Summary Page

This page contains most of the content from the main 'story line' characters. It is designed to allow an easy way of keeping up with the story on slow connections (or for reading later). It is, of course, no substitute for the real thing!

Cuppa with Shirley
Ann's Letters
Simon's e-mail
Dining Room
Puckering Gazette

Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)


She's at her shop (In Olde Things Forgotten). We've got to start looking after ourselves, she says to me. We can't survive on your vegetables. Rushing around she is getting ready for this party. I thinks she's trying to do too much. You're not getting any younger, I tell her, but she doesn't listen. Tea? Make me a cup while you're there, would you? Every time I get up I fall over the blessed cat! Still the mice have gone.

They've no business bothering her about the past. John's a good lad, leave him in peace, I say. There's much too much talk in this house these days. Tinsley's a fool, though Miss Ann is a nice enough young lady, but her friend! I guess America is so big that they all need to shout.

Still She saw to them. And from what I've heard She's found herself a friend. Of course now She's got some success, no knowing what She'll do next. Poisoned one husband, is what I heard, and there's others been sick in this house. How will it end I ask you?

Is that tea ready yet?

Ann's Letters

Ann's Guest List, Autumn Ball

Amy and James
Rev. Nigel Banks
Mr. Basil Edwards
Mrs. Archer Winston
Dr.  Eugenia Dowley
Col.  N. Bratherton
Mr. Godrey Clayburne
Dr. Nigel Mannerly
Dr. Basil Hardcote
Ms. Evelyn Prosser
Mr. Hepplewaite
Mr. Mark Butlins
Miss Irene Kent and Miss Gladys Rutherford
Mr. and Mrs. Nigel Amberly
Mr. Breight-Laughton
Mr. Artimaine
Fr. McGintus Hoole
Mrs. Lydia Stenhouse
Miss Minnie Smalls
Miss Crowder-Switts and Mr. Sonderleigh

Lady Imogene Studley-Smythe?

Simon's Guest List, Autumn Ball

Phil and Caroline Porkridge
Jackie Collins
Frank and Emma
Rev. Banks
Lumpy Gaites
Bert Walsham
Andy Barstow
George Stout
Flash Bolger
Art Covers (Red)
Mr. Mrs. Nigel Morcombe
Ed Waterfall
David Truckle
Nigel Barksley
Bobby Archer
Nigel Twicks

Simon's e-mail

To Simon

Got your party invite at last. Very posh! Fortunately I'm available that weekend.

Well, I'm coming sans date. I shall just have to flirt outrageously with all the men there. Will there be any single men for me? Chester sounds like a bit of a wet fish, but maybe I could seduce the vicar. If things get dull I'll just cozy up to Phil. He'll get uncomfortable and Caroline will save you ordering any ice!

Looking forward to seeing you again

Love and stuff

Caroline was well impressed with your invitation. I think you're back in the good books again. She's out buying a dress and sending the formal reply. I said I'd email you, but she seemed to think we should reply 'properly'. Sometimes I feel like I'm too uncouth to live in this world and then I think, but it's Simon, and I know what a pig you are.

Do I need to wear a suit? Caroline wants me to wear a suit. She even suggested I rent a tuxedo! I didn't wear a tuxedo for my wedding (but you wouldn't know that SINCE YOU DIDN'T COME).

Anyway looking forward to seeing you.


Congratulations on ordering from 'The Blimp Guys'.    We are sure that you will find this indoor blimp just the thing for trade shows and marquee events. You had requested model  #01-0170, the four-panel blimp with full accessories and harness. Please be aware that we are not responsible for anything you may choose to carry with your blimp and it is not warranted for freight! The blimp is intended for advertising and promotional purposes only.

The Blimp Guys

From Simon:
To Phil

Wear what the hell you like! You seemed quite keen on those green tights last time we were together!

We have visitors. Amy is Ann's friend and she's a full package. She's nothing like Ann. She just comes right out with it. And there's plenty of it! She's a big girl, especially right now as she's pregnant. The boyfriend, James, is a bit of a disappointment. He knows nothing about cricket!! Nothing. No opinion on Viv Richards against Gooch, or Botham. He played a few games in school, he said, but preferred basketball! It's the end of the Empire, I tell you. Also he's making me feel bad. He goes running every morning - not jogging, running. He's pretty fit looking too. So I tried to join him yesterday. After 400 yards I told him I had to check the rhododendrons and collapsed by the ha-ha. My legs still feel like jelly.

See you at the party


To Jackie

Glad you got the invite. Ann didn't say anything when I added you to the list, so that's all right. Not that she needs to worry as you know.

We had visitors. Ann's friend Amy, and her boyfriend James, stayed for a few nights and then left because they said they'd seen a ghost! She's pregnant, so who knows where her hormones are, but he'd seemed quite normal. Course he's from the West Indies with all that Voodoo stuff.  You'll see them at the party. I think if you were a woman, which you are, he'd be quite good looking. I went running with him and he's pretty fit. He doesn't play cricket though, which is very strange. And he's a lawyer! He actually did some post-graduate stuff at Oxford. Some blokes have it all. But on the other hand he ended up with Amy. Still you might like her. She's the complete opposite of Ann, more like you, blunt and out there. Actually she's got quite a lot out there, she's a big girl.

Come to think of it I'm surprised the ghost didn't run away from her!

See you at the party.


Dining Room Conversations

Emma Knytleigh: In an attempt to record the current history of Stoney Grove a number of interviews and conversations will be recorded with some of the people who have connections with the estate. Accordingly the Dining Room has been supplied with hidden microphones and recording equipment to allow the process to take place in as natural a setting as possible.  Participants are, of course, aware that conversations are being recorded.


James: Do you think we should tell them about last night? Do you think they’ll think we’re crazy people?

Amy: Ann already thinks I’m crazy. She always has. Don’t sweat it.

James: Okay, but she doesn’t think I’m crazy.

Amy: Sure she does. As soon as I told her I was pregnant, the first thing she had to be thinking was, "James is out of his mind to have a baby with you!" She didn’t say it though—Ann never does.

Ann: Good morning. How’d you guys sleep?

Amy: Morning. Not a bad night. It’s kind of creaky and drafty, but I'm getting used to it. I guess I expected everything to be fancier –you know, more like you’re rich.

James: I slept fine, thank you.

Simon: So you think we’re slumming it, then? Not posh enough for you?

Amy: Hey Simon. No, not really. Kind of like staying in a hotel that’s seen its best. I guess you can fix it up. You’re making progress downstairs—but upstairs it’s all kinda shabby.

Simon: And I suppose you live in…

Amy: I live in a concrete box. But I’m not the one who won the lottery and has been drinking cream teas for the past six months. I’m allowed to live in a dump. I’m a grad student.

Simon: Well if you don't like it, you can...

Ann: Toast or cereal this morning? Shirley’s got a kettle on for tea, but if anyone wants coffee, I’ll go ask her to make a pot.

Amy: I can’t face another cup of tea. Coffee’s good.

James: I’d love a cup of tea, thank you.

Simon: Tea here as well. Thanks Ann. So James, are you going running again this morning? I’m afraid I won’t be able to join you. Got lots to do today…

James: Yeah, I thought I’d go. The path around the lake is good. I think I’ll try to get further today.

Ann: Amy, what do you want to do this morning?

Amy: Maybe we could go check out some stores around here? Nothing fits right anymore. Besides, I’m freezing all the time. Does it ever get warm here? Can’t you afford any heat?

Simon (muttering): I thought fat was supposed to keep you warm.

Ann (whispering): Simon!

Amy: Yeah, fat is supposed to keep you warm. Pregnancy isn’t though. And if you think I’m fat now, wait a few more months.

Simon: Are we to have the great pleasure of seeing you then as well?

Ann: Simon, be quiet.

James: So who’s been growing the weed?

Ann: We don’t mean to.  I don’t have time keep up with it all. We need to get someone in again to keep things straight until winter.

James: No, no, I wasn’t criticizing your garden. I meant—the pot, the cannabis. It’s looking good, really healthy.

Simon: Pot? You saw some here?

James: Yeah. Saw a big patch of it down by the lake.

Ann: Where exactly?

James: There’s an old house back there on the hillside. Someone was sitting in the doorway having a smoke. Place smelled like a disco. I didn’t want to breathe!

Simon: You didn’t stop in for a puff?

James: No man, I don’t smoke. Anything. It slows you down.

Amy: James is a real health freak. Got the pecks to show for it, don’t you, sweetie?

Ann: Do you think that was Frank? I don’t believe it. Emma would kill him!

Simon: I’ll kill him myself if he gets busted. That’s all we need—"Stoney Grove Owners Pushing Drugs" will be all over the bleeding paper.

Shirley: Drugs? Are you getting into the drug trade now Mr. Tinsley? Keeping up your biker image, are you? Here’s the tea. It’ll be a few more minutes for the coffee. It’s going to be coffee every morning, is it?

Amy: For me anyway. I hate tea. All those little things floating around in dishwater. Yuck.

Ann: Thanks Shirley. We’d appreciate it if you could make us a pot of coffee tomorrow morning too.

Simon: And bring us a hash pipe, could you be a dear?

Shirley: Sorry, Mr. Churchill’s got the only hash pipe I know about…

Simon: Really? So he does smoke?

Shirley: Like a chimney. Always has his own little garden round the back of the cottage he lives in. Martin won’t touch the stuff—doesn’t get big enough and you can’t really show it now, can you—but Frank keeps a patch.

Ann: Does Emma know?

Shirley: That’s why she’s so mad! Don’t you pay any attention? Go ask her yourself.

Ann: I thought she was mad because Frank wouldn’t tell her about John’s father.

Shirley: Well now that’s nobody’s business. Nobody’s business at all. Nothing to do with her, or with you. Bunch of outsiders who don’t know enough to keep your noses…(sound of door closing on Shirley’s muttering)

Ann: She’s so touchy sometimes. Oh, God, I told the florist she could take whatever she wanted from the grounds for the arrangements! We could have a house full of the stuff !

Amy: Ann, I don’t want to be too obvious here, but if you’re tenant has been growing pot on your property for years, I think you should be worried about more than the floral arrangements.

Ann: You’re right. We’ve got to get him to get rid of it. We’ve invited half the police force to the party for goodness sake. Simon, run down with James and tell him to clear it out.

James: Thanks for breakfast, Ann. I’ll see you later. Good luck shopping—get something as beautiful as you.

Amy: Are you nuts? Nothing is going to be beautiful. This is England. Have you seen how people dress?

Ann: Well, you don’t have to start off negatively or we might as well not go.

Amy: Sorry, sorry.

Ann: What’s your problem this morning? You’ve been all over Simon. You even managed to get him to stick up for the house!

Amy: Hey, I’m sorry. I guess I shouldn’t take it out on him, I mean, who’s to say that it’s all his fault, but, you know, you’re not happy.

Ann: No, I’m not happy, but I think I’m okay. This place is still really hard sometimes. I don’t feel like I've made any friends…everyone wants something. I have staff that are mad at me because I’m rich, or I’m not one of the Halls, I have acquaintances at the church who are very nice, but just want a juicy donation, the local newspaper hates me…you know Simon’s really the only one on my side.

Amy: So, it isn’t working out. Why not do something else?

Ann: I want to be connected with something. I want to do something with my life that’s constructive.

Amy: Like worrying about floral arrangements for a party full of people who you just said hate you?

Ann: Well if I don’t, we’ll get arrested! No, seriously, I think I can do something great with this house.

Amy: Have you finished your paper for the SOMEH conference?

Ann: No. Done the research, haven’t written a word yet.

Amy: That’s bad. Not for me, hell I never write a word until the day before the conference. But you, blowing off an international meeting? That’s not good, honey.

Ann: Yeah, I’ll get it done. Don’t be mad at Simon though. It’s not his fault. Really. Things are getting better.

Amy: Okay, I’ll back off. Let’s go out. Can we take his bike?

Very early the next morning

Amy: We can’t stay here. I’m not going back up there. James, go get our stuff and tell Ann we’re leaving.

James: I don’t want to go back up there either. Let’s just sit here for a minute.

Amy: We can’t sit here all night. Who knows, it might come downstairs after us.

James: Not all night, didn’t say all night. I said "for a minute." In a minute, maybe it will go away.

Amy: Like where James? Where exactly do ghosts go when they’ve scared the shit out of people? In the movies I’ve seen, they keep it up until people clear out. Well, I’m ready to go. I don’t need to be pushed.

James: Easy. Just a minute.

Ann: Amy? James? What’s going on? It’s past midnight.

James: Yeah. Sorry to have woken you. Couldn’t sleep.

Ann: Is there something I can do? Can I get you another blanket or a drink or something?

Amy: What about Dan Akroyd or Bill Murray? Hell, I’d take Ernie Hudson at this point.

Ann: Who?

Amy: I hate to tell you this Ann, but your house is haunted.

Ann: What?

Amy: We saw it, Ann. He was old and wrinkly and he just appeared in our bedroom. Tell her, James.

James: I didn’t see anyone old and wrinkly. I saw a lady, a white lady with lots of layers of dress on. She stared right at me. Just stood there, looking.

Ann: Have you guys been drinking?

Amy: No! I’m completely sober. I don’t know what James is babbling about, but I saw some translucent old dude coming at me, floating across the room. I’m not going back up there. We’re leaving.

Ann: Hold on, where are you going to go at 2:30 in the morning?

Amy: I don’t care. I’ll go sit in the car. I’m not staying.

James: How about the Hermitage? Frank seems like a nice guy.

Ann: I’ve lived here for six months and never seen a ghost, wrinkly or otherwise. I think you’re overreacting.

Amy: Well, I think you’re blind. You didn’t know about the pot, you didn’t know why Emma was pissed off at Frank. Let’s not even get in to the whole Simon thing. For all I know, you’ve had a whole cemetery full of goblins waltzing through the ballroom.

Ann: Hey, don’t get bitchy with me. I was only trying to help.

Amy: Yeah, yeah. Do you have any friends you could call? I’m worried about the baby.

Ann: He’s going to think I’m nuts, but the only one I could even consider calling at this hour is Chester.

Amy: Call him. Call him now.

Ann: Okay, okay. I’ll be back in a minute.

James: How about getting a few things from the room? Okay, no problem. We can come back in the morning.

Ann: Hang on. I’ll be right back.

Special Session Held off-site at Brixton Prison

Emma Kntyleigh and Gerald Anderson

Emma: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me, Mr. Anderson.

Jerry: Call me Jerry, everyone does. I was surprised when you called, but the truth needs to come out. I've been thinking, plenty of time in here for that, and he should know the truth.

Emma: John?

Jerry: Yes.

Emma: Are you his father?

Jerry: Blimey you don't mess about, do you? Yes, I am and that's why I'm here.

Emma: You're in prison because you stole from Stoney Grove.

Jerry: Yes, but why did I do it, eh? Why did I do it? It was for him, for John. It was Shirley's idea. I was just giving him what was rightfully his.

Emma: Shirley knew you were stealing from the house?

Jerry: Oh, it was her idea. She said that I'd done nothing as a father to provide for him, and that Monty had always intended to give John some income. So since those two useless lumps had no idea what was there I just took a few things for him.

Emma: Why didn't you tell the truth at the trial?

Jerry: Well I'm a gentleman and there was no need to get Shirley involved. To be honest I may have got a bit carried away with taking stuff, but it's a crime it is when people have wonderful things that they don't treasure.

Emma: Stealing the desk was a bit obvious.

Jerry: It's Queen Ann that desk. I didn't think she appreciated it.

Emma: I can't believe Shirley would steal from the house she worked at for all her life.

Jerry: Well, I think she always felt guilty about sending Betsy away. John grew up down there, and she wanted to make it up to him. You see she really believes that the stuff should be John's.

Emma: Because Monty liked the little boy she thought she could take stuff from the house and give it to him? She's got no right to be casting aspersions about my character!

Jerry: But there's more. Turn that bloody tape off, will you.


Puckering Gazette

Puckering Paper Published No More
After nearly 100 years of covering local, national and international news, the editor is sad to announce that this will be the last issue of the Puckering Gazette in the foreseeable future. Founded in 1898 by the very late Nigel E. Twicks, the current editor's great grandfather, the paper has served the community in war and peace, adversity and prosperity.  Over the last five years, competition from other news sources, including electronic media, have significantly affected the profitability of the paper. The newspaper does not bring in enough revenue to pay for costs, and with the loss of talented reporter and writer Lumpy Gaites (see Puckering Profiles) the editor is unable to continue alone.  Unless a new owner is found it seems likely that Puckering will permanently lose its only local newspaper. --Nigel Twicks

Lost and Found Lovers
The Wednesday night Singles' meeting at the Bell  was interrupted when, with the passion of true romance, Nigel Winter burst into the pub and declared his love for Mary Summers.  As their story tearfully unfolded, others attending the meeting learned that the true love of this couple was stymied by the loveless marriage of Nigel. Unable to keep apart, they had communicated through the classifieds in the Puckering Gazette, arranging meetings through the Lost and Found column.

After several months, Nigel called the affair off, unable to deal with the guilt of infidelity. It was this that sparked Mary to populate the village with mementos of their relationship, something which unfortunately affected the outcome of the Best Village competition. Still, for Nigel it was the sign that she truly loved him. When his wife left him last week to move in with an  insurance salesman from Crawley he knew what he had to do.

This reporter's eyes misted over when Nigel, hair carefully parted, came into the pub with a bunch of flowers and dropped to one knee in front of the emotional Mary. The couple were later seen sitting in the corner holding hands, sharing a bag of cheese and onion crisps and poring over past classifieds - together. --Lumpy Gaites

Puckering Profiles:  Gaites to Close Career at Gazette?
Reginald "Lumpy" Gaites has announced his resignation from the Puckering Gazette to pursue a career as a novelist. Gaites, best known for his gutsy coverage of the Irregulars, but also a regular contributor to the news section, leaves the paper with mixed emotions.

"I’ve really enjoyed my time here," he notes, "but I’ve always wanted to concentrate on my fiction. I have a bit of a romantic streak in me, you see, and it can’t be expressed by covering the Irregulars. Not that they’re not a fine group of lads."

Between stories of valiant efforts on the pitch and the steady rise of local crime, Lumpy found time to write his first novel, an historical work set in pre-war Germany. "Daybreak in Dresden," the first of a series, has been accepted by a major London publishing house, and is expected out next year. The receipt of an advance for the second book, "Noon in Nimes," has provided the budding author with the financial freedom to pursue his passion full time.

Fittingly, his love of the historical romance genre began when, as a young lad, he began reading the work of Helena O’Rall, the novelist who penned such classics as "Adrift at Sea" and "Taxi to Kensington." Long rumoured to be a resident of Puckering, her identity has remained a mystery.

"I’ll never forget the last scene in Taxi," sighs Gaites. "It can still bring a tear to my eye. If I could write like that, I would."

Gaites has outlined two additional books, "Sunset in Sargosa" and "Midnight in Milan" to round off his fledgling series. "The books will give me a chance to do some travelling, to see the world. I’ve always wanted to go to Spain, and the missus is a pasta fanatic. Write something about Italy, she keeps pleading. I think I will." --Nigel Twicks

Guild Gathers to Honour O'Rall
Crowds gathered at the Upper Puckering Community Library on Tuesday night to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Helena O’Rall’s bestseller Taxi to Kensington. The library, in conjunction with the South Downs Writers’ Guild, hosted a gala evening.  This included a lecture by noted literary critic Eugenia Dowley, a dramatic reading from the text by librarian Katherine Crowder-Switts as Loretta and Guild member Ian Sonderleigh as Arthur, and a fine reception.

Miss Dowley traced the history of the book’s success, noting that whilst originally dismissed by critics as "just another romance novelist," O’Rall has come to be recognized as a pioneer in feminist literature. Her heroine, the young heiress Loretta Princeton, denied her heart’s wish, Sussex farmer Arthur Kingsley, to answer the call of God and country as an RAF nurse. "Through her young lovers, O’Rall profoundly influenced a generation’s understanding of the complexity of women’s experience during that troubled but triumphant period of our nation’s history," concluded Dowley. "Loretta Princeton became a guiding light for later feminist authors."

After a half century, the identity of the author who adopted the pen name of Helena O’Rall remains a mystery. Her most famous novel, set in wartime Britain, reveals the author’s deep understanding of the West Sussex way of life. Indeed, much of the story unfolds during Loretta’s fortnight with her aunt in Puckering, and features local shops and businesses, as well as scenes set at the Upper Puckering Parish Church and in the surrounding countryside. Following the success of Taxi, O’Rall authored three additional novels, the last published in 1963.

"Based on the overwhelming success of our program tonight, we’d like to host other events honouring authors who write about local themes," said Miss Crowder-Switts. "We’re in the planning stages for an afternoon program highlighting Miss Betsy Winches’ Ten Cups a Day: A Tea Drinker’s Guide to Health, and have begun discussions on an evening built around Nigel Rockmorton’s Horses, Hounds and Hedges: Rides through Puckering and the South Downs.—Lumpy Gaites

Excerpted from Taxi to Kensington 1949 - Helena O’Rall’s
"She came to him, heart fluttering beneath the thin gauze that stretched across her ample breasts. He wrapped her in his arms, burying his granite features in the soft curl of her luxurious auburn hair. "I’ll never let you go, m’love," he whispered. "You must," she sighed. "You know this must end…" And, tearing herself from his embrace, she turned to the taxi driver. "Kensington," she sobbed, stepping into the maw of the black behemoth. Within seconds, she had gone, and all that remained was the bittersweet memory of a warm summer evening."