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Cuppa with Shirley
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)
My, my but its hot today! I dont know how Martin can be still working out there in all this heat. Come in and rest. Theyre saying on the telly that its supposed to be 85 tomorrow. Well all suffocate, and thats the truth. Well, now, have you heard that we found our Miss Knytleigh? I believe Mr. Tinsley would have called the police, but didnt dare to, being afraid that Miss Simmons would think he was acting partial. In the end he found her at Franks cottage. Shes moved in with him, hasn't she? Now its not my place to say, and I dont generally meddle in other folks business, but shes no good for him. No better than fairground stock, I reckon. When Miss Ellen was alive there would have been none of these goings on with the staff, but Miss Simmons, shes a "modern" lady and wont say a word. Glad shes lost the competition, is my guess. Anyway, Miss Knytleigh, as calm as you please, told Mr. Tinsley that he neednt have worried, she was still working and her living arrangements were her own business. Cheeky girl. She was asking Martin and me a load of questions the other evening. Id just finished cleaning out the dining room, and she sat down as if she owned the place and started in on us. I dont know why she doesnt call on Irene, Mrs. Kents niece, and talk to her. She was here all the time as a girl, long before I was, and knew the place inside out. Still, I told her what I could. Now I didn't talk about HER. She might meet HER, or she might not, but it's not up to me to invite trouble. Doesn't do anybody good to speak ill of the dead, what with the drowning and all. She really ought to take a look at Mr. Basil's book. Wonder why she hasn't... Never mind. Now everyones in a to-do because Mr. Tinsleys father arrived for a long visit. Might even stay. I think its nice, having family around and all. Where else is the old gentleman to go? He seems quite fond of my cooking...Ooh, and I've got another plate to sell, American, I think. Vera brought it back from holiday a few years ago. I don't have a place for it, so if you want it, bid on it. Oh, hold on, theres the kettle. Can I pour you a cuppa?
How old are you, girl? I dont want to let you down on the friend thing, butcool out! If Simon is being a pig, deal with it instead of whining to me like some high school chick. Whats pissing you off? That he didnt pick you up at the airport? That you hear womens voices in your room? Could it be that the phone really did mess up that day, and that hes taken to listening to Alison Moyet or Kate Bush? (If its Shania Twain, on the other hand, I would leave him ). Im with you on the treeit was a stupid thing to do. But cut the jealousy trip. It wont get you anywhere. Trust me.
So, now that were through that, I will tell you who James is, since you asked (quite rudely, as I recall). Hes this great guy Ive been seeing for a few months. Hes a lawyer here and owns a bar in town, and is just fun to be with. His parents werent too thrilled about methey were looking for someone a little more West Indian for their son. But we're cool, so it doesnt matter.
Im back to the books after my jaunt to Barbados. Ill keep you posted if I get any more Stoney Grove scoop. In the meantime, chin up, dont take any crap, and stop whining.
P.S. Finished a jar of olives. Yum.
Thanks for the advice. Sorry I lost my temper last time. Things are better here. I finally yelled at Simon and he promised hed let me know if he was losing interest. I also made him swear not to do anything drastic to the house without discussing it with me, and he apologized for the satellite dish fiasco. So, were doing okay. I met the building inspector for tea one day last week, and hes agreed to come do some investigations for us in the house (looking for different mortar, plaster, woodwork etc. that will show us when and where changes were made). Simon and I are both quite excited about it.
It also turns out that I couldnt have been more wrong about Emma. While I was imagining all sorts of insane scenarios with her and Simon, she had her own plans. After several days of searching for her, Simon got the bright idea to go ask Frank (the hairless hermit) if he had any ideas. Well, as it turns out, he did. All of them carnal, and all focused on the missing Knytleigh. Shes moved in with him. I honestly cant imagine two more different people, but they appear to have some sort of bizarre attraction going on, so Im not getting in the way.
Shes also doing some good work, and seems quite oblivious to everyones former suspicions. For one thing, shes managed to reconstruct an outline of the family history from the 1870s through the last owner. Now shes started interviewing a variety of folks in and around Puckering to record the twentieth century history of the house itself. Between her work and Chesters, we should be in pretty good shape for making some decisions within the next few months. Unfortunately, the money has temporarily dried up. The ex-lotto commissioner is under investigation for fraud, and theyve frozen our payments for awhile until they figure out what to do. The whole thing is kind of scary (weve got LOTS of bills), but I cant see how the state can back out of such a high-profile commitment, so Im guessing it will all get sorted out soon.
Any thoughts about when you might come to see us? Things are pretty quiet around here, so I cant offer you much in the way of excitement, but we have just found a new pub to hang out inthe Village Idiot. It is dark and smoky --everyone in England under the age of 30 smokes these days, it seems--and ice cubes are scarcer than hens teeth . Im almost getting used to room-temperature Coke. But the beer is great and the publican is a riot. Hes Irish and has a great sense of humor. Youd like him.
Take care. Tell me more about James as it develops. Thanks for setting me straight about life and love.
P.S. Just when it seems life is settling down, something else happens. The moment I finished this, there was a knock on the door and Simon's dad was there. No one knew he was coming and we spent a few hours scrambling around for somewhere to put him (even though the house is big, there aren't many liveable spaces). Simon seems quite put out, and keeps muttering something about hoping the hell that Phil is wrong. I'm not sure what Phil has to do with any of this. Anyway, I think his dad seems quite sweet. More next time!
Dear Miss Simmons,
I recently found your name among my uncle Roderick's papers and am writing to apologise for any trouble he may have caused you. He's really quite harmless, and is a sweet, gentle man when he's on his medication. I do hope you understand that he means you no harm, but can be a bit stubborn when he has an idea in his head.
Thank you so much for a lovely morning. It was a great pleasure to talk to you about Stoney Grove and to have a chance to learn more about your interests. If it is convenient with you, I could begin my investigations of the house within the next few days. I'm keen to start in as soon as possible.
It has been years since I've found someone with such a depth of knowledge about medieval history, and I quite enjoyed debating the finer points of Fransiscan theology with you. Might we do it again sometime soon?
With all best wishes,
Thanks for your note. I'll send the details of the job to you within the next few days. It sounds ideal --low course load, lots of research money, and a real interest in broadening scholarship informed by gender within the department. I know you are "just looking" but give it some thought.
Hello, how are you? I heard you were back in England. Someone said you were now a Squire! What's all that about? We obviously need to meet for a drink, it's been too long boy. As usual life is a bit complicated here. I'm seeing two men right now and it's all getting a bit muddled, but you know what that's like!
Give me a call and maybe we can meet in London for a drink
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Dear Mr Tinsley
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Your life does seems a little complicated. I prefer the quiet life these days though I've started to play golf. Do you play?
So how long is your Dad staying? He said you'd asked him to come and help out since you were so swamped with all that's going on. Not sure I'd want my dad with me, cramping my style. You're not even married!
I don't think that England's changed that much. Different government but even that turned out to be less of a change than we thought. Probably best. Everything looks like the seventies again to me. I haven't watched Blue Peter in years but we went to a friend's house and they had European satellite. He wanted us to watch this Italian game show and I thought, this is stupid why watch a game show in Italian? Then these contestants started to dance and they stripped! I was gobstruck. You wouldn't see that on the BBC, would you? Caroline didn't like it so we went home.
What was the States like? Fairly women's lib over there isn't it? We get to see a lot of the States really, with the President and all and I remember all those shows when we were young, Dallas and Dukes of Hazard. Did you work around there?
Looking forward to seeing you,
It seems our Hermit is actually a horny little toad! You see I found Emma. I decided to ask our resident seer if he had any idea where she was, or might be in the future (sic). So I went to his little hovel and, lo and behold, there she was bold as brass. She's now staying there, "If I have no objection." I don't care, though I think Ann was a bit upset by it. He's been more in sight, staring like a love-struck teenager at his new beloved. At least someone is getting some!
Actually things have been better now and I'm forgiven. Not that I did anything, but I can be gracious. The only bad news is that because of the tree fiasco I had to agree to that insufferable git Cheater Vyse coming over to 'look at the fixtures.' Ann seemed to want it and I want to keep her happy right now. I still think Chester fancies her.
England seems different. Are the Mars bars smaller than they were? Did you know that in the States the Mars bars are different, more like a Milky Way? I do notice the food here. Some of it is better, but we went for a drive the other day and tried to get something to eat at the ridiculous time of 2:30. We eventually ended up in a tea shop with two pieces of bread, a single slice of cheese and a quarter of a small tomato on the side. Ann asked for a Diet Coke with ice and after some muttering they came back with a small tumbler with a single cube! And what the hell happened to the long skirts and cardigans on Blue Peter? Have you seen the new presenters? They are hot! I saw two Magpies yesterday and thought of two for joy. I bet everyone under 40 in England knows that rhyme.
So you're invited next week. The dining room is open and we'll eat there. Perhaps you'd like to spend the night? Ann is looking forward to meeting you and Caroline.
Dad's here as you knew. I had NO IDEA he was coming. He turned up with a suitcase for a short visit (doesn't want to impose) and shows no sign of leaving. It's already been three days. Shirley is fussing over him, and Ann thinks he is 'quite sweet'. I think he is a miserable old buzzard. All he's said to me is 'Why is the TV reception so bad?' and 'Why is it so cold in the house?' He makes Scrooge look like he should be hosting the Teletubbies.
I knew something bad would happen when I won this money. There is balance in the Cosmos.
Don't Call Me Roland
The finding of a rat in the Public Toilets in Upper Puckering has opened up a considerable controversy in the County Council. Mrs. Morcombe, who saw the creature, described it as small and black. The suggestion is that this is another in several sightings of the Black Rat, Rattus rattus, thought to have been driven out of England by its cousin the brown rat more than 200 years ago. Further supporting this is the fact that Mrs. Morcombe said that the rat leapt at her, a known characteristic of this rodent. Unfortunately Mrs. Morcombe swung her handbag at the creature, squashing it against the wall. Local health official Mark Butlins commented, "There's not much you can deduce from a smear on a toilet wall."
When asked about the possibility that this may have been the rare Black Rat, Mrs Morcombe replied "A rat is a rat, isn't it?" - Nigel Twicks
Puckering Profiles: Homeowners Look to Him for Some Good Ad-Vyse
Most days find Chester Vyse doing what he loves most--peering into
damp cellars, climbing atop sagging roofs, or tapping at walls for dry rot or rising
damp. Since 1988, Vyse has combined his post as Puckering's Chief Building Inspector
with his passion for the past. As the county's liaison with English Heritage, Vyse
not only studies old buildings; he keeps them looking old by upholding regulations and
imposing fines for those whose wish to modernise endangers their special homes.
"It's my job to make sure that new bungalows and terraces are safe from fire and poor workmanship. With so many new estates being built, that takes quite a lot of time. But my real love is ensuring that the county's historic properties are well cared for. Each one has a marvelous story to tell. Through them we keep what's special about the South of England. "
Vyse admits that some people think he's a nuisance. "You always meet the bloke who wants a satellite dish, or the lady who paints her half-timbered cottage pink," he sighs. "It's hard to make them understand that they have to respect the building." Whilst this may occasionally be the case, it's clear that most Puckering residents have no difficulty respecting Chester Vyse.--Nigel Twicks