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The Hamleteers

Part 2

 

By Mary Cargill


Copyright 2000 Mary Cargill

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                                                            THE MAY FAIR

 

            It was Saturday the thirtieth of  April. Ed Counter presided over a meeting of the entertainment's committee, which was held in the morning room at the vicarage. They had met to discuss the final arrangements for the May Fair, to be held on the following Saturday in the church grounds and halls. Penny Black, the secretary, read the minutes of their last meeting, and Dr. Germicide, the treasurer, intimated that the accounts were in a fairly healthy state. The committee, comprising of Avu, Rael, Willie, Ardis and Husky, debated the number and type of stalls which should be allowed.

"A cake stall is always popular," suggested Avu, "as is a plant and vegetable. Everyone seems to make for these stalls as soon as the fair opens," she added.

The others nodded their agreement. Ed asked for other ideas.

"Well, a book stall is useful," said Rael, "and maybe we could incorporate some toys as well. I'm sure that everyone could find something in their attics for that."

"How about a few games," put in Willie. "Ardis and I could rig up a hoop-la and bran tub."

"I'm sure the folks would enjoy a coconut-shy as well," said Husky.

"I have a rather large marquee," interrupted the doctor, "we could use it as a refreshment station."

"Agreed," said Ed. "Melamine would be only too pleased to organize that side of things."

Penny was kept busy writing all the suggestions into her minute book. She listed all the stalls, and suggested putting up a few posters around the area, plus an advertisement in the "Shambles Sentinel."

Willie and Ardis discussed erecting the stalls on the Friday night, so that everybody could come along with donations, and the committee could lay out the produce.

"By the way," asked Willie, "who is going to perform the opening ceremony?"

"The mayoress of Great Shambles," replied Ed. "I approached her some time ago, and she said that it would be a pleasure to come along."

That statement was met with general approval, and the meeting was brought to a close.

            An announcement was made in church the next day, and Ed hoped that everyone would support the event, both by donations of goods, and attendance on the day.

During the following week, the women were busy making jams and chutney, cakes and scones, whilst the   men folk took cuttings of plants and potted them up, or found toys which needed some attention. Children were encouraged to sort through long forgotten books, and everything was packed into boxes, ready to transport to the hall, where committee members waited to receive the gifts.

Arnie carefully gathered up large bunches of cut flowers, and put them into buckets of water. Derry had agreed to collect them with his trailer on Friday night, and, true to his word, he arrived at Knowe Way at eight o'clock.

When Ed and Melamine called at the hall, they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Bryde's Bay, and forecast a really good fair. By half past nine, most of the donations had arrived, so the committee decided to lock up and go home, since they would be having an early start next morning. Outside, Ardis and Willie put the final touches to the games area, and Dr. Germicide had erected the marquee. They said goodnight to each other, and hoped for fine weather the next day.                   

 

            Rael and Teenie breakfasted  at eight o'clock, and were ready to set off by nine. They were to be in charge of the plant stall, and had spent some time on Friday night cutting up cards so that they could put the  prices of the different plants at suitable vantage points.

As they got into the car, Teenie asked Rael " did you remember the cards?"

"Oh yes Teenie. I have them safe and sound in my handbag, along with a plastic box for the money."

The teachers arrived at St. Bird's at the same time as Penny. "I hope that this drizzle goes over soon," said the post mistress, "it could affect the turnout if it doesn't.

"Well, the forecast was quite good this morning," Rael replied, "the sun is supposed to break through by mid morning."

"Let's hope that the met office has got it right for once," laughed Penny, as she carried a tray of cakes inside.

Ardis and Willie were fixing up the platform for the visit of the mayoress.

"One, two, one, two, testing, testing," said Willie, as he made sure that the microphone was working.

"Seems all right to me," said Ardis, and he switched it off again.

They placed some flowers and greenery along the front of the stage, then set some chairs and a table in the centre.

Over at the tea tent, Melamine, Sian and Cherry were busy slicing rolls in readiness for the expected crowds. Sausages were cooking slowly in a huge frying pan, sending out a most appetising smell.

The doctor had put up a large notice board outside the marquee, directing customers towards the refreshments. Trestle tables were arranged around the inside, and tip-up chairs were neatly stacked at one end.

Avu and Ameron had finished pricing the cakes at their stall. "Such a fine display of lovely cakes," commented Avu, "the ladies have been busy."

"Yes, yes," agreed Ameron, "I'm sure we will see a mad dash for them. The cake stall is usually the first to be sold out."

Ava and Sakov were responsible for the fruit, vel and grocery stall. The Kharis had arrived with cases of tinned goods, and the two ladies had a hard job to find room for everything.

Arnie and V.C. Tenn set up the toy and book stand. "I'm sure that some of these model cars are quite valuable Arnie, maybe even collectors items."

"Possibly," replied Arnie, as he handled a model of the coronation coach. "This one could do with a dab of paint."

Husky arrived in his new minibus, and made straight for the games area. "Mornin' Willie," he burred, as he carried over a large box of knick-knacks for the bran tub, and handed it to the sexton.

"Many thanks Husky," said Willie as he accepted the 'disposable nappies' carton which was filled to the brim with goodies. "Any idea how many items are here?"

"Oh, 'bout an 'undred an' fifty," informed Husky, getting back into his bus. "I'd better be off now, as I 'as to start collecting folk in about  'alf an hour. Be seein' yer later Willie," and he was gone in his pride and joy, back to the centre of the village to await his passengers.

"Kindly old soul Husky," remarked Willie to Ardis, who was setting up coconuts at the shy. "He's offered to run people up here, free of charge."

            Sandy came up to see how things were progressing. He sought out Ed, and told him that he had put Ringo on traffic duty from one o'clock, until the fair finished at five. "He can direct traffic as needs be, and also keep an eye out for any of the known criminal fraternity who might consider the event a good chance to do a bit of dipping."

"Thanks Sandy. It's a relief to know that our police consider the fair worth a bit of attention. Come and have a cup of tea with me over at the marquee. I'm sure Melamine will be glad to see you."

Ed and Sandy walked over to the refreshment area and disappeared into the tea tent. Everything was ready. It was a quarter to one, and the village shops would be closing in fifteen minutes. The mayoral car was due to arrive at one-thirty. Melamine called all the helpers over for something to eat and a welcome sit down.

Fifteen minutes later, Husky arrived with his first load of passengers. He dropped them off at the car park and went back to the pick-up point for more. Ringo directed cars into the church grounds, and very soon all the parking spaces were filled up. Ed waited for the mayoress to arrive, and escorted her to the hall. He directed her to the platform and switched on the microphone. Raising his hand to silence the throng, he started on his speech of welcome.

"My lady mayoress, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to see so many here today. I would like to thank the mayoress for graciously consenting to perform the opening ceremony, and I would also like to thank the band of workers who are manning the stalls. It really goes without saying that we could not have had the fair without the generosity the people of Bryde's Bay, and I will call upon her worship to say a few words. Ladies and gentlemen, the mayoress, Mrs. Lauren Order."

The assembled crowd applauded Lauren as she got to her feet and shook hands with Ed. Then she came forward to the microphone, and, clearing her throat, said:

"Thank you Mr. Counter for your warm welcome, and now it gives me great pleasure to declare the Bryde's Bay May Fair open."

Sylvie Service, five year old daughter of Philip and Ava, stepped forward and presented Lauren with a large bouquet. More applause broke out, and then there was a stampede for the stalls. The money boxes were rapidly filling up, whilst outside, fathers and children enjoyed the games, then met up with wives and mothers to make their way to the tea tent.

            Annie Wyn Elpus arrived in the minibus with her tribe of children. She put the baby into the push chair and moved towards the church hall. Ever since Evan had gone to prison, she had been receiving money every week, and decided to give the children a rare treat. She gave them each a little money, and sent them over to the bran tub. "Now don't be going away," she instructed them. "I'll meet you in ten minutes at the big tent."

            Laverne Bacon drove into the parking area and went across to see Melamine. Laverne was the butcher from Great Shambles, and had supplied sausages and burgers at cost price, since the profits were going to church funds. The ladies were glad to see her, as stocks were running low.

"We've had a marvelous turnout Laverne, and people are still arriving," Sian informed her.

"I think we would need another ten pounds of sausages and perhaps one hundred burgers," said Melamine.

"Right then, I'll go and get them from the van."

            Madge and Sadie entered the marquee, heavily laden with purchases. "Youse grab a coupla chairs Sadie, an' I'll get wer eats. I'm starvin'."

Sian waited for Madge's order.

"Two teas please Sian luv, an' two cheeseburgers." Then Madge spied the fat pork sausages sizzling in the pan. "Oh, an' two o' them hat dawgs as well, wi' a good helpin' o' onions. Have yiz gat any o' thon John D mustard? I'll have a dab or two on each one, an' a wee squirt o' tamata sorce as well. Don't ferget a leaf o' lettuce an' a slice o' tamata as well."

"Will that be all Madge?" queried Sian. "That comes to five pounds and fifty pence please."

"Here's six quid. Keep the change," said Madge, slapping the money down on the table.

She carried the tray over to the table and joined Sadie. Tucking into her cheeseburger, she said "This'll keep us goin' til we get wer dinners. Youse come til my house an' we'll have a good feed. We can heat up them pork pies we bought from Ameron. Whaddyethink?"

"Oh aye," agreed Sadie, "and we can finish aff wi' thon rhubarb tart. Have yiz gat any cream Madge?"

"Cream? Cream? There's whippin' cream, double cream, ice cream, face cream, an' even cream fer wer fate. Anythin' yiz want Sadie, I've gat it."

"O.K. O.K. I only asked. I must say Madge, my fate are quite tired ny. I'd love til get them intil a bucket o' hat watter."

"Well nar Sadie, I toul yiz nat til be wearin' them staccato heels. I jist knew ye'd be sufferin' by nar, that's why I wore me gutties. When we get til the house, jist yiz kick aff them high heels an' stick yer fate in a bucket o' salt watter, then rub a wee bit o' foot cream intil them. They'll be right as rain then."

They finished their 'snack' and took a final walk around the stalls, then got into Madge's car and went home.

The fair was a roaring success, as all who had helped out agreed. The final total was just short of two thousand pounds.

"Absolutely wonderful!" beamed Ed. "Thank you so much everyone."

The last few customers left the church grounds and headed home. Ringo removed his white gloves and went over to let Ed know that he was returning to the station.

"Oh please have something to eat before you go," begged the vicar. "You have been on duty since one o'clock without a break."

"Thank you sir. That would be most welcome," replied the constable.

By half past six, everyone had gone. The hall and grounds had been tidied up.

Madge and Sadie were tucking into their pork pies, and the youngest of the Elpus children were already in bed. It had been an enjoyable day for everyone.

Bryde's Bay was very quiet. The moon was shining over the water, casting a ribbon of silver across the boats moored at the jetty. Village cats ran about unhindered, scavenging for odd scraps of food. Everyone was asleep.

Everyone, that is, except Madge and Sadie, who sat in "NATDUNROMINYET" making plans....

 

                                    ARNIE LETTERS HAS A SPECIAL DELIVERY

 

            Molly Coddle opened the gate of 'Cloak and Dagger' and made her way up to Mrs. Mole's front door. It was nine o'clock on the tenth of May, a very auspicious occasion for the grand old lady. Molly entered the kitchen and began to prepare breakfast for her elderly charge. She had been Mrs. Mole's housekeeper for ten years.  She heard Mrs. Mole call out

"is that you Molly?"

Molly crossed the hall and went into the centenarian's bedroom.

"Good morning Mrs. Mole, and a very happy birthday to you. Congratulations. Here is a little something for you," she twittered, handing Flossie a parcel.

"Oh Molly, you shouldn't have bothered, but thank you very much indeed," she said, as she started to unwrap the gift. Inside was a pale blue cardigan.

"How lovely!" declared the birthday girl, "and my favourite colour too. However did you know?"

"I'm glad you like it my dear. Now, I'll just put it to one side and bring in your breakfast."

 

 

                        It was whilst Mrs. Mole was dipping her soldiers into a lightly boiled egg that the doorbell rang. Molly hurried to answer it, and there stood Arnie with a huge pile of cards.

"Come in, Arnie. Go on into Mrs. Mole's bedroom. She is just finishing her breakfast."

Arnie went into the room and wished Mrs. Mole many happy returns as he set down the cards on her bedside table.

"Goodness me! Such a lot of cards there Arnie. Reach me my glasses please - they are over there on the dressing table."

Arnie reached the spectacles to her and bade her farewell.

"I'll probably see you later," he added as he left.

            Molly came in to collect the tray, and Mrs. Mole showed her the cards. "I never imagined that I had so many friends in Bryde's Bay," she said.

"And why not?" queried Molly. "You really are very well liked you know. Now, what would you like to wear today? It would need to be something very special, because I would guess that you will be having lots of visitors."

"Let me see. I think I'll wear my nice royal blue frock, and that lovely new cardigan."

"Right then. I'll leave them out for you. Give me a call if you need me, I'll be across in the lounge giving it a good clean up."

 

            Down at the community hall, the ladies were busy getting ready for the surprise party. They set out tables and chairs, and decorated the walls with balloons and streamers. Madge and Sadie were hanging up a huge banner across the hall with "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MRS. MOLE. ONE HUNDRED TODAY." EMBLAZONED ON IT.

            Penny Black was sorting out another pile of cards at the post office when Arnie arrived on his bicycle.

"You are just in time," greeted Penny, "Mrs. Mole seems to be the only one in the village to be receiving any mail today!"

"I wonder why?" laughed Arnie, looking out of the window. He saw an official looking car drawing up at the door. A man got out, and Arnie recognised the Postmaster General from Great Shambles.

"Wonder what he wants?" said Penny.

Frank Daly came into the sub-office and asked Penny if there was a resident by the name of Mrs. Flossie Mole living in the village.

"Oh yes, and she is one hundred years old today," replied Penny.

"Good, good," said Frank, "perhaps you would deliver this telegram to her. It has come from the palace, and I brought it over straight away."

"I'll see to that immediately sir," said Arnie, taking the telegram from Frank. He left the office and went back to Badger Lane. When he arrived there, he saw that the door was open, so he went inside and found the old lady surrounded by flowers and cards.

"I have some more for you," he said, "but more importantly, this telegram," as he handed it to her.

 

Mrs. Mole opened the telegram immediately and read the greeting. Arnie noticed a little tear running down her cheek and discreetly moved away.

 

 

            Ed and Melamine were next to arrive, and Melamine asked Molly to get Mrs. Mole a suitable coat, as they intended taking her out for a little drive.

"Oh how lovely!" said Flossie, whose hearing was still very sharp. "I do like to see about me. Molly, fetch me my warm jacket and my handbag please."

In a few minutes Ed escorted the VIP to his car, and fastened her seat belt. Melamine, still inside the house told Molly to go down to the hall and inform the others that Mrs. Mole would be arriving in about twenty minutes. "We'll take her along to Roller Cove and back, so that should give the 'girls' time to make the tea," and she was off down the path to join her husband.

As soon as the car was out of sight, Molly locked the door and hurried down to the party. She passed on the message to the ladies who put the kettles on to boil. In what seemed only a few minutes, the hall was packed to capacity with well wishers. Rael and Teenie arrived after school had finished, and the traders of the village had closed early, since this was a very special occasion.

"Here they come now," said Avu.

"Right now everybody, keep very quiet until they come in," instructed Dr. Panacea.

 

            Inside Ed's car, Mrs. Mole wanted to know why they were stopping at the community hall.

"I'd like you to come in and see the inside. We have had it decorated," explained Ed, going round to open the door. He and Melamine helped Flossie to the door and ushered her inside.

All of a sudden, everyone began to cheer and clap, and burst out singing 'Happy Birthday to You'. Mrs. Mole was visibly moved by all this, and she was led to the chair of honour at the top table. Tea was served, and when they had finished, Sacha Torte carried in the biggest cake that anyone had ever seen. It was beautifully decorated, with one candle in the centre. Mrs. Mole duly obliged by blowing out the candle and cutting the first slice. All the guests agreed that it tasted very good indeed. There followed a speech from Ed, who finished by presenting Mrs. Mole with a new television set, a present from the hamleteers. The photographer from the 'Sentinel' took several shots of the presentation, after which Mrs. Mole thanked everyone for their kindness and love.

            Ed ran her back home again as she was feeling a little bit tired. Back at 'Cloak and Dagger', Molly tidied up the lounge, and made space for the set which Ardis was going to deliver fairly soon. When Molly brought Flossie a cup of tea, she found her fast asleep, clutching that very special telegram.....

 

                                          A TALE OF TWO SISTERS

 

Margaret and Sarah Duff, known to their school friends as 'Hard' and  'Plum', were born and brought up in the tight end of the big smoke, their house overshadowed by the huge gantries of the nearby shipyard. When they left school, they acquired jobs in one of the huge mills near the dockyard. Traveling to and from work by tram, they stayed at their jobs until their respective marriages. Margaret worked as a sorter, and Sarah was employed in the packing department, where the finished articles were either sent to local retail outlets, or packed for export to America, Canada and other such places. When they received their pay on a Friday afternoon, they looked forward to a shopping spree on Saturday.

"I s'pose thon wee insurance man'll be waitin' fer his shillin' as usual," said Madge. "Yiz'd think we was goin' til emigrant the way he luks at yiz."

"Aye, yer right," said Sadie, "an' the Co quarter's next week, so he'll jist have til wait."

They got on to their usual tram on the Friday evening, their clothes reeking of tobacco, and their hands stained brown. As soon as they reached home, (and paid the insurance man) they washed and scrubbed themselves, then steeped their overalls. They felt much better in clean clothes, and had their tea from the 'chippie' round the corner.

Saturday came, and they accompanied their mother to the city centre, where they would buy their foodstuffs for the incoming week. Their mother would go back home, leaving her daughters to their own bit of personal shopping. On Saturday nights, the girls would go to a dance, and sometimes bought a new dress for the occasion. They were both good singers, and were often asked to 'do a turn' during the interval. It was at the dance on Boxing night one year that Madge met 'big Shughie' Conda, who was to become her husband. Shughie was a fitter in another mill, and told Madge that he did not intend staying there for ever.

"Whaddya mean?" asked Madge, "shoor yiz need the dosh til live on. Whaddle yiz do?"

"Ach well, I seen a job in the paper, fer fitters in South Americky. The pay's good, and ye don't pay any tax."

"Where abouts?" demanded Madge.

"Brazil. Rio de Janeiro," came the reply.

"Rio de January?" gasped Madge, "an' whaddle I do when yiz are there, may I ask?"

"Shoor we could get married, an' ye could come wi' me."

"Is thon supposed til be a preposition?"

"Well, if ye put it like that, I s'pose so," said Shughie.

"Well, in that case, yiss," beamed Madge, and hurried over to tell Sadie her news.

The family, although flabbergasted, were nonetheless very happy for Madge.

"I'll miss yiz when yiz go," said her tearful mother.

"I'll miss yiz too, but shoor yiz can come an' visit us," replied Madge.

The wedding took place the following Spring, and the newlyweds set off for South America, courtesy of the Brazilian Glue Company, where Shughie had found his new job. He stuck to it for twenty years. A small house was waiting for them in Rio, and Madge and Shughie were extremely happy, because with Shughie's huge wage increase, they were able to buy whatever they needed to furnish their house. Madge wrote to Sadie and her mother every week, telling them about the wonderful life which they were enjoying. She also told them that there would be a new member of the family in the new year, all being well.

            Sadie managed to go and see Madge after the baby arrived, and intended spending a few weeks with her sister.

"What's her name?" she asked, when she first saw her niece.

"Well," began Madge, "when I was in the osbidal, Shughie bought me a lovely snakeskin hair band when she wus born, so we couldn't call her anything else but Anna."

 

"Anna Conda," repeated Sadie, "shoor that's lovely."

"Whit's the news from home?"

"Well, yiz know Shughie's cousin, Alec Smart? I met him at the dance, an' we're gettin' married next year, Sadie began, "he's the night watchman at the mill where Shughie worked, an' he's gettin' a pay rise in the Autumn."

"That's smashin'. Mebbe we'll get over til the weddin'," said Madge.

"Aye indeed, an' mebbe wee Anna cud be wer flar girl, if she's walkin' by then."

"That wud be lovely. I'm shoor she'll be up on 'er pins by then," said the proud mother.

            Sadie travelled back home again, leaving Madge, Shughie and Anna waving good-bye at the harbour. By that Christmas, Anna was taking her first steps, and Madge wrote to Sadie to tell her this. Shughie had managed to get two weeks off for the wedding, so they would all be arriving in a couple of days before the ceremony. They had booked a passage on a ship which would be docking at the wharf near their old home.

Sadie was busy making preparations. She had hired a dressmaker, who would make something suitable for herself and wee Anna. Madge would be matron of honour, and she was to bring her own outfit. Shughie was to be best man, although he wasn't very good at public speaking.

So, Sadie and Alec were married, and went off to Spain on honeymoon. Madge, Shughie and Anna returned to Rio, and things settled down again until one day Shughie received a letter from Alec, saying that he had been paid off, and the likelihood of another job seemed remote. They had, by now, a young son, Napoleon, who needed so many things, and could Shughie see his way to a little financial help?

"Napoleon?" said Madge. "I s'pose Alec gat our Sadie a battle o' brandy when he wus born?"

"Naw Madge. He bought her a half pound o' brandy balls!"

Shughie thought for a long time before making his decision. "We'll go back home Madge," he announced one day, "shoor I've done enough years here til get a pension when I'm an oul' lad. Whaddye think?"

"I think that's great. Anna cud do wi' a good schoolin' and she shoor won't get it here. Youse go til the shippin' agent an' see what he comes up wi'."

            The Conda family arrived home again and made straight for Alec's house in Bryde's Bay. The Smarts had moved there when Alec lost his job, and had obtained a small house in Knowe Way. Likewise, the Condas were given a similar house in the same place, as, after a short time living with Alec, they were considered a priority. Whilst Madge and Sadie were at the beach with the children, Shughie and Alec discussed their future.

"Ye know Shughie, I'm tempted til go back til wer oul' ways," said Alec."My job prospects aren't looking good."

"Might not be a bad idea," replied his cousin, "but we'll need til case a few joints first."

"Hy're yiz aff fer cash?"

"Ach I put away a tidy sum for Madge an' Anna, in case anything shud happen til me. Whaddabout youse?"

"The very same. I didn't want til be dippin' intil the savin's, and that's why I wrote til yiz."

Not having anything else to do, they walked along Douglas Street to make mental notes of anywhere that looked promising. They reached the church at the far end of the village and stopped. Two men were putting new lead on the church roof, and the Counters were away for one month's holiday.

"That's it! Looks like we might have struck it lucky chum," whispered Shughie. "These boys is near finished, an' we could relieve the church of the new lead when they've gone away. Should make a good price y'know."

The work was finished on Saturday, and the men took away the scaffolding. Alec and Shughie went along on Saturday night to have a look around for ladders, and spotted two extra long ones at the back of the vicarage.

"We're in luck," said Alec, "how 'bout early tomorrow mornin'. There won't be anyone about."

"Right," said Shughie, "I'll see yiz here at seven o'clock. You can be lookout whilst I remove the lead. After all, yiz're nat very good at climbin' ladders."

And so the plans were made.

"What if we DO get caught?" asked Alec.

"Well, wer savin's should be enough til do the girls fer the duration."

            Early next morning, two shadowy figures entered the church grounds. Alec fetched the ladders. Carefully they set them against the wall, and Shughie began to climb up. He reached the roof and began to remove the lead. Alec kept watch, just in case anyone should come along. Shughie was just removing the last of the lead when Alec shouted to him.

"Hurry up there Shughie, there's a car coming this way. I'm aff."

Shughie put the bag over his shoulder and slid down the ladders, straight into the arms of Sandy Haire! Sandy had been over at Great Shambles, and had spotted Shughie on his return.

"What have we here?" "Oh I see. A smart alec in the village, eh? Thought we would help ourselves to the new lead, did we? Who was the other fella with you? Run off, did he? Not a very good mate, eh?"

Shughie knew when he was beaten. He did not tell about Alec, but went quietly with Sandy, down to the police station, where he was formally charged with theft.

 

We'll let Madge tell the story herself......

 

                                  I'm livin' in a smashin' big house at the end of Douglas Street, but I'll tell yiz more about that later on.Yiz all know har my Shughie ended up doin' government service. He wus up before the beak the mornin' after he done the job. Ach, he luked awful well. I wus real proud o' him. He'd his best pink shirt on under his dingaroos, his yella hackney jacket, old check duncher and his DM boots. When yer man passed sentence on him, he tuk it like a man - cried like a baby! "Nivver min' Shughie" sez I, "I'll be up til see yiz soon." He luked around at me an' give me a wee wave, then two big wardrobes tuk him aff. I wus absolutely morticed! I didn't know where til luk when I left the coorthouse, but I wus jist in time til see him bein' carted aff in a black tiara. What on earth wus I goin' til do? No man til bring in a wage. Shughie had done well over the years, especially in Rio de January, where he had stuck til his job as a foreman in the glue factory for near thirty years.I jist sat down on one o' them seats an' sung a wee song til meself.

                        Whaddle I do, ny Shughie's gone away,

                        Ten years til the day, whaddle I do?

                        I wonder where he hid thon savin's book

                        I'll have a luk, that's what I'll do.

                        What if I'm left wi' only fifteen bob?

                        A quare bad job it's true -

                        I'll ring our Sadie when I get back home,

                        I'll seek a loan, that's what I'll do.

 

We didn't have a car at the time, so I gat the bus back til Bryde's Bay, an' went til the Regal 'otel fer a good feed.Soup,turkey, sassigis, peas, beans an' mash, wi' lashin's o' gravy. Yiz wud've thought thon turkey wus takin' swimmin' lessons! Then I had strawberry Pavarotti and caffee wi' biscuits and Gorbalzola cheese. That lot soon cheered me up, an' I gat til thinkin' about what til do ny. I'd be on me own fer ten years, an' I wus detergent that I wus nat goin' til get mesel' intil a route. I knew that Shughie had prabably stashed away some spondoolix fer a rainy day, an' right ny it luked as if there was a thunderstorm comin'. I called intil the Pondicherry on the way home til Knowe Way, an' gat a cupple o' tralleyloads. Harry Khari said he wud run the goods up til me house, so I went home and waited. As soon as he had been, I stuck the kettle on an' opened a wee bax o' cakes, jist fer a wee snack. Whilst I wus drinkin' me tea, I thought I'd have a gander upstairs fer the bank books. I luked in the back o' the wardrobe, an' there they were, in an oul' bax. I opened them an' near fainted! Most of the money had come from the jab in South Americky, but the rest had obliviously been accumulussed from his more recent jabs. Two million pound! And that had been lyin' fer near two years wiout bein' marked up fer the interest. Thank goodness it wus a joint account.

The phone started til ring, so I picked up the expansion by the bed. It wus our Sadie, an' she wus cryin' somethin' shackin'. 'Oh Madge' sez she, in a wee quivery voice, 'they gat Alec this mornin', an' he's away fer ten years too.'

I asked her what happened, an' she said that he'd been knacked down by a Sinclair C-5, whatever that is - in Great Shambles.

Cud he nat have juked roun' a corner? sez I.

'Hardly, sez she, he wus lyin' on his back at the time, an' he was tuk by the peelers up til the station. They were goin' til charge him wi' jailwalking, then they realised who he wus, an' brought him til the beak, and he sent him til Woodworm fer ten years. If only he cud've shared a cell wi' your Shughie, they'd've been company fer each other.'

Ny stap yer cryin' Sadie, sez I, yer nat doin' yersel' any good. C'mon down fer yer tea, an' we'll see what we'll do.

I decided til ring Loaded & Co. the estate agent til see if the big house wus still fer sale, along at the end of the road. They said it wus, an' wud I like til see it? No, sez I, I know what it's like. I'll put an offer on it, an' I give them me name an' address.

I rang Philip N. Service next, an' toul' him I wanted til buy a car, imminently. He said that the only thing he had was a Fido, so I sez that'll do, an' cud he bring it down right away. He wus here in fifteen minnits, an' I give him a cheque fer it. Boys a dear, it wus great to be mobile again!

Sadie arrived soon afterwards, clutchin' a big bax o' 'Sniffles' tissues. Her eyes wus as red as Rudolf's nose. She come in an' sat on the sofa. 'Whadder we goin' til do Madge?'

Do/ Do/ sez I. I'll tell yiz what we're goin' til do Sadie. She luked at me all auspicious like.

I've put in a bid fer thon big house at the end o' the village, an' I intend havin' a good time fer the next ten years.

'Oooooh,' she wailed, an' on come the waterworks again.

See thon car outside Sadie? Well, I've jist this minnit bought it from Philip.

Sadie gat up an' luked out the windy. 'That's very nice Madge. Did it cost much?'

Who cares about the cost Sadie? Shughie made sure I'd be well aff at the bank. I suggest you check your bank books too. Ye might get a wee shack, same as me.

We had another wee snack, an' Sadie seemed a bit better.

Why don't yiz stay the night luv, an' we can decide what we'll do after breakfast. I'll make some steak an' chips, wi' a few musherooms,peas an' tamatas threw in.

On come the tears again. Whadd've I said ny? I asked her.

'That's Alec's favourite meal ' she blubbered.

Ach Sadie:

                        When yer cryin', when yer cryin'

                        Yer eyes an' nose turn red;

                        When yer sighin', when yer sighin'

                        Yiz give me a sore head;

                        So come on Sadie, lie back in yer chair

                        I'll make wer tea whilst you tidy yer hair,

                        Stap yer cryin' and stap yer sighin',

                        Shooor we'll be all right ny.

That wee rendition soon cheered her up, an' she smiled a bit. That's better, sez I, ny go til the bathroom an' splash some coul' watter on yer face.

After tea, the two of us sat down fer a chat. I suggested that we head aff in Fido next mornin' fer a wee trip. Sadie agreed, an' asked if I'd mind if she tuk a nice hat bath. Nat at all Sadie, go on ahead luv, shoor it'll help ye til relapse. I'll clear up here an' make yiz a cuppa tea when yer ready til put yer jammies on.

Aff she went an' filled the bath fer a good long soak whilst I wrenched the dishes an' put the kettle on. I thought I heard her cryin' again, so I went til the battam o' the stairs, but as I listened, I cud hear her singin':

                        Yesterday,

                        My wee Alec Smart wus tuk away, Sent up til the Worm his debt til pay,

                         Ten years he gat jist yesterday.

                        Why he had til go we all know he tuk some lead,

                        I know he done wrong, but he's sarry, so he said;

                        Madge 'n' me went til visit at oul' Clabbery,

                        Her big Shughie is in there you see,

                        Oh what'll we do till they're free?

 

Yiz know, Alec Smart's a kind soul too, jist like Shughie. He luked after our Sadie quare 'n' well. I don't s'pose they've as much in the bank as us, but our Sadie's goin' til be o.k. Her house is like pins on paper yiz know. She scrupulates it every day, an' she has a lovely half-moon at her front door. Roun' the back they've a wee lean-to where they keep their transport - a motor bike an' sidecar. I must tell yiz, Alec 'n' Sadie luk great in their flyin' helmets an' goggles.

            Sadie yelled down the stairs that she wus near ready til come down, so I boiled up the kettle an' made a couple o' doorsteps each, an' we made wer plans. I said that we'd take wer bank books intil the manager in the mornin' til get 'em marked up. It shudn't take long wi' them combusters, then we can decide what til do when we come out.

            Next mornin', V.C.Tenn arrived at the 'Fly by Night' an' was surprised til see me waitin' fer him. He bid me good mornin' an' asked if there wus anythin' he cud do fer me. I jist want til collect some brochures, I toul' him. Sadie 'n' me wants til go on a really good hallyday, so if yiz wud oblige me wi' some o' them better class ones, we'll make up wer minds where til go.

"Where were you thinking of going Madge? We have hundreds of brochures here, so if you could give me a clue as to your preference, I could pick out something suitable."

I thought fer a few minnits, then toul him that I wud luv til go on a cruise, maybe around the Carborundum, or somethin' like that.

"Very well", sez he, "but a cruise can be quite expensive you know."

Money's no objection til us, sez I. Yiz know, he irrigated me a bit when he said that. Anyhar, he handed me about a dozen assorted books, an' I brought 'em home. Sadie wus waitin' fer me.

"Where were yiz Madge? I thought yiz were away wi'out me, but I seen Fido at the front, so I knew yiz were'nt far away."

I toul' her where I'd been, an' asked her if she wus ready fer the road.

"Oh aye," sez she, an' aff we went. Sadie collected her books. an' said that she had gat a shack when she luked inside. She didn't know that she had so much money, an' nivver thought til ask Alec.

Good show, sez I. We'll get over til the bank an' see what wer totals are when they mark 'em up.

Both of us was well pleased when we come outa the bank, an' I sez til Sadie that we'd go roun' til the estate agent til pay fer the house before someone else beat us til it. We wus well received at Loaded & Co., especially when I toul the manager, Manny Pounds, that it wus a cash sale, an' I demanded immediate position. He tuk the cheque an' haunded me the keys. He also agreed til sell the oul house in Knowe Way. We went til have a luk at the house til see what wus needed.

"Cor, Madge. It's as big as the Palace!" exclaimed Sadie, her eyes as big as saucers. I had til agree wi' her, an' said we'd nip roun' til Knowe Way til make a few phone calls whilst she made wer mid mornin' break.

Whilst we had wer caffee, Sadie asked me if I was goin' til give the house a name, an' I asked her what she wud suggest.

"What about DUNROMIN?"

Naw, I answered, I've nat done roamin yet. Here! That's what I'll call it - NATDUNROMINYET. So, the name had been decided, an' I ordered a large wooden sign to be erected on the gate post, at the end of the big drive.

            First call I made wus til Lynn O'Leum, who has a big carpet shap at Roller Cove, an' she wud make curtains till match if yiz want. She said she wud call next mornin' an' bring a few samples wi' her. Next call wus til Matt Finnish, the painter. He toul me he had a wee jab til do, but it wud only take him about an hour.I arranged wi' him til come next mornin' too, so's he cud get paint 'n' paper til match the carpets. That bein' most of the mornin's business done, I rang Ivor Vacancy til book a table fer wer dinners. I sez til Sadie that we cud luk at them brochures an' book somethin' wi V.C. later on.

"What else did yiz have in mind?" queried Sadie, so I sez til her that I thought that wus enough fer one day, an' we cud sort out wer clothes after we had been til the 'Fly by Night.'

It wus whilst we were on wer second puddin' that I spied the 'Cruise of a Lifetime' headline in one o' the books. I near choked on me surprise bomb, an' Sadie reached over an' lifted the book. After she had a quick scan, she said that she wud really fancy the cruise. We paid wer bill an' left fer Knowe Way, where we had a longer luk at the details. We had two months til get ready, an' that suited well  as I would have 'NATDUNROMINYET' all fixed up the way I wanted.

Sadie said she wud go home an' sort out a few things. She wanted til do a bit o' shappin' next day, an' then she'd call over in the afternoon.

            Lynn O'Leum went through the house like a whipped cat, makin' notes o' this 'n' that, an' said she'd be ready til hang the grapes next week. She thought she'd be finished in about two days, once she got started. Matt started the decoratin' right away, an' done the house from tap til battam. I seen Sadie comin' up the drive in her new red astronaut, an' cud see her face was like a wet weekend. As soon as she come in, I asked her what wus wrong, an' she started.

                        The Cove is alive wi' the sound of gassip

                        Each time I go out, they all stand and stare;

                        I go til the shaps an' I hear them whisper,

                        And I sez til myself Sadie you don't care;

                        But I tell you its hard til smile when you know that they

                        Are all talkin' about yer man,

                        I feel like packin' an' runnin' away

                        Til the Isle of Man;

                        It isn't my fault, so I don't know why

                        They are treating me thus-

                        I walk out the door

                        And get on the Great Shambles bus, 'cos

                        The Cove is alive wi' the sound of gassip,

                        They stand on the streets an' along the shore,

                        I'll sell up my house an' go somewhere diff'rent

                        And get peace once more.

 

 

Fer goodness sake Sadie, pull yerself tilgether, sez I. Shoor we're goin' away soon, so ferget them oul eejits in Roller Cove. Put yer house up fer sale an' move in wi' me here. Whaddye think o' the deecor? "Vary nice, I like the colour o' yer bedroom."

Oh aye, I agreed, but it was ever so hard til get puce paint. Matt had til get it mixed special. Ny, away an' make us some tea whilst I fix up the furniture.

"What wud yiz like Madge? What have yiz gat?"

Ach Sadie, jist have a rummage through me drawers an' yiz'll find somethin' that'll do. I'll eat anything as yiz well know, so jist surprise me.

                        I like bread an' butter,

                        I like eggs 'n' ham,

                        I like fish 'n' chips

                        An' on a Sunday, some roast lamb;

                        Oh I like fresh cream trifle

                        I like lemon mouse,

                        If yiz come til visit me

                        Yiz'll see these at my house;

                        I like tasted sody,

                        An' fresh made taty fadge,

                        Wi' butter runnin' down me chin

                        I'm known as greasy Madge;

                        Oh I like fresh cream trifle,

                        An' I like lemon mouse,

                        If yiz come til visit me

                        Yiz'll see these at my house.

 

Well, I fair enjoyed Sadie's feed, then we gat out the cruise books an' had another gander at 'em. This is the very thing, sez I, a theee week cruise wi' the Nesta Line's new boat, the 'Pollyanna', sailin' to the eyesores, the Canaries, Flarida an' South Americky, wi' a two day stop at the Windies in the Carborundum. Let's book the marra Sadie.

"O.K. Madge. How much is it?"

who cares? Shoor we haveit. We'll book one o' them pinthouse suits an' do it in style.

                        Money, money, money,

                        Lats o' money

                        Has been stashed away;

                        Ny that we've gat money

                        Things luk sunny

                        Fer wer hallyday;

                        We'll go away til sea,

                        Jist our Sadie 'n' me,

                        Wi' wer purses stuffed wi' money

                        We'll go roun' the world.

Ach Sadie, I'm lukin' forward til it already. I can show yiz roun' Rio when we get there. The boat is stappin' at Caracas, where we can but maracas, then on til Rio fer two days before sailin' on past Essential Island.

                        Cruisin' past Madeero

                        On a sunny summer day,

                        Whilst yiz an' me

                        Are sippin' tea

                        Sendin' cards til the Bay;

                        The crew will take wer orders

                        An' the band will start til play

                        Cruisin' past Madeero

                        On a sunny summer day.

We booked up wi' V.C next day, an' paid wer money. We decided til fly til London a coupla days previous, as we had til be in Southampton at eleven-thirty on the fifth o' June. Wer passepartouts were in order, an' we bought a lat o' rigouts. Well, yiz can't go swannin' aff in yer oul duds ny, can yiz? Whilst we wus out shappin', we called intil the card shap til buy some o' them amputation cards fer wer housewarmin' party which we decided til have when we gat home from wer cruise. Sadie spatted some wi' arsvips on 'em. Them's handy, sez I, so we bought five baxes, as we intended havin' a real good blowout. When we came home, I went til make us a wee bite, an' I rang a new firm of caterers, called Horse Doovers, in Great Shambles, the owner being called Smorges Bord. He said he would call over that afternoon wi' his assistant Patty Cake, an' bring a few suggestives wi' him.

I wus palishing the windies inside, when Sadie sez 'Here Madge, what's thon Nesta Line boat doin' sailin' past Bryde's Bay? I thought it went from Port Ability til Scatlan'.'

Aye Sadie, it used til, but nat ny.....

                        The Nesta Line

                        Sails by my windy,

                        The Nesta Line

                        All blue an' white;

                        I see the smoke from her two funnels

                        Six times a day, and twice at night;

                        Since I came back home

                        A month ago

                        I feel so sad when

                        I hear her blow;

                        As she disappears past Racky's lighthouse

                        I feel the tears start til fall.

 

Ach, it fair makes me depressed when I see it goin' past on her way til Scatland. Sadie 'n' me always enjoy goin' fer a wee sail on 'er. That's why we're goin' on wer cruise. Anyhar, we seen them cooks comin' up til the door, an' Sadie let 'em in. We all sat down, an' yer man tuk a sheaf o' papers outa his detatched case.

"What sort of catering did you have in mind madam? A finger buffet perhaps?"

I seen red, an' said there'll be no fish fingers at any party o' mine. Jist put on yer best hat an' coul runnin' buffet, wi' some o' them arsenic foods fer wer farreners, Indian an' Chinese. A few pompadours wi' curry, an' pummled granite pie til fally, fer the Indians, an' what about some o' them perspiring rolls, fried prongs wi' nodules, an' leeches fer the Chinese?

"Pummled granite?" said Smorges.

"I think she means pomegranate," explained Patty, trying til keep a straight face.

"And what on earth does she want for her Chinese guests?"

"Spring rolls, prawns with noodles and Lychees."

"What about drinks, Mrs. Conda?"

Jist the usual, sez I, an' mebbe yiz cud get some o' that sarky wine. I like my guests til feel welcome. Plenty o' gattux as well, wi' lashin's o' fresh cream an' fruit salad.

"Right then," said Smorges, "we'll be off again. You can let us know nearer the time how many guests will be attending."

Sadie gat the baxes o' cards out, an' we started til address 'em. It tuk us near two hours til get through 'em, an' I wus fair jiggered. I toul Sadie that I wus goin' til have one o' them radar baths til ease me joints.

'Righto Madge, I'll make the tea. Whaddya fancy?'

                        All I want is a nice long soak,

                        Two eclairs an' a drink o' coke,

                        An' one enormous poke

                        Oh wouldn't it be loverly?

                        Lats o' chips an' a great big fish

                        Piled wi' ketchup upon me dish -

                        This is me latest wish,

                        Oh wouldn't it be loverly.....

 

After wer tea, which I must say was really good, we decided til go til the ex-services. Sadie 'n' me've been members there fer years, an' we always enjoy wersels. Vic March wus there as usual, an' a whole lotta the locals as well. We sat wi' Derry an' Avu Herd, well, we'd nothin' too confidence til say, an' the Letters. Sakov's the Russian wumman yiz know like. Then Sian Tung arrived wi' Cherry Bunn. We told 'em all about wer party, an' said they'd be gettin' there cards in a day or two. They was all keen til come, an' Avu says that she'd luk forward til seein' the new house - I'll say! Steffi Scope came roun' the tables til see who'd be attendin' the May Day dinner Dance, so we put wer names on the list. I toul' Sadie that we'd need a few new fracks fer these dos, so we went til Great Shambles next day.

                        Oh I went downtown fer til buy a gown

                        But it wus the hardest thing I had til do;

                        Fer the sizes all seemed til be too small

                        An' I wanted shackin' pink or powder blue;

                        On the rail

                        Half price sale

                        I saw one I thought luked gran' -

                        It wus red an' black

                        But it had no back

                        An I sure don't like the feel of Vic's bare haun.

 

 

                        I will nat be beat, I went down the street

                        Where I gat a length of clorth an' brought it here;

                        Gat the Singer out, an' wi'out a doubt

                        I created the sensation o' the year!

                        Yards o' lace

                        Beads in place

                        Sure it sparkled like a candle on a tree;

                        I'd enough stuff left

                        I wus nat bereft

                                   So I made a little hat wot suited me.

 

 

                                                            Mayday arrived, an' after wer brekkie we went til have wer hairs done at Robin Pomades. The weather wus nice, so we strolled over til Cherry's fer wer mornin' teas. Sandy Haire wus there wi' Ringo Steele. We sat down at their table an' asked 'em if they wus goin' til the do that night. Sandy said that he wud be there, but poor Ringo wus on duty, an' cudn't go. Hard luck son, sez I, but mebbe yiz'll get til the next one.

   Ringo's only left school a coupla years, an' went straight intil the polis. He's a nice lad yiz know, an' well mannered. Sandy's a differnt kettle o' fish. Been a bachelor all his life, an' he near forty-two! He'd make a quare catch fer someone - does all his own cookin' 'n' cleanin'.

The two o' 'em gat up til go. "See yiz later" said the sergeant. Sadie paid wer bill, an' we went back home fer wer lunch. I suggested til have it in the new conservative. It'll be nice there, an' wer good hairs won't be blew about in the breeze. We spent the afternoon in there, readin' up some more about wer cruise. I come across a coupla pages o' typical menus, an' I toul our Sadie:

                                    Fish 'n' chips, fancy dips

                                    Sassigis 'n' bacon;

                                    Cups o' tea

                                    I can see

                                    Wer stummicks will be achin';

                                    Eggs 'n' ham, legs o' lamb

                                    Apple tart 'n' custard,

                                    Oh we'll be okay on wer hallyday

                                    (I hope they've gat mustard.)

                                    You 'n' me'll go through

                                    Ev'ry single menu

                                    Don't stap til we're done, all right?

"Ach Madge, yiz're makin' me feel hungry," sez Sadie.   Me too, sez I, an' it's only four o'clack. Wez'll nat get wer dinners til seven the night. My stummick's rumblin'. Whaddabout a ham sammich an' a drop o' tea? I went til make it an' Sadie went til get wer fracks out ontil wer beds, ready fer us til get intil when the time came.  Sadie done up me face fer me - she's vary good at that sort o' thing, an' we gat ready fer the aff. We had til be at the Regal at half six fer a wee cacktail. I asked Sadie what she wus goin' til have. "Oh I don't know Madge, whaddabout youse?"

Well I think I'll have one o' them Bermuda Blackbusters. jist til get intil the mood fer wer cruise.

"Good idea," replied Sadie. "I'll have a Flarida Facelifter."

Go easy on them ones, sez I, or yiz'll be dancin' roun' all night wi' a siurprised luk on yer face!

We had a good feed, an' sat wi' Jerry 'n' Racky. Everyone headed aff til the club fer the dancin', which wus startin' at neni. Sadie 'n' me tuk wer time, an' arrived after the first jig. The members' lounge wus packed til the gills, an' we had til sit wi' Clinker again, but we didn't mind, an' bought a round o' drinks. Sian Tung came down til tell us about the surprise party she wus havin' fer Flassie Mole's one hundredth birthday, so I toul her til call up at the house an' let us know what she wanted us til do. Husky Carter joined us an' partook of an orange juice, he being teetotal. Sadie 'n' me arranged wi' him til take us til the new airport when it wus time til go, an' also if he could transport the guests til wer party, so he agreed til wer request an' said he'd be glad til attend.

            Wer hallyday wus jist theee weeks away, an' Sadie wus busy openin' the arsvips. Everyone that we'd asked wus comin', an' I rang the Horse Doovers til give 'em the final destructions. Yiz can count on about a hunderd an' twenty people, I toul' Smorges, is everythin' okay?

He said that the only thing that wus provin' difficult wus the leeches - he cudn't get none. I said I'd see what I cud do, an' rang Bitsu Tung fer help. He said he'd call intil the 'Pingpong' chinese grocers next time he wus in Wit's End, an' get a few tins.

The Indian food wus til be provided by the 'Calcutta Carryout', who would deliver the items til Smorges on the day of the party.

I asked Sadie if there wus anythin' else, an' she suggested some outdoor lights an' a few flars fer the patio an' conservative, so I rang Watt Voltage til ask him about the lighting. He said he'd call on his way home til see what we wanted. Sadie rang Gypsy Phelia til order the flars while I wet the tea. Everythin' seemed til be fallin' intil place, which wus jist as well, 'cos the party wus four days after we come back.

Sian called that evenin' an' joined us in the back garden. She asked us til be at the communion hall at eleven o'clack next day, til decorate the place fer Flossie's do. She had a wee glass o' Armadillo sherry wi' us, an' wished us both a good hallyday. Thon's a quare nice girl, sez I til Sadie, after Sian had went. I hope Will looks after her all right when they get married in September.

"Ach I'm shoor he will Madge. He's a nice young fella an' he's doin' all right in his jab."

He's gat good prostrates anyhar, sez I. Them civic servants does well. D'yiz mind the time we worked in thon ciggy factory Sadie? Nine an' eleven a week wus our first wages, an' we had til queue up fer it every Friday.

"Oh aye Madge, an' thon wee insurance man wus always on wer doorstep, waitin' fer his tanner from each o' us, an' the coalman had til get his half crown too."

Listen our Sadie, I used til dread the Co quarter, 'cos our Ma had til square up the accounts, an' we lived like workhouse inmates fer a week! No Sunday joint that weekend. Many's a Friday we had til walk til the fact'ry, 'cos we didn't have a panny fer the tram, but at least we wus able til go til the dance in the Rosewood on Saturdays. Y'know, I used til luk forward til the outin' every year.

"Me too Madge. D'yiz mind the mystery tours?"

More like misery tours Sadie. I wonder whatever happened til thon oul' boy what driv us in the cherrybang?

"Yiz mean Tarzan Madge? Yer man that swung from one side o' the road til the other?"

The very one Sadie. Whaddabout them teas we used til get? A leaf o' lettice an' one measly slice o' tamata, an' the ham wus cut wi' a razor blade! Still, we had some quare good times, an' we fair enjoyed the big poke on wer way home.

 

 

                        We packed wer cases an' set 'em at the front door. Husky wus callin' fer us at nine in the mornin', an' wer plane wus leavin' at half ten. Here Sadie, sez I, did yiz get me them pills fer the back door trat from Takis Directed when yiz went down til the shaps?

"Yes Madge. Here yar. I gat a couple o' them tubes o' sin cream too, an' stuck 'em in the holdall."

 

 

 

Good fer yiz Sadie. Smart thinkin', ha ,ha, ha. I don't think we've fergat nathin', but I'll jist check wer list. Husky arrived an' stuck wer luggage in the boot. When we gat til the airport, he put 'em on one o' them tralleys, an' said he'd pick us up when we gat back. I paid him his fare, an' give him a wee tip too, then he waved goodbye, an' wus gone. Ye know Sadie, he's a good sort, an' his fare wasn't a bit absorbent.

            Before we knew it, we wus aff fer London, an' we had a wee snack on board. I wus starvin' again, 'cos we only had time fer a coupla scrambled eggs fer wer brekkie. London wus great, an' we went til thon Dreary Lane theatre. When we gat back til our 'otel, we asked yer wumman on the deception desk til send up wer suppers, an' also ordered wer brekkies fer eight next mornin', an' would she obligate us by orderin' a taxi til get us til the station fer wer train til Southampton.

A nice young man - I think he wus called the persil - welcomed our Sadie 'n' me aboard the 'Pollyanna.' He showed us til wer state rooms. Right Sadie, sez I , when we wus on wer own, let's enjoy wersels til the full, an' that's exactly what we done. Sadie near fell aff her seat when the horn blew, it wus that loud, then we luked out the windy an' seen that we wus on wer way.  Someone pronounced through the radio that lunch would be served in half an hour, in the freakout restyerant, so we left wer room an' went til find it. We gat wer wee paper tellin' us where we'd be at certain times, an' also informin' us of the on board entertainment each day. There wus quite a few shaps on the boat, includin' Frizzie Lizzies, the hairdresser. Later on that afternoon, we gat a wee note stuck under wer door, askin' us til join the captain's table that night. I toul' our Sadie that I wus joinin' nathin'; youse nivver know where yiz might end up!

"Don't be daft Madge. It means that the captain wants us til have wer dinners with him."

Oh, right, sez I. I'll luk out my wee orange number til wear.

We wus shown til the table at seven thirty,n an' wus intervened til the others.Captain Abel Dealer would've charmed the birds aff the trees. Sadie wus sittin' next til him, an' there wus an oul' boy between Sadie 'n' me. He kept fallin' asleep, an' I had til dig him wi' me elbow, so's he'd eat up his dinner. The captain noticed this and toul' me nat til worry about Sir Cularity, as he wus inclined til be a bit absent-minded, an' wus also mutton jeff. The Pretty Officer wud take him til his cabin an' see he wus all right.

Abel asked us if we wus satisfied wi' our stateroom.

"Ach it's vary nice," answered our Sadie, "jist like home from home."

"And where is home?"

"Bryde's Bay, Norn Iron."

The eyebrows fair shat up aroun' the table, an' one wumman near choked on her clart. When wer meal wus done, we said goodnight til Abel an' the others, an' went til the games room fer a wee roun' o' bingo.

"What did yiz think o' that, Madge"

Nathin but a lat o' stuffed shirts Sadie, but wer dinner wus good.

 

 

   The weather wus gettin' better every day, an' we lay about in deckchairs durin' the day, an' enjoyed the entertainment at night. Sometimes there would be a variety show, or we'd go til the

 

 

n' me decided til go along fer the fun, an' we put on wer comfie sandals, so's wer feet wud be cool.

"Better put wer hats on too Madge, an' don't ferget yer shades."

We gat on til the wee curtsy boat an' went ashore. Yer man said til be back at the pier in four

It wus the same at Caracas, except we didn't get any maracas, an' the next stap wus Rio.

' hours, so aff we went til exploit the place. We gatta whole latta memorials til bring back home wi' us.

We went til a caff fer a wee cuppa caffee, an' when we wuz makin' wer way there, we saw an oul' man sittin' on the groun', wi' his cow standin' in front o' him. Sadie went over til him til ask the time o' day, as we didn't want til be late goin' til see wer friends. He touched the cow's udder an' said it wuz half ten. We had about an hour til spend, so we jist sat at the table an' watched the world go by.

"C'mon Sadie, let's see whit time it is ny."

We asked the oul' boy again, and once more, he felt the cow's udder, an' toul us it was a quarter past eleven.

"Hy on earth can yiz tell the time by feelin' the cow's udder?" Sadie asked him.

"Ees verry simple dear ladies - I am lifting the cow's udder out of the way of the town hall clock!"

 

"Might've knew Sadie - these fareigners are up til all the tricks!"

 

tuk Sadie til see wer oul' house, an' met wer oul' neighbours, Juan Momento an' his wife Una. They give us wer lunch, then left us back til the boat. His cousin, Carlos Adjuster came wi' us as well. It wus good til see them all.

Fifteen days had passed by now, an' we wus headin' fer home again. We tuk some photies o' Essential Island as we passed. Next mornin' we were toul' that we wus passin' Sarah Lee One, an' I sez til our Sadie that mebbe that wus where them cakes come from.

We stapped at Casablanca, an' we went ashore again, mainly til see if we wud bump intil Humpy Beauregard, but we wus informed that he had long since gone.

"Perhaps he gat an earlier boat," sez Sadie.

Jist six more days til go, an' we gat a few items at wer next port o' call - Gibberalter- where we seen them barberous apes.

"Time til pack up again Madge," sez Sadie. "I've really enjoyed wer trip"

Me too, I agreed. We'll have til think about goin' on another one, mebbe next year. Whaddya say?

Husky wus at the airport til meet us as promised, an' said we wus lukin' well.

Thanks vary much I'm shoor Husky. Anythin' strange or sparklin' til report?

Husky toul' us that things were as normal(!) as they ever could be in Bryde's Bay.

"Everyone is lukin' forward til the get tilgether at yer house Madge," he added, an' believe it or nat, I caught the trace o' a smile when he said it!

"Back til parridge Husky. We'll be busy gettin' ready fer the do. Madge 'n' me want til put on a good show fer wer friends."

"I'm shoor yiz'll do that Sadie. Well, here we are, home again," an' he drew up at the front door an' gat wer cases outa the boot.

Here Husky, sez I, handin' him his money. I toul' him til keep the change. Yiz've been vary good til us, an' so defendable. Cheerio ny, see ya at wer do..

 

Sadie turned the key in the door, an' such a loada junk mail wus lyin' behind it, along wi' a coupla bills, an' one late arsvip from Willie Doitt.

" like empyin' wer cases jist yet."

Right, I Let's have some tea first," said Sadie, goin' intil the kitchen till put the keddle on, "I don't feel much agreed. We cud do that after a while, an' stick the washin' machine on

as well. It wus about theee o'clack, so I turned on the telly til see the racin' from Royal Askit. The two o' us had a quare laugh at some o' the fashions.

"Shoor we've gat far nicer Madge," sez Sadie.

We roused wersels up, an' gat on wi' the jab in haun.When we hung up wer things, we put on the washin' an' had a gleek in the freezer fer somethin' fer wer tea. I spatted a big bax o' marconi cheese, so we decided til have that wi' some tamatas an' a few baps which we gat in Southampton on wer way til the airport.  Sian had left a cartoon o' milk fer us at the back door, where it wus shaded from the sun.

Next mornin', I rung Horse Doovers til ask Smorges what time he'd be comin' over til prepare things on the day. He said he'd be at the house about four, as wer guests wasn't expectin' til seven, an' that wud be time enough til set things up.

 

Gypsy Phelia wus comin' over jist after wer dinner til derange the flars, an' Vin Blanco wus deliverin' the wine ion the mornin' so's it cud be well chilled. Watt Voltage come an' put strings o' fairy lights up the driveway, whilst Alec Tronics, his apprenticed, laid out lanterns in the back garden, ready fer Watt til connect up. Watt's partner, Ossie Lator, wus helpin' til fix up the lights at the front o' the house. It luked smashin', an' Sadie made them a drappa tea when we wus havin' wer own. They had the jab done by mid-day.

Sadie hoovered the house from tap til battam, an' I done the windies, jiffed the bathrooms, flashed the kitchen an' swep the conservative. Cutwith Longmuir had did the grass the day before we come home, an' everything luked grand.

I had made apartments at Robin Pomade's fer the two o' us, an' we had til be there fer half theee, so aff we went. I gat a wash 'n' bob, an' Sadie gat a henna wrench an' an urgent cut wi' a bang.

We tuk a luk through wer wardrobe til see what we wud wear. Sadie picked out her lime green shift, an' I decided til wear the lame number in gold, which I gat in Rio.

We wus up wi' the larks next day, til receive the callers, an' we wus glad til see the sun shinin'. Vin come wi' the wine an' stuck it in the fridge. Bitsu wus next wi' a coupla tins o' leeches. He said he wus lukin' forward til a rubbery evenin'.

By the time Smorges an' Patty arrived, Sadie 'n' me wus up til wer axters in flars. We left them til it, an' by six o' clack they wus all set up. They had put some food intil the oven til heat up, an' the buffet wus spread out in the kitchen an' dinin' room. Horse Doovers had presided everything - even the plates, cups, saucers an' cutlery. Wer mouths was waterin', so we had a wee simple, then went til get wer finery on.

            Arch Way, the door stopper, arrived first. He had been enjoyed by Smorges fer the evenin', along wi' a few garkons.Husky arrived on the dot o' seven, an' drapped aff wer first guests - the Standings, Jerry 'n' Racky, Pearl Rowe an' Geronimo, Mo's uncle - all from the Roller Cove area, then he went til pick up some more from outlandish districts - the Counters, Tungs, Tells, Vic 'n' Dawn an' the Services, who had gat houl o' Molly Coddle til do a spat o' baby-sittin'.

A lat o' the locals jist dandruffed along from their own houses, an' by a quarter past seven, they wus all here. They wus all gobsmacked when they seen the house, an' the wimmin demented a conductored tour.

"Do yiz really need two bathrooms an' theee W.C's? asked Avu Herd, after all there's only the two o' yiz livin' here."

Well, sez I, a wee bit irrigated by her remarks, if I'm soakin' in a Radar bath, an' our Sadie here needs til spend two d, there's no prablem, or if we're out shappin' an' get a soakin', then we can both have a good hot bath when we get home.

"Jist right Madge" sez Ameron, an' how cud yiz've held this lovely party wi'out the full felicities?" She give me a wink when she spoke, an' I nodded back at her.

"Yiz've gone til a lat o' trouble Madge," sez Rael, sippin' at her dry merino.

"Shooor it's no bather at all," sez Sadie, "we enjoy havin' yiz all roun'."

Sadie 'n' me tuk the wimmin through the conservative til the garden, where some o' the men wus helpin' Big Dipper til set up the band on the patio. Cherry an' Penny had a walk around, exterminatin' the plants.

Some o' Smorge's waiters wus buzzin' aroun', servin' out the apparentives, an' tellin' everyone that the meal wud be ready at eight. Sadie nudged me, near knackin' me sprinter outa me haun, an' said that when we wus showin' them wimmin roun' wer house, she nivver seen so many surprised luks since she stuck a woopee cushion under the vicar's seat one Sunday mornin', when it wus April the First!

Lik Sadie, sez I, there's nat much happenin' jist ny. I'll fix 'em up once an' fer all, an' went across til Big Dipper, an' whispered in his ear. He gat the band ready, an' they struck up the music, an' I picked up the microscope an' began:

            Dum dum di dum dum dum,

            Dum dum di dum dum dum_

            The minnit yiz walked in me house

            Yiz cud tell that I'm a girl o' extinction

            A reel big spender -

            Hard lukin', well defined,

            Say wudnt yiz like til know whit's goin' on in my min'?

            So let me get right til the point _

            I'm goin' til the kitchen for til make wer teas -

            Lats o' baps an'

            Half a poun' o' mousetrap cheese.

 

            Then I'll make a few chips, chips, chips

            Howzabout a big steak? steak?

            I cud murder a gatchew

            One as big as a platchew;

 

            The minnit yiz luked at me frame

 

            An' give me a squeeze?)

            Jist let me get back til the point -

            I don't hold back when there's luvly grub til see -

            Chicken drumrolls; loadsa champ an', fresh cream gatchew -

            (DON'T FERGET THE MOUSETRAP CHEEEEEEEEESE

 

Everyone clapped an' cheered, an' I knew that the ice wus broke.  They defended on the food like Vulcans, an' Patty wus kept busy refuellin' the dishes. We switched on the lanterns, an' Big Dipper started the music.Teenie, her cheeks a wee bit flashed  by a couple o' Armadillo Sherries, wus doin' the lumbago wi' Jerry. "I don't s'pose she's had as much fun fer a long time," sez Sadie.

 

 

Smorges came an' foun' us about ten o' clack, an' sez that he 'n' Patty wus leavin'. They'd cleared up everything, an' stuck a few leftovers in the freezer. He said they wud take the rest o' the staff home, if that wus o.k.

Shooor, sez I, we's can manage all right wersels ny, an' thanks very much. Yiz can send me the bill when yiz've tattered it up.

Husky began til run the guests home about half eleven. Sadie 'n' me sat in the conservative, chattin' til Dawn an' Mo. Dawn said she hoped that Avu hadn't upset me wi' her remarks about the bathrooms.

No no, sez I, shoor she's a bit narcotic about houses.

"Well, I'm sure we have enjoyed ourselves at your party in your beautiful home Madge. Victor and I must be heading back to 'Rangoon' now. You know, Victor gets very tired, and needs to get to bed by twelve o' clock at the latest."

 

She gat up, an' the two o' us went out wi' them til the minibus.

"Goodnight, Madge and Sadie. Great bash," sez Vic as he left. Harry an' Cashun, along wi' Singh Tapps, also tuk their leave. They had come in Singh's Ford Sari, as he only drank Indian Tonic.

Everyone had gone, so Sadie made us a wee cuppa tea, afore we went til wer beds.

"Great success Madge," sez she, sippin' her brew.

Aye indeed Sadie, I agreed. I think they all apprehended the meal.

Horse Doovers is a quare good firm Sadie. They cleaned up the whole place fer us, an' we have a few tit-bits in the fridge fer the marra.

I started til yawn, an' sez til Sadie that I wus goin' til hit the oul' four-poster. -  I wus

absolutely knickered!

 

                AUTUMN LEAVES FALL AND WINTER DRAWS ON

              Cherry was out for a walk with Ameron and Towser one Autumn evening before darkness fell. They were deep in conversation about village life in general, and Cherry's workload in particular.

 " You know, Ameron, I'm seriously thinking of retiring, and putting the cafe on the market.

I feel that it is becoming a chore, rather than a pleasure," said Cherry. "The cafe is getting to be too much for me. I used to look forward to opening up each morning, but I'm beginning to dread the cold, wet winter days. Of course, I shan't be selling my house, as I intend staying in the Bay."                                                                                                                                                   "Well, it's worth considering," said her friend. "After all, you have worked hard for many years, and you ought to be looking forward to an enjoyable retirement. You certainly won't be lonely

"I know what you mean," replied Ameron. "I don't think that it will be long before Ardis is harbouring thoughts about laying down his hammer for good."

You are so right," agreed Cherry. "That's just the bit of encouragement I needed. I'll ring the estate agent in the morning. Who knows? I might have it sold pretty quickly".

 

   The ladies had reached Jetty Road, and walked into the gardens for a sit-down. " Did you hear the latest news yet?" asked Ameron.

"No dear, what is it?"

"I was told that Sian and Will are expecting a baby next year."

" That's wonderful," said Cherry. "I must get the needles out and knit a little something when I return."

"Me too," said Ameron. "I'm sure Mo would leave us over some wool. I'll probably see her at the club. If not, I can always give her a ring. I suppose white would be best?"

"Oh yes," agreed Cherry, "and don't forget some small buttons."

"Ardis is over at her shop today, fixing up a new sign. He made it himself, and painted on the new name. Stands to reason, doesn't it?"

 

They got up from their seats, and made their way along Douglas Street, where they parted company outside Cherry's house.

"Goodnight, and good luck dear," said Ameron, as she crossed the road and entered Knowe Way, just opposite.

 

            Cherry rang Loaded & Co. next morning, and asked if someone could come over to value the property.

.

"Certainly Mrs. Bunn," said the receptionist. "Our Mr. Des Rezz will be glad to call with you this morning."

Cherry slipped on her warm cardigan and went across to the cafe. There was a distinct chill in the air, and she was glad to reach the building. As soon as she had switched on the high-speed boilers and coffee machine, she gave the place a quick tidy up. In the little office, she checked the filing cabinet to make sure that her accounts were up to date, as the agent would probably want to inspect them.

Des Rezz called at ten-thirty. He noticed that the cafe was very busy, and Cherry poured him a cup of coffee whilst he had a look around. She could see that he was enthusiastic about the sale,

and he told her that he had two clients in mind, whom he felt sure would show a definite interest.

"We'll be along later to put up a For Sale sign," he informed her, "but I don't think it will be up for long. This is a very nice building, and in good repair. I can see that you have been very meticulous as regards your accounts."

They shook hands, and Des left the cafe. Cherry felt as though a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She thought back over the thirty years that she had owned the business. It had been o n the market for some time when she , and her late husband Eyst, had returned from India, where they had spent  the first few years of their marriage. Eyst had been in the Imperial Civil Service, and was promoted through the ranks, until he was head of his department, a post which he held until his death some ten years ago. Cherry had been left a substantial sum of money by her parents, and was able to buy the cafe outright. She worked very hard, and soon recouped her initial outlay. Yearly profits were small to begin with, but as each year passed, the profits increased, so that she was able to purchase the small house nearby. Her bank balance was in a very healthy state now, and she felt that she deserved a good holiday - something which she hadn't been able to take since she acquired the business. She was jolted out of her reverie by the sound of the telephone bell. It was Des, who asked if he could bring a client over to view the cafe that afternoon.

"So soon?" remarked Cherry.

"Oh yes indeed," replied the agent. "I contacted a client when I returned to my office, and she positively jumped at the chance of a good buy. What time would suit you, Mrs. Bunn?"

"If you could leave it until about three o'clock, that should give me time to clear up after lunch," said Cherry, and replaced the phone.

"Gosh!" she thought, "things are moving very quickly, and I only thought about retiring last night!"

  Two weeks later, Frances collected the keys of the cafe and invited Cherry to pop over for coffee. Cherry thanked her and returned to her own kitchen, where she sat down to make a list of

Two weeks later, Frances collected the keys of the cafe and invited Cherry to pop over for coffee. Cherry thanked her and returned to her own kitchen, where she sat down to make a list of

all the things that she had to do. First of all though, she rang Ameron to tell her the news. Ameron was both delighted and amazed at the speed of events.  .

 

"I'm going over to see V.C. later on, to seek his advice about a suitable holiday," Cherry told her. "Why don't you call down after lunchtime, and I can let you know the outcome," she added.

"Right," said Ameron. "Ardis is working over at Roller Cove, so I don't expect him back until about five o'clock, so we can have a good long natter."

VC. put forward several proposals to Cherry, and she finally decided on a ten day coach tour to the Continent. Whilst she was writing out a cheque, V.C. prepared her tickets, and told her that the coach would be leaving London on the seventh of the month. He also made out a return ticket for her flights to London, and arranged an overnight stay in a five star hotel. He handed her all the documents, and wished her a happy holiday.

Cherry's next call was to the Pondicherry, where she bought the local paper, and some teabags. Harry and Cashun smiled at her and wished her a long retirement. She thanked them, and Harry said "Ees good to see you putting up your feet missus. You have been a hard worker. Time to let someone else do the donkey bits."   He held the door open for Cherry, and bowed as she left.

Cherry sat down and read her paper while she waited for her visitor. She noticed an advertisement in the 'Sits. Vacant' column. - 'Wanted, head chef and assistant for cafe in Bryde's Bay.'

"Well!" she thought. "Frances must be intending to expand the business. She never let on about this when I was over this morning. However, it is not my concern any more."

She folded the paper when she heard Ameron coming up the path. They had a good long chat over a cup of tea.

The conversation turned to the cafe, and Cherry showed Ameron the paper.

"I say!" exclaimed the lady. "She certainly isn't letting the grass grow under her feet. And to think that you ran that cafe single-handed for thirty odd years."

 

            The following week, Sakov met her sister Ima as usual. They were in the 'Cock a Snook' tea rooms, when Ima said that she was thinking of applying for one of the jobs at the cafe in Bryde's Bay.

"Ant why not, Ima? After all, you haff hatt trainink at the Polyteknikov in Moscow, near Rett Square."

"Yess," agreed Ima, "ant I wass awarted the greesy spoon for my Russian salat. I will rink the owner tonight."

            Frances held interviews one Tuesday morning, and after seeing a dozen applicants, offered the job of head chef to Fred Rice, and Ima was employed as commis chef. Frances also offered a part-time job to Annie Wyn, as cleaner and dishwasher. Annie's children were all at school now, so she was able to work from nine until two.

Frances and Fred made out new menus, and Frances ordered new equipment. Trade picked up quite quickly, and several business people called in at lunchtime, to partake of Fred's specials. Ima was responsible for salads and sweets, whilst Frances baked scones and cakes.

At the end of November, they introduced Christmas fayre to the menu, which proved to be very popular. Frances was able to take bookings for small parties, and stayed open late on Fridays, to cope with the demand.

Cherry returned from her holiday looking tanned and well rested. She invited Ameron, Rael and Teenie down for supper on Saturday night, and the ladies told her about the changes in the cafe.

"She seems a very go ahead person," said Rael. "Teenie and I booked a table last night, and we were most pleasantly surprised with our meal. There must have been about two dozen diners there. Isn't that right, Teenie?"

"Twenty-six actually, Rael, including ourselves."

"Ardis and I were there last week," Ameron intervened, sensing an 'atmosphere' between the teachers. "Fred and Frances seem well able to cope with the extra workload. Phil Delightful appears to be a regular customer. He is there most days, and it is my guess that he has set his cap at Frances."

 

"Is that so?" said Cherry, "well, we must observe the liaison closely. Perhaps something will come of it."

"You never know," remarked Rael, as she picked up her handbag. "Come on, Teenie, it's half past ten, and we want to attend Matins tomorrow. Thank you for a most enjoyable evening Cherry. You and Ameron must come up to the schoolhouse soon. What about next Friday.

Would that suit?"

"It will suit me all right," replied Cherry, "and I should have my holiday snaps by then. I'll bring them with me."

The teachers got into Rael's car and returned home.

"I must be going too," said Ameron. "I have enjoyed myself tonight Cherry. I'm glad you had a good holiday, it has certainly agreed with you."

Cherry closed the front door again when Ameron left, and started to wash the dishes. "I hope that girl hasn't taken on too much," she thought to herself, as she switched off the lights and went to bed.

            The weather turned much colder during December. Arnie's postbag was much heavier than usual, with Christmas cards and gifts being sent to friends in Bryde's Bay. He noticed all

 

 

 

                        the festive decorations in the houses, and the council workmen were erecting a huge tree in the public gardens. Mrs. Mole had been invited by the council to perform the switching on ceremony, and she felt rather excited about it. Molly fetched out the thermals, along with a warm woolen suit and heavy coat.

"We don't want you getting cold dear," she said, as she helped the old lady with the different layers.

"What time is it now, Molly?"

"Three o'clock," came the reply, "and I see your transport drawing up outside. Are you all set?"

Mrs Mole glanced in the mirror, and adjusted her hat. "All ready Molly," and took her arm as she went out to the car.

Lauren made sure that Flossie Mole was comfortable, and then instructed the chauffeuse to take them to the gardens. Joy Ryder pulled smoothly away from 'Cloak and Dagger', and brought the ladies to the bandstand. Lauren helped Flossie up the steps, and showed her where the switch was situated. Mrs. Mole duly turned on the lights, and there followed a programme of carols by the primary school choir. Flossie was taken to the town hall, where a splendid tea was waiting. She was presented with a plaque as a memento of the occasion. Joy drove her home, where Molly was waiting to hear all the news.

 

                        Phil Delightful had asked Frances to a concert at the Lesser Shambles Operatic Society that evening, and he called for her at six o'clock. They drove past the gardens and admired the decorations before heading for Roller Cove, where they had a meal at the 'Whang-Ho', before proceeding to the concert.

"You look tired Frances," remarked Phil, "I hope you aren't overdoing things."

"Not at all," replied the proprietress. "We were extra busy today, but it will soon be Christmas, and I'll be able to rest for a day or two. What about you? What are your plans?"

"Nothing special," he sighed. "I expect I'll spend the day on my own as usual. I don't really mind, as I enjoy reading, and I bought a couple of books today."

"Why don't you come and have dinner with me?" suggested Frances. "We might as well keep each other company."

"Right then, thank you for the invitation. It seems like a good idea," said Phil, warming to the idea of spending a whole day with this beautiful girl.

"Come over about one," she advised him. "We can eat when we feel like it."

They enjoyed the concert, and when they were driving back to Great Shambles, Frances thanked Phil for the treat. "It's

nice to have a meal made for you," she said.

"My pleasure. Well, here we are. I'll give you a ring on Sunday to make sure that you still want me over on Christmas Day." There was a noticeable glint in his eye as Frances closed the car door and went into her flat.

 

 

            Phil is a chartered accountant. He lives in a large detached house, willed to him by his grandfather, in a suburb of Great Shambles, known as Wits End. Phil attended university, reading Maths and Economics, and gained a first-class honours degree. He went into partnership with Reggie Stirr, setting up an accountancy firm in the High Street. Business flourished, and eventually, Phil felt that it was time to seek a partner in the marriage stakes. He was very pleased with his progress at the cafe in Bryde's Bay, where he went for lunch each working day, and Saturday as well, when he wasn't playing golf. Frances was a well educated lady, and would

be an asset to him, should they become engaged. He made up his mind to approach the subject over Christmas Dinner, and, in anticipation, bought a beautiful antique ring.

            Christmas Day arrived, and Phil woke up feeling very lighthearted. He took a shower, and after putting on his good suit, put the presentation box into his pocket and set off for Frances' flat, a mere ten minute drive away. Frances greeted him as she opened the door and took him into her lounge which overlooked the sea front. Pouring him a drink, she handed him a present. It was no bigger than the box containing the ring, and when he opened it, there was a pair of gold cufflinks inside.

"These are lovely," he murmured, as he reached into his pocket. "This is for you Frances. I was going to keep it until later, but you might as well have it now. When you open it, I hope that you will understand its meaning."

Frances took the present and opened it.

"Oh Phil, how beautiful," she whispered, and, as the meaning of it suddenly

dawned on her, she said "Does this mean...?"

Taking the ring from her, he nodded. "Yes my dear, it means that I am asking you to marry me," and he slipped the ring onto her finger. "Frances Faraway," he went on, "I want you to become Frances Delightful."

 

            Reggie was pleased with the news when they resumed work in the New Year.

"Well done Phil!" he enthused. "Come round and have a meal with Cass and I.."

"Will do, thanks Reggie. I'll be seeing Frances tonight, and I'll let you know when it suits us both."

When Reggie arrived home that evening, he told Cass about Phil and Frances.

I see," replied Cass. "Oh well, there's plenty of turkey and ham in the freezer. I'll be able to rustle up a nice meal for them."

 

 

            New Year brought a heavy fall of snow, and the youngsters made snowmen, and took sleds up to the school playing fields, where they had lots of fun sliding down the hill.

Flossie Mole caught pneumonia, and was rushed into the cottage hospital. When she returned home some three weeks' later, she was very weak, and Molly stayed with her night and day. Dr. Panacea called three times a week, and told Molly that he was rather anxious about her condition.

"If she doesn't improve soon Molly, we'll have to think about getting her into the Gumshoe Residential Home for retired agents."

Molly looked perturbed.

"Molly," continued the kindly doctor, "don't hesitate to ring me if Mrs. Mole gets any worse,"

" and patting her arm, he left.

Molly entered the bedroom, and Mrs. Mole was very flushed looking.

 

"Would you like a drink?" Molly asked, straightening the bedclothes.

Flossie nodded, and took a few sips of lemon barley water. Then she lay back on her pillows and closed her eyes.

Molly made herself some tea and toast, and sat in the lounge reading the papers. At seven o'clock she re-entered the bedroom, and thought that Mrs. Mole was having difficulty breathing, so she went and telephoned the doctor.

"Right," he said, "I'll phone the ambulance first, then I'll come straight up."

He arrived about ten minutes later and went into the bedroom. He gave Flossie an injection, then turned to Molly.

"Pack a few things for her please Molly. The ambulance will be here shortly. We'll have her

re-admitted to hospital. I'm afraid that she won't be back to her little house again. I'll ring the matron at the home and arrange for her to go there from hospital."

Molly nodded, and dabbed her eyes. "She's such a dear old lady you know, doctor."

Dr. Panacea looked at Molly - "And you have been a very good friend to her. She wouldn't have lasted this long without your ministrations, Molly. She has had a very good life, and I'm sure she wouldn't change one minute of it. Oh, before we go to the hospital, perhaps you would ring Ed Counter, and let him know the situation."

Ed was very sorry to hear the news, and asked if there was anything he could do.

"No thank you," replied Molly, "the doctor and I will accompany Mrs. Mole to the hospital."

"Well, let me know what is happening Molly," and he hung up.

            "Yes doctor, we have a single room available," the matron informed Dr. Panacea next morning.

"Right," he replied, "I'll let you know when she is coming to you. Probably next week."

Molly spent the time between 'Cloak and Dagger' and her own house. Every afternoon she visited her old friend, and phoned Ed at teatime.

            Mrs. Mole never went to Gumshoe House. She passed away peacefully, a week after she had been taken back into hospital. The funeral service was held at St. Bird's, and the church was filled to capacity, proof indeed of the esteem in which Mrs. Mole was held.

Molly was the main beneficiary, and St. Bird's received a handsome bequest.

Snowdrops appeared in several gardens, and little shoots poked their heads up to greet the first rays of sunshine. Winter was on its way out at last, and new life was springing from the earth.

 

                                        A SPRING IN THEIR STEP

 

            Will and Sian looked forward to the imminent birth. Dr. Germicide, the gynaecologist at the health centre, had informed Sian that she would have to double up on layettes, as there was no doubt that she would be having twins.

"Oh my dear!" exclaimed Catty, "how wonderful. Do you hear that Bitsu?"

        Her husband came over and hugged his daughter. "Trury wonderfu, my dear chide."

Will was elated when Sian told him. "Gosh!" he said. "Just think Sian, we'll have a double helping of everything!"

"Here," she laughed, "you make me feel like Madge at the supper dance! We'd better start thinking of names. We don't want to be choosing any old names at the last minute."

Her friends were delighted when they heard, and hurried to knit extra garments. Mo kept them all supplied with wool, and set aside two cot blankets which she had in stock. Even Annie Wyn got in on the act - she went to the shops in Great Shambles and boughta second teething ring!

 

 

                        Up at the vicarage, Ed and Melamine were preparing to welcome a new curate, who was coming to assist in the parish. Ed had found his work load was ever increasing, and asked the Synod if he could be provided  with some help. The bishop rang Ed and informed him that a curate would be arriving at the end of March. Ed and Melamine were to provide him with bed and board, and Ed was expected to give him further instruction on Church matters. Rev

Myles O'Lution was qualified to conduct Sunday services, but, as the bishop said, he was a bit of a greenhorn when it came to special services. He would be staying at St. Bird's for a year, after which he would be fully qualified, and would probably get his own Parish somewhere in the country If everything went according to plan, a new assistant would be sent to Bryde's Bay, and so the arrangements would stand for the foreseeable future. Ed thanked the bishop and went to find Melamine, who was in the kitchen making their afternoon tea. She was interested to hear the news, and was glad that at last Ed would have some help.

"Ed looks so tired," she thought, "he really needed to put his foot down so that he could have

the chance to put his feet up!"

            Sandy happened to be off duty over the coming Easter weekend, and he and Mo were going to spend the holiday with St. John and Mousie. Uncle and nephew were fond of fishing, and intended going to the local river for a day's sport. Mo and Mousie had decided to attend the point-to-point races on Easter Monday. Mousie's nephew trained several horses, and had entered two in the big race, thus giving the ladies an added interest.

            Sandy put their cases in the car, and he and he and Mo set off after breakfast on Saturday, as they were expected at Atholl Point for lunch. Atholl point, about three hours drive away, was a small fishing village on the North-West coast. The air was very bracing there, and they enjoyed walking along the grassy tracks which led to the strand. Although it was a fine day, the temperature was not very high. They were glad that they had brought some extra warm jumpers. St.John's dog Bruno, a three year old boxer, accompanied the sergeant on these walks. St. John stayed at the house and pottered about in the garden whilst Mo and Mousie had a game of golf at the nearby links. After tea, the four of them had a game or two of scrabble, then spent the rest of the evening chatting.

They awoke on Easter Sunday to a light covering of snow, but by the time they were going to St. Egbert's, most of it had melted away.     The weekend absolutely flew in, and soon the younger Haires were waving goodbye, and setting off for Bryde's Bay.

       "What a lovely holiday," sighed Mo.

Her husband agreed, and said that he always enjoyed his visits to Atholl Point. "We must come up in the summertime", he suggested.

 

                                                Sian called to Will - "I think you'd better take me in to the hospital Will."

Will, who was downstairs in the kitchen preparing their tea, dropped what he was doing and rushed upstairs. He picked up the small suitcase which Sian had packed some time ago, and helped his wife out to the car. The journey to the maternity unit seemed to take twice as long as usual. Will looked nervously at Sian, and tried to keep calm. Sian, on the other hand, was quite unruffled. As soon as the nurses had taken over, Will went to telephone their parents, who wished them well, and asked him to ring as soon as there was any news.  Will left the kiosk and bought a cup of coffee from the machine. After what seemed like hours, a nurse came over to him and said that Sian had had her twins, a boy and a girl, and he could see them shortly.

When he entered the little side ward, Sian was sitting up in bed, with the babies in their cots at either side. Will and Sian hugged each other, and cried tears of happiness, then Will went over to look at his little family. They were sound asleep, and Will felt very proud. He could see that Sian was tired, so he told her to have a good rest, promising to call next day.

It was almost midnight, but before he left the hospital, he rang the grandparents as promised, and said that they could visit next afternoon. When he returned home, he went straight to bed.

Next morning, he rang all their friends, who were delighted to hear that all three were doing well.

Gwen and Uel Tell had an early lunch, then set off to see their new grandchildren. They arrived at the same time as Catty and Bitsu Tung, and they entered the ward together. Will was already there, and said "Hello everyone. Come and see the babies."

Catty and Gwen sat beside Sian, and asked her what names they had chosen.

"Well," started Sian, "we decided to call them after our grandparents. Our daughter will have the names Maybee Houcan, and our son will be called Willie Goan. We hope that you all approve."

The Tungs and Tells nodded enthusiastically.

"Thank you very much my dear," said Gwen. "I'm sure that your grandparents will be thrilled when they hear that you have chosen their names."

 

            Will collected Sian and the twins four days' later, and took them home to a houseful of gifts. In the middle of their lounge stood a new twin pram, a gift from the Tungs, and upstairs were two cots from Will's parents. Will held the children whilst Sian prepared the pram, and he laid them in it, carefully tucking the blankets round them. He turned  to Sian and said "Thank you so much my darling for these two beautiful children," and held her tight

    for several minutes.

Sian went into the kitchen and prepared several bottles for the twins, after which she made some lunch for Will and herself.

"Come and see all the presents which have been arriving since the twins were born," called Will. "We certainly won't have to buy any clothes for a while."

Sian laughed as she opened the parcels.

"Look Sian, even the Kharis have sent something," said Will, as he unwrapped a giant carton of 'Bull and Fence' dried milk.

"How kind of everyone Will," said Sian. "Look at the lovely babygro suits from Luce."

"We must write to everyone and thank them," said Will. "We'll have writer's cramp by the time we have finished."

Maybee and Willie slept until five o'clock, then started yelling. Will picked them up and Sian heated their bottles. After they were comfortable again, Will said "I'm glad that I'm on holiday this week. You'll need a hand until they are into a routine."

Sian nodded and yawned. "Help me get them upstairs Will, and then I'll have a nice warm bath."

Will jumped up from his chair." I'll make some supper for us, then you can slip on up to bed. You look quite tired."

   At six next morning, the twins woke up. Sian felt much better, and told Will to stay in bed. "I'll bring you up a cup of tea when I've seen to the babies," she said.

"Give me a shout if you need me," replied Will. Then he turned over, and promptly went back to sleep!

 

            Myles O'Lution arrived at St. Bird's as arranged, and soon got into the swing of things. Melamine had prepared a room for him in the east wing of the vicarage. A comfortably furnished room, it caught the early morning sun. Myles could see Bryde's Bay from his window, and thought that Derry Herd's cows made a very peaceful scene in the top field. It was in this room that he prepared sermons for the services which he was invited to conduct. The Counters made him feel very much at home, and he conveyed this fact to his parents in his weekly letter home. Ed took him along to visit the parishioners in their homes, or, if necessary, in the cottage hospital. Myles proved to be a very conscientious assistant, with the result that Ed was able to delegate quite a few tasks his way, thus allowing the Counters some valuable free time. He invited Myles to assist at the christening service for the Tell twins, which was to be held on the first Sunday in

June. As soon as Sian and Will heard this, they invited him to the party afterwards, to be held at the Tung's house. Ed encouraged him to go, and Melamine readily agreed, saying that he would be able to get  to know the people who would be there.

Myles stood beside Ed, and accepted the twins in turn, before putting them into Ed's arms to be baptised. Maybee Houcan and Willie Goan were duly named and blessed. Mrs. Faux-Bourdon, the regular organist, played the Aaronic blessing, after which Will and Sian left the church, acknowledging the smiles of their many friends in the congregation.

When they arrived home, they put the twins into their pram and wheeled them out into the garden, leaving the pram under the shade of a sycamore tree, since the sun was becoming very warm.

"I suppose we should leave for your parents' house about half twelve," suggested Will.

"Right," replied Sian, gathering up all the requisites and putting them into a the large holdall. "I think I'll change into a cotton dress, as it seems to be getting hotter."

"Go ahead. I'll just put these things into the car, along with the carry cots and wheels," said Will, as he opened the front door. He had a large estate car, which was proving very useful for transporting his family from place to place, and he put all the essentials into the back. The rear sat was able to accommodate the two carry cots comfortably, and when they were ready, Will put Maybee and Willie into the cots. Sian sat in the front seat. They arrived at the Tungs, where Luce was waiting on the garden seat. She hugged her sister and brother-in-law, and helped get the twins out of the car. The other guests arrived, and the celebrations began. Myles was glad that he had accepted the invitation. He circulated amongst the people, and got to know them all quite well. He was talking to Norman Covers, Luce's fiancÚ, and found out that he was a university lecturer in civil engineering. Norman was in digs at Wit's End, and travelled by train to the university each day. During the long summer holidays, he liked to go touring with his little caravan, picking out the more remote spots to stay. He liked the tranquillity of these places, and he and Luce would follow their hobby of photography, sometimes waiting for hours, just to get the perfect scene. They both enjoyed swimming and tennis, and at night, would seek out a quiet restaurant for dinner.

Myles asked him about their wedding plans, and was told that the planned date was the first of August.

            The guests began to leave, and said goodbye to each other. Catty and Bitsu invited Myles to stay for tea. "We are just having a barbecue," Catty told him.

"Thank you Catty, but I have to take evening service."

Melamine said  that he would have plenty of time, and she and Ed were staying as well.

By five o'clock, the food was ready, and the remaining guests sat around the large garden, chatting.

    "I suppose your wedding will be next," remarked Ed, who was sitting beside Norman and Luce.

"Oh yes," replied the new aunt. "We are starting to get very busy. My cousins, Compis Mentis and Coma Tose are flying over from Tokyo to be bridesmaids. They are spending a month with us. Norman's brother Matt will be best man."

"Very interesting," said the vicar. "It doesn't seem like five years since your sister's wedding."

"I know. She was going to be Matron of Honour, but along came the twins, and that was that."

Bitsu came around with assorted meats and salad. Nobody was very hungry after the party, but they all took a little something. Myles left them all at six-fifteen, and went to St. Bird's. He had really enjoyed being part of the celebrations, and secretly hoped that he would be going to

the wedding in August.

Sian and Will took their leave, and brought the twins home. As they approached their car, parked at the side of the house, Catty remarked to Gwen - "Look Gwen, those two have a definite spring in their step!"Gwen followed Catty's line of sight, and had to agree.

                                           SUMMER VISITORS

 

            Summer time in Bryde's Bay is really no different from any other seaside village. Holidaymakers come and go, and village life continues at ita usual pace. The Regal Hotel was fully booked, and Cherry employed some casual staff to help with the increased trade, brought about by the good weather and programme of events which made Bryde's Bay so popular with the visitors.

            Ed Counter had received a letter at the beginning of June. It was from Dame Henrietta Tortellini, who asked him to invite aspiring singers to attend her summer school, to be held in the community centre during July. Dame Henrietta was well known in operatic circles, and her wealth of experience would ensure a good response. Sam and Janet Evening were most enthusiastic, and put up notices in the rehearsal rooms of the Lesser Shambles Operatic Society.

                                        

          School finished at the end of June, and the pupils looked forward to nine weeks' holiday. Several of them were going camping with the guides and scouts, and they were busy packing their rucksacks. Each child had been given a list if items to bring with them, and they assembled in the car park on the first Monday in July, to await transport to the camp. They were all very excited and the guide leader, Belle Tent, along with the scout master, Singh Tapps, had a difficult job keeping them all in order. Eventually the coach arrived, and with much waving to parents who had escorted them to the car park, they were off.

It was a lovely night - one of those balmy nights when everything was still, with not a breeze to disturb the leaves, and the sun, a huge orange ball, dipping down beneath the sea, tingeing the clouds pink, promising another fine day. A night when it didn't really get dark, the sea

   as calm as a millpond. Ardis walked his dog along the sea front, and stopped to admire the scene. He loved to lean against the jetty wall and gaze across the sea to the twinkling lights of ships going past. Jerry Bilt was tying up his little dinghy and greeted Ardis as he walked up the slip way. The two men chatted whilst Towser lay at his master's feet. After a while, they saw two men leaving the hotel and watched them walking down Jetty Road towards them.

"I recognise those two all right," said Jerry, "they come down here every year - have done for the past ten years or more."

"Oh yes," agreed Ardis, "the one on the left is Al Fresco, the chap who likes to go back packing, isn't it?"

"Indeed it is, and the other one is Oliver Goosegrease, the long-distance swimmer. I s'pose he's coming down to see me about supplying a boat to accompany him on his next attempt at

crossing the channel," informed Jerry, as he straightened up to welcome the visitors.

The four men shook hands.

"When did you arrive?" asked Ardis.

"About five o'clock," replied Oliver. "We happened to arrive about the same time, and had our evening meal together. Then we decided to take a stroll to see who was about."

 

"How long are you staying?" inquired Jerry, as he lit his pipe.

"Well, I've booked in for about a week," answered Al. "I want to do a bit of walking around the local beauty spots as usual, and Oliver is going to make another attempt at the channel, weather permitting, so perhaps I could come along in the boat to give him a bit of support?"

"I don't see why not," replied Jerry. "When are you hoping to set off, Oliver?"

"I'll do a couple of training swims, and perhaps have a go on Thursday or Friday. I hope the sea stays calm as it will make things a bit easier."

 

 

"Come on Towser, time to get back home," said Ardis, pulling gently on the dog's lead. Towser got to his feet and stretched, his tail wagging when Jerry leaned down to pat his head, and give him a scratch behind his ears.

"You're a good old boy Towser," he said. "What age is he now, Ardis?"

"Just coming up to his fourteenth birthday, and it only seems like yesterday when he was a little bundle of fur which just about filled the palm of my hand. Come on boy, time we were away. Goodnight boys, I'm sure I'll bump into you soon. Enjoy your holiday with us, and good luck with your swim Oliver," and he disappeared into the gloom, with Towser walking obediently at his heel.

            Jerry bid the visitors goodnight as well, and went to lock up the pier house before going home. He lived in a little cottage  which was situated between Gull Creek and Roller Cove. Rocky Outcrops lived in the one nearest the lighthouse, and the third one was unoccupied at present. It was used as a summer residence, and the owner, Dr. Germicide, had informed Jerry that this year's tenant would be arriving during the second week in July. Art Decaugh, a well known artist intended staying for six weeks, or longer if possible. He hoped to paint several local scenes during his stay.

            Dame Henrietta had arrived in Bryde's Bay, and duly set up her summer school in the community centre. She had brought Pia Nissimo, her accompanist with her, and passersby were treated to the sounds of the pupils being taken through the initial stages of scales and arpeggios.

"Sounds like that oul' tom cat's there as well," remarked Madge, when she rang Sadie about their holiday arrangements. They had decided to go for a tour in the car, and were leaving for the overnight ferry that very evening. "I'll call fer ye about five," informed Madge. "We can have wer tea on the way up til the dacks."

"Righto," said Sadie, "I'll be ready Madge. I've gat me suitcase packed 'n' all," she added.

"Good show, our Sadie. Here, I hear one o' them holocausts flyin' about. It sounds pretty low."

Madge looked out of her window, and saw the air-sea rescue helicopter hovering over the bay.

"There must be summat up," she told Sadie, "it's hooverin' aroun' the Bay. I'll ring ye later."

A pair of binoculars sat on Madge's coffee table. She lifted them and looked across towards the sea. The helicopter was circling round, and the Roller Cove lifeboat was making its way towards Gull Creek. One of the dinghies from the holiday park had overturned, and Madge could see someone clinging to the side. The lifeboat arrived and took the casualty on board. As soon as they had attached a line to the dinghy, they made their way back to the Cove, where Howard Standing was waiting to take the camper round to the health centre for a check up.

"What on earth happened Pete?" asked Howard, when Pete Moss, a landscape gardener, reappeared from the surgery, having received an anti tetanus from Nurse Jab, and a clean bill of health from the doctor.

"I don't really know," replied Pete, rubbing his arm. "One minute I was enjoying the sail, and the next, I was in the water. I must have caught a sudden gust. By-the-way, does that nurse play darts for the local team?"

Howard laughed as he turned the van into the park. "Go and get out of those wet clothes Pete, then come up to the bungalow for a 'reviver'" he invited.

"I will, thanks Howard," said Pete, opening the door of his caravan and disappearing inside.

 

            Oliver trained hard, and was ready for the attempt. Jerry Rocky and Al met up at the boathouse, and Jerry went inside to collect the large jar of grease which he applied to Oliver's body. A large crowd had gathered to cheer Oliver on his way. Even the singers had appeared, having postponed their morning session. Dame Henrietta and Pia joined them at the water's edge.

Oliver was prepared. He pulled on his goggles and walked down the slip way. Turning to the crowd, he waved before entering the water.

"Good luck," shouted everyone, and watched as he swam out into the bay. Jerry started up the engine and followed after. Flasks of hot soup, tea, sandwiches and chocolate had been brought on board, along with blankets and a small flask of brandy. Jerry had informed the coast guards about the swim, so that they could alert any shipping in the immediate area. Oliver was out of sight now, so the spectators dispersed, mostly to Cherry's cafe for their elevenses.

            After lunchtime, a chill wind sprang up, and clouds rolled in from the west. Some of the holiday makers played tennis on the courts adjacent to the pool. Because the pool was heated, children swam and played with beach balls, oblivious to the large drops of rain which had started to fall. Parents sat in the cafe for shelter, where they could keep an eye on their offspring. Tennis matches were abandoned, and the players headed for the hotel, where they had afternoon tea, whilst watching sport on the television. Some of them had entered for the local tennis tournament, which was to be held in August, under the auspices of the local council.

 

            The guides and scouts were preparing to strike camp. Singh Tapps instructed the boys in folding tents, and these were duly loaded onto the coach, which had arrived to transport the children back home. Belle Tent made sure that the cooking utensils were sparkling clean, and before they left, they formed a chain across the field and walked the length of it to clear up any litter that was lying about. As they boarded the coach, there was a rumble of thunder, and some of the younger children were a bit frightened, so the two leaders got everyone to sing the camp songs which they had learned during the week. By the time they reached Bryde's Bay, it was raining heavily, and the children, having collected their rucksacks from the back of the coach, scampered over to their waiting parents and returned home. Belle and Singh put the tents into the community hall which was used for the weekly meetings, and bidding each other goodbye, also returned home.

              Out at sea, Oliver had stopped for a short break. Rocky passed him a carton of soup and a cheese sandwich. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Fine, fine," came the reply, "although I hope the sea doesn't get any more choppy, or it will make progress much more difficult."

"Well," said Jerry, "according to the radio, there's quite a storm brewing up. We'd better keep a sharp lookout."

"Right," said Oliver, passing the empty carton back to Rocky. "Let's get going again. If it gets too bad, I'll call off the attempt, and try again when the weather is better."

He set off again, and Jerry kept the radio tuned to the coast guard frequency, as they called him up at regular intervals for progress reports. They were about halfway across when there was a tremendous flash of lightning, followed immediately by a deafening clap of thunder. Jerry carefully steered the boat past Oliver, and signaled for him to stop.

"Better not take any chances Olly. We don't want you to be hit by lightning," he shouted over the roar of the storm.

Oliver gave him the thumbs up sign, and swam over to the boat, where he was helped aboard by Rocky and Al.

"Too bad, chum," said Rocky, as he wrapped a blanket round Oliver, "but I think that Jerry is right."

"Aye indeed," agreed a disappointed Oliver. "Oh well, we can have another go sometime soon. I felt that I was going well, and I would have succeeded if it hadn't been for this dratted storm."

"Here, have a cup of coffee," offered Al. "I've put a wee tot of brandy in it to warm you up."

"Thanks Al," said Olly, accepting the carton and taking a sip. "Ah. That's better. I hadn't realised how cold the water had become."

Jerry steered the boat back to the jetty. Nobody was about because it was seven o'clock at night, when most of them would be sitting down to their evening meal.

"Come up to the hotel and have dinner with me," offered Oliver   . "It's the least I can do to thank you all for your help."

After having a quick shower, he joined his friends downstairs and they went into the dining room. The other guests sympathized with him on his failed attempt, and hoped he would have better luck next time.

 

Art Decaugh had lit the fire in his holiday cottage. The logs crackled and sent showers of sparks up the chimney. Art sat in the comfortable armchair and viewed his work. He was very pleased with the results, and had entered several of them in a local exhibition. He spent the evening sorting out the best ones, and made frames for them, before setting them in the corner, ready for transportation to Lesser Shambles Art Gallery next day. The storm lasted most of the evening, and the artist read the 'Cove Courier' before retiring for the night.

 

            Jerry and Rocky arrived home about midnight. They had had a very convivial evening with several residents of the hamlet. Oliver, tired out, had gone to bed early, so Rocky, Jerry and Al had gone to the ex-services club for a couple of hours. Quite a few members were there, and they listened eagerly to Jerry's account of the swim. "Dashed bad luck that thunderstorm, what?" commented Victor, "but perhaps it will bring good weather in its wake."

"You are probably right," agreed Jerry. "The wind is coming from a different art now - a sure sign of fair weather."

True enough, the sun was shining from a cloudless sky next morning. Everything looked and smelled fresh. The sea was calm.

                        Jim Nastics, the recreation officer for the area, was in his office, organising the concert for Friday night. He contacted all the performers to make sure that they were aware of the final arrangements, and knew the 'batting' order. The concert was to be held in the public gardens beside the car park, weather permitting. A large crowd was expected to attend this popular annual event, and seating was arranged by council workmen. Husky's minibus would be kept busy, ferrying caravanners from Gull Creek. Should the weather be inclement, alternative arrangements had been made to use the community hall.

 

 

Friday night turned out sunny and warm. The audience began to arrive at seven o'clock, and waited for Jim to introduce the artistes. At seven-thirty, he stepped on to the bandstand to start the proceedings.

To loud applause, the pipes and drums of the Bootleg Bay Lifeguards opened the entertainment, playing several reels, strathspeys and marches, setting the listeners' feet tapping. Florrie Tutu, who ran a ballet school in Great Shambles, gave a most moving performance of 'The Dying Swan,' ably accompanied by Pia, who remained on stage for the next item. Henrietta had awarded certificates to the pupils, who, in her estimation, had progressed most during her master classes. Sam and Janet Evening, winners in the duet class, sang a selection of popular songs from the shows. They were greeted with thunderous applause, and proved to everyone that their high commendation was well deserved.

Jim announced the next act - The Boer War Veterans Silver Band, who played several Sousa marches. Their conductor, Brigadier Johannes Berg, was very proud of them all in their red tunics and black trousers. As an encore, they played the theme from the film 'Out of Africa'. When they had finished, they joined the rest of the audience to watch the other performers.

The Post Office male voice choir was followed by the Rocket jazz band. Just before the finale, the winner of the solo certificate stepped onto the stage. Hayley Strung sang 'Whenever I feel Afraid.'

The male voice choir returned to sing the final number - 'It's good to talk', ably assisted by the lifeguards. Jim gave this piece his stamp of approval, and thanked all those who had taken part.

            For many of the visitors, this was the last night of their holiday, and everyone agreed that

it was a most enjoyable occasion. They bid each other goodbye, and looked forward to next year, when they hoped to return.

            The residents of Bryde's Bay carried on with their daily lives as usual. They were accustomed to seeing new faces throughout the summer season, and joined in the fun whenever possible.       July gave way to August, and a new influx of trippers. August was regatta month, and several well known yachtsmen were seen in the village, including Howard Aport, the world champion, who had travelled from British West Hartlepools for the event. Locally owned yachts were bedecked with flags to welcome the competitors. One or two Galway hookers were seen about the jetty, but Sandy Haire sent Ringo down to tell the ladies to clear off!

"they can jolly well take their trade elsewhere," he told the constable.

            Art sold many of his paintings, and was busy on some landscapes, and a seascape of Roller Cove, which included the lighthouse. He was just adding a few seagulls when he noticed several army trucks entering a nearby field. "Of course," he thought, "the T.A.is setting up their annual camp today."

It was indeed the T.A. arriving, under the command of Captain Luke Lively. Luke was to occupy a small ridge tent which had been erected by the advance party, along with  some marquees in which the men would be sleeping. The quartermaster, Major Blowout, was busy setting up his camp kitchen, and checking supplies. The men would be receiving instruction in the use of firearms at the rifle range. Lieutenant Lewis Gunner and Sergeant Lee Enfield, who had both won honours at Bisley, shared this responsibility.

            Art watched the activity with interest. He was sitting at a good vantage point, and could see the hustle and bustle without leaving his little canvas seat. Rocky spotted him as he was polishing the glass louvres of the lighthouse, and waved to him. Art raised a hand in greeting, then returned to his painting.

 

            Jim Nastics arrived at his office to meet with the sports committee. Their task was to make the draw for the tennis tournament, which was starting the following Monday. They had received a large entry, including some overseas players who were holidaying in Bryde's Bay.

Con Tender and Mrs. Vi Tality were already seated when Jim came in. He looked at his watch, and saw that it was ten o'clock.  "Sorry to keep you waiting, but I had some council business to attend to first," he explained.

"That's all right", said Con, "Vi and I were a bit early anyway."

The door opened, and Dick Taytor  came in. He was the third member of the sub committee, and always liked to make his presence felt. He sat down rather noisily, and the meeting began. The draw was made, and after a break for tea, Jim said that he would  display the draw on the notice board at  the pavilion in Bryde's Bay.

"What about finals day?" asked Vi, "are we going to have the usual dance to end off the week?"

"I thought of that," replied Jim, "we could ask Big Dipper along to provide the music."

"Stuff and nonsense!" interjected Dick. "Let's have a barbecue and square dance for a change."

"Mmm," thought the chairman. "What do you two think that?" he addressed Con and Vi,

"Oh I don't know about that," responded  Vi. "The players always look forward to the dancing after the trophies have been presented."

"That's true," agreed Con. "After all, the mens'  and ladies' champions always lead off."

Jim and Vi nodded, but Dick was positively fuming. He was used to getting his own way, and did not like his ideas challenged.

"Now look here," he said, his face getting red, " we have been running a dance for the past twenty years. It's time we offered something different for the players and spectators." He thumped the table as he spoke, and poor old Vi cowered in her chair.

"No need to lose your temper," uttered Jim.

"I'M NOT LOSING MY TEMPER!" bellowed Dick, "BUT I ABSOLUTELY INSIST  ON HAVING A BARBECUE AND SQUARE DANCE."  He slammed his briefcase shut, and stormed out of Jim's office, banging the door for extra effect.

"What an obnoxious man!" exclaimed Vi. "Thank goodness this is his last year on the committee."

"No need for him to use that tone of voice," remarked Con, patting Vi's hand to calm her down.

  "What will we do Jim?"

"Well, I suppose we could have a barbecue and square dance. It would be a novelty for the holiday makers."

The other two nodded their assent, and as they had no other business, they left .

Jim phoned the printers and asked if the posters were ready.

"Hi Jim. Bea Literate here. Yes, your posters are ready for collection, and we will have the others ready for you next Tuesday, as requested."

"Hold on, Bea. I have to ask you to change the wording on those other posters. We are having a barbecue and square dance instead of the usual supper dance. Have I allowed you enough time for the alterations?"

"Certainly. Just let me make a note of the wording which you want, and I'll pass it on to the printing room."                                                

"Thanks Bea. I'll call for the others in about an hour."

"Bye Jim, see you soon."

Jim dialled another number, and waited for a reply.

"Great Shambles, two-fourteen," said a voice.

"Hello Dozy. Jim Nastics here. Would you and your group  be free next Saturday evening? We would like you to play for our close of tournament square dance."

"Oh-ho," said Dozy. "I thought you always had Big Dipper in attendance."

"Well. You know Dick Taytor? He nearly exploded this morning when he thought we were going to throw out his proposal for a barbecue and square dance. Actually, if he hadn't stormed out, he would have seen that we agreed with him! What do you say? You'll get your usual fee of course, plus your supper."

"That's grand ,Jim. As it happens, we are free that night. We find that square dancing is more popular during the winter. What time do you want us to turn up?"

"About eight o'clock, if that suits you, and thanks very much Dozy, you have been a great help."

 

            Jim collected the posters and took them, along with the draw, to the tennis courts. Quite a few people were practicing for the event, and came over to read the notices which Jim had put up.

He left Bryde's Bay, and had one more task to complete  before lunch. Lauren Order was in her office and smiled as Jim entered.

"Hello Jim. Is everything ready for Monday morning?"

"It is indeed, Lauren. If you could be there for ten o'clock, we would be able to get the competition under way."

"Certainly. I'm looking forward to it," said Lauren.

 

            Dozy Doe contacted Vi Lynn and Mary Tinkler, and suggested that they meet at her home to discuss the programme for Saturday.

"Right, I'll be along at seven, and I'll bring my fiddle," said Vi.

 Monday morning was sunny and warm, with a slight sea breeze causing the bunting to flutter gently. Spectators and players had gathered for the opening ceremony, and as soon as Lauren had served twice, Senator Court mounted the umpire's chair and took command of the proceedings. Play progressed satisfactorily throughout the week, with only two short breaks whilst light rain fell. By Saturday, the crowd had doubled in size to watch the two finals. The ladies were first, and Senator Court accompanied them out to the arena, tossed a coin, and play began. Lottie Lobs, the Swedish champion played magnificently and defeated the reigning champion, Nita Restring, by two sets to one.  After a twenty minute break, the men came out for their final. Walter Goodshott was victorious over the Dutch player Wilf Ootfault.   Jim announced to the crowd that the presentation of prizes would take place that evening at the barbecue, after which there would be a square dance. Everybody was invited to the celebrations.

Dozy Doe and the Promenaders arrived. Vi Lynn tuned her fiddle whilst Mary Tinkler played a few tunes on her piano accordion.    Outside, Vi, Con and Dick, their argument forgotten, got the barbecue going. Soon the air was filled with the smell of steak, chicken and sausages. They agreed that the week had been a great success.

 

 

            The final event of the holiday season was the mayoress' show, followed by a grand fireworks display.  Ardis and Willie were busy in the shed at the back of the Nails' house. They were constructing a chariot for the Bryde's Bay float, which was depicting 'Britain through the Ages.'  The ladies were sewing costumes, and those who were to be on the float

tried on their garments at various stages of their manufacture. Madge and Sadie were to be at the front of the float, as they would be representing the earliest days.

 

            "Ye know Sadie," said Madge when she telephoned her sister to let her know what was happening, because Sadie was unable to be at the first meeting at which decisions were made as to who would play the various roles, "you, Penny, Sakov and Cherry have til dress up as my worriers."

"And who will you be?" came the obvious question.

"Ach Sadie, I have til dress up as Bodice, the queen of the I seen ya tribe."

"That should be a sight fer sore eyes Madge," commented Sadie, with just a hint of sarcasm. "Who else will be on the float?"

 "Teenie is Britannic, an' Rael is Elizabeth the one. Vic will be Lord Kitchen along wi' Perry, who'll be Lord Half-Nelson."

Madge went on to tell Sadie that the Bryde's Bay Buglers would be leading the float.

 

"Thanks fer the phone call Madge. When's the next fittin'?"

"The marra night. See ye there. Cheerio ny."

            Willie and Ardis, using an old set of pram wheels, donated by Annie Wyn Elpus, made a magnificent chariot, suitably strengthened, and sprayed with gold paint.

"That should be strong enough to carry two Madges," laughed Ardis. "We'll keep it in the shed until the day of the parade. Thanks for all your help Willie."

"Don't mention it Ardis. I enjoyed myself, and it is quite a good chariot, even though I say it myself," replied the caretaker.

 

            Gray skies greeted the day of the show, and Lauren waited at the town hall in Great Shambles. She was to judge the floats before the parade, then lead them off, riding in an open carriage, provided the rain kept away. Sadly, this wasn't the case, so Lauren's official car was

 

. summoned.

"Such a pity," she said to the other councillors, "I was so looking forward to the carriage ride."

The floats began to arrive outside the town hall, and the mayoress, under the shelter of a large golf umbrella, commenced the judging.

The Great Shambles float was covered with flowers, and had a seat for the show queen, who would be chosen just before departure round the town.

Roller Cove had made a cardboard lighthouse, with a battery-powered light flashing on top. Rocky stood beside the edifice, and Art, complete with canvas and easel, sat at the back.

Bootleg Bay won second prize for their mockup of a pirate ship, complete with jolly roger and fierce looking pirates brandishing cutlasses.

Gull Creek had a smallish float, covered with imitation grass, on which was set a large tent and a dinghy.

"Fiddler on the Dodge" was the theme of the Lesser Shambles effort, constructed by the operatic society. They won the highly commended prize.

Winner of the perpetual challenge cup was, of course, Bryde's Bay. Madge stood in the chariot, dressed in a flimsy leotard, with a Viking helmet atop a blonde wig. Her trusty warriors knelt around the chariot whilst the judging took place. Teenie sat erect in her chair, holding her trident and shield. Rael struck a regal pose as Good Queen Bess. Bringing up the rear were Victor and Perry. They considered themselves very lucky to be dressed in uniform, as they were comfortably warm, whilst the others were frozen stiff!

"My debentures is chatterin'," complained Madge, "I'm absolutely frizz."

 

            The show queen was chosen and crowned, and Marina Parke took her place on the leading float. The mayoral car left the town hall and the floats followed on.  Considering the poor weather, quite a large crowd had assembled to see the parade. They cheered the floats as each one went past, and Ardis and Willie were delighted to see the cup on display at the front of the tableau.   When the parade was over, the floats returned to their respective areas and were eventually dismantled. Those who had taken part hurried home, no doubt to a warm drink and heavier clothing!

 

            That Saturday night, just about everyone gathered at the back of the community hall to watch the fireworks. Hamleteers stood shoulder to shoulder with the holiday makers, and the mobile chip van did a roaring trade all night. At ten-thirty, the first rockets soared into the night sky. "Ooohs"   and " aahs" emanated from the audience, and children were enthralled as the display moved towards its culmination.

Families returned home, and visitors went back to the hotel to prepare for the exodus on the following day. The holiday season was ending, and Bryde's Bay would soon return to normal. School was starting the next week, and Rael and Teenie were quite looking forward to the new term.

Derry had cut and dried the hay, and intended moving it into the barn before the weather would break.

The Standings said goodbye to the last of the summer visitors. A few  week-enders  would be there during September, but, on the whole, Gull Creek would be quieter than of late.

The Counters were busy at the vicarage, arranging winter activities at St. Bird's.

Jerry helped yacht owners to remove their craft from the water, and bought some varnish for his own boat. Husky arranged to have his minibus brought in to Philip's garage for an overhaul. He had had a busy season, and was already booked for different functions to be held during the winter, especially at Christmas.

Willie gave, what he hoped, was the last cut of the year to the grass at St. Bird's, and tidied up the flower beds, removing weeds and dead flowers.

The Khari brothers did a stock take after their summer trading. They had kept Gull Creek supplied, as well as their own emporium, with the result that Harry had to make a very long list of necessities, which he took to the wholesalers, whilst Cashun attended to their customers.

Everybody had prospered during the holiday time. Now they could all relax and enjoy the late September sunshine before embarking on their winter hobbies.

                            

                                                EVAN KNOWS

                        Evan had seen the light.       So had Madge and Sadie.

      It happened one cold, crisp January night, when the frost sparkled in the bright moonlight.  Evan was walking along the promenade, alone as usual. He was thinking about the cruel way which life had treated him, and the fact that high finance had always seemed to be just out of his reach.

"Dammit!" he said aloud, as he kicked a stone onto the sand, "why do these things always happen to me? Why do other blokes get away with it, and I end up doing time?"

He leaned against the harbour wall and lit a cigarette. His latest stretch - six months for petty larceny - had finished that day. He had been released early in the morning, and when he arrived home, the house was empty. Annie Wyn was at work in Frances Delightful's cafe, and the children were at school. He made himself a pot of tea and toasted the heel of a loaf, spreading it liberally with butter and cream cheese. He still had some money in his pocket, given to him by the governor, so he pondered whether to put it on a horse, or go along to the Wolfit Inn, on the off-chance that he might get a part-time job, or, better still, meeting one or two of his cronies who might just be discussing an easier way of obtaining some cash. He decided on the latter and left home at eleven o'clock to dander  along to the pub. Avu Herd was just coming out of the post office as he was passing, and when she saw him, she darted back in to tell Penny that Evan was out again.

"Oh lor! I'd better get back home and tell Derry to keep an eye on the chickens!" By the time Avu reached the farm, most of Bryde's Bay had been told the news!

 

            Slippy Skinner was seated in a corner of the pub with Dipper Nolan, and another man whom Elpus hadn't seen before. Evan bought a glass of beer and joined the others.

"So you've done your porridge," remarked Slippy in a sneering voice, "you should have been more careful Evan."

"Aye, well the look out didn't give me no warning," grumbled Evan. "I hadn't a chance, not a single chance."

Slippy noticed Evan looking at the man sitting beside Dipper.

"You haven't met Oops Mistigan yet. Oops is an expert safecracker. He's going to give us the benefit of his expertise on our next job."

 

Evan picked up his glass and waited for Slippy to continue.

"Yes, boys, this is going to be the big one this time."

"Seems like I got out just in time Slippy," said Evan, pound signs floating before his eyes.

"That's just the problem," continued Skinner, "we've all the arrangements made, and you're not included boyo."

"Och c'mon now Slippy, we've been mates for years now. You can't do this to me!"

"We can, and what's more, we have," sniggered Slippy. "We couldn't be sure that you'd get out today, so Dipper 'ere was called on to take your place. We can count you in on the next one, if all goes well this time."

            Evan was furious.        He finished his drink and stormed out.

"I don't think he's a happy man," remarked Oops.

"Well, it's his own fault for being stupid enough to get caught," explained Slippy. "Honestly lads, Elpus hasn't the brains he was born with. Anyway, you both know the score. We'll meet up later as planned."

They left the pub and went their separate ways, each one knowing what was expected of them.

 

            Madge and Sadie had spent the day taking down their Christmas decorations, and dutifully put the holly in a box, to keep it for burning on Shrove Tuesday, as tradition decreed. Sadie put the decorations away in the roof space, then the two of them hoovered and dusted until it was time for tea. Sadie remarked to Madge that their stock of bread was almost nil.

"That's all right luv, I'll stick a couple o' them wee wheaten bullocks in the oven later on. That'll do us till we get til the shaps the marra."

"I'll give ye a wee haun," said Sadie. "I always feel that it's a bit of an anti climax when Christmas is over."

"Oh I agree wi' ye there our Sadie, an' this always seems til be such a long  oul' month. I feel very laxadaisy until the spring comes roun'. Mebbe we should arrange a wee get tilgether fer February. Whaddya say?"

"It wud brighten up the winter, Madge, an' I'm shoor everyone wud like a wee night out."

"Righto," said Madge, getting up from her chair, "we'll attend til that matter later. Let's go an' make wer bread ny," and the sisters went into the kitchen to start their baking.

 

 

            Evan finished his cigarette and stood up straight as he went to turn for home. He looked out at the darkness over the sea, and it was then that he saw it. - He wasn't sure at first - it looked like a star twinkling in the distance, but there it was again. A definite light, flashing on and off. He knew that it couldn't be the lighthouse at Roller Cove, so, intrigued, he watched and waited. He reckoned that it must be a small boat, signalling to someone. Looking around, he couldn't see any other boats around. All he could see was the darkness - no red or green lights showing at all.   Then he looked to his right, and there it was - a torch being held by someone standing just beyond the pier house, signalling back to the boat.  He retreated into the shadows in case he would be spotted, and watched with interest as the boat came closer to the jetty. It must have been a dark coloured boat, as he could only see the light flashing, but eventually he made out the outline of the masts. Three dark figures emerged from the shadows and ran down the jetty. They carried a large box from the boat, and took it over to the sand as the boat slipped away, disappearing into the night. Several minutes later - Evan didn't know exactly how long - the three men withdrew from the box and hid behind some rocks. There followed a muffled explosion, after which the group returned and started filling plastic bags with the booty. When they had finished, they ran up the beach, and, looking round to make sure that nobody was there, climbed up onto the promenade. At this point, Evan stepped into their path, causing Slippy, Dipper and Oops to gasp.

"Hello there Evan," said Slippy when he had recovered his composure, "what are you doing down here?"

"I might ask you the same question," replied Evan, "and Sandy Haire would be mighty interested to know as well."

"Ach c'mon now pal, you wouldn't grass on your mates."

"Mates indeed! From what I know, mates stick together and do things together as well."

"Sure I told you this morning that I couldn't be sure you would turn up, and we had the arrangements made."

"Well that's your hard luck - unless we come to an amicable arrangement."

"Whaddyer mean, amicable arrangement Elpus?"

" I seen everything from start to finish, and unless you give me my share that I'd've gat if you'd included me in your scheme, I'll not be responsible for my actions."

Oops turned to Skinner and said "fer dear sake Slippy, give him a couple o' wads o' them big notes, and let's get on our way before the fuzz arrives an' nicks us all."

Slippy reached into one of the bags and pulled out some cash which he handed to Evan, than he ran over to a car which had been parked beside the swimming pool earlier, and before Evan could say 'Easy Street', they were gone.

 

            Meanwhile, Madge and Sadie busied themselves in their kitchen.

"Have a wee juke at them bullocks in the oven luv, whilst I turn these sody farls over," said Madge as she tended the bread on the griddle.

"Another few minutes should do 'em Madge. Will I stick the keddle on ny?"

"Go ahead Sadie. These farls'll be cooled enough by the time the tea's ready."

Madge carried the cooling trays over to the window, which she opened to allow the cool breeze to blow in. She glanced out and saw the flashing light.

"Here Sadie, I wonder who's flashing out there?"

Sadie ran across to the window, half expecting to see a man in a dirty raincoat! She followed Madge's line of sight and also saw the light.

"Well, it isn't Racky's lighthouse, yiz can see it further away. I hope it isn't one o' them depressed ships."

"It's prabably a wee fishin' boat signallin' til another one," offered Sadie, pouring the tea.

 The sisters enjoyed the warm buttered bread, and thought no more about the incident.

Next morning, the morning paper was delivered as usual, and Madge collected it from the hall.

She gasped as she read the headlines. "Here Sadie, wait'll ye hear this - 'Bootleg Bay Bank Burgled By Buccaneers - full story page five.

"Well go on Madge, read it out," said Sadie, finishing off her fry.

Madge read out the report about the bank raid, and the small night safe being taken away by boat.

"Well I never!" she declared, "I must ring Sandy an' tell him about thon flashin' light we seen. I betcha it had somethin' til do wi' it. It sez here that they gat away wi' an undisguised sum o' money, thought til be in the region o' one hundred thousand quid.!"

 

 

 

            A small crowd had gathered near the jetty as Evan went to collect his morning paper. Ringo Steele was keeping the people off the beach whilst Sandy and Ian Terrogator inspected what was left of the safe.

"Looks like a 'jelly' job Sandy. Whoever blew it up knew exactly what they were doing. Anyone you know of who's had experience with explosives?"

"No-one from Bryde's Bay," answered the sergeant, "but I'll ring the CRO later, and see if they can come up with anything,"

"Right then," said Ian, brushing the sand off his hands. "Let's get a cup of tea first, I'm frozen stiff."

The two men went back to the station after instructing the constable to keep spectators away from the evidence until they could arrange to have it brought up to the barracks for forensic examination. Looking across at the crowd, the detective inspector said to Sandy - "isn't that Elpus over there? When did he get out?"

"Just yesterday Ian. Do you think he might know something?"

"Well maybe, but we won't bring him in just yet. We don't want him to think we're suspicious of him. Just keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what a spot of earwigging might turn up!"

Evan returned home.   He boiled the kettle and made some coffee. Whilst sitting at the table, he turned to page five in his newspaper to read the report about the robbery. When he saw the reckoned amount he was furious.         "What?" he yelled, " a hundred thousand smackeroonies, and all I got was a measly pair of monkeys! That settles it. I'll go and see Haire. Maybe I'll get a reward for informing."

He finished his drink and walked down to the barracks - after he had hidden the money in the back of the coal house in the yard. Ringo was at the desk when Evan walked in.

"What do you want?" asked the constable.

Evan demanded to see the sergeant.

"He's busy at the moment," came the reply.

"I'll wait then. Be sure to tell him I'm here."

"He could be quite a while. Could I help you at all?"

"No. I came to see Sandy Haire, nobody else," said Evan in a loud voice.

Sandy, in the interview room with Madge and Sadie, heard the rumpus and came out to see what was going on. When Evan saw him, he jumped from his seat and said "it's about time. I've come to see you, and I don't like being kept waiting."

"Sit down again," ordered Sandy, "and kindly keep your voice down. I'll see you when I've finished taking statements from the witnesses."

Evan, somewhat perturbed in case he had been seen, sat down again. He wondered who the witnesses were. He hadn't noticed anyone else about the pier house or the promenade.

            Sandy opened the door for Madge and Sadie, and escorted them to the exit at the other end of the station. "Thank you very much for coming, ladies, you have been most helpful."

On hearing this, Evan got up and tried to leave the barracks, but Sandy caught him by the arm, saying, "not so fast lad. You wanted to see me. Well, I want to see you!" He took Evan into the interview room and closed the door.

            Madge and Sadie, their mouths like two round 'O's' hurried across the street to Frances' cafe for a much-needed cup of coffee.

"Did ye hear thon Elpus one, an' good oul' Sandy tellin' him nat til be so obstetrics."

Sadie agreed that she had heard the furore, and wondered if Evan had been involved. The sisters sat by the window, and Sadie ordered two coffees and some scones.

"I hope he doesn't come roun' til the house til take his review on us Sadie - he can be quite nasty if the mood takes him."

"Well if he does, Madge, we can send fer Sandy, an' he'll fix 'im up good and proper."

 

                        "Right then laughing boy, you wanted to see me?"

Sandy sat down at his desk, facing Evan. The latter felt most uncomfortable, and wasn't so sure that this had been a good idea.

"Come on then Elpus, I haven't got all day. Do you know something about last night's robbery?"

Evan nodded.    He told Sandy that he wanted to turn Queen's Evidence. "I'll do it so long as you go easy on me sergeant," he muttered.

"I can't promise anything, but go ahead and tell me what you know."

Evan spilled the beans.           Sandy, writing out the statement asked him a few questions as the tale unfolded. When they were finished, Evan put his mark to the statement, and Sandy said he could go.  "Don't be sneaking off anywhere. DI Terrogator will want to speak to you."

 

Evan hurried home.

He wanted to find a better hiding place for his money, before the police came snooping around. He would have to hide it away from the house, because the detectives already knew all his hidey holes from previous searches.   He took the money out of the coal house, and placed it in a plastic bag. Then he found a piece of oilskin, and wrapped it round the bag before putting the parcel into a biscuit tin. He wondered what he would do next, so he went into his old lean-to shed for inspiration. The shed was full of garden waste. "That's it!" he cried to himself, and set the biscuit tin into a rusty wheelbarrow before covering it with rubbish. He wheeled the barrow down the garden path and along the lane way which led to Badger Lane. He had brought a spade with him, so that if anyone saw him digging a hole, he could tell them that he was just burying some rubbish in the field.       When he got to the field, he searched for a suitable spot to dig. He counted the paces from the lane way, and found a place at forty-three - just his age - easy to remember! Looking around to make sure that he was alone, he began his task. It took him about half an hour to complete, and he was well satisfied with his efforts. No-one could tell from looking at the spot that there was a real treasure store hidden there! He returned home and found Annie Wyn preparing dinner for the family.

"Where have you been?" she demanded. "Here I am, working my fingers to the bone, and you can't even have a cup of tea ready for me when I get home from the caff."

Evan told her that he had been busy clearing out rubbish from the shed.

"Oh well, that's something I suppose. You can put some coal onto the fire. It's going to be a cold night."

Evan went out to the yard and fetched in a bucket of coal. When he had fed the fire, he was just about to sit down when there was a loud knocking at the door. He went to answer it and found Ringo there.

Evan's heart went down to his boots.

"CID want you down at the station," the constable informed him.

"I'll be down when I get me dinner," said Evan.

"NOW".

Annie shouted from the kitchen, "who's there?"

Evan shouted back, "I've to go to the cop shop. Keep me dinner warm. I won't be long," and he slammed the door.

Ian Terrogator and DC Gus Tapo interviewed Evan for about two hours, then told him to appear the following Monday at Great Shambles Petty Sessions, as a witness for the prosecution.

Evan didn't particularly enjoy his dinner that night. Annie Wyn nagged him all evening, wanting to know what he had done. He told her what he had seen the previous night, and the police needed him as a witness.

Evan paced the floor.

When it came his turn to give evidence, he told the magistrate his side of things. The magistrate asked Sandy if Elpus was a reliable witness, and Sandy said that although he had quite a bad record, the witness had, on this occasion, proved very helpful, and the three prisoners had been arrested quite quickly. The magistrate nodded, and made a few notes.

Slippy Skinner was livid, and when he was being cross-examined, said that Elpus had had share in the robbery as well.

Evan felt sick.

He was recalled to the witness box, and the defending lawyer asked him if the statement was true.

"I was bribed, to keep quiet," muttered Evan, looking uncomfortable.

 

            When it came to passing sentence, the magistrate said that Slippy Skinner, being the obvious ringleader, should serve three years. Oops Mistigan also got three years for robbery and possession of explosives. Dipper Nolan was put away for two years.

"Now," said the beak, "Evan Elpus, because you turned Queen's Evidence, you should get a suspended sentence, but,   because you failed to state, on oath, that you received part of the haul, you will go to prison for twelve months.  Next case please."

 

            The four convicts were taken away to serve their sentences. Evan was first to be released, and left the prison early one morning. On his way back to Bryde's Bay, he thought he would take a walk up Badger Lane, to make sure that things were just as he left them. Imagine his horror when he discovered a new housing development right over his biscuit tin! Yes, Ferret Park had been built whilst he was inside.

 

Evan howled!

 

                             INTRODUCING THE LADY HAMLETEERS

 

AVU  GOTTELITE.

Avu, from Muckle Flugga at the Northernmost tip of the Shetland Islands, met Derry Herd when he was helping to run the 'Shetland Bus' - a shipping service during WW 2, from the Shetlands to Norway.

She was employed as a fish filleter at Yell, and she delivered the herrings to various outposts, using her father's horse and cart. Derry and Avu became engaged, and later married after the war had finished. They settled in Bryde's Bay, when Derry inherited the farm at the top of Badger Lane. Avu is known as the village gossip, but she has a kind heart, and means well. They have no children, but a nephew, Angus from Aberdeen, who lives with them and helps Derry with the livestock. Avu now raises and sells turkeys as a hobby.

 

AVA BUNN.

Ava is the younger sister of the late Eyst, therefore is sister-in-law to Cherry, owner of the cafe. She worked as a receptionist in a car showroom in Great Shambles, where she met Philip N. Service. They married in 1968, and have one daughter, Sylvie. Philip and Ava now run a service station in Bryde's Bay.

 

ANNIE WYN GAMBLE.

Annie Wyn worked as a cleaner in a local bookmaker's shop, where Evan Elpus was one of their best customers. Annie and Evan got married when it was discovered that triplets were on the way!    She has suffered hardship ever since, as she receives no financial help whatsoever from her husband, who has turned to crime. They now have twelve children, and Annie receives charitable donations from her neighbours, in the form of clothing and food for the children. However, since Evan's frequent incarcerations, she receives benefits from the government, and is fairly well off, financially.

 

STEPHANIE (STEFFI) GRAZ, now Scope.

Steffi joined the Wrens, where she was an operational assistant. She hails from Switzerland, and met Perry when he was a young sub-lieutenant on H.M.S  COMFIT, a torpedo boat. He was made up to Admiral in 1955, and he and Steffi got married soon afterwards. They came to live in Bryde's Bay, and became close friends of the Marches.

 

DAWN BREAKING

Dawn was from Lesser Shambles. Her father had served in the first world war, and in 1939, Dawn joined the WRACS as a driver, and got to know Victor E. March when she was driving Brigadier FFanshawe around the various army barracks. Victor, a regimental sergeant major, was acting batman to the brigadier and travelled everywhere with him.   When he was promoted to Captain, he was transferred to the First Foot and Mouth regiment, serving in North Africa. After three long and arduous years, he returned to the war office, and Dawn had the pleasure of driving him to and fro. He invited her to the annual reunion dinner, and love soon blossomed.       They travelled over to Lesser Shambles when they arranged some leave together. He loved the area, and promised to retire to it when the time came. Dawn's parents were delighted to meet her handsome young (now) Colonel, and did not hesitate to agree to their engagement. They got married at St. Bird's a year later, and Victor arranged to have a bungalow built between Bryde's Bay and Gull Creek. They named the bungalow 'Rangoon', and have lived there ever since.

 

FLOSSIE MOLE.

Mrs. Mole was a very popular resident. She lived at 'Cloak and Dagger' in Badger Lane. She was a widow - nobody had known her late husband, 'Digger', a man whom she met whilst on an assignment in Australia.

Flossie had been an agent with M.I.5, and on her retirement, took a holiday cottage at Roller Cove, (now occupied by Rocky Outcrops), whereupon she decided to stay in the area, and subsequently bought the bungalow in Bryde's Bay. Upon joining the congregation at St. Bird's, she was soon appointed Rector's Glebe warden, and served in this capacity until her advancing years forced her to give up. Her great friend and house keeper, Molly Coddle, looked after her until her death, at the grand age of one hundred years.

 

SIAN TUNG.

Sian lived in Bryde's Bay. She had a Welsh mother and an Asian father. When her parents went east on business, Sian stayed on in their home, and continued her job running the nursery school on the outskirts of the village. She was engaged to Will Tell, and they hoped to be married in the early autumn, when Catty and Bitsu Tung would be home for good, as Bitsu was retiring in August.

 

MISS FORTUNE AND MISS CHANCE.

Rael and Teenie were the schoolteachers at the primary school, Rael being the headmistress, and Teenie, her lifelong friend, was in charge of the infants' classes. They lived together in the school house, overlooking Derry Herd's top field. They enjoyed fairly good health, and often went on outings in Rael's car, appreciating local beauty spots and garden centres, sometimes buying plants for their garden, where they took tea quite often. Willie Doitt, the sexton of St. Bird's, came and cut the grass for them during the growing season, also weeding the flower beds and replanting cuttings which had been taken from some of the plants.

 

MADGE CONDA AND SADIE SMART

 

Madge and Sadie were sisters. They had been brought up in the city, and after working hard in one of the factories, where they met their husbands - 'big Shughie' Conda, and Alec Smart -went their separate ways for a time. Madge and Shughie went to South America, where their only child, Anna, was born. Sadie and Alec were married about two years after Madge, and it was when they were home for the wedding, the Condas decided to stay. Shughie and Alec had also been hard workers, but, when Alec was made redundant. he turned to Shughie for help. The two men turned to petty larceny to 'eke' out their savings, which, unknown to Madge and Sadie, were very substantial.    Of Course, Shughie and Alec were caught by the police, and both were sent to prison. It was whilst the men were 'doing time', that Madge and Sadie discovered the savings books, and, because they were now 'in the money', bought houses near each other. Madge in Bryde's Bay, and Sadie in Roller Cove.    They went on frequent holidays together, and ran several parties for their many friends.  Both members of the ex-services club, they enjoyed many nights of entertainment there.

They were always at the forefront of any activities run by the council or the church.

 

PENNY BLACK.

Post mistress at Bryde's Bay, Penny was well known by the residents. She had come to the village from Lesser Shambles, after having successfully completing her post office training.

Penny, Cherry, Avu and Ameron were good friends, and enjoyed visiting each other in the evenings. During the winter months, they would play whist, scrabble or Monopoly. Penny remained in Bryde's Bay and saw many changes. She eventually married a Polish pilot, Lef Indesl˛t, whom she met when going to Prague for a short holiday.

 

 

AMERON WOOD.

Ameron had left school at the age of seventeen, having passed her examinations with distinction. She had entered her father's business, that of builders' suppliers, and worked alongside him in the large office. She was there to oversee the installation of a computer, and enjoyed its advantages in the daily running of the trade, especially when it came to the weekly wages of the employees.

Ardis Nails was a regular customer, and chatted up Ameron on each occasion, inviting her to the ex-services club for the Christmas dinner-dance. They married shortly after Easter, and moved into a newly built house in Knowe Way, Bryde's Bay. Ardis carried on his business as builder, Ameron helping him with the 'books'.

 

 

MELAMINE VENEER.

Daughter of Bishop Veneer of Great Shambles, Melamine was educated at a finishing school for the daughters of gentlefolk, learning the niceties of socialising with the 'gentry'. Rev. Counter became a curate in her father's parish, and when he became rector of St. Bird-in-the-Hand, Bryde's Bay, asked Melamine if she would become his wife. Melamine agreed, and enjoyed several years in Bryde's Bay before Ed was moved on to a larger parish.

  

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