Friday, 22 September 2017

Love and Admiration # 6

IS IT YOU?

Is it you?
Are you the one?
Are you my missing puzzle piece?
That will make me whole
And complete the unfinished picture
Or will you be another square peg
In my round hole

Is it you?
Are you the one?
The special other half of me
If we touch will we bond together?
Seamlessly, our borders undefined
Or will we repel like opposite poles
Never to be joined

Is it you?
Are you the one?
The shadow of my soul
Will we fit like hand in tailored glove?
Or will you be like
That hand knitted Christmas gift
From a well meaning aunt

Is it you?
Are you the one?
My long lost soul mate
Will we wear each other?
Like comfortable shoes
Or some fashionable pair
That pinch and rub

Is it you?
Are you the one?
The one that’s made for me
Or don’t you exist
When our fingers touch
Will electricity pass between us?
Or will it just be a static shock
That makes us flinch

Is it you?
Are you the one?
The one I have always sought
Or is it that you don’t exist
And I have set my sights to high
My heart won’t let me believe that
So take my hand and we will try
Can you feel that?

THE L WORD

Often inappropriately used
The word love is everywhere
Forced into every utterance
Used almost like a panacea
Some who find themselves in love
Use the L word to death
As if underlining their insecurities
It is uttered with every breath
Though while some use it liberally
Some have an aversion to saying it
But whichever camp you fit in
If you have to say it - mean it

I FOUND MY ONE TRUE LOVE

I found my one true love
My soulmate and when
I first laid eyes on her
My eyes saw only beauty
And at once I heard music
Where there was clearly none
But I heard it nonetheless
I could tell she heard it too
And she smiled at its significance
So I returned the smile
To my heart’s desire
And then we were caught-up
In an all embracing kiss
And our love is still singing

HAIR OF AUBURN

Hair of Auburn
Falls untamed
Over pale flesh
Stark in contrast
Like a crimson rose
Against bridal white

LEFT ALONE

Tears stung her eyes
And her voice cracked
As she remembered
Her loss hung heavy
Since he, what?
Even now she can't say it
Could not utter the word
Euphemisms fill her head
Crossed over, left the world,
Gone to a better place
He's in the next room
Passed away
Other people can say dead
But she cannot
Seven years have passed
Since it happened, her loss
And she lost so much
A husband, lover, friend
Partner, confident
And Soul mate
And even now it hurt
Though the wound
Is an old one
It is still unhealed
Still vivid red, and angry
Time is a great healer
They said to help her
To comfort her
But she thinks they lied

JUST A SNAPSHOT

I held a picture of her
Just a snapshot
Dog eared and faded
Posed for posterity
A picture of a young girl
In a summer dress,
A “hand me down” clearly
The pattern faded
On the much altered garment
With a fraying hem
She was a pretty girl
With a face of innocence
Framed by brown tousled hair
A naïve and unaffected girl
Unsure of her beauty
And all the more beautiful because of it
Such a wonderful snapshot
Of a perfect moment
Captured so long ago
On a perfect day
I fell in love with her that day
As my heart melted
Like the snow in spring
I love her still and I’ve loved her
Every day in between.
Tears welled in my eyes
As I looked at that picture
Of naïve innocent beauty
And they fell unchecked
As I remembered
The woman she became
And the love we shared
But then she was taken from me
So all I have left is the snapshot
And all the memories it invokes

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Love and Admiration # 5

I DON’T WANT (from a woman’s perspective)

I don’t want silk lingerie
Or delicate hand made lace
I don’t want designer frocks
Or makeup for my face
I don’t want French perfume
Or expensive jewelry
I don’t want a penthouse flat
With luxurious foolery
I don’t want foreign holidays
Or bouquets of every hue
I don’t even want a sports car
I just want a man that’s true

BUTTERFLY GIRL

We stood on a hill top high
With the golden sun up in the sky
We bathed in each others company
And the time passed idly by

Below us stood the village mill
Wheel turned by the silver water
While on the hill a young man stood
Kissing the Miller’s daughter

And as we stood upon that hill
Beneath that glorious summer sun
My heart was lost to her forever
But for the girl it was only fun

So there would be no love affair
No reciprocation of desire
She was just a pretty butterfly
Flitting from flower to flower

THE LOVE IN US

The love in me
Touches your heart and soul
And I feel a love divine
The love in you
Touches my heart and soul
And we share a love divine
The love in us
Binds us body and soul
And we bask in a love divine

HAIR OF TITIAN

Hair of Titian
Tumbles unchecked
Falling untamed
Over pale flesh
Like autumn leaves
Stark in contrast
Like blood drops
On a fall of snow

I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS

Do not grieve for me
Do not mourn my passing
Just remember me with a smile.
Don’t think of me as gone
Remember what we had
Think of our life as a favourite book
Do not close it and put it on the shelf
Never to be read again
Just because you hate the ending
Start to write the next chapter
Enjoy it like all the others
And don’t be sad
I will be with you always

I will be there when the wild flowers
Dance in the spring meadow
When the summer breeze moves through
A field of ripening wheat
When the morning mist of autumn
Softens the landscape
And when the winter sun
Sparkles and glints on the snow
And I will be by your side
Through your loneliest hours
I will be with you always

I will be there in the dawn
Rising with the sun
You will see me again
When the sun sets at the days end
And in the twilight hours
I will be that gentle breeze
That caress’s your cheek
On a warm summer evening
And I will be that tingle on your skin
As you lie in the quiet hours
I will be with you always

I will be there when you retrace our steps
And when you stand on the lake shore
My reflection will not be on the water
By I am still with you
When you walk in the autumn
Through the golden carpet
I will be in the dancing leaves
And when the snow lays,
Though I will leave no foot prints
I am there for these moments that were ours
I will be with you always

I will be there in the quietness of winter
Among the falling snowflakes
I will be in the dew drops
On the grassy meadow
I will be there in the warm sunlight
Of a summer’s day
I will be with you when the storm
Quickens your heartbeat
And you will feel me on your skin
In the April showers
I will be with you always

THAT RAINY SUNDAY

It’s a rainy Sunday
And I’m feeling blue
Remembering the past
And thinking of you

Do you happily look back?
Across the years
Or do you view them
Through bitter tears

Do you ever think of me?
Just once in a while
With a furrowed brow
Or rueful smile

You thought our love
Would last an eternity
But I was quite happy
Just to wait and see

I just wanted us
To enjoy the laughter
But what you wanted
Was happy ever after

I loved you so much more
Than I would ever say
When we broke up
On that rainy Sunday

When you asked me
I should have said
“I really do love you”
I just shrugged instead

I wish I could go back
To that rainy Sunday
I would get on my knees
And beg you to stay

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 49 – Love Train

As they followed the porter along the platform they got their first sight of “the train against which all other luxury trains are measured” It was a magnificent sight and was like stepping back in time to the heyday of Art Deco and a more gracious and elegant age of travel.
The porter loaded their bags onto the train and the steward helped them to their vintage double cabin.
While he was settling with the porter and the steward Kayleigh excitedly explored the cabin.
It was set up, as a lounge area with a banquette sofa and a small table and in one corner she found hidden behind a door was a luxurious wash station, a washbasin with hot and cold water, plump fluffy towels and a selection of toiletries.
The only thing they didn’t have was their own toilet as that was situated at the end of the carriage.
They started to get themselves settled in when Kayleigh said urgently
“Have you got your tablet handy?”
“Yes” he replied, “it’s in my bag”
“Great” she said “I want to Skype the girls”
She rummaged in his bag and hurried outside and down to the platform.
“We depart in 5 minutes Madame” the steward called after her and Jack followed her out along the corridor
“5 minutes only monsieur” the steward said to him
“No problem” he said “she’s just a bit excited”
“Look where we are Gemma” she shouted as she aimed the tablet at the train and panned along the full length of the beautifully liveried rolling stock.
The steward came to the door and tapped his watch so he guided her back towards the train.
“We’re going on the train now” she shouted to her friends as Gemma had been joined by Sarah, Hannah, Elise, Martina and Carole.

Kayleigh gave her friends the full tour of the cabin up until the train departed and then she said
“I’m so excited I need to pee”
She would have taken the tablet in with her if Jack hadn’t taken it from her
“Your friends don’t need to watch you pee,” he said and turned the screen towards himself and said
“Hi Gemma”
“Hello Jack, I’ve never seen her so excited” she said
“I know” he said, “I don’t know how I’m going to calm her down”
“She was so excited she didn’t say where you were going,” she said
“Well I haven’t told her yet,” Jack told her and quickly checked Kayleigh was out of earshot
“We’re going to Venice first, staying for three nights and then we’ll take the train back via Prague where we’ll stay for two nights”
“How wonderful “Gemma said, “And Kayleigh doesn’t know?”
“Not a thing” He replied then he heard a sound from the corridor and stuck his head out the door just in time to see Kayleigh closing the toilet door.
“That’s Kayleigh coming back”
“Ok well we’re just about to board the ferry,” she said just as Kayleigh arrived back
“Oh are you going?” Kayleigh asked
“Yes we’re about to board” Gemma said
“Bye bye darling have a lovely time and take lots of pictures, love you both”
“Bye Gem” Kayleigh said, “I love you too”
“Does she know where we’re going?” she asked him suspiciously
“How would she know?” he asked and was spared any further interrogation by a knock on the door and when he opened it, it was the steward
“Dinner is being served in the dining car whenever you are ready” he said
“Thank you Pierre” he said and closed the door
“Right let’s get dressed” Jack said

Half an hour later they made their way to the “L'Oriental” Dining Car, a Birmingham built Pullman car beautifully decorated in the Art Deco style, where they were wined and dined on a sumptuous four-course dinner.
When they sat down in the elegant carriage Kayleigh said
“I don’t want much, I’m far too excited to eat”
Well four courses and a lot of wine later they waddled their way back to their cabin, which in their absence had been transformed, into a cosy bedroom with the banquette sofa now having given way to two single bunks.
They were both too tired, too full of gourmet food and too drunk to christen the bunks in the manner in which they would have liked so she said
“Bags the top”
But he had to help her up into the top bunk and within ten minutes they were both asleep.

The next morning just after first light Kayleigh had to get up to the toilet, and when she returned to the cabin she quietly squeezed into Jacks bunk where she kissed him awake.

While they lay in the post coital afterglow cuddling on Jacks bunk they looked out at the magnificent scenery of the Swiss Alps, then a few minutes later there was a knock on the cabin door and when he opened it, it was their breakfast being delivered by the steward.

After breakfast they washed and dressed and made their way along to spend the morning in the Bar Car and met some of their fellow travellers and chatted over coffee and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Alps.
Shortly before midday the train arrived at the Hauptbahnhof in Innsbruck, Kayleigh and Jack decided to get off the train to stretch their legs and enjoy the mountain air and the lovely spring sunshine.

It was about half an hour later when the train pulled out of the station.
They had re-boarded the train in the Lalique car, which was where the on-board boutique was located, because he wanted to buy Kayleigh something that would be a lasting memento of the trip.
“You don’t have to buy me anything” she said, “I’m never going to forget this trip”
But he insisted that they should buy something that would be both a memento and the first thing for their home together.
They settled on a piece of hand blown French crystal in the form of an angel in remembrance of Katie Watson.
But much later he slipped back when she was sleeping and purchased a beautiful songbird.
But after they had purchased the crystal Angel, Kayleigh suggested they return to the bar car before lunch but Jack had a different idea and took her back to their cabin, and once inside he said
“Kayleigh I want to ask you something”
“I’d rather have lunch” Kayleigh retorted
“Lunch can wait, it’s important” he said
“No you can’t have the top bunk” she giggled
“I’m not interested in the top bunk” he said
“Good let’s eat”
“Kayleigh Robinson nee’ Parkes, sweet natured and beautiful love of my life, will you please sit down and be quiet while I’m trying to ask you to marry me” he said
“What?” Kayleigh exclaimed and sat down hard on the banquette
“I want you to marry me, so will you?” he asked but she said sat in silence for the longest time until she said
“You want to marry me?”
“Of course” he said “so will you marry me or not?”
“Yes, Yes, and Yes” she screamed and threw her arms around his neck.
Jack dug in his pocket and tucked in the corner he found the cheap little ring he bought from a flea market in Paris while Kayleigh was shopping with the girls.
It was only a cheap piece of yellow metal costume jewellery but he gave it to her and said
“This is just a symbol, we can buy the proper ring together in Venice”
“I’ll keep it forever” she said and kissed him
“Does that mean were engaged” he asked

They were still kissing when the Steward knocked to say lunch was now being served so they followed him to the dining car and enjoyed a delicious and leisurely three-course lunch to celebrate their engagement.
As he watched a glowing Kayleigh sipping her wine he was overcome with love for her, he was so lucky to have her in his life, and now she had agree to be his wife and he said
“I love you”
“I love you too,”

After lunch they decided to take coffee in their cabin, while they were in the restaurant, the bunks had been stowed away and the banquette sofa had been restored and that was where they sat as they gazed out the window at the spectacular scenery as the train travelled through the Italian Dolomites.
As he sat holding her hand he thought back to the previous June when he hadn’t even made the move to Turnoak, it had been a bitter sweet time although definitely heavy on the sweet.
But they had lost Katie Watson, who was one of the angels, and Kayleigh had had a health scare and then her husband died after a long illness.
But his life had changed inexorable and it had been touched by some wonderful people, Kayleigh being chief among them.
But he had also touched others’ lives in a positive way as his love affair with Kayleigh developed and he nursed Katie in the final months of her life.
Quite apart from Kayleigh and Jacks love story there were those on the tour bus who were all loved up and they were not alone in Jacks circle, his gardeners Emily and Davina had also found love with the Rooney brothers, the church organists Anne Peters and Ian Riley were playing from the same hymn sheet and owner of the local riding school, Lily Soames, had Nurse George Dallas well and truly in harness.
Nor were they the only engaged couple in their circle, Martina was to marry Paul Massey and it wouldn’t have surprised Jack if his and Kayleigh’s engagement was merely the tip of the iceberg.


The finished their drinks just as the train pulled into Verona’s Porta Nuova station.
Which was when Jack said
“I have a surprise for you”
“Another one?” she exclaimed “You have already spoilt me so much”
“It’s just a little present” he said and handed her a gift box tied up with ribbon
Kayleigh took it from him and put it on her lap and undid the ribbon, and after removing the lid she slowly opened the folds of tissue paper and then she gasped when she saw the beautiful Lalique Chrystal songbird.
“It’s beautiful” she said “Katie always called me her songbird”
“Yes she did” Jack agreed
“When she was near the end she made me promise I would sing in public again” Kayleigh said with tears forming in her eyes
“And did you?”
“Yes but I only said what she wanted to hear” Kayleigh admitted “but I keep hearing her voice, reminding me”
“You too?” Jack asked
“Yes” she said and hugged him.
“Be the songbird Kayleigh, be the song bird”
So they both explained at length the occasions in which Katie communicated to them, either audibly of visually while the train was in the station but as the train slowly departed they knew it was time to finish packing in readiness to disembark by finishing their packing.
When everything was done Jack held her in his arms as they crossed the Venetian Lagoon and she said
“I’m going to do it”
“Truly?”
“Yes I’m going to do it for Katie” she confirmed “I’m going to sing at the Waterside Club”
“That’s wonderful” Jack said and kissed her
“Will you let me sing at the club?” she asked almost as an after thought
“Of course I will”
“Good because that’s the only place I want to sing” she explained
“But you have to be there with me”
“I never want to be anywhere else than with you” Jack said and she kissed him as the train pulled into Santa Lucia station.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 48 – Lovers on Tour

So after settling the disposition of the money it was with a great sense of accomplishment that they set off to meet their fellow travellers outside the Hen and Chicks.
When they got in sight of the pub the coach pulled up, but not just any old coach, Jack had got James to book a tour bus like the Rock stars tour in.
They could have fitted into a 17 seater mini bus but he decided to splash out and as he approached he said
“Do you think it’s too ostentatious?”
Kayleigh looked at the coach and then at Jack and said “Nah”
And they both laughed.
By the time they reached it, James Lynch and Elise Riley, Jacey Linton and Verger Sarah Peters, Matron Gemma Frost and church warden Tony Vassell, Reverend Paul Massey and fiancé Martina Wingrove, Nurse Hannah Peters and Gary Spiers, organists Ian Riley and Anne Wingrove, and last but not least Doctor Carole Anderson and Craig Frost were already aboard and waiting for them.
Apologies’ were quickly made and the coach pulled away.

They toured northern France on the way to Disneyland and every stop they made was at a luxury hotel and then they headed into Paris.
Marly-le-Roi was situated on the Seine River near Versailles and when they reached the hotel they checked in and went up to their rooms and then after freshening up they all met down on the terrace overlooking the river.

Kayleigh wanted to get changed so Jack went downstairs on his own and was the first to arrive and as he sat on the terrace waiting he reflected on how much he was looking forward to seeing Kayleigh’s face when he revealed their holiday destination.
Although they had been away together in the past this was to be their first proper holiday together as a proper couple.
Jack thought he was so blessed to have her in his life he wanted the holiday to be perfect.

The last of the party arrived about half an hour later and they had a quick drink and then went for a stroll beside the Seine before stopping for lunch at a Bistro and then after lunch the hardier among the party strolled some more while the remainder returned to the hotel for a siesta.

That night they chose to eat in the hotel and by about 9 o’clock they began to run out of steam so most of them chose to turn in early because the next day was going to be a busy one.

The next morning they all got on a sightseeing boat at La-Port-Marly that carried them up the Seine and into the city and then the girls all went off shopping while the guys did the cultural stuff.
After visiting the Louvre they all met up again and after lunch and did the touristy stuff together, the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and then they caught the boat back to Marly and that evening, as it was to be their last night together they ate at a very superior establishment, a 3 Michelin starred foodie’s heaven, L'oiseau chanteur, the Songbird, which was absolutely divine.
The walls were adorned with pictures of every conceivable songbird and every time Kayleigh found herself looking at one she would hear Katie’s voice “it’s a songbird just like you”

On Sunday morning they all went to the local Church, Eglise Saint Etienne, and they all rather enjoyed the experience despite the fact they didn’t understand a word being said.
They did happen to meet up with some fellow Brits who were equally confused so they joined them for a coffee.

After lunch everyone went off to pack while Jack and Kayleigh went for a walk in the grounds and when they returned the porters were loading the bags onto the coach so they said their goodbyes before their friends boarded and then stood and waved them off.
After the coach disappeared from view Kayleigh and Jack went and packed themselves.

Having spent the afternoon packing Kayleigh suggested they eat at the local bistro but Jack said no but she could have a sandwich to keep her going until suppertime.
“Where are we eating supper?” she asked
“It’s a surprise” he replied
“I don’t like surprises” she said sulkily
All weekend Kayleigh had pestered him to tell her where they were going and he refused to tell her or give her any clues and it was driving her mad.
“Will I like it?” she asked
“Yes” he said
“Oh please tell me,” she begged
“Right let’s get going” he said and got up and phoned reception for a porter.
Getting packed distracted her for a while but she started again the minute the porter arrived, and her pestering continued all the way down in the lift, through the lobby and out to the waiting taxi.
“Gare de l'Est s'il vous plait” Jack said as they got in the taxi
“Oui monsieur” the driver replied
“What was that?” she said “where did you say?”

They disembarked outside the grand façade and the driver unloaded the bags.
“Merci” he said as he settled the fare.
“Where are we?” Kayleigh asked staring up at the magnificent frontage as Jack signalled to a porter
“L’Orient-Express s'il vous plait” he said
“Oui monsieur” the porter replied and loaded the bags onto his trolley.
“What?” Kayleigh said, “What did you say?”
“Come on this way, follow the porter” he instructed and took hold of her arm.
When they got to the gate he handed the guard their tickets and passports and when he turned around Kayleigh was standing open mouthed, staring at the sign.
“We’re going on The Orient-Express?” she asked in a faltering voice.
“Yes” he replied and she started crying
“I’m sorry,” she said wiping her eyes
“It’s such a wonderful surprise”
“I thought you didn’t like surprises” he said
“I lied” she replied and hugged him and whispered “I love you so much”
“Me too” he replied

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 47 – We could all do With a Holiday

In the days that followed she went through every conceivable emotion, anger, guilt, despair, hopelessness and relief.
She also went through a considerable amount of wine and every step of the way Jack was there with her, as a sounding board, a punch bag, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold.
He also held her hair while she was sick, made sure she was fed and watered and was on hand for each and every twist and turn.
Eventually the strength of his love for her was enough to pull her through the darkness and back into the light.
But even so there was still the funeral to be arranged which Jack delegated to Sarah Peters who was the master organizer of the parish.

It was exactly one month to the day after the funeral of the much revered Katie Watson that Carl Robinson was laid to rest.
It was a much smaller affair as very few people in the village knew him, but staff from Plaxton Park were in attendance as were Kayleigh’s inner circle of friends.
The wake, such as it was, was held at White Rose Cottage, and it was during that sombre gathering that Gemma Frost said something in passing that planted a germ of an idea in his brain.
“What a year it’s been, we could all do with a holiday”

In the days that followed the funeral Jack devoted every moment of his time to supporting Kayleigh through the aftermath while plotting and planning with Sarah Peters, who in turn plotted and planned with their friend’s.
Jack had given her his credit card again and told her what he had in mind, as it was his idea he was paying for everything, it was the least he could do, and it was a way of using some of the money his Uncle had left him.
He had only received a letter from Curtis, Mitchel and Lovegood, the Morehouse family solicitors, with an update of his net worth, and he couldn’t believe his eyes so he picked up the phone and selected his solicitor’s number.
“Christine Prunot” the voice said
“Christine” he said “I’m in shock”
“You’ve seen the letter then” she said
“I have” he replied “are those figures correct?”
“Absolutely spot on” she answered
“Then the decimal point isn’t in the wrong place?” He asked
“No its not” she said and laughed
The numbers were incredible, easy street incredible, so he had to do something with it and thinking what course of action, to take with what he thought he was worth, had occupied him for months.
But he used the new balance to occupy Kayleigh’s mind as well.

So with his unflinching devotion he nursed Kayleigh through the worst of her grief until she was more like her old self but having had the idea for the holiday though Jack found himself afraid to suggest it to Kayleigh in case she thought it too frivolous.
But when he finally plucked up the courage she said
“I thought you were never going to ask me”
“You mean you knew about it?” he asked
“I’m all knowing and all seeing” she retorted

It was two weeks after the funeral before Kayleigh left the house for the first time and she was quite anxious about it, but everyone she met between the house and the pub exuded warmth towards her.

When they walked into the pub they found organizer extraordinaire Sarah Peters and her sister Hannah sitting at a table in the corner.
“Hello you two” Jack said leaning in to kiss them in turn
“Hello Jack” they chorused but then they turned their attention on Kayleigh.
While the girls embraced Jack bought the drinks and sat down next to Kayleigh just as Gemma walked in
“We haven’t seen you in here for ages” she said
“We came in to chat with Sarah” Jack said “about the details for the holiday”
“It’s all arranged” Sarah said
This did not surprise Jack, as Sarah was a meticulous planner.
However on this occasion she had a problem, namely that her plans had been interfered with.
On the third Sunday in June there was a coach leaving Turnoak and heading for France, where they were going to visit Euro Disney, among other places before returning to the UK on the following Friday in time for Kayleigh and Jack to go away together.
Now when Sarah planned the trip she planned it to the nth degree.
Where they would go, where they would eat, duration of each visit etc.
However Hannah and Elise had thrown a spanner in the works because they wanted to spend a day in Paris doing some girlie shopping and this did not fit into Sarah’s itinerary in any way shape or form.
Just at the moment Sarah said
“It’s all arranged”
Martina Wingrove appeared.
“Hi Kayleigh” she said “I wasn’t expecting to see you here”
Martina had been working at St Lucy’s, chasing a fault in the sound system all day, and had just called in for a quick sandwich.
The two women embraced and then Jack went to get her a drink and when he returned to the table Kayleigh, Elise and Martina had all ganged up on Sarah to get her to give in.
“Come on play fare you lot” she said
“But I’d really like to go shopping” Kayleigh said in a sulky teenager voice.
“Can we delay our special trip by a day?” she asked Jack
“No” he replied, “it’s all booked”
“So that’s that then,” Kayleigh said sulkily
“Well not necessarily” he mused, “there is a compromise solution”
“What’s that?” Gemma asked
“Well we can still do Sarah’s meticulously planned trip” he suggested “but instead of coming home on Friday we go into Paris”
“But we have to get you and Kayleigh back on Friday” Sarah said “so you can leave for your holiday”
“Well we can stay in Paris for two night, the girls can spend Saturday shopping while us blokes can go and look at paintings of naked women in the Louvre” he paused “then on Sunday you can all come back to Turnoak and Kayleigh and I can leave for our holiday from Paris”
“We can leave from Paris?” Kayleigh “Where are we going then?”
“It’s a secret” he replied
There was silence for a short while as they all pondered his suggestion, looking for flaws in the plan.
Kayleigh’s expression changed as she had clearly thought of something and opened her mouth to speak but Jack interrupted her.
“Yes you will need to pack for both trips, but don’t forget you can always treat yourself to some new clothes in Paris”
“It’s a sound plan as far as I can see” Sarah said which, was high praise indeed.
“I think it will be great,” Gemma agreed
“Me too” Kayleigh said and then kissed Jack, it was their first public kiss and then she whispered
“I’ll buy new underwear too”
“That’s a plan then?” he asked and everyone concurred
“Ok I’ll make the extra bookings” Sarah said

On Saturday morning Jack made a full English breakfast for him and Kayleigh after which he got a phone call from Sarah about the changes to the holiday arrangements.
She booked a hotel in Marly-le-Roi in the Western suburbs of Paris and after Jack and Kayleigh had a look at it on line, Sarah made the changes to her holiday pack and emailed it to everyone.

When Kayleigh had gone next door he phoned Sarah again as he needed her to make a change to the time and location of departure for his and Kayleigh’s holiday, which was a secret, and as the itinerary was quite complicated, Sarah acted like his travel agent as she was an organizational genius.

Over the following few weeks Jack and Kayleigh were inseparable and they did everything together, whether it be shopping for the holiday, lunching at the pub or going to St Lucy’s for some spiritual refreshment.
But the time they enjoyed the most was when it was just the two of them behind closed doors at White Rose Cottage where they spoke in depth about the future, their future.
They also discussed the best use for the obscene amount of money he had inherited from his Uncle.
Apart from the obvious candidates like St Lucy’s Church, the Church Hall and Plaxton Park Hospital and a comprehensive list of worthy charities they wanted to do more.
So he spoke to Christine Prunot again and asked her to recommend someone to help him set up a trust fund or something like it and she said that she could do that and said that she would come to the house the following day.

When Jack first discovered just what great sum of money he had inherited he felt more than a little guilty, as he hadn’t earned a penny of it, so he decided that he wanted someone more deserving than him to benefit from it.

After meeting with Christine Prunot he explained what he had in mind, namely two scholarship funds for pupils from St Lucy’s, one was the Carl Robinson Music Scholarship and the other was the Katie Watson Theology Scholarship.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 46 – Farewell and Welfare

The first thing he did when he got up on Wednesday morning was to try and get hold of Kayleigh again but he had no more luck that day than he had all week.
By the time he’d put the bed’s together he only had time for a quick sandwich before driving to Nettlefield to pick up Anne who had been staying with a succession of friends before she had to return to Ethiopia.
Courtesy of the Satnav he found the address with ease and after a quick cuppa they were soon on their way.
As he drove home he was thankful that the house would have a visitor again even if it was just for a couple of days.
Anne and Jack ate together on Wednesday evening and then she enthusiastically reviewed her sojourn and spared no detail in the telling.

On Thursday he took Anne to the Hen and Chickens where Gemma and Elise had arranged a farewell lunch for her before she flew back to Addis Adaba on the next day and when they walked into the pub the other guests were already there.
They were all people whom she had come to know as a result of her sister Katie’s illness and subsequent passing, the Vicar Paul Massey and his fiancé Martina, Matron Gemma Frost who organized all the nursing care, Nurse Hannah Peters, her sister Sarah who was Katie’s Verger, local girl Elise Riley and Doctor Carole Anderson who was not only the clinical lead on Katie’s care but was also her friend.
There was however one notable absentee, Kayleigh Robinson, so once everyone was settled at the table and the wine was flowing he asked Gemma where Kayleigh was.
“Something came up” she replied which to Jack felt very much like a brush off.
He didn’t say anything though he just bided his time and kept her wine glass topped up and by the time the coffee arrived she was totally bladdered and she dropped her guard.
“So where did you say Kayleigh was?” he asked her casually
“She’s seeing a specialist” she replied
“Really?” he asked “Why?”
“Because of the lump” Gemma answered
“What lump?” he asked her directly
“Oh God I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone” she said and put her head in her hands.
“Everything ok over there?” Anne asked
“Too much wine” he replied and laughed
“I’ll take her outside for some fresh air”
Once outside he sat her at one of the tables and said sharply
“Now tell me everything”

After Gemma had spilled the beans completely he told her to call me as soon as she knew what was happening and she agreed, but just as they were returning to the meal her mobile rang and she took it out of her bag and looked at the screen.
“It’s Kayleigh,” she said
He nodded to her to answer it, which she did.
When she had finished she put her phone away and too his unasked question she said
“She’s at the breast clinic”
“And?” he asked
“She’s having a scan” she said “She’s seeing the specialist again tomorrow lunchtime for the results”
“Ok” he said and they went back to the table.

The next morning Jack was up very early so he could drive Anne to Heathrow where he parked in the short stay and took Anne into the terminal and after she’d checked in and dropped her bags he walked her as far as the security gate.
“Thank you for everything” she said and kissed him warmly
“Katie thought the world of you”
“I’m afraid Katie thought me a better man than I actually am” he responded
“She was a very good judge of character,” Anne said
“Goodbye” and she kissed him again before going through the gate.

After paying for the parking he returned to the car and was very soon on the way back to the village and it was eleven o’clock when he parked in the Plaxton Park car park.
Gemma had already phoned him to say Kayleigh was with Carl.
He knew he was early but he didn’t know exactly when Kayleigh was leaving so he was happy to wait as long as necessary.
Jack had a good view of her car from where he was parked and as he waited he prayed for the right outcome.
“Don’t worry Jack” he heard Katie say, “It’s a good news week”

It was twelve thirty when he saw Kayleigh emerge from the main entrance and he didn’t mind the fact he had been waiting for an hour and a half he was just pleased he hadn’t missed her.

Jack got out of the car and intercepted her.
“Hi Kayleigh” he said
“Hello Jack” she answered without looking at him “I can’t stop”
“I know” he said, “You have somewhere important to be”
“Yes, Yes” she replied
“Which is why I’m coming with you” he stated
“But...” she started “How did yo…?”
“Come on we’ll go in my car” he insisted before she had chance to think about it and she got in the car without protest.
She sat quietly for a moment and he took her hand and said
“You don’t have to do this on your own”
And Kayleigh began to cry.

When they got underway Kayleigh was still dabbing at her eyes with a hankie.
“I asked Gemma not to tell anyone” she said, “I can’t believe she broke my confidence”
“She didn’t” he said and Kayleigh looked puzzled
“I was suspicious of your absence at the lunch yesterday” he told her “So I got her pissed”

They drove into the driveway of a big private house, in Lower Hawthorne which was the home and office of an eminent specialist in all things mammary.
“I always considered myself a bit of a breast specialist myself you know,” he said trying to lighten to mood
“You’re just a tit man, there’s a difference” Kayleigh responded accompanied by a weak smile.

He parked the car and they sat quietly in the car and it was Kayleigh who broke the silence.
“I’m scared Jack” she blurted out “I’m scared I’ve got cancer, I’m scared I’m going to die”
“Aren’t you getting a bit ahead of yourself?” he queried
“I’m not brave like Katie, she was so calm, so serene” Kayleigh said “But I’m terrified, and what will happen to Carl if I die”
Carl was her disabled husband who needed perpetual care.
“We will cross each and every bridge as and when we reach them” he said holding her hand “I will be with you every step of the way”
Then he hugged her and she completely broke down

After several minutes she calmed herself down and said
“Thank you Jack, I’m ready now”
They got out of the car and walked into the doctors and seated themselves in the lavish reception
“Why did you do it privately?” he asked
“I didn’t want to go on a list” she replied, “So Carole did a referral for me”
“So why this one in particular?” he asked
“Gerald is a friend of Carole’s, she trained with him when she was a junior” she replied
“I see” he said although he wasn’t really interested in the whys and wherefores he just wanted to keep her mind busy while they were waiting.
After she had explained he didn’t need to think of another question, as there was a buzz from behind the receptionist’s desk.
“Mr Upjohn will see you now” she announced
He gave Kayleigh’s hand a squeeze and she said
“Come in with me?”
So they stood up and walked into the consultant’s office.

Twenty minutes later they were sat in the car and Kayleigh was sobbing uncontrollably in his arms, but they were tears of relief.
The lump turned out to be a cyst, which could be easily removed with a rather large needle.
An appointment was made for Monday morning at the same private hospital where she went for the scan.
“Do you want me to come with you?” he asked
“Yes please” she replied

While they sat in the car she phoned Gemma and gave her the good news and the relief in Kayleigh’s voice as she spoke was palpable.
“Oh and there’s no need to phone Jack, he already knows”
Kayleigh smiled as she listened to Gemma squirming in response.
“He got me drunk,” said the tinny voice
“I know he did” Kayleigh said sympathetically
Jack couldn’t hear her response but Kayleigh said
“Yes he is a rotten swine”

As we were driving back to Turnoak in the bright evening sunshine Kayleigh suddenly asked
“Do you have any visitors at the moment?”
“No just me on my lonesome” he replied
“What about Anne?” she asked
“She’s gone back to Ethiopia today” he answered and then there was a long silence.
“Do you want some company?” Kayleigh asked coyly
“Always” Jack said
Then after a few moments she continue
“I know I’m a terrible woman, ignoring you, keeping you in the dark, and then wanting to be with but once in a while it’s nice to feel like I’m part of a proper couple, and I feel that with you and…”
“And today you need that more than ever” he continued for her
“Yes”

It was dark when they got back to the village and once he got her inside she stayed with him until Monday when he drove her to a private hospital in Finchbottom where he stayed with her throughout the procedure and then drove her home afterwards and for 24 hours they had perfect peace and each other.
But the universe hadn’t finished messing with their lives just yet because on Tuesday morning Kayleigh was called to the hospital as Carl’s health had deteriorated dramatically and Jack barely saw her for a week and but then he finally lost the fight and Carl Robinson died.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 45 – Good News Week

On Sunday morning in Turnoak Jack woke annoyingly early and couldn’t get back to sleep so he got up and was greeted by a quiet empty house again.
He made coffee and sat in the kitchen feeling rather lonely and pondered how he was going to fill his day.
Kayleigh was out of circulation all day and he wasn’t seeing her until the next day.
As he sat and stared into his coffee cup he heard a familiar voice.
“For goodness sake pull yourself together,” it said, “it’s a good news week”
The voice belonged to Katie Watson, though she wasn’t really there.
“Ok Katie” he replied and instead of feeling sorry for himself he got up and got himself ready for church.

As he walked to St Lucy’s he tried to think what Katie meant by saying “it’s a good news week”, but the only thing he could think of was a song from the 1960’s by a one hit wonder group of RAF men, Hedgehoppers Anonymous.
And the reason he was so familiar with it was because it was a favourite of his dads and it was on one of the tapes he always played in the car.
And the song just went round and around inside his head even during the service.

It's good news week
Someone's dropped a bomb somewhere
Contaminating atmosphere
And blackening the sky

It's good news week
Someone's found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live
Go on and never die

Have you heard the news
What did it say?
Who's won that race?
What's the weather like today?

It's good news week
Families shake the need for gold
By stimulating birth control
We're wanting less to eat

It's good news week
Doctors finding many ways
Of wrapping brains on metal trays
To keep us from the heat

Now although he wasn’t sure exactly what Katie’s disembodied voice meant, he was pretty sure it wasn’t that.
But with his head stuck in a constant loop of “Hedgehoppers” he decided there was no point in beating himself up over it.
And the moment he stopped trying to divine the meaning the sound track stopped and he was able to enjoy the rest of the service in peace.

After the service ended most of the congregation spilled out through the doors and the milled around chatting and spreading the word along with a little gossip.
Which he did in his turn, there were many familiar faces in the crowd and he spoke to most of them in the spring sunshine.
Just as the crowd had visibly thinned and he was about to amble away himself he felt a tug on his arm.
“Jack” the voice said
He turned around to face the source of the voice.
“Hi Martina” he said
“You can’t go yet,” she said in a hushed whisper.
“Why not?” he asked, “I’m hungry, and I missed breakfast”
“Because you can’t” she insisted “come into the church”
“What for?” he asked as she steered him unceremoniously through the door, smiling and the remaining parishioners as they went.
“What is going on?” he asked again as they reached the transept, where a very green looking Gary Spiers was slouched in the nearest pew.
“Have you kidnapped him as well?”
“Sit down and stop your fussing and wait until Paul gets here,” Martina said forcefully, so he sat down next to Gary.
“What’s this about?” he asked him
“Don’t know,” he answered “she just came to the house this morning and dragged me out of my sick bed and forced me to come here”
“You aren’t sick you’re just hung over” Martina snapped “So stopped whining”
“Harsh” He replied
“Very” Jack added
Just then they heard Paul’s distinctive footsteps coming down the aisle, which turned out to be quite appropriate in light of what they were about to hear.
Paul joined Martina and stood holding her hand
“Well” he said slowly and deliberately “we have an announcement to make”
Martina was fidgeting and shuffling her feet as he spoke and it was clear he wasn’t speaking fast enough for her
“We have finalized, at least decided, or perhaps chosen…” he faltered
“We’ve set a date for the wedding” Martina blurted out
“Great” Gary said unenthusiastically
“That is good news” Jack said more sympathetically “and when is it?”
“August the 10th” they said in unison
“Great” Gary said again then Paul cleared his throat and said
“And I want you to be my best man Gary”
“What?” he queried “Me?”
Paul nodded and Gary jumped to his feet and shook Pauls hand and then kissed Martina.
“I’ve never been a best man before” he said proudly
“Well done” Jack said and slapped him on the back.
“And as for you” Martina said looking at Jack “I want you to give me away”
“Seriously?” he asked
“Yes” she replied
“Wow” he exclaimed
“Is that a yes?” she asked
“Of course it is you silly woman” he said and kissed her.

As Gary and Jack headed to the Hen and Chicks to celebrate, the latter heard Katie’s voice again, “good news week”.
Martina and Paul declined their offer to wine and dine them as they had other people to give the news to, now that they had spoken to them.
So they had a roast dinner and then got bladdered and the next thing they knew it was Monday.

About 10.30am Jack was rudely awakened by a persistent banging on the front door, which was in turn banging inside his head he staggered clumsily downstairs and opened the door.
“Good morning” a man said “Taxi for Spiers”
“What?” he replied
“I’ll be right out” a voice behind him said and Jack turned around to see Gary standing there putting his coat on.
“God you look as bad as I feel” he said as he followed the driver down the path.

After Gary had gone he had a coffee and tried to get hold of Kayleigh to give her the news about being asked to give Martina away, but he couldn’t get hold of her so he had another couple of coffees in an effort to wake himself up but eventually he gave up and returned to his bed and stayed there until Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning he was up at 5am having slept the clock around and found himself in a doing mood.
After putting on some washing he changed the bedding and hoovered and dusted and got the place spic and span.
It was at about 10 o’clock when he walked into the kitchen and was surprised to see Emily in the back garden, she didn’t normally come until Friday, and so he opened the back door.
“Hi Emily” he called
“Hello Jack” she called back and walked across the patio towards her and asked
“How come you’re here on a Tuesday?”
“I had to rearrange things,” she said as she put down her rake and walked towards him “you know what clients can be like”
And then she grinned at him quite soppily
“I never thanked you properly for what you did to get ready for Katie” he said and hugged her just as Davina came around the corner
“Oi” she called “you sex maniac, put my partner down”
“Partner?” he asked releasing Emily
“Yes” Emily said, “Your gardening needs will now be met by Bills and Carley”
“That’s fantastic news” he said “now it’s your turn for a hug”
When all the hugging was done with and congratulations were gratefully received the girls went back to work and Jack headed back into the house and heard the familiar voice again as it said, “It’s a good news week Jack”