Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Love and Admiration # 10


Since that first day long ago
When first I saw my angel
We have laboured hard at love
And we have both built well
We have forged this love
Which we will forever know
It will never melt away
Like the thawing of the snow
But how is it measured?
How do we quantify?
We feel it and that is proof enough
The love shared by you and I


You must know I love you
I hope I show you that I do
For the sweetest moments in my life
Are the ones I spend with you

You are my first thought
When I awake to the new day
And the last thing on my mind
At night when I drift away

I wish I could tell you
Of the love that’s in my heart
I want you to feel the depth of love
I’ve felt for you from the start

I would use sweet phrases
And sugary words of love
The sweetest ever known
Speaking of columbine and dove

No the words that I must choose
Are the simplest that I can use
What I'm feeling deep inside
Is the deepest love for you


Every dream I’ve dreamed
Was because of you
Every wish I’ve wished
You have made come true
You read me like a book
And you are written on every page
Everything I've longed for
Is rolled up in one package
You came to me like a gift
Delivered out of the blue
And the greatest gift of all
Is being loved by you


How do I love thee?
Was Ms Browning’s question
Let me count the ways.
Was her suggestion
But how to begin
That list of criteria
Or to select one phrase
To serve as a Panacea
Her answer was perfection
The perfection such as I desire
I love you as deep and wide
And as high as my soul can aspire


Do not grieve for me
Do not mourn my passing
Remember me with a smile
Don’t think of me as gone
Remember what we had
Think of our life like 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 there 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 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 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 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
And in the April showers


From their hotel restaurant
The couple sat at a table
Admiring the view
It was an unfamiliar view
With just a hint of familiarity
Like recognizing the features
Of a very distant relative
This was where the couple
Spent there honeymoon
When they were young and fearless
They were old now
Liver spotted and weary
Married when god was a boy
And the world was young
They sat in silence
Everything said before
Gazing though the window
He wondering what lay ahead
She where the years had gone
They held hands
And their eyes met
No words were spoken
But they understood
And they were content

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Love and Admiration # 9


We walked together in the spring
When our love was a new thing
And the cherry trees were in blossom
And we thought life was awesome
Our hearts were so full we sighed
But that was before love died

In the summer we walked together
In the fine and sunny weather
Through fields of golden corn
When we parted we were forlorn
We felt a burning passion deep inside
But that was before love died

In the autumn we walked abroad
And our hearts were of one accord
We wandered thought the golden gown
And nothing could ever get us down
We felt as one when side by side
But that was before love died

When winters chill fell upon the land
We still walked together hand in hand
We played in the snow like children
Making snow angels again and again
I even asked her to be my bride
But that was before love died

We had walked hand in hand
As a life together we planned
We sat beneath a leafy oak
As of true love we spoke
We loved laughed and cried
But that was before love died

Now I walk alone in the familiar places
Where we enjoyed our fond embraces
Where we kissed and spoke of tomorrow
Places that now bring me only sorrow
Her love made me feel alive inside
But that was before love died


I was drawn to her
Like a moth to a flame
My eyes were drawn to her
Slender frame
Her hypnotic green eyes
Deep and intense like precious emeralds
Held me entranced,
Paralyzed like a serpents prey
Her skin was lustrous
Like a fresh picked peach
And her cheeks glowed
With the faintest hint of red
Her mouth opened
Lips like the petals of an open flower
Were moist as if with morning dew
She spoke, her words soft
And her voice smooth as silk
Mesmerized me like music
I answered her without hearing the words
It was almost dreamlike
My heart beat fast in my chest
As I swam in and out of reality
I felt her hand in mine
And she led me into the garden
Where we strolled together
Through the fragrant twilight of moonbeams
Her scent was heady as the exotic blossom
Of orchids in spring
My heart still pounded
As her mesmeric voice
Like an angels whisper
Led me on through the moonlight
I seemed to float through the evening
Almost disembodied
And in those many magical moments
I surrendered my heart and soul
To the vision named Clarissa


If not for sweet birdsong in tree and bush
How plain the spring seasons headlong rush
If not for the daffodils trumpets of gold
How sad the passage to new from old
If not for your sweet presence by my side
Spring would hold no joy, as sadness would reside


Oh to feel loves exquisite ache
That desperate longing
That naked want
Feeling so alive in the torment
While craving the fix
Of that heady foaming brew
To quench the thirst of desire
And when that significant soul
Who holds my captive heart
Is but a kiss away
I am dragged from sorrows
Unfathomable depths
And bitter anguish evaporates
Like dew in the morning sun
And euphoria fills every pore
And in that perfect ecstasy
That blissful state of love
I remain until I am again alone


More than all the riches of the earth
Or all the treasure of the deep
More than ingots from the vaults
Or jewels in the Castle’s keep
Neither polished gem nor cultured pearl
Could be held to be in compare
To the priceless nature of our love
That you and I both share


On that beautiful day in June
When they played that familiar tune
My heart was filled with happiness
Then I saw you in the big white dress

I stole a sideways glance at you
And found you looking at me too
It was quite goofy we smiled so much
I took your hand and felt your tender touch

Proudly we stood together side by side
As before God the knot was tied
My heart filled again with happiness
As I wed the girl in the big white dress

If pride is a sin then I’ve sinned too much
I’ve felt it when I’ve felt your loving touch
I’ve felt it at our happiest and our saddest
And when I saw you in a maternity dress

Oh how I remember that day in June
When they played that familiar tune
And my heart was filled with happiness
When I saw you in the big white dress

And now as I look back across the years
To the times of laughter and of tears
I’ve never said “I love you” and not felt proud
My dearest one beneath the big white shroud

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Love and Admiration # 8


Love washed over me
Arriving at my feet,
Like the lapping of waves
On a lonely beach
But it drifted away
On the ebb tide


There's something about a cellist
That really turns me on
A female cellist obviously
In a low cut evening dress
Of emerald green velvet
The great polished instrument
Between her long black stockined legs
Her long brunette hair
Dancing across her naked shoulders
Brushing her alabaster skin
In frantic rhythm to her playing
As she delivers her rendition
To a largely disinterested audience
Sat in the lavish surroundings
Of a grand hotel lobby
A pale willowy figure called Deidre
Purposefully thrashing out a piece by Elgar
Or playing some uplifting Vivaldi
Maybe some Mesmeric Schubert
Or music to slash your wrists by
Courtesy of Mahler or Wagner
The music itself is unimportant
Ok its not cellists that turns me on
But there's something about Deidre
That definitely does
When she's playing the cello


If I could wish
What a wish it would be
I would wish a wish
If it were granted to me

If I could wish
I would wish for what I had
I would wish that wish
Because without you I’d be sad

If I could wish
I would wish for you
I would wish a wish
That, that wish would come true

If I could wish
And my wish came true
I would have wished a wish
To spend my life with you


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


Gone now is that joyful day
When we stood before God
Humble in his blessed presence
And we were joined as one
When everything lay ahead of us

Gone are those joyful days
Full of love and laughter
Days of tender moments
And heady nights of passion
When everything lay ahead of us

Gone are those joyful days
When we walked along the shore line
Happy, carefree and in love,
As we walked hand in hand
And everything lay ahead of us

Gone are those joyful days
When God blessed our union
And delivered perfect joy into our lives
As our little family grew
And we had everything we desired

Gone are those joyful days
When your smile lit up my life
And my heart overflowed with love for you
Before it was broken in two
And everything was taken from me

Gone are the joyful days
Since you have gone ahead of me
Now God has you by his side
And I will miss you until that day
When God has reunited us

I look forward to that joyful day
When we stand once more together
But though my heart is broken
I must delay our reunion
Our sweet children need me
And I must love them double now


I had forgotten her
I had forgotten
The way she looked
With her bright elfin face
And brown soulful eyes
I had forgotten
The sound of her voice
With its sweet honeyed tones
And her infectious laughter
It had been hard
But I had forgotten her

I had forgotten
The smell of her hair
The taste of her lips
The touch of her skin
I had forgotten her completely
She was off my radar
My senses were free of her
Free of her intoxication
Free of her narcotic
It had taken months
Going cold turkey
To cleanse myself, to detox
To shake her from my consciousness
And exorcise her from my soul
But I had forgotten her

I had forgotten her
By changing jobs
Decorating the house
And ridding myself of everything
That reminded me of her
And I was free
My life was once more on an even keel
The stormy seas had been quelled
All was calm and safe
And there was such comfort
In feeling safe
The wounds had healed
Though the scars remained
I had peace of mind
When I could say
I had forgotten her

And I had forgotten her
Until that fateful day
When I found it
Down the side of the sofa
A small pearl button
Such an innocuous item
Evoking such potent memories
Of a violet lamb’s wool sweater
That accentuated her breasts so well
The button was a casualty
Of an intimate encounter
Discarded in our passionate haste
And in that instance of recognition
She was all at once back with me
My senses reawakened
Her scent was in my nostrils
I could feel her lips on mine
Her caress on my cheek
I could hear her infectious laughter
And I saw her sitting beside me
Close enough to touch
And as the wounds reopened
I realised to my dismay that
I had not forgotten her

I had not forgotten her
I had just shut down
Disabled my interface with the world
I hid away in my castle
And pulled up the draw bridge
And created my own world within
I held the button in my fingers
As the drawbridge lowered
And my castle walls fell
And the world flooded in
That little pearl button
Spoke to me in volumes
And I knew I loved her still

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Love and Admiration # 7


How great is the feeling
Of love, love, love
Brought on the wings
Of a snow white dove
Sent by the angels
Who dwell high above
A love so perfect
It fits me like a glove
My life was so empty
Of love, love, love
But to keep my life full
You are the solution thereof


I held your hand
Though you did not know it
And I remembered
The first time I held it
That august day so long ago
When the magic passed between us
And I knew I had found my mate
It was such an innocuous action
We were on the train
Two travelling strangers
As it rattled its way through Surrey
You were getting to your feet
When the train lurched
And you fell back with a bump
I offered you my hand
Which you took
And the dye was cast
Our journey together began
Now your journey is nearly at its end
And I sit in vigil at your side
Where I will remain
Until life leaves your body
On that quiet final breath
I said when we were young
“I would love you all of your life”
When you were still you,
Before the morphine took you
You said to me
“Will you still love me all of my life?”
With a crack in my voice I said
“No I’ll love you for all of mine”


I ask myself
Should I run to you?
And keep our secret tryst
For that sweet joy
Of being kissed

I ask myself
Should I run from you?
And protect my heart
But endure the pain
Of being apart

So I must ask myself
What joy exists
In sterile safety
Compared to being kissed
So I run to you
To the love and chemistry
And drown myself
In your sweet serenity


Hair of grey
Falls untamed
Over blemished skin
In perfect complement
To graceful aging
And timeless beauty

We walked together in the spring
When our love was a fresh new thing
The cherry trees were in blossom
And we thought life was awesome
Our hearts were so full we sighed
But that was before love died

In the summer we walked together
In the fine and sunny weather
Through fields of golden corn
When we parted we were forlorn
And felt a burning passion deep inside
But that was before love died

In the autumn we walked abroad
And our hearts were of one accord
We wandered thought the golden gown
And nothing could ever get us down
We felt as one when side by side
But that was before love died

When winters chill fell upon the land
We still walked together hand in hand
We played in the snow like children
Making snow angels again and again
I even asked her to be my bride
But that was before love died

We had walked hand in hand
As a life together we planned
We sat beneath a leafy oak
As of everlasting love we spoke
And we loved, laughed and cried
But that was before love died

Now I walk alone in the familiar places
Where we enjoyed our fond embraces
Where we kissed and spoke of tomorrow
Places that now bring me only sorrow
Her love made me feel alive inside
But that was before love died


The old rustic stile
At the end of the lane
Still stands like a memorial
Marking that special place
Where the fates conspired
That our souls should meet
Though on that day
We purposely trod opposing paths
But met at that rustic spot
And to help you cross
I took hold of your hand,
Small and silken soft
Guiding you safely to my side
Where you stood on terra firma
And despite the presence
Of our companions
We were to all intents
Quite alone as we stood
Hand in hand and in the moment
When hand touched hand
We at once beheld
Our lives from that point on
Would be forever altered
Our future journeys
Would be as fellow travellers
And we were content
With a shared destiny

The old rustic stile
At the end of the lane
Stands like a monument
Marking the place of alteration
A significant place
A spiritual place
A place often revisited
And on such sojourns
We find romantic renewal
As the energizing memory
Of that special moment
Of love at first sight
Assails our senses
Essentially invigorating
Like imbibing the waters
From the fountain of youth
And our hearts once again
Resound with joyousness
Sweet moments of romance
Those excited tingles
Of loves first passion
When hearts beat faster
And desire courses
Through every fibre
The thrill of blossoming love
Adding to the strata
Of our love, laid down
Through all our years together
So by returning to the place
Of loves wondrous inception
We keep our love alive
And in equal measure
Love returns the favour

Friday, 22 September 2017

Love and Admiration # 6


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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”
“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

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”

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 44 – Making the Move

They were up early on Friday Morning and on the road by 6 o’clock as they were headed to Tipton in the north of the county because Jack had booked them into the Tipton Manor Hotel and Spa.
He chose that area of Downshire because Kayleigh’s grandparents lived in Roespring and she was anxious to see them as her grandfather was still recovering from a fall.

Jack had phoned David Rooney the night before to see if he and his brother could put the house back together again.
“Leave it to me” David said

The Rooney family were farmers from Spade Oak Farm from Lower Hawthorne on the Clarence side of the village, the farm had been in the family since the end of the Second World War and would be for many years to come because 30 year old David and his 23 year old brother Jimmy were going to take on the running of the farm when their father Mike retired.
Their father had every confidence that they would do a great job with the farm however their mother worried about the future as there were no women in their lives.
Dave and Jimmy loved being farmers and they never saw a time in their futures when they would cease to be farmers.
Unfortunately it was not a lifestyle that appealed to everyone and young girls, even from a rural community were not always enamoured by farming or the prospect of being a farmer’s wife.
The other problem was even if they could find someone who didn’t mind farming, they didn’t necessarily fit their criteria.
The Rooney brother’s weren’t interested in the lacy bits of fluffiness who spent more on their hair, eyebrows and nails than they Dave and Jimmy did on their cars and the amount they spent on clothing was shameful.
So the reason they were single was because they hadn’t found anyone to fit the bill however they were very encouraged when they met two gardeners who were both attractive and clearly not afraid of hard work or getting their hands dirty.

David, like his younger brother Jimmy was muscular and well-toned, with red hair and a heavily freckled face, which did not go unnoticed when Emily Bills first laid eyes on him, and from that first moment she was smitten and desired to lay more than her eyes on him.
She was a pretty woman with weathered elfin features, and short brunette hair, and a wiry muscular physique, but she managed to look feminine, she was not however a girly girl and had always tended to be a tomboy.
She stood five foot eight inches tall, and was slender and lean and she was a townie girl from Purplemere, and was twenty nine years old and she was just what David was looking for in a woman.
Her partner in crime Davina and his younger brother Jimmy were similarly attracted.

It was on the day at the beginning of February when the Rooney boys were clearing the lounge in readiness of the arrival of the hospital equipment that the girls got to speak with them and dates followed.
Davina and Jimmy had quickly become inseparable but David was being a little more cautious.
On their first date he took her to the Worsted Viper Hotel and throughout the meal the conversation flowed effortlessly from course to course and on to the coffee and liqueurs but all too soon the evening was over and he drove her home.
Emily had enjoyed the evening very much and her like for him surpassed that and she believed that by the way he was looking at her during the evening that her feelings were reciprocated.
But when they got to her house, much to her disappointment he just kissed her cheek and thanked her for a lovely evening.
Further dates followed and they always went the same way they would have an immensely enjoyable evening ending with a kiss on the doorstep of Emily’s house.
It wasn’t because he didn’t want to take it further, he did, he loved her pretty weathered elfin features, and short brunette hair, her slender, lean and wiry physique, he didn’t see the muscular he only noticed the feminine, and he loved every inch of her five foot eight.
She knew that he fancied her as much as she did him so she didn’t understand why he hadn’t slept with her yet.
Admittedly the quality and quantity of kissing had increased exponentially with each successive date but that was as far as it went.
But she had big hopes on her 30th birthday, which was on Saturday, when he was taking her to Abbottsford, he had tickets for the matinee performance of Les Mis at the Empire and reservations for The Wooden Slipper restaurant and he had two rooms at the Regents Hotel, Emily was hoping to only use one.

But on Friday morning as she and Davina drove through the village she spotted the Rooney’s Landrover parked on Jack’s drive.
“What are they doing there?” Emily asked
“Jack phoned and asked if they could get the house straight” Davina replied “But Jimmy went to the auctions with his dad so Dave’s on his own”
“Stop the van!” she shouted
“What? Why?” she asked
“Just stop!” she repeated and Davina brought the van to a halt.
“What’s wrong?” she asked
“Can you manage on your own at Mrs Browns?” Emily asked
“Of course” she replied
“Do you mind if I go and give David a hand?” she asked coyly
“No, go get him Em”

Dave Rooney got to the house early which was just as well as his brother was at the auctions so it would take him a while to get it done on his own, and even with the early start he wasn’t sure he would finish at all, because although he was strong and fit there were some pieces he would struggle with on his own.
But at 9 o’clock there was a knock at the front door, so he stopped what he was doing and opened it to find Emily Bills standing on the doorstep in her familiar dungaree’s a T-shirt, her normal gardening apparel in fact.
“What are you doing here?” he asked “aren’t you supposed to be working?”
“I’ve come to help,” she said
“Help with what?” he asked puzzled
“Putting the stuff back” she said “I heard you were shorthanded”
“You don’t have to do that, Jimmy will be here when the auctions are finished,” he said
“Well I’m here now, and the sooner we get started the sooner we’ll be finished” Emily said cheerily “And then you can buy me lunch”
“Deal” David said and they set to work, Emily set about dusting and hovering the lounge while he started carrying things in from the garage and by twelve o’clock they were almost finished, there was just one small sofa to bring in and then they were done.
So the two of them set about the task and having maneuverer it through the hall and into the lounge all that was required was to push it into place and with both of them pushing it moved easily into its position.
So with the job done and David suitably positioned southwest of her he put his hands on her shoulders and said
“Thanks Em, I couldn’t have done this without you”
Emily leant back against him and he kissed the top of her head,
“I think you’ve earned lunch”
“I think I’ve earned something” she said as she turned around and caught him off balance and pushed him onto the sofa and then she jumped on top of him and kissed him.
“Have we got time for this?” he asked when she let him up for air
“Indeed we do” she said and kissed him again.
“But aren’t we going to be late for lunch?” he enquired
“Maybe but the sooner we get started the sooner we’ll be finished” Emily said

The upshot of their encounter was firstly that they almost missed the last serving for lunch at the Hen and Chicks and secondly there was no further reason for them to have two rooms booked at the Regents Hotel that weekend.
When Davina picked her up from the pub carpark at four o’clock she was grinning from ear to ear.

Jack and Kayleigh returned to Turnoak late on Monday afternoon after their dirty weekend away in Tipton and Kayleigh went straight up to Plaxton to see Carl and left him all alone.
It was so strange to have the house so empty and quiet, in fact he thought it was eerily quiet.
He made himself some food and was feeling quite down as he sat in the kitchen alone eating some rather uninspiring pasta and sauce.
During the previous few months the house had been such a hive of activity and now there was only him.
He didn’t see as much of Kayleigh that week as he would have liked which didn’t help his mental state and he still hadn’t managed to shake off his depression as he drove into Purplemere on Saturday night to meet up with Jacey Linton, and Gary Spiers who had persuaded him to go over to the club for a drink, in the hope it might cheer him up a bit.
Jacey was Gary’s ex brother in law, the former was the Manager at the Waterside club and the latter was a “noise boy” and had his own sound engineering company “Sound in Spiers”.
Jack had known Jacey for many years and Gary for about ten and along with his Entertainments Manager James Lynch were Jacks best friends.
They went to the club because James had to work so as he couldn’t join them in Purplemere they decided to drive over to the club and join him and Jack had to admit that he welcomed the distraction.

It was a packed house at the club as it was a 70’s night with a full bill of “has been” acts who really should have been at home watching TV or even in a home and the audience were even more past it than the performers were.
Conversation was difficult in the club due to a combination of the music and everyone singing along loudly and as a result they all had a little more to drink than they would have otherwise had.
It wasn’t until the last encore was over and people started to leave that they had a proper conversation that is to say “a proper conversation” when three members of the party are pissed and the other one isn’t.
And James was the sober one who had to listen to Jacey gushing about the love of his life, Sarah Peters, and how wonderful she was.
“Things are going well then?” he asked
“Oh yes” he said, “I think so”
He then proceeded to give them all the minutiae of their burgeoning relationship.
Jack wasn’t anywhere near as drunk as Jacey but he had more than enough to prevent him from driving home so he phoned a cab and as Gary lived on the Turnoak side of Purplemere he dropped him off on route.
And Despite the very real risk that Gary might bore him to death James offered to drive him home, but his worst fears weren’t realized as his passenger rewarded him by promptly falling asleep.

When James got to his house James stopped the car on his driveway and shook him awake.
Jacey got out of the car rather ungainly and took a few unsteady steps to his front door where he fumbled briefly in his pocket for his door key, which he waved at James with a flourish before inserting it into the lock at the third attempt.
When he had the door open he turned and waved before stumbling inside and closing the door.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 43 – Farewell Angel

On Tuesday, Sarah arrived at the house for the reading of the will and the planning of the funeral, not that Katie left much to plan.
And as part of the plans Katie had wisely made Sarah the executor of the will and because of her obvious organizational skills had asked her to implement the funeral arrangements.

Apart from Jack and Anne, Kayleigh, Doctor Anderson, The Vicar Paul Massey, Paul’s fiancé Martina and Matron Gemma Frost were all in attendance.
There wasn’t much to speak of in her will she hardly had a vast estate to bequeath.
To Carole she left her gold crucifix, for Paul her collection of books, to Martina she left her a Celtic bracelet (Martina often admired it), to Gemma her gold wrist watch, and to Kayleigh her gold swallow broach (To remind her that she was a songbird).
All her clothes and the other meagre possession she left to the church to be disposed of as they saw fit and the residue of her estate was to be divided equally between her sisters.
And to Jack she left her, her bible, inscribed:
To Jack
“A good book for a good man”
With love Katie.
After reading it Jack had to excuse himself.

When he returned to the room they discussed the funeral which was to be a simple one with Kayleigh and Elise Riley doing the readings, Katie’s choice of hymns were Amazing Grace, Abide With Me and The Lord’s My Shepard and the eulogy was to be read by Jack, when he had written it.
The date for the funeral was set for Tuesday the 7th of May.

During the course of the week Anne, Jack and Kayleigh worked closely with Sarah on the arrangements.
Which they didn’t need to be involved in but Sarah involved them with all the minutiae because it kept their minds occupied.

On the Friday the medical supply company picked up the bed and such, which made the house, feel even emptier.
It was akin to that feeling after the Christmas decorations come down in January, only a thousand times worse.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend Kayleigh was at the hospital everyday so he only got to see her in the evenings, so during the day he and Anne spent quite a lot of time sorting through Katie’s things.
Not a pleasant task by any means so when the day of the funeral came it was greeted by them all with some relief.
Sarah Peters had been a rock and her hand on the tiller had steered proceedings to perfection.
Warm weather was evidence on the day of the funeral and such was Katie’s popularity that everyone wanted to pay their respects, however seating in the church was quite inadequate for the numbers wanting to attend.
Gary Spiers and Martina Wingrove, being in the sound business, had their company rig a sound system outside the church for the many people unable to get inside.
St Lucy’s was packed to the gunwales and it seemed like the whole village had turned out to say goodbye,
The village green and every available inch of verge and lane held the throng of mourners.
The service was a very moving one presided over jointly by the new Vicar Paul Massey and the Bishop.
When it came to the moment for the eulogy Jack rose from his pew where Kayleigh had been holding his hand and walked slowly to the lectern.
He stood and looked out at the sea of faces watching him and suddenly he was afraid, but then he felt a calming presence with him.
“Katie Watson was a good person,” he began “but then that was the very least you expected her to be, but she was so much more than that”
Jack paused and took a breath
“She possessed a demeanour that instantly put you at your ease, and as a result she was a person it was not easy to say no to, in fact she was a person you didn’t want to say no to, because you didn’t want to disappoint her”
He looked up from his notes briefly to see the heads nodding in agreement and then he continued.
“Not only that but Katie had the uncanny knack of asking you to do something and when she had you firmly committed to the task, left you with the feeling it was your own idea”
A ripple of laughter traversed the church and he paused until it subsided,
“Katie saw through the sinner and into the person within and when she saw YOU, the real YOU inside, the person behind the façade, you felt instantly connected to the world”
He paused again and looked out across the pews.
“And as I look around her Church I know that everyone here has felt her light upon them and for me the world is a darker place with her light extinguished”
He climbed down and returned to her seat and Kayleigh squeezed his hand and said.
“Well done darling”

As the Bishop finished the service, the congregation slowly stood as the six pallbearers moved forward and proceeded to carry the coffin down the aisle.
The pews then slowly emptied as everyone began to decant into the churchyard.
The burial itself, as per Katie’s wishes, was to be a more private affair.

So the bulk of the onlooker’s leisurely dispersed and made their way to the church hall for the wake.
Jack and Kayleigh were among the last to leave the church and walked slowly through the churchyard and joined the group of mourners at the graveside that consisted of those closest to her at the end.

Afterwards they all made their way sombrely to the church hall.
The wake was held in the main room, but because of the numbers a marquee was erected and due to the clement weather the party had spilled out into the gardens and the carpark.
Jack found himself at the rear of the group as they approached the entrance to the hall, and after the others had all gone inside he paused and turned around and walked home.

When he got inside he slipped his jacket off and went to the kitchen and poured himself a drink.
After sitting alone quietly for about half an hour he was disturbed by a knock at the door so he ignored it and poured himself another drink.
There was another more persistent knock so he ignored it again and drained his glass.
Then there was another even more persistent knock.
So he put his glass down and got up and walked down the hall and reluctantly opened the door and Kayleigh was standing there.
“I was told to come and get you,” She said
“You’ve been missed”
“I don’t think I can” he replied
“Nonsense” she said, “you’re expected”
Jack turned around and walked back to the kitchen and sat down.
“You must” she insisted crouching down in front of him.
“I can’t” he retorted
“You have no choice” Kayleigh shouted
“I can’t go, how many times must I say it?” he snapped “it’s too hard”
“It’s not about you,” she shouted in his face “it’s about Katie”
And then she completely broke down and Jack had to comfort her and then cried himself.

After they had cried their tears they walked down to the church hall together.
When Jack got inside Carole Anderson made a beeline for him and asked
“Are you ok hon?”
“Yes of course” he lied “I just needed an hour to myself to get my head straight”
Carole seemed content with that.

The wake became quite lively and by the time Jack got round to see everyone and got back to Kayleigh it was getting late.
“Sorry darling” he said to her
“Don’t worry I’ll have you to myself the rest of the evening” she replied “but I think you need to get Anne home”
Jack looked around and Anne was completely wasted.
“I see what you mean,” he said
“Do you want a hand getting her home?” she asked
“Yes please” he said laughing, “I rather think I do”

When they got back home after the wake he carried Anne, who was completely slaughtered, upstairs to bed while Kayleigh waited downstairs.
When he got back to the kitchen she was standing in the middle of the room in her funereal underwear, a lacy black bra and matching panties and black stockings.
“So are you going to put me to bed now?” she asked and in answer he scooped her up in his arms and carried her upstairs.

In the early hours of the morning after the funeral, just before the dawn broke, Kayleigh slipped out of his bed pausing only to kiss his forehead before returning home.

Later that same morning Jack awoke refreshed and at peace but when he walked into the kitchen the sight that he beheld was not a pretty one.
Anne was sitting at the kitchen table nursing a black coffee and judging by the fact she looked like there was to be another death in the family, a pretty savage hangover.
“Oh my goodness” he said
“Shhh” she gestured “have some respect for the dead”
The day after the funeral Anne was planning to go away for a few days to visit friends in various parts of the country before her return to Ethiopia.
But after her grief driven over indulgence the day before, she was in no fit state to go anywhere except back to her bed.
She was adamant that she should not let people down but he persuaded her to phone her friends and delay her departure until the next morning, she could even delay her flight home as she had an open ticket, that way she could still get to see everyone.
Eventually she saw the sense in what he was saying and after a handful of phone calls she went back to bed.

So it was on Thursday morning with Anne restored to her pre binge best, full of vim and vigour and ready to take on the world, that he set her off on her journey by driving her to Purplemere for the first leg of her sojourn.

Once he returned home he found the house eerily quiet and he didn’t much like it all but he was spared his own company for a little while at least by a visit from his next door neighbour and lover Kayleigh but he was still a little down.
“We should get away for a couple of days” Kayleigh suggested.
“A weekend break” he said
“I was thinking more of a dirty weekend” she said
“Kayleigh Robinson you brazen hussy” he said and laughed
As much as he liked the sound of her suggestion he didn’t think he was in the right frame of mind for it so he said
“No I don’t think so”
Kayleigh gave him a questioning look so he added
“I have to put the house back together”
“Can’t you get those Rooney boys to do it? They moved everything in the first place after all” she said
“Well we’ll see,” he said,
“That means no then,” she said crossly
“That’s not what it means at all” he said “They’re probably busy”
“Hmmm” she said as she was leaving with obvious disbelieve but she kissed him anyway and added.
“Please you’ll enjoy it”
“We’ll see,” he reiterated
“I would have really enjoyed it” she said grumpily

Her parting shot made him feel guilty, not that he thought that was her intention, but it wasn’t really a lie he hadn’t yet put the room back together since the bed and stuff had been taken away, but he really didn’t think he would make for good company.
He could have spent the rest of Thursday straightening the house but he didn’t, because in the end he decided he was being selfish because Kayleigh clearly needed to get away so he spent the next hour making some phone calls and when he was done he went next door to Kayleigh’s and knocked on the door.
When it opened Kayleigh just stood there without speaking
“I was looking for gorgeous woman to go on a dirty weekend with and I was wondering if you knew someone who might be interested” he said and she grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him inside.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 42 – Final Plans

At 10 o’clock On Saturday morning there was a knock on the door and when he opened it he was surprised to see Sarah Peters, who was the Verger at St Lucy’s, Receptionist at the surgery and organizer extraordinaire.
“Hello Jack” she said
“Hello Sarah, This is a nice surprise”
“Weren’t you expecting me?” she asked
“No, I don’t think so” he replied
“Katie asked me to come” Sarah said
“Oh” he responded “you’d better come in then”
Jack showed her into Katie and closed the door and she was in there for over an hour before Gemma Frost arrived, quickly followed by Elise Riley, who had also been summoned.
So he showed them both into Katie’s room and closed the door again.
“Do you know what’s going on?” he asked Anne
“No I don’t” she replied with a puzzled expression.
Half an hour later the door opened and everyone decanted and much chattering ensued before they all evaporated away.
When they had gone Anne and Jack walked into Katie’s room.
“What was all that about?” Anne asked beating him to the punch.
Katie gestured towards two envelopes on the bed
“My last will and testament” she replied “and the funeral arrangements, the hymns, the readings, every detail”
“Oh” was all he could manage while Anne had to leave the room and stood in the hall crying.
“Isn’t that a bit premature?” he asked trying to make light of it.
“We both know it’s not” Katie said and forced a smile
He picked up the envelopes, one was a do it yourself Will, sealed, the other was open and contained the funeral arrangements.
“Can I?” he asked
Katie nodded and said
“I don’t see why not you’re in it”
“Am I?” he enquired
“Yes, you need to write and deliver the eulogy and say how wonderful I am, was” she replied
“Ah a work of fiction then” he said
“Very funny” Katie said and chuckled

On Sunday morning Jack felt the need for spiritual refreshment and walked down to St Lucy’s for the Sunday service.
It was a bright sunny morning and outside the church the congregants and villagers were thronging around and he realised he had forgotten it was the St Georges Day Parade.
Jack wandered around the crowd shaking hands, stopping to chat with friends and catching up on local news, taking comfort from the hum drum, eventually he ended up talking to Martina Wingrove and Hannah Peters.

When the parade and the service were over, Martina went off to find her fiancé Paul while Jack stayed and talked with Hannah until her Sister Sarah appeared, and after about twenty minutes they headed over to the Hen and Chickens.
He had a couple of drinks with the Peters girls before they went off to have Sunday lunch at Gemma Frosts house and he went home to find Anne in the kitchen making Spanish omelettes.

Jack spent the first half of Monday at the Club for a meeting with James and Jacey, which went very well so he was in good spirits but when he got home he found Carole, Anne and Gemma in the kitchen wearing grave expressions.
“What’s wrong?” he asked
“Katie’s had a bit of a downturn,” Carole said
“Why didn’t you call me?” he said crossly
“Because there was nothing you could do,” Carole said
“Apart from worry”
“And we had that department covered already” Anne added.
A wave of guilt washed over him as he came to terms with the fact that while he was discussing what has-beens and nobodies would appear on the bill for that summer’s comedy festival Katie had been suffering.
“You selfish bastard” he thought to himself as he sat down beside her bed where he stayed for the rest of the day, sitting in the uncomfortable armchair where he eventually fell asleep.

Jack awoke in the uncomfortable chair on the morning of St Georges Day with a stiff neck to find Katie was a little better than the night before.
He resolved not to put Club business before her wellbeing again and he never left her side for more than an hour at any one time and he never left the house for any reason.

Carole was at the house every day that week but despite her best efforts Katie continued to decline.
Jack sat at her bedside and tried to keep her going, though she had little or no conversation in her for the most part so he spent the time reading to her from Harry Potter.

By the weekend she had stabilized but Carole continued to come in daily and on Sunday she advised that they should call the Bishop as the end wasn’t far away, fortunately Kayleigh was on hand to give him the support Jack needed.

The mood in the house had been very subdued all week but by the time the Bishop arrived on Sunday evening the mood was positively downcast.
The Bishop went in to see Katie and they all sat in the kitchen.
About ten minutes later Reverend Massey arrived accompanied by Martina, Paul joined the Bishop and Martina joined the crowd in the kitchen and hugged them all one by one.
She told them that the word had spread through the village and the parishioners were holding a candlelight vigil at the church and a number had placed lighted candles on the path to the house.

After the Bishop had left Carole went in with the nurse to check on Katie and when she returned she said to us all.
“If you have anything meaningful you wish to say to her, now might be a good time to do it”
So they took it in turns to go in and say their goodbyes and the kitchen was awash with sobbing.
“I’ll get Marion on the phone” Anne said
“Good idea” they all agreed.

Jack spent another night in the uncomfortable chair and the next morning as he stretched out the stiffness in his neck he found Katie awake and lucid.
“I’ll be out of your hair soon” she said
“Don’t you talk like that?” he said crossly forcing back the tears and he took hold of her hand and continued
“I would give up my bed forever if it meant you could stay”
“Dear, dear Jack” she said and cried
That proved to be the last meaningful conversation he had with her as the morphine took hold and during the course of Monday Katie slipped into unconsciousness.

They took it in turns to sit with her during the day and when it was Jacks turn he sat and read to her.
He had promised in the beginning that they would finish the Harry Potter Saga before the end.
They had just started the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when she deteriorated, but he was determined to finish it.

The next day passed by in much the same way until the evening when Carole, Gemma, Anne, Kayleigh and Jack were all at her bedside.
Carole was knitting, Anne was crocheting booties, Gemma was doing something on her tablet and Kayleigh was holding Jacks arm as he continued to read Harry Potter to the assembled group and to Katie even though she had long since slipped into unconsciousness.
He finished reading about 9 o’clock and just before midnight less than three hours after he read the last words she slipped away.
And after Katie passed away Anne, Kayleigh and Jack had to leave the room while Carole and Gemma laid her out.

Long after Carole and Gemma had gone home Jack sat up in the uncomfortable chair next to Katie, or what was left of her, he knew the essence that was her was already in heaven but the loss was nonetheless hard to bear.
Anne said her goodbye to her sister and pottered around for an hour or so before going off to bed and Kayleigh kissed Jack goodnight and went home and left him to his vigil.

It was shortly after dawn, when he saw the sun rising above the trees, and he thought to himself and smiled
“Of course the dawn is brighter this morning, because Katie’s light is in it”
He kissed her cold forehead and wandered off to his room and crawled into bed.

He hadn’t been there more than fifteen minutes when the door opened and someone entered, he heard footsteps on the floor and then they were in bed cuddled up behind him and he could tell by the perfume that it was Kayleigh.
“I don’t want to be alone tonight?” she said
“Nor do I” he responded
He turned around and lay on his back and pulled her towards him so her head was on his chest and then they both slept.

The next morning he woke early to find the bed beside him empty, Kayleigh had left his bed sometime during the early morning but he didn’t notice her go.
He got up about 8 o’clock and found Anne in the kitchen making drinks he walked up behind her and kissed the top of her head
“Morning” she said “Coffee?”
“Yes please” he replied and the conversation remained in that mundane manner.

Carole came to the house about nine and hugged Jack
“How are you doing?” she asked, knowing how fond he was of Katie.
“I’m fine” he replied then she repeated the exercise with Anne and the ambulance came for Katie’s body about twenty minutes after that.
The rest of the day went by in a kind of blur and then Kayleigh came in the kitchen door and steadied the ship for him.