inaudible
sigh as she took it.
?No mugs yet, Jane?? she asked in
a quiet voice.
Jane glanced behind her to see if Iris
was within earshot.
?We?re working on it, Doctor Willis,?
she whispered.
?Call me Briony,? the obstetrician said.
?Please, after all these years!?
?Goodness, that would be going too
far, Doctor,? Jane said with a nervous
smile.
She watched Dr Willis walk carefully
down the hospital corridor with her hot
cup of tea rattling on the saucer, her
white coat billowing.
Jane sighed. It would be so much
easier to supply tea and coffee in mugs to
the staff, patients and visitors.
One day, the Friends Shop and Caf�
might even supply those paper cups with
lids. If she could muster the courage to
put the idea to Iris.
?I thought we could get a few,? she
planned to say, ?for staff who work all
the way out in the Physiotherapy wing.?
This department was separate from the
main building of the Fensham Cottage
Hospital.
Jane knew that her volunteering
colleague would have a dozen reasons
why things had to stay as they were. Iris
had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the
hospital, its history, personnel and
practices, and seemed to feel this gave
her the right to make all the decisions.
Jane was shy, and often uncertain. She
deferred to Iris most of the time, because
to do otherwise was a huge effort, and
because (despite it all) she was fond of
her friend.
The paper cup plan, though, was a long
way in the future, like travel to Mars.
?Or a cure for the common cold,? she
murmured as she laid down the teapot.
?What was that, Jane?? Iris had bustled
in from the kitchen. She was a tall
woman with a lilac perm. ?You have a
cold? Go home immediately! Hospital
policy says we must take care to guard
against infections.?
?No, Iris, I?m perfectly well.?
The poor woman was
in distress, and Jane
could see she was in
need of more than a
cup of tea!
Jane noticed a young woman standing
in the hospital foyer, beside the magazine
rack.
Iris chose the magazines, and they
hadn?t changed in the decades the two
women had worked together. Jane had
suggested asking the medical staff for
?The Lancet?, but Iris had been horrified.
?We don?t want the patients reading
about medical matters, Jane! Even worse,
their families! Can you imagine the
mayhem??
Jane wasn?t convinced by this
argument, but she didn?t feel that a fight
about magazines was worth having.
The woman standing was slight and
thin. Jane noted that her pregnancy bump
practically doubled her personal volume,
and she estimated a due date about a
month hence.
Jane had been a nurse (before her
retirement) for a very long time, and had
dealt with countless expectant mothers.
Iris (as she often commented) had
actually given birth to two children, and
so knew ?quite a bit first-hand?.
The pregnant woman held a sheet of
paper in one hand and looked bemused.
Jane held up a cup and waggled it.
?Tea??
The woman jumped, but recovered.
She smiled feebly and came slowly
over, one hand under her bump as though
it made walking uncomfortable.
?Thank you,? she said in a strongly
accented voice. Jane suspected she was
Indian.
Jane made a fresh pot and handed the
woman a cup.
?Sit down. You need a chair, by the
look of you. Are you here for a checkup? Oh, that?s fifty pence, by the way.?
She waved vaguely at the price list on
the wall by the till. She often felt
embarrassed about charging customers
who were patients; they were so often
upset or exhausted, or some came ill
prepared, without cash.
The woman looked horrified. She
shook her head and tried to hand the
teacup back. Jane realised that she was
holding no bag of any kind, so possibly
had brought no money.
?Don?t worry,? Jane told her. ?It?s only
a bit of hot water, after all.?
Iris would be horrified, she knew.
She?d probably notice, too, when she
cashed up. Every night she did an
inventory of biscuits consumed and sugar
sachets used. She had been known to
count the cups in the sink and query the
number of teas rung up on the till.
The woman sipped the tea and flexed
her feet. Jane thought they looked a little
swollen, but not overly so for a woman
who was eight months pregnant.
Jane had never married and had no
children. She couldn?t imagine what it
felt like to be carting around eight
pounds of baby, plus all the rest that went
with it.
?Pre-eclampsia,? a quiet voice came
behind her.
It was Iris, naturally. She often did this
? creeping up behind a person and giving
out nuggets of knowledge loudly. Jane
loved her generous, hard-working friend,
but Iris?s little ways could be a challenge.
?I?m sure it?s not pre-eclampsia,? Jane
whispered. ?That?s not common and
extremely serious. She?ll get checked
today, anyway, once she?s filled in that
form as a new patient that Reception
gave her.?
?I can?t imagine why you?d dismiss
pre-eclampsia, Jane. You were a nurse.
Indicators include oedema of the ankle.?
?Yes, but . . .?
?I always keep an eye, Jane,? Iris told
her sternly. ?That?s basic.?
* * * *
Iris Roberts had worked for the Friends
of the Fensham Cottage Hospital for an
extraordinary number of years.
The hospital had opened in the year of
her birth and her family had been closely
associated with it ever since, the family?s
women being its most devoted
volunteers. With only breaks to have her
31
children, Iris had volunteered for the
Friends all her adult life.
?My family began the Linen Guild,
which preceded the Friends,? she would
intone to whoever would listen. ?They
provided a nightdress, bed jacket,
napkins and a good Foxford blanket.
These were the basics ? and I quote!
? ?given free of charge to the indigent
and pathetic young mothers entering this
place?. It?s in the history books!?
The ?history books? consisted of a
greying pamphlet with 16 pages which
had been written by Iris?s cousin Glenda
in 1973. The front cover bore an
incredibly bad illustration of the hospital.
Iris had it in mind to have the pamphlet
copied and the original sent to the British
Museum. She had written to that august
institution to enquire, but so far there had
been no reply.
?The original Linen Guild also kept the
bed linen in good repair. The National
Health Service was not even a glint in
the eye of the United Kingdom.?
All the hospital staff knew Iris?s
speeches off by heart.
?Those sterling ladies met monthly,?
she would say. ?In those days a sewing
room was made available.? Iris would
point dramatically to a window that
looked out over the generator shed. ?Just
there, before they tore it down.?
Iris had quite a look of Winston
Churchill anyway, with her determined
chin and round face, and on these
occasions she looked like she was
addressing the House of Commons.
?So, the Guild became the Friends,?
she would finish, ?and here we are,
dispensing succour and assisting patients
every day. It is astonishing what gifted
amateurs can do after years of experience
in a medical setting.?
Jane had often wondered exactly who
Iris?s gifted amateurs were. She herself
was a fully qualified nurse; Iris had been
a housewife all her adult life but had not
(as far as anyone knew) received training
in any field.
Besides, Jane thought, they weren?t
there to assist patients as patients; they
were there to serve cake and keep the urn
hot.
* * * *
The young woman drank her tea, set
down her empty cup and approached the
counter. Jane saw her swallow, and frown
with worry, and she smiled
encouragement.
?I don?t know ?? the woman said.
?You see, I have to . . .?
?Do you need directions, dear?? Iris
asked in the loud voice she also used
with people she considered might not
speak English.
Fensham was a growing town, and a
slow but steady trickle of new arrivals
was coming from other countries, filling
a variety of jobs.
Iris was welcoming and kind ? tiringly
so on occasion ? but could not be
persuaded to stop shouting.
?No,? the woman said, blinking. ?I
think I need to go to first floor. I know
where.?
?Yes. Obstetrics,? Iris said, enunciating
each syllable. ?Use the lift.?
The woman smiled weakly and backed
away in the direction of the main doors
to the wards and departments.
?Problem with English,? Iris hissed out
of the side of her mouth. ?Doesn?t help
me get to the bottom of what?s wrong.
And I?m still concerned about those
ankles.?
?Her English seems fine to me,? Jane
said, ?but she does have some kind of
problem, that?s for sure. I might just ask
Reception to . . .?
?Don?t bother them,? Iris interrupted.
?This is a job for the Friends. Get her
back here.?
Jane closed her eyes for a few seconds.
Iris adored stepping in.
Probably, Jane thought, she dreamed of
being given a white coat as reward for
her years of hack diagnosis, or at least a
nice silver nurse?s watch.
Iris ruled the Friends Caf� with a rod
of iron (or perhaps a rod of cotton
wadding), her authority rooted in what
she saw as her special medical
knowledge and wide experience.
She had banned packaged cakes, for
instance, having read an article in the
?Fensham Express? about chemicals in
polythene. Cake, like tea, had to be
served on ?proper? china.
?I take care of everyone in this
32
hospital, body and soul,?
she often said.
The young woman was duly
fetched back by Jane, and Iris
urged her to take a seat again.
?We need to make an
assessment before allowing
her to move to the next
stage,? Iris hissed at Jane.
?So, you don?t have an
appointment time?? Iris
asked, taking the form from
the woman and perusing it.
?This form is empty. You?re
new to the area, perhaps??
The woman nodded.
?Yes, we have just came
into the . . . Penrey Estate.?
She was clearly unsure how to
pronounce the name. ?My
husband work on farm.?
?You want an appointment
with Obstetrics??
A single fat tear ran down
the young woman?s cheek.
Iris took Jane?s arm and
dragged her back behind the
counter.
?Oh, my goodness,? she
hissed. ?Post-natal
depression.?
Jane frowned.
?The baby?s not been born,
Iris.?
?Do you think I can?t see
that? I?ve been working in a
maternity hospital for years!?
The Fensham Cottage
Hospital had begun its life
purely as a maternity hospital.
Iris?s women had fought
through the Sixties and the
Seventies to prevent the
hospital changing, but the tide
of modernity was against
them.
The Physio unit arrived,
later joined by Outpatients
and Minor Injuries, but Iris
liked to think of the place as
still presided over by the
Linen Guild and a small army
of terrifying midwives. She
adored pregnant women.
?A significant percentage of
expectant mothers get
depressed during pregnancy.
It?s documented. I have a
book.?
Iris had a lot of books.
None of them were novels
and all of them had indexes.
?I don?t think this lady is
depressed,? Jane said
carefully.
Iris sighed.
?I beg to differ, but if you
say so. I keep seeing
symptoms and you keep
pooh-poohing, Jane, that?s all
I?m saying.?
They went back out, and
Jane sensed the woman?s
unease in the presence of Iris.
Her height, combined with her
self-assurance, and that purple
hair ? they made her quite a
figure.
?Can you tell us what the
matter is?? Iris asked, looming
over the table.
?I have to do this,? the
woman said, laying the form
on the table and beginning to
cry in earnest.
?You seem tired,? Jane said.
?Perhaps if I get you a
sandwich, and you just take
your time . . .?
?Anaemia!? Iris cried.
?Why did I not think of it? It?s
obvious!?
She plonked herself in the
chair opposite and leaned
across the table. The woman
sat back, her eyes wide.
?Do you eat red meat?? Iris
asked. ?And if so, how
much??
The woman opened her
mouth to speak, and Iris
thumped the table.
?Of course! There will be
cultural issues! Did you read
that leaflet that went round??
There had been a leaflet, but
Jane recalled that it hadn?t
?gone round?. It had been
intended for medical staff and
was a practical guide to caring
for patients from the Far East
and Indian subcontinent.
?Do you feel poorly, dear??
Jane asked, sitting a little way
off and drawing the girl?s
attention away from Iris.
?I am all right,? the young
woman said, clearly surprised
at the question. ?Just a baby
soon.?
Iris dragged Jane back
behind the counter again. Jane
was thinking she might gather
her courage and simply ring
up someone in Maternity, but
Iris was obviously determined
to be the one to help, and
didn?t want to lose her patient
to the muddle-headed
professionals. Iris liked to
solve things.
She was a good person, a
caring person, but the bossiest
anyone at Fensham Cottage
Hospital had ever met.
It was a well-known local
legend that Iris had met her
husband at this very hospital
in 1944, when it had briefly
accepted injured military
personnel. The legend had it
that Cliff Roberts had broken
both his legs, and couldn?t get
away from Iris when she
brought a trolley round the
ward.
Jane didn?t repeat the joke:
she?d met Cliff Roberts, and
(though a man of unusual
silence) he didn?t look like
someone who wanted to
escape his wife.
?This might well be a
complex case,? Iris muttered
behind the counter. She had a
light in her grey eyes.
?Multi-disciplinary.?
She put her hands on her
broad hips, in the way she had
that said, ?Let me think.?
?I?m sure that?s not true,?
Jane replied.
She looked across the
counter, over the shortbread
and juice cartons, teacakes
and copies of puzzle
magazines. Two more
customers had sat down, and
both had picked up copies of
magazines from the rack on
their way to a table.
The young woman sat with
her hands laid over her bump,
blinking away tears. The form
that Reception had given her
lay face down on the Formica.
Jane poured out another tea,
took out her purse, opened the
till and dropped 50p into it.
?I?ll just try something,? she
said.
?No painkillers in
pregnancy,? Iris commanded
quickly. ?No soft cheese.?
?Soft cheese?? Jane
repeated. ?Oh, Iris.?
* * * *
She left her friend behind
the counter and walked back
out to the tables. She could
practically hear Iris twitching
and fidgeting behind her.
She sat opposite the
pregnant woman.
?Shall I read it to you??
Jane asked. ?Shall I get a pen
and just fill in the spaces??
A pair of enormous, glassy
brown eyes looked slowly up.
?You are unable to read??
Jane said softly. ?Is that
right??
The woman nodded.
?Well, it?s a good thing the
Friends are here,? Jane said
matter-of-factly.
?Friends??
Jane smiled.
?Never mind. Let?s just say
Iris over there and I are your
friends at the hospital. Now,
drink this while I fetch a pen.?
Jane read each section of
the form, and did the writing.
Between them they filled it in,
until the woman made her
mark at the end.
Then she thanked Jane and
set off, clutching her form in
one hand and supporting her
bump with the other, along the
corridor towards the lift.
?I should have spotted the
problem when she didn?t take
in our price list,? Jane said
when Iris came bustling over.
?What do you mean, she
didn?t see our price list?? Iris
was thinking of the cashingup ? but Jane gave her a hard
stare.
?It was fifty pence,? she
growled.
Iris pouted.
?I?ll add a note to my daily
report,? she said. ?I wish you
wouldn?t do that ? there is a
system, after all.?
?It?s not life and death,?
Jane said.
?This is a hospital.
Hospitals are life and death.?
Jane opened her mouth to
argue, but shut it again. They
both turned as the sound of
feet thundered towards them
from the main entrance.
A handsome man with dark
brown skin, very black eyes
and very muddy boots hurried
past.
He stopped by the tables,
puffing, perspiring, and
looking frantically around at
every sign.
?Mr Anand?? Jane called.
?Can you not be so loud,
please?? Iris said.
?Regulations.?
Pot, kettle, Jane thought.
?Mr Anand, your wife went
to Maternity,? she told him.
?If you take a seat I think
she?ll be back through here
quite soon.?
?I come after work for her,?
he said.
?Goodness, is that the
time?? Iris remarked. ?We
should have closed by now.?
She looked at the young
man, slumped in a chair, and
then at Jane.
?Make him a cuppa, Jane,?
she said. ?Then go home.?
?What about you??
Iris shrugged.
?Oh, I?ll wait here. There?s
always lots to do. I don?t like
to shut when there are patients
in need, you know.?
Jane gave her friend a big
smile, went on tiptoe and
kissed her on the cheek. Iris
was Iris ? a pain in the neck,
and a good woman who loved
her job.
And they were, in so many
ways, friends.
The End.
33
Things aren?t as they seem in this
short story by Keith Havers.
Good Things
Come
This room reminded me of the principal?s
office at school . . .
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
I
HATE waiting rooms.
Whether it?s doctors,
dentists, car MOT
centres or any other
place where you have to
sit until someone calls your
name, it drives me insane.
This one is particularly
miserable. The walls are drab,
the seats uncomfortable and
there?s no air conditioning.
I don?t know whether to
stay or leave. I don?t think
I?ve got the job anyway and
I?m not sure I want it now.
Wait a minute. I?m being
too pessimistic. I should be
positive. I?ve just as much
chance as any of the other
candidates. I?m sure I?m better
qualified than most of them.
We were all interviewed one
after the other at 20-minute
intervals from nine o?clock
this morning.
It?s nearly lunchtime now
and my stomach is rumbling. I
hope the guy next to me can?t
hear it.
The last interviewee came
out half an hour ago and we?re
all supposed to wait for the
panel?s final decision. Several
people have come and gone
since I sat down, but there?s
been no hint of when the
announcement will be.
To make matters worse,
there?s an oil painting on one
of the walls and I can?t help
but stare straight at it because
it?s glaring straight back at me.
Why would they have a
painting of a stag in the
waiting room of an
engineering company? Surely
something a bit more cheery
would be preferable. What?s
wrong with a fox or a rabbit?
This fellow looks hostile.
He looks majestic, but his
overall posture suggests that
intruders on his patch of
ground are not welcome. I
wonder if it?s another of their
tricks to make us feel ill at
ease. It?s certainly working.
I?m doing it again. I need to
think happy thoughts.
I?ll think about how I?m
going to celebrate if I get this
job, make plans for the
weekend and decide how I?m
going to decorate my flat.
Anything to occupy my mind.
The problem is that this
reminds me of the principal?s
office at school. I was always
being called in there for one
reason or another. None of
them good.
Why am I thinking about
that now? Ah, yes. The
painting. The principal had a
copy of Edvard Munch?s ?The
Scream? on her wall. Not
behind her, but to the side, just
on the wall to my right.
I always thought she had
arranged it like that on
purpose because I could just
see that terrible face in my
peripheral vision. If I turned
my head I would be accused
of not meeting her gaze.
That?s why I?m spooked by
this animal with antlers
bearing down on me from
high on the wall. It looks like
it?s about to charge.
It?s not as if the landscape is
anything to write home about.
It?s just fern and bracken, and
most of it is shrouded in mist
anyway. It must be
somewhere remote like the
Scottish Highlands or
Dartmoor.
I know I?m obsessing about
this now so I?ll try to focus on
something else. I can?t just sit
here and think.
I?ll try a bit of people
watching. The guy opposite
me looks confident. He has
one of those superior
expressions, as if he knows
the job is his. Maybe he?s
right. Perhaps he?ll be running
his own department in a
couple of years. I bet he was
never told to report to the
office for an official
reprimand. He looks too much
of a geek for that.
The school principal had
loads of pens all lined up on
her desk pointing directly at
me. I always thought her
office was full of symbolism:
the pens, the picture. Just the
sort of thing to intimidate a
wayward pupil.
I can?t get her painting out
of my head. I would take a
glance each time I turned to
leave after yet another
dressing down. I could never
tell if that figure was meant to
be male or female.
And what were they
screaming at? Maybe they?d
been unsuccessful at a job
interview and were letting
loose with their frustration.
I am getting negative again.
I don?t know why I do this,
because everything usually
works out all right in the end.
Just like it did at school.
I grew up, realised I was
being childish with my
rebellious antics and began to
pay more attention in class. It
turns out I was wrong about
the principal, too. Her pens
were laid out that way for
easy access. The picture was
there for her benefit, and not
to frighten unruly students.
Apparently it symbolised
her wish to scream at kids like
me. She wanted to let us know
that she would never give up
on any of us and believed that
we all had it in us to achieve
our goals if only we had faith
in ourselves.
I was never any good at
reading people. That?s why I
work in computer software
and not in personnel.
What?s this? The guy
opposite is looking over my
shoulder to the door. The head
of the interview panel has
appeared and is reading from
a sheet of paper.
?Can Miss Dawson come
through, please? The rest of
you can go home now. Thank
you all for attending.?
I rise from my chair as the
rest shuffle away. A few
mumble congratulatory
phrases as they squeeze past
me, but they struggle to sound
sincere.
Can this be true? Have I got
the job?
The chap is still waiting for
me to follow him.
?When you?re ready, Miss
Dawson. This way.?
Just before I turn to go I
catch the eye of the stag once
more. Somehow he doesn?t
seem quite so belligerent now.
That glint in his eye which
looked menacing just a few
minutes ago looks like it
might actually be a gesture of
respect.
?Not so threatening after all,
are you?? I whisper.
?I beg your pardon, Miss
Dawson??
?Oh, er . . . I was just
admiring the painting. What a
magnificent creature.?
?You think so? I?ve always
thought it looked quite
belligerent.?
?Oh, no. It?s lovely.
Reminds me of my school
days.?
The End.
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Mist
35
The painting was
very familiar to
Kayla ? but how had
it come to be here,
after all these
years?
Illustrations by Kirk Houston.
8-page
Crime
Mystery
MHAIRI GRANT
36
K
AYLA
STEVENS
looked out of the
large window and
on to the
landscaped gardens of Fernie
Hall.
?A student of Capability
Brown, the eighteenth-century
landscape artist, designed the
gardens,? Tara Brown, the
personal assistant, told her. ?So
of course the event will have to
be limited to what we call
Horse Meadow behind the
stables.?
Kayla had already known
that. Before her visit to the
reclusive estate she had been
sent a list of instructions of
what the children?s charities
could and could not do within
the grounds. The latter list was
the more extensive.
It was to be expected, and as
the co-ordinator of the umbrella
group representing many of the
charities, Kayla was just
grateful that, after several
months of negotiation, Mr
Innes-Leighton had agreed to
host the fund-raising event.
It had been a coup and so far
the highlight of Kayla?s career.
Fernie Hall was hidden behind
high walls and therefore
mysterious. People would come
in their droves just to satisfy
their curiosity.
?Now I believe Mr InnesLeighton would like to meet
you.?
Kayla watched the personal
assistant?s slim-suited figure
walk towards the door. At last
she was to meet the owner.
Kayla felt the butterflies in her
stomach.
Tara, who had introduced
herself as Ms Brown, had
intimidated her with her tick
sheets, security considerations
and endless questions. To calm
McTaggart, was one by
Elizabeth Blackadder.
It should have been
grotesque but it wasn?t.
Someone had an eye and gift
for decorating rooms.
Slowly, Kayla wandered
round the room to look at the
rest of the paintings. Half way
round she stopped dead.
Kayla had never seen the
watercolour in person before,
yet she recognised it
immediately. The style,
technique and subject matter
were all too familiar to her.
It was a picture of her
great-grandparents? croft in the
Shetlands. She moved closer.
?Out Of The Mist.? It was a
title which, over the years, had
been the subject of much talk
and speculation.
It was by the artist J.R.
Henderson, her uncle John.
And it had been stolen many
years before.
Kayla took out her phone and
took a photo of it.
?Why, hello there, young
lady! I see that you have an eye
for art.?
Kayla gave a guilty start. The
man walking towards her with
an outstretched hand was not
what she was expecting.
He wore a dirty pair of jeans,
had a button missing off his
shirt and his fine, greying hair
haloed his head like one of the
dust bunnies which lurked
under her bed.
?I?m David Innes-Leighton.
You must be Kayla Stevens.?
Kayla flushed uncomfortably
as he pumped her hand. Had he
seen her take the photo?
?It was so good of you to
come,? he said, as if she was an
invited party guest, ?and for
such a worthy cause.?
?It?s my pleasure. I can?t
thank you enough for allowing
Kayla flushed uncomfortably. Had
he seen her take the photo?
down, Kayla looked around the
library with its shelves of
books, its ornately carved
marble fireplace and oriental
rugs.
It could have been like most
stately homes but for the
idiosyncratic mix of old and
new.
Modern furniture jostled for
space with shabby chic and
Georgian antiques.
On the wall, next to a
painting by William
our organisation on to part of
your estate.
?My dear, it is I who should
be thanking you. It?s about time
we opened the old pile up to
the public. A breath of fresh air,
so to speak. Now, I see a
painting has taken your fancy??
?That one, ?Out Of The Mist?
? it?s so . . . haunting.?
And it was. The mist rolling
in from the sea suggested cold
and menace, while the
whitewashed stone cottage with
light spilling out from the open
door and windows suggested
warmth and security.
?Let me see,? her host
replied, taking his glasses out
of his shirt pocket. ?Ah, that
one, it?s one of my favourites. I
think it?s the juxtaposition of
light and dark.?
?Exactly!? Kayla exclaimed,
smiling in spite of herself. ?Is it
an original??
?Probably!? he said, peering.
?My wife likes to buy for
investment. Not like me. I buy
from the heart.?
Kayla couldn?t help warming
to him. She hesitated. Should
she say or not?
come,? Kayla?s host said,
bursting into her thoughts.
?You have my card, don?t
you? He?s quite welcome to
give me a ring any time for the
guided tour. I do love to show
off, you know!?
But what, Kayla thought,
would her uncle say if it was
his original painting? Why
hadn?t she just kept her mouth
shut?
?Now,? Mr Innes-Leighton
continued, ?I?m going to take
you to the kitchen to meet Mrs
Mack. She has some ideas of
what she?s going to bake for
your little soir閑.
?She only came to work for
The missing painting had always
been a mystery
?Actually,? she blurted out,
?my uncle painted it.?
?Did he really! Well, I never.
J.R. Henderson,? he said,
reading the signature. ?He must
be good for my wife to buy his
work.?
Kayla looked at the other
paintings in the room.
?I would say he?s on par with
Elizabeth Blackadder. He
exhibits all over the country,
sells lots of prints and even has
a range of greeting cards.?
?I say, how marvellous!?
?He?s going to donate one of
his drawings to the cause.
We?re going to auction it.?
?Is he going to be here on the
big day? If so, I would love to
meet him and show him my
little collection ? for what it?s
worth.?
?He?s in London at the
moment, but I could certainly
arrange it. He always does his
best to support what I do.?
But what if it was her uncle?s
original artwork? Kayla pushed
the thought to the back of her
mind.
She didn?t want to jeopardise
months of work for charity by
telling them that they had
bought a stolen painting.
On the other hand, the
missing painting had always
been a mystery and one alluded
to, over the years, by both her
mother and uncle.
?It was the painting that
sealed your uncle?s reputation,?
Cheryl, her mother, had said,
?and he painted it for me. We
had many happy childhood
memories there with Ewan, our
cousin.?
?Well, I do hope he can
us just under a year ago but
we?d be lost without her.?
* * * *
?Mrs Mack,? he said, when
they reached the kitchens, ?this
is Miss Stevens. Her uncle is
famous.?
?Kayla,? she corrected,
embarrassed at the
introduction. ?Pleased to meet
you, Mrs Mack.?
?Please, Sandra will do. So,
you have a famous uncle??
?He?s an artist,? Mr InnesLeighton said. ?He painted
?Out Of The Mist?, one of the
paintings that hang in the
library.?
?My, that is what I call
famous. Please, Kayla, sit
yourself down and sample
some of my cakes. You can tell
me what you think would be
best for the f阾e.?
?Well, I?ll leave you two
ladies to it. Mrs Mack will look
after you, Miss Stevens. I must
toddle off, there?s work to be
done!?
With an exaggerated bow, he
was gone. They could hear him
whistling along the corridor.
?He?ll be going back to his
orchids,? Sandra told her. ?He?s
quite the expert.?
?He?s wasn?t what I
expected,? Kayla admitted. ?I
thought he would be more
intimidating.?
But Sandra Mack was more
stereotypical. She had apple
cheeks, she smelled of
cinnamon and carried some
extra weight.
?He?s a poppet. Now, his
wife is a different kettle of fish
altogether. She doesn?t hob-nob
* * * *
John Henderson stared at the
photo of his painting for a long
time. Then he switched his
phone off, only to switch it on
again two minutes later.
That painting had been
special to him, as it had to his
sister, Cheryl. Over the years
he had done similar paintings,
but they hadn?t come close to
?Out Of The Mist?. It had been
the first painting in which he
had managed to convey the
emotions of a turbulent period
in their lives.
John got up and paced round
his studio. He?d been young,
just out of art school and living
a hand-to-mouth existence.
Cheryl, while pregnant, had
lost her young husband to a hit
and run driver, and Ewan,
adopted by his aunt and uncle,
had been adrift in life, aiming
for the top but desperate to put
down roots.
Their grandparents? croft was
a sanctuary. They had spent
long summer holidays there,
running wild. Cheryl, older
than the boys by three years,
bossed them about and spooked
them with stories of trolls that
stole children ? that was if she
could get Ewan to sit still long
enough.
But more often than not he
would be an ancient Pictish
king, or Viking warrior
rampaging around a nearby
broch. John, on the other hand,
would be sketching storm
petrels or seals.
Shetland, with their
grandparents? unconditional
love, was where they could be
free. And ?Out Of the Mist?
was a painting which
represented everything that the
place meant to them.
He had only exhibited it once
and he couldn?t bring himself
to sell it, even though he was
desperate for the money.
Cheryl had cried when she
first saw it.
?It?s the best thing you?ve
ever done, John. It has soul.?
His sister had always
appreciated his art and had
encouraged him at every
opportunity. She?d promoted
his work tirelessly and given
her time by helping him to set
up exhibitions, collecting his
work from framers and giving
her unique insights into his art.
She was a sister in a million,
and the painting was meant for
her ? until it had been stolen.
Outside his studio the trees
rustled in the wind, and it
reflected how John felt. He
couldn?t for the life of him,
keep still.
He jingled the change in his
pocket as he remembered the
day it had happened.
It had been his first solo
exhibition and he had done
well selling some of his other
paintings. As he didn?t drive
then, Cheryl had driven him to
the gallery to pick up his
unsold work along with ?Out
Of The Mist?.
John wasn?t very good with
words ? his art spoke for him
instead ? and giving his
precious painting to his sister
was his way of showing how
much she meant to him.
Cheryl was delighted.
?You?re going to be famous,
John!?
They high-fived each other
and in that moment John had
felt his sister was beginning to
get back her zest for life. So far
only the birth of Kayla had
sustained her and given
meaning to her existence.
Cheryl parked the car and
John went into the gallery.
?Just wait here,? he said as
he got out of the car. ?I don?t
have that many paintings to
pick up.?
The sun was shining and life
was looking good . . . before
his world had turned upside
down. His other paintings were
there ready for collection ? but
?Out Of The Mist? was
missing.
And now the missing
painting had turned up. He
knew it wasn?t a copy because
no copies of the original
existed.
* * * *
Kayla?s stomach churned.
She was driving her uncle to
meet Mr Innes-Leighton. He
had arrived from London that
morning, eager to see his
painting, and she hoped there
was not going to be a
showdown.
All night she had imagined
worst-case scenarios:
permission being withdrawn
for the fund-raising event being
held in their grounds, being
thrown out of Fernie Hall, the
police being called . . .
?Chill out, Kayla. I?m not
going to cause a scene.?
?But I feel so duplicitous. Mr
Innes-Leighton just thinks that
he?s going to show off his
paintings.?
?And he is,? her uncle
agreed. ?I am interested in
seeing them ? and my
painting.?
But the owner of Fernie Hall
seemed so genuine and Kayla
was about to pull the rug from
under his feet. When she had
phoned him he?d been
delighted at the idea of the
impending visit.
?I say, that was quick!? he?d
said. ?I?ll see if Barbara can be
there as well. Maybe Mrs Mack
will rustle us up some
goodies.?
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with the likes of us. I?m
surprised that she agreed to
having hordes of people
tramping all over the grounds,?
she said, then paused. ?Now
what cake will you start with??
After cake number three
Kayla popped into the Ladies?
room. There, she took a deep
breath before bringing the
photo of the picture up on her
phone. She stared at it for long
minutes before she composed a
text. Morally, she had no
option, really.
?You need to see this, Uncle
John,? she muttered, before
pressing Send.
They drove in silence for a
while as Kayla remembered her
mother?s reaction to the news.
She couldn?t stop talking
about it. Kayla?s stepfather,
whom she thought of as her
real father, had to listen
patiently to Cheryl?s endless
litany.
But at one point her mother
had said something which had
left Kayla cold.
?But what if they knew that
the painting had been stolen??
Mr Innes-Leighton didn?t,
she was positive ? but what
about his wife?
Maybe she was one of those
rich society people who bought
paintings not only for
investment but for herself.
She could have been at the
original exhibition and not
have taken no for an answer.
Uncle John had said that people
had wanted to buy it. Kayla
was beginning to wish that
she?d never seen the painting.
?I hope that Tara Brown isn?t
there,? she muttered. ?She?s the
personal assistant. Wonder
Woman.?
Her uncle laughed, but Kayla
felt that there was a grain of
truth in what she said. Ms
Brown wore black-framed
glasses and her hair in a bun.
But Kayla suspected that if
she took them off and let her
hair down, there would be a
complete transformation. She
changed the subject.
?Tell me about Ewan. Mum
went on and on about him last
night.
?I know he died in Hong
Kong and I?ve heard all about
his childhood escapades on
Shetland, but what was he like
as a person??
Silence filled the car and at
first Kayla didn?t think her
uncle was going to reply. But
then he took a deep breath and
she realised that he was
searching for the right words.
?Ewan was bright and clever.
He could turn his hand to
anything ? building work,
computers, playing the guitar.
?But he had to be the best at
everything he did and be the
centre of attention. He couldn?t
give praise to others.?
?He was insecure??
?Deep down, yes. He had the
need to impress. Our grandad
used to say that the hole inside
him could never be filled.
Being adopted didn?t help.
Ewan always felt that he had
lost out, somehow.?
?And you lost touch??
38
I did go to Manchester to
visit him when he worked
for some software company.
?He was living the high life
then and he was keen to show
his penniless cousin what he
had achieved.? Her uncle
hesitated.
?I wasn?t impressed and
Ewan knew it. After that . . .
well, we didn?t share the same
values or have anything in
common.?
?Except your childhood
holidays in Shetland.?
Her uncle didn?t answer.
They had arrived at the gates to
Fernie Hall and Kayla had to
press the button and speak into
the intercom. A moment later
they were driving up the long,
wide drive.
* * * *
John Henderson had never
envisaged Fernie Hall as being
so large, even though the InnesLeightons had been the landed
gentry in the area for
generations.
He could see why his niece
was so uptight. This was a big
job for her and he was proud of
her.
If the eyes were the window
to the soul, then Kayla?s eyes
were luminous. She loved with
a passion ? people, animals,
nature. And she was normally a
very open person.
John appreciated how hard
this was for her.
* * * *
?I?m so pleased to meet you.
Do come in!?
The owner of Fernie Hall
was waiting for them and John
was struck by the warmth of
his handshake and lack of
pretence.
been in storage until recently
but are now hanging in the west
gallery.
?She?s a firm believer in
promoting artists while they?re
alive rather than dead.
?Shall we have a quick look
before we have tea in the
library, where your painting
hangs alongside Elizabeth
Blackadder?s ?Poppies???
?That?s fine by me,? John
said, perking up at the idea of
looking at work by his
contemporaries rather than old
masters.
He was always fascinated
how others managed to achieve
the effects they sought, along
with their different styles. He
grinned at his niece but she was
too distracted to notice.
Then he remembered the real
reason he was there. But he
was committed to going
through with the charade.
His host, as it turned out, had
a layman?s appreciation for art.
?It?s awfully garish,? he said
of an artist John was not
familiar with, ?but it has a
certain crude confidence,
wouldn?t you say??
John nodded. It wasn?t his
style, but he did appreciate the
work involved. And then they
came to a work by Daniels.
Kayla tilted her head as she
surveyed it.
?It looks like tin foil,? she
blurted out.
Mr Innes-Leighton laughed.
?It does rather, but he?s a
much sought-after artist,
apparently.?
It was at that moment John
warmed to the man.
After that Kayla kept her
mouth shut. John kept glancing
at her, but when they stood in
front of a Sebas Velasco
For Kayla?s sake John had
to make an effort
And in the wake of his
fussing about weather, the
drive and the promise of tea,
John found himself struck
dumb. Kayla filled in the
silences for him and he was
grateful.
He hated small talk and
found previews of exhibitions a
bore. But for Kayla?s sake he
had to make an effort.
?I hear you have an
interesting art collection.?
?I do indeed, but perhaps of
more interest to you are my
wife?s paintings. They have
painting, he switched his full
attention on it.
?I know this man?s work,? he
said. ?He?s a graffiti and street
artist and I?ve seen some of his
work in the north of Spain . . .?
John chatted on, impressed
by Barbara Innes-Leighton?s
taste. She was certainly a
woman who had an eye on
investment.
But at the next painting he
stopped dead.
?Now that I like,? his host
said.
And so did John ? very
much. He had watched as the
painting had gone from rough
sketches right through to the
finished product. He stared at it
for a long time.
?Marcus Fiorelli is a good
friend of mine. I?ll be sure to
let him know how much you
appreciate it.?
?Barbara says he?s young
and that it?s just the start of his
career. She should be here in a
minute. She knows more about
these paintings than I do.?
first solo exhibition at an
Edinburgh art gallery.?
?Stolen!? Barbara sat down
on the settee, as if the wind had
been taken out her sails. ?I
don?t understand.?
?Who did you buy it from,
my dear?? her husband asked.
?I didn?t buy it from anyone.
It was a gift from an old
boyfriend,? she replied, then
looked at John. ?I know you.
You?re Ewan?s cousin. We met
in Manchester.?
??Out Of The Mist? was stolen
twenty-four years ago?
But tea was delivered and
still the lady of the house didn?t
appear.
Fifteen minutes later John
followed his host into the
library. Kayla was helping a
woman set out the cups.
?Do tell Mr Fiorelli that he
can visit any time to view his
painting.?
?I will. In fact, he might
come with me to the f阾e that
Kayla?s organising.?
?Splendid!?
It was then that John saw his
painting. He picked up a cup of
tea and walked over to it. The
owner of Fernie Hall followed.
?It looks good there, don?t
you think??
It was now or never. John
took a deep breath.
?Mr Innes-Leighton, I?m
afraid I haven?t been totally
frank with you. There is
another reason why I?m here
this evening.?
?Oh, do tell,? his host said,
frowning.
??Out Of The Mist? was ??
?I?m so sorry for keeping
you waiting.? A woman
breezed into the library. ?The
meeting I was at over-ran. You
know how some people love to
hear themselves speak.?
The impression John took of
the lady of the house was of a
woman much younger than her
husband. And one who was
familiar to him.
As introductions were made
all round, he racked his brains
to think where he?d seen her
before.
?Mr Henderson was just
about to tell me that he?s here
under false pretences,? her
husband said lightly.
John looked at Kayla.
?I?m afraid so. You see, ?Out
Of The Mist? was stolen
twenty-four years ago at my
Babs Palmerston, that was
who she was ? or had been!
John had only met her once,
but her name had never been
off the lips of his cousin.
She came from a moneyed
family and Ewan had been out
to impress her.
He?d thrown money at her
like confetti. It was one of the
many things they had argued
about.
?She?ll drain you dry, man,?
he?d said to his cousin.
?Butt out, John. I earn good
money, you know.?
?Not that good.?
Now, looking at the woman
before him, John realised that
he?d been right. Barbara
Innes-Leighton was clearly
what he called ?high
maintenance?.
?Ewan gave it to you, didn?t
he??
She nodded and John felt
sick. He?d sent his cousin an
invitation to the preview of the
exhibition but he?d never
answered.
He hadn?t been surprised. It
wasn?t his cousin?s style to let
others hog the limelight. But he
must have come up at one stage
and stolen the picture.
?He told me he?d bought it,?
she whispered. ?I never
questioned it. You see, even
then I was into art in a big
way . . .?
And Ewan had wanted to
impress her. Show off. It made
sense.
Their tea sat untouched as
the implication of what had
happened sank in. It was Mr
Innes-Leighton who rallied
first.
?Of course we must return
the painting to you, with our
heartfelt apologies.?
But his wife didn?t appear to
be listening.
past go ? especially as Cheryl
now had her painting.
* * * *
Kayla blew her fringe from
her forehead in relief and then
started the car.
?Phew, that went well. I had
visions of the police being
called and everything. Or at the
very least that you would have
to prove that the painting had
been stolen.?
?I could have done that. It?s
all on record.?
Her uncle?s relief seemed
muted as he stared out of the
car window. Kayla allowed the
silence to grow.
Who would have thought it?
The painting had been stolen
by a member of the family!
At least the Innes-Leightons
hadn?t stolen it and so her
months of hard work hadn?t
been compromised. Kayla?s
thoughts turned to the fundraising f阾e.
?Did you say that you were
bringing Marcus on the big
day??
She had only met him once,
but the memory of his slow
smile and firm handshake
would pop up at unexpected
moments.
?Probably, but he may be up
before that. He?s going to
donate a painting.?
?Is he? That?s great! I?ll get
some promotional leaflets
printed up about you both.
Please thank him from me, and
I do hope he can come.?
?Oh, he will come,
particularly after what I tell
him. And I think it will be
sooner rather than later.?
?Why?? Kayla asked
hopefully.
?Because I?m almost positive
that his painting hanging in
Fernie Hall is a fake.?
?You?re kidding!?
?No, I?m not. There?s
something going on at Fernie
Hall that isn?t right and I want
Marcus there as back-up before
we open up a nasty can of
worms.?
* * * *
Three days later Kayla
picked Marcus up from the
airport.
Her uncle had briefed him on
what to expect when they
visited Fernie Hall and this
time he?d told Mr InnesLeighton about his suspicions.
?Well,? he?d said, ?I won?t
tell Barbara until we know for
sure. It would only upset her.?
Kayla thought he was either
being very protective or
suspicious of his wife. Either
way it made Kayla uneasy and
she expected Marcus to be
angry, or at the very least
sombre. But when he saw her,
he beamed.
?Kay-la,? he said, before
kissing her on each cheek.
She loved the way he spoke
her name as if it were two
words. It made her name sound
exotic, but Marcus was in fact a
third-generation Italian and a
native English speaker. She
reined in her thoughts.
Although only four years
older than her, Marcus was her
uncle?s friend, and for all she
knew, might have a partner.
He indicated the parcel under
his arm.
?This is for your f阾e.?
?Thank you so much, and
I?m only sorry that we had to
meet again in such
circumstances.?
Good grief, she sounded like
a prim schoolmistress, meeting
the parents of a naughty child.
She cleared her throat and
rabbited on.
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?I think he resented the
closeness you had with your
sister. He longed to find his
birth mother and I think he did
find her in the end, only things
didn?t quite work out.
?By then I was trying to end
the relationship and I wasn?t
sure of the ins and outs of it.
Only that he had changed, and
not for the better.
?He was always off chasing
one big-money deal after
another . . .?
As John listened he couldn?t
help but feel sadness for the
boy Ewan, who always had to
win at games and who had a
hole so deep inside him that it
could never be filled.
He could imagine the
scenario of him at the art
gallery and being told that the
painting was not for sale
because it belonged to John?s
sister, compounding the feeling
of him being the one left out.
And perhaps he and Cheryl
had, however unwittingly,
played their part in making him
feel that way.
And how hard must it have
been for him to find his real
mother, only to discover that
she hadn?t lived up to his
idealised representation of her
as a young frightened girl
forced against her will to give
her baby up for adoption?
An hour later they were
loading the painting into the
back of the car.
Tara Brown, or Wonder
Woman as Kayla referred to
her, had bubble-wrapped the
picture before placing it in a
cardboard box used for another
painting which had been
returned from cleaning.
Then they drove off with
Barbara Innes-Leighton?s
parting words going round and
round his head.
?Mr Henderson, Ewan was
gifted in many ways, but he
was also a lost soul, and in so
many ways misguided. Please
don?t judge him too harshly.?
After all this time, John
thought, she still had feelings
for his cousin and wanted to
protect his memory. He wasn?t
surprised.
The one thing that he hadn?t
told Kayla about Ewan was that
he?d been a good-looking
charmer who had attracted
women in their droves. Once
he?d even stolen a girlfriend
from him.
But Babs Palmerston, as he
still thought of her, was right.
He had to forgive and let the
?I do hope that I get the
chance to auction your work
and that the Innes-Leightons
won?t back out of our
agreement to hold the f阾e in
their grounds.? She stopped
dead. That was not what she
had intended to say. It made her
sound selfish and self-seeking.
?I mean . . .?
?I know what you mean. I
would be worried if I had put
months of hard work into a
project for such a worthy cause
only to have the sword of
Damocles hanging over it.?
?But to have someone
copying your art??
?It happens. Unfortunately,
forgery is quite common in the
art world.?
?But what could have
happened to your original??
?It could have been sold to
some private collector who
doesn?t care about the fact that
it?s stolen. They?re only
interested in owning and
viewing in private.?
The paintings in Fernie Hall
had been in storage before
being hung. Had someone had
access to them? If so, then
surely it had to be an inside
job?
Kayla had done some
research on the internet.
Barbara was Mr InnesLeighton?s second wife. She
was twenty-two years his
junior and they had married
seven years ago.
Maybe her interest in art
wasn?t exactly innocent? After
all, they only had her word for
it that Ewan had given her the
painting.
Or maybe Wonder Woman
Tara Brown was a criminal
mastermind? Or maybe her
uncle had simply made a
mistake?
?What time will we have to
be there?? Marcus asked.
?We?re expected at Fernie
Hall at two-thirty. We?re
meeting Uncle John there.?
?Then we?ll have time for
lunch and you can bring me up
to speed on everything that?s
been happening.?
But it turned out that they
didn?t speak much at all about
their impending visit.
Instead Kayla learned a bit
more about Marcus and about
him being the first not to go
into the family delicatessen
business, and how art had
always been his first passion.
She in turn told him about
her work and how much it
meant to her.
40
?In fact, this afternoon
I?ll be going over details of
the f阾e with their personal
assistant, while you and Uncle
John examine their collection.
So I?ll be out of the line of fire
? so to speak.?
?Coward,? he said, smiling.
?That?s me. Anyway if I
hung around I would probably
put my foot in it. I?m good at
that. I just open my mouth and
out pops what I?m thinking.?
?I?d be interested in what
you?re thinking right this
minute,? he said, looking
straight at her.
She was thinking that he?d
made it clear throughout lunch
that there was no-one in
particular in his life.
But for once Kayla kept her
mouth shut and just smiled
back. Then she looked at her
watch.
?Goodness, is that the time?
We had better get a move on.?
The last thing she wanted
was to be late for her
appointment with Tara. It
would look so unprofessional.
Kayla didn?t know why that
worried her, but for some
reason the woman got under
her skin.
* * * *
John Henderson was early,
but David Innes-Leighton was
already waiting for him. John
had the distinct impression that
he had been watching out for
him as he didn?t even have to
knock on the door. And the
man?s first words confirmed his
impression.
asked. Of course, it could be
that Barbara wasn?t ill, and
only had a bad attack of nerves
or guilt. Which was a pity, as
he really would have liked to
have spoken to her further and
heard about Ewan?s life.
So much of it was unknown
until they had learned of his
death in Hong Kong. The
family had been devastated.
He?d only been twenty-eight.
Or perhaps David InnesLeighton didn?t trust his own
wife?
He certainly looked harassed.
He ran his fingers through his
wild hair and kept looking
around him.
?I?m afraid it?s just been one
of those days. Tara ? Ms Brown
? had to rearrange her day off
to see your niece and Barbara
started to ask questions. Then
Mrs Mack threw a wobbly
when I told her a few minutes
ago that you were coming.
?She has no baking to offer
you, and she so likes to provide
my guests with treats!?
?Awkward,? John mumbled,
wondering what else he was
going to speak about while he
waited for Kayla and Marcus.
* * * *
It was agony for John trying
to make small talk in the great
hall where they stood as if
waiting for an invitation.
Eventually, after what seemed
an age, David Innes-Leighton
said, ?Perhaps you would care
to view the painting again
while we wait??
?Good idea.?
John hoped he was wrong about
the painting, but he doubted it
?Barbara was supposed to be
out but she?s not well. I?ve told
her to keep to her room and let
Mrs Mack mollycoddle her. So
I do hope she doesn?t realise
that you?re here. It will only
give her something else to
worry about.?
?Oh, I?m sorry to hear that.
Kayla and Marcus Fiorelli will
be here soon. She?s picking
him up at the airport.?
?Can you possibly phone her
and ask her to take her car
round the side to the old
stables? I don?t want Barbara to
see Marcus Fiorelli because
then she will know something
is definitely up.?
It seemed a bit extreme to
John, but he did as he was
John followed his host to the
west gallery. He hoped he was
wrong about the painting but he
doubted it.
As their footsteps echoed in
the great hall John thought that,
if his fears were founded, both
the police and art experts
would have to be called in to
check the other paintings in
Fernie Hall to ascertain the
extent of the fraud.
They met Mrs Mack in the
hall. She looked as if she had
been running.
?I?m just going to get Mrs
Innes-Leighton some soup to
try to coax her to eat.?
?Good show, good show.?
So Barbara was unwell.
Maybe, John thought, he was
barking up the wrong tree. But
he had no option but to act
upon his suspicions. He took a
deep breath. He was not
looking forward to this at all.
* * * *
Kayla was five minutes late.
On a country lane near the
estate they were almost run off
the road by an overtaking van.
It was being driven at reckless
speed and with no regard for
other road users.
?Idiot!? Marcus shouted as
Kayla almost put the car in a
ditch.
the worst case scenario ? that
perhaps Mr Innes-Leighton
would pull the plug on
everything if the worst came to
the worst.
* * * *
John was perplexed. He
watched as Marcus looked at
his own painting.
He stared close up and then
walked back to get perspective.
Beside him their host looked on
anxiously.
John again looked at the
painting and then his friend.
They had exhibited together
John knew he was right, but how
could he prove it?
Tara Brown came out to meet
them and direct her to where
she should leave the car.
Together they accompanied
Marcus to the west gallery and
then she and Tara Brown made
their way to Horse Meadow
behind the house.
This time the personal
assistant wore a pair of jeans
and boots with her hair hanging
loose. It almost made her look
human ? except for the dreaded
clipboard. Kayla looked at it
with misgiving.
?Now, the public should
bring their cars in by that
entrance,? she said, pointing off
into the distance, ?and park in
that field over there.?
They walked through a field
and into the meadow. Kayla
had with her a site plan of what
was going where.
She showed it to the efficient
assistant with some trepidation.
?That looks fine,? Tara
Brown said eventually,
?although I suggest we rope
some areas off and put in a
wooden walkway just in case
there?s rain and mud.?
?No problem.?
They walked to the site of
the f阾e and Kayla started to
relax. The in-fighting between
the various charities as to what
they regarded as the prime sites
had been horrendous.
At times Kayla had felt like a
United Nations peacekeeper.
But at least everything
seemed to be coming together
? so far. She looked towards
the house.
All seemed quiet. There were
no police cars, sirens, wailing
or gnashing of teeth.
Fanciful, she knew, but
Kayla couldn?t help but picture
and shared the costs of a studio.
They shared ideas, sought
each other?s opinions and
debated the merits of other
artists. In short, John knew
Marcus?s work almost as well
as his own.
Marcus frowned and looked
at him.
?This is my painting, John. I
don?t see how you could have
thought otherwise.?
?I agree. It is your painting,
Marcus. But that is not the
painting that I saw earlier.?
?I say, are you suggesting
that someone in this house has
swapped a fake with the
original?? David InnesLeighton looked annoyed and
John couldn?t blame him.
But he had to say what he
knew to be true, however
unpalatable. He cleared his
throat.
?I guess I must be.?
?You guess!? Mr InnesLeighton?s voice grew louder.
?Guessing isn?t good enough.
Not when it comes to accusing
a member of this household of
deceit and forgery! Those are
serious allegations!?
?John does know my work,?
Marcus interrupted, ?and I
would listen to him.?
?Listen to him! He?s already
taken a painting which was
dear to my wife.
?How do I know that it being
stolen is not some cock and
bull story??
?It is in the police records,?
John said quietly.
No-one spoke but the air was
electric. John knew he was
right, but how could he prove
it? The painting had been
swapped.
?What was it about the
* * * *
Kayla was pleased with the
way the day had gone and Tara
Brown seemed eager to wrap
things up.
As they walked back to the
house the assistant kept
glancing towards the back of
the building as if she was
looking for something. It was
then that Kayla saw the van
going round the side of the
house.
?Who does that van belong
to??
?Simon Mack, the cook?s
son.?
?He almost ran me off the
road earlier.?
?That sounds like him,? Tara
said, grimacing. ?He does odd
jobs round the house. I think
Mr Innes-Leighton just gives
him work because of his
mother.?
?You don?t like him,? Kayla
stated without thinking.
?He thinks he?s God?s gift to
women.?
They shared a smile. Tara
Brown was becoming more
human by the minute.
?I do hope the f阾e goes well
and we raise a lot of money.?
?I?m sure we will. People
will come with it being held
here. My job is to keep them
contained and not let them
wander into certain areas of the
estate.
?Let?s go in the back,
through the kitchen. If we
bump into Simon, I?ll let him
have it. It?s about time
somebody did.?
But Mrs Mack was in the
kitchen alone. She was
humming quietly as she basted
a roast joint. On the stove, a pot
of soup simmered.
?Welcome, ladies. I hope
everything?s going well with
the planning? The kettle?s just
off the boil, Tara, if you want to
make a cuppa.?
?By the way,? Tara said,
?that son of yours nearly ran
Kayla into a ditch. He?s a
menace on the roads and I?ll
tell him that when I see him.?
?He had an urgent job to do
for his lordship and didn?t want
to be late.?
?Do you know if everyone is
still in the west gallery?? Kayla
interrupted, not wanting any
bad feeling on her account.
?No, I just took tea to the
men a short while ago in the
library,? Mrs Mack replied.
?They seemed to be having a
cosy chat.?
?Isn?t Mrs Innes-Leighton
with them??
?No, she?s poorly.?
Tara looked up.
?Not again!?
Sandra Mack shrugged.
?I think she?s going through
a medical dictionary and
ticking off her ailments. She?ll
be getting Dengue fever next,
even though she?s been
nowhere near a mosquito for
years.?
Kayla understood that the
cook really didn?t like the lady
of the house. The conversation
lingered on the subject of
illnesses.
It seemed rude to intrude, but
perhaps she could text her
uncle just to see if everything
was OK? It was then that she
realised she?d left her phone in
the car after her uncle had
called. She?d forgotten to put it
back in her bag.
?That?s a bit harsh,? Tara
said, grinning, as Kayla thought
of making her excuses to go
and get it. ?Although my
great-great grandfather
contracted leprosy while in
India.?
Kayla gulped her tea and
listened to their stories. She
would go and get her phone in
a minute.
The subject hadn?t changed
and they were now upping the
ante and talking about more
dreadful diseases.
Suddenly Kayla realised that
she could contribute to the
conversation.
?My mum?s cousin died of
blood poisoning while in Hong
Kong.?
Kayla paused for effect and
Sandra Mack sighed and then
spoke quietly.
?Leaving a tooth abscess
untreated can . . .?
The cook froze mid-sentence
as Kayla felt a frisson of shock
skitter through her. She stared.
?How did you know he died
of an abscess??
?I must have heard it
somewhere. Probably Mrs
Innes-Leighton mentioned it.?
She was lying. Tara Brown,
sensing the change in
atmosphere, looked at them
both questioningly.
?Really?? Kayla asked. ?I
didn?t think the lady of the
house confided in her staff.?
?She doesn?t,? Tara put in.
?Then I overheard it,? the
cook snapped. ?What does it
matter??
Kayla shrugged to make light
of it, but something wasn?t
right. Perhaps the cook?s
antipathy to her employer was
a blind and they were secretly
in cahoots?
?Anyway, you?ll have to
excuse me, ladies. I?ve got an
important call to make and I?ve
left my phone in the car.?
GE g
PA a
8- ini m
m
painting,? Marcus said, ?that
you thought wasn?t right,
John??
?The colours. It was subtle
but noticeable. And a hand on
one of the figures.?
David Innes-Leighton huffed
through his nose. John thought
that he was going to order them
out the house at any minute.
For a fleeting moment he
thought of Kayla. This would
not reflect well on her.
?Look,? John said, ?I came
here at your invitation to view
your collection, and I happened
to see a picture which I thought
suspect. I was duty-bound to
say something. Something is
going on here, I would stake
my reputation on it.?
?All right.? Mr InnesLeighton sighed. ?Let?s discuss
it over tea in the library. I?ll get
Mrs Mack to bring it up.?
He strode off.
John and Marcus looked at
each other. David InnesLeighton was not a happy man.
?Will you be able to find
your way back to the stables??
Tara asked.
?No problem.?
The carpeted corridor gave
way to flagstone. She was in an
area of the house that the
gentry rarely used and it
reminded Kayla of an episode
of ?Downton Abbey?.
A draught blew along the
corridor. The door leading
outside to the stable had been
left open. As she walked
towards it, she saw a foot
propping open a door to her
left.
It was a man?s foot and
Kayla could hear something
being dragged. It was the only
sound that could be heard in
the stillness of the great house.
Kayla was aware of her
isolation. She hurried towards
the door.
Outside was the van which
had almost forced her off the
road. Its back doors were open.
Kayla had to pass it to reach
her own car, which was hidden
by a wall.
It was only a passing glance
but her steps faltered. Inside
were two canvases. They were
draped in an old sheet, but not
fully covered.
The bottom of one looked
familiar. Kayla reached in and
lifted the sheet.
It looked like the painting
that Marcus had done.
?Hey! What do you think
you?re doing??
Kayla jumped in fright.
?I ? I was just admiring the
painting.?
He put down the painting he
was carrying, pushed her
roughly aside and slammed the
back doors.
He was young, handsome
and belligerent. And he was
clearly Simon Mack.
Kayla?s mind raced. She
thought of the men upstairs
supposedly viewing this very
painting, and of being nearly
driven off the road.
Then she recalled Sandra
Mack?s words: he had an
urgent job to do for his lordship
and didn?t want to be late.
?So sorry,? she muttered,
walking backwards before
turning and heading smartly to
her car, aware of his eyes
following her.
Her hands were shaking
when she picked up her phone.
Her uncle didn?t always
answer.
As she listened to it ringing,
she expected any moment that
42
Simon Mack would come
round the wall after her.
?Come on, come on,? she
muttered.
* * * *
John Henderson was
annoyed. He should have
switched off his phone. He
thought it the height of bad
manners to answer when in
company, but things had not
been going well and he needed
a distraction.
Marcus had managed to
soothe an irate David Innes-
of the car. The man was mad,
she thought as she resisted with
all her might. She was halfway
out the car when he stopped
and grabbed her hair.
The pain was so intense that
Kayla had no option but to
follow. Then suddenly she
heard a shout.
?Let her go, you big oaf!?
It was Tara Brown and she
delivered a well-aimed kick at
Simon Mack?s nether regions.
Suddenly Kayla was free.
Simon Mack?s knees sagged
and he went glassy eyed. He
?Simon Mack?s loading paintings
into a van!?
Leighton and keep the
conversation on an even keel.
But it was leading nowhere and
the man refused to call in the
art experts.
So when Kayla?s name
flashed up, he excused himself
and walked to the other side of
the room to take the call.
?Uncle John,? his niece
whispered, ?I?m at the stables
and Simon Mack?s loading
paintings into a van, including
Marcus?s and . . . oh, no, he?s
coming!?
The connection was cut and
John shouted.
?Where are the stables??
?What??
?That?s Kayla. Simon
Mack?s loading paintings into a
van, including Marcus?s
painting, and she?s been cut
off!?
Marcus was the first to rise,
followed by the bewildered
owner of Fernie Hall. Then
they were running.
?Where, where?? Marcus
shouted.
The owner barked directions
and John and Marcus sprinted
ahead. We?re coming Kayla,
we?re coming, John thought,
hoping that his niece wasn?t in
serious trouble.
* * * *
Simon Mack leaned in the
car door and grabbed the phone
from Kayla.
?Hey,? she said, trying not to
sound scared. ?What do you
think you?re doing??
?Who did you phone?? he
shouted.
?It?s none of your business
who I phoned!? she shouted
back.
He leaned in and grabbed
her, then started to haul her out
clutched himself in agony.
Kayla put her hand to her
head and stared at her rescuer
in amazement.
?You really are Wonder
Woman!?
?I don?t know about that,?
Tara said, ?but it?s a good job I
came out to see if you found
your car all right.?
They looked at the man
doubled over and swearing.
Tara gave him a push and he
landed on the ground just as the
three men came rushing out the
side door.
?Kayla, are you all right??
Marcus and Uncle John
demanded at the same time.
?I?m fine. I think there are
stolen paintings in the van.?
For a while there was
organised chaos.
Her uncle checked the van
and announced they were
forgeries, Marcus wouldn?t let
Simon stand up and Tara
phoned the police.
David Innes-Leighton,
however, seemed in a daze. He
kept repeating the same
question.
?What?s going on??
Then a scream rent the air
and Sandra Mack ran towards
her son and knelt down beside
him.
?Simon, are you hurt??
He shrugged off her arm and
shot a venomous look at
Marcus.
?Get off!?
?The police are on their
way,? Marcus said.
?He?s done nothing wrong,?
Mrs Mack replied with a
defiant glint in her eye. ?I don?t
know what all the commotion
is about.?
?For starters,? Marcus said,
?there?s the assault on Kayla
here, and, oh . . . let?s not forget
about the forgeries in the back
of the van.?
?They?re not forgeries,? she
snapped. ?Simon just copies
them to practise his painting
skills.?
?Mum, shut it,? her son
growled.
But Sandra Mack was a
mother defending her son and
she went on the attack.
?You lot are all just out to
cause trouble and it is always
the underdog who gets the
kicking . . .?
?What?s going on??
It was Barbara InnesLeighton. At the sight of her
Sandra Mack became very still.
Then she sprang up.
?You,? she spat, ?it?s all your
fault. You with your hoity-toity
ways and Ewan not being good
enough for you. You wouldn?t
even meet me!?
Barbara took a step back as
her cook screamed this last bit
in her face. Kayla could see
that she hadn?t a clue what
Sandra Mack was talking
about.
?What has Ewan got to do
with anything??
?He was my brother! And
because of you he?s dead!?
David Innes-Leighton tried
to intervene, but Sandra Mack
wasn?t having it.
?You broke his heart and he
left for Hong Kong. We had
just found each other and then
he was gone! He was all I had
in the world.? Sandra started to
cry. ?He lost the will to live ?
thanks to you!?
The mistress of Fernie Hall
put her hand to her throat in
shock.
?I had no idea he had a
sister.?
?You didn?t want to know!?
Sandra screamed. ?You were
more interested in your
precious paintings!?
It was Uncle John who ended
the tirade when he said, ?The
police are here.?
* * * *
The sun was shining and
people came in their droves to
the f阾e. All morning Kayla had
been rushing around. Now, she
stood beside Marcus and Uncle
John and watched their
paintings about to be auctioned.
?I hope you put the word
?Original? in the description,?
Marcus teased.
Kayla nudged him.
?I did, but if I had the talent
of Simon Mack I might have
copied it and kept the original
for myself.?
Marcus draped an arm across
her shoulder and grinned.
?Just as well you have other
talents, then.?
But her uncle didn?t smile.
Instead a muscle twitched in
his cheek. Once again she had
put her foot in it. Sandra Mack,
like his cousin, Ewan, had a big
deep hole inside her.
But unlike Ewan, who had
been given up at birth, Sandra
was taken into care when she
was six and their mother
convicted of neglect. She had
spent the rest of her life with
various foster families.
Ewan had really been the
only family she had. It must
have been hard to find her
brother only to lose him so
soon.
Kayla knew that both her
mother and her uncle John
would always wonder, where
Ewan was concerned, if they
could have done anything
different.
But, Kayla thought, they
were only children, and later
young adults, trying to make
their own way in life.
?Sorry, Uncle John, but
Sandra Mack did set out to
destroy Barbara InnesLeighton?s collection and she
did make a lot of money out of
it.?
?Revenge is a dish best
served cold,? her uncle
muttered, then finally smiled.
Tara was on the stage. She
was going to handle the
auction. Of course she was ?
she was the most efficient
person Kayla knew.
?Here we go,? Marcus
muttered as Tara picked up the
microphone.
?Ladies and gentlemen,? she
said, ?we have here paintings
by two gifted contemporary
artists who are leading lights of
their generation . . .?
Kayla grinned and hunched
her shoulders in glee. They
were going to make a lot of
money. She could sense it in
the eagerness around her, and
especially when David
Innes-Leighton made the
opening bid.
?This is going to be good,?
she whispered. ?We?re in here
for the long haul.?
It was going to be the perfect
day ? and hopefully the perfect
evening, as Marcus was taking
her out for dinner.
The End.
43
Appearances are deceiving
in this feel-good short story
by Wendy Clarke.
Caf� Of
The Year
Woody?s needed a make-over, but
what would the regulars think?
Illustration by iStock.
H
AVE you seen this??
Malcolm lowered the
newspaper and looked at
Janice over the top of his
spectacles.
It was the end of another busy day at
Woody?s Transport Caf�, and although he
could have gone straight home, Janice
knew he liked to stay longer for a chat.
He?d taken the job at Woody?s six
years ago, after his wife had died, and
seemed to spend nearly as much time
there as in his house.
?What is it?? she said, taking the last
mug out of the dishwasher and inspecting
it.
?Why don?t you read it for yourself??
Malcolm pushed the newspaper across
the counter and, as Janice finished
putting the mugs on the shelf, she could
feel his eyes on her.
?Oh, give it here, Malcolm. You?ll
wear my jumper out with your stare.
What?s so important in there that it can?t
wait until I?ve finished??
Placing the open newspaper on the
counter, she studied it.
?Dog with three legs gets new owner.
Now what on earth made you think I?d
be interested in that??
?No, not that. Look, it?s here.?
Peering over her shoulder, Malcolm
jabbed his finger at the bottom of the
page. He was looking very pleased with
himself.
?For goodness? sake, Malcolm. What
are you grinning at? It?s just an
application form.?
?I know that, but look what it?s for.?
Lifting her reading glasses from the
chain around her neck, she put them on
then bent to the paper. Immediately she
saw what had caught his eye.
?Marsden Caf� Of The Year??
?Exactly.?
Janice straightened up and looked at
him, hoping she was mistaken.
?You?re really suggesting that we
enter??
?Why ever not??
?I can think of a few good reasons.?
She looked across the counter at the
empty caf�.
In the harsh fluorescent strip lighting,
and with no customers, the place looked
bare and functional. The Formica tables
and red plastic seating had certainly seen
better days, and the vinyl on the floor
hadn?t been replaced since she?d bought
the place.
It didn?t seem to bother any of her
customers, but she was pretty sure it
wouldn?t go down too well with a
competition judge.
?I think it?s a marvellous place.?
Malcolm beamed at her and Janice
couldn?t help smiling back.
Even though he looked out of place in
his diamond-patterned pullovers and
maroon tie, the elderly man was as much
a part of the place as the tea urn.
?I do, too, Malcolm. It?s the best place
in the world, but I?m not sure restaurant
critics would necessarily think the
same.?
Malcolm?s face fell.
?Why ever not??
Janice turned to the large windows. It
was dark outside and all she could see
was their reflections.
?Well, for a start, the car park is always
full of motorbikes.?
?I know. It?s marvellous, isn?t it?
Dougie does love them so.?
Dougie was the most recent addition to
the Woody?s family. He was cheerful and
hardworking, greeting everyone who
came into the caf� with a thumbs-up.
Indeed, the young man with Down?s
syndrome had proved to be an asset
despite the minutes he spent with his
nose pressed against the window, staring
lovingly out at the shiny black machines.
?Oh, Malcolm, you?re not getting this,
are you? What they?ll be looking for is a
cosy tea shop, preferably with a thatched
roof.
?One that sells butternut squash soup
at lunchtime and home-made scones at
afternoon tea. They?ll expect tea served
in dainty cups painted with pansies, not
in builder?s mugs.?
?But you get so much more in a mug,?
Malcolm replied, looking at the rows of
heavy white china on the shelf. ?That?s
why our customers like it.?
?You and I know that?s true, but try
telling that to the judge at the ?Marsden
Echo?. I?m telling you, Malcolm, we?re
not what they?re looking for.?
?If you say so, Janice.? Malcolm took
off his apron and lifted his navy blazer
from the hook. ?I?ll see you tomorrow,
then.?
?Yes. Erin will be coming in to help
you with the early shift while I?m at the
dentist. She?s on a reading week or
something.?
?Oh, I?m very pleased.? Malcolm had
a soft spot for the young girl with the red
hair and pierced tongue and it warmed
Janice to see it.
?I thought you would be. I?ll see you
tomorrow, Malcolm.?
Malcolm let himself out and
44
Janice closed the
newspaper, planning to
take it out to the recycling on
her way out. But as she
switched off the lights, turned
the key in the lock and
walked to her car, it was still
where she?d left it.
* * * *
When Janice got to the
front door of the caf� the next
morning, she didn?t have to
open it as Dougie was there
before her.
?Morning, Dougie.?
Dougie pushed his hair out
of his eyes and gave her a
thumbs-up.
?Morning, Janice.?
?Busy morning??
The young man nodded and
replied in his gruff voice.
?I counted twenty-seven
men, twelve ladies and a
dog.?
Janice smiled then put her
hand up to her mouth. Her
tooth was still sore from
where it had been prodded.
?That?s pretty good
counting, Dougie.?
Most of the people who
came into Woody?s were
builders and other tradesmen
on their way to work. Often,
though, on a Saturday, the
motorbike club would use the
caf� for their meeting place.
?Come on. Let?s go inside.?
Malcolm was behind the
counter, buttering rolls, and
she could see Erin at the back
of the room, stacking dirty
plates on to a trolley.
?Honey, I?m home!? she
called.
Malcolm raised his head
and smiled.
?Very funny, Janice. How
was the dentist??
?Pretty grim,? she said,
lifting the flap of the counter
and joining him. ?I?ve got to
go back next week for a
filling.?
?Oh, dear. Sorry to hear
that. Anyway, we coped fine
while you were out. It?s
lovely to have little Erin back
in the fold.? He gave a fond
smile as Erin pushed the
clattering trolley into the
kitchen.
Erin smiled.
?It?s lovely to be back,? she
told Janice. ?When we break
up from uni for the summer,
I?ll be able to help you for a
couple of months rather than
just a week. I?ve been
thinking about getting a car.
Something cheap. It will be
easier than cycling along the
main road.?
Janice took the � note
that a customer had just given
her and put it in the till,
nodding her thanks as he
dropped some change into the
tip box on the counter.
?If we?d kept the ?Marsden
Echo? from yesterday, you
could have had a look
through. They?ve got a ?Used
Car? section in the
classifieds.?
Erin started unloading the
trolley.
?Oh, I?ve looked in it
already. You left it on the
counter.? She pointed to the
newspaper which lay open on
the worktop next to the
fridge.
?Did I? Oh, I?m getting so
forgetful in my old age.
Anything interesting in
there??
As she went to move it, she
caught the glance that passed
between Erin and Malcolm.
?Sort of.?
That was when she saw the
form-sized hole cut out of the
bottom of the open page.
?Oh, Erin. Please don?t tell
me you?ve filled it in.?
The girl looked a little
sheepish.
?Filled it in and given it to
Dan Rider to take to the
?Echo? offices when he?s
passing. Woody?s is by far the
best caf� in the area.?
Janice frowned.
?But I told Malcolm it
would be a waste of time.
Didn?t he tell you??
?Yes, he told me ? but I
didn?t believe it.? She stood
up and ran a hand through her
spiky red hair. ?And I?ve
worked with you long enough
to know that you don?t,
either.?
The caf� was busy all day
and Janice hadn?t time to give
the competition much
thought, but as the last
customer left and she turned
the sign to Closed, she knew
that they would need to have
a meeting.
?Malcolm, Erin!? she
called. ?Come and join me.
And be a pet, Erin, and bring
a pot of tea over when you
come. Make it strong ? we?ll
need it. We?ve got to get our
thinking caps on.?
She slid into one of the
booths that looked out on to
the car park and took a
notepad and pen out of her
apron pocket. If they were
going to have half a chance of
winning the coveted award,
there would be a lot of work
to be done.
She sucked the end of her
pen, then drew a line down
the middle of the page. At the
top of one half, she wrote
Caf� and at the top of the
other, she wrote Food.
?What?s this?? Malcolm
took the seat next to her. ?A
shopping list??
?Sort of. If we?re going to
do this, we need to do it
properly.?
Erin had arrived with a tray
on which was a large teapot
and four mugs. She put it
down on the table and slid
into the seat opposite.
Janice lifted one of the
mugs and frowned.
?Teacups,? she said, writing
it down in her book. ?And
tablecloths.?
Malcolm raised his
eyebrows.
?Tablecloths??
?We can?t expect the judge
to award us Caf� Of The Year
if he has to eat his bacon
butties off these,? she said,
placing her hand on the
speckled table top. ?Speaking
of which, all butties will be
off the menu for the day of
the judging. I?ll make a nice
veggie lasagne and one of
those couscous things I?ve
seen them make on the TV.?
She scribbled in her
notebook, warming to her
theme.
?We?ll need peppers, olives,
aubergines . . .?
?I don?t like aubergines,?
Erin said, screwing up her
nose.
?Neither do I. But it?s not
us we?re needing to impress.
Woody?s is going to have a
make-over and we?re going to
prove that we are more than
just a transport caf� selling
all-day breakfasts. Either of
you know how to bake
scones??
?My Margie used to,?
Malcolm said, taking a swig
of his tea. ?I?ll dig out one of
her recipes and have a go, if
you like.?
Janice smiled at him.
?Perfect. You know, I think
this might be fun after all.?
* * * *
?You can?t ask her to do
that, Janice.?
Malcolm and Janice were
standing at an empty table
breaking open packets of
tablecloths. They were white
with lace edges bought as a
job lot from a factory outlet
store.
Janice shook one out,
looking pleased with herself.
?It?s only a piece of
jewellery, Malcolm. You
wouldn?t be making such a
fuss if I was asking her to
take the studs out of her ears
rather than her tongue.?
?But it?s her identity,
Janice. It?s never bothered
you before.?
?That,? Janice said,
throwing him a sharp look,
?is because we?ve never been
up for Caf� Of The Year
before. It?s only for one day.?
?I suppose you?re going to
ask Tony Jackson and his
motorbike mates to cover up
their tattoos as well.?
The day of the judging had
arrived. The windows were
sparkling and the tables were
covered in fresh white cloths
and dainty vases of flowers.
Even the cake cabinet
looked different. Instead of
holding mini-sized chocolate
rolls covered in foil, packets
of shortbread and Eccles
cakes, it now had a plate piled
high with scones, a glass dish
of strawberry jam and one of
clotted cream next to it.
?Everyone know what they
have to do??
?I?m going to be clearing
the tables,? Erin said.
She?d attempted to comb
her hair behind her ears and
she looked uncomfortable in a
pale pink blouse and cotton
skirt. She looked down at it.
?I borrowed it from my
mum. It was the best I could
do.?
?You look very pretty,
dear.? Janice was relieved to
see that she?d taken out the
tongue piercing. ?And what
about you, Dougie? Do you
remember what you say when
people come in? Have a
practice on me.?
A smile broke across the
young man?s face. He held up
his two thumbs.
?Morning, Janice.?
?No, Dougie. Don?t you
remember? It?s ?good
morning?.? She took hold of
his thumbs and gently pressed
them down. ?And no thumbs
? for today anyway.?
Dougie looked crestfallen.
?Not at all??
?Not at all.?
?Not even when Tony
comes in?? He glanced out of
45
Reminders
T
HE rainbow sweeps across the sky,
A sight to lift the spirits high;
The cloud has passed, the sun is out,
It makes us want to laugh and shout.
Some seek for treasure where it lands,
A crock of gold to take in hand.
But others know the treasure?s here,
An end to sudden squalls and fear.
For when the arc soars in the blue,
It gently says to me and you:
However long the storms may run
Be sure that at the end there?s sun.
One further truth we all should know
When all is dark and skies are low,
Or when beset by doubt and pain,
You can?t have rainbows without rain.
iStock.
? Norman Lindsey.
the window in the hope of
seeing the bearded biker?s
motorcycle and Janice felt a
pang of guilt.
?Tony won?t be in today,
Dougie. Or the others.?
Dougie?s freckled face
screwed up.
?Why??
?Because they didn?t . . .
they weren?t . . .? How could
she explain to the boy that
with their battered leathers,
and motorbikes taking up half
of the car park, they were
setting the wrong tone?
?Look, don?t worry about it,
Dougie,? she went on. ?It?s
for the best, you?ll see. Now,
we?d better look busy. Who
knows when the judge might
be arriving. Has anyone any
idea what he looks like??
Malcolm shook his head.
?It might be a she.?
Janice turned the sign in the
window to Open.
?I suppose it might be. In
fact, they probably won?t be
anything like we?re
expecting.?
?You mean with a clipboard
and a pen behind their ear??
Erin looked down at her skirt.
?You know, appearances can
be deceiving.?
A few customers had started
to come in: an elderly lady, a
young couple and a group of
men in paint-spattered
overalls. None of them looked
as if they might work for the
paper.
As she looked, one of the
men picked up the edge of the
tablecloth, said something to
his mates and laughed.
Janice frowned. What did
they know about taste and
quality?
She watched as the man got
up and made his way over to
the counter.
?Two sausages, bacon, hash
browns, egg, beans and a
round of toast, please, Janice.?
Janice gave her warmest
smile in case the competition
judge had already arrived.
?Wouldn?t you rather have
some vegetable quiche and
salad??
The man looked as if he?d
been offered something off
the bottom of Janice?s shoe.
?Why would I want that?
I?ve got a full day?s painting
ahead of me and I want
something to line my
stomach. Full English as
usual, please, and a mug of
tea.?
?I?m afraid we?re not doing
full English today, Rob. How
about I put some bacon in one
of these brioche rolls?? She
peered around him to make
sure no-one was listening.
?And I?ll throw in a scone and
jam if you don?t make a fuss.?
The man raised his
eyebrows.
?I don?t know what?s got
into you, Janice . . . or this
place. It?s not like its usual
self. Everyone?s talking in
whispers.?
Janice poured hot water into
a blue china pot and put it on
a tray with a cup and saucer,
along with a small jug of
milk. As she did, she realised
he was right. Woody?s was
usually filled with the sound
of conversation and laughter.
Today, the atmosphere had
changed.
The space where Tony
Jackson?s motorbike club
usually met was empty and
she missed it.
?What?s this?? Rob was
pointing to the tray.
?Your tea.?
?I won?t get more than a
couple of mouthfuls out of
this. Where?s my usual mug??
Janice sighed.
?I thought we?d try teacups
for a change. They?re more
refined.?
?All right, Janice??
Malcolm stopped buttering
scones and looked at her.
?Anything I can do??
?You can make me a decent
breakfast,? Rob said. ?I?m
sorry, Janice, but I think it?s
better if me and the lads go to
the Bridge Caf�. We?re
probably not the clientele
you?re after now anyway.?
?No, Rob, please don?t ??
But the man was already
making his way back to the
table. He said something to
the others and they picked up
their donkey jackets from the
backs of the seats and walked
towards the door.
Rob gave a shrug as he
opened it.
?Sorry, Janice.?
Malcolm put down his knife
and put his arm around her.
?Don?t worry about them.
I?m sure everyone else is
enjoying their food, and it
looks very nice in here.
Very civilised,
46
especially with the
serviettes and the doilies
on the tea plates.?
?You don?t think I?ve gone
too far, do you, Malcolm??
She was beginning to have
her doubts.
?Of course not, my dear,?
Malcolm replied.
But he didn?t look too sure.
* * * *
Janice watched Erin move
between the tables. Despite
her spiky red hair and pierced
tongue, she?d always been a
sensitive girl and it had taken
her a long time to get used to
chatting to the customers.
Over the years she?d been
with them, though, she?d
come out of her shell and the
customers liked her. Today,
she seemed subdued and
barely exchanged a word with
anyone.
?What?s the matter with
Erin??
Malcolm followed her gaze.
?If someone asked you to
put on fancy dress and serve
the customers, would you be
happy??
?Well, no, I suppose not.?
?I guess that?s what Erin is
feeling. Expecting her to wear
a skirt today and tone down
her look is the same as you
wearing one of Tony
Jackson?s leather jackets. She
feels like someone else and is
acting like it.?
Janice sighed.
?Oh, dear.?
?Speaking of which,?
Malcolm began, ?there?s
Tony?s van. I didn?t know he
was coming in today.?
?At least he didn?t come on
his motorbike.? Malcolm said
nothing but watched as
Dougie rushed to the door and
held it open for Tony.
?Good morning, Tony,? he
said, looking over at Janice
for approval.
Tony looked surprised.
?Morning, Dougie.? He
raised his two thumbs, but
Dougie shook his head.
?You?re not allowed to do
that.?
?Says who??
?Janice doesn?t like it,?
Dougie said in his gruff voice.
?It?s not good manners.?
Tony raised his eyebrows.
Today, instead of his leather
jacket, he was wearing a shirt
and jumper.
?That?s a matter of
opinion.? He walked across to
Janice and leaned his arms on
the counter. ?What?s going on,
Janice??
Janice lowered her voice.
?Today?s the judging for
Marsden Caf� Of The Year. I
thought I needed to make
some changes.?
?I see.? He turned and
looked at the customers.
There were certainly not as
many as there usually were on
a Saturday. ?And which one
do you think is the judge??
Janice propped her elbows
on the counter and put her
chin in her hands.
?I?ve no idea, but one thing
is for sure ? Woody?s won?t
be winning any awards this
year.?
Tony peered into the glass
cabinet at the scones. There
were still the same number
there as when they?d opened.
?Why do you say that,
Janice??
?I?m wondering if I might
have got it wrong. Got carried
away. It appears that no-one
wants to eat salads, quiches
and lasagnes. They don?t want
scones and dainty cups of tea.
They want a hearty breakfast
and something to wash it
down with.
?Woody?s isn?t about
creative food or fancy
tableware,? Janice finished.
?It?s the heart of the place that
makes it special.?
Tony nodded solemnly.
?I?ve been to many caf閟 in
Marsden and none have the
atmosphere of this one. When
people come here they feel
like they?re joining your
family. The bikers certainly
think so.?
Janice?s eyes filled with
tears and she thought of the
friendly crew she?d banned
for the day, just because they
wore leather jackets.
?It seems that everyone
knew that except for me.?
Erin was moving between
the tables with her trolley,
collecting plates.
As she watched her, Jan?s
heart gave a lurch. The girl
was like a daughter to her.
How could she have been so
callous as to expect her to
change her look? She loved
her just the way she was.
Lifting the flap of the
counter, she walked over to
her and put an arm around her
shoulders.
?I?m sorry, Erin.?
The girl raised her
eyebrows. She looked
younger without her make-up
and somehow, that made what
Janice had done seem even
worse.
?What?s the matter, Jan?
Have I done something
wrong??
Janice shook her head.
?If anyone?s to blame for
doing something wrong it?s
me, dear. I had no right to tell
you what you could and
couldn?t wear. You?re perfect
just the way you are and I
hope you?ll forgive me.?
?Of course I do.? Erin put
down the plate she was
holding and gave Janice a
hug. ?I understand why you
did it. The caf� is important to
you.?
?Not as important as all of
you,? Janice replied. As she
looked at the wonderful
people who made Woody?s so
special, a certainty came to
her. ?You know something,
Erin? I don?t care whether we
win Caf� Of The Year or not.?
Marching over to the first
empty table, she whisked the
cloth off.
?As far as I?m concerned,
we?ve always been winners.?
* * * *
The following week, Janice
was behind the counter frying
eggs and turning sausages on
the hotplate when Dougie
came in with his mother.
There was a newspaper in her
hand which she held out.
?Congratulations!? she said.
Dougie was grinning from
ear to ear.
?I did it right, Mum.?
?What are you talking
about??
Janice took the newspaper.
On the front page was a
photograph of her, Malcolm,
Erin and Dougie. They were
standing outside Woody?s and
it was one Tony Jackson had
taken of them for some flyers
they?d had made the previous
year.
Marsden Caf� Of The Year
was written above it.
She looked out at the busy
room, the customers tucking
into their bacon butties and
sausage, egg and beans. It was
back to how it had always
been, rather shabby and
functional, but that was how
everyone seemed to like it.
In the corner Tony
Jackson?s motorbike club
were discussing a rally they
were thinking of going on.
?But I don?t understand,?
she said, smoothing the paper
down with her hand.
?We won and it?s amazing!?
Erin was standing behind her,
restocking the freezer with
burgers.
She was dressed in her
usual black T-shirt and, when
she spoke, Janice saw the
flash of her tongue stud. The
girl looked happy again and
she was glad.
It was Malcolm?s turn to
clear the tables. As he passed
Dougie at the door, he gave
him a thumbs-up and a
beaming Dougie gave him
one in return.
When Malcolm reached the
bikers? table, he stopped his
trolley, and she could hear
their laughter as they shared a
joke. Janice smiled.
Everything was back to
normal and as it should be.
She watched as Tony
Jackson pushed back his chair.
He nodded to the others, then
picked up his black helmet.
He certainly was an imposing
figure in his leather jacket.
As he came towards her,
Janice saw he had a smile on
his face.
?I hear congratulations are
in order.?
?I?m thrilled, of course, but
I still can?t see how it
happened. The Saturday of the
judging was a disaster.?
Tony smiled.
?It?s not just about one day
? it?s about every day.? He
paid for his breakfast then
walked to the door. When he
got there, he turned and
winked at her. ?Whoever
made the decision must be
someone who knows Woody?s
very well. Somebody who
loves it just as much as you
do.?
She watched as Tony
walked to his motorbike and
swung his leg over it.
As he drove out of the
carpark, the engine roaring as
he turned on to the main road,
she remembered Erin?s words:
?Appearances can be
deceiving.?
Next time Tony Jackson
came into the caf�, she?d have
to ask him where he worked.
The newspaper was on the
counter in front of her. Janice
looked at the photograph Tony
had taken and then out of the
window.
She smiled to herself. No,
she wouldn?t need to ask him.
She already knew the answer.
The End.
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�
48
Music brings romance in this delightful
short story by Pamela Kavanagh.
Set in
1920
The Piano Fund
Illustration by Kirk Houston.
T
HE piano took centre stage in
the music shop window. A
stylish upright in rich
mahogany, bearing the noted
Chappell name, it was the
model of Abigail?s dreams.
Unlike their old piano at home, this
one had elegantly plain trusses and a
simple inlaid design on the front of the
cabinet. No barley-sugar twists or ornate
carving, hard to keep clean; no overdone
brass-work other than the pedals.
It did, however, sport fittings for
candle-holders, no bad thing in Abigail?s
view, since their north-facing parlour
was rather dark and the house only had
gaslight in the living-room.
Before she knew it Abigail was
entering the shop for a closer look, the
handkerchief hem of her dress flapping,
the heels of her strappy shoes tap-tapping
briskly.
?Good morning, madam. Can I help
you?? the middle-aged assistant
enquired.
Abigail gave him a smile that went
right to the depths of her deep-blue eyes.
?Good morning. You have a piano in
your window. I?d love to play it.?
?The Chappell? This is their new
model. Try it by all means ? providing
you do not object to sitting in the shop
window. We only have the one of this
type.?
?No objection at all,? Abigail replied,
and carefully threaded her way between
the display of musical instruments in the
wide window.
She sat down at the piano and played
the opening bars of a Chopin nocturne.
She was an accomplished pianist, and
assistants and browsing customers alike
paused to listen as the haunting phrases
drifted around the premises.
For Abigail, the piano more than met
expectations. Oh, how she longed to own
it!
She took a look at the price tag
discreetly tucked in behind the music
holder, and felt her spirits plummet. Two
hundred pounds! Pops would never agree
to spending that much when they had a
piano already. But then, darling Pops,
who worked as a banker on the high
street, had no ear for music. It was Mum
who had insisted their daughters should
learn to play.
While Marilyn and Josie had needed to
be cajoled into practising, Abigail had
Abigail longed to own
the lovely instrument,
but where would she
find the money?
had no such problems. Making music
was her world from the start.
?You like the piano??
Abigail looked up to find the assistant
at her side, and her piquant face under
the fringe of bobbed dark hair grew
wistful.
?I love it,? she told him. ?Thank you
for letting me play it.?
?It was my pleasure. Come any time,
madam. There is no obligation to
purchase. It is Willow Brothers? policy
that the instrument suits the individual.
These decisions must not be hurried.?
Abigail murmured a response and left
the shop.
The assistant watched the slender
pink-clad figure with the matching
cloche hat walk lithely off. He was of the
impression that she would be back.
* * * *
?I?ll speak to your father, but I
wouldn?t hold out any hope,? Abigail?s
mother said.
Abigail sighed.
?I suppose it is a lot to ask.?
Her younger sister, Marilyn, looked up
from reading her periodical.
?If I wanted something as badly as you
evidently do, Abigail, I?d sell everything
I had to get it.?
?But I don?t have anything of value!
There?s my legacy, of course.? Each
sister had received a princely �0
pounds on the demise of their
grandmother. ?That only covers half the
cost.?
?Then you?ll have to earn the rest,? big
sister Josie put in above the rattle of the
sewing machine on which she was
making her wedding dress.
Unlike her sisters, dreamy, musicloving Abigail had no ambitions to work
in a shop or office. She was content to
stay at home and help her mother in the
house and garden, an arrangement that
had worked well so far.
?What could I do?? she wondered,
frowning.
?Easy.? Josie stopped treadling and
snipped off the thread. ?You give piano
lessons. There should be plenty of
mamas around here wanting their
children to learn.?
Abigail considered the idea.
?I think I?d enjoy that,? she said
thoughtfully.
?I?ll put a notice in our window,?
Marilyn, who worked in the corner shop,
offered.
Her mother added a note of caution.
?First let?s see what Pops thinks on the
matter.?
Mr Carson raised no objections and the
advertisement went in. Enquiries poured
in, and Abigail?s appointment book filled
up. Lessons were held when they could
be fitted in, which was generally after
school hours and Saturday.
Abigail obtained her pupils? music
from Willow Brothers, and each time she
called in she gave the piano another try.
Its magic did not pall and she would
walk home dreaming of the day when the
Chappell would be hers.
On her birthday in May, Pops
presented her with a gift of cash.
?Towards the piano fund. Happy
birthday, darling,? he said with amused
affection.
He had opened an account for Abigail
at his bank and was proud to see how
diligently her earnings were submitted.
The fund was not growing quickly
enough for Abigail, however. What if
someone else bought the piano before
she reached her goal? It was her worst
nightmare.
* * * *
One afternoon, Abigail was seeing a
young pupil out when a tall figure
appeared at the front gate.
He raised his hat in greeting.
?Miss Carson? Good day to you. My
name is Edward Fairfax. I?m with the
firm of solicitors in town.?
?Fairfax and Son? You?re the son??
He made a comical face.
?Third generation, actually.
Grandfather talks of retiring, but that?s
all it amounts to. Until then, I?m the
junior member of the team. Miss Carson,
I believe you teach the pianoforte??
?Yes, I do.?
Abigail thought he looked young to
want lessons for a family, but then,
appearances could be deceptive.
49
She smiled encouragingly.
?You wish to book lessons? I teach all
ages, from five upwards.?
?Um, may I ask how far the upwards
might extend??
?Well, my oldest pupil is fourteen and
very enthusiastic. Would that they were
all the same!?
?I can assure you that this pupil would
be most conscientious in that respect.?
?Oh??
?I want the lessons for myself.?
Abigail blinked in surprise. Teaching
children was one thing; this was quite
another.
?I see,? she said slowly.
?I?ve wanted to play the pianoforte
ever since I was a boy. My sisters all
learned, but it wasn?t considered a
necessary accomplishment for the son of
the house.?
?That?s a shame. Being able to play a
musical instrument is an asset whatever
the gender.?
?I couldn?t agree more.? He paused.
?Will you agree to teaching me??
Abigail looked into the steady greygreen eyes and saw longing there. She
knew all about longing.
She shook off a mental picture of a
gleaming upright piano, her mind racing.
She prided herself on being a typical
Twenties miss, and Mum and Pops were
reasonably modern thinking, but would
their feelings stretch to having this
personable young stranger cloistered on a
regular basis in the front room with their
daughter?
?I should point out that I don?t follow
an examination syllabus. I focus on
playing for enjoyment,? she told him.
?That is fine by me, Miss Carson. I
should be delighted to be taught by your
good self.?
Put like that, how could she refuse?
As Abigail had feared, Mum expressed
doubts and Pops was downright against
the idea. Josie and Marilyn, however,
had no such qualms.
?I don?t know what all the fuss is
about. Mr Fairfax sounds perfectly
respectable,? Marilyn said.
?But we know nothing about him,?
Mum argued.
?Could be anyone,? Pops added.
?Pops, darling, this is 1920, not 1820.
He?s the son of the solicitor on Temple
Street. What more do you want?? Josie
added.
?He was genuinely eager to learn,
Pops,? Abigail put in. ?It?s made me
wonder if teaching adults might be the
way forward.?
Pops frowned.
?How do you make that out??
?Mr Fairfax will put the practice in,
while children usually have to be made
to practise. Some will get fed up, no
doubt, and then the lessons will stop.
This way, I?d be sure of regular income,
do you see??
It was a good point and Pops,
appreciating the business side of the
argument, gave a shrug.
?Oh, as you wish. Have you a contact
address for the young man??
?I have,? Abigail said, beaming. ?He
has taken rooms in Lombard Street. I?m
to write to him there for confirmation.?
Lombard Street was in a residential
area close to the park and Mum?s face
cleared. Anybody living there had to be
of good character.
Josie and Marilyn exchanged a smile,
plainly both regarding the situation the
same way. It was high time their middle
sister found herself a nice young man,
and if music was a shared interest, so
much the better.
The letter was written and a reply came
by return of post. Edward Fairfax wanted
lessons twice weekly, every Monday and
Friday evening.
Abigail could not be more pleased.
* * * *
Her new pupil made rapid progress and
by mid August Edward had mastered his
scales and arpeggios, was proving adept
at sight-reading and was working his
way through the music books with
astonishing ease.
?You have a natural talent for this,?
Abigail told him as she produced a more
advanced book of pieces for her star
pupil.
She had taken on other mature
students: a pair of spinster sisters who
were endearingly set on outdoing each
other at learning to play, and an earnest
young office clerk whom Abigail felt was
tone deaf, since he seemed incapable of
differentiating one note from another.
Edward and the three girls were now
on Christian-name terms and Mum, won
over by his charm, was providing
refreshments after the lessons.
Even Pops, following some lengthy
discussions on matters of finance, had
come round to thinking that Edward was
not such a bad fellow after all.
Pops was less pleased, however, about
Edward?s views on married women in
the workplace. In Pops?s view, once the
knot was tied a woman?s place was in the
home.
Josie objected. She adored her
husband-to-be, loved the small flat that
was to be their home and could not wait
for the exciting transition from Miss to
Mrs. But the prospect of leaving her
secretarial post in the dusty little office at
the printer?s on West Street brought
mixed feelings.
?I think Edward is right,? she told her
father stoutly. ?It?s dreadful that a girl
should be forced to leave her
employment upon getting married. I
shall miss my colleagues dearly ?
50
even grumpy Mr
Humphreys.?
?I?m of the same mind,?
Marilyn said. ?I?d hate to
have to give up my job at the
corner shop.?
She looked at Abigail.
?What do you think,
Abigail??
?Oh, you know me. As long
as I have my music, I?m
happy.?
Or was she? Time spent
with Edward had become
could she? That would be
letting her pupils down.
So she carried on, but
without the pull of her goal it
was not quite the same.
?You?re quiet,? Edward
commented. ?Is anything
wrong??
Abigail made no reply. She
had never told him about her
piano fund. He might have
laughed, or thought her na飗e.
Instead, she turned to a new
piece in the book.
The assistant in the music shop
gave her dreadful news
something to look forward to.
He was good company and
she was pleased when he paid
her a passing compliment on a
new dress or change of
hairstyle. She had started
taking extra care with her
appearance on these
occasions.
One Sunday she had
bumped into him in the park.
The band had been playing
and they had sat and listened
to a music hall medley
together. He had suggested
meeting up again.
This time he had treated her
to a delicious cream tea at the
riverside caf�, during which
time they had talked and
talked. Since then it had
become a regular thing
through the summer and
autumn, meeting in the park
and chatting over tea. Edward
was very nice . . .
Abigail firmly returned her
thoughts to her main
objective. The piano.
Then, one dark day in
December, she called at
Willows Brothers for music
and found that the piano had
gone!
?I?m afraid it has been
sold,? the assistant said.
Abigail swallowed hard.
?Will you be having any
more?? she asked, her hopes
sinking when he shook his
head.
?Not immediately. I?m
sorry.?
Abigail thanked him and
left the shop, her world in
ruins.
How foolish to have
expected the piano to remain
unsold while she saved up. It
would have taken ages on her
lowly earnings.
What now? She felt like
giving up the lessons, but how
?Shall we try the Mozart??
?By all means. That reminds
me, there?s a Mozart ensemble
playing at the town hall next
Saturday. Would you care to
accompany me??
Abigail hesitated. Listen to
some fortunate person playing
the sort of piano she would
never own? Could she bear it?
Then again, with her
Saturday lessons over for the
day, the evenings stretched
ahead endlessly.
It was not this that swayed
her in the end, but the look in
Edward?s eyes. Apprehension
was there; perhaps fear of
rejection?
?I?d love to,? she replied.
* * * *
The concert was a turning
point, marking the start of a
serious courtship.
?Who would have thought
it?? Marilyn said to Josie.
?Our Abigail, walking out
with someone. You wed and
Abigail heading that way. It
will be me next.?
?Have you anyone in
mind??
?I might have,? Marilyn
said impishly.
The family waited with
bated breath for Edward to
ask the question. It came one
day in April, the sky filled
with puffball clouds and the
air in the park sweet with the
fragrance of flowers.
Edward drew Abigail to a
halt under the shelter of a
budding chestnut tree.
?Abigail, I have news,? he
said simply. ?My grandfather
is retiring from the firm and,
with my father now in charge,
I have been promoted. I am
now the ?Son? in Fairfax and
Son, and financially am now
in a position to support a wife.
Darling Miss Piano Fingers,
will you marry me??
Abigail had been giving the
matter of Edward serious
contemplation. She had
concluded that, raw though
her feelings had been over the
lost piano, life without
Edward would be unbearable.
?Of course I will!? she said,
whooping as he grasped her
tightly and swung her round
in joy, which brought a round
of affronted quacking from
the ducks on the lake.
Edward set her down on her
feet.
?Just one thing, my love.?
?Yes??
?It?s to do with the
engagement ring. There was a
problem with it fitting your
finger.?
?Oh.? Abigail tried not to let
her disappointment show.
?Perhaps it could be changed
for another??
?Most certainly.? He smiled
down at her. ?Well, then, shall
we go and tell your folks the
glad tidings? Rest assured, I
have already cleared things
with your papa.?
An air of excitement filled
the living-room when the
couple walked in through the
door. Everyone was there ?
Mum, Pops, Marilyn, and
Josie with her new husband.
A delighted cheer went up
when Edward made the
problem with it fitting your
finger,? Edward said. ?Darling
Miss Piano Fingers, please
accept this engagement bond
from me. I thought you might
prefer it to a ring. Of course,
if you?d rather a more
conventional symbol . . .?
?Never!? Abigail couldn?t
contain her joy.?Thank you
seems inadequate. Edward,
how did you know??
?It wasn?t difficult. Word
had got around of this lovely
young pianist in the music
shop. Then you turned up,
giving lessons, and I put two
and two together. I knew from
the start you were the one for
me, and as time passed it
seemed I might be lucky.
?I was afraid the Chappell
might be sold before I could
pop the question, so I took a
chance and bought it. It?s been
under wraps in the shop store
room ever since.?
Abigail waggled a reproving
finger.
?No mention of my piano
fund? Not even the teeniest
whisper??
?Um, a little bird may have
chirruped something. Don?t be
cross. I needed to be sure I
was on the right track.?
He drew her to him, kissing
her.
?Keep your pennies,
sweetheart. Put them towards
furnishing the home we?ll
Abigail conceded that life without
Edward would be unbearable
announcement, and Abigail,
rather feeling the lack of a
sparkling diamond to show,
submitted to being hugged
and kissed by her family.
?This calls for a celebratory
toast,? Pops said.
?Not in here,? Mum
declared. ?We shall do this
properly and go in the front
room. I?ve lit the fire. Get
along, you two, and we?ll
follow shortly.?
In a whirl, glad of Edward?s
arm around her, Abigail was
ushered forwards. In the
doorway she stopped, unable
to believe her eyes.
Where their old piano had
stood was the gleaming,
streamlined form of the
Chappell.
?Oh!? She gasped. ?Oh, my
goodness.?
?I did tell you there was a
have together. And one day,
you shall have that diamond
ring, too.?
Behind them there was the
loud pop of champagne being
broached and suddenly the
room was full of people,
smiling and talking. Glasses
were raised in toast, and
afterwards Abigail was made
to sit down at her piano and
play.
Drifting on the magic of a
favourite Chopin nocturne, yet
still aware of Edward?s warm
presence at her side, Abigail
had a vivid mental picture of
her first sight of the Chappell
in Willow Brothers? window.
If anyone had told her then
that this was to be her road to
romance, she would never
have believed them.
The End.
The
CRAFT 51
Finishing Touch
Add a final decorative frill
to your party cake.
INTERMEDIATE
52
You Will Need
l Gingham fabric measuring 61 cm x 10 cm (24 ins x 4 ins)
l 115 cm (45 ins) length of 2.5 cm wide ribbon
l 122 cm (48 ins) length of 2.5 cm wide broderie anglaise trim
l Fusible adhesive sheet measuring 30 cm x 30 cm (12 ins x 12 ins)
l Assortment of fabrics for appliqu� in red stripe, green spot, blue spot
and yellow each measuring 15 cm x 15 cm (6 ins x 6 ins)
l Tear-away stabiliser measuring 61 cm x 10 cm (24 ins x 4 ins)
l Laminated cotton measuring 61 cm x 10 cm (24 ins x 4 ins)
l 7 small beads
?
Tools
Template actual size
TO MAKE
l Fabric scissors
l Ruler
l Sewing machine
l Iron
l Erasable marking pen (water or air soluble)
l Sewing needles including a fine or beading needle
4 Place the tear-away
1 Measure and
stabiliser behind the
cupcakes and
free-motion embroider
around each cupcake
and over your drawn
lines.
mark 5 cm (2 ins)
in from each end
of the gingham
fabric strip. Place
the ribbon centrally
over the top, and
sew all the way
around the inside
edge of the ribbon
to form a box
shape with your
stitches, in
between the marks
you?ve made.
5 With the trimmings
and ribbon facing
inwards, place the
laminated backing and
the gingham piece
right sides together.
Turn back the ends of
the broderie anglaise
trim so you don?t sew
them into the ends of
the frill. Sew all the
way round, leaving a
turning gap of about
7.5 cm (3 ins) in one
long side. Snip the
corners, turn right side
out and top-stitch all
the way round.
Hand sew a small
bead to the top of
each cake.
2 Cut the broderie
anglaise trim in
half, and sew each
piece facing
inwards to a long
edge of the
gingham piece.
3 Iron your fusible
adhesive to the
wrong side of the
coloured fabrics.
Trace around the
cupcake template
on to the paper
backing of your
fusible sheet to
create seven
cupcakes. Cut them
out, remove the
paper backing and
iron them centrally
over the ribbon in
the middle of the
gingham fabric.
Draw swirly lines
over the icing and
pleats over the
cups with your
erasable ink pen.
Before
you begin,
remember to
iron your fabric
to make sure it
is completely
smooth.
Reader Offer
This appliqu� project is taken from the book ?Half Yard
Vintage? by Debbie Shore published by Search Press, ISBN
9781782214588. It costs �99 and is available from all
good bookshops. To order, with free p&p?, visit www.
searchpress.com and quote SP3857 or
telephone 01892 510850 quoting ?The
People?s Friend Offer?. Alternatively, send
a cheque (made payable to Search Press
Ltd.) to: The People?s Friend/Half Yard
Vintage Offer, Search Press Ltd.,
Wellwood, North Farm Road, Tunbridge
Wells, Kent TN2 3DR.
The closing date for this offer is
December 31, 2017.
?
UK only. Overseas customers please
contact Search Press direct for postage
details.
Go Nuts For Choc
Chocolate nut butter is the perfect ingredient in these tempting autumn snacks recipes.
Chocolate
Peanut
Butter Sauce
with Churros
Serves: 10 Takes: 20 minutes
Skill level: medium
Ingredients
l � tsp vanilla extract
l 25 g (1 oz) butter, melted
l 125 g (4� oz) plain flour
l � tsp baking powder
l Pinch of salt
l Oil for frying
l 2 tsp cinnamon
l 2 tbs sugar
For the Sauce:
l 3 tbs Meridian Cocoa &
Peanut Butter
l 80 ml (2� fl oz) milk, warm
l 1-2 tsp Meridian Pure
Blossom Honey
Method
1 First, make the sauce. Combine
the Cocoa & Peanut Butter, the
warm milk and enough honey to
suit your taste. Mix until you have a
smooth sauce then set aside.
2 Mix together 175 ml (6 fl oz) of
just boiled water with the vanilla
and the melted butter.
3 In a mixing bowl, combine the
flour, baking powder and a pinch
of salt. Make a well in the centre
and pour in the liquid, mixing until
you have a smooth, thick batter.
Rest for 10 minutes.
4 Heat a deep, thick-based
saucepan, half full of oil. Put the
churros batter into a piping bag
with a large star-shaped nozzle.
Combine the cinnamon and sugar
on a large plate and set aside.
5 When the oil is hot, carefully
pipe 10-15 cm (4-6 in) lengths of
batter into the pan, using scissors
to snip them off. Cook 4-5 at a
time depending on the size of the
pan.
6 Fry for 3 to 4 minutes until the
churros are well browned and
cooked through. Use a metal
slotted spoon to take them out of
the oil and drain for a few seconds
on kitchen roll before transferring
to the cinnamon sugar plate. Roll
in the sugar and keep warm while
you cook the rest.
7 Serve the warm churros with
the chocolate sauce.
Recipes and images courtesy of Meridian Foods. For more information and recipes, please visit www.meridianfoods.co.uk.
ocolate
COOKERY 55
Warm the
Cocoa & Peanut
Butter gently in
the microwave
for a few seconds
for easier
spreading.
Chocolate Peanut
Butter Twists
Serves: 8 Takes: 25 minutes Skill level: easy
Ingredients
l 1 pack ready rolled
puff pastry
l 4 tbs Meridian Cocoa
& Peanut Butter
l 1 egg, beaten
l 2 tsp sugar
To Serve: icing sugar
Method
1 Heat oven to 200 deg. C.,
400 deg. F., Gas Mark 6.
2 Roll out the pastry
lengthways till it?s 3-4 mm
(about 1/8 in) thick.
pastry closest to you,
fold the top half down to
sandwich the chocolate in
the middle.
4 Cut the pastry, top to
bottom, into eight equal
strips and transfer to a
non-stick baking tray,
twisting several times
before you lay them down.
Press the ends down on
to the tray so they don?t
unravel.
5 Brush the top of each
twist with the egg then
sprinkle with a little sugar.
3 Carefully spread the Cocoa Bake for 18 to 20 minutes
until they are golden and
& Peanut Butter all over the
puffed up. Sprinkle with a
pastry, right to the edges.
little icing sugar to serve.
With the short edge of the
Chocolate Hazelnut
Butter Mug Cake
Serves: 1 Takes: 7 minutes Skill level: easy
Ingredients
l 2 tbs butter
l 3 tbs Meridian Cocoa
& Hazelnut Butter
l 1 egg
l 2 tbs sugar
l 3 tbs self-raising flour
l Good pinch baking
powder
l Cr鑝e fra頲he to serve
Method
1 Melt the butter in the
microwave then mix in the
Cocoa & Hazelnut Butter.
2 In a large mug beat
the egg with a fork then
mix in the sugar until well
combined. Mix in the flour
and baking powder then mix
in the butter mixture.
3 When everything is well
combined and smooth,
microwave for 1�-2
minutes, until cooked and
risen.
4 Allow to cool for a minute
or two and serve drizzled
with cr鑝e fra頲he.
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.
56
Chocolate
Hazelnut Bites
Serves: 8-10 Takes: 5 minutes plus chilling
Skill level: easy
Ingredients
l 1 tbs coconut oil, melted
l 3 tbs Meridian Hazelnut Butter
l 50 g (1� oz) vegan chocolate
l A sprinkle of Maldon salt (optional)
Method
1 Combine the coconut oil and Hazelnut
Butter well and put in the freezer to firm up.
2 Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool a
little. If the chocolate is too warm when you
dip the bites it will melt the Hazelnut Butter,
so make sure it?s quite cool and gently
reheat if it gets too stiff.
3 When the hazelnut mixture has set, use
two teaspoons to mould rough balls then dip
them in the melted chocolate. Add a flake or
two of Maldon salt, if using.
4 Return to the freezer.
Gluten Free,
Dairy Free,
Vegan
Hazelnut
Hot
Chocolate
Serves: 2 Takes: 5 minutes
Skill level: easy
Ingredients
l 400 ml (14 fl oz) milk
l 3 tbs Meridian Cocoa &
Hazelnut Butter
Method
1 Heat the milk in a small
saucepan until steaming but not
boiling.
2 Take off the heat and stir in the
Cocoa & Hazelnut Butter until it?s
all melted and the drink is smooth.
3 Divide between two cups.
57
This engaging short story
by Em Barnard is set on the
Welsh island of Anglesey.
Patterns
In The
Sand
Maureen?s plans to move here depended
on one recalcitrant male . . .
Illustration by Martin Baines.
M
AUREEN had stepped
on to the flawless sand of
this quiet stretch of
Anglesey coastline in the
rising mist of the early
morning. Already a watery sun was
spilling diamonds over the rippling sea in
promise of another beautiful day.
It gave her the peace she needed to
reflect on whether to move here or not.
Her family would be closer, living in
Snowdonia. But there was that stroppy
male in her life who could well walk out
on her if he didn?t like his new
surroundings.
Now, drawing back from her thoughts,
she looked back, her footprints stretching
into the distance.
As the day moved on, other footsteps
would criss-cross hers, for that was the
pattern of life. Maybe some would meet
up and take a new path, as had happened
when she?d met her husband on another
shore.
She fingered the pendant under her
blouse. It had been a present from her
sister after her faith had faltered when
he?d died a year ago.
It was inscribed with the ?Footprints In
The Sand? poem and she?d drawn
comfort from it ever since. Even when
the second constant in her life had died
two months later ? little Betty-cat.
She heard a cat yowl. It came from
over the dunes.
She climbed the shifting sands
between the hillocks of marram grass to
the rise where, unseen from below, a
dotting of whitewashed cottages, each
sitting in its own patch, spread along a
sandy road.
A woman her age was feeding grain to
a few hens in the first stone-walled
garden.
?Good morning,? Maureen said
brightly, walking over.
?And to you. Walked along the sand
from the village, have you??
?Yes,? Maureen replied, surprised to
notice a For Sale sign at the gate of the
next cottage along.
?On holiday??
Maureen turned to the woman.
?I?m staying at the Cliff Hotel.?
?Just be careful along the shore,? the
woman warned. ?The mist can come
down faster than Newton?s apple.?
?Is there a bus route at the end of this
lane??
?We were cut off about twelve years
ago. Either you walk along the road or
shore, or own a car. We all help each
other out.? She tipped the remaining
grain from the dish. ?Are you interested
in the cottage??
?Maybe. I?m Maureen.?
?Janet. I?ve just made my morning
cuppa. Come in, I?ll tell you about our
little community.?
The kitchen, feminine and floral
dressed, was warmed by an Aga.
?Oh, would this be the little cat I heard
just now?? Maureen went over to stroke
the animal sprawled on a cushioned
window seat.
Janet looked up from pouring tea.
?No, that would be Percy from further
down. Amber?s been back for the best
part of an hour. Sit down.?
As Maureen did so, Amber opened her
golden eyes and looked up, purring.
?I have a cat. He?s back home with a
neighbour at present,? Maureen told
Janet.
?When I phoned this morning she said
he?d been yowling death threats at her
because she won?t open my cat flap so he
can curl up on my bed all day. But I
daren?t leave it open while I?m away.
She has Bolshie?s proper bed in her own
kitchen.?
?That his name??
Maureen nodded.
?He?s a large invincible tabby. He
dashed in early one morning nine years
ago when I went out to the bins,? she
explained. ?When I tried to shoo him
away, he jumped on the worktop and
hunkered down with a rebellious eye on
me. I told him he couldn?t stay because I
already had a cat.
?Then I made the mistake of pointing
Betty-cat out, waiting for her breakfast.
She was a timid little thing who never set
a paw over the garden wall.
?She took one look at Bolshie and fled
back to her basket. He took a leap and
landed four feet over her and ?? Maureen
paused ?? I was sure he was going to kill
her.?
Janet came closer, mugs in hand.
?So what happened?? she asked.
Maureen took the proffered mug.
?He began grooming her. It was like he
was asking her if he could stay. And she
gave her answer by allowing him to do
so. They were firm friends from then
on.? She smiled. ?I tried to find out who
he belonged to, but no-one ever came for
him.?
?Amber?s a night cat. Out at dusk,
back at dawn.? Janet took a seat at the
table nearby.
?Bolshie?s a night rover, too. But
however much he yowled at Betty to go
with him, she never would.?
Both women smiled down at
Amber as they sipped their tea.
58
Twilight Charm
T
HE leaves are turning on the bough;
We?re stepping into autumn now.
Burnished colours dress the scene
In ochre, russet and tangerine.
A stroll on through the crunchy leaves
Where chestnut fruit, the conker, cleaves,
Hallowe?en sharpens her witches? claws
And pumpkins glow in the dark outdoors.
Snapping twigs and woodsmoke trace,
All is mellowed, charm and grace.
A glorious sunset we behold
Of these autumn hours, signed in gold.
iStock.
? Dorothy McGregor.
?Did you say just the one
cat was with your
neighbour?? Janet asked
tentatively.
?Betty died last year.?
?Oh, I?m sorry,? Janet said
with feeling.
?She was nineteen. My
husband died just before her
and now I?m wondering
whether our dream to retire
here one day could still work
for me.
?We stayed at the Cliff
Hotel on our honeymoon.?
Maureen gazed out of the
window at the paradise view
of blue sea and green tufted
dunes.
?I?m a widow,? Janet told
her. ?My husband and I
moved into this cottage after
we married. He ran a taxi
service. We thought this a
beautiful spot. I?d never move
away.?
?I know it?s silly, but I
worry about Bolshie taking
off again if I move here,?
Maureen replied. ?I?m not
sure how he?d take to moving
from his patch.?
?We have other cats in the
cottages up the lane. They all
seem to get on well. None
have wandered off,? Janet
replied.
Maureen fingered her
pendant under her blouse. She
wondered if Percy?s yowling
call, leading her to find a
cottage for sale, was the sign
she needed.
* * * *
?He was so quick! He just
slipped through my legs and
was gone,? Maureen said to
Janet from her own cushioned
window-seat.
She had bought the
attractive little cottage after
all. It was almost midnight,
dark and moonless.
Both had called Bolshie
through the open window till
it tired them, and now Janet
was making more tea for their
dry throats.
?Well, he?d been yowling
and fighting you for his
freedom for the best part of a
week. You couldn?t have kept
him in any longer.?
?What if he?s left for good;
gone to find another home?
That?s how he came to me.?
?He?s only been gone since
breakfast,? her friend
reminded her.
?But he?s not a day cat,?
Maureen reminded her.
?He?s probably checking
his new surroundings. Here,
drink this and I?ll keep you
company. I don?t want you
wandering off, too,? Janet
said, smiling.
* * * *
It was daybreak when
Maureen woke with a start,
feeling cold. The window was
still open.
Janet was quietly snoring in
a chair by the Aga.
Maureen smiled, glad of
her friendship.
Her eyes darted to Bolshie?s
empty basket and her stomach
lurched again.
She went silently to the
back door. Unhitching a
jacket and changing slippers
for shoes, she switched the
light off and left.
It was like standing on the
edge of the world, with the
mist shrouded around her.
She heard a car rev way
down the lane. The distant
whisper of the sea gave her
direction.
She stumbled down the
dunes, feet sinking and
sliding in the shifting sands,
suddenly feeling the harder
sand of the shoreline jolt
through her foot.
She called Bolshie again as
she walked on, hearing the
hiss and ripple of the sea, but
not seeing it until it lapped
over her toes.
She sprang back, shivering,
the mist damp on her hair and
face and her clothes clammy.
?Bolshie, where are you!?
she cried, fearful he might
have drowned or left her for a
new home.
She suddenly realised she
had no idea of her own way
home. She stepped forward
tentatively, watching where
she placed her feet in case she
stepped into the sea again.
Then, crossing her path, she
spied two sets of paw prints.
She bent down to touch them,
and was relieved by their
reality.
She walked beside them,
hoping they?d lead her to
safety.
Within a minute she was on
the dunes, and heard Janet
calling her. She was relieved
to see her friend hurrying her
way.
?I went searching for
Bolshie,? Maureen explained.
?You don?t say! Well, you
just come with me.? Janet
held Maureen?s arm.
At Maureen?s kitchen door
Janet put a finger to her lips.
Creeping in, Janet pointed
to the window seat. Amber
was sprawled out, and beside
her, with a paw resting on her
neck, Bolshie reclined
contentedly.
Maureen put a hand over
her mouth to control a sound
between joy and relief.
?I think your Bolshie?s
found a new girlfriend,? Janet
murmured.
?And, more importantly,?
Maureen replied, ?a new
home!?
The End.
59
This charming short story by Valerie Bowes is set in a
seaside hotel.
Got Your
Number
Why are teenagers fixed permanently to
their mobiles? They miss so much!
E
VERYONE?S
looking at me.
They?re all staring,
I know they are.
Especially the boy
on table seven.
Why did we have to come
to this hotel? It?s boring.
Everyone will say I?m
pathetic, coming away with
my parents, even if it is for
my cousin?s wedding.
It?s not as if I?ve seen Lynne
for years. Not since we were
about eight.
At least I?ve got my phone.
I?ll text Julie ? then I don?t
have to talk to anyone or see
them looking at me.
* * * *
There are a lot of guests
having breakfast today. And a
very nice breakfast it is. I love
fresh fruit and yoghurt before
my bacon and eggs, but these
days I can?t be bothered to cut
it all up just for me.
Patrick loved it. He?d have
enjoyed the scrambled egg
and smoked salmon I had
yesterday, too. I didn?t need to
eat anything for lunch.
Ah, here?s the waitress with
my tea.
?Good morning! Isn?t it a
lovely day??
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
* * * *
OMG! I looked up from my
phone and that boy was
staring right at me!
I bet he thinks my family?s
lame. I wish my mum was
eating something like fruit and
yoghurt, like the lady on the
next table. Cornflakes! Oh,
she?s so embarrassing!
Why does Shona have to
laugh so loud? And there?s
Dad, chatting up the waitress
like he?s James Bond.
Breakfast is so square. But
they?ll create a scene if I don?t
eat something, and that boy?ll
see. What shall I do?
I?ll look at my phone. Then
he?ll think I?ve got lots of
messages and I?m too busy to
bother with anyone.
* * * *
What?s the matter with
people today? That girl hasn?t
taken her nose out of her
phone since they sat down!
They look like a family:
Mum and Dad, and two
sisters. The older one and the
parents are chatting away, but
the younger girl ? Claire, I
think they called her ? hasn?t
said a word. Too busy texting.
I can?t understand it. When
you?ve got someone there
beside you to talk to, why talk
to a phone? Or, even worse,
just type out words so you
can?t even hear their voice?
Oh, Patrick! I wish you
were here to talk to me!
* * * *
I wish I was like that lady
on the next table. No-one
thinks she?s lame. She?s so
cool, just sitting there, all on
her own, like she?s in her own
house or something.
She?s not eating cornflakes.
She?s not bothered about
people looking at her.
OMG, he?s looking this way
again!
Quick, text Julie. Only I?d
better not, or she?ll think I
haven?t got any other friends.
* * * *
I heard them talking about a
wedding they?re going to on
Saturday, so I know they?re
only here for another day or
so. But if she?d only look up,
that nice-looking boy on table
seven is very interested.
Still, maybe it?s her
boyfriend she?s so intent on
messaging. I know I thought
about Patrick all the time
when I had to go to Suffolk
with my parents, and I?d only
just met him. I was seventeen,
a few years older than Claire
looks to be, but I still
remember how it felt.
No mobiles in those days,
of course. My mother
wouldn?t have let me bring a
book to the table, let alone a
phone, and I was too
embarrassed to ask the hotel
receptionist if I could phone
from the desk.
But we survived, didn?t we,
Patrick? I wonder if the
present generation?s
relationships, for all their
modern technology, will last
like we did?
* * * *
I?ll have tea. Or maybe
coffee ? tea?s so nerdy.
Although he?s having tea, I
think. Yes, his mum?s just
poured it. Actually, I don?t
like coffee all that much
unless I have lots of sugar in
it. Then I?ll pile on the pounds
and Julie will call me fat.
What shall I do? I?ll check
the weather. Not that it
matters. We?ll only walk
along the prom and look
round the town ? as if there?s
anything interesting in a little
seaside place like this.
Julie said she was going to
London this weekend. Why
couldn?t I go to London
instead of this wedding?
Boring!
I just hope no-one at school
asks me what I was doing.
* * * *
I don?t think Claire has a
boyfriend. Her sister?s just
squinted down at her phone
and asked in weary tones if
she?s ever going to stop
texting Julie.
She went bright red and
flashed a quick glance across
at table seven. I think she?s
more interested in that boy
than she?s letting on.
I was the same when I first
saw Patrick. Too shy to make
the first move. Not that girls
did, in my young day, but all
the same . . .
* * * *
That lady?s leaving. I bet
she?s going to do something
more interesting than walking
down the prom. I bet that boy
is, too. And I bet he doesn?t
have to do whatever his mum
and dad are doing.
OMG, she?s stopping to talk
to him. And he?s looking over
here and smiling. I knew it!
They?re all laughing at me.
Quick, text Julie.
* * * *
?Her name?s Claire. She?s
going to be walking down the
prom in about half an hour. I
think she?d be pleased if you
bumped into her, say, round
about the Ferris Wheel??
* * * *
Hi, Jules. U never believe
where I was this a.m.! On a
Ferris Wheel! Kyle says it?s
his fave spot. Can?t stop.
See u soon. C.
The End.
Harvest In
Siddington
Neil McAllister meets the man
adding artistic flair to his local
Harvest Festival.
Factfile
n Two local men who
tried to prevent a font
being installed in 1792
were threated with
excommunication. It was
later sold for 10 shillings.
n Two small windows
near the altar are thought
to be Leper Windows.
Outside those, people
afflicted could take part in
worship.
n Each year the church
organises Redesmere Fete
in the summer, a country
fair which draws
hundreds of visitors.
n Six volumes of
?Countrywise?, Ray Rush?s
recollections of country
life, are available from
Churnet Valley Books.
n Siddington lies on the
A34 between Wilmslow
and Congleton. It is
10 miles from J18 of the
M6 (Holmes Chapel) via
Withington. For satnavs,
use the postcode SK11
9JP. The nearest railway
stations are Wilmslow
and Congleton.
Photographs by Neil McAllister.
All Saints
Church in
the 1860s.
Corn dolly
decorating a
light chandelier.
T
HROUGHOUT the
world, harvest is a
time for celebration,
regardless of faith,
when the
community gives thanks for
that year?s bounty, with a
hope that winter will not be
too harsh and next year will
be equally fruitful.
Many celebrations involve
creating seasonal
decorations, as well as
worship. Each year a small
Cheshire church draws
visitors from great distances
to witness its own festivities.
When we were building
our new house, we drove
down the A34 past
Capesthorne Hall twice a
day, when, whilst counting
pheasants, Hazel would
always comment about how
pretty the little black and
white church is.
Despite its appearance,
Siddington?s place of
worship isn?t timber-framed.
The black and white pattern
is painted.
In the early 1950s
Raymond Rush, a Norfolk
agricultural engineer turned
farmer, made his home with
new wife Hazel in
Siddington, next to the
churchyard.
Around the same time he
was sent a spiral-shaped
spirit of fertility as a gift from
East Anglia. Since ancient
times, farmers reaping their
fields believed that the spirit
would take refuge in the last
few standing stalks, which
could then be twisted
together into a home for the
winter.
Protected from the
elements in the farmhouse
this would keep the spirit in
a place of honour until it
could be released in spring,
when new grain was sown.
Ray was so fascinated by
the spiral shape that for a
fortnight he tried to make
one himself, without
success, until he had a
eureka moment.
?It had been made by a
left-handed person, and the
spiral goes against what is
natural to someone right
handed,? he recollected.
Ray?s face will be familiar
to readers in Staffordshire,
Cheshire and Lancashire as
he regularly appeared on
?Look North West?, although
his media career preceded
his television appearances.
He made regular
broadcasts about country
affairs on BBC Radio Stoke,
but once, when doing a
radio broadcast with Jack de
Manio in Manchester, he
turned up wearing a smock
and old hat, carrying a sheaf
of corn, which brought him
to the attention of the TV
people.
Once Ray caught the corn
dolly bug, it wasn?t long
before his creations were
used to decorate the church
ready for Harvest Festival.
Each year, he created new
decorations in his little
workshop a matter of yards
below the church, until
more than half a century
later over 1,000 filled the
church.
Until recent years, Ray
single-handedly unpacked
his creations and hung each
one up himself, but in his
eighties, he now accepts
help with this epic task.
?Originally it took forty
hours on my own, but when
I accepted help it took
sixty!? He laughed.
I admired one set of
decorations running above a
brass memorial plate and
on the window-sill, which
pleased Ray as it illustrated
that, as well as being fine
examples of country
craftwork, they also have
religious symbolism.
?This has the sign of the
Trinity in the centre, with
twelve angels, six either
side,? he explained. ?The
flowers of the field are
below and above the fields
of corn.?
On either side of the
church door we found a
design known as Kentish Ivy
Maids.
?The Romans brought
their fertility rites and
beliefs,? Ray explained.
?They made goblets from ivy
wood, as it was thought you
HERITAGE 61
Arranging
flowers on
the Rood.
?Wood? you
believe it ? cleverly
painted fa鏰de.
Ray?s trademark
welcome for the
festival.
could drink as much as you
want from them without
getting intoxicated.
?They also thought that
wrapping ivy around the
head would remove a
hangover, but I wouldn?t
know as I don?t drink.?
Whilst many designs are
traditional, Ray has adapted
old designs, adding features
to suit his needs, like the
line of music adorning the
organ, which for the nonmusical is the first notes of,
?Come, Ye Thankful People,
Come?.
Most dollies are created in
his tiny workshop, which
also serves as a sort of
museum and shop, where
visitors can pick up
examples of his handiwork
for a few pounds.
On the Friday before the
service, once the dollies are
in place, flowers dress every
remaining space. In front of
the Rood, Sue Furness
perched on the pew in front
of the 1663 pulpit, which is
thought to have been part
of one from nearby Marton.
The height of her
arrangement was
determined by how far Sue
could reach on tiptoe!
Men as well as women
work preparing the church
for the service. Reg Nield
helped wife Sheila dress the
font, whilst Arthur Ford
changed the lamp in a
stained-glass window
commemorating
Canon Douglas?s animal
services. Chatting to Arthur,
we quickly established a
connection, as half a
lifetime ago, we had taught
his sons.
?When I arrived, there
were thirty-four farms and
smallholdings in the parish;
now there are only six,? Ray
told us, ?but the church is
always filled to capacity
when the community comes
together for major festivals,?
he added.
On arriving for the Harvest
Festival, everyone is first
greeted by Ray?s trademark
? a smiling face on the old
door with flowers for eyes
and a welcome spelled in
green beans ? before
passing through a porch
lined with locally grown
country produce, beside
sheaves of corn and below
a floral archway.
Let?s hope the
congregation concentrated
on the sermon instead of
trying to spot Ray?s little
additions designed to
capture children?s
imagination.
Amongst the dollies he
had hidden a menagerie of
creatures. Eagle-eyed visitors
should keep an eye out for:
two woodpeckers, two small
blue tits, two owls, two
robins and one snail.
There is a lot to see in this
lovely village church, so
mark the early October date
in your diary! n
62
This atmospheric short story by Jessma Carter
is set in the Fifties.
The Midnight Train
S
ANDRA was reluctant to get
up. The sky was a dull grey and
it was unlikely the sun would
want to appear.
Besides that, her talk with
James last night had left her angry and
hurt. James had told her that he had
decided to go to London to study rather
than to Glasgow, where they had both
planned to go. London!
Among the many explanations that
James had given her, one was that they?d
see too much of one another, and that she
would be a distraction.
?Apart from that,? he?d said, ?London
is offering a course that really interests
me and isn?t on offer anywhere else.?
?Excuse me,? Sandra cut in. ?Did you
just describe me as a distraction??
?Well, actually it was my dad who said
that and I think he?s right.?
?I thought true friends, like I thought
we were, could be a support to one
another, not a distraction, as you put it.?
?Sandra.? James had held her tight.
?You know and I know that we would
want to spend time together, and maybe
not concentrate enough on studying.?
She broke free.
?In that case, let?s start not seeing one
another now. I have a lot to do before I
go to Glasgow.?
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
* * * *
Sandra could hear her mum clattering
dishes downstairs and singing along to
the Everly Brothers on the wireless. She
would get up and, after breakfast, she?d
begin to clear out her hidey-hole.
In Sandra?s bedroom a door led into
the attic. In bed at night she could hear
the gurgle of the water tank and the odd
creak as the branch of the apple tree
knocked on the roof. Her hidey-hole was
there and in it she kept all that was most
precious to her.
There were the letters her dad had sent
her when he was away being a soldier,
before she could read. He had drawn
picture stories for her that she and her
mum read together.
There was a drawing of the large hut
where he stayed, with him peeking round
the door. A picture of his best friend
looking puzzled because he couldn?t find
his helmet and then snatching her dad?s
helmet from his head.
There were old dolls that Sandra had
often thought of throwing out but never
had. Old clothes that would never be
thrown out, for even now, 10 years after
The children had been
warned about the
dangers of the
railway. But for some
the lure was
irresistible . . .
the end of the war and the shortages, her
mother would find a use for the material.
Sandra lifted up a jacket and fingered
the sturdy buttons. She could take them
off and sew them on to her new cardigan.
She felt inside the pockets and found a
small piece of silver that looked as if it
had once been round. Half of it was an
irregular bulge. There was a hole on the
irregular part and a string tied through it.
Then Sandra remembered. She untied
the string and retied it on her wrist.
* * * *
There had been few men in their lives
during the early Forties. Sandra?s dad
came home very occasionally for 48
hours.
The rest of the time it was just her and
her mum and the occasional visit from
her grandfather, who came by train and
threw her up in the air, scaring the wits
out of her when he arrived and then
making her laugh in relief, and ask for
more.
Mr Mitchell, their neighbour, was also
away, leaving his wife with three
adolescent boys and four-year-old
Robbie. It was natural, when Mrs
Mitchell was offered a part-time job that
would give her a bit extra to feed her
family, that Sandra?s mum would offer to
look after Robbie. Besides, it would be
company for Sandra.
Robbie looked angelic. Fair hair fell
like a veil of silk over his face when he
bent down to gaze at a book, Deep blue
eyes fringed with dark brown lashes had
an look of innocence, and he had a
quality of stillness as he listened to
instructions from Sandra?s mum.
?Yes, you can go to the park, but no
nonsense, do you hear??
?No nonsense,? Robbie repeated as he
clutched Sandra?s hand and solemnly
nodded.
?And don?t ever, ever, cross the road,
do you hear??
Sandra smiled at the memory. Her
mum?s definition of nonsense was
different from Robbie?s, for he had
learned a lot from his big brothers.
He taught Sandra to wink, to hold her
breath till her face was crimson, to stand
on the swings in the park, go as high as
possible and then jump off as far as she
could.
They sat together the day they started
school, when Robbie acted like a
personal tutor. He sharpened her pencil,
told her that they?d soon get a bottle of
milk to drink, and that she had to keep
out of the way when the big boys were
kicking a ball about at break. He told her
that sums were easy and she wasn?t to
worry.
It had been made clear to Sandra
before she went to school, and on the
infants? first day at school, that the
railway was a danger. A real danger.
?A train driver often can?t see what?s
on the line, and even if he does, he can?t
stop quickly,? the teacher said. ?You may
wave from the bridge. You may watch
the train as it passes. But you must not
climb over the fence that is beside the
railway track. That is forbidden!?
A few weeks later Sandra had sat in
her bedroom in a state of terror. The
wind was howling outside, there were no
streetlights, but there was a pale full
moon in the sky and shadows were
tossed across the street and on to the
railway lines. She could hear the toot of
the train before it passed through the
tunnel.
Robbie would be scurrying down the
banking to lay his coin on the track.
Sandra heard the hoot as it passed
through the village and imagined Robbie
going to lift the coin from the track. It
would still be warm from the weight of
the train.
She crept downstairs and watched from
the unlit front-room window. She felt her
heart beat as she waited until she saw
Robbie scramble through the fence wires
and run towards his home.
* * * *
At breakfast a few days later her
mother held a letter in her hand.
?You remember the Mitchells that used
to live two doors up? Well, they?re
coming back for a visit.? Evelyn Walker
laid her specs on the breakfast table and
looked at her daughter. ?Remember how
I used to look after Robbie when his
mum was working? You two were real
63
Set in
the
1950s
good friends back then. No fights and not
many tears, as I remember.?
?Strange,? Sandra said, ?I?ve been
thinking about them a lot this week.?
?That?s how things go. You hear a
name from the past and all sorts of
memories come back. You must have
heard me say a few days ago that they
were coming to visit their cousins.?
When Evelyn Walker was pouring her
second cup of tea, she turned round.
?Would you be a darling and run down
to the shop to get me some milk and
eggs? The Mitchells will be here soon.?
Sandra must have looked surprised.
?You weren?t listening. They?ll be here
this morning. They stayed the night in
the Station Hotel. I?ll have to rustle up
some scones.?
Sandra had been thinking of what
James had said. It had already been
several days since they had seen one
another. Perhaps, now, he?d found out
that it would not be easy for him to think
of going away for a whole term without
seeing her? Letters and phone calls could
never compensate for not actually being
with someone.
She went to the hall and hurriedly
threw her mother?s old blue coat over her
shoulders. It wasn?t far to the shop and
she could pull it around her.
She waited until the customer in front
of her was served. It was not someone
she knew for he spoke in an English
accent, but she did notice that a very
large box of chocolates lay on the
counter while he rummaged in his pocket
for money.
Sandra was still trying to decide
whether she was more hurt or angry with
James, and she paid little attention as the
man knocked her slightly as he turned to
leave the shop.
?Sorry.? He buttoned up his tweed coat
and made for the door.
* * * *
The scones were barely out of the oven
when the doorbell rang.
Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Walker had
never been in the habit of calling one
another by their Christian names, even
although they had been neighbours, but
there was no mistaking the pleasure both
had when greeting one another.
?It?s real good to see you, Mrs
Walker.?
?You, too, Mrs Mitchell.?
?You must remember Robbie?? She
yanked the arm of the young man who
had come in with her. ?He?s come up
here to study. Did I tell you in my last
letter? Doing music at Glasgow
Atheneum.?
There were more exclamations.
Imagine ? Glasgow! Wasn?t that
wonderful?
At that moment, Sandra pushed open
the sitting-room door, balancing a teapot
in one hand and a plate of scones in the
other. She noticed the box of chocolates
first and then looked at the young man.
He took the plate from her hand and
laid it on the table.
?You didn?t know me, did you??
?You must remember Robbie, Sandra!?
her mother said.
Sandra was too surprised to speak.
?I saw the silver sixpence on your
wrist,? Robbie offered, ?otherwise I
wouldn?t have recognised you.?
?What?s this about a silver sixpence??
both mothers asked at once.
?Just a game we played.? Robbie
laughed.
?Not much of a game,? Sandra argued
in a warning tone.
She hoped the two women would have
so much to say to one another that they
would forget to ask.
* * * *
Angela Walker sat back in her chair,
very content after the visit of her old
friend.
?We went through a lot together. Her
husband came back from the war and
found there was no job waiting for him.
But he?s done well down in England. She
was a great friend to me when your
father never came back, you know.
?And Robbie looks the same steady lad
that he was, don?t you think??
Sandra hid a wry smile at the
description of young Robbie.
?James is going to London to study,
did I tell you, Mum??
?That?ll make no difference if he?s the
man for you,? her mum answered.
??What?s for you will no? go past you,?
my mother always said to me. And she
was right.?
They sat in silence for a while.
?You?ll be able to see Robbie in
Glasgow.? There was a pause. ?What?s
that on your wrist? Is it what we used to
call a crookit bawbee??
?Just an old coin I found in my
hidey-hole.?
Sandra touched it, thinking Robbie still
had that fine fair hair that flopped over
his brow. Maybe it would be good to
have someone in Glasgow to talk over
old times with.
Maybe there wasn?t much wrong with
a bit of distraction!
The End.
book
By The
Alex Johnson.
Photograph courtesy of
Gillian Thornton meets writer
and bibliophile Alex Johnson.
I
iStock.
?M always intrigued by
the titles on other
people?s bookshelves.
After all, choice of
reading matter can tell
you a lot about an
individual, providing, of
course, that they?ve
actually read them.
And if an irresistible new
paperback is anything to
go by, it seems that I?m
not alone. Author and
journalist Alex Johnson has
come up with a simple
formula for a book that?s
as hard to put down as
any blockbuster novel.
Published by the British
Library in October, ?The
Book Of Book Lists?, is far
more than just lists of
titles. Every chapter in the
eight themed sections
combines a book list with
some revealing
background information
about the reader ? or
readers ? in question.
What was in Marilyn
Monroe?s private library?
Which 100 books did
David Bowie feel were
most important? And what
books has Art Garfunkel
read this year? He?s
published a list on his
website since 1968!
?It?s surprising how many
lists are available online,?
Alex says, who first came
up with the idea when
writing his previous books
about libraries and
bookshelf design.
?But I?d never seen a
book list that went further
than the ?50 Books To
Read Before You Die?
approach. I wanted to do
something different that
reflected not only people?s
personal choices but also
society as a whole.?
So Alex set about
researching an eclectic
range of subjects from the
favourite books selected
on Desert Island Discs
(?Pride And Prejudice? and
?The Wind In The Willows?
both feature) to the books
left behind in Travelodge
hotels.
?The Travelodge chain
compiles an annual list of
books that don?t make it
home with their owners,?
Alex reveals. ?Some have
genuinely been forgotten,
others dumped, or left
behind for other readers.
Amongst those authors are
J.K. Rowling and David
Walliams, John Grisham
and F. Scott Fitzgerald.?
Amongst the huge
variety of lists are
recommendations by
Premier League footballers
for children, compiled as
part of an annual
programme run by the
National Literacy Trust to
encourage children ? and
especially boys ? to read.
Amongst the favourites
in the 2015/16 list are
Roald Dahl?s ?James And
The Giant Peach? and
?Paddington? by Michael
Bond.
People?s choice of a
different kind was
provided by the Mass
Observation project,
established in 1937 to
document the daily lives of
the working class in
Britain.
In 1947, they focused on
life in the Somerset village
of Luccombe and included
a ?typical? Luccombe
bookcase. Many of the
titles and authors are
foreign to us now, but
?My wife
adored the
Malory Towers
books by Enid
Blyton and I?ve
been tracking
down original
versions in
their dust
jackets for her
birthdays?
among them were popular
authors like E.F. Benson,
H. Rider Haggard and
Jack London.
Another Mass
Observation project
produced two lists of
books borrowed by girls
and boys visiting Fulham
libraries in May 1940.
?It?s interesting how
much crossover there was,
especially with the girls
reading adventure stories
REAL LIFE
that were usually thought
of as boys? books in those
days,? Alex says.
?I loved the Jennings
books when I was young
and I have to admit to a
soft spot for all those
school stories written in
the Twenties and Thirties
by authors like Angela
Brazil. They were
remarkably well written,
packed with incident, and
moved along at a good
pace.
?My wife adored the
Malory Towers books by
Enid Blyton and I?ve been
tracking down original
versions in their dust
jackets for her birthdays.
?We have three sons of
sixteen, fifteen and nine,
and they all adore reading,
too. And it?s interesting
that they prefer the feel of
a traditional book to an
e-reader, though they do
have both.?
The inspiration for the
lists came from different
places. Some Alex already
knew about; others he
?I loved the
Jennings books
when I was
young and I
have to admit
to a soft spot
for all those
school stories
written in the
Twenties and
Thirties?
came across by accident;
and a few were simple
?what if?? questions. But
he admits that his research
got him no further than
Ikea.
?Most of the research
was done online at my
desk but I?d noticed there?s
always a selection of new
books on shelves at Ikea,
so I toured a few branches,
surreptitiously wrote down
the titles in Swedish and
then had them translated!?
he admits.
?Social media was a
help, too. David Cameron
was interviewed in front of
his bookshelves and
Scottish Conservative
leader Ruth Davidson
tweeted a photo of herself
watching Andy Murray at
Wimbledon with her
bookshelves behind her.
Blow up the picture and
you can see their reading
matter!?
Alex did, however, have
to submit a Freedom of
Information request to the
Houses of Parliament to
discover the most
borrowed books from the
Commons library.
?All rather dull, I?m
afraid. How to be an MP
and a number of political
biographies!?
And so the lists go on.
The most-unread books.
The most revisited books.
Queen Mary?s Doll?s House
library. The books on the
International Space
Station. And the solace of
Literature in the Trenches.
Not sure what to read
next? This great little
volume is guaranteed to
inspire! n
?The Book Of Book
Lists? by Alex Johnson,
published by British
Library Publishing, is
released on October
27, 2017, RRP �99.
The UK?s Top Revisited Reads
1
The ?Harry Potter?
series by J.K. Rowling
6
?Nineteen Eighty-four?
by George Orwell
J
2
?The Lord Of The Rings?
by J.R.R. Tolkien
7
?The Da Vinci Code?
by Dan Brown
4
5
?Pride And Prejudice?
by Jane Austen
?The Hobbit? by
J.R.R. Tolkien
?Jane Eyre? by
Charlotte Bronte
8
9
3
?The Lion, The Witch And ?Wuthering Heights?
by Emily Bronte
The Wardrobe? by C.S. Lewis
UST over three-quarters of readers in the UK enjoy
rereading favourite books, according to a survey
by Costa. Indeed, the 2007 poll ? which resulted in
this list ? indicated that a sixth of us return to a
much-loved book more than five times.
65
10
?Catch-22? by
Joseph Heller
Costa?s research also revealed that a third of
people say they find something new each time they
reread, and eight per cent do so because it?s better
than anything else they have read. A fifth do so
because they find it comforting.
66
A couple are stuck in a rut in this heartwarming short story
by Pauline Bradbury.
Illustration by Sarah Holliday.
W
The Bolt Hole
ELL, it will all be the
same in a hundred
years,? Barry quoted
under his breath as he
eased himself out of the
deckchair and pottered towards his small
greenhouse.
That phrase had always had a
comforting ring to it, and in the past had
had a calming effect. It was a saying he
used when there were problems.
?Everything passes and is eventually
forgotten,? he reassured himself
philosophically as he opened the
greenhouse window wider, and stooped
to admire the young tomato plants he had
grown from seed.
?Where are you, Barry?? his wife
called. ?I?ve got our sandwiches ready. I
thought we?d eat outside now the
weather is cheering up.?
As she put the tray down on the garden
table, she noticed his footwear.
?Oh, Barry, you?re still in your
slippers. A nice old mess you?d make on
my carpet if you trod on a snail or worm
in those.?
?I forgot, love,? he said peaceably.
?You make a start while I change.?
When he returned, suitably shod in his
garden trainers, Anne was sitting in the
other chair, eating a cheese and lettuce
sandwich.
?How do you like the lettuce, love??
he asked. ?I tried a different variety this
year and they?ve come on a treat. I
started them off early.?
Anne looked consideringly at the
sandwich on her plate.
?I can?t taste anything different, Barry,
but you know best, I?m sure. And you do
make the most of your little greenhouse,?
she went on after a pause, as if trying to
find something positive to say.
Even so, to Barry it sounded grudging
and forced.
What was the matter with her
nowadays, he wondered. In the past, she
had been as keen on the garden as
himself.
They had spent long summer evenings
and weekends working together in their
small plot. Of course, the arthritis in her
knees had put a stop to that, but now she
never even came to see what he was
doing, or looked through seed catalogues
with him.
Naturally their companionable walks
were a thing of the past, too.
At one time he would get tired before
Anne did. She used to tease him about
Barry and Anne both
knew what they
wanted to do with the
caravan . . .
that. Now a stroll in the park was about
her limit, whereas his capacity was
almost unlimited. He knew she found
that frustrating, and he missed their
walks, too.
?Why don?t you join a rambling
club?? his friend, Les, had suggested.
?You?d have some company and they
probably go places you wouldn?t think
of.?
But that would have been hurtful to
Anne, and the last thing he wanted to do
was upset her.
He glanced at her, closing her eyes as
she basked in the warmth of the sun, and
saw an older woman with greying hair
and an anxious expression. She looked
nothing like the girl he had married over
40 years ago, which was hardly
surprising; he hadn?t weathered so well
himself.
But it wasn?t only her looks that had
altered over the years. Her personality
had changed, or so it seemed to him as
he sat watching her.
She doesn?t like me to go down to the
King?s Arms with Les any more, he
mused resentfully. Instead he had to
make do with a beer at home, with Anne
sitting opposite him clicking her knitting
needles busily.
And we don?t seem to have anything
to say to each other when we are
together, Barry thought, drinking the last
of his cold tea. Our life isn?t shared any
more. We have nothing in common.
This realisation, which he had been
subconsciously holding at bay for a few
months now, shook him so much that he
grunted and shifted uncomfortably in his
chair.
Anne opened her eyes.
?Is something wrong, Barry? Is it your
back again??
?Just a twinge, love,? he said
evasively.
She sighed and closed her eyes again
and Barry, ashamed of his disloyal
thoughts, got up and carried the lunch
tray back into the kitchen.
?It seems that it isn?t only young
people who have trouble with their
marriages,? he muttered soberly as he
loaded the dishwasher. ?It can come to us
all, whether you?re sixty-seven or
thirty-seven. But if you find you have
nothing in common any more, what
happens next??
These sad thoughts went round and
round inside his head for the rest of the
day, causing Anne to remark that she
hoped he wasn?t sickening for
something.
?It might cheer me up to watch that
good thriller on TV.? Barry brightened at
the thought. ?The one we saw advertised
last night.?
?Looked a bit gruesome to me, but all
right, you have it on, then,? Anne said
without much enthusiasm. ?I?ll get on
with my knitting.?
That interminable knitting, he thought,
then immediately realised how unfair
that was, because normally he was
proud of how skilled she was at her
hobby.
* * * *
The thriller hadn?t cheered him up,
Barry acknowledged later in bed, as he
slid in and out of unrestful dozes. Anne?s
disinterest had spoiled his own
enjoyment.
Maybe he would splurge some savings
and buy a laptop like Les had. The big
computer took up a lot of space in the
corner of the small dining-room, and
they only ever used it for Skyping Laura
and her family in any case, so it could go
on the landing.
A laptop would be much better and he
could watch programmes on that instead.
He could take it out to the shed. Or even
the old caravan.
?The caravan,? Barry muttered.
?Maybe that?s the answer.?
Anne stirred.
?You all right?? she murmured.
?Fine, love. You go back to sleep.?
That was the answer, he decided, and
burrowed under the duvet. He would
make a start tomorrow.
Feeling much happier, he drifted off
into a proper sleep.
* * * *
?I?ve been thinking, Anne,? he said as
he brought her her usual cup of tea in bed
next day. ?It?s time the caravan had a
good clear-out. I could make a start this
morning.?
?What a good idea,? she said, pulling
herself up against the pillow and looking
67
suddenly alert. ?I?ve been planning to do
that for ages.?
Barry decided there was no need to
explain just now that he was going to
make the caravan into his own special
den.
Some men have their sheds, he
thought, smiling to himself. I shall have a
caravan.
For a few years after Laura got married
and went off to Australia, the caravan
had been their pride and joy, even though
it wasn?t a large one.
?Compact and cosy,? was the way
Anne had described it early on. And it
had been.
Then, when the time came for them to
downsize their car to a model which was
unable to tow the caravan safely, they
couldn?t bear to part with it. Luckily, all
the houses in their road had access into
their back gardens, so Barry, with the
help of Les, had laid down a patch of
concrete on which the caravan had been
sitting ever since.
?Must be six years now,? he declared
after breakfast as he rummaged in the
drawer for its key.
Whistling cheerfully, he marched up
the garden and opened up the caravan.
Naturally it smelled stale, though
thankfully not damp.
?Just needs a good blast of fresh air,?
he decided, drawing back the curtains to
open the windows.
He gazed round contentedly as
sunshine flooded in.
?Just the job,? he muttered.
He could see it all. The laptop on the
table, a few beers and crisps in the
cupboard.
?Maybe a tin of cheese straws or
crackers. Pack of cards, dominoes and
chess . . .? He laughed. It could be just
like the snug down at the King?s Arms.
Les would love it.
?You sound happy.? Anne had come in
behind him, her arms full of cleaning
materials and black sacks.
?Well, you know I like a project. Do
you want to help, too, then?? He tried not
to sound surprised.
?I told you I?d been thinking of doing
this,? she reminded him. ?So let?s make a
start. You fetch the wheelbarrow and I?ll
start putting the newspapers and
magazines into sacks. Why we stored
them all, heaven knows.?
It was nice to see Anne looking so
cheerful, Barry thought as he trundled
newspapers to the car boot ready for
recycling, but after a while he realised
her idea of having a good sort-out was
more drastic than his.
?It could do with new curtains, I
think,? she told him. ?These are so faded.
They came with the caravan in the first
place, didn?t they? And definitely a new
piece of carpet.?
Soon Barry was helping to remove the
carpet as well. He wasn?t too happy
about it, but his protests fell on deaf
ears.
?We might as well do the job
properly,? Anne told him. ?Remnants are
cheap nowadays. I?ll pop into town later
on and have a look.?
?I think I?d better come with you,?
Barry said cautiously.
He didn?t want her choosing anything
too feminine or pretty. He couldn?t help
feeling a bit steam-rollered. This was his
project, wasn?t it?
But it was so good to see Anne more
like her old animated self that he felt he
really ought to meet her halfway.
Halfway turned out to be not only the
carpet shop, where he was able to
persuade her to choose a neutral shade of
beige, but also the fabric stall in the
covered market.
Anne thought a floral pattern would be
nice for the new curtains, while he
favoured something plain. They settled
for a cream and green stripe, which Anne
pronounced elegant, while he decided
that it could have been a lot worse.
The major spring clean continued for
the rest of the week. They emptied
cupboards, everything that could be
washed was given a good scrub, the
windows were polished and Anne got out
her sewing machine and made the
curtains.
By the time they?d finished it all
looked pristine.
?Good enough to live in,? Barry
joked. ?We could advertise it as a room
to let.?
?It?s certainly scrubbed up well.?
Anne sounded satisfied and
68
Getting The
Message
W
E?RE going on an outing,
So pass the message on:
The driver says, ?Please don?t be late,
Outside the hall is where we?ll wait,
The coach will pick us up at eight,
So pass the message on.?
?What time was that we have to go??
?I?ll ask around ? just wait a mo . . .?
?And where we board, I just don?t know.?
?Still ? pass the message on.?
At nine, outside the school we throng,
So why?s the coach not come along?
We can?t imagine what?s gone wrong ?
We passed the message on!
? Maggie Ingall.
cheerful. ?I?m glad I
thought of it.?
He refrained to point out
that it had been his idea, too.
* * * *
Barry had been collecting
bits and pieces for his den
?If only there were enough
room to play darts,? Barry
mused, ?it would be
perfect.?
He was now waiting for
the right moment to reveal
his plans to Anne. He wasn?t
expecting any real
iStock.
Barry was waiting for the right
moment to reveal his plans
and storing them in the shed.
He?d found his old
dominoes set, discovered an
unopened pack of cards in a
drawer, and bought a couple
of other board games from
the charity shop.
Les had kindly donated
two sturdy beer mugs and
some beer mats, and
promised to go with him to
help choose a laptop.
opposition, but it was best to
broach it when she was in a
good mood.
Though she was in a good
mood most days just now.
All that spring cleaning of
the caravan had worked
wonders.
But then it all went
horribly wrong.
Barry and Les had enjoyed
an afternoon comparing
laptop models and prices in
the shops in town, and Barry
had come home to think it
over and discuss it with
Anne.
That was one good thing
about their marriage, he
thought as he unlocked the
front door. They had never
really quarrelled over
money and how it should be
spent.
?I?m home, love,? he
called.
There was no answer, but
the back door was wide
open.
?I?ll bet she?s enjoying the
sunshine in the garden,? he
surmised.
But she wasn?t. She was in
the caravan.
And the caravan wasn?t in
the pristine state it had been
yesterday. It had had a girly
make-over.
The table now had an
embroidered cloth, on which
was a vase of forget-me-nots.
There was a new white
kettle.
On the couch was Anne?s
sewing basket and a plastic
crate full of knitting wool.
There were sparkly hearts
dangling from ribbons
around the walls.
In an open cupboard Barry
could see a pretty biscuit tin
with hearts all over it, and
several china mugs also
decorated with hearts.
Hearts? His own heart
sank.
What was all this? What
had happened in the couple
of hours he had been in
town?
What had happened, he
thought rapidly and grimly,
was that Anne had taken
over his idea.
69
?Oh, hello, Barry. I?ve
been busy. It looks nice,
doesn?t it?? she said happily.
?A few bits and pieces make
all the difference, don?t
they??
?They certainly do,? Barry
agreed. ?And not for the
better.?
He drew breath, trying to
keep calm, but it was no
with no sign of an apology
or backing down.
For more than two weeks
the caravan remained closed
and locked. They each did
their usual chores around the
house, ate together, and even
did the supermarket run
together, but things were far
from comfortable between
them.
Barry tried to keep calm, but it was
no good. It had to come out
good. It had to come out.
?This was my idea, Anne,?
he began. ?This was going to
be my space where I could
have a beer and watch what I
liked on a laptop. Which, by
the way, I?m going to buy
tomorrow.?
He threw the brochures
down on the coffee table,
almost knocking over the
vase.
?You can watch what you
like indoors and get on with
your bloomin? knitting, and I
can sit out here alone. We
don?t seem to have anything
to say to each other
nowadays anyway, so it
won?t make much
difference.?
Anne swung round
indignantly.
?Why have you suddenly
gone all critical about my
knitting, Barry? Anyway,
that is what this is all about.?
She gestured round the
caravan.
?I thought of it ages ago. A
place for me to get away
from your noisy TV
programmes, and where my
friends and I can meet and
do our charity knitting.
?As you say, we don?t
seem to have anything in
common any more, so it
might be best to be separate
when we can.?
They stared at each other,
each secretly horrified at the
situation, but somehow
unable to undo it.
Barry turned abruptly
away.
Take a walk and calm
down, he told himself
miserably.
* * * *
Obviously Anne had
calmed down as well,
because when they met
again over the supper table
she was cool and polite, but
Occasionally Barry
wondered how it would be
resolved, but mostly he tried
not to think about it at all,
and he had no idea what was
going on behind Anne?s
uncompromising expression.
Thankfully help came
unexpectedly, and from the
other side of the world.
* * * *
The phone rang at eight
o?clock in the morning,
sending Barry racing
downstairs with his razor in
his hand.
None of their friends
would ring this early so it
must be Laura, yet in
Australia it would still be
late evening. There must be
something wrong.
?Laura?? he asked, sitting
down on the chair by the
landline. ?Laura, are you all
right??
He could feel his chest
tightening with worry.
?Yes, yes, we were awake,
don?t worry.?
He could sense Anne
sitting on the bottom stair
and turned to smile
reassuringly.
?They?re all OK,? he
mouthed.
Five minutes later, he had
joined her on the stair, his
arm round her shoulders,
while she nestled closer as
he explained why Laura had
impulsively rung at such an
unusual time.
?She was excited because
they have finally decided to
leave Australia for good.
They?ll be home in a month
or so.
?She asked if we can put
them all up for a few weeks.
She and Pete hope to have
teaching jobs in a couple of
months in this area.?
Barry rattled it all off
because he was excited.
?Laura and Pete can have
the other double bedroom,
obviously,? Anne began. Her
mind always had planned at
lightning speed.
?And we will have to buy a
single bed for the box room
for Susie.
?But what about Steve?
He?s quite a big lad for
fourteen. A camp bed in the
dining room??
They stared at each other
questioningly. Then at the
very same moment they had
the very same idea.
?The caravan!? they
declared, and burst out
laughing.
In an instant the quarrel
was forgotten. Barry kissed
the top of Anne?s head as they
went upstairs together.
?I tell you what,? he said.
?You?ll have to make a start
knitting some sweaters for
them all. They?ll find it pretty
cold come the winter.?
?Yes,? Anne agreed
happily. ?Won?t it be nice for
you to take Pete down to the
pub to meet your friends? And
I bet both Pete and Steve will
want to watch the TV thrillers
you like.
?But first,? she went on,
?how can we make the
caravan more boy-friendly for
Steve? I?ll need some ideas,
Barry.?
Barry was so relieved that
the quarrel was over, he
didn?t mind what the next
caravan make-over looked
like.
?Whatever you decide is
fine with me, love.? He
smiled. ?But I?ll give you a
hand. I don?t want you
overdoing it with your
arthritis.?
* * * *
?Of course we?ve still got
things in common,? he told
himself firmly later as he
washed up before dinner. ?The
family above all else.?
He gazed earnestly in the
mirror. An oldish man stared
back.
?Wispy hair, a lined face
and over-bushy eyebrows. No
oil painting for sure,? he
muttered. ?I suppose Anne
must think I?ve changed. But
at least we?re changing
together.?
The End.
A cat-centric view of the world from
illustrator Anthony Smith.
Have
a laugh
with us
In The Footsteps Of
William
And
Harold
Ready for
battle.
Susie Kearley is on hand to enjoy
the annual re-enactment of the
Battle of Hastings.
Photographs by Susie Kearley.
C
LASHES of swords,
war cries and roars
of rivalry contrast
with the peaceful
mediaeval markets
at the annual Battle of
Hastings re-enactment at
Battle Abbey, East Sussex.
I attended the 950th
anniversary celebrations last
year, passing stall-holders
selling mediaeval wares,
period clothing, suits of
armour, swords, herbs,
artisan food, pewter
tableware and trinkets.
As I approached the
Norman camp, I heard the
soldiers psyching each other
Fancy a
game of
hnefatafl?
up for battle.
?God Aid Us!? they
bellowed, as they showed
off their impressive armour
and collection of mediaeval
weaponry.
Re-enactment groups had
travelled from France,
Germany and other
European countries to
represent the Norman Army
at the event.
The Anglo-Saxon Army, on
the other side of the
battlefield, were represented
by British re-enactment
groups who had war cries of
their own. ?Get out!? they
shouted across the field to
the Norman camp.
The two sides were
getting ready for an
imminent display of armed
combat, which would
attempt to recreate the
Battle of Hastings in the
arena.
Mediaeval peasants went
about their daily activities,
happy to chat about life in
the 11th century. One had a
beautiful wooden game
with pretty glass pieces. I
asked him about it.
?It?s a modern replica of a
Viking board game called
hnefatafl,? he explained. ?It?s
pronounced nef-a-tafel and
was a precursor to chess
and very popular in
mediaeval England.? He
showed us how to play,
Norman Army
foot soldiers.
adding, ?You can join me for
a game if you like??
Tempting as it was, I?d
only just arrived, had loads
to see and didn?t want to
miss the impending battle,
so I passed up the offer.
Other people in the camp
were eating, making tools or
jewellery, talking about their
weapons, or sewing.
?We?re making food for
the guys before they go on
to the battlefield,? one of
the ladies who was cooking
for the warriors told us.
?They?ve had a long march
to get here, so we?re making
sure they?ve got full
tummies to keep them
going.?
The tension mounted and
battle cries filled the air as
the time for conflict
approached. Each side was
convinced that God was
with them, so they would
slay their opponents and
win.
Infantry, archers and
cavalry gathered in the
arena as the story of the
Battle of Hastings unfolded
over loudspeakers.
King Edward the
Confessor died childless
after apparently promising
his crown to William, the
Duke of Normandy. So
William was furious to learn
that the Anglo-Saxon earl,
Harold Godwinson, had
been crowned instead.
However, Harold believed
that King Edward wanted
him to become the next
King. It was never clear who
had the rightful claim to the
throne, so conflict was
inevitable. William travelled
to England with his army to
claim the throne by force.
Fast forward to the 21st
century, and the two armies
HERITAGE 71
An army
marches on
its stomach!
More Living
History Events
This October
English Civil War
Family Fun Day,
Saturday, October
14, 2017
The historical reenactors of the English
Civil War Society present
life in 17th-century West
Berkshire. Learn the
skills and crafts of the
day and follow the
themed trail at this free
event at West Berkshire
Museum in Newbury.
www.ecws.org.uk
Warriors on
horseback.
faced each other across the
battlefield. King Harold?s
forces created an
impenetrable barrier of
shields. We watched
hundreds of Norman arrows
rain down on the AngloSaxons, but they held their
ground.
The Norman cavalry
charged. The stampede of
the horses? feet rocked the
arena, but the Anglo-Saxons
still stood their ground. King
Harold?s defensive strategy
was very successful.
Suddenly, William?s army
faked a retreat, and Harold?s
men broke their line of
defence to run after the
enemy soldiers.
This gave the Normans
the opportunity to turn and
kill many of the AngloSaxons, enabling the
Normans to win the battle.
It was an exhilarating
performance, with horses
and 400 foot soldiers racing
up the hill, their battle flags
blowing in the wind.
Pickering 1940s
Wartime Weekend,
October 13, 14 &
15, 2017
Pickering?s ever-popular
Wartime Weekend is
held every October, and
includes a full
programme of WWII and
1940s themed
entertainment and
events. There wll be
singing, dancing,
workshops, parades,
fashion shows, living
history, re-enactments
and period vehicle
exhibitions.
www.nymr.co.uk/
wartime
How To Be A
Roman Soldier,
October 21-29,
2017
?We had a very old score
to settle,? one of the
warriors said after the event.
?I died for Duke William,?
another put in.
?It was a hard battle ? I
swear that hill gets steeper
every time!? a third added.
And on the topic of how
we manage disputes today,
one soldier said, ?Voting
about things we disagree on
is much better than hacking
each other to pieces. I prefer
a vote to a battle!?
In the Norman camp, we
left the soldiers celebrating
their victory with feasting
and wine. n
The Battle of Hastings
re-enactment for this year
takes place on October 14
and 15, 2017.
Location: Battle Abbey and
Battlefield, High Street,
Battle, East Sussex TN33
0AD
Time: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Non-members? price: �
adults; �.10 concessions.
English Heritage members?
price: �80 adults; �concessions.
l Book online for
discounts.
l www.english-heritage.
org.uk/hastings
Family fun at Chesters
Roman Fort and
Museum at Chollerford,
Hexham. Join the Roman
soldier and find out
about life in his army in
the grounds of the
ancient Roman fort. The
event is free for English
Heritage members.
Adult tickets cost �60
children?s tickets and
family tickets are
available.
www.english-heritage.
org.uk
72
This gentle short story by Jan Snook broaches
the subject of retirement.
Just One More Year
Illustration by Mandy Murray.
P
AULA,? Tim said firmly,
?you?ve said ?just one more
year? for the last five years.
The time has come. It really
has. If we don?t do it this year
we never will. I don?t want to wait till
I?m ninety, you know.?
He looked at her imploringly, and she
gazed back at him. He was hardly ninety.
Sixty-six, to be precise, and youthfullooking to boot.
He probably looked younger than she
did, she realised, catching sight of her
reflection in the patio doors. Just at this
moment she felt all of her sixty years ?
young Max had worn her out this
morning with his boundless energy.
Childminding was a young woman?s
game. Younger, anyway.
Which, of course, was exactly the
point Tim had been making.
?I don?t like to let Max?s mum down.
He?s only got a few months left till
school,? she wheedled. ?He?s due to go
in September. I could just wait till then.?
?That?s what you said about Toby,?
Tim reminded her. ?And then you took
Max on. Toby needed someone to play
with, you said.?
Paula frowned.
?I know. I just can?t bear the thought of
poor little Max having to get used to
someone new for such a short time. It?s
only a few months . . .?
?No, Paula, it?s not. If we wait until
September we?ll be leaving just as the
weather?s getting colder, instead of
having the whole summer in Europe. I
want to be sitting on pavement caf閟,
sipping white wine and watching the
grapes swell, not shivering in my winter
coat. We?ve promised ourselves a gap
year, and that?s what we?re going to
have.?
When they had first conceived the plan
of a gap year, their grown-up children
had laughed, pointing out (reasonably
delicately) that most people did that at
eighteen, not in their sixties.
?Well, we didn?t have that
opportunity,? Tim had said stoutly.
?Anyway, we?re not thinking of trekking
round Australia or anything. Your mother
and I would just like to spend a bit more
time in Europe. Not a whole year, just a
few months. We thought we might buy a
second-hand camper van or something.
?If your mum will just finally retire,?
he?d added in a resigned tone.
?What are you going to do in Europe??
Danni, their daughter, asked, sounding
worried.
Every time Tim
proposed their trip
abroad, Paula had a
excuse . . .
?Nothing too strenuous. We?re going to
relax!?
?It will be a new beginning for both of
us. Maybe your father will find a new
hobby,? Paula said hopefully. ?I?ll
certainly need to think of something to
do if I retire.?
?Not if,? Tim corrected. ?When.?
?There?s a culture gap between you
two, do you know?? their son Rupert
said, shaking his head. ?Mum doesn?t
know how to stop working, and you,
Dad, are so laid back you don?t get round
to doing anything! How did you end up
married??
?Opposites attract,? Tim said simply,
smiling at Paula.
In the event, Max?s mother had taken it
very well, Paula reflected as she turned
her back on the Eiffel Tower and
concentrated on the carousel of
postcards. A new nursery had opened
nearby and still had spaces.
Paula had sweetened the pill (urged on
by Tim, who was looking forward to
having a grown-up garden) by suggesting
Max might like the now-redundant
climbing frame.
So, all in all, it had worked out fine. As
Tim kept telling her.
* * * *
She picked out half a dozen cards, paid
for them and returned to the caf�
opposite, where Tim was sitting at a table
outside, his face tilted to the sun, his
hand cradling a glass of wine.
He looked totally relaxed and happy,
she thought, with a slight pang of guilt
that she had made him wait so long for
this trip.
?Oh, dear,? he said as he caught sight
of the postcards. ?Just as I was getting
used to doing nothing! But I suppose
you?re right ? it would be a good idea to
get some cards sent now, then we can
forget about them.?
Paula smiled, wondering if he really
thought she wouldn?t want to send
postcards from Amsterdam and Nice and
Venice and Rome and Barcelona . . . Just
the names made her smile.
?You see?? he said, smiling back. ?We
were really in need of this. I can?t
remember when we went away for
longer than a weekend. This is the life!?
He rummaged in his pocket for a pen and
reached for a card to write. ?Who?s this
one for?? he asked, glancing at the
picture of the Arc de Triomphe.
Then he glanced at the next card in the
pile and groaned.
?And I don?t even need to ask who that
one?s for. Paula, you?re supposed to be
retired. It?s time to relax!?
Paula picked up the offending picture
of a puppy wearing a beret and eating a
croissant.
?Don?t you remember being a child??
she asked. ?Wasn?t it exciting when you
actually got some post of your own??
She started to write Max?s address,
then the message in large clear letters.
She would usually have been giving him
lunch about now.
?I wonder how he?s getting on?? she
couldn?t stop herself from saying.
Tim did not reply. He had written one
card and was staring into space.
?Feel free to write another card,? she
said, narrowing her eyes at him. ?And
when we?ve written these the guidebook
says there?s a fourteenth-century church
that we should see. It doesn?t look too far
on the map.?
?Not another church, Paula? I thought
we?d come away to chill out!?
A few days later (or three museums,
two cathedrals, five more churches and
seven art galleries later, as Tim pointed
out), even Paula was complaining that
her feet were beginning to hurt.
?It?s time for lunch anyway,? Tim said,
pointing to a bistro whose tables
sprawled out on to the pavement.
Paula sank gratefully into a chair and
indulged in her new favourite
occupation: people-watching.
Enormous dishes of moules marini鑢es
arrived, and sparrows, hoping for crumbs
of the delicious crusty bread, hopped
about at their feet as they ate.
?When we get a bit further south I may
have to adopt a few more local customs,?
Paula said sleepily as she sipped her
coffee. ?I thoroughly approve of siestas.?
Tim was only half-listening as he
doodled on his paper napkin.
?I was thinking about the garden,? he
said seriously. ?Now that it?s not a
playground, I think it needs a makeover.?
He turned his napkin round to show
her the sketch.
?That looks good,? she said slowly,
?but won?t it be a lot of work? I can
73
barely keep up with the weeding as it is.?
?A lot of work may be just what I
need. I?ve been thinking about it. You?re
always so busy, and I ? well, I could do
with a bit more to do, I suppose. I know
I?ve tackled a few jobs since I retired, but
the garden wouldn?t just come to an end,
like some projects, would it??
Paula nodded.
?True enough,? she said, thinking of
how she had struggled to keep it in some
sort of order for the last few years and
wondering whether Tim realised what a
lot of work his ambitious plans would
entail.
* * * *
Paris gave way to northern Spain, and
by the beginning of August they were
sunning themselves in the Algarve.
?What shall we do this afternoon??
Tim asked as he finished the last crumbs
of cake on his plate. ?I suppose you?d
like to go to another art gallery? I?m
really beginning to get a feel for
Portuguese art.?
?I thought a quiet afternoon on the
beach would be nice. With my book.?
Tim regarded his wife in some wonder.
?It?s not like you to say no to an art
gallery. Are you coming down with
something??
?Well, it?s not like you to be so
energetic,? Paula retorted. They looked
at each other for a few seconds before
starting to laugh. ?Can it be that you?ve
had enough of lazing around?? she asked
gently.
?Or that you?ve begun to appreciate
the subtle charms of doing nothing??
?I think perhaps I have. Though I?m
still keen to have a go at doing nothing in
Switzerland and Italy.?
?And I?d like to do some slightly more
strenuous walking than I?m used to. After
we?ve exhausted the art galleries in
Florence and Rome, of course.?
* * * *
?I think I could do with another cup of
coffee,? Paula said a few weeks later,
?before tackling another cathedral.?
?Really?? Tim asked, surprised. ?But
we?ve had such a lazy morning just
wandering around the market. I?m raring
to go!?
?You?re turning into a real culture
vulture,? Paula said wonderingly. ?And
I?m beginning to understand why some
people like to laze on a beach for a
fortnight. I have a feeling that this gap
year was just what we needed to help us
sort out our approach to retirement. I?m
even beginning to look forward to going
home!?
?Yes, I can hardly wait to hit the
garden centres,? Tim said
enthusiastically. ?I?ve already e-mailed
for quite a few seed catalogues. Perhaps
when we?ve visited the cathedral we
could find a stationer?s ? I?d like some
squared paper so that I can really plan
the garden properly! There won?t be a
moment to lose once we get home!?
?And maybe it will sell paperbacks as
well,? Paula said hopefully.
* * * *
?So?? Their son and daughter were
looking at Tim and Paula expectantly.
?Did you have good time? Are you
thinking of buying a vineyard and
retiring somewhere warm? Have you
finally learned to relax??
Paula and Tim looked back at them,
and then at each other, and smiled.
?We?re not going to buy a vineyard,
no,? Tim said slowly, ?and I think your
mother has learned to relax a bit ? though
it took a while, I have to say.?
?And your father,? Paula added, ?has
learned that there?s such a thing as too
much relaxation, so he?s planning to
landscape the garden.?
?Great! Once you get the gardening
bug you?ll be occupied for life,? Danni
said, looking at her father. ?So Mum will
have nothing to do except cook!?
?I was thinking of taking over some of
the cooking, too,? Tim said. ?I?ve been
watching some of those programmes on
TV, and I?ve enrolled at a class: Cooking
For Men. It should be good.?
?You never said!? Paula stared at him.
?What will I do if you take over all my
usual jobs? I can?t just shop and read all
day. I may have done it on holiday, but I
don?t really like just sitting around.?
?I met Max?s mother the other day,?
Danni said artlessly, but Paula saw a
quick look pass between Tim and their
daughter.
?Did she say how he?s getting on at
school?? Paula asked quickly.
?He?s fine,? Danni said. ?Actually, his
mother said those few weeks at nursery
had one very unexpected benefit.?
?Really?? Paula said, slightly ruffled.
?I can?t think what they could offer that I
didn?t provide.?
?What they offered,? Danni said with a
smile, ?was a job. They offered Max?s
mother a job, and she loves it. She?s their
new manager.?
Another of the looks passed between
father and daughter.
?Are you two plotting something??
Paula asked suspiciously.
?The thing is,? Danni said, ?the
nursery?s looking for some part-time
admin help, and Max?s mother thought it
might suit you. You?d see the children,
but not have to be so actively involved.
She thought you?d be perfect. Two
mornings a week. What do you think??
?I think it would suit you down to the
ground,? Tim said. ?Not too strenuous.?
Paula smiled as the idea took hold.
?And I?d be out of your hair while you
reorganise the whole house and garden.
It?s just what we need ? a new
beginning!?
The End.
74 REAL LIFE
?I have been
interested in the
theatre since I was
seven years old?
John Nicoll works hard behind the scenes to
ensure the best performance time after time.
Sum up your job in
3 words:
l Fun
l Hard work
l Satisfying
A
S deputy stage manager, I
work with the stage
manager and assistant stage
manager to ensure the best
possible performance at
every single show.
I?ve been interested in the theatre
since I was seven years old, when I
joined my local youth theatre group. At
secondary school, I was involved in
musical theatre and everyone expected
me to go to drama school, but instead I
studied French and Spanish at the
University of St Andrews.
After graduating, I decided my future
lay in the theatre, so I went to
Photo courtesy of Ian
Georgeson.
Guildford School of Acting, where I
learned a bit of everything and realised
being an actor wasn?t for me, but being
a stage manager definitely was!
I enjoy telling people what to do ?
and being a bit of a bossy boots is an
important part of being a stage
manager or deputy stage manager!
I?ve been a freelance deputy stage
manager for five years now, working
almost non-stop on plays, musicals,
operas and pantos all over the United
Kingdom. I?m about to start working on
a show at the Royal Opera House and I
recently worked on ?Jack And The
Beanstalk? at the King?s Theatre in
Edinburgh and loved every minute!
For every production I have a book
which contains the script and the
music. In this book, I make a note of
the performers? cues and movements
on and off stage, as well as props,
background changes and lighting. This
book enables me to keep the
performers and backstage crew on
track, in rehearsals and at every
performance.
When I was working on ?Jack And
The Beanstalk?, we had a matinee and
an evening performance, so my
working day officially started at 1 p.m.,
in time for the dancers? warm-up at
1.10 p.m.
No matter what show I?m working
on, I like to arrive an hour early so I can
have a chat with the assistant stage
manager about the previous day?s
shows. Next, I change into my ?blacks?
? the backstage ?uniform? of a black
top, black jeans and black shoes ? and
it?s almost showtime!
As the audience members take their
seats, I?m backstage, checking
John Nicoll.
A Day In The Life: Deputy Stage Manager
everything is ready to go whenever the
curtain rises. During the performance,
I?m in the wings with my book, with a
headset and microphone, saying ?Go?
to the members of the technical crew.
In ?Jack And The Beanstalk? I said
?Go? at least 500 times!
Between shows, I usually have a onehour break, when I have something to
eat. Occasionally I?ll go out with friends,
but I tend to take something with me
as that?s much more economical.
When the curtain comes down on
the last show of the day, I write a
report, which details anything that
went wrong or needs to be changed.
Finally, I change out of my blacks and
by 9.15 p.m. I?m usually ready to leave.
When I get home, which can be a
guest-house, hotel or self-catering
apartment, the first thing I do is have a
glass of wine with cheese and biscuits.
Only then can I relax ? until showtime
the next day! n
For more information about
the King?s Theatre, Edinburgh, visit
www.edtheatres.com
Advice I would give
my twenty-year-old
self:
?I?d give me a big hug
and say, ?It will be all
right. Everything will
work out?.?
Next issue: meet the owner of Bamburgh Castle, Francis Armstrong.
n PUZZLE SOLUTIONS n PUZZLE SOLUTIONS n PUZZLE SOLUTIONS n PUZZLE SOLUTIONS n PUZZLE SOLUTIONS n
SOLUTIONS
from
page 14
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River cruising ?
Gillian Thornton
enjoys a Dutch trip
14
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Knit a cross-over
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book to the table, let alone a
phone, and I was too
embarrassed to ask the hotel
receptionist if I could phone
from the desk.
But we survived, didn?t we,
Patrick? I wonder if the
present generation?s
relationships, for all their
modern technology, will last
like we did?
* * * *
I?ll have tea. Or maybe
coffee ? tea?s so nerdy.
Although he?s having tea, I
think. Yes, his mum?s just
poured it. Actually, I don?t
like coffee all that much
unless I have lots of sugar in
it. Then I?ll pile on the pounds
and Julie will call me fat.
What shall I do? I?ll check
the weather. Not that it
matters. We?ll only walk
along the prom and look
round the town ? as if there?s
anything interesting in a little
seaside place like this.
Julie said she was going to
London this weekend. Why
couldn?t I go to London
instead of this wedding?
Boring!
I just hope no-one at school
asks me what I was doing.
* * * *
I don?t think Claire has a
boyfriend. Her sister?s just
squinted down at her phone
and asked in weary tones if
she?s ever going to stop
texting Julie.
She went bright red and
flashed a quick glance across
at table seven. I think she?s
more interested in that boy
than she?s letting on.
I was the same when I first
saw Patrick. Too shy to make
the first move. Not that girls
did, in my young day, but all
the same . . .
* * * *
That lady?s leaving. I bet
she?s going to do something
more interesting than walking
down the prom. I bet that boy
is, too. And I bet he doesn?t
have to do whatever his mum
and dad are doing.
OMG, she?s stopping to talk
to him. And he?s looking over
here and smiling. I knew it!
They?re all laughing at me.
Quick, text Julie.
* * * *
?Her name?s Claire. She?s
going to be walking down the
prom in about half an hour. I
think she?d be pleased if you
bumped into her, say, round
about the Ferris Wheel??
* * * *
Hi, Jules. U never believe
where I was this a.m.! On a
Ferris Wheel! Kyle says it?s
his fave spot. Can?t stop.
See u soon. C.
The End.
Harvest In
Siddington
Neil McAllister meets the man
adding artistic flair to his local
Harvest Festival.
Factfile
n Two local men who
tried to prevent a font
being installed in 1792
were threated with
excommunication. It was
later sold for 10 shillings.
n Two small windows
near the altar are thought
to be Leper Windows.
Outside those, people
afflicted could take part in
worship.
n Each year the church
organises Redesmere Fete
in the summer, a country
fair which draws
hundreds of visitors.
n Six volumes of
?Countrywise?, Ray Rush?s
recollections of country
life, are available from
Churnet Valley Books.
n Siddington lies on the
A34 between Wilmslow
and Congleton. It is
10 miles from J18 of the
M6 (Holmes Chapel) via
Withington. For satnavs,
use the postcode SK11
9JP. The nearest railway
stations are Wilmslow
and Congleton.
Photographs by Neil McAllister.
All Saints
Church in
the 1860s.
Corn dolly
decorating a
light chandelier.
T
HROUGHOUT the
world, harvest is a
time for celebration,
regardless of faith,
when the
community gives thanks for
that year?s bounty, with a
hope that winter will not be
too harsh and next year will
be equally fruitful.
Many celebrations involve
creating seasonal
decorations, as well as
worship. Each year a small
Cheshire church draws
visitors from great distances
to witness its own festivities.
When we were building
our new house, we drove
down the A34 past
Capesthorne Hall twice a
day, when, whilst counting
pheasants, Hazel would
always comment about how
pretty the little black and
white church is.
Despite its appearance,
Siddington?s place of
worship isn?t timber-framed.
The black and white pattern
is painted.
In the early 1950s
Raymond Rush, a Norfolk
agricultural engineer turned
farmer, made his home with
new wife Hazel in
Siddington, next to the
churchyard.
Around the same time he
was sent a spiral-shaped
spirit of fertility as a gift from
East Anglia. Since ancient
times, farmers reaping their
fields believed that the spirit
would take refuge in the last
few standing stalks, which
could then be twisted
together into a home for the
winter.
Protected from the
elements in the farmhouse
this would keep the spirit in
a place of honour until it
could be released in spring,
when new grain was sown.
Ray was so fascinated by
the spiral shape that for a
fortnight he tried to make
one himself, without
success, until he had a
eureka moment.
?It had been made by a
left-handed person, and the
spiral goes against what is
natural to someone right
handed,? he recollected.
Ray?s face will be familiar
to readers in Staffordshire,
Cheshire and Lancashire as
he regularly appeared on
?Look North West?, although
his media career preceded
his television appearances.
He made regular
broadcasts about country
affairs on BBC Radio Stoke,
but once, when doing a
radio broadcast with Jack de
Manio in Manchester, he
turned up wearing a smock
and old hat, carrying a sheaf
of corn, which brought him
to the attention of the TV
people.
Once Ray caught the corn
dolly bug, it wasn?t long
before his creations were
used to decorate the church
ready for Harvest Festival.
Each year, he created new
decorations in his little
workshop a matter of yards
below the church, until
more than half a century
later over 1,000 filled the
church.
Until recent years, Ray
single-handedly unpacked
his creations and hung each
one up himself, but in his
eighties, he now accepts
help with this epic task.
?Originally it took forty
hours on my own, but when
I accepted help it took
sixty!? He laughed.
I admired one set of
decorations running above a
brass memorial plate and
on the window-sill, which
pleased Ray as it illustrated
that, as well as being fine
examples of country
craftwork, they also have
religious symbolism.
?This has the sign of the
Trinity in the centre, with
twelve angels, six either
side,? he explained. ?The
flowers of the field are
below and above the fields
of corn.?
On either side of the
church door we found a
design known as Kentish Ivy
Maids.
?The Romans brought
their fertility rites and
beliefs,? Ray explained.
?They made goblets from ivy
wood, as it was thought you
HERITAGE 61
Arranging
flowers on
the Rood.
?Wood? you
believe it ? cleverly
painted fa鏰de.
Ray?s trademark
welcome for the
festival.
could drink as much as you
want from them without
getting intoxicated.
?They also thought that
wrapping ivy around the
head would remove a
hangover, but I wouldn?t
know as I don?t drink.?
Whilst many designs are
traditional, Ray has adapted
old designs, adding features
to suit his needs, like the
line of music adorning the
organ, which for the nonmusical is the first notes of,
?Come, Ye Thankful People,
Come?.
Most dollies are created in
his tiny workshop, which
also serves as a sort of
museum and shop, where
visitors can pick up
examples of his handiwork
for a few pounds.
On the Friday before the
service, once the dollies are
in place, flowers dress every
remaining space. In front of
the Rood, Sue Furness
perched on the pew in front
of the 1663 pulpit, which is
thought to have been part
of one from nearby Marton.
The height of her
arrangement was
determined by how far Sue
could reach on tiptoe!
Men as well as women
work preparing the church
for the service. Reg Nield
helped wife Sheila dress the
font, whilst Arthur Ford
changed the lamp in a
stained-glass window
commemorating
Canon Douglas?s animal
services. Chatting to Arthur,
we quickly established a
connection, as half a
lifetime ago, we had taught
his sons.
?When I arrived, there
were thirty-four farms and
smallholdings in the parish;
now there are only six,? Ray
told us, ?but the church is
always filled to capacity
when the community comes
together for major festivals,?
he added.
On arriving for the Harvest
Festival, everyone is first
greeted by Ray?s trademark
? a smiling face on the old
door with flowers for eyes
and a welcome spelled in
green beans ? before
passing through a porch
lined with locally grown
country produce, beside
sheaves of corn and below
a floral archway.
Let?s hope the
congregation concentrated
on the sermon instead of
trying to spot Ray?s little
additions designed to
capture children?s
imagination.
Amongst the dollies he
had hidden a menagerie of
creatures. Eagle-eyed visitors
should keep an eye out for:
two woodpeckers, two small
blue tits, two owls, two
robins and one snail.
There is a lot to see in this
lovely village church, so
mark the early October date
in your diary! n
62
This atmospheric short story by Jessma Carter
is set in the Fifties.
The Midnight Train
S
ANDRA was reluctant to get
up. The sky was a dull grey and
it was unlikely the sun would
want to appear.
Besides that, her talk with
James last night had left her angry and
hurt. James had told her that he had
decided to go to London to study rather
than to Glasgow, where they had both
planned to go. London!
Among the many explanations that
James had given her, one was that they?d
see too much of one another, and that she
would be a distraction.
?Apart from that,? he?d said, ?London
is offering a course that really interests
me and isn?t on offer anywhere else.?
?Excuse me,? Sandra cut in. ?Did you
just describe me as a distraction??
?Well, actually it was my dad who said
that and I think he?s right.?
?I thought true friends, like I thought
we were, could be a support to one
another, not a distraction, as you put it.?
?Sandra.? James had held her tight.
?You know and I know that we would
want to spend time together, and maybe
not concentrate enough on studying.?
She broke free.
?In that case, let?s start not seeing one
another now. I have a lot to do before I
go to Glasgow.?
Illustration by Ruth Blair.
* * * *
Sandra could hear her mum clattering
dishes downstairs and singing along to
the Everly Brothers on the wireless. She
would get up and, after breakfast, she?d
begin to clear out her hidey-hole.
In Sandra?s bedroom a door led into
the attic. In bed at night she could hear
the gurgle of the water tank and the odd
creak as the branch of the apple tree
knocked on the roof. Her hidey-hole was
there and in it she kept all that was most
precious to her.
There were the letters her dad had sent
her when he was away being a soldier,
before she could read. He had drawn
picture stories for her that she and her
mum read together.
There was a drawing of the large hut
where he stayed, with him peeking round
the door. A picture of his best friend
looking puzzled because he couldn?t find
his helmet and then snatching her dad?s
helmet from his head.
There were old dolls that Sandra had
often thought of throwing out but never
had. Old clothes that would never be
thrown out, for even now, 10 years after
The children had been
warned about the
dangers of the
railway. But for some
the lure was
irresistible . . .
the end of the war and the shortages, her
mother would find a use for the material.
Sandra lifted up a jacket and fingered
the sturdy buttons. She could take them
off and sew them on to her new cardigan.
She felt inside the pockets and found a
small piece of silver that looked as if it
had once been round. Half of it was an
irregular bulge. There was a hole on the
irregular part and a string tied through it.
Then Sandra remembered. She untied
the string and retied it on her wrist.
* * * *
There had been few men in their lives
during the early Forties. Sandra?s dad
came home very occasionally for 48
hours.
The rest of the time it was just her and
her mum and the occasional visit from
her grandfather, who came by train and
threw her up in the air, scaring the wits
out of her when he arrived and then
making her laugh in relief, and ask for
more.
Mr Mitchell, their neighbour, was also
away, leaving his wife with three
adolescent boys and four-year-old
Robbie. It was natural, when Mrs
Mitchell was offered a part-time job that
would give her a bit extra to feed her
family, that Sandra?s mum would offer to
look after Robbie. Besides, it would be
company for Sandra.
Robbie looked angelic. Fair hair fell
like a veil of silk over his face when he
bent down to gaze at a book, Deep blue
eyes fringed with dark brown lashes had
an look of innocence, and he had a
quality of stillness as he listened to
instructions from Sandra?s mum.
?Yes, you can go to the park, but no
nonsense, do you hear??
?No nonsense,? Robbie repeated as he
clutched Sandra?s hand and solemnly
nodded.
?And don?t ever, ever, cross the road,
do you hear??
Sandra smiled at the memory. Her
mum?s definition of nonsense was
different from Robbie?s, for he had
learned a lot from his big brothers.
He taught Sandra to wink, to hold her
breath till her face was crimson, to stand
on the swings in the park, go as high as
possible and then jump off as far as she
could.
They sat together the day they started
school, when Robbie acted like a
personal tutor. He sharpened her pencil,
told her that they?d soon get a bottle of
milk to drink, and that she had to keep
out of the way when the big boys were
kicking a ball about at break. He told her
that sums were easy and she wasn?t to
worry.
It had been made clear to Sandra
before she went to school, and on the
infants? first day at school, that the
railway was a danger. A real danger.
?A train driver often can?t see what?s
on the line, and even if he does, he can?t
stop quickly,? the teacher said. ?You may
wave from the bridge. You may watch
the train as it passes. But you must not
climb over the fence that is beside the
railway track. That is forbidden!?
A few weeks later Sandra had sat in
her bedroom in a state of terror. The
wind was howling outside, there were no
streetlights, but there was a pale full
moon in the sky and shadows were
tossed across the street and on to the
railway lines. She could hear the toot of
the train before it passed through the
tunnel.
Robbie would be scurrying down the
banking to lay his coin on the track.
Sandra heard the hoot as it passed
through the village and imagined Robbie
going to lift the coin from the track. It
would still be warm from the weight of
the train.
She crept downstairs and watched from
the unlit front-room window. She felt her
heart beat as she waited until she saw
Robbie scramble through the fence wires
and run towards his home.
* * * *
At breakfast a few days later her
mother held a letter in her hand.
?You remember the Mitchells that used
to live two doors up? Well, they?re
coming back for a visit.? Evelyn Walker
laid her specs on the breakfast table and
looked at her daughter. ?Remember how
I used to look after Robbie when his
mum was working? You two were real
63
Set in
the
1950s
good friends back then. No fights and not
many tears, as I remember.?
?Strange,? Sandra said, ?I?ve been
thinking about them a lot this week.?
?That?s how things go. You hear a
name from the past and all sorts of
memories come back. You must have
heard me say a few days ago that they
were coming to visit their cousins.?
When Evelyn Walker was pouring her
second cup of tea, she turned round.
?Would you be a darling and run down
to the shop to get me some milk and
eggs? The Mitchells will be here soon.?
Sandra must have looked surprised.
?You weren?t listening. They?ll be here
this morning. They stayed the night in
the Station Hotel. I?ll have to rustle up
some scones.?
Sandra had been thinking of what
James had said. It had already been
several days since they had seen one
another. Perhaps, now, he?d found out
that it would not be easy for him to think
of going away for a whole term without
seeing her? Letters and phone calls could
never compensate for not actually being
with someone.
She went to the hall and hurriedly
threw her mother?s old blue coat over her
shoulders. It wasn?t far to the shop and
she could pull it around her.
She waited until the customer in front
of her was served. It was not someone
she knew for he spoke in an English
accent, but she did notice that a very
large box of chocolates lay on the
counter while he rummaged in his pocket
for money.
Sandra was still trying to decide
whether she was more hurt or angry with
James, and she paid little attention as the
man knocked her slightly as he turned to
leave the shop.
?Sorry.? He buttoned up his tweed coat
and made for the door.
* * * *
The scones were barely out of the oven
when the doorbell rang.
Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Walker had
never been in the habit of calling one
another by their Christian names, even
although they had been neighbours, but
there was no mistaking the pleasure both
had when greeting one another.
?It?s real good to see you, Mrs
Walker.?
?You, too, Mrs Mitchell.?
?You must remember Robbie?? She
yanked the arm of the young man who
had come in with her. ?He?s come up
here to study. Did I tell you in my last
letter? Doing music at Glasgow
Atheneum.?
There were more exclamations.
Imagine ? Glasgow! Wasn?t that
wonderful?
At that moment, Sandra pushed open
the sitting-room door, balancing a teapot
in one hand and a plate of scones in the
other. She noticed the box of chocolates
first and then looked at the young man.
He took the plate from her hand and
laid it on the table.
?You didn?t know me, did you??
?You must remember Robbie, Sandra!?
her mother said.
Sandra was too surprised to speak.
?I saw the silver sixpence on your
wrist,? Robbie offered, ?otherwise I
wouldn?t have recognised you.?
?What?s this about a silver sixpence??
both mothers asked at once.
?Just a game we played.? Robbie
laughed.
?Not much of a game,? Sandra argued
in a warning tone.
She hoped the two women would have
so much to say to one another that they
would forget to ask.
* * * *
Angela Walker sat back in her chair,
very content after the visit of her old
friend.
?We went through a lot together. Her
husband came back from the war and
found there was no job waiting for him.
But he?s done well down in England. She
was a great friend to me when your
father never came back, you know.
?And Robbie looks the same steady lad
that he was, don?t you think??
Sandra hid a wry smile at the
description
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