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
Puckering Gazette

Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)

My, my but it’s hot today! I don’t know how Martin can be still working out there in all this heat. Come in and rest. They’re saying on the telly that it’s supposed to be 85 tomorrow. We’ll all suffocate, and that’s the truth. Well, now, have you heard that we found our Miss Knytleigh? I believe Mr. Tinsley would have called the police, but didn’t dare to, being afraid that Miss Simmons would think he was acting partial. In the end he found her at Frank’s cottage. She’s moved in with him, hasn't she? Now it’s not my place to say, and I don’t generally meddle in other folks’ business, but she’s 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, she’s a "modern" lady and won’t say a word. Glad she’s lost the competition, is my guess. Anyway, Miss Knytleigh, as calm as you please, told Mr. Tinsley that he needn’t 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. I’d just finished cleaning out the dining room, and she sat down as if she owned the place and started in on us. I don’t know why she doesn’t call on Irene, Mrs. Kent’s 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 everyone’s in a to-do because Mr. Tinsley’s father arrived for a long visit. Might even stay. I think it’s 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, there’s the kettle. Can I pour you a cuppa?

Ann's Letters

To Ann:


How old are you, girl? I don’t want to let you down on the friend thing, but—cool out! If Simon is being a pig, deal with it instead of whining to me like some high school chick.  What’s pissing you off? That he didn’t pick you up at the airport? That you hear women’s voices in your room? Could it be that the phone really did mess up that day, and that he’s taken to listening to Alison Moyet or Kate Bush? (If it’s Shania Twain, on the other hand, I would leave him…). I’m with you on the tree—it was a stupid thing to do. But cut the jealousy trip. It won’t get you anywhere. Trust me.

So, now that we’re through that, I will tell you who James is, since you asked (quite rudely, as I recall). He’s this great guy I’ve been seeing for a few months. He’s a lawyer here and owns a bar in town, and is just fun to be with. His parents weren’t too thrilled about me—they were looking for someone a little more…West Indian for their son. But we're cool, so it doesn’t matter.

I’m back to the books after my jaunt to Barbados. I’ll keep you posted if I get any more Stoney Grove scoop. In the meantime, chin up, don’t take any crap, and stop whining.

Love ya,


P.S.  Finished a jar of olives.  Yum.

Dear Amy,

Thanks for the advice. Sorry I lost my temper last time. Things are better here. I finally yelled at Simon and he promised he’d 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, we’re doing okay. I met the building inspector for tea one day last week, and he’s 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 couldn’t 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. She’s moved in with him. I honestly can’t imagine two more different people, but they appear to have some sort of bizarre attraction going on, so I’m not getting in the way.

She’s also doing some good work, and seems quite oblivious to everyone’s former suspicions. For one thing, she’s managed to reconstruct an outline of the family history from the 1870s through the last owner. Now she’s started interviewing a variety of folks in and around Puckering to record the twentieth century history of the house itself. Between her work and Chester’s, 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 they’ve frozen our payments for awhile until they figure out what to do. The whole thing is kind of scary (we’ve got LOTS of bills), but I can’t see how the state can back out of such a high-profile commitment, so I’m 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 can’t offer you much in the way of excitement, but we have just found a new pub to hang out in—the 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 hen’s teeth . I’m almost getting used to room-temperature Coke. But the beer is great and the publican is a riot. He’s Irish and has a great sense of humor. You’d 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!

Other Letters:

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.

James Dinnell

Dear Ann,
     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,


Dear Ann,
     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.


Dear Simon

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

Love Jackie

Simon's e-mail

To Simon

Congratulations on your purchase of the Spook. We are sorry that we were unable to complete your transaction on-line but we are having problems with our secure server.

Home Spies brings you the very best in home surveillance and recording tools. Your purchase of the Spook will bring you high quality in sound recording, all in a discreet box with no unsightly microphones. We hope you enjoy your purchase. Home Spies accepts no liability in cases where our products are used in illegal activities.

Dear Mr Tinsley

Please rest assured that we value your account and we will do all we can to represent your interests. With this in mind we suggest you should consider the appointment of an attorney. We have considerable experience in working with the firm of Cage, McBeal and Thomas of Philadelphia and would suggest that they be taken on retainer.

I understand the stressful nature of the recent news and assure you that we are anxious to work with you to a satisfactory resolution.


L.M. Werthnow Snr

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,

From Simon:

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.

Bloody Hell.

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.

Puckering Gazette

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