Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Downshire Diary – (01) Meeting Dorcas

(Part 01)

He had always been a contented person and altogether happy with his lot, though not a wealthy person by any measurement he had everything he wanted and all was well in his world.
He had a job that he enjoyed, and a family that he loved and got along well with and he lived in his own modest cottage in the pleasant Downshire village of Bushy Down.
He thought he had everything a man could possibly want and he was content, that was, until a few weeks after his twenty ninth birthday when he met Dorcas Fox-Martin.

It was a glorious Sunday morning in June and the Village of Bushy Down was looking particularly picturesque.
He was on his way to St Lucy’s Church in the village, not somewhere he was completely unfamiliar with but somewhere he hadn’t been as often as he should have.
Though on that particular morning he had a more pressing need to be there other than the neglect of his spiritual wellbeing.
Because on that morning Ben Overton, was to be Godfather to his nephew Connor.
His sister Helen was three years younger than he was and was the baby of the family and now had a baby of her own who was about to be christened.

It was as he walked to the Church, preoccupied by thoughts of pride at his impending Godfatherhood that his life was changed forever.
Having caught sight of Helen on the Church steps he quickly crossed Church Lane and was brought rudely to his senses by the blast of a car horn.
Ben jumped out of the way and reached the safety of the footpath and braced himself to launch a tirade at the impatient shit on the other end of the car horn.
But when he turned to face the driver he was greeted by a beautiful smiling brunette.
Who mouthed the word “sorry” and smiled which completely disarmed him.

Helen and her husband Mark, watching from the Church steps thought it was highly amusing that he had nearly been turned into road kill.
He turned around to give them a withering look and when he returned his attention back to the pretty vehicular assassin she had gone and that was the end of that, or so he thought.

It was at the end of the main service when the Reverend Hunter began the Baptism of his nephew Connor Innes into the faith that he saw again.
It turned out that “Penelope Pitstop”, the beautiful, if dangerous brunette, was a close friend of his sister Helen and was also to be a Godparent to his nephew.

Ben had to confess that as proud as he was to be Godfather to Connor, he didn’t really follow proceedings as closely as he should have as his eyes were constantly drawn to the beautiful girl on the other side of the font.
But at the end he lost sight of her in the melee as everyone decanted from the Church and such was the affect that the beautiful stranger had on him that he drove to his mum’s house in Kiddingstone full of trepidation that she was gone forever.

(Part 02)

Ben Overton parked his car in the street outside his Parents house and went inside.
“Hey Ben” Helen said as he entered the kitchen “you got here safely then?”
“Very funny” he countered
“You’re obviously safer as a driver than you are as a pedestrian” She said and roared with laughter.
“Shut up and give me a beer lippy” he replied
She went to the fridge and took out a bottle, opened it and handed it to me.
“Thanks sis,” he said “have you got a glass?”
Ben didn’t like drinking from the bottle, he couldn’t stand it, and it was a bit of a joke within the family because he thought drinking from the bottle was common.
“You are so old” Helen said laughing
“I just have standards” he retorted pompously “Where’s Mark?”
“He’s in the lounge showing Gran the video” She replied.
Their Gran was 91 and quite frail and wasn’t well enough to attend the Christening so the ceremony was videoed by their brother Danny and it was being played back for her so she would feel included in proceeding.
“You should go and watch it yourself” she added “as you missed most of it as you were ogling Dorcas”
“Dorcas?” he asked playing dumb
“Yes the pretty brunette you couldn’t take your eyes off” she said
“I think you’re imagining it” he answered as he left the kitchen
“I think you’re smitten” she shouted after me and he was about to unleash a witty retort in response but he was suddenly knocked sideways into the wall causing him to slop his drink down his trousers.
“Sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going” a female voice said and he turned around to face his assailant
“That’s…” and that was all he could say as he gazed upon the smiling face of the beautiful girl he knew to be, though they had not been introduced, Dorcas.
He didn’t know how long he stood there staring at her or how long he would have continued to stare had she not broken the silence.
“This is becoming a bit of a habit” She said “my name is Dor…”
“Dorcas” he continued
“Yes” she answered “and you’re Ben”

And so the introductions were complete and from the first moment they met she bought something into his world that he hadn’t even noticed he didn’t have, love.
He was besotted with the diminutive young woman with the immense personality and a heart as big as the moon.

It is quite reasonable to state categorically that Ben Overton was quite content with his lot in life and he had not felt his life suffered for the want of love, he had not craved it nor coveted it, he just thought it was something that was inflicted on other people and he was immune to it but once he had tasted it he was hooked.

Had it not been for the fact that she had almost run him down and had fate not also decreed they both be Godparents to the same child he didn’t think he would ever have dared to speak to her, let alone ask her out but ask her out he did and furthermore she said yes.

(Part 03)

Having plucked up the courage, at his Godsons Christening, to ask the stunningly beautiful Dorcas Fox-Martin out on a date and as he was bolstered by her positive response to such an extent he very foolishly neglected to cement the arrangement there and then and furthermore left the Christening party without securing either a firm date for their erm….. Date, or for that matter any contact details for her and it wasn’t until he got home that the full extent of his stupidity dawned on him.
In his defense of course he would argue that he was so taken aback by Dorcas’s positive reply and such was his elation that she had agreed to go out with him on a date that he was not thinking clearly, which is why he not only failed to arrange anything but had also left without any means of contacting her.
Ben had just reached the point where he was well and truly feeling sorry himself when the phone rang.
“Hello” he said forlornly
“Oh dear” Helen said unsympathetically “cheer up”
“Don’t joke” he said “I’ve done something really stupid”
“I know” she replied “you’re a plank”
“Oh don’t” he responded feebly
“Fortunately your wonderful sister has come to the rescue” Helen said “and I gave your number to Dorcas so she can call you”
“You’re the best sis in the world” he said
“I know” she said immodestly “now don’t cock it up”

He had been so diverted by his foolishness that he hadn’t even given any due consideration as to where he would take her.
Given that prior to that morning she had been a complete stranger to him so therefore he had no idea what to suggest.
His normal first date experience, limited though that might have been, consisted of either a drink, a meal, the cinema or bowling.
Well a drink didn’t sound substantial enough for his liking and as he was somewhat nervous he imagined that he may end up drinking too much and make a complete dogs breakfast of it, so he ruled that out.
A meal on the other hand was fraught with dangers of its own, food preferences, allergies and intolerance’s and it went without saying that it was an absolute given, to rule out any food that required the wearing of a bib.
The cinema he had always found to be a difficult area date wise,
Sitting in the dark with a girl and spending most of the film weighing up the options of when it would be appropriate to move in for a cuddle or a kiss.
Not that that would be of concern with Dorcas, after all they were both past the age of the back row groping scenario.
The problem inherent in the cinema was knowing her taste in film that was the issue there so he ruled out the cinema as well.
He also crossed off tenpin bowling but for no other reason than that he was really crap at it.

(Part 04)

After a couple of fruitless hours of deliberation he still had no idea where to suggest that he and Dorcas should go on their first ate and then the phone rang.
Ben took a deep breath and reluctantly picked up the receiver.
“Hello” he said timidly
“Ben?” a voice asked
“Speaking” he replied
“It’s Dorcas” she said
“Hi” Ben said weakly
“We didn’t make a date” Dorcas said hesitantly “At the Christening, for the date”
“No I…” he faltered
“Did you still… erm want to?” she asked
“Of course” he said firmly almost shouting
“Good” Dorcas said with a giggle
“I thought you might have changed your mind”
“No not at all” he stated “But...”
“But?” she said falteringly
“I don’t know where to suggest” he said
“Is that all?” she asked and laughed
She had had a similar struggle as he had to find a suitable venue/activity, they had however reached totally different conclusions which he found out when she announced she had the perfect date in mind.
“A Tree Top Trail”
“What’s that?” he asked genuinely oblivious
“It’s a trail through the tree tops with Tarzan swings, rope bridges and Zip Wires” she said excitedly
“It sounds like great fun and I’ve always fancied having a go”
Well he had no great expectation when he first asked Dorcas out and he thought she would soon tire of him, after all he was one of life’s spectators while she was the type of person who was up there on center stage.
But how wrong he was, she knew that they were cut from different cloth but she didn’t care that they were so different.
Ben had always been content to look on from the sidelines whereas Dorcas was in there participating with all her might, she was a “joiner in” while Ben was an applauder of other people’s efforts, a holder of coats.
But no more, and despite the fact that the thought of walking through the tree tops 30 feet above the ground scared him to death he said.
“Me too”

It was a bright Sunday morning in June, just one week after they had first met, when Dorcas picked him up in her Mini outside the Railway Station in Bushy Down, the very same Mini she had nearly run him over a week earlier. .
It was probably a little unconventional for the first date but after some discussion it was decided that she would pick him up as he lived in Bushy Down which was between her home in Finchbottom and our destination in the Dancingdean Forest.

Despite his apprehension he was still very much looking forward to his first date with Dorcas and was praying it would go well.
Ben’s trepidation was far removed from the normal first date nerves, which were bad enough, his main fears stemmed from the fact he had to contend with the death defying heights of the Tree Top Trail, with all its incumbent hazards such as Tarzan swings, rope bridges and Zip Wires, all at a height of 30ft.
He wasn’t good with heights at the best of times, he never had been, not because he suffered from vertigo or had an irrational fear of being up high.
In fact he liked high places, Airplanes, the London Eye, Canary Wharf or the Empire States Building, as long as there was something between him and oblivion.
What scared him to death was gravity and the belief that it would at any moment pull him screaming to the ground.
But I couldn’t show it, not to Dorcas, he had to put on a brave face for her benefit as he didn’t want her to think he was a wimp.

(Part 05)

It was about an hour’s drive to the Dancingdean Forest, but the time seemed to pass by very quickly as they chatted about something and nothing, always a good sign when there are no embarrassed silences.
Once they arrived his trepidation deepened as he looked up and realized exactly how high 30 feet was.
As if sensing his reservations Dorcas took hold of his arm.
“Come on then” she said steering him in the direction of a large timber shack.

There were 12 of them in their group, 11 first timers and one jovial leader called Gaz who was determined they all had a “great experience”
And on the whole they all did, although there were moments when Ben was almost scared to death.
Though they were never in any real danger, they all had harnesses and protective gear but he was still scared up in the tree tops.
But at the end of it, thanks to Gaz, the whole group had a great experience, but it was still nice to get back to terra firma.
After divesting themselves of their safety gear they all made their way to the café for a well-earned coffee.
As he and Dorcas sat either side of a picnic table discussing how much they had enjoyed the experience she announced
“I wouldn’t want to do it again”
“What?” he said with alarm
“The tree top stuff” she assured him, but she continued with more than a little smugness, knowing that she had him hook line and sinker
“I’m up for another date though” she continued
Then after a minute or two she suddenly said
“I have a confession to make”
“Oh” he responded fearing the worst, she was married or engaged or something.
“I would have enjoyed it much more if I wasn’t scared of heights” she confessed
“I only finished the course because I didn’t want you to think I was wet”
After hearing her confession Ben laughed
“It’s not funny” she said crossly
“I’m laughing because I was scared to death myself” he said “I just gritted my teeth and got on with it because I didn’t want you to think I was a wimp”
On hearing his confession she laughed as well.
When the laughter had subsided they both concurred that it had been a good first date.

It was early evening when they finished their coffee and said fair well to their fellow adventurers and the weather was still lovely.
They were both getting peckish and as neither of them were ready for the date to end and as were only an hour or so away from the coast they headed off to Sharpington where they ended the momentous day eating fish and chips out of the paper on the sea front and talked enthusiastically about the day.
Their first kiss came in true romantic style as the sun slowly sank beyond the horizon and afterwards on the journey home they planned their second date.

Tales of Love # 11


Your embrace is like a velvet cloak
Enveloping me in love
As you speak to my soul
And burn into my heart a perfect love


Your serpent hips
And slender limbs
The glow and lustre
On your skin
In the half light
Of the afterglow
Beyond the bliss
And read the smile
On each other’s lips


Snowflakes fall steadily
As the wind blows
Laying deeper and deeper
As her progress slows
Knee deep she trudged
Through the deep snows
So I go and rescue her
From out of the snows
To get her safe indoors
Out of the snows
Though not for kindness
Heaven only knows
It was to get her out
Of her ho ho hose


“She’s ticking all the boxes”
I thought to myself
When I first laid eyes on her
But of course she wasn’t perfect
That would have been a claim too far
Then when we spoke, at length
More boxes were checked
But again she fell short of the summit
But then who wants perfection
Which is in reality subjective
I have met girls in my life
Slightly more than ordinary
But thought themselves perfect
And others nearly perfect
And thought themselves ordinary
This girl was as close to it
As I had ever come
Or wanted to come
For if she was to be flawless
That would be unnatural
As well as undesirable
For it’s in the imperfections
Where character lies


Like driftwood you floated into my life
As I cruised upon a calm blue sea
Your presence stirred the peaceful waters
And turned my outlook squally
But though we blow from storm to storm
I still believe you rescued me


If you were an island
Set in a clear blue sea
Dressed with palm trees
Stirred by the scented breeze
With sun soaked beaches
Of coral white
I would be the gentle waves
Washing over them


Two castaways
Washed up together
Like flotsam and jetsam
The floating wreckage
Of their failed loves
And from the driftwood
Of their own detritus
And broken remnants
Of previous vessels
They manage to build
A new ship of love


I was ready, without a doubt
Ready for the one
I was set on the start line
Heart beating at the run
Then bang!
Went loves starting gun

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (04) The Reverend Edwards Daughter

(Part 01)

Katie Edwards was the daughter of the Vicar of St Hilda’s in Forestdean and Mark Holt was the village “Jack the Lad” and apart from them both being 28 years old, they had nothing in common whatsoever.
Katie was a good Christian girl, whose life revolved around her widowed fathers Church and the associated parochial duties, Mark on the other hand was an agnostic, albeit a church going agnostic, but above all he was an unashamed hedonist.
Katie was steady, diligent, and chaste and was an innocent but Mark had no morals whatsoever but to his mind that was more than compensated for by a belt full of female scalps.

However all of that however seemed set to change when Mark was walking through the village one rainy morning.
“Hi Katie” he said
Katie Edwards was a very attractive young woman by any measure, with a warm open manner, a willowy figure, and shoulder length brunette hair, intelligent green laughing eyes and a broad toothy smile and altogether a very pleasant demeanour.
“Hello Mark” she replied “What’s brought you out into the rain”
Mark was tall, dark and muscular with wild gypsy eyes.
“I’m avoiding mum,” he said trying to keep a straight face, Katie gave an understanding nod
“And you?”
“The Miss Devonshire’s” she replied “it’s their turn to do the flowers” and she bowed her head with shame.
“I think we need to be fortified,” he said
“The Royal Oak?” she suggested
“I thought you were barred for calling the landlord a godless heathen,” he queried
“A simple misunderstanding” she assured him “I’ve forgiven him”

Due to the inclement weather the pub was almost deserted so they sat and unloaded their burdens on each other.
Mark detailed the haranguing his mother gave him for getting home at 3 am in a state of inebriation and she talked about how the Miss Devonshire’s were making her life a misery.
To make her feel better Mark revealed some rather unsavoury gossip about her protagonists which made Katie feel much better as did the Guinness.
The alcohol also aided Katie to reveal more and more about herself and the more she drank the more she rambled.
The Guinness helped her speak a lot about time and sand running through her fingers and choices and not knowing.
He couldn’t really follow her train of thought all the time, the drink wasn’t helping and as neither of them had eaten since breakfast the beer took its toll very quickly and two hours later they were fortified as newts and he had to steer her through the pouring rain to the vicarage, and thankfully the rain was falling so hard that no one noticed their drunken progression.
Once he reached the front door he had to wedge her against the wall while he opened the door, unfortunately as the door swung open she fell into the hall.
Mark instinctively reached out and grabbed her in an effort to prevent her from hurting herself.
Unfortunately in trying to avoid grabbing anything intimate he only succeeded in falling to the floor before she did.
As a result Mark landed on his back and she landed on top of him.
“You know Mark if I wasn’t the Vicar’s daughter I’d shag you” she slurred before planting an almost Labrador like kiss on his mouth.
“And if I wasn’t a gentleman” he said after extricating himself from her embrace “I’d let you”
And then he struggled to his feet and helped Katie to do the same but as soon as she was vertical she said
“But you’re not a gentleman so there’s nothing stopping you”
And launched another assault on him and even put his hand on her breast before Mark regained control and steered her through the hall and into the sitting room and plopped her into an armchair and she immediately grabbed him by the lapels and planted another kiss on his mouth, a much more controlled and unhurried kiss than before.
He wondered as he was starting to reciprocate if she thought that having sex with a philanderer like him was sin free, making him like a vegetable in a slimmer’s diet plan, and then he broke away from her embrace again.
“But you are the Vicar’s daughter” he replied and kissed her on the forehead
“And you’re drunk” he added
“What’s that got to do with it?” she slurred
“Everything, because you wouldn’t want to shag me if you were sober”
“Oh yes I would” she said after he left.

(Part 02)

On the short walk home Mark had mixed feelings, he felt rather proud of himself, after all Katie had offered it to him on a plate and he had turned it down, and not because he didn’t fancy her, on the contrary, and he also reflected on the wonderful kiss and how much he enjoyed it.
Katie ticked a lot of boxes for him and he was not possessed of any high moral principles, so why didn’t he take advantage of her was a mystery.
He didn’t have the foggiest idea why he didn’t accept her invitation to canoodle, it certainly wasn’t a lack of attraction on his part or even being put what she was wearing, he liked uniforms and outfits, and vestments certainly didn’t put him off.
Nor did he think it was because she was the Vicars daughter after all he had made many immoral choices in the pursuit of sexual gratification, so he was left with only one possible conclusion.
However having come to that conclusion he immediately dismissed it, it was the obvious conclusion but it had never happened before, so he wasn’t sure how to proceed in the new territory.
It was a strange feeling that he was experiencing which had hit him right out of the blue.
But strange though it was it was impossible to ignore because the genie was very much out of the bottle and there was no putting it back.
Mark never imagined in his wildest dreams when he escaped his mother’s scathing tongue that morning that bumping into Katie Edwards would turn his entire world upside down.
“Thank you the Miss Devonshire’s” he said aloud “Thank you for taking your turn to do the flowers”
But after his revelation he didn’t know where to go from that point.
And more importantly he didn’t know if she would still be receptive to him without the aid of several pints of Guinness.
It was an interesting position for him to find himself in, caring whether or not a girl would come to her senses in the cold and sober light of day.

So when Katie knocked on his front door he knew it was a game changer.
“Hi” he said
“Hey Mark, I’m sober”
“So I can see, come in” he said “But I’m still not going to shag you”
“Really?” she said as she followed him inside
“Really” he confirmed
“But why?” she asked “it’s what you do isn’t it?”
“And that’s why I’m not doing it to you” he said
“I don’t understand” she said and sat down heavily on the sofa
“You’re better than that” he said “you deserve better than that and I’m not going to let you settle for less than you deserve”
“What does that mean?” she asked
“It means we are going on a date”
“A date?” Katie asked
“Yes, a date” he replied “and after we have dated for a while we can talk about the other stuff”
“Oh” she responded and then he kissed her

Monday, 27 February 2017

Tales of Love # 21


Love arrived like a tempest
Sweeping him off his feet
Leaving him breathless
And trembling in its wake
But although the storm
Was a wind of change
Which altered him forever
It was not a breath of fresh air
Her love was toxic
She controlled like a terror
And even loves betrayal
Could not break the spell


Your heart is an oasis,
A place of love,
Where Venus resides,
But she resides alone
As you will not let me in


I remember falling in love
When there was beauty in the world
A love shared by me and you
Which we thought would last
As long as the world kept turning
But we were in error
Because the love has gone
And in our hearts
There is an empty hollow
Pining for what was lost
While in the shadows
Lay our discarded dreams
Lost and lingering
In the gloom
Where the sun light’s ray
Cannot penetrate
And our love cannot be revived


The honey Bee
Loves the flower
In particular the Rose
But the flower is indifferent
As it views the Bee
Through sweet petal veil
But the Bee is content and
Doesn’t need his love returned
For Rose is his passion
And will always be

Tales of Love # 4


I’ve lost my heart to another
She is fairer than a rose
The gentlest girl I’ve known
Who is purer than the snow’s
And all the time I’m with her
My love for her just grows


The thread of love
Our hearts entwine
I have all her love
And she has mine

Bound together by
Loves eternal vine
I have all her love
And she has mine


She blessed my life
When she came to stay
And I love her more
Each and every day
It would break my heart
If she went away


Over the span of years,
Along the way
My heart has been broken
Time after time
But how can it not break,
When you lose someone
Or when a loved one passes,
Or your child is in pain
Or is unhappy
We don’t live in a bubble
Life is not lived in isolation
And broken hearts do mend
And each repair gives us strength
For the next time
Because a heart never broken,
Is cold and sterile,
And has never known the joy
Of loving another human being


The Platters were crooning
“Red Sails in the sunset”
So I asked her to dance
And the moment our eyes met
My heart sailed away
And it hasn’t returned yet


In all the photos of her
She was terribly Red Eyed
I thought it was the camera
But no matter how I tried
I couldn’t get a good shot
But it wasn’t a lack of skill
Or any technical fault
It turned out she was evil


Pressed blooms
Long since dried
Lovingly preserved
Betwixt printed pages
Mementos of love
From a time long ago
Flowers picked fresh
In the meadow
Where love bloomed
And a kiss was stolen


Drink to the glory of love
From the loving cup
Before it spills
And evaporates away


As we lay under the stars
I had the perfect trinity
Music in my soul
Love in my heart
And you in my arms

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (03) In an Overstuffed Armchair

It was late when Alan Nelson travelled the short distance from Finchbottom to his home in Lower Gracewood.
It was the final leg of a journey that had begun 11 hours earlier with a taxi ride to Tegel airport from the Berlin Hilton.
Thus followed a 2 hour delay at the airport, a 2 hour flight, two trains and another taxi from Finchbottom Station.
So when his house came into view through the windscreen of the cab, it was greeted with a feeling of relief, he had been away for 5 days and he was so pleased to be back home.
Alan paid the cab driver and carried his case to the house, there was a light on in the hall but it was late and the rest of the house was in darkness, so he let himself in.
He dropped his bag quietly in the hall, and opened the lounge door and when he walked into the room he saw her, and his heart soared.
She was wearing her favourite fleecy pink dressing gown and was curled up in his favourite arm chair with her little feet tucked beneath her.
Celia was hugging a cushion, almost as big as she was and her tiny delicate frame was almost lost in the overstuffed chair and instantly an unabated wave of love washed over him and he immediately wanted her.
He had missed her so much while he was away, but there she was, a scrawny little thing barely a hundred pounds soaking wet but in his opinion worth her weight in gold.
Alan had seen her that way many times, sleeping cuddled up in his chair but he loved her totally, with every fibre of his being, even after ten wonderful years of marriage.
And furthermore she still excited him and making love to her was electric, from the first time to the last it was like being plugged into the national grid.
The first time he saw her he thought she was the sexiest girl he’d ever seen and he thought so still.
He stood over Celia and stared affectionately down at her for the longest time, as she slept so soundly.
He didn’t really want to wake her, he should have let her sleep, but if he had she would not have thanked him, in fact she would have been very miffed.
So he knelt beside her and roused her gently and as she stirred from her slumber her eyes slowly opened and then widened
“Hello Baby” he said and when she saw him she smiled him her come to bed smile.
“I waited up for you”
“You didn’t have to” he said
“I did”
“Because I’m feeling fruity” she replied
“Are you?” he asked and kissed her
“Hmmm” she responded “I’ve missed you”
“I missed you too” he replied and with his sexy girl roused and aroused he took her in his arms and carried her to bed.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Tales of Love # 5


In my autumn days
I fondly remember
Loves first sting
And how my heart sang
Loves perfect melody
In loves sweet spring


Silence in the meadow
As we lay amidst the flowers
Young lovers entwined
In the moonlit hours
When love is keenly felt
We succumb to cupids powers
But as night gives way to day
The love we feel is ours


I think to myself now that it is over
As I pick myself up off the floor,
How could I have been so blind?
To lose my heart and so adore
The creature who can barely disguise
The blackness at her heartless core


Please bring me a love
Of almost any hue
Let it change forever
My monochrome view
Let it be any colour
As long as it’s not blue


You can weather any storm
When you know without exception
That love is the answer
To each and every question


My Lonely heart
My silent companion
You empathize
And feel compassion
Even in an age when
It’s out of fashion
Yet still I am alone
With my unspent passion


I thought that you
Really loved me
But I was wrong
And in reality
It was just my love
Reflecting back on me


I stand alone
Yet among friends
I stand alone
In the sight of family

Hear the music?
Come ahead
Make me turn my head
Come join me

Stand beside me
Stand to my left
Become me
Let me become you

Hear the words?
Go ahead
Make me turn my head
Come join me

We stand together
Before our friends
We stand together
In the sight of family

Hear the music?
Hear the song?
Let’s sing along
Come join me
We stand together
Alone no more
Joined as one
Before our God


Flowers picked fresh
In the meadow
Where love bloomed
And a kiss was stolen

The delicate blooms
Were lovingly preserved
Betwixt printed pages
Of a weighty tome

Now they are desiccated
Between the leaves
Blooms long since dried
Still evoke memories

Pressed blooms from
When love was young
Mementos of love
From a time long ago

Soon I was once again
In the meadow
Where love bloomed
And a kiss was stolen

Tales of Love # 3


I would have given her my world
I would have made myself into a mug
I would have done all this and more
Just to feel the warmth of a single hug


Fleet young footsteps
In a headlong rush
Running towards romance
Barefoot in the meadow grass
Love-struck on a woodland path
Sprinting along the beach
Splashing through the water’s edge
And into the arms of love


You have made an error
If you have to run
Barefoot on hot coals
Hotter than the burning sun
Just to prove to them
That you are their only one


Such was her attitude
She felt gratitude
For her beatitude
At ending her solitude


She was petite
And beautiful
A gentle glowing face,
Open and friendly
With intelligent eyes,
Like sparkling sapphires
A smile played about
Her honey sweet lips,
So soft and pink
Her hair the shade
Of ripened corn
Blew in the breeze
She was petite
And beautiful
And totally out of reach


Beneath the moonlit sky
The romantic feeling grows
And on that star filled night
Love blossomed like a rose


I would put you on a pedestal
and prostrate myself before you
I would worship you like a god
I would proffer my heart
On an ornate silver platter.
For your avaricious consumption
I would give you all my love
Unconditionally, unrequited
And thank you for your indifference
I would cherish you in my life,
Even if you broke my heart in pieces.
I would look upon you lovingly
And gratefully receive your look of disdain
All this I would happily endure
Just to feel, for the briefest moment
The warmth of your embrace


He carried her books home from school
All for the sake of love
They kissed on the back row of the pictures
All for the sake of love
They walked down the aisle in June
All for the sake of love
they happily lived in a one bedroom flat
All for the sake of love
They worked hard and scrimped and saved
All for the sake of love
They became a family in a bigger home
All for the sake of love
She divorced him after five years of marriage
All for the sake of lust


She spoke sweetly
With a song birds melody
But within the beauty
One word could slay me


You took me by storm
Broke my resistance
Conquered my heart
Quite mercilessly
But on the way
To capturing my heart
You tainted me

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (02) Paige Turner’s

(Part 01)

Paige Rawlins had worked in the same bookshop in Finchbottom for twenty years, but it wasn’t one of those trendy and clinical impersonal places that seemed to spring up everywhere during the eighties, O’Brien’s was a proper old fashioned book shop, full of tall wooden book cases crammed with dusty well-loved second hand books.
Paige had started working at the book shop straight from school and now it was hers lock, stock and barrel.
It wasn’t her chosen path, what she actually wanted was college and University and to write books of her own.
But on the eve of her bright future, as quite often happens, life got in the way of her well laid plans.
Firstly her father was killed aboard the RFA Sir Galahad during the Falklands War when she was only 15 and then on the day of her 16th birthday her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In the beginning Paige just worked part time at the shop, in between grieving for her dead father and caring for her terminally ill mum at home in Finchbottom while also limping her way through two years of college.
She had no siblings to share the burden and no cousins or aunts, uncles, grandparents or even a boyfriend to turn to for support, she was completely and utterly alone and had to cope with the whole painful mess all on her own.
In 1984 when she finished college she watched all her friends excitedly planning for the future and then one by one they went off to University and that drew a line firmly under those friendships and she took the only course that was left open to her and she went to work full time at O’Brien’s.
Her mum subsequently underwent surgery to remove the tumor followed by a course of radiation, but it came back, so she had rounds of Chemotherapy together with radiation which kept it at bay but the treatment was almost as bad as the disease.

Each passing year, full of days spent in the shop and evenings and weekends at home caring for her dying mother, drained the very life from her.
Eventually her mum’s cancer metastasized, and she was told the average life expectancy after a diagnosis with metastatic disease was just three to six months, her mum lasted two years, and by the time her mum finally succumbed Paige was as dry as the pages of the books she tended.

After the funeral, in order to fill the void in her life, Paige gave herself totally to the shop, she became its life blood, which was why five years later on her death, Maureen O’Brien left the shop to Paige, shop, stock and vellum, which she decided to rename Paige Turners.

Year by year her life consisted of the shop, book auctions and house clearances, book fairs and car boot sales and other than that she had no human interactions outside the book trade at all which was why as a result, at the age of thirty six Paige was a cold grey dowdy frump.
However she was not for all that, an unattractive woman, the blue eyes behind the spectacles were striking and the trim figure beneath the tweed suit were more than agreeable, if anyone chose to look that closely, but they didn’t, and were she to have worn her brunette hair down instead of scrapped back they would have looked harder.

When she first took over the running of it, the shop was struggling to stay afloat, in a sea of apathy in which the world had seemingly fallen out of love with quality literature and it took all of Paige’s wit and guile to make the shop pay.
Generally she was quite old fashioned in her outlook but she did make one concession to the modern world and the modern publication by giving over one window and a whole corner of the shop to new titles.
She figured that if she could lure the magpies into the shop with the bait of shiny new books she could actually get them hooked on the old classics.
Also, over the years she developed the internet side of the business, which Maureen had dismissed as a fad, but Paige rather liked it as trading that way she didn’t have to deal face to face with human beings.
It wasn’t so much that she wasn’t a people person it was just that happy smiling people were a constant reminder of what life might have been for her had things been different.

(Part 02)

It was on a rainy Friday afternoon in May when, Harry Edwards, a rather tall gaunt looking middle-aged man in an ill-fitting rain coat entered Paige Turners and stood dripping on the doormat.
The raincoat was ill fitting because he had to borrow it from a colleague when he realized it was raining so hard.
He stood on the mat for about a minute with the rain dripping off him before venturing further.
He was immediately struck by the fact that, although it was 2003 the overall ambiance of the place felt much, much older.
When he moved he took no more than three steps and then stopped again as he looked around at the rows of shelves full of old musty old tomes and sighed with resignation at the enormity of the task ahead of him.
“Oh hell” he muttered
“Can I help?” Paige said flatly accompanied by a weak smile
“I do hope so” Harry replied brightly
“I’m looking for a leather bound copy of “The Coral Island” by R M. Ballantyne”
“We have several copies of that” She said “Did you have any particular date of publication in mind?”
“Anything from the 19th century” He replied
“I have a nice clean late Victorian copy that might suit” Paige said and went off to retrieve it.
“Here we are 1890, red leather binding, very good condition”
“Excellent” he said handling the book “How much?”
“£150” She said without emotion.
He thought she was probably overcharging him but he didn’t care, it was exactly what he was looking for and it was well within his means.
And it was his Uncle’s birthday the very next day and given the inclement weather he didn’t really fancy going in search of another bookshop.
Also there was something about her that he liked behind the mannish spectacles and frumpy tweeds, he wasn’t sure what it was but he thought there was more to her than the dust jacket suggested.
“Great I’ll take it” he said

Harry Edwards had lived and worked in Finchbottom all of his life and after getting his Law degree he started working at his Uncle Henrys firm of solicitors, where he was now a partner.
It was fairly unexciting work, involving quite a lot of conveyancing, wills and minor boundary disputes but he liked it well enough.
Incidentally Barrowman, Clarke, Braithwaite and Edwards were the executors of Maureen O’Brien’s will and although that has no relevance to the story it does add a certain symmetry to it.

Harry was forty five years old and had himself suffered tragedy in his life, his father died suddenly when he was at University, his mother was struck with early onset Alzheimer’s and was now in a care home and the previous year he had lost his wife Celia to breast cancer, but unlike Paige he didn’t lock himself away from the world, but then he did have a network of family and friends to draw comfort from.

On the Monday morning after a big family weekend to celebrate Uncle Henrys seventieth birthday Harry was feeling a little jaded and in truth was almost relieved to get back to work for a rest.
By lunchtime however he was feeling a little more human so as it was a bright warm spring day and as his office was only a ten minute walk from Paige Turner’s, the notion popped into his head to call in and tell the proprietor how delighted his uncle had been with his gift.
He wasn’t quite sure why the notion entered his head nor where it came from but he still thought it a good idea.

(Part 03)

The shop door opened and sunlight spilled deep into the shop, Paige was at the back cataloguing some new acquisitions while Karen and Iris, students from Finchbottom College, were putting the new stock on the appropriate shelves.
She had to rely heavily on students to staff the shop as there was only her and Graham in the shop on a permanent basis.
She had inherited Graham from Maureen’s time but now he was slowly cutting down his hours as he headed towards retirement.

While she was cataloguing, Graham was out the back packing some books for delivery.
She looked up from what she was doing and briefly studied the new arrival.
Paige recognized the man instantly as the man who paid over the odds for a copy of “The Coral Island”
The ill-fitting (borrowed) raincoat of Friday had gone and he was now sporting a well-tailored double breasted blue suit.
She had thought about him a lot over the weekend and had felt more than a little guilty at fleecing the dripping wet untidy looking man, but now she saw him in his handmade suit that guilt soon melted away.
“He’s quite a handsome man though” she thought to herself, shaking her head at such an unaccustomed thought.

He walked further into the shop and was surprised at just how big it was, it had seemed much smaller in the gloom of Friday afternoon but on that day with the sun streaming through the windows it looked huge.
He could see there were three or four other customers milling around and a couple of young girls stacking shelves and then he caught sight of the young frumpy woman at the back of the shop so he strode off in her direction.

“Oh God he’s coming this way” she thought to herself. “He’s going to complain about the book, he’s probably checked on line and knows I over charged him”
She hurriedly replaced the book she was holding and tried to slip away but she had inadvertently trapped her foot and as she tried to extricate herself he was on her.
“Hello again” he said
“Oh hello” she said abandoning her escape attempt.
“I just wanted to say that my Uncle loved the book” he said
“Well that’s what we do” she responded flippantly and then inexplicably giggled
“In fact he was so impressed with it, he has a request” Harry said fishing in his jacket pocket and removing a piece of note paper which he handed to Paige.
“My Uncle collects book from his past, they are like special memories to him”
On the paper was written The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper. (Third book of the Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy)
“That shouldn’t be too much of a problem” she said “I know we don’t have one in stock but if you come back tomorrow I should have it”
“Excellent” Harry replied “I’ll see you tomorrow then”
“What name should I reserve it under?” Paige asked
“Harry Edwards” he replied “Miss…?”
“Rawlins” she replied “Paige Rawlins”

After he left the shop she chastised herself for lying, she knew very well that she had a copy of “The Pathfinder”, and it would definitely have suited.
Why on earth had she lied,
“What on earth has gotten into you” she said to herself

As Harry walked back to the office he had an unaccountable spring in his step and he was actually glad she didn’t have that book in stock as it meant he didn’t have to make an excuse to go back the next day.

(Part 04)

On Tuesday he found the morning passed by interminably slowly in fact at one point he thought the clock had stopped.
But despite that, eventually the morning passed and the moment the clock struck twelve he was out the door.
“I’m taking an early lunch” he said
“Ok Mr. Edwards” his PA said
He walked briskly along the street towards Paige Turner’s and was surprised by the presence of butterflies in his stomach.
“How ridiculous” he muttered to himself

Paige had been kept very busy all morning as she was alone in the shop on a Tuesday but she was well aware that lunchtime was approaching.
She had her back to the door and when she heard it open she took a deep breath and turned around with a smile.
“What are you looking so pleased about?” Graham asked
“Oh no reason” Paige replied “it’s just such a lovely day”
“You don’t normally smile when the sun shine’s” Graham said “come to think of it you don’t normally smile”
“I smile” Paige said defensively
“Not often” he answered as he went to the back of the shop
“I do smile” she said to herself crossly as she turned and watched him.
“I know” Harry said

Paige was speechless when she turned around and saw Harry standing there and for a moment felt like she was fifteen again.
Before she stuttered and stammered her way through a sentence.
Harry laughed at her discomfiture before saying
“I’m sorry if I startled you”
“No its fine, really” she said

Harry left the shop half an hour later minus the book that he’d gone in for but he didn’t care, he was just pleased to have seen her again.
It was the first time since his wife’s death that he had even noticed another woman and as he enjoyed the spring sunshine he was blissfully unaware just how significant that was.

Paige had told him the book wouldn’t be in until the next day and didn’t even feel guilty for lying to him this time as it meant she would see him again.
Then she realized she’d have to give him the book eventually or he’d stop coming anyway.

For Harry the rest of the afternoon was spent very unproductively as he tried to reason in his mind why he was so drawn to a dowdy young bookworm.
“Well younger than me anyway” he said out loud
She wasn’t even his type at all and she had cheated him on that copy of “The Coral Island”.

The next day Harry couldn’t make it to the shop as he was at the magistrate’s courts in the morning and had two funerals in the afternoon.
Paige however was unaware of the reason for his failure to appear and thought herself a fool and chastised herself for lowering her guard, she didn’t smile at all that day.

(Part 05)

On Thursday morning Harry left his office about 10 o’clock and ran through the rain in his borrowed ill-fitting raincoat to the shop.
He had not mentioned his movements the last time he was in the shop and had no reason to think his absence would be noticed.
But strangely it meant something to him that he had missed seeing her.

At Paige Turner’s, Karen, Iris and Graham were bemoaning the return of the unsmiling Paige who had awoken that morning with fresh resolve to return her life back to its previous unadventurous course and not allow herself to be disappointed again.

Having reached the shop Harry just stood outside and stared at the rain streaked windows wondering what the hell he was thinking.
Why would this young woman see him as anything more than just another customer?
“You’re being ridiculous” he said to himself and turned around and started back towards work.
But he only took a few paces before he stopped and returned to the shop.
He stood again looking at the shop and taking a deep breath he said
“Nothing ventured nothing gained” and pushed open the door

Paige was feeling wretched and made everyone’s morning miserable.
She had placed the copy of “The Pathfinder” by the till and resolved that should he come in again she would give him the book and that would be an end to it, after all he was just another customer.

Paige sighed and headed towards the back of the shop, Karen and Iris kept their heads down as she passed them and when Graham appeared from the store room and saw her coming his way he performed an immediate U-turn, then she heard the door open behind her and she sighed again and prepared to deliver a withering look upon the person responsible for the intrusion.

“Harry” she said when she saw him and instantly her sternness melted away “er Mr. Edwards I mean”
“No please Harry is fine” he replied and returned her smile
“I have your book” Paige said producing it like an exhibit in a court case.
“Oh great” he said “I’m only sorry I couldn’t come in for it yesterday Miss Rawlins”
“Please call me Paige,” she said coyly
He then went on to explain in depth all the ins and outs of his previous day and why he hadn’t come to the shop.
Which was all done in the inner sanctum of her office over a mug of coffee.
“She’s never had a guest in her office before” Iris whispered as she and Karen listened through the door.
“And she’s laughing” Karen said in disbelief

An hour after he arrived he left the shop and walked back towards his office with the book tucked under his arm and more importantly than that, a date with Paige for the following evening.

So it was on a bright Friday evening in May, just one short week after his first rain soaked visit to the antiquated bookshop that was Paige Turner’s.
When inside the bookshop he had found the dusty tome that was Paige Rawlins, just like any other dusty tome amidst many others on the shelf
But she had been rebound and the dowdy bookish young woman was transformed.
Harry took her hand and led her from the shop and she stepped out from the narrow confines of her stale and musty domain and rejoined the world of infinite possibilities with her heart full of hope and not a little trepidation.
Thanks to Harry it was now her turn to live life rather than to read about other peoples.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Tales of Love # 6


Hair of gold
Falls in curls
Over amber skin
In perfect compliment
Like ripened corn
In a summer field


She said she felt so helplessly alone
Like a lonely candle flickering in the dark
Then on the day when I came into her life
She said there was a discernable spark
And as if by a kind of magic, hey presto
We were instantly two candles in the dark


So quiet
A perfect angel
So calm and serene

Soft eyes,
A gentle smile
As if from a dream

But beneath
The façade, things
Are not as they seem

So quiet
The perfect angel
She secretly aspires

Soft eyes,
A gentle smile
Mask her desires

But beneath
The façade, a little
Sinning is required


In a quiet passing time
I look back on yesterday,
And wonder why it is
That I am so lonely today


You were my one and only
My hearts song and melody
Now music has been banished
And I must suffer silently


You are my Angel
In the moonlight
Draped in lunar white
Where upon I steal
A midnight kiss
And I am in heaven


I am not special
I have no fortune
I am average
I have no high station
I am ordinary
I am not an Adonis
But for some reason
I have won your heart


Since we’ve been apart
My wounded heart
Still bleeds for you
And I pray you’d love me too


I never meant to do it
But I did it with ease
In fact it was so simple
It was actually a breeze
So now can you fall?
In love with me please


I first saw you
As you were advancing
I smiled at you
As your eyes were glancing
And all at once
My heart was dancing
And in a moment
We were both romancing

Tales of Love # 2


We were once inseparable
Tied with the bonds of love
But when the day came
When bonds become restraints
Love melted into the ether
And the ties that bound
Turned inexorably to dust


A girl in virgin white
An intangible essence
A trembling creature
Wantonly pure
At the nuptial altar
Bearing passions blush
Blooming on her cheeks
Belying her innocence
Her thoughts portraying
Through lustful overtones
The girls growing want
Then without regret
A kiss preludes
Innocent stripped away.
And a woman remains


They walked hand in hand
Through tarragon fields
Where young lovers dream
And reticence yields


A sylph like creature,
A breath of wind might dispel
An elemental presence
Slight and graceful
Mercurial nymph
Spirit of nature
Beautiful young woman
A sylph like creature


I couldn’t hold you in my Coastal waters
When the Ocean tugged at your heart
So you slipped your moorings
And floated away into the dark

To deeper waters under moon-lit skies
That is where your heart resides
The sea is your only mistress
Your blood flows in unison with the tides

Happiness is a deck beneath your feet
In the teeth of a gale or the heart of a squall
While I wait for you on dry land
Praying for the day you make land fall


What my heart yearns for most,
The thing that I really miss,
What keeps my passion burning
Is the thought of your sensual kiss


Lovers walk in hand
Thru summers scented meadow
With lustful intent


His aim is deadly
When cupids arrow lets fly
No one can escape


I would have given her the world
I‘d have written her name in the stars.
I would have given her what was mine
And not demanded that it be ours
Or I’d have sold my soul to the devil
Yes I would have done all this
I would have done all this and more
And in return, receive a single loving kiss


I loved her so much
I forgot about me
I surrendered myself
I just thought about we

I loved her so much
I always thought about us
But behind my back
She abused my trust.

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (01) Soft Lips and Sensible Shoes

(Part 01)

The Finchbottom Vale is nestled comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.
The Vale was once a great wetland that centuries earlier stretched from Mornington in the East to Childean in the west and from Shallowfield in the south to Purplemere in the north.
But over the many centuries the vast majority had been drained for agriculture, a feat achieved largely by the efforts of famous Mornington Mills, of which only three had survived to the present day and even those were no longer functional and were in various states of repair.
There were only three small bodies of water left in the Vale now one in Mornington, one in Childean and third of course was Purplemere.
Throughout its history the Finchbottom Vale was largely dependent on agriculture and so it remained into the 21st century.

To the north of the Vale, in the lee of Pepperstock Hills, lay the modest town of Purplemere.
On the western side of the town was the residential area known as Hill Side, and in one of its many quiet road, called Oakham Crescent was Starlings House the home of Geoffrey and Thelma Haycock.
The pair had been married for twenty years and the overwhelming emotion in their union had grown to be indifference.
There was no love between them, which was a great shame, because it wasn’t always so.
They met and married while at University, it was love at first sight, she was a willowy cello playing student of sociology and he was a rugby playing budding engineer.
Not perhaps an obvious match on the face of it but it was without doubt a love match.
When they were first married their love was all consuming and were a very loving couple and could never have envisaged being apart.
These feelings continued into their post graduate years until after ten years of marriage and a succession of miscarriages and the realization she would never bear a child the love faded first into uneasy friendship and finally to mere tolerance.
But for some reason they stayed together for another ten years, for his part he stayed with Thelma for the sake of the love that was once so abundant, for Thelma it was a kind of self-flagellation, Geoff was like a hair shirt.
It was to remind her of her failure as a wife and a woman.

By the time they reached their milestone 40th birthdays, which were only a week apart, they were complete strangers sharing a house, separate beds, separate rooms and separate lives.
He had survived the lonely years through his books and his work but whereas his books were as reliable as ever they had been his job had turned sour and he wasn’t sure what the future held.
Thelma coped with the emptiness in her life by throwing herself headlong into her work as a social worker and with endless voluntary work with the Citizens advice bureau and then there was the Women’s Institute, the parish council, committees for this, meetings for that and always organizing something and constantly planning for some event or other.
As a result the large house they shared in Purplemere was always hosting some meeting or group or subcommittee.
The house that they bought when they were in love, so it would one day be filled with laughing children, was instead full of chattering do-gooders.

(Part 02)

On the many evenings the house was taken over by Thelma and her cronies, Geoff either went out or more often than not hid himself away in his study with his books.
He would sit in big leather chair with a book in his lap and his headphones on to drown out the chattering.
And that was how he would spend his evenings a good book and Rachmaninov or Mahler for company.
It was on one such evening when he first saw her.

He had been to the kitchen to get himself a coffee and it was when he was on the return leg to his study when there was a knock on the front door and as he was the closest he diverted to open it.
When he had done so he found a small woman in her early thirties with bobbed brown hair on the other side of it where she stood at the threshold staring down at her sensible shoes.
When she looked up she said in a small timid voice
“Hello, I’m Annest, I’m here for the meeting”
“Annest?” Geoff said “what a beautiful name”
“Thank you” she responded as her eyes returned to her shoes
“I’m Geoff, come in. the meeting is at the end of the hall”
She gave a weak smile and walked on down the hall and Geoff paused to watch her as she progressed in her black woolly tights and sensible shoes.
A nervous little kitten headed into the lion’s den.
When he was seated back in his study he Googled the name Annest and found it was of Greek origin and meant "pure or holy"

Over the following weeks he came to recognize her delicate knock on the door and more often than not managed to get there first to let her in.
She always appeared at the door the same way, eyes fixed on her shoes, dressed in black woolly tights and rather frumpy understated garb.
And when she finally glanced up he would see she wore little or no makeup, the merest hint if any at all, nothing to make her noticed, understated like her clothes, leaving her almost anonymous.
He found that the new visitor was so different from his wife’s normal cronies that she rather fascinated him.

As his curiosity was roused on one of the rare days when he and Thelma were engaged in rare conversation he said
“I noticed you have a new face among your number of late”
“Well there are several actually, which one do you mean?” she replied tersely
“Five foot nothing and sensible shoes” he clarified
“Oh the mouse” she replied
“Yes the others call her “mouse” as in “quiet as a church mouse”
“Because she’s quiet and she spends a lot of time at the church”
She snapped
“Why are you so interested?”
“I’m just curious” he replied “she just doesn’t seem to fit with your normal intake”
“No she doesn’t” Thelma agreed “A nice girl though and she’s very efficient, she actually does everything she’s asked to do in a timely fashion, most don’t”
And then as if to anticipate his next question she added
“I met her when she volunteered at the Citizens Advice Bureau”
And before he had a chance to respond she left the room.

Later that day Thelma was in the kitchen and as she stood at the kitchen sink she was watching the man she had once loved to distraction as he stood on the lawn raking up the autumn leaves.
Thelma regretted being sharp with Geoff earlier, it was the first time they had spoken sentences to each other for months and it was also the first time he had shown any interest in anything other than his books and music for years.
As she reflected on the conversation she hoped he had asked about Annest out of more than just curiosity as he had suggested and that it might lead somewhere because she had come to realize that things had to change.
Her fortieth birthday had been a watershed for her and when someone at work said
“Life begins at 40”
“Yes it does” she replied
That simple phrase “Life begins at 40” had really struck a chord and she thought about it and decided that hers very definitely would.

(Part 03)

Annest Anderton was a thirty two year old spinster who had lived her whole life in the parish of St Johns in Purplemere.
She was brought up to be a miracle child by her mother who was 44 when she fell pregnant and her father was ten years older than her, and both her parents doted on their miracle all her life.
But as often happens to an only child born to middle-aged parents she ended up caring for them when infirmity struck.
First her father with Parkinson’s and then her mother with dementia.
She was 28 when, within weeks of each other, she lost both parents and she was all alone, by which time the world had moved on and left her behind.
In the 5 years since her parents deaths she had made herself a very busy person, she worked four days a week as an administrator at St John’s Church in Purplemere, which was a large Victorian building in the town center, on Fridays she volunteered at the Citizens Advice Bureau also in the town center and on Saturdays she ran the church bookshop.
On Sunday’s she spent most of the day at church either worshiping or helping out in some capacity, Sunday school, serving drinks or setting up.
And in the evening’s she had recently become involved with Thelma Haycock’s committees.
So in fact she was an exceptionally busy person and the reason for her busyness was that she was lonely excruciatingly lonely.
And she thought that if she kept herself busy she wouldn’t have the time to notice her loneliness.
It didn’t work of course but she did it anyway.
She had hoped to make some friends among the committee members but the majority of the people on Thelma’s committees were not people of faith with the exception of the parish council and church event committees and those of a secular disposition seemed to resent her because of her faith.
Mainly they disliked her because she made them look bad, because she actually did what she promise to do.
Thelma was pleasant enough with her and her husband Geoff was always nice and she chatted with some of the members but she hadn’t made any friendships that extended beyond the meetings.
Some of the women were actually quite unpleasant to her and one in particular, Marisa Loock, was a bully.
She was a big unit from Holland build like a shot putter and had the personality of a storm trooper.

Geoff Haycock answered the door to Annest as he often did and they exchanged smiles and pleasantries as normal.
And then Geoff watched Annest as she went down the hall and then there was an increase in the volume of the murmurs as she went in.
Geoff was on his way to the kitchen to get his coffee when there was another knock, so he turned around and opened it and Lisa Gumbrell, a sour faced middle-aged woman pushed past him.
“And a heartfelt good evening to you too” Geoff said
And the woman just snorted in response.
He followed her down the hall as she walked into the lounge and he looked in and saw Annest seated nearest the door and she glanced in his direction and smiled.
He was returning her smile as Marisa Loock turned and said
“Anne! Anne! Let Lisa sit there”
“Annest” she retorted politely
“What?” The storm trooper barked
“Annest” she repeated “My name is Annest”
“Whatever, you need to move to let Lisa sit there”
Annest looked around her and asked
“Where will I sit?”
“Somewhere else” Marisa growled
Geoff was stood in the threshold of the door and had heard the exchange
“You old cow” he wanted to say but instead he said
“Stay there Annest, I’ll get another chair for the late comer”

(Part 04)

For some reason he felt protective of her and when he spoke to her she looked up and smiled, she had a lovely smile when she chose to deploy it.
So when he witnessed her being bullied by the by Marisa Loock he was moved to intervene.
“Stay there Annest, I’ll get another chair for the late comer” he said
“Or you could just move” Marisa said to her in an intimidating tone
“That’s settled then Annest will stay where she is and I’ll fetch another chair” Geoff corrected her and Marisa and Lisa both turned and glared at him.
If their aggressive display was intended to disarm him it failed miserably, he was after all a rugby union player until only a few years earlier.
There were two chairs in easy reach of where he was, one was in the kitchen and the other in his study, the one in the study had a wobbly leg so he went and got that one.
When he returned to the lounge Marisa was still trying to bully Annest into moving.
“I don’t know why you’re being so selfish” she snarled “and causing all this fuss when you could just have moved”
“I looks to me like you’re the one making all the fuss”
Geoff said and set the wonky chair down
Marisa then turned her focus on him and was about to speak when he leant down and said in a hushed tone
“Before you say another word, just remember you are a guest in this house”
As he straightened up he glanced over at Thelma and she was smiling at him, he smiled back and as he left the room he thought how much he’d missed that smile.

Geoff had taken to leaving his study door open towards the end of the evening over the two months since Annest first knocked on the front door so he could see when people were leaving or to be more precise when she was leaving.
At first she would walk straight past the door with her head down and her eyes fixed on the sensible shoes, but gradually she progressed from a side wards glance through to a smile and even a wave but on that night she stopped by the door and said
“Thank you for earlier”
“No problem” he replied “You shouldn’t let them talk to you like that, you don’t deserve it”
“Thank you” she said a smiled a wondrous smile “Good night”
“Good night Annest”
It was at that moment when he realized that she no longer fascinated him, his feelings for her had moved on.
So if not fascination was it then infatuation or was it even deeper than that.
And if it was the “L” word what the hell was he going to do about it.

The weekend following the realization that his heart had been reawakened he was sitting in his study contemplating his situation when there was a knock on his study door and when the door opened Thelma was standing there and she said.
“I think we need to talk”
“Yes” he agreed

They went into the lounge where Thelma opened a bottle of wine and filled two glances.
As they sat opposite each other they sipped their wine in silence for a more than ten minutes before she asked
“Are you happy Geoff?”
He stared at his glass for a moment before replying
“I was happy, once”
“Me too” she agreed sadly
There was another silence, shorter this time until Thelma took a deep breath and said
“We are both forty now but I still have hopes”
“Hopes?” Geoff asked
“Yes” she said “Hope that’s it’s not too late for one thing”
“What for us?”
“No, no,” she replied “for both of us”
“You mean its time?” Geoff said
“Yes, I think so” She replied

(Part 05)

By the end of that weekend after a lot of frank speaking and soul searching Thelma and Geoff had made their plans.
Though in all honesty Geoff did not lack the will he doubted his ability to achieve his aims.
And so he spent many hours in his study over the following days racking his brain as to just how he should proceed.
It was during one such session in his study that he was interrupted by a tapping on the door.
He sighed at the unwelcome interruption and got out of his chair and crossed the room and steeled himself to be rude to whoever it was who was intruding on his thoughts.
He pulled open the door sharply
“Wha…?” he began but stopped himself when he realized it was Annest.
“Oh hello”
“Am I interrupting?” she said quietly
“No not at all” he replied “How can I help?”
“Thelma sent me to get a thesaurus, she said you have one” Annest said getting almost the whole sentence out without staring at her shoes.
“Yes I do” he said “Come in, it’s on the bookcase behind the door”
Annest stepped inside the room so he could close the door and they could both see the bookcase.
“I think it’s on the middle shelf” Geoff said and was scanning along the row
“There it is” she said excitedly and reached for it but she was such a nervous little kitten that she fumbled the book and it fell to the floor.
“Oh shit” she said which made Geoff laugh
They both crouched down in unison to pick up the thesaurus and they found themselves nose to nose and inexplicably and without any warning she kissed him with her soft pale pink lips that tasted of peppermint.
For about 30 seconds they remained crouching down by the bookcase with no other contact other than their lips, and then all too soon it came to an abrupt end and she got hurriedly to her feet.
“Oh God I’m so sorry” she said and turned red faced to leave, but the door was closed and she had nowhere to go.
She was like a terrified rabbit caught in the headlights and repeated over and over “I’m sorry I’m sorry”
“Hush” Geoff said as he got to his feet “Hush”
And he lifted her chin so he could see her eyes and added “it’s ok”
Then with his hand still on her chin he guided her lips back to his.

After a long and prolonged kiss Geoff hugged her to his chest, kissed the top of her head and said
“Was it just the one book you were after?”
“For now” Annest said and giggled
“You’d better go before they send out a search party” Geoff said
“Do I have too?” she asked in a small mouse like voice.
“Yes” he said “for now”

Thelma smiled when she saw Annest return, looking flushed, to the lounge clutching the thesaurus to her chest.
She had hoped when Geoff had asked about Annest that it might lead somewhere and when she saw Geoff defending her against Marisa’s aggression that night at the meeting she knew.
And as she watched Annest blushing in the doorway she knew for sure it was mutual.

Although most of Thelma’s committee meetings were at Starlings but a couple of times a month the meetings were held elsewhere.
And the night after he and Annest had kissed in his study was one of those nights so he would have to wait another day before he saw her again.
He poured himself a drink and headed towards his sanctum when he heard Thelma coming down stairs.
“I’m off Geoff I’ll see you later” she said and smiled “Have fun”
“Bye” he replied a little confused by her cheerfulness.
As the front door closed firmly behind her he walked into the study and said to himself
“At least I’ll have a nice quiet evening”

(Part 06)

With his wife Thelma away from the house for a meeting, Geoff walked into his study and said to himself
“At least I’ll have a nice quiet evening”
But no sooner had his backside hit the leather of his Chesterfield than there was a loud knocking on the front door.
“I spoke too soon” he said getting up again “It had better not be Jehovah's Witnesses or I’ll tell them where they can stick their Watchtower”
He had opened the door expecting to find someone selling double glazing or upvc soffits or driveways but instead he found the little brunette who had stolen his heart.
“Hi” he said and his delight showed in the smile that lit up his whole face. “Come in”
“Thanks” She responded and stepped into the hall
“I didn’t expect to see you today” Geoff explained “The meeting isn’t being held here tonight, it’s at Daphne somebody’s”
“I didn’t come for the meeting” Annest said boldly “I came for this” and with that she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him

It was about an hour after they had made love in his bed and Annest said as she lay beside him with the duvet pulled up under her chin.
“What did we do?”
“Do you mean you’ve forgotten already?” Geoff replied laying on his side watching her “I thought it was quite memorable”
“No I didn’t mean that” she said and rolled over onto her side to face him, “That was wonderful”
“You haven’t done that for a while have you?” he asked
“No not since college, but it wasn’t like that” she confessed
“I’m glad” Geoff replied
“You made my toes curl” she said and blushed
“I’m glad about that too” He added
“Does that happen every time?” she asked
“I don’t know, why don’t we find out” Geoff said and kissed her as he caressed her tenderly beneath the duvet.

“Well that answered my question” she said letting out a satisfied sigh as she lay her head on his chest.
“Well I must say I’m a bit surprised at your brazen behaviour” Geoff said
“I’m a jezebel” Annest responded proudly
“I thought you were a good Christian girl and here you are sleeping with a married man” He pointed out “doesn’t it make you feel wicked?”
“A little” she admitted “but I had permission”
“From who?” he asked with surprise
“Thelma” she replied
“I see” He said smiling to himself, he realized at that moment why Thelma had left the house so cheerfully and instructed him to have fun.
“What about you” Asked Annest “don’t you feel guilty for committing adultery?”
“No for a second” he replied
“You don’t?” she asked with surprise
“No because I too had permission”
“From who?” she demanded
“Thelma” he replied
“Of course you did”
And for the next half an hour there they lay in each other’s arms dosing in the semi darkness.

“What do we do now?” She asked when they were both awake.
“Well not that” Geoff replied positively “I’m not 18 years old you anymore you know”
“I didn’t mean that” Annest said and blushed “I mean where do we go from here”
“Well Thelma and I are divorcing” he explained “Did you know?”
“Yes she told me”
“And I have been offered a job at a new Engineering company” Geoff added “It’s a good job and it comes with a house”
“Oh, where?”
“Oh” she exclaimed and the mouse had suddenly returned
“Don’t say it like that, it’s not like it’s the other side of the world”
“It might just as well be” Annest responded
“Don’t look sad” he said and lifted her chin up so he could see her eyes, which were filling with tears.
“When do you start?” she asked
“January 5th, if I decided to take it” he said “but you know what they say “New Year New Start””
“So soon?”
“Is that not enough time for you?” he asked
“What do you mean?”
“Well obviously I won’t accept the job unless you come with me”
“Me?” Annest asked in disbelief
“Of course you” he replied matter-of-factly
“Yes really” he confirmed
“I’ve only ever lived in Purplemere” she said softly
“Where will I work?”
“We can start looking tomorrow” he said “there will probably be something at Topliss”
“Is that where you’ll be working?”
“Yes” he replied “So what do you think?”
“I think “New Year New Start”” she said and kissed him
“You do realize that until my divorce comes through we shall have to live in sin”
“And where exactly will sin be located?” she asked
“Well our particular den of sinfulness will be 21 Military Row, in Mornington village”

(Part 07)

Geoff had left Annest laying smugly beneath the covers in his bedroom.
In order that she could redress alone because he knew she was shy and modest, he liked that about her, amongst other things.
So he was already down stairs when she walked down the staircase managing to make her five foot nothing stature appear twice the height due to her self-satisfaction with the evening’s events.

You said “until my divorce comes through”” Annest said
“Yes I did say that” he agreed
“So what happens after your divorce then?” she asked as she put her coat on
“Well isn’t it obvious?” he asked
And Annest just shook her head in response
“You really don’t know?”
“No” she replied
“Well you’ll have to marry me of course” Geoff stated matter-of-factly
“Don’t get all coy” he said with false pomposity, “I have my reputation to protect”
“You and me?” she asked
“Unless you have someone else in mind for me”
“No, no one” she said with a quizzical look on her face
“That’s alright then”
“You want to marry me?” Annest asked
“That was the general idea” he said “I’m sorry it can’t be a church wedding but with me being a recent divorcee”
“You really want to marry me” she repeated though not a question this time.
“Of course I do, haven’t you been paying attention?”
He stopped and smiled at her and said “Well?”
“Well I think you have been rather presumptuous” she said haughtily
“Fare enough there was a girl at Tesco’s I rather liked the look of” he said and made towards the door
“Don’t you dare” she said and blocked his path
“So what’s your answer?”
“You haven’t asked a question yet” she said
“Oh it’s like that is it?”
“If you think I’m worth it you should do things properly”
“I won’t bother then” he said and she slapped him on the chest
“Ow” he said “You bully”
“You know what to do” she said and brandished her fist at him
“And they say romance is dead” he said and dropped to one knee and took hold of her hand
“Annest Anderton will you ma…?”
“Yes” she shouted and grappled him around the neck
They were still locked in an embrace when the front door opened and Thelma stepped inside.
“Ah, I see it all went well then” she said
“Yes” they chorused

As they were moving into a rented house in Mornington there were no time pressures to sell their properties, Thelma was still going to live at Starlings in the short term, until she decided what was best for her and Annest decided to let out her flat, her thinking was that the rent form the flat would at least give her some income in case it took her a while to find work in Mornington, she had no idea how many job opportunities there would be in a village.
The other thing was that she had only ever lived in Purplemere so the thought of severing every connection with the place worried her, if only in the slightest.
Though she harbored no worries in regard to Geoff she was as sure of him as it was possible to be.
She had thought for a while she might keep her job at St John’s church.
But in the end she decided that driving to and from work every day would eat into the time she would otherwise spend with Geoff.
As it turned out she needn’t have worried on either score.
The village of Mornington was thriving under the stewardship of the St George family and the reacquisition of the previously compulsory purchase land and the infrastructure of the old military airfield had brought new opportunities.

Their new life officially began not in the New Year but on December the 16th when they moved into 21 Military Row, a house they would occupy for the rest of their lives.

On January the 5th Geoff began work at Topliss Engineering and 3 weeks later Annest became the Administration Manager.
Annest’s life had finally began in earnest she had a lovely home that she shared with the man she loved, a job that played to all of her strengths and fulfilled her.
However Annest never wavered from her taste for woolly tights and sensible shoes but she never again concentrated her haze on them.
She also had that thing which had always eluded her, she had an abundance of friends.

Geoff and Annest were married in Purplemere registry office on December 16th exactly one year after they first moved in together and among the many well-wishers present was Thelma and the new man in her life.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Tales of Love # 20


If I had only known
It would be the last time
I'd see you fall asleep
I would have stayed
A little longer and
Lingered at your bedside
Holding your hand
As you slipped
Silently away
To be at peace


As streaks of gold appear in the western sky
I look into her hypnotic green eyes and sigh
With her in my arms and romance in my heart,
As the sunset glowed, I vowed we’d never part


The slightest twinkle
Was evident
In her shining eyes
The hint of a smile
Played about her lips
And her mouth
Went up at the corners
Almost unperceptively
Her whole countenance
Held in that moment
On the brink
And as the words
Left my lips
The status quo
Was swept away
As the delight
Spread across her face
And my question
Was answered
In the affirmative


Who’s story of love
Is written in the stars
Is it the Greeks of old?
Or could it be ours?


Her father drank black bitter coffee
Her mother sipped earl grey tea
As I stood before her parents
I was full of fear and anxiety

It was a very daunting experience
And it was not at all as I planned
I was there for a noble purpose
To ask for their daughters hand

As the object of my attentions
Sat demurely drinking her juice
Her father started choking
And mother turned strangely puce

We left the house hand in hand
Running head long from the pair
They had both forbad consent
But the lovers really didn’t care

So they went to the Savoy Hotel
And ordered chilled Chardonnay
which came in crystal goblets
Carried on a large silver tray

They sat in luxury surroundings
Until the bottle was empty
And their hearts were full of love
And their future was full of plenty


If I had only known
It would be the last time
I would see you
Walk out the door
I would have
Called you back
And hugged and kissed
You even more


My strawberry blonde
Always topped my list
With Alabaster skin,
Apple blossom kissed
Smooth and silken soft
Just as I had wished
But that was long ago
Now she is sadly missed


We have lived our lives together
And we have reached our Novembers
The once burning fires of our lives
Have been reduced to meagre embers
And yet we can still look forward
To us both sharing our Decembers


I miss you all the time
You were my shining sun
And there is an emptiness
But when all said and done
There’s nothing lonelier
Than dinner for one


The sun and moon
Where once in love
But the sun burned hot
With want and desire
While the moon
Was cool and aloof
So they were destined
To be Star-crossed
For all eternity


If I had only known
It would be the last time
That I would ever see you
I would have stayed
A moment longer
And lingered at your bedside
As I said goodbye
And told you once again
How much I loved you


Mesmerising charms
Led me to her arms
A loving place
So why should I run?

Love in my heart
I want to share
But I hold back
And I want to run

Fear is the key,
A deep fear in me
Of being hurt
So I want to run

I need the key
To unlock the chains
That bind my heart
So I won’t run


I look back fondly
To those early days
When we would sit together
On the winter evenings
Beside the roaring fire
And we would sit and talk
Laughing and chatting
In the orange glow
Late into the evening
Until the embers cooled


The grass is always greener
And the senses were keener
So I committed a misdemeanour

And when away she flew
To her green pastures new
My foolish heart was torn in two

Gone Are Those Joyful Days

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

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

Gone are those joyful days
When we walked along the shore line
Sunlight glinting on the water
The sea breeze blowing through our hair
Happy and carefree, hand in hand
Everything 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 brimmed over with love for you
Before it was broken in two
And you were still here with us

Gone are the joyful days
Since you have gone ahead of me
Now God has you by his side
And I will miss you deeply 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

Mornington-By-Mere – (10) Single Mum WLTM

(Part 01)

The Olsen family were originally from Abbeyvale but Lorraine’s older sister Hannah moved to Abbottsford after she had married Mick Hill.
Mick however deserted his wife and family after the birth of their second child leaving huge debts behind him including 6 six months of mortgage arrears.
As a result Hannah lost her home and she and her children ended up living in a two bedroom flat in a dingy part of town.
However what was once dingy and undesirable was, after five years, suddenly up and coming, and so her landlord decided to sell out to a developer.
She didn’t know what she was going to do, the council would rehouse her but it would be to another shitty corner of town.
She couldn’t move back home with her mum, Irene because her and her sister Lorraine were banned from any kind of contact with their mum by their abusive stepfather Graham.
And her sister Lorraine lived in a room above the restaurant at the Old Mill Inn in Mornington.

What Hannah was unaware of was however that the Mornington Estate had exercised its option to purchase Mornington Field back from the MOD and along with it the estate also acquired all the buildings and infrastructure on the airfield itself as well as 29 houses in the village formally used as quarters for military personnel.
And furthermore her sister had applied for one, however when Lorraine went to Lyndon-Sanders Properties in Shallowfield she was told that she might not be successful, being a single woman and the new housing stock all being 3 and 4 bedroom homes.
It just so happened though that Hannah’s eviction notification came within a few days of her sisters meeting with a property agent about a house in Mornington and with her sister about to be made homeless it meant Lorraine could make a new application for them all and this time they qualified for a 4 bedroom house.

Lorraine got word from the agents that she was being given the tenancy of number 6 The Close on Friday September 26th, and the first thing she did was ring Hannah.
It wasn’t the best timing in the world as she was catering the Topliss wedding breakfast and the reception the next day so she was rushed off her feet.
Which meant they couldn’t move in until the following weekend but even when the following weekend arrived Lorraine couldn’t take any time off because the restaurant still hadn’t replaced Francois the chef.
Not that the move required a lot of efforts as between them they had little or no furniture and number 6 the Close was unfurnished.

However help with that came from an unusual quarter in the shape of Gabriel St George, the Lord of the Manor, and general philanthropist and all round good egg who on the day of the move just happened to be having lunch at the Old Mill Inn with his girlfriend Chantel.

When he heard that they would all be sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags he called his old friend Jonathon Springthorpe.
He was a resident of the village himself at The Old Forge.
Gabriel decided to phone Jon who was one of the Springthorpe’s at O’Sullivan and Springthorpe Auctioneers in Shallowfield.

(Part 02)

Apart from their normal business as one of the premier auctioneers in Downshire, O’Sullivan and Springthorpe were also required rather more often than they would have liked to do house clearances.
On many occasions they would turn up a few choice pieces to at least cover the cost of the clearance but that still meant there was a lot of serviceable items that weren’t worth auctioning but still had value which eventually found their way into one of their many second hand shops across the county.
However most of it spent a prolonged period in storage first.
Gabriel managed to secure a van load of furniture and arranged for its delivery to The Close that afternoon it was a tall order to get it done that quickly but people tended to pull out all the stops for Gabriel, not because he was the Baron of Mornington but because if he had asked for it to be done it was important that it was.

He always tried to help people when he could he was very lucky to have the life he had and he tried every day to remind himself of that fact but some people didn’t like charity so he played out a bit of a charade with Lorraine when he put his head around the kitchen door and spoke to her.
Gabriel St George put his head around the kitchen door and spoke to Lorraine
“Lorraine I must apologize” he said “the furniture should have been delivered yesterday”
“What furniture?”
“Well you’re renting number 6 the Close” he said
“Which is supposed to be furnished”
“Is it?” Lorraine asked
“Yes” he said “and it will be delivered this afternoon between 3 and 4”
After he had convinced Lorraine that it was a clerical error that it didn’t mention “furnished” in her tenancy agreement he and Chantel went back to the Manor to tell the family that they were engaged, his proposal happening during the conversation with Jonathon.

Hannah had been working hard all day driving back and forth from Abbeyvale with the family’s meagre possessions, the final trip she had the boys in the car as well, who she was able to leave with a neighbor while she did the bulk of the move.
She could have really done with Lorraine’s help but she appreciated she had to work and hers would be the only wage.
It was Lorraine’s day off on Monday but Hannah had to vacate the flat by Saturday midnight so it was unavoidable.

Lorraine hadn’t been fooled for a moment by Gabriel St George’s performance regarding the clerical error in the tenancy agreement but she was very grateful to him so she played along.
Almost the moment the kitchen door closed she was on the phone to Hannah.

Hannah and the boys had only been in the house for ten minutes and they had only that minute established who was having what room and hadn’t even begun to put the boxes in the appropriate rooms when the phone rang.
“Han you will not believe what’s just happened?” Lorraine said excitedly.

(Part 03)

At ten past three the boys came running down the stairs in a state of great excitement.
“Mum, mum the lorry is here” Nick said because his brother Joe was too excited to say anything his mouth kept opening but nothing came out.

Hannah went outside and the four guys in O & S Auctioneer’s overalls were opening the back up.
“What have you got for us then?” she asked
“Everything” the older of the men replied
“What?” she said
“It’s all for you love” he said
“All of it?”
“Yes” he replied “So just tell us where you want it”
“In the lounge I suppose”
“We have express instruction to put every item in situ” One of the younger men said
“So you direct and we’ll deliver”

It wasn’t until 4.30 in the afternoon that Lorraine managed to slip off her whites and hang them up.
Once she had, she took the green bandana from her head and let her carrot coloured hair cascade onto her shoulders before she went over to the house.

When she arrived the shutter was just being pulled down on the O’Sullivan and Springthorpes truck and she could see Hannah stood on the doorstep.
It was obvious from a thousand yards that they were kin, both of them possessed of freckled cheeks and open smiling faces and the flaming red hair.
The only difference between them was that of stature, Lorraine was tall and slim while Hannah was shorter with a fuller figure but then she had given birth to two children, 7 year old Nick and Joe who was 5, and they too had the carrot coloured hair.
As she got closer Hannah ran to meet her she said
“You should see what they sent us Loz”
“Well show me then” she replied and Hannah and the excited boys took her from room to room showing her the new furniture.

Lorraine had to go back to work but with Hannah’s hard work they soon settled in to The Close and the children were enrolled at the school.
Hannah had to do all the work at the house as her sister was still bearing all of the burden at the Old Mill Inn as she was running the kitchen virtually on her own from prep to clean down, and as a result she was completely frazzled, and noticeably so.
This went on until Halloween when there was suddenly a change of fortune when Helen Andrew offered Lorraine the Chefs job and employed two local girls trainee to help her.

It turned out that the girls lived in The Close, either side of Lorraine and Hannah, Tegan Crockford was at number 5 and Cally Wilson at number 7.
Cally was the older of the two by about two weeks and she was significantly larger, not fat but very definitely cast from a bigger mold.
She stood six feet tall with short curly auburn hair, and a very large bust.
Tegan on the other hand was a foot shorter and at least six stones lighter.
She was small with delicate features and bobbed strawberry blonde hair.
And was small enough to shelter beneath the bust of her friend if it rained.
However the anomaly with the pair wasn’t their physical appearance it was their personalities.
The giant Cally was quiet and reserved while tiny Tegan was feisty and forthright.
When the two newbies started work it was amazing as almost immediately the three of them gelled and worked extremely well together and with having the extra pairs of hands to do the prep it meant Lorraine could try out new dishes to add to the menu and from day one Lorraine was visibly more relaxed as the two trainees proved to be every bit as good as expected and as a result of that Hannah and the boys got to see more of her.

(Part 04)

Hannah had worked hard keeping the home fires burning and stopping Nick and Joe going off into orbit as they fast approached Christmas and Lorraine was looking forward to having four days off, the first proper break she’d had since Easter.
The restaurant would close on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and would not reopen fully until the following Tuesday.

When Lorraine got home on Christmas Eve she was in an extremely good mood, which Hannah mistakenly put down to excitement about Christmas but then she was totally unaware that Lorraine had spent the last half an hour of her work day snogging Tegan.
So as she had been kissing in the kitchen she was a little later getting home, so she wasted no time in packing the car because she, Hannah and the children were off to Abbeyvale to spend Christmas with their mum, Irene.
It was the first time in four years they would all be together.
Lorraine and Hannah had been prevented by their abusive stepfather from contacting her.
But Irene had finally had enough after 9 years of being used as a punch bag and hit him in the face with an iron and broke his jaw.
The sisters were so looking forward to spending time with their mum, and having a family Christmas all under one roof, but most of all Hannah was looking forward to her children getting to know their granny.
However what Lorraine was looking forward to more than anything was no cooking but what she wasn’t happy about was that she was missing the strawberry haired slip of mischief Tegan already.
One thing that Hannah was worried about, in fact she was dreading it, was her mum asking her and the kids to move in with her.
She loved living in Mornington, she loved the village, the people, the house, the kids loved their school they had made loads of friends, she loved everything about it, well almost everything, and she wasn’t prepared to give it up without a fight.
The only thing that wasn’t perfect was that she was “lonely”, but she planned to take steps to rectify that situation in the New Year.

After Christmas Dinner Irene and her daughter were in the kitchen clearing away while Nick and Joe were playing with their toys in the lounge.
“That was the best Christmas dinner I’ve had for years” Lorraine said “I can’t wait until next year”
“Well I was meaning to speak to you about that” Irene said and Hannah thought
“Here we go”
“Why what’s the matter?” Lorraine asked with concern
“You’re not going to let that bastard Graham get his foot in the door”
“Good God no” Irene said “I never want to see him again”
“Then what?” Hannah asked with dread in her heart
“I’m selling up” she replied
“Oh God I knew it” Hannah thought
“Selling up?” Lorraine said
“I know it’s the family home but it too big for me now” she explained
“I think it’s a great idea, isn’t it Han?”
“Yes, great” she replied somewhat unconvincing
“But where will you live” Loz asked
“I’ll come and live with you two in Mornington” Hannah said in her head
“I’ve got a little bungalow in the Oak Dale Retirement village over in Dulcets Green” she replied
“And I’ll only be 15 minutes away so I’ll be able to see more of you both and I can come and babysit”
“That’s fantastic” Hannah said “the boys will love that”
“They get to have Granny in their lives and we get our mum back” Lorraine said and then they all hugged and shed a tear or two.

(Part 05)

They stayed at their mum’s in Abbeyvale until the last possible moment and savoured every second of the best Christmas they had had for 5 years.
When they got back home it was late on Sunday evening and while Hannah got the boys upstairs into the bath Lorraine unloaded the car.

With the children in bed and themselves fed Hannah announced she was going to have a long hot soak in the bath and then go to bed herself.
Lorraine looked at the clock and knew what she was going to do, she had already seen the tall busty frame of Cally Wilson pass by the window so she knew Tegan would be about half an hour behind her, as they were only doing bar snacks, so just as Hannah was slipping into the foamy waters of the bath tub, Lorraine slipped out the front door and down the alley that led from The Close to The Street and waited in the shadows.

Hannah didn’t even know that Lorraine had gone out she was still reflecting on the lovely time they’d spent with their mum and was thinking about how to solve her other problem.

Lorraine had stood in the shadows for about 10 minutes and was beginning to wonder if it was such a good idea when she saw her quarry cross the road.
As the diminutive figure of Tegan got to within ten yards Lorraine could wait no longer and stepped out into the light.
At first she was startled but then she recognized her assailant and a huge smile lit up her face.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight” she said
“I thought I’d surprise you” Lorraine said
“Couldn’t wait to see me more like” Tegan said cockily
“I didn’t say that” she said and felt herself blushing
“You missed me though didn’t you?”
“What do you think?” Lorraine replied and took hold of her by her lapels and pulled her into the shadows and kissed her.
When their mouths separated Tegan Said
“I really missed you too”

Lorraine returned unnoticed to the house before Hannah even knew she’s gone, just as she stepped out of the bath, and as she lay in her bed she looked forward to seeing Tegan again the next day.

As Hannah lay in the bath she came to a decision in regard to her problem and was so determined to solve it that she made it her New Year’s resolution.

It was a few days after the New Year that Lorraine arrived home to find Hannah surrounded by an assortment of local papers.
“What are you up to?” she asked as she tried to see what her sister was reading but Hannah pulled it towards her chest so Loz couldn’t read it and this action served only to make Lorraine even more curious.
“Why so secretive? What are you hiding?” Lorraine asked as she tried to wrestle the paper from her sister’s hands until Hannah snapped, and shouted
“Leave it alone”
“Ok, I was only messing about” Lorraine said and went upstairs.

(Part 06)

“I’m sorry Loz” Hannah said immediately Lorraine returned
“That’s ok” she said “is everything ok?”
“Yes” she replied “it’s just…”
“Just what?” Lorraine asked “Aren’t you happy here?”
“Are you kidding? I love it here, I love living with you, I love the house and the village, so do the kids and they’ve made loads of friends and even I’ve made a few”
“But I’m lonely for “company”” she emphasized
“Well now the girls are up to speed in the kitchen I could maybe take a bit of time off”
“It’s not that kind of “Company” I’m looking for” she said and Lorraine just looked puzzled
“Company” she repeated
Still Lorraine looked at her with confusion on her face
““Male” company” she said
“Oh I see”
“I know you’re not interested in men, love and romance or even a bit of lust for that matter” Hannah said
“But I really am”
Lorraine agreed with the men part in her statement but she could have pointed out that she was getting plenty of love, romance and lust next door with Tegan but she didn’t think it would help the situation and besides it was really exciting to have a secret lover.
“So what’s with the papers?” Lorraine asked
“Lonely hearts” she replied quietly
“What?” Loz said
“Lonely hearts” Hannah replied
“Really?” Lorraine replied and picked up one of the papers and started reading.
It was the Shallowfield and Childean Chronicle, which seemed fairly typical of its type, but Lorraine found the personals quite engrossing.
She had to figure out the shorthand which took a few minutes,
But once she knew the code she could decipher the ads, for example, WLTM was would like to meet, NS was nonsmoker, LTR was long term relationship, and GSOH was good sense of humour.
They weren’t all as easy to work out however,
“What does this one mean?” Lorraine asked “OHAC”
“I don’t know” she replied “it sounds a bit exotic”
“Google it” Loz suggested and Hannah duly obliged
“Oh how disappointing” Hannah said “It means “own house and car”
They then sat down together and read the ads together.
“I have been pouring over these all afternoon” Hannah said “But no luck”
“Are you sure this is the answer?” asked Loz
“I don’t know” she replied “but what else do lonely people do”
“There must be another way to meet a man” Loz said
“All I ever do is meet other mums” Hannah said
“There is one Dad that I see outside the school every day but he’s more of a woman than I am”
“Oh dear” Loz responded “and there’s no one else?”
“There was a man outside the after school club last week who smiled at me” she replied “but he could have been a serial killer”
The two sisters laughed at the prospect and then Lorraine suggested.
“What you need to do is put your own ad in”
“Me?” she replied
“Why not?”
“Ok then” she said resolutely
Lorraine and Hannah spent the next half an hour composing an ad for the lonely hearts column.
And what they came up with was,
“Pretty 30 something Divorcee, Mother of two,
Red hair, Hazel Eyes, medium build,
Who Loves going out and enjoys nights in,
WLTM fun, honest man / single Dad
With GSOH to fall head over heels in love with and who will mend my broken heart”
She thought the broken heart line was pushing a point somewhat because her heart was broken five years earlier and was well mended.

(Part 07)

Hannah was going to phone her ad through the next day but she was chatting to some of the other mums outside the school and she heard about a part time job in the village and it completely went out of her head.

After looking at the local map, the new Bakery manager, Nathan Addison had realized that although Mornington was a relatively small village there were very many farms and hamlets dotted around the Vale as well as a number of small villages full of people who had to buy their bread somewhere, so along with the brewery, the butchers, the farm shop and the general store he set up a free twice weekly deliver service to customers who placed regular orders.
For the first few months the shops took turns to supply a driver but as the business had grown they decided to employ someone on an adhoc basis to make the deliveries for them in the van provided by the Mornington estate.

Hannah went straight from the school down to Addison’s to register her interest in the driving job, but instead of picking up an application form she found herself being led up the staircase to the little office and after filling in a modified Addison’s Bakery application form she was given an interview.

After half an hour of a fairly informal interview Nathan said
“I will need to take a copy of your driving license for the insurance”
“Oh I don’t have the paper part on me” she said rummaging in her bag “but I have the ID bit”
“Well if you pop back with the other part either today or tomorrow, we can get things moving” he said “and providing you don’t have 12 points on your license the job is yours, can you start next Monday?”
“Really?” she said “next Monday?”
“Yes is that ok?”

When she told Lorraine later that day that she had a part time job working Mondays and Thursdays, she was over the moon firstly because Hannah was so happy about it and secondly because it meant she would have the house to herself on her day off so she could entertain her girlfriend Tegan.
The kids were very happy about it as well as it meant they could go into the after school club with their new best friends.

On her first day she did the round with Nathan so he could show her the ropes and he was very methodical and a bit long winded so subsequently she was almost late picking the children up from club.
They were standing by the door with another couple of children Karen and Sam Moore and a man who turned out to be their father.
He was a slim balding man and what hair hadn’t already fallen out was going grey.
He smiled at her but she didn’t return it she had had a long day and she was in no mood to exchange smiles with a married man.

(Part 08)

Tim Moore was 33 years old and had worked at the Mornington brewery since he left school and he had made the walk from number 3, Windmill Cottages to the brewery every morning for 17 years, with his father for the first five of those and on his own since his premature death aged 54.

He didn’t know it at the time but that early loss was to set the benchmark in his life, as his mother suffered a massive heart attack and died only six months after he lost his wife to breast cancer leaving him with two children under 3.
But despite the hand he had been dealt he never complained he just got on with life and he thanked God every day for his Children.
Karen was 7 going on 17 and Samuel was an energetic 5.
But that was all he had was his work and his family.

On Thursday, Hannah had Ruby Legg riding shotgun for her, she was in her mid-twenties and a bit more lively than Nathan, she gave her all the gossip about people on the delivery round as well as in the village and she clued Hannah in on one or two short cuts and so as a result she was home in time to enjoy an hour of peace and quiet before she needed to pick up the kids.

As she walked up to the school she was feeling a little guilty because she had found out from Ruby that Mr. Moore, the married man who had smiled at her the other day was in fact a widower.
“If he smiles today I’ll smile back” she said to herself.
As it turned out he wasn’t there and the children were picked up by Mrs. Kincade-Smith, a middle aged woman who lived next door to the Moore’s.

The best part of two weeks had passed when as she was driving back to Mornington she remembered that she hadn’t placed her lonely hearts ad.
So the next morning after she had dropped the children at school she called The Shallowfield and Childean Chronicle and placed her ad which would also go in the Chronicles Sister Papers, the Downshire Journal, and the Finchbottom Flyer.
She had initially put it in for the following two weeks but she figured that being in three papers for two weeks if she didn’t get a nibble she never would.

It was three weeks later when Tim was sitting in the doctor’s surgery with Karen who had a bad cold which was aggravating her asthma.
She was happily playing games on Tim’s phone so he was reading a two week old copy of the Finchbottom Flyer.
It didn’t take long to consume most of its contents, the flyer was not a weighty tome, and then he found himself reading the lonely hearts column which always made him chuckle.
Sue: was looking for no strings fun.
Anna: WLTM a man of any age and at any location.
Maria: was broadminded.
Sam: was looking for a discreet man for casual meetings and
Jane: was interested in Adult fun.
Quite a lot of them liked to dress up but it wasn’t patently clear what that meant.
He wasn’t sure if they meant they liked to wear posh frocks, sexy underwear or a suit of armour.
He thought if he were looking for someone they were the ones to give a wide berth to, although he hadn’t read them because he intended to contact anyone he was just passing the time.
Not that he wouldn’t like to meet someone but he wasn’t sure that the personal ads was the way to go about it, not for a proper relationship anyway.
That was until he read:
“Pretty 30 something Divorcee, Mother of two,
Red hair, Hazel Eyes, medium build,
Who Loves going out and enjoys nights in,
WLTM fun, honest man / single Dad
With GSOH to fall head over heels in love with and who will mend my broken heart”
“I like the sound of you” he said to himself, he liked a red head.
There was a nice one he had seen outside the school, she was pretty when she didn’t have a “back of the chip shop queue face” on her.
Anyway he took out his pen and wrote down the details in case he wanted to pick up the phone later.

(Part 09)

Hannah had barely noticed the fact that she had received no feedback from her ad, as she had been really busy, between her delivery job and running over to Abbeyvale every spare minute to help her mum pack up the house, as she was moving to Dulcets Green over the Easter weekend.
So Valentine’s Day came and went and so did the rest of February, then March came and went and as the remainder of March ebbed away Easter came and went.

Two days after Tim had taken Karen to see the doctor she had a very severe asthma attack and had to spend a week in hospital.
Even when she had been discharged from hospital she suffered a number of minor attacks until they finally got her medication sorted so Tim was on tender hooks right through March and it wasn’t until Easter he finally felt he could relax.
It was during the Easter weekend when he was catching up with things that he found the note he had written in the Doctors surgery.
He read, smiled to himself and screwed it up into a ball and tossed it into the bin.
Five minutes later he retrieved the ball of paper unscrewed it and phoned the paper.
Obviously with it being the holiday weekend he only got the answerphone so he left his details.

With her mother safely moved into the Oak Dale retirement village, the week after Easter brought a little bit of peace and quiet and it also brought an email completely out of the blue.
The email took her completely by surprise as it was in response to her entry in the personal ads which had been so long in coming.
Hannah had long since written off the whole lonely heart thing as a folly, a foolish flirtation, the stuff of schoolgirl dreams.
But now she had a reply the one and only response.
In the email a meeting is brokered and several dates and locations are suggested, The Huntsman’s Lodge in Childean, The Woodcutters Arms in Shallowfield, the Red Lion in Pangmere or the Old Mill Inn in Mornington.
Ideally she would have preferred to have met in Childean, it being the furthest away in a town where she knew no one.
But as it was her first date for more years than she cared to remember she thought that several glasses of wine would be required so that ruled out any location she had to drive to, so she chose the Old Mill Inn because she could walk there in five minutes or get home in a similar time if required.

Tim Moore was also thankful he had only a short journey that evening because he had been required to work late at the brewery.
He would also have preferred to meet in Childean, away from prying eyes.
Siobhan Chapman, from two doors away at number one, was babysitting and was getting the children ready for bed.
So when he got back home from work that night he could quickly get showered and changed.

(Part 10)

At Hannah’s house she was having to get the children ready for bed as well as getting herself ready for her date as her babysitter, Tegan’s younger sister Victoria, wasn’t expected until 7.45.

They had made a date to have a drink at The Old Mill Inn at 8 o’clock and Tim was in the pub with ten minutes to spare.
He sat down at the bar and ordered a pint of Mornington Ale, and he was sitting on a bar stool and was halfway down his pint when his date appeared and as soon as their eyes met their hearts sank as the recognition spread across their faces.
Hannah remembered him from outside the school and how she thought he was a philanderer and he remembered the look on her face that could have stripped paint.
“Oh it’s you” Hannah said “From the school”
“Yes I’m Tim” he replied “Can I get you a drink?
She sat on the stool next to his and replied
“A large white wine please” she said to John Andrew behind the bar.
“I’m Hannah” she said
It was a nervous start to the evening as neither of them was what the other was hoping for.
But Tim kept remembering the wording of the ad and thought that the unknown person in print was worth him taking a risk, so why shouldn’t he give the flesh and blood woman behind the words a chance.
Hannah softened as well because she had found out from Ruby Legg that her initial impression of him was false so she thought she should soften her view of him, if only for the following couple of hours.

Where they were sitting they were in direct line of sight of the kitchen door and Hannah soon became aware of Lorraine’s face peering periodically through the round glass window.
“Shall we go and sit somewhere more comfortable?” she suggested
“Good idea” he said “I’ll just get us another drink”

Hannah chose a seat in a quiet corner well away from Lorraine’s prying eyes and they spent the next hour talking about their children, who had fortunately become friends.
As the alcohol began to take effect they relaxed and began to talk about life before family and after a further hour and a couple more drinks the conversation became more random.
“Ok” she said halfway down her fourth glass of wine “let’s talk about guilty secrets”
“That sounds dangerous” he said
“Who would be your secret fantasy lover?”
“Jessica Rabbit” he said instantly
“That was quick” Hannah said “are you sure?”
“Yes” he confirmed “Jessica Rabbit”
“Oh I’ll have to have a look at her” she said “as she googled Jessica Rabbitt on her phone”
Then after a couple of minutes she said
“She’s a cartoon”
“Well obviously she’s not a real Rabbit” he said defensively “I’m not a complete weirdo”
There was a split second of silence and then they both roared with laughter.

As Tim walked her home she put her arm through his almost subconsciously
“I’ve had a lovely evening” she said as they stepped into the close
“Me too” he agreed
“Perhaps we could go further afield next time” she suggested
“Would you like there to be a next time?”
“Yes I would” she said
“Why don’t you?”
“I would like it very much” he replied and kissed her cheek.