Monday, 27 February 2017

Christmas 2016 # 1


Where is your Christmas Spirit?
Tell me are you feeling it yet?
Why are you looking over there?
It’s not in your liquor cabinet


I remember the time
I stopped believing in Santa Claus
And getting pants and socks
In my stocking was the cause


Families are an absolute nightmare
I wouldn’t visit mine on a dare
Santa Claus has the right idea
Visiting people only once a year


I always enjoy the office Christmas parties
It’s my favourite part of the holiday
What I don’t like about the Christmas parties
Is looking for a new job the next day


Christmas has been cancelled!
Let me make it perfectly clear
Santa died laughing when I told him
I’d been a good boy this year!


Remember, Christmas isn't about
How big the tree is, or what's under it
Or the Christmas lights and decorations
It's about the people who are around it


In the run up to Christmas be especially
Kind and caring to those around you
Because in the office Secret Santa
You don’t know who will be buying for you


One of the paradoxes of family life
Is that kids will never admit to parents
That they don’t believe in Santa Claus
While every Christmas they get presents


For women the holiday shopping season
Starts on all hallows Eve
For men the holiday shopping season
Starts on Christmas Eve


A little boy wrote to Santa Clause
“Please send me a brother”
Santa Clause wrote him back,
“Ok, send me your mother”


That's political correctness that is
In one of its insidious ways
That’s stops us saying merry Christmas
And makes us say happy holidays


When you open the windows
Throughout the festive season
On Microsoft’s advent calendar
They suddenly close for no reason


I got an inappropriate present
From my grandparents you know
Ordinarily a Slinky is a great gift
But not if you live in a bungalow

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Christmas 2015 # 1


Are you wearing a festive sweater?
Well this season just keeps on getting better
And you really don’t need a bigger size
A more perfect fit would be hard to devise


Bad Santa is a bit of a perve
For the girls with a bit of curve
And he think that the naughty list
Is really more like his to-do list


You can now buy a UKIP
Advent calendar
I’ve never seen one before
There are no Christmas messages
It just says Fuck off
Behind every door


When you’re on the pull
If you want to break the ice
Say something funny
Or say something nice
Be complimentary
Or just lie in your endeavour
Be devastatingly witty
Or say something clever
During the Christmas season
Walk up to them and say
“They call me Jingle Bells
Because I go all the way”


Last Christmas, I gave you a scarf
But the very next week
You said “it was so last year”
Bloody cheek


Are you wearing Silver tinsel?
Tied amidst your lustrous curls
It makes you look so beautiful
And more like an angel than a girl


When Christmas Day was over
Mrs Claus needed a release
It was a very stressful time
Spreading good will and peace
So as soon as Santa was rested
She always liked to have a bit
And more often than not
They’d go and do it in the sleigh


You can keep the sleigh
And Rudolph and Prancer
There’s nothing Santa likes
More than a Lap Dancer


Frosty, Windy, Cloudy and Squally,
Misty, Rainbow and Precipitous Hail
Are the met office seven dwarfs
And let’s not forget Princess Gale


The Claus’s lay in their bed
And Santa was heard to say
My lap isn't the only place
Where wishes come true

Friday, 24 February 2017

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (65) The Gentle Giant and the Christmas Maid

(Part 01)

Aaron Keller was a great bear of a man, standing 6’ 6” tall, barrell chested with hands like shovels.
But he was brought to his knees by a skinny Little waif standind 4’ 11” by the name of Toni Kendall.
They were both in their mid twenties, both had flaming red hair but he was a gentle giant who barely spoke and she was a little livewire who never shut up.
The other thing that they had in common was more significant and that was the fact that they were in love, though neither of them knew that they were the recipient of that love.
Aaron couldn’t imagine that a beautiful little thing like Toni could ever be interested in him, and she thought he was probably looking for someone as quiet as him.
They both worked at Maxlin’s Holiday Camp in Sharpinghead, she was a chalet maid and he was a general handyman.
Aaron lived in Sharpinghead but Toni was from Finchbottom and as the summer season was coming to an end she was running out of time, if nothing happened between them they would go their separate ways and they would be unlikely to see each other again, but if she got her way, and got her man, she would stay on.
She had been following him around the camp for the whole summer in the hope that he would take her in his arms, but no matter how much she flirted with him the result was the same and she cursed his shyness.

Toni finally got her man when they were on what was known as mothball duties, closing down those chalet that would not be needed during the winter season, which meant a major clean and then all the furniture was sheeted.
Because she was so tiny she managed to enlist the help of the gentle giant with moving the furniture, though she was more than capable of doing it herself, because she was much stronger than she looked, she just used it as an excuse to get close to him.
But despite her managing to get Aaron to help her, it didn’t really help her in the way she wanted because she was such a chatterbox, so even if he could have found the words he wanted to use he would have struggled to get a word in edgeways.

However every thing came good in the end when They were on their fifth chalet and all was not going well for Toni as she was hoping he might have made a move on her by that stage, afterall they were alone and had been in very close proximity on many occasions.
She was also annoyed at her self because although she was a confident sparky girl she hadnt just come out with it and ask him out.
What Toni wanted though was for him to ask her but nothing happened so she decided that she had to make him get physical.
Toni started by undoing the braces on his overall as he picked things up and when he reatached that one she undid the other and so on and so fourth until he took action.

However she didn’t know when she started messing around quite how physical he would get.
But she wasn’t complaining when the gentle giant had her draped over his shoulder and he was playfully smaking her knicker clad buttocks while he watched the reflexion of his handywork in the mirror.

(Part 02)

Toni didn’t know when she started messing around with Aaron quite how physical he would get.
But she wasn’t complaining when the gentle giant had her draped over his shoulder and he was playfully smaking her knicker clad buttocks while he watched the reflexion of his handywork in the mirror.
However he only gave her another two strokes before Toni called a halt to proceedings.
“Put me down” she screamed “Put me down now”
“What’s wrong baby girl?” he said playfully “Have you had enough?”
“Just put me down” she insisted, and as he lowered her to the floor he cursed himself under his breath for going too far, but he couldn’t help it, he was really having fun.
“I’m sorry” he said when she was stood looking up at him “I went too far didn’t I?”
“Don’t be sorry” she snapped and pushed him backwards onto a chair “You haven’t gone far enough yet”
“Oh?” he responded as she inched towards him and when they were nose to nose she kissed him.

After that first time they couldn’t keep there hands off eachother and suffice is to say that she didn’t return home to Finchbottom and stayed on at Maxlin’s and the prospect of spending all winter kissing and canoodling kept them warm.
Though they didn’t have many opportunities for work time kissing and cuddling as they didn’t often work together but when they weren’t working they didn’t go out in the world much.
But halfway through the winter they got to work together again when they had to reopen some of the chalets they had mothballed earlier in the year in preparation of the Christmas season and that was when they told each other that they loved them.

It had been over a year since Toni and Aaron got together but they were as mad for each other as ever and their second Christmas together was on the horizon.
When November finally arrived Toni decided it was time to decorate for Christmas but no one could remember where the decorations were put after the previous year.
After two weeks of searching every nook and cranny they were finally spotted in the loft in the staff block by the head of housekeeping, Christine Evans.

In the staff accommodation village there were rows of chalets, similar in design to the guest accommodation but much smaller, and at the center was the staff block.
This contained offices, store rooms and a common room, with comfortable chairs, where staff can sit around and relax, drink coffee and watch TV or just sit around talking.

Christine Evans hadn’t actually seen the decorations herself as she had never been in the loft, and that was because she was scared, partly of the dark but mainly of cobwebs and spiders, but one of her staff had seen them.

(Part 03)

Toni and Christine were stood talking in the common room when Aaron walked through the door.
“Did you want to see me?” he said to Christine
“Yes, we’ve located the Christmas Decorations” she replied
“So come on big boy” Toni said cheekily “it’s time to get the Dec’s down from the loft”

The entrance to the loft, where the Decoration’s had been seen, was via a large hatch way in the common room ceiling.
Aaron reached up one of his great paws and pulled the catch and the hatch swung open and then he pulled down the loft ladder.
“Are you going up?” he asked Christine knowing the answer
“No fear” she said and shivered
“Go on then Danger Mouse” he said to Toni “You go first”

Without hesitation she was straight up the ladder and Aaron followed quickly behind her and enjoyed the view up her skirt of her jiggling buttocks as she wiggled up the ladder, he enjoyed the view above the top of her long socks.
She knew that he would and frankly would have been disappointed if he hadn’t.
He would have pinched her bum if Christine hadn’t been looking on.

Once they reached the top Toni switched the light on and started looking around but despite the light the corners were quite gloomy.
So Aaron switched on his torch which Toni immediately snatched from his hand.
It was quite a large space and was used as an additional storage area during the peak season and during the course of the year the boxes of Christmas decorations, which had been put up there after the previous year’s festivities, were gradually pushed further and further back from their starting point.
“There they are” she squealed excitedly and rushed to the far corner of the loft.
She then got down on her hands and knees and began pushing boxes in Aaron’s direction.
“Oh shit” she exclaimed
“What wrong luv?”
“The Angel has fallen out of the box” she said sadly “and it’s fallen down behind this thing”
The “Thing” she was referring to was the wooden “A” frame that held the roof up.
“There it is” she said as she shined the torch beam into the darkness.
It hadn’t fallen too far but it was difficult to get at because of all the boxes in the way.
“Can you reach it?” she asked you’ve got longer arms than me”
“A T-Rex has longer arms than you” he retorted and laughed but he clambered up however he couldn’t get close enough to the objective to bring his long reach into play.
“I can’t get close enough” he said as he crouched down “I’ll just have to move these boxes”
“That will take too long” she said impatiently
“I’ll just have to wriggle between the woody things, you can hold onto my legs so I don’t fall”
“Ok” he replied and she headed towards the biggest gap while Aaron moved some of the boxes to accommodate his huge feet.
The gap she went for was a little above Aaron’s waist height but it was higher for a skinny little waif of 4’ 11”.
He was helping her through the small opening between the roof supports and she wriggled and squirmed like a little ginger fish.

(Part 04)

He was helping her through the small opening between the roof supports and she wriggled and squirmed like a little ginger fish.
“How are you doing?” he asked
“I’ve almost got it” she replied “another couple of inches should do it”
“Ok” he said and manhandled her a bit further and in the process the hem of her skirt was pulled up towards her waist and he was so mesmerised by what came into view that he absentmindedly caressed her plump little buttock .
“What was that?” She asked
“Cobwebs” he lied
“Ok” she replied doubtfully but he didn’t pay attention his mind was on other things as he took something from his pocket.
“I’ve got it” she shouted triumphantly “pull me back”
So he began retrieving her small frame from the darkness and lowered her to the floor.
“See I’ve got it” she said holding the angel up proudly
“Well done, its very nice” he said “But I thought you’d be more interested in this little precious parcel”
“Whats that?”
“I don’t know but it has your name on it” he said
“Has it?” she exclaimed and thrust the angel into his chest and tried to snatch the little parcel from his great paw but as Aaron was such a great bear of a man, standing 6’ 6” tall and she was
a skinny little waif standind 4’ 11” he easily held the gift out of her reach.
“Gimmi, gimmi” she said “you meanie”
“Calling me names isnt going to work” he said
“You used to be a nice boy” Toni said “But now you’re just mean”
“Ok I’ll take it away then” Aaron said and walked towards the loft hatch
“No don’t take it away” she pleaded and hopped up and down
“Please, please, please”
“I dont think you deserve it”
“But I do” she said “I really do”
“oh ok then” he relented and gave her the little parcel which she tore into in seconds to reveal a ring box and she gasped
“Whats this?” she asked in a whisper
“Open it and see” he instructed and after a deep breath she opened the box to reveal a solitaire diamond engagement ring and she gasped again.
“Is this what i think it is?” she asked
“I don’t know” he said “What do you think it is?”
“Is it an…. Engagement ring?” she asked in a childlike voice
“Yes” he replied
“You want to marry me?” Toni asked
“Yes” Aaron said and she launched herself at him and wrapped her arms around his neck, almost breaking the angel in the process, and kissed him.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (60) Christmas Came Early

(Part 01)

Twenty eight year old Paul Ingram was involved with an older woman, a forty year old woman to be precise, who was a beautiful unhappily married, soon to be divorced Carrington Chase educated woman, called Francesca Carrington-Webber.
Paul and Francesca both lived in the village of Forest Dean situated equidistant between Shallowfield and Childean, she lived in a huge house that backed onto the The Forest Ridge Golf Club, and coincidentally Paul worked for the Golf Club.

They became involved after three chance meetings, two on a train and the third more significant one was on the Promenade in Sharpington, where he came upon her small huddled figure on the bench ahead of him in some distress and after some tender moments of consolation lead to them making love in his caravan.

Since that night they had had a non-physical relationship and on the rare occasions that they managed to get to spend some time together they always made the most of it, sometimes they had to create opportunities and sometimes they just happened and sometimes one of them managed to surprise the other but the biggest surprise came on the Halloween weekend when she arrived at his caravan dressed as a witch and announced that not only was she divorcing her husband David but that she was staying the night.

But after that, on the rare occasions that they managed to get to spend the night together they always made the most of it, but most of the time they just stole a few hours here and there.
However in December, for a variety of reasons, several weeks had passed and they hadn’t been able to grab even a few minutes together.
In fact the first time he had seen her in a fortnight was on the day when he had driven over to Abbottsford to do a bit of Christmas shopping, which was when he bumped into Francesca coming out of a very expensive lingerie shop, Silk and Lace, in the Phoenix Shopping Centre.
“Hello darling” she said and air kissed him and then she spotted him looking at the designer carrier bag she was carrying.
“No you can’t look at them” she replied to his unasked question
“Ok I don’t mind seeing them on you, if you insist” he offered
“You’re incorrigible,” she said
“Is that a maybe?” he asked
Unmoved she shook her head disappointedly.
“The chance would be a fine thing anyway” she said quietly
“Have you got time for a coffee?”
“I do” he replied
They went into the Espresso Phoenix coffee house, a really nice one, not one of the chains, and he ordered the drinks as Francesca sat in the corner.
When he joined her he asked
“How about Saturday?”
“For what?” she asked innocently
“To show me your new underwear” he said
“No” she replied
“Why not?” he asked,
“I have to go to a dinner party at Mornington Manor”
She replied “but I don’t really want to go”
He looked at her with puzzlement and then said
“So don’t go, and let me spend the night doing all those things to you that fill your imagination when you’re alone”
That made her blush scarlet and avert her gaze but after a few moments she looked back at him and smiled.
“I have to go, I’m expected” she said but she reached under the table and held his hand
“But I want what you want”
“I understand” he said
“It will be soon though wont it?” she asked earnestly and held his hand tightly under the table.
“Yes” he replied
When they left the coffee house they air kissed and went their separate ways.

(Part 02)

Paul was working all day Saturday, so he wasn’t able to get away to the caravan in Sharpington, as he normally would, so he was at home in his flat and spent Saturday night watching a movie and drinking wine but at some point he leant back against the cushions and promptly fell asleep.
He woke up just after eleven o’clock, and he only woke up then because he needed a pee, so he got up and attended to the matter in hand.
When he finished answering his call of nature he was decidedly peckish so he went to the kitchen and made himself a snack.
Paul then returned to his sofa, restarted the movie he had begun watching four hours earlier and sat eating cheese and biscuits’ as he watched Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood taking on the Nazis.
At the end of the film he was still wide-awake so he got up and chose another DVD off the shelf.
He was about a quarter of the way through “The Fifth Element” when he detected the tell-tale clip clop sound of a woman in high heels from outside in the corridor.
He glanced at the clock and thought it must be his neighbour Elaine arriving home from somewhere so he returned his attention back to the action.
A moment later there was a knock on the front door and he checked the clock again before he got up and walked out into the hall, he guessed that Elaine had locked herself out and was knocking for the spare key.
So he opened the door and to his surprise a rather tipsy Francesca almost fell through it.
“Hello Paulie” she said with a flourish.
Francesca was immaculately dressed as usual in a full length green halter necked designer evening dress and a lavish faux fur shrug.
“Wow” he said, “you look stunning”
“Bless you darling” she responded
“You had a nice time then” he said as he helped her into the house.
“I had a wonderful time” she exclaimed
She tottered a few steps then kicked off her shoes, which made her a little more stable on her feet, and then she quickly progressed into the lounge.
All the while talking nine to the dozen about how marvelous the evening was, who was there, what they ate, who said what, and to who.
“And plenty of wine” he asked as she plopped down on the sofa.
“I did,” she said smiling and giggling
“I’m glad you had fun” he said
“Me too” she said coyly
“Good” Paul said as he sat down next to her
“So what are you doing here then?”
“Well I saw your lights were still on from the taxi and I thought I’d come and tell you all about my evening” she explained.
“Why were you in a taxi?” he asked, “I thought you went there with the Conway’s”
“I did” Francesca said
“So why didn’t you come back with them?” he asked
“They left early” she said
“Could no one else give you a lift?” he asked
“David someone offered” she replied
“So why didn’t you accept?”
“What kind of a woman do you think I am? I couldn’t get in a car with a complete stranger” she said affronted
“You weren’t that discerning with me” he said
“That’s different” she said “with you it doesn’t really count because you’re such a tart”
The statement caused her to roar with laughter to such an extent that she ended up collapsing in a heap with her head and shoulders on his lap.
“You’re my bit of rough” she said and then she disintegrated into laughter again.
“So you decided not to have David drive you home” he said
“It would have been cruel to tantalize him with my gorgeousness for the whole journey only to dash his hopes” she said

(Part 03)

“So you decided not to have David drive you home” he said
“It would have been cruel to tantalize him with my gorgeousness for the whole journey only to dash his hopes” she said
This bought about another burst of laughter and when she eventually composed herself she was laying at full stretch on her back looking up at Paul
“Do you still think I’m gorgeous?” she asked, regally draped before him.
“Quite gorgeous” he conceded
“Well quite gorgeous won’t get you a look at the new underwear I bought in Abbottsford the other day” she said
“I bet it does,” he said as he slowly moved his right hand, which had been resting on her chuckling belly, up to caress the roundness of her breast.
“Well maybe” Francesca murmured as she tipped her head back and closed her eyes and then he began tickling her and she was giggling so much she could barely breathe and Francesca wriggled and squirmed beneath his gaze.
But when she got control, Francesca suddenly sat bolt upright and she squealed frantically
“Ok, I’ll let you see my knickers”
And then she pulled herself up so she was seated on his lap and kissed him, he loved kissing her, he thought she was such a great kisser, the best in his experience.
The quality of a kiss is difficult to define and it is like many other things of a sexual nature, which is dependent on the perspective of the participants.
With kissing it can be the thickness of the lips, the width of the mouth, the size of the tongue, the size of the oral cavity and the amount of saliva produced.
For Paul, Francesca scored highly on every criterion and as she kissed him, he thought he had died and gone to heaven.

Once they had finished she stood up and looked at him smugly and then took hold of his hand and she said.
“Now come and enjoy my gorgeousness”
Paul got to his feet and they kissed again and then he said
“Just one question before your deliciousness distracts me”
“What’s that darling” she retorted
“How are we going to get you out of here in the morning dressed like that, without anyone noticing?” Paul said
“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it darling” She purred
“I just might have to stay here with you all day, until I can leave again under the cover of darkness”
“That sounds like a wonderful plan” Paul said and walked her towards the bedroom and took Francesca off to bed and let her take him to paradise.

Christmas came early for Paul and Francesca as she did indeed stay with him until after dark on Sunday afternoon.
She would have stayed longer but she had to get back for the girls.
Getting her out of the flat unnoticed was less of a problem than either of them anticipated as he had a draw full of his sisters clothes in the spare room and they fitted his lover well enough and as he walked her home across the golf course they were aided in their stealth by some well-timed freezing fog.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Mornington-By-Mere – (42) A Christmas Misadventure

(Part 01)

Peter Andrew was a big barrel chested man with a bushy beard and a happy jovial face and along with his wife Helen he ran the Old Mill Inn In the idyllic village of Mornington-By-Mere in the Finchbottom Vale nestled between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest and the rolling Pepperstock Hills.
They had been there for 20 years and had raised two children, Polly and John, and it was the perfect occupation for him but he hadn’t always been in hospitality.

He left school when he was fifteen, which was in the late seventies and he was living in Finchbottom with his parents.
The family home was in Shaftsbury Court, a warden run block of sheltered accommodation for the elderly and his mother was the warden.
Peter attended the School nearby which he left at the end of May and he started his first job three days later.
However in the November of that same year his mum changed jobs and the family moved from one side of town to the other, the significance of which would have a life changing effect on him within a matter of weeks.
The house move didn’t affect him getting to and from work as the town had a particularly good bus service, operating a flat fare service on circular routes.
Which meant he could still get the same bus as he did from the old address but from a different bus stop and the price was the same a fact which would have some significance at a later date.

His job was as a trainee groundsman with the Finchbottom District Council Grounds Maintenance team it wasn’t by any means his dream job but then he didn’t have a dream job, he left school at 15 because he wasn’t a scholar and he just needed to get a job so he took the first one that came along.
He enjoyed it well enough, though it wasn’t very fulfilling but then he didn’t think his job needed to be.
He was just happy to be earning after all, but as it was his first year at work he also had his first works Christmas party to look forward to.
It was on the last day before they broke for the Christmas holiday when they had a little works party in the yard where a little Christmas cheer was imbibed and a drink or two were consumed.
Peter was only sixteen at the time and he had only had very limited experience of alcohol and as a result he got well and truly bladdered on whisky Mac, cider and something unpronounceable from Yugoslavia.
So at the end of the afternoon one of his workmates gave him a lift into the town centre and from there he caught his usual bus.
But despite his drunken state he managed to climb the stairs to the top deck and the bus set off filled with Christmas shoppers and a drunken trainee grounds man.
He drifted off on the journey and he suddenly came to and looking out the window he recognized a familiar sight and so he promptly disembarked from the bus.
Peter headed off up the road in the direction of home wishing all and sundry a merry Christmas as he went.

(Part 02)

He entered through the main doors to the flats and passed the Christmas tree in the foyer and headed straight for flat number one.
At the door he fumbled for his key and presented it to the lock and it wouldn’t fit.
He peered closely at it and he was satisfied that it was definitely his door key so he tried to put it in the lock again, but still it wouldn’t fit and suddenly the door opened and a stranger looked out at him.
“Can I help?” she asked.
“Ah” he exclaimed “my name is Peter and I don’t live here anymore do I?”
The lady, who was the new warden, laughed and agreed with him that he definitely no longer lived there.
Peter apologized profusely and wished her a Happy Christmas and then made his way back to the foyer were there was a public telephone with one of those large Perspex domes over it.
His intention was to phone for a taxi to take him to where he actually lived but after rummaging in his pockets he discovered he had no money for the taxi or indeed a coin to make a phone call to order a taxi that he couldn’t afford.
However as he tried to duck under the Perspex hood he tripped over his own feet and fell into the Christmas tree which ended up on top of him.
The lady who now lived in flat no 1, heard the commotion and came to investigate and to his great surprise she thought it was very amusing to find a drunken teenager wearing the Christmas tree.
“Oh dear” she said laughing.
Deeply apologetic he explained the circumstances of his predicament and the new warden phoned a taxi for him and even gave him the money for the fare.
He thought that was real Christmas spirit and he never forgot her kindness and tolerance and from that time on he tried to keep that same spirit in his own heart at Christmas.

On New Year’s Eve Peter returned again to Shaftsbury Court but unlike his previous visit he was stone cold sober and there by intention.
He was carrying a large bouquet of flowers and a thank you card, he wasn’t going to knock on the door, he would have been too embarrassed to see her face to face, so he leant the bouquet against the door frame and turned to walk away.
He had only taken two steps when he heard the door open behind him and he went rigid.
Peter took a breath and slowly turned around expecting to see Mrs Copeland but instead he was face to face with a pretty 15 year old girl.
“Oh you must be Peter” she said looking at the card on the flowers
“Yes, yes I am” he said falteringly
“I’m Helen” she said “Mum’s inside, I think you should give her these yourself”
“Could you give them to her for me” he said
“No I can’t” Helen said “Come on in she won’t bite”

So with Helen holding his hand he went into the flat that used to be his home to apologize to her mum and ended up staying until the following year by which time he had a girlfriend.
By the next Christmas he had secretly proposed to Helen and five years down the line he had given up his groundsman’s job and the kind hearted Mrs Copeland was his mother in law.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (39) Christmas Miracles

(Part 01)

20 miles inland from Sharpington-By-Sea, equidistant between Finchbottom and Pepperstock Green was the sprawling village of Denmead and it was Christmas day.
Nick Waterfield was at his parents’ house for the big day and it was heaving with all of his happy semi intoxicated relatives, his Mum and Dad, his kid brother, two older sisters, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins and Nick was glad they were all happy even if he wasn’t.
He just wished they would take their festive happiness elsewhere as he had no need of it even if he was the main reason the entire Waterfield clan had assembled in Denmead that day.
It was his well-meaning mother’s idea to invite everyone and his dog in order to make Christmas, noisy, happy and jolly to keep Nick distracted.
His mother, Jeanette, was the matriarch of the clan and was something of a force of nature so when she “invited” you, it was generally accepted to be an order, she meant well of course.
He thought Christmas Dinner was tolerable enough, the jollity was blissfully muted when they had their mouths full of his mums excellent cooking but then as soon as the last spoonful of Christmas Pud had been consumed it all ramped up again.

Jeanette Waterfield organized the girls in the kitchen and his Dad got everyone else clearing away in preparation for an afternoon of fun and frivolity.
Nick took that as his cue and retreated to the hall and got his coat on, the last thing he needed was fun.
“Where are you going Nick?” his mum asked
“I just need to walk my dinner off” he replied patting his stomach.
She nodded her understanding and knew it was nothing to do with needing a constitutional.
“Do you want some company?” she asked
“No mum I’ll be fine, I won’t be long”
“You’ll need your hat and scarf” she insisted and draped a scarf around his neck and pulled his woolen hat on his head, then she put a hand on each cheek and kissed him like she did when he was just a boy and he smiled a weak smile in response.
“You’ll need gloves as well” she said “its bitter cold out there”
Her voice cracked as she said it and she walked quickly back into the kitchen to energize the labour force.
He wished for her sake that he could hide his sadness, it had almost been as difficult a year for her as it had for him.
“I'll be fine mum,” he said to himself “I just need time”
He braced himself as he opened the front door and then walked outside and saw it was still snowing.
Nick reached the end of the path and turned back to look at the Waterfield house where he had spent such a happy childhood.
And it really was happy, his parents made sure of that and he and his siblings had everything they could need, he heartily wished he could have just a spoonful of the happiness he felt in his youth to ease the pain that he felt at that moment.

(Part 02)

It was midafternoon when Nick left his parents’ house and stepped out into the snow and it was already getting dark so he decided to stick to the main road until his eyes became accustomed to the gloom.
It had been years since he had seen a white Christmas, it was a shame he wasn’t in a better frame of mind to enjoy it.
Even in the semi darkness there was clear evidence the village children had been out in force.
There was no sign of them as the light began to fail he assumed they were probably lured back indoors with mugs of hot chocolate by their concerned families but the evidence of their play was evident.

As he made his way up the hill towards St Jane’s church the snow started to fall harder and as he trudged through the deepening snow he looked at the houses as he passed them with their coloured lights resplendent and he wondered about what sadness lurked in their homes behind the happy facade and then he chastised himself, not for the first time, for his self-pity.
He had tried to lift himself from the black mire which surrounded him but try as he might he just kept being sucked back in.
That Christmas had been a big downer for him, it was just that he had had such high hopes for that Christmas, it had held so much promise for him, them.

Nick was an engineer by profession and he had started a new job in Abbottsford the previous February and as every other new hire would, he got the full first day office tour, and in his case it was conducted by his new boss Gary Ash.
After shaking hands with an indeterminate number of employees he began to understand what the Queen had to contend with.
“This is the procurement department” Gary said and half a dozen heads turned around to greet their progress and one smartly dressed young woman stepped out of a corner office.
“Ah Gina” Gary called “This is Nick Waterfield the new head of Engineering”
Gina smiled and reached out her hand which he took and shook warmly.
“Gina Davies” she said and that was that, from that very first moment she had him hook line and sinker, and she was equally bowled over.
So they had their first date that Friday, which was the first of many in their whirlwind romance and they were engaged by Easter and married in June.
And while they honeymooned when they had their whole lives ahead of them they made plans upon plans.
Of course what they had never planned for was for a drunk driver to cross the central reservation on the Pepperstock Express Way and hit her head on as she drove home on the day before Halloween.
Nick should have been with her, they always drove home together but at the last minute he had to go to Nettlefield on an emergency call out, so she died alone.
He wished he’d been in the car with her, he wished he’d died with her so he didn’t have to feel so shit.

(Part 03)

The snow was falling thick and fast and the wind was blowing it straight at him as he trudged up the hill, so discretion being the better part of valour, he decided to take refuge in the Church of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.
He hadn’t set foot in a church since the funeral, he and God had not been on speaking terms since he took Gina, he was still angry.
He didn’t plan to go in on that day either, he just intended taking shelter in the porch until the snow eased off a bit, and then he would set off again but the door suddenly opened.
“What on earth are you doing out here?” said a voice behind him so he turned around to see that the voice belonged to Charli Newcombe.
He and Charli had gone to school together and they had even dated briefly on two separate occasions.
Once when they were still at secondary school and again when he returned from University but it just never seemed to happen for them.
“Hey Charli” he said “I was just out for a walk.”
“What in this?” she said
“I needed to walk off my dinner” he pointed out
“Yes but in this?” she repeated
“Well it wasn’t this bad when I left home”
“So what are you really doing out here?” she asked
“Trivial Pursuits” Nick replied
“The family are all playing Trivial Pursuits, I really didn’t fancy it” he said
“Oh I see”
“Anyway it’s Christmas Day” he retorted “Shouldn't you be at home watching The Sound of Music?”
“You’d think so wouldn’t you” Charli said “My folks are both asleep in front of the TV and I had sole control of the remote, and I suddenly got the notion I should come and get the church ready for tomorrows service”
Even she seemed surprised by her answer and wore a quizzical expression.

Apart from running the General Store and Post Office, Charli was also the church warden and her late husband Tony had been the Vicar of St Jane’s.
Charli was the same age as him, give or take a month or two, he was thirty and she was a month short of that milestone and like him she was born and bred in the village.
She had married Tony shortly after he got the appointment as the Vicar of St Jane’s he was quite a few years older than her but she loved him to distraction, and you can’t argue with love.
She was devastated when he had a heart attack in Church one day before matins and died.
That was shortly after he had performed the wedding ceremony for Gina and Nick.
He had seen a lot of her since he came back to stay with his parents in the village.
He had sought her out because of their history together and he knew she would understand how it felt to lose someone you loved and maybe help him come to terms with the grief.
They had talked it through endlessly and had burnt the midnight oil on many occasions and as a result some of the old feelings for her had come to the surface, for which he felt immensely guilty and completely disloyal to Gina’s memory.

(Part 04)

Nick and Charli were standing in the porch of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal as the snow continued to fall.
“You look like you could do with a hot drink” she said opening the door
“No I won’t come in thanks” he said
“It’s Christmas, I’m sure you could call a truce for the sake of the day at least”
“Oh ok” he relented and hesitantly followed her through the door into the church and the most overwhelming feeling washed over him and the moment he crossed the threshold into the sanctuary of the church he’d felt a weight lift from him.
The overwhelming feeling he felt was one of great happiness as he remembered that wonderful day in June when Gina and he were married.
He would have expected to feel deep sorrow at the memory but it was actually pure joy that he felt combined with immense pride.
He took off his hat, scarf and gloves as he stood at the back of the church.
Charli had gone into a side room and switched on the light but he found he was walking down the aisle towards the altar where he paused briefly before an effigy of the Saint and then sat down on the front pew.

When he got up from his seat on the front pew he found all the anger and resentment that had plagued him had washed away and he felt more positive than he had in weeks and he even felt he could look forward.
Nick stood up and smiled at St Jane and then went in search of the drink he was offered.
He found Charli in the little kitchen sat at a small table and she looked up at him and smiled and as he walked in and he returned her smile.
“Is this mine?” he asked pointing at a mug by the kettle.
“Yes” she replied “but I’ll make you a fresh one”
“No this will be fine” he said and took a sip “urgh”
“I told you” Charli said laughing
“How long was I sitting out there?” he asked her and she checked her watch
“About forty minutes”
“You’re kidding, how long was it really?”
“About forty minutes”
“I’m sorry” he said “it only seemed like only two or three”
“So how do you feel?” she enquired
“Surprisingly good” he replied and sat down “St Jane was very helpful”
“Yes she is isn’t she” Charli said as she re-boiled the kettle
“I’m still angry that I didn’t get to say goodbye to her” he admitted
“I know that feeling” Charli retorted
“We had such a short time together, we should have had decades, and instead we only had months” And then he surprised himself when he smiled at her and added
“But those months were so special and so filled with joy that the time we had together was priceless”
“Amen to that” Charli said
“Which is precisely what you’ve been telling me all these weeks” he confessed
“Uh huh” she responded

(Part 05)

Nick and Charli were sitting in the kitchen of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal Church and they sat and drank their coffee in a comfortable silence when Charli’s suddenly flicked her eyes upwards and caused him to do the same and he saw the mistletoe hanging above the table and then she leant across the table and kissed him and after the kiss it was Nick who broke the silence.
“So do you have someone special in your life?”
“Do you mean a boyfriend?” she replied
“Yes” said Nick
“I was kind of hoping you might want the job” Charli said
“I rather think that I would” he said and reached across the table and took hold of her hand.
“If you’ll have me”
She leant across the table and kissed him again only this time it was a long and lingering sensual kiss.
“Are we allowed to do that in church?” he asked
“Only on Christmas Day” she replied and kissed him again.

Charli locked up the Church and they stepped out from the shelter of the porch and the heavy snow had abated but it was still falling and he smiled as it accumulated on top of her hat.
He offered her his hand which she accepted gladly and then he walked her home and they trudged hand in hand through the snow.

Her parents’ house was only two doors down the lane from the Waterfield’s so walking her home wasn’t out of the way, not that it would have made any difference if she had lived on the other side of the village he would still have walked with her.
They stopped by the front gate and stood facing each other and he leant in and kissed her, and her response was immediate and yielding.
It was a long purposeful kiss full of tenderness and hope for the future.
When he reluctantly broke away he said
“I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
“Yes” Charli replied and went up the path, pausing at the door to turn and wave before she went inside.

“Are you alright dear?” Mum asked with concern as he walked through the front door.
“Yes” he said and smiled “I rather think I am”
And the effect on her was instant as the worry and anxiety she had been feeling melted away and she looked five years younger in that instant.
“I’m so glad” she said and rushed forward to hug him.

Over the months that followed he gave a good deal of reflective thought about exactly what happened that snowy Christmas Day afternoon.
Was it coincidence that he chose to walk in the direction of St Jane’s Church, when he could have gone in any direction or that he needed to take shelter precisely as he passed its sanctuary, or that Charli would open the church door to leave just as he stood sheltering beneath the porch?
And what compelled Charli to leave the warmth and comfort of her parent’s cozy fireside on a snowy Christmas Day and yield sole control of the remote in order to tidy a cold and draughty Church.
But only nick Waterfield knew exactly what transpired between him and the Saint as he sat on that Church pew and that secret remained between him, St Jane and God.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (38) Christmas at the Seaview Hotel

(Part 01)

Six months had passed since Francine Delise and Iain Akhurst made love in his room at the Seaview Hotel in Sharpington and two days short of six months since she said she wasn’t sure that they could be together.
Not that she didn’t love him or enjoy being with him, and it was fairly obvious on the evidence of the weekend in June that it wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy making love with him.
Nor did she think it was a mistake, a moment of madness or because she had drunk too much.
“I don’t regret it for a second” she said as they lay entwined beneath the duvet
“I just have doubts”
Francine wasn’t sure if she could or should give over her heart, soul and life to a man 12 years older than herself.

Iain couldn’t deny that he was disappointed and he wasn’t altogether happy about it but he wasn’t angry with her in fact he agreed with her up to a point, and he wanted her to be as sure as he was.
After all he had no words to convince a 29 year old woman to give her life to a man the wrong side of 40 and nor would he have wished to have used them if they were in his possession.

“I love you Iain but I just have to be certain sure” she said the moment before she drove away.
It was heart-breaking to watch her drive away because Iain had no such doubts.
For him that first night together was the blissful culmination of eight years of hope and desire.
Not just the love making, which he thought was wonderful, but to hear his declaration of love returned in word and delicious deed.
It had been pretty much love at first sight for him, but then she was a beautiful sight to behold.
For her it was a more gradual falling and one that she desperately fought against tooth and claw whereas Iain simply surrendered to her.

Even before their chance meeting at the Seaview Hotel, Francine had agreed to take a six month secondment in Sharpington where she could be close to her sister and the twins so she suggested they take that time to think.
And in that time she would either get over him or know for certain sure he was the one.

While she was away he convinced himself almost on a daily basis that it was over, and rightly so he thought at times.
If the worst came to the worst he consoled himself with the thought that he would always have the memory of that wonderful weekend when his love for her was finally validated.

Though in his darkest moments he did question if it was indeed a moment of madness that brought the gorgeous young Francine to his bed.
Though he was glad for that madness if that’s what it was.
But if Francine did resolve that it was a mistake and that it was over he would at least have the memory of that wonderful weekend to sustain him forever.
He preferred to think that it was fate that brought them together on that wonderful weekend and not an error of judgement.

(Part 02)

He would have liked to have exchanged the occasional text or email with her but Francine had asked for total separation.
As a result all he could do was throw himself headlong into his work totally and fill his every waking moment with thoughts of anything and everything that wasn’t her.
Impossible of course but if in the unlikely event that he could exclude her from his thoughts for a single second he couldn’t stop her invading his dreams.
When he slept he dared to dream, so in the small hours of the sleepless night he resorted to the only thing that prevented him from being driven insane.
He wrote in a diary, which he called a dream diary, it was where he wrote every detail, every thought that filled his troubled sleep on a nightly basis, thoughts of love for the girl of his dreams.
The closer the end of the six months got the more intense the dreams became and evermore vivid with each passing day.

It was the day before Christmas Eve when he got the long awaited phone call, so he took a deep breath and hit the button.
“Hello, Iain Akhurst” he said
“Hey Iain” she said
“Francine?” he asked “God it’s good to hear your voice”
“Ditto” Francine replied “Where are you?”
“I’m in Abbotsford” he replied “Are you still at your sisters in Sharpington?”
“Yes and No” she replied enigmatically
“I’m at the Hotel, the Seaview”
“When are you back?” he asked
“I don’t know yet”
“Oh” he responded disappointedly
“Can you come down?” Francine asked
“When?” he asked
“Tonight” she replied
“Sure, but I don’t know what time I’ll get there”
“That’s ok but I want to meet” Francine said
“Alright I’ll leave now” he said “Have you made a decision?”
“Yes I have” she replied
“And?” he enquired trying to keep the anxiety out of his voice
“I don’t want to say on the phone” she answered “I want to do it face to face”
“Ok” he said not knowing if that meant it would be good or bad
“Come straight to the Hotel” she said
“What time do you think?” she asked
“Around eight” he replied
“I’ll leave a note at reception in case you’re late”
“Ok, I’ll see you tonight then” Iain said
“Ok, bye”

The journey out of Abbottsford was an absolute mare and consequently he was significantly late and it was nearly 10 o’clock when he drove onto the promenade at Sharpington-by-Sea.
It was a bit different from when he was there last, back in June but it still made him smile as it always did when he visited the traditional seaside resort.
Sharpington still boasted a Victorian Pier, The Palladium ballroom, and of course the Sharpington Fun Park which were considerably quieter than at the height of the summer.
He liked it because it was like stepping back in time with the illuminations, crazy golf, and the amusement arcades in fact all the usual things to have a great time by the seaside.
He parked the car and walked briskly along the promenade and unlike his last visit he didn’t pause to sit in the well maintained gardens and look out to sea or muse over all the happy hours he spent in the Sharpington Fun Park, on the Rotor and the Wild Mouse, The Cyclone and the Morehouse Galloper.
He was in too much of a hurry to reach the Seaview Hotel.

(Part 03)

Since her phone call his stomach had been in absolute knots and arriving in Sharpington late didn’t untangle it in the least.
He wondered if she would be sat at the bar surrounded by admirers or sat alone in a corner the worse for drink and coiled to strike with venomous words on his tardiness.
He only hoped she was still there and hadn’t got tired of waiting.
As he sat in the pre-Christmas traffic he tried to ring her to warn her of his delay but his phone died.
So he stood in the foyer trying to summon up the courage to go further, he was so desperate to know her answer but equally terrified of what it might be, yes or no.
“Yes” meaning she was sure and she would give all of herself to him unreservedly
“No” and they would never be together.
He reran the earlier conversation through his head and tried to read between the lines to find some hidden meaning or some indication as to her decision.
He checked in the bar and there was no sign of her
“Shit” he exclaimed and unzipped his coat and walked up to the reception desk.
“Hi” he began “Do you have a message for Iain Akhurst?”
“I’ll just check for you Sir” the receptionist said
“Oh yes here we are” she added and handed him an envelope
“Thank you” he said and when and sat down to open it.

He slowly opened the envelope and withdrew a sheet of note paper which he unfolded and read the few lines
“What kept you? I thought you were impatient for an answer,
I’ve gone up, use the key, and I’ll see you when you get here”
Frankie x
“Well that was all cheerful and light hearted” he thought to himself “but it still doesn’t tell me anything”
So he tipped up the envelope until the key card fell out and he saw it was for one of the posh rooms on the top floor and walked towards the lift.

Iain slowly opened the door and stepped inside.
“Hi Francine” he called “I’m sorry I’m late the traffic was hell”
But there was no answer.
He closed the door and walked into the room and expected to find Francine asleep having got fed up of waiting for him.
But it was just a dimly lit little lounge area, which was empty.
Although hung on the back of a chair he noticed a coat.
“She is here” he said “But where?”
There were two doors leading from the lounge so he opened the first one which proved to be the bathroom, he hoped the other was to a bedroom and not an adjoining door to the next room.
Then he questioned whether or not she would even be in there, the fact that her coat was there meant nothing she could just have left in a huff and forgotten it.
But then something caught his eye, tied around the door handle he saw a black stocking.
“Well she wouldn’t have gone without that” he said
Iain slipped off his coat and threw it onto the armchair and walked towards the door and that was when he noticed something else attached to the stocking, it was a gift tag.
He opened it and read the words inside
“Happy Christmas Iain
All my love
And beneath her signature there were three letters
And when he turned the tag over there was only one word

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Mornington-By-Mere – (37) Three Days of Christmas

(Christmas Eve)

On Christmas Eve Siobhan Chapman and Bryan Williams were stood in the old wooden bus shelter on the Shallowfield road opposite the Old East Windmill just after the last bus had gone in the depths of a passionate kiss.
They both lived in the village of Mornington-By-Mere which is a small country village lying in the Finchbottom Vale nestled between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest and the rolling Pepperstock Hills.
It is a quaint picturesque village, a proper chocolate box picturesque idyll, with a Manor House, 12th Century Church, a Coaching Inn, Windmills, an Old Forge, a Schoolhouse, a River, a Mere and of course at least one bus shelter.
Siobhan and Bryan had only met recently at a mutual friends 18th birthday party at the end of November although they were not strangers as they had both gone to the village school but at the age of 11 Bryan had gone to Shallowfield Grammar School.
Siobhan and Victoria Crockford had been right through the school system together and had been friends since forever.
Bryan on the other hand knew Victoria from University which was why he got his invite to her party.
When Cass introduced them at the party they hit it off from the very first second and from that night on they were virtually inseparable.

On Christmas Eve they had been at the Williams house for the evening and it was as he was walking her home to Windmill Cottages that they diverted into the seclusion of the bus shelter.
“I have a confession to make” Siobhan said a few minutes after Bryan had un-cupped her breasts.
“What’s that?” he asked her without relinquishing his hold on her pliant breasts.
“My uncle is the village policeman” she said
“Really?” he asked
“Really” she confirmed
“Well it’s a fair cop” he said and gave her breast a squeeze and then laughed uncontrollably because he was copping a feel of the village Copper’s niece.
“So you think they’re fair do you?” she said
“Yes” he replied “I mean no, er I don’t know”
Inexplicably, to Bryan’s way of thinking, she put her breasts away and slapped at his hand as he tried to free them again.
“They are better than fair” she said sharply “by a long way”
“You’re absolutely right” he said grovelingly “They’re fabulous”
“Humph” she exclaimed and zipped up her coat
“Oh come on Siobhan” Bryan said “Don’t hide your lovely boobs away”
And he tried again to regain access to her goodies but Siobhan sidestepped his lunge and snapped a pink fluffy handcuff on his wrist.
“Bryan Williams I am arresting you for inappropriate laughter during a sexual act”
Bryan’s reaction was to try and escape but Siobhan’s Uncle had trained her in self-defense and restraint techniques and she applied the latter on his wrist and almost made him cry out in pain.
“Ok, ok” he begged “I surrender”
“Good boy” she said patronizingly
“Where are you taking me?” Bryan asked
“To my house of course” she replied
“Can’t we stay here instead?” he asked
“No we can’t” she replied
“Why?” he simpered
“Because my Mum and Dad have gone to midnight mass so you don’t need to be groping me in a bus shelter” Siobhan replied
“When you could be doing it in my bedroom”
“So why did you tell me about your uncle being a policeman?” he asked
“Oh that was just to give me an excuse to use the handcuffs” she replied with a giggle.
“So are you going to come quietly sir?” she asked and kissed his cheek
“It depends on what you plan to do” he said hesitantly
“Well if I tell you it will spoil the surprise” Siobhan said
“Ok I promise that I won’t offer any resistance” he confessed

(Christmas Day)

On Christmas Day Bryan and Siobhan woke up with more than the normal joy of a Christmas morning after having made love for the first time the night before.
Brian thought it was a very special night even though he had to climb out of her bedroom window in the small hours and nearly broke his neck in the process while Siobhan watched him all the way and giggled.

Christmas morning began with a frosty glaze decorating the rooftops and lightly dusting the evergreens and as the bells rang out to celebrate the birth of the Lord the joyous faithful of the village arrived under a clear blue sky.
It was a most glorious Christmas morning and Bryan’s spirits were high after the early exchange of Christmas presents in Siobhan bedroom.
He was with the rest of the Williams clan as the faithful answered the call of the bells, but he waited outside the church while the others took their places until Siobhan and the rest of the Chapman family arrived and he met Siobhan outside St Winifred’s
“Happy Christmas” he said
“Happy Christmas” she replied and then the two of them just stood and looked at each other with inane grins on their faces and then they were only brought back to the moment by a shout from Siobhan’s Dad telling her to get a move on.
So Bryan kissed her lovingly in the sunshine on the steps of the Church before they both went inside to join the rest of their families.

It was an excellent service with Peter Cockcroft on his very best form, but Bryan and Siobhan didn’t really follow preceding’s very closely as their minds and eyes were elsewhere.

Afterwards it took some while for the Church to empty as everyone wanted to share their best wishes with each other.
After they eventually left the church Bryan walked with her to Windmill Bridge where they shared a Christmas kiss, said their goodbyes before they went their separate ways.

As they had become inseparable in the weeks since they had first met, the days preceding Christmas there had been much debate as to where the couple would spend Christmas day but in the end they decided to have Christmas dinner at their respective homes with their own families and met up at hers in the evening although there was no repeat of the previous night’s excitements.
Instead they ate too much and drank too much and when he left the Chapman’s it was quite late.

(Boxing Day)

On Boxing Day Siobhan and Bryan were once again in the Shallowfield Road bus shelter sharing a kiss when she suddenly said
“I have a confession to make,”
“Not another one?” he said “I’ve still got the bruises from the last one”
“No not that kind of confession” she said
“Oh, what then?” he asked her “You’re not married are you?”
“Not that I remember” she replied “and I would hope if I were married I wouldn’t be standing in a bus shelter kissing another man”
“No, that’s a very good point” he said
“And furthermore if I was married I don’t think I would have handcuffed you to my bed on Christmas Eve, would I”
“No” he admitted and wondered what the confession might be on that boxing.

They were on their way to the Old Mill Inn and the reason they were on their way there was because they showed live football in the bar and Abbottsford Town were playing Abbeyvale Borough and Bryan was an Abbottsford fan and not only was it a derby match but it was important match because it was a top of the table clash.
Although to be honest it was always an important match when Town played Borough.
But despite the importance of the game they still stopped in the bus stop where she was making another confession.
Bryan was pleased that she wasn’t married, she could have been married for all he knew, he hadn’t known her long and they’d only been dating for a month so there was a lot he still didn’t know about her, but she was only 17.
Her name was Siobhan Chapman and she was born and bred in the village, he also knew where she went to school and who her parents and siblings were.
He knew that he liked the look of her from the first minute and asked her out a minute later and he had seen her every day since.
So as they were on their way to the pub on Boxing Day to watch the football and she suggested they stopped for an intimate interlude in the bus shelter, how could he resist.
It was kind of an instant attraction thing, certainly for her, and since the first attraction it had gradually deepened and now he was head over heels in love with her.
“What then?” he asked still unaware what her confession was.
“Oh God I’ve been dreading saying this” she said and he was really worried, she may not have been married but she could still have been engaged or had a boyfriend.
But as worried as he was he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know.
But Siobhan took a deep breath and he braced himself
“I’m an Abbeyvale supporter” she said and closed her eyes and grimaced but it took a moment for the full implications of her statement to sink in.
“I think I would have preferred it if you were married” he said and Siobhan moved close in to him and asked
“Do you mean you would prefer it if a married woman was in love with you rather than an Abbeyvale supporter?”
“She loves me” he said to himself and he wasn’t sure if that shocked him more than the fact she supported Abbeyvale Borough.
“I'm sorry,” she said “Not much of a Christmas present for my new boyfriend I’m afraid”
But she couldn't have been more wrong about that it was the perfect Christmas present.
Siobhan Chapman loved him and everything else paled into insignificance compared to that and he made sure she knew that.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Mornington-By-Mere – (29) Under the Tree on Christmas Eve

(Part 01)

Mornington-By-Mere is a small country village lying in the Finchbottom Vale nestled between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest and the rolling Pepperstock Hills.
It is a quaint picturesque village, a proper chocolate box picturesque idyll, with a Manor House, 12th Century Church, a Coaching Inn, Windmills, an Old Forge, a Schoolhouse, a River and a Mere.

Corner House aptly stood on the corner of Purplemere Road and West Gate Road in the part of Mornington Village known as Manorside.
There were a number of cottages and small houses on the Purplemere road and Dulcets Lane, but Corner House was a large 8 bedroom Victorian monstrosity which had at one time been the home of the master brewer of the Mornington Brewery.
It was now the Corner Guest House run by affable landlady Kay Richardson assisted by her children Paul 24 and Stephanie 23.

Paul Richardson was tall, almost six foot six, and stick thin with mousy hair and big feet and what leisure time he had, and there wasn’t much, was spent birdwatching, and that would have remained the case had it not been for a serendipitous set of seemingly unrelated circumstances.

It began as a normal Monday at the guest house for Paul who along with his sister were cleaning the vacated rooms.
Monday was normally the worst day because the weekenders had checked out and the rooms needed servicing before the Monday afternoon arrivals.
That Monday however they only had two rooms to do because the other three were still occupied so they took a lot less time to do.

Consequently he was in the hall when the phone rang.
“Corner guest house” he said
“Is that Paul?” the caller asked
“It is”
“Excellent I need to ask a favour” they said “it’s Peter Carter”
Peter Carter was a guest and it transpired that he had gone to have a pint and a sandwich and after having several pints and two sandwiches he realised he had left his wallet back in his room and the favour he was referring to involved Paul collecting his wallet from his bedside table and taking it to the pub.

Had it been a normal Monday he wouldn’t have had the time but on that occasion as it was a lovely Sunny day he was only too happy to oblige, a walk in the autumn sunshine was just what the doctor ordered.

It was a different kind of a Monday at the Old Mill Inn as well because although it was a Monday and the restaurant was closed, instead of being eerily quiet, the kitchen was a hive of activity because on that Monday two new trainee chefs had started work under chef Lorraine Olson and she was putting them through their paces.
Even though Lorraine had to forgo the only day off that she got a week she thought it would be worth it in the long run.

As pleasantly sunny as the walk to the pub was for Paul it paled into darkness compared to what he saw when he stepped into the pub at the precise moment as Cally Wilson exited the kitchen and the trifecta was complete.

(Part 02)

Cally Wilson was only 21 and when she walked into the bar and saw Paul Richardson her heart skipped a beat and when their eyes met they were immediately smitten.
She stood six feet tall with short curly auburn hair, and a very large bust, lovely eyes and a nice smile.

Paul just hovered in the doorway staring at her while Cally who was quiet and reserved was trying to summon the courage to go and say hello but she was beaten to the punch when a middle-aged man walked over to him instead.
She didn’t hear all the conversation but she did hear the middle-aged man say as they separated
“Thank you Paul”
“Paul” she said to herself “I like that name”
However as she thought it, he turned around and went back out the door.
Fortunately for her she was going that way because Cally’s mum had MS and she was just going to pop home to check on her when she ran into Paul.
She rushed out the door so she could see where he went but as she burst through the door she ran straight into him.
“Oh I’m sorry” she said
“That’s ok I was coming back in to ask you something” he said
“Me?” she asked with surprise
“Ask away” Cally said
“Would you like to go out sometime? The cinema maybe?” he asked
“Yes” she replied “I would”
“Great” he said with surprise “When?”
“How about tonight?” She said and that was how it started with a trip to the Cinema in Finchbottom.

The relationship blossomed over the following weeks despite the fact that they didn’t see each other as often as they would have liked.
Cally worked long hours at the restaurant as well as having to help with her mum and the only regular day off she got was a Monday which was Paul’s busiest.

But with Christmas fast approaching they were looking forward to spending more time together
Kay Richardson had worked very hard over the years running the Guest House but to preserve her sanity she had always closed at Christmas so she and her children could have a proper Christmas.
The last guests would check out on the 23rd and the earliest check-in was 3 o’clock on the 27th.
Also the Old Mill Inn restaurant would close on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and would not reopen fully until the following Tuesday.

Cally was particularly looking forward to spending some “private” time with Paul as he had been a little backward in coming forward in the intimacy department.
And although Cally was quiet and reserved she was reaching the point that she would have to take matters into her own hands.
She wasn’t sure how she would achieve it but she had definitely lost patience waiting for him to act so she had no alternative but to take decisive action herself.

It was as she and her friend Tegan were walking to work on Christmas Eve that a plan formed in her mind and a smile not dissimilar to a leer crossed her face.

(Part 03)

Paul spent the early part of the morning of Christmas Eve delivering Christmas gifts and cards to friends and neighbours in the village, and when he had finished he planned to spend the rest of it alone at home listening to Christmas music and watching schmaltzy movies on TV.
His mum and sister were out for the day, the former had driven over to visit a friend in Sharpington and the latter was spending the day with her best friend in Dulcet St Mary.
So everything was going according to plan.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve the Old Mill Inn was still open but there weren’t many customers left but those that were made enough noise for a crowd.
The kitchen was cleaned down and pristine and Cally had just finished putting the clean cutlery back in the trays in the dining room.
“Anything else you want me to do?” she asked Lorraine
“No you get off home now” she replied and gave her a hug and kiss “Happy Christmas lovely”
“Happy Christmas” she said in response and Lorraine went back into the kitchen.
Her friend Tegan, was small with delicate features and bobbed strawberry blonde hair and was a foot shorter and at least six stones lighter than Cally, was stood up on a chair writing up Saturday’s menu.
“Oy what about me you ginger bint” she shouted
“I’m auburn” she shouted back and went over a picked Tegan off the chair and got her in a bear hug.
“I give in, I give in” she said laughing loudly
“Now give me a kiss” demanded Cally
After exchanging kisses Cally then deposited her back on the chair.
“Happy Christmas Cal” she called as her friend walked away
“Happy Christmas” she called over her shoulder.

As Paul was watching back to back Christmas movies Cally spent the afternoon helping her mum with the preparations for the big day, and then she got changed and set off to walk to Paul’s through the fast settling snow and got there about seven o’clock.
When she arrived she was greeted with the news that Pauls mum and sister were unable to get back to Mornington due to road closures because of the snow.

Paul had put the presents underneath the tree that afternoon, so all evening almost from the moment she arrived, she was like a child.
“Can I open a present?” she asked him every ten minutes.
“Just one, please, please, please”
She was getting on his nerves to be honest and she knew it, so she did it all the more.
She kept picking up the presents, shaking them, squeezing them, and even listening to them.
Finally he relented and as he headed upstairs to the loo he said.
“We can open one present each before we leave for midnight mass”
“Goody” she squealed
When he returned to the lounge he was expecting to find her waiting impatiently to open a present.
But instead he found her lying beneath the tree with wrapping paper loosely draped about her obviously naked body.
“You go first” she said and giggled
“I assume we’re not going to midnight mass” he said
“We’ll if you’d rather go to church than open a present we can” Cally suggested

Once he had un-wrapped his present and thoroughly enjoyed its contents they were too late for midnight mass so they went to bed and went to Church on Christmas morning instead.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Mornington-By-Mere – (28) Exchanging Gifts on Christmas Eve

(Part 01)

There are four Windmill Cottages in the village of Mornington-By-Mere and they are as quaintly picturesque as the rest of the village.
They stand detached in a neat row alongside the southern bank of the River Brooke situated between the East Bridge and Church Hall.
The Chapman family live in number 1 and Jo Williamson and her daughter Cassandra live next door at number 2.

Alan Chapman was a 50 year old widowed Farm Labourer and was very highly regarded and as such he was never out of work as a result and because of that he could easily pick and choose where he worked.
As a consequence of his outdoor life he was a lean fit man with a full head of sandy hair and a weathered complexion.
As a result of his children’s independent existences Alan spent a lot of his leisure time on his own.
He wasn’t altogether happy with that but he had been a widower for ten years so he was getting used to it.
He was not an unsociable man however and was well liked by those who knew him and he got on well with his neighbour’s.

One of his neighbour’s was Josephine Williamson who he knew very well and had wanted very much to have known her better for some time.
But what held him back was that she was 8 years younger than him.
So he admired her from a distance, and there was much to admire, she was five foot eight with luscious thick ginger curls tumbling down onto her shoulders and mesmerizing green eyes, with a lovely figure, curvaceous and perfectly proportioned.
Jo was a divorcee but had raised her daughter single handed and had to stand on her own two feet, she had managed to get a full time job with one of the new firms up at Mornington Field, Paige Turners and things were going well for her so she was happy-ish.

However everything changed on a Friday afternoon two weeks before Christmas when he opened the front door and found a rather tipsy Jo Williamson leaning against the doorframe.
“Alan darling” she slurred, “I am a damsel in distress”

Once inside she told him that she had been to the Paige Turners Christmas lunch at the Old Mill Inn and she had enjoyed it very much but she was locked out of her house and her daughter Caz had gone Christmas shopping in Abbottsford for the day.

After having to pay a visit to the loo she tottered into the lounge, make up repaired, outfit perfect, and in one hand she held a sprig of mistletoe.
“Look what I have found,” she said and as she reached him she raised it above her head.
So he stood up to face her, puckered up and gave her a Christmas kiss and as his lips touched hers her it was evident that it was a more intrusive kind of Christmas kiss she was interested in, which took him by surprise, but it was a nice surprise, so in the spirit of the season and just to be neighbourly he responded in kind.
But the greater surprise came when they ended up making love in his bed.

(Part 02)

Jo and Alan lay silently in the afterglow in his bed and after a few minutes Jo turned her head to look at him.
“My goodness that was really powerful mistletoe” Jo said from beneath the duvet.
“It was that” he agreed
“This isn’t quiet how I envisaged the day going” she said
“Well we Chapmans take hospitality very seriously” he said
“I don’t make a habit of this” she said
“Nor do I” Alan said “And this isn’t something I envisaged happening either, but it’s something I pictured in my dreams, often”
He reached out and put his arm around her and she lay her head on his chest.
Holding the bubbly redhead in his arms was something he had often imagined doing but he never expected for a moment that it would actually happen.
But as if it wasn’t enough of a surprise to have enjoyed some afternoon delight with the woman he had admired from afar for so long, it transpired that she felt the same way about him.

17th December

Almost a week had passed since they made love in his house and they had barely spoken a word.
Though not out of guilt or regret it was merely the time of year and they just couldn’t get a moment alone.
They did text, in fact the very next day he received one which read
“Merry Christmas Alan, with love from a grateful Damsel in Distress” It should have been simple enough to communicate as they were next door neighbours but it was complicated by the fact they had family.
They both wanted to take it to the next level but they wanted to speak to their children first and pre warn them.

He walked into the village to do some shopping, and first he went to Normans General Store.
It was full of all the usual trappings of the season, selection boxes, tinsel, wrapping paper and cards but his eyes were immediately drawn to a large stack of magazines.
The Radio Times to be precise, the bumper Christmas edition of the Radio Times.
He got a lot of stick from his kids over it, because they thought it was a bit sad but he really looked forward to getting the Bumper Christmas Edition of the Radio Times, (other TV Guides were available).
It is one of the highlights of the season for him, and to make it even sadder, he bought two copies.

After leaving Norman’s he crossed to road and went to Legg’s Farm shop, then he crossed the road again and went to Addison’s Bakers and finally Boddingtons to get some mince.
It was as he was leaving the latter that he bumped into Jo coming the other way.
“Hello Alan” she said
“Hi Jo, you surprised me” he said then she surprised him again by giving him a bear hug almost crushing his Radio Times and kissed his cheek several times.
“I’ve missed you” she whispered
“Likewise” he whispered back
“Are you going to The Carol Concert on Saturday night?” She asked
“Yes I am” he replied
“If you’re going as well then perhaps we could go together”
“That would be nice” Jo said “I’ll see you on Saturday”

On Saturday Night the Chapmans and the Williamson walked together the short distance to St Winifred’s and even sat together and as it was a candlelit service Jo took the opportunity to hold Alan’s hand in the semi darkness.

(Part 03)

On Christmas Eve Alan rose early and took advantage of the fact the house was empty to get the chores done.
His daughter Lorraine didn’t live with him full time as she was a Nurse at the Winston Churchill Hospital in Abbottsford and rather than commute back and forth she shared a flat with two other Nurses, Jane Hall, and Rosie Parsons who also lived in Mornington and worked at the Churchill, she herself was working the night shift and wouldn’t be home until Christmas Day.
His son James was a Farm Labourer and worked at Windmill Farm and they were working in the morning and then having Christmas Dinner followed by drinks.
And Subhan was babysitting Hannah Hills kids all day.

He loaded the washing machine and set the program to wash and then went upstairs and remade the beds with fresh linen in preparation for Christmas, then he hoovered, dusted and polished throughout the house.
His exceptionally early start to the day enabled him to complete all his chores with ease by lunchtime and after a long leisurely shower he made himself a sandwich.

Alan was just drying his hands after washing up his lunch plate when there was a knock at the door.
When he opened it, he found Jo Williamson on the other side of it, wearing a Christmas jumper and wearing tinsel in her hair, holding a Christmas parcel.
“Happy Christmas” she said beaming.
“Hey! Happy Christmas hon” he responded, “come in”
“Ok” she said still smiling broadly “but no funny business”
“No funny business” he agreed and Jo stepped inside.
“You didn’t have to get me a gift,” he said to her as he took her coat.
“But it was a nice thing to do, thank you”
As Jo sat down on the sofa he reached under the Christmas Tree and picked up a little gift bag and handed it to her.
“Merry Christmas” he said and sat down beside her.

But she seemed not to notice the gift and took a deep breath and blurted out.
“I’ve told Caz about us”
“Really?” he said
“She saw us holding hands at the Carol Service” She explained “So I had to”
“Good” he said
“Then you’re not angry?”
“No of course not” he said “What did she say?”
“She said that she was thrilled for me” and tears were beginning to form in her eyes.
Alan put his arms around her and said
“I told Jimmy last night and he said it was about time”
“What about the others?” she asked
“I spoke to Siobhan before she went out this morning” Alan said
“And what did she say?” Jo said urgently, knowing that she would be the most likely to be upset by the news as she was only 7 when her mum died.
“Cool” he replied and she sighed
“So only Lorraine to tell then”
“Yes I’ll tell her tomorrow” he said “But she’s been telling me for years I needed to find someone, so she won’t be a problem”
“So what do we do now?” she asked
“Well I don’t know” he replied “but once I’ve spoken to Lorraine it means you can kiss me anytime you want without the aid of mistletoe”
“Oh I like the sound of that” She said and gave him a big hug and an hour later they were snuggled beneath the freshly laundered duvet.
“So much for no funny business” he thought as she lay her head on his chest and sighed.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (27) Christmas in Highfinch

(Part 01)

Christmas was just around the corner for the inhabitants of Highfinch which nestled on the edge of the Pepperstock Hills where the Lily Green Hollows Golf Club separated the village from the Hamlet of Lily Green, which made up the parish of St Martins Church.
It was the first time for quite a few years that Jenna Lawton had approached the season with a boyfriend, although calling him a boyfriend was pushing it a bit as he was almost forty, but then she wasn’t exactly a girl at 37.
It was also the first time she had approached it as a Vicar.
Another significant difference was something that also hadn’t happened for quite a few years and that was she would be spending it with her baby brother.
Brian Lawton was 33 years old and had been medically discharged from the Downshire Light Infantry due to injuries sustained in Afghanistan when he lost most of his left foot.

Brian had led a rather rudderless existence since leaving the Army in the previous January, until mid-October when he made one of his infrequent phone calls to touch base with his sister who was at the time the de facto Vicar of St Martins in Highfinch while the Reverend Mortimer was recovering from a heart attack.
Everything that subsequently followed began with a simple question on the innocent phone call.
“So how are you sis?” he asked jovially and she burst into tears.
Unable to get any sense out of her over the phone he said
“Ok I’m on my way”
Fortunately he wasn’t a million miles away as he and another ex-soldier were doing some security work in Sharpington and it was his day off.

However once Brian arrived to comfort his older sister he never left as she suggested he stay with her permanently at the Vicarage and he agreed and also suggested he might find work at the Golf Course.
In truth Jenna had no doubts whatsoever that they would welcome him with open arms at the Golf Club because the manager of Lily Green Hollows, David Pike, was on the parish council and she had already broached the subject with him and used her influence.

But Brian was not the only newcomer to Highfinch and the Vicarage that year because two weeks after he took up residence he and Jenna were joined by the 30 year old replacement Curate, Rosie Coulter and Jenna and Rosie took to each other from the first moment they met.

But even with, Nick Faulkner, the man she loved, at her side, and her brother Brian on hand for support and an eager young Curate to help with her with the burden she was not looking forward to Christmas with as much enthusiasm as she had in past years.
Because that particular year she saw the normally joyous event of the Christmas church calendar as nothing more than tiresome obstacles that had to be overcome.

(Part 02)

The month of November began in a much happier vain when Jenna and Nick began dating, firstly to bonfire night display at Sharpinghead and then on Saturday Night he took her over to Purplemere and they had a lovely meal at the Runcible Spoon.
The next day Jenna was in a wonderful mood and it didn’t take an expert to know why and Brian was very pleased to see she was looking much more like her old self and seemed to have fully recovered from the malady of despondency that had afflicted her when he first arrived and she thought the Bishop was going to transfer her.
Jenna was also on very good form in the pulpit and she delivered a very inspiring and enlightening sermon.

However it wasn’t long before a gloom descended over her when she remembered that even before she reached the first hurdle of her Christmas marathon she had another problem to solve first.
A local man called Henry Gold normally played Santa at the St Martins Christmas Bazaar and had done for many years but since his sad demise earlier that year it had proved difficult to replace him.
However Rosie thought she had the perfect solution.
“What about Brian?”
“Yes, he’ll need a bit of padding but I think he’ll be a natural” Rosie said “He’s got lovely broad shoulders”
“I think that’s a great idea” she said and kissed her check “Well done”

Jenna walked into the lounge at the Vicarage and she said
“Brother Dearest”
“What?” he responded suspiciously?
“I have a task for you”
“And what’s that?” Brian asked
“I need you to help out at the Christmas Bazaar” she said
“Oh ok yes I can do that” Brian said a little relieved to get off so lightly
“Excellent” she said “We just need to get the ladies to alter the costume”
“Hold on what costume?” Brian said “I don’t remember agreeing to a costume”
“The Santa costume obviously” Jenna said
“I am not going to dress up and Santa” he said adamantly
“But you have to, you can’t sit in Santa’s grotto in your ordinary clothes” Jenna insisted
“What grotto?” he asked
“You’ll make a wonderful Santa” Rosie added
“That’s not fair, you’re ganging up” he said indignantly “ganging up isn’t fair”
“I’ll let you know when you’re needed for the first fitting” Jenna said as she left the room
“But Jenna?” he called
“Can’t talk, I’m going to lunch with my boyfriend”
A moment later her head appeared around the door and she added
“I rather like the way that sounds”
Brian spent the next five minutes trying to fathom how she had managed to rope him into playing Santa at the St Martin’s School Christmas Bazaar without him even realising what he had agreed to and in fact he was left with the impression that he actually volunteered.

(Part 03)
However she became more troubled the closer she got to the first obstacle to be conquered in the marathon which came on
November 29th, and that was the First Sunday of Advent.
But despite it being a test of endurance she got through it without a hitch and with it successfully under her belt she should have been able to approach the next leg with renewed vigour.
However it soon began to look as if she wouldn’t get there with her sanity intact.

The day after her success Jenna was in the church Hall with a small team of ladies who were on hand to affect alterations to Brian’s Santa suit.
It was obviously the team of ladies who did all the work while she looked on, but the lack of activity gave her time to think and time to think meant time to worry and it didn’t go unnoticed.
And at the Vicarage that evening Brian broached the subject with her.
“What’s the matter sis?”
“Christmas is the matter” she replied
“But you love Christmas” he reminded her
“Yes but It’s such a busy time, there is so much going on, Advent, Christingle, Carol Concert and the Bazaar and everyone is watching me to see if I screw up”
“But you’ve been here for ten years” he said “this is hardly your first Christmas”
“Yes but it’s my first Christmas as the Vicar” she said worriedly
“Look you’ve already ticked off the first Sunday of advent and the Bazaar is totally covered, so stop worrying” he reassured her.

Despite her brothers words of comfort she still approached the Second weekend of Advent with little confidence and when she got to Friday lunchtime it suddenly got a whole lot worse.
She was in the Church Hall where she was waiting for Brian to arrive for the final fitting for his costume when her phone rang.

Jenna hung up the phone and muttered something under and almost knocked her brother over who just happened to be coming the other way.
“It’s a total disaster” Jenna blurted out “Trevor Gurney has appendicitis”
“Oh no” Brian said “is he ok?”
“What?” she said as if confused by the question
“Trevor” he clarified “is he ok?”
“Oh shit,” the Vicar exclaimed, “I never thought to ask”
“So what’s the disaster then?” He enquired
“Trevor is the chief Elf to your Santa,” she explained
“So what’s the problem?” he said “can’t we just find someone to fill his shoes?”
“It’s not his shoes that are the problem” Jenna explained
“He’s a six foot stick insect with a bum like a twelve year old boy”
“Oh” Brian said unhelpfully
“We can’t get anyone else with their own costume at this late stage” she went on
Brian went to speak but she was in full flow and cut him off
“No! We can’t hire a costume they’re all gone, and if we put one of the volunteers in Trevor’s costume they will just look ridiculous”
“Don’t you think a six foot Elf is ridiculous anyway?” Brian remarked
“He’s a very good Elf” Jenna said indignantly “and he supplied his own costume”
“So let me get this straight we need someone six feet tall, stick thin with an arse like a 12 year old boy” he asked
“Yes” Jenna replied crossly, “That’s why it’s a disaster”
“I know just the person,” he said

(Part 04)

“So let me get this straight we need someone six feet tall, stick thin with an arse like a 12 year old boy” he asked
“Yes” Jenna replied crossly, “That’s why it’s a disaster”
“I know just the person,” he said
“Really?” she asked doubtfully
“Really” he said and taking out his mobile phone he got up his contacts list, scrolled down and hit call.
“Rosie? Where are you?”
“I’m here” she said suddenly emerging from the Church Hall
“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asked and put his phone away.
The Vicar paced up and down like an expectant father while looking her Curate up and down.
“I don’t believe it, the solution was right under my nose all the time” she said
“Will you do it?” She asked eventually
“Do what?” Rosie asked
“Be the chief Elf to my Santa” he said “You are uniquely qualified”
“Ok” Rosie agreed
“Sorted” Brian replied
“Thank you God” Jenna said looking to the heavens and crossing herself “and thank you Brian”
“You’re perfect Rosie, I can’t believe I didn’t see it” she said
“You obviously don’t spend as much time looking at her as I do” Brian said and then blushed at the realization that he’d said it out loud.
Jenna pretended that she didn’t notice but Rosie did and she was smiling as she went back inside.
Jenna just kissed his cheek before going off to belatedly enquire about Trevor’s state of health.

On Saturday morning Jenna and Rosie left the Vicarage very early as there was a lot still to do in readiness for the Bazaar.
By the time Brian arrived at St Martin’s school at 11.00am she was fussing around like a mother hen, uncharacteristically wanting things just so.
“Hey sis” he said
“You’re cutting it fine” Jenna said crossly
“There’s plenty of time” he said
“There’s still so much to do” she retorted
“Ok just calm down” Brian said “it’s all in hand”
“Look it’s not just a Christmas Bazaar you know we’re making Christmas memories” Jenna said “it’s important for the children so it’s got to be done right”
Just then Rosie came through the door behind him
“Hello Santa” she said brightly
“Hi Rosie” he said “Hey why aren’t you in costume?”
“Some of us have had a very busy morning Grouchy Clause” Rosie said
“Come on Rosie your costume is through there” said Jenna and lead her away to one of the offices, but she paused by the doorway and let Rosie go ahead of her gave her an appraising look and declared to her brother.
“You were right bro she does have a bum like a twelve year old boy”
“Yes she’s perfect” she heard Brian say and smiled and left him with the drama teacher Cherry Overton-Brown who showed him in to the grotto where he was to be fully regaled in the red velvet suit and sat on his throne where Cherry would apply the finishing touches to his beard, wig and hat.

(Part 05)

Jenna was much relieved by the end of the afternoon when everything was over and done.
All the feedback she had heard was that the new Santa had done a very good job so she went to find him and thank him, she had been sharp with him earlier in the day and he hadn’t deserved it.
To get to the grotto you had to enter via an adjoining classroom, like an anteroom, where the walls were hidden behind red velvet drapes, decorated with tinsel and coloured lights.
The adjoining door was slightly ajar so she looked through the gap into the magical grotto.
Leading to the throne was a snow covered path and on one side of it was a festive tableau of snowmen and reindeer and on the other side Santa’s sleigh was parked.
The huge throne was in the furthest corner surrounded by Christmas parcels where Brian, fully regaled in the red velvet suit was sat on his throne, and sitting on his lap was a tall and flat chested Elf and they were kissing.

As the resident celebrity of Highfinch, and the Vicars boyfriend, Nick Faulkner, was both the guest of honour and the raffle prize draw master.
But with the draw complete he went in search of his own prize draw, namely the Reverend Lawton and he caught up with her in the ante room to Santa’s grotto and she was peering through a gap in the door to the grotto.
“What are you looking at nosy?” Nick said
“Shush” she said and put her finger to her lips “Come and have a look”
He tiptoed across the room and also peaked through the crack in the door and could see Rosie the Elf snogging Santa Claus.
“Well, well” he said “Just wait until Mrs Claus finds out about this”
“Oh I think she already knows” Jenna said

With the resounding success of the St Martins School Bazaar and the added bonus of discovering her brother and her Curate were in love she breezed through the Second and third Sundays of Advent which meant she was on the home straight.
The Trifecta of Christingle, Carol Service and the fourth Advent Sunday which were on consecutive days.
But she was in a great frame of mind and was brimming with confidence.
However a phone call from on Wednesday morning threw a spanner in the works, it was from Lee Shuttlewood, the church warden.
“Oh God, It’s just one thing after another” Jenna said “It’s Christingle on Friday and then the Carol concert”
Jenna hung up and let out a muffled yell.
“What’s the matter? Is life testing you’re patience sis?”
Brian asked cheerfully
“No it’s testing my faith,” she retorted without humour and left the room.
“Now look what you’ve done” Rosie said and followed quickly in the Vicar’s footsteps.
“What was Lee saying anyway?” Rosie asked hoping she would be able to give her some words of comfort
“The sound system and the visual displays have packed up” Jenna replied “Christingle is in three days”
“Oh no” Rosie exclaimed and started crying and then Jenna had to comfort her.

(Part 06)

The Christingle Service has become ingrained in Anglican worship though it had its origins in Eastern Europe.
The Christingle Service is a Service of candle lights where long ago people gathered in the street, sang carols and collected gifts to help the less fortunate in the community.
It is a beautiful candle lit service of hymns, carols, recitations and bible readings, but Christingle goes beyond a candle light service and it tells a story.
A story is told with the symbolic use of specific items, an orange representing the world.
A red ribbon tied around the orange to symbolize the blood of Jesus shed for his people.
Toothpicks decorated with dried fruits and sweets placed at the four corners of the orange representing all the people of the world and a lighted candle in the centre of the orange representing the gift of the light of Christ to the world.

After about 10 minutes Jenna and Rosie were sitting in the kitchen feeling sorry for themselves when they had a visitor.
“Hello!” a voice said
“Who’s that?” Jenna asked
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me already” Nick said as he appeared in the door way.
“Oh Nick” she said and threw herself into his arms.
Brian had been feeling rather guilty about his earlier flippancy with Jenna so he phoned Nick.

“So what can I do to help?” he asked
“Nothing much” she said “unless you know anything about the sound system”
“Well no” he confessed
“That’s not my area of expertise, but I know people who know people”
“Really?” she said suddenly encouraged.
“I’ll makes some calls” he said

Two hours later, Greg Scott, a friend of Nicks pulled up outside St Martin’s.
Nick introduced him to Jenna, Rosie and Lee Shuttlewood and then they all went inside.
After giving him a brief tour they left him to it and waited in the vestry until he was done.

The waiting was awful, no one spoke and they all feared the worst and Jenna was convinced that Christingle and the Carol Concert would have to be cancelled or simplified significantly.

“So what conclusion have you reached?” Nick asked
“Well it’s not a complicated system,” Gregg replied “I can easily patch it up in the short term, and after Christmas we could look at a more permanent solution maybe even replace the whole thing”
“We don’t have much money” Jenna added
“That’s not an issue” Greg said “I wouldn’t have a business at all if it wasn’t for Nick so I’m just repaying a long overdue favour”

After Scott had gone Jenna said
“It’s divine providence”
And burst into tears.

Gregg Scott was good to his word and had the audio visual systems working like clockwork.
He did have to swap out the visual displays as the circuitry was fried on the old ones but he had the work completed in plenty of time for Christingle which was On Friday December 18th.

(Part 07)

Gregg Scott had the work completed in plenty of time for Christingle which was On Friday December 18th.
First of all the children assembled at the church hall in their Sunday School groups and made their Christingle lights and when all the congregants were seated in the church the children carried them proudly in procession into the church where they were lit for the service.
It was always a big hit with the children which was why Jenna wanted it to go smoothly, which it did.

The Carol Concert was on the following night and was an all ticket occasion and as always it was performed to a packed house.
The sound system was excellent and the new visual displays came into their own.
But as successful as the concert was there was no time for Jenna to rest on her laurels because the next morning brought the Sunday Service and the lighting of the fourth candle of advent, the final leg of the trifecta.

From the moment the service ended she relaxed and as she stood in the doorway with the breeze stirring her brunette hair,
The difference in her demeanour was palpable, her intelligent green eyes were laughing again and broad toothy smile was on full display.
She still had Christmas Morning to contend with but that pretty much took care of itself, she had written the sermon, the readings had been selected as were their readers, the hymns and carols had been chosen and the slideshow for the visual displays was done.
So she was looking forward to a few stress free days off.

The day following the last Sunday of Advent was Nick’s Fortieth birthday so as soon as she was up and dressed she walked round to his house carrying a little gift bag.
She stood on the door step and knocked on the door and when it opened she said
“Happy Birthday old man, I come bearing gifts”
“Well thank you” he responded and kissed her “Come in”

For his big day she had booked a table at the same restaurant where they had their first serious date, the Runcible Spoon in Purplemere.
It was an expensive restaurant especially for her but she felt it was important.
As a result her present was a bit less than she would have liked to have spent on him, but she made what little she had count by buying something he would appreciate.

Nick wasn’t just a TV Sports Presenter he was a sports aficionado.
In fact he was writing a book on the subject, so while she was browsing at the Christmas Bazaar there was a stall selling second hand Bric-à-brac including a small selection of books and amongst them was an old book from the 1970’s entitled ABC of Soccer Sense by Tommy Docherty.
She was sure he would like it until he started unwrapping it and then she thought it was a bit naff.
“Wow” he said “this is one of Norman Giller’s”
“Is that good?” she asked
“Yes it is” he replied “Where on earth did you find it?”
“Do you like it then?” she asked
“I love it” he replied and kissed her

(Part 08)

On Christmas Eve Nick suggested they take a walk over to The Kingfisher over in Kingfisherbridge.
They had taken a walk over there on a rainy lunchtime back in September before he had to leave to work on the Rugby World Cup.
They hadn’t been back since, she thought it was sweet of him to think about going back.
It was about a mile and a half walk from Highfinch but it was a much brighter day as they walked towards Hawks Wood on Christmas Eve than the previous occasion.
They had a couple of drinks and some sandwiches and then they headed slowly back.
As they were walking back through Hawk Wood he said
“Look this is where we almost got run over”
Back in September they were so busy concentrating on hearing what the other was saying above the beating of the rain that they didn’t notice the mad cyclist approaching them from behind.
In fact they only knew he was there when he shouted
They jumped sideway just in the nick of time.
“You Godless heathen” she yelled at the errant cyclist
As Nick was falling backwards and instinctively reached out to grab something while he was falling but the only thing in reach was Jenna so he landed on his back in the wet bracken and she landed on top of him.
“Yes and that’s where you almost kissed me” she said
After jumping clear of their assailant they lay there nose to nose on the wet ground for a full minute before she said
“This is awkward, and not a little compromising for a woman of the cloth”
“Indeed” he agreed desperate to reach up the infinitesimal distance to her lovely lips and plant a kiss on them
“A less gentlemanly man than I would probably take advantage of the situation”
Then he rolled her over onto her back and pushed himself up and helped Jenna to do the same, “But alas I am”
“Trust my luck to find myself lying in the undergrowth with the only gentleman in Highfinch”
And a smile began around her green eyes and a broad toothy smile spread across her pleasant demeanour.
“I seem to remember that was where you almost kissed me” he retorted.
“Well we could just kiss now instead” she suggested so they did.
“You know the old saying” he said “life begins at 40”
“Yes” she replied “Are you going to go all philosophical on me?”
“What I’m trying to say is that my life began before I was 40, because it began when I met you” he said
“Mine too” she agreed
“And there is only one thing that that could possibly improve on that beginning” Nick said taking his hand from his pocket
“So will you marry me?”
“You want to marry me?” she asked staring at the ring
“Of course I want to marry you” he said “But if you say no I’m happy to try your Curate, I do like a brunette”
“Don’t you dare” She said and snatched the ring
“You’re mine”