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Nigel Morcombe: Just wanted you to know how terribly sorry Honoria and I were to hear the news. Shame really, isnít it.

Honoria Morcombe: And just so sudden! Well, it must be very hard for all of you, especially Mrs. Johnson. They were together for so long.

Simon: Yes, they were. Canít imagine it myself. I mean, I hope Ann and I are together that long and everything, but it seems like a very long time.

Honoria: And they still donít know what caused it?

Simon: No. Heíd be in and out of hospital in the spring, but seemed to be feeling better. Then he just went. Just like that. The doctor asked about an autopsy, but Shirley refused it. Said it didnít matter any more.

Nigel: I suppose sheís right. Sad days.

Simon: I guess it was just old age.

Honoria: People say that, but old age isnít actually a disease. It seems to be an excuse for not finding one these days.

Simon: Well, we donít live forever. Still, itís quite sad. Iíll miss him.

Honoria: Yes, very sad indeed.

Nigel: Well, weíd best be shoving off. I suppose youíll miss the match Saturday. Weíre against Wooden Forest.

Simon: I think I will give it a miss. But good luck.

Nigel: Weíll need it. Theyíve got a great spin bowler you know. As a matter of fact, Bert Walsham was saying to me just the other day, when was it, Thursday maybe, that their bowlerÖ

Honoria: Nigel dear, I think weíd best be on our way.

Nigel: Oh, of course. Sorry. Well, give our condolences to Shirley. And Ann. How is she?

Simon: Sheís coping.

Nigel: Sheíll be fine. After all, sheís got a wedding to plan. You know how women get.

Honoria: Nigel! Good bye Simon.

Simon: Good bye.

Emma: Frank, what are you doing sitting here in the dark?

Frank: Just thinking. Couldnít be bothered really to turn on a light, thatís all.

Emma: Not listening, are you?

Frank: No, I donít know whatís happening in the house these days. Theyíve all gone quiet.

Emma: Well, maybe theyíre sad too.

Frank: Howís John tonight?

Emma: Heís all right. Going through some of his granddadís things. Shirley asked him to do a bit of clearing while she was away. She doesnít want him to throw anything out, just pack it up so she doesnít have to look at it all when she gets back.

Frank: Did she say how long sheíd be gone?

Emma: I donít think she knows. It will be hard for her to come back here. Maybe sheíll decide against it.

Frank: No, sheíll come back. Her life is here, with this house.

Emma: Hmmm. It was a nice ceremony.

Frank: Shame it couldnít be at the church, but yes, it was nice.

Emma: His sister was nice. A bit of a surprise, to be honest. I mean, after spending so much time with John, I felt like I should have known he had an aunt.

Frank: Iíve known Martin for years and he never mentioned her. I guess they didnít see much of each other. Him leaving home so young and all.

Emma: Imagine being sent away when you were ten years old to learn a job! Things were different then. Thatís a silly thing to say, coming from a historian, but you know I never really thought about how it would affect people. I mean real people, like Martin.

Frank: He must have been quite a lonely man before he met Shirley.

Emma: And maybe after.

Frank: No, he seemed content. I never knew him to be unhappy.

Emma: Did you have a chance to talk to the sister?

Frank: Yes, she told me her dad, Martinís dad, was a head gardener at a big estate in Hampshire. Seems to have run in the family. She lives in Norfolk these days. Apparently hasnít visited Stoney Grove since before Martin was married.

Emma: Iíll have to ask John what happened. There must be some reason she never came Ďround.

Frank: Let it be. It doesnít matter now, does it?

Emma: It might matter to John.

Frank: And does that matter to you now?

Emma: Yes, I think it does.

Nigel Banks: Hello. Itís good to see you both again.

Ann: It was a lovely service, Nigel. Thank you so much. And thanks for making time to counsel us today.

Simon: Yeah, glad you could come.

Nigel Banks: How are you?

Ann: Just really sad. But coping, I think.

Simon: Busy actually. This dying business is quite sociable. I mean, not to be crass, but half the village has been popping in to leave their condolences. Itís nice that theyíve made the effort, but Iím knackered. Iíve never drunk so much tea in my life. I mean, everyone who comes expects a cup, and I hate to disappoint them.

Ann: Oh, Simon! The least we can do for Martin is be kind to his friends. Iím sorry. Didnít mean to snap. I really do think weíre both just tired.

Nigel: Shall we have this meeting later?

Simon: No, no. Letís do it now. Fire away.

Nigel: Well, it isnít really a "firing away" type of activity. I think we should approach this conversation thoughtfully. This is a time to really share your feelings, hopes, and fears about each other. The ground we cover today is helping to lay the foundation for your marriage.

Simon: Donít hold back, Nigel. I mean, we might get intimidated by all of this.

Nigel: Iím not trying to be intimidating. For heavenís sake, you two have been through a lot together. You have a solid relationship. This discussion will just ensure that there arenít any issues that you feel that you havenít dealt with properly, and might give you a few tools for communicating. Thatís all. Important stuff, of course, but nothing frightening.

Ann: All right. Where do we start?

Nigel: Well, I thought we could begin with some basic things, and then move on to the logistics of the ceremony.

Simon: Sounds good. Basic things. Like kids and money?

Nigel: If you like. Have you discussed having a family?

Ann: Yes. I think weíd both like children, but not right away.

Simon: And no need to really get into money. I mean, you must not have too many customers who are in better shape than we are.

Ann: Simon!

Simon: Well, really. I mean, we did win the lottery.

Ann: Actually, since you bring it up, I do have something to say about money. I donít want to nag, but your gambling is really worrying me.

Simon: Iím not gambling! Okay, so maybe I lay the odd bet, but itís not a problem. Trust me.

Ann: Thatís just it. Every time I bring it up, you deny it, and then you get emails from The Hat, or some guy who claims to be your uncle. Iím not stupid, Simon. I know youíre gambling.

Simon: Well, I never said you were stupid. Maybe a bit fixated, butÖ

Nigel: Now this is where our communications skills come in. The first rule of confrontation: keep it about the issues. No name calling. We can disagree, but we should do it respectfully. Remember, you both love each other, and want to treat each other lovingly.

Ann: Fine. I love you, Simon, but I hate it that youíve been untruthful with me.

Simon: I love you Ann, but you need to cool out.

Nigel: Er, better, but still needs some work. Weíll come back to this. Letís talk about the ceremony.

Ann: Letís talk about cold feet.

Nigel: Itís perfectly normal for you to have cold feet at this point.

Simon: Iím the one who should have cold feet. Iíve just spent a week in the Arctic!

Ann: Well it was you that I was talking about. And I wasnít referring to your bachelor party.

Simon: What the bloody hell are you on about now?

Ann: Donít yell at me! Youíre the one sending pick-up emails to all the old maids in England. "The desert rose was born to bloom unseenÖ" or better yet, "An old boyfriend once summed me up in one word: ĎWow!í" Ring any bells?

Simon: What are you talking about?

Ann: Oh, come on! Didnít Nigel just say something about honesty?

Nigel: I believe I did. I really think that you both need to slow down for just a moment and consider your words.

Ann: The hell with my words. While heís off at sea, less than a month before our wedding, Simonís sending out a general call for a new girlfriend.

Simon: Ann, youíre bonkers. I havenít a clueÖOh, wait a minute. Oh, God. You think that IÖOh myÖ

Ann: This is not funny! Stop it!

Nigel: Simon, at this moment it would be helpful if you could put into words why you are laughing.

Simon: Sorry, Reverend. Itís just that my dad, well, it was youíre idea, Ann. "Have him bring a date to the wedding," you said. So he signed up for some internet con called LoversLink, or is it LoverSlink? Anyway theyíre his emails, not mine.

Ann: His?

Simon: Yeah. He sent in a description, and all these lonely hearts are queuing up to be his date.

Ann: Oh, Simon, Iím so sorry. Iím an idiot. Itís just thatÖ

Simon: You thought I was backing out. Even now?

Ann: I guess I did.

Simon: And you didnít say anything?

Ann: Well, you were away, and then Martin died, and with the funeral and everything else, it was never the right time.

Simon; I donít know how many ways I can say this. I love you. Iím happy to be with you. I want to marry you. Iím not trying to replace you with a computer date. Trust me.

Nigel: Good, good! I think youíre getting the hang of this.

Maude Tinsley: Hello, Simon. Just popping in again. Luigi and I are getting quite comfortably settled. Thanks for sending the curtains over for us.

Simon: Hello, mother.

Maude: You know, I hate to be morbid, but that fellow dying was just at the right time. I mean, I met half the village at the funeral, and theyíve been ever so kind since. All sorts of people popping in, telling me about you and Ann and how sorry they are that youíve both lost your friend. Weíve hardly had a moment to catch our breath. The lady who runs the lingerie shop-- oh, whatís her name?óanyway, sheís quite a dear. Sheís invited me round to play cards with the Wivesí Club later in the week. I feel soÖrespectable. Well, I guess thatís what village life will do for you, wonít it? I donít know if I should tell her that Iím not exactly Luigiís wife. Do you think she needs to know? Well, it canít hurt to keep things a bit quiet. I mean, you and Ann living together is probably scandal enough for this place.

Simon: Mother, weíre kind of in the middle of something here.

Nigel: Mrs. Tinsley, so nice to see you again.

Maude: Oh, goodness, donít tell me youíve got religion! No offence Reverend, youíre a lovely man , but Iím a bit suspicious of your employer. You know, the Big Man. Ha, Ha. Well, never mind. I can take a hint, canít I? Iíll pop Ďround later. And Ann, dear, you should get some rest. Youíre looking a bit pale.

Ann: Iím fine, thanks. Weíll stop by the Grange later and catch up with you.

Maude: Oh, do. We can make it a party. That will be such fun! Wait til I tell Luigi. And I canít wait til I meet your parents, dear. Exciting times! Well, then, cheerio.

Emma: John, I thought this room was empty. Youíre so quiet. What are you doing?

John: Granddad kept a box of things. I almost missed it, it was tucked away in the shed. I was just looking through it.

Emma: Whatís in it?

John: Is this a professional interest? No, sorry, take that back. I donít want to fight with you anymore. Take a look, thereís some clippings from Big Vegetable competitions. He had his heyday in the late 80s, you know. He won a bunch of competitions. We had some letters from his fellow gardeners saying what a great man he was. I knew he did it, I even went to a couple of shows with him when I was a kid but I never really took it seriously. He had that cutting too, the one from the Puckering Gazette when they featured him.

Emma: Was there anything about his family?

John: There was a photo of this bloke Ėheís a bit scary. I think it might have been his Dad. Thereís a date on the back of 1912. He was a gardener as well. I guess it runs in the family. Thereís another photograph too of my gran. Sheís with Monty Hall.

Emma: Iíve seen that one.

John: Funny he would have saved it. I didnít actually see any of him and Gran together. Maybe theyíre in another book. They spent almost sixty years together. They really loved each other, you know.

Emma: Yes, Iím sure they did.

John: Even with all that happened, you know my Mum being Montyís and allÖ

Emma: Itís okay, John. Iím sure Martin forgave them. He told me that he did. He told me that he loved Shirley.

John: Well, I wish heíd told me. Now itís too late to ask him.