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
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)
Hold your horses. Im not twenty anymore! Can you give me a minute? All right then, who is it? Oh, you again. Looking for Shirley, are you? Well, shes gone down to Veras. Left last week right after your visit and hasnt come back yet. I dont know why she ran off like she did. One minute shes nattering on about spending a quiet evening at home and the next shes packing her bags and heading for the bus stop. Women.
Well, I suppose youll be wanting a cup of tea whilst youre here. Mind you find a clean cup. Not up to me to be washing up after people. I have plenty to do for myself, I do. The springll be here soon enough, you know, and theres no one to help get ready for it but me. Whats that you say? No, theres no sugar. Mind the milkEmma's been around you know. That one's got a face on her as could shrivel a cow's tit, and the personality to match. Frank's a fool. What's that? Sour is it? Well I warned you, didn't I? You'll have to pick out the floaters.
Johnll be coming up for a few days. He rang to say hed be staying in the big house and wasnt sure hed have time for a proper visit. Hell change is mind been puttering with me in the garden since he was a wee lad.
Well, Ill tell Shirley you stopped by. Cant say when shell be back. Im off to mix the compostshut the door when you go.
I know what you mean about women sapping your energy. I've been doing a lot of thinking about things since Paris. I mean that trip really opened up my eyes. I was reading this copy of Cosmopolitan when I was in the dentist (loose filling), and though the article was talking about women it seemed to fit what I am going through really well. It was about empowering yourself at work and in the bedroom. Incidentally you wouldnt believe what they put in these magazines. If Caroline asked me to do that I wouldn't know where to put my face. Anyway it was talking about how it's the millennium and how you should focus on the Me in I, or something like that. Anyway I realized that I wasn't following my camel, that my oasis was a mirage, and that I needed to set off into my spiritual desert to reconnect to my Ka. Actually I got a bit confused in the middle, but the point is I'm not happy being an accountant and I'm going to make some changes.
Be prepared to be amazed by the new Phil!
I am well aware that I was the one that "walked away" from Stoney Grove. Fled would be a better choice of words, I think. What was the point? I was incredibly lonely, and my reward for trying to stick it out was watching you come and go with Phil and God knows who else.
I'm happy here. I've made some good friends, I'm learning to sail and snorkel, and I've created a comfortable little nest. Finding Fanny has been an added bonus.
So yeah, I walked away. But I still want to be involved. I do still care about what's going on. Keep in touch...and by the way, happy valentine's day. Hope you and Jackie had fun.
sorry to bother you. quick question. do you know wht emmas on about asking me up to the house for a weekend? havent heard from her in months and then out of the blue shes inviting me round. do you think she fancies me? ive been prety keen on her since we met, but didn't think i stood a chance, what with her age and the way she looks. And whats up with her and frank? i mean he's harmless but so old.
can you get me my own room while i'm there? i don't think i stand a chance with her if i'm staying with gran and granddad.
From: S&L Easy Productions
Rich? Happy? Found that perfect partner to make all your money worthwhile?
Following the huge US success of Who Wants To Marry a Multi Millionaire we are developing a similar show for Britain. Your name has been suggested to us as a possible millionaire entrant by a mutal friend, Jackie Collins. Sure you're rich, but are you on television? Are the ladies you meet after you or your money? Well, come on our show where there is no doubt! At least here you'll get to look them over first in private, and believe me we'll get a great crop for you to pick from!
If you're interested in becoming the first British multi millionaire to find a wife on television, please call me and we can meet for a pow-wow.
S&L Easy Productions
"If it's not on television, how do you know it's real?"
Wait a minute, I'm not the only bad person here. I met you and it was like I won the lottery and then I did win the lottery. You turned my silly idea about owning a historic house into a reality and the next thing I know we have stuff, a mortgage that Bill Gates would blink at, and a house falling down around our feet. You may have been finding it strange to be in England but it was pretty diificult for me as well. It had been a long time since I'd lived here and things change, including the fact that I had gone from common oik to Mr. Lord of the Manor.
Maybe I did get carried away in it all. Perhaps I got swept up in things, but Jackie and Phil were my connections to the England I knew. You're so caught up in the past you ought to understand me wanting to hold onto a little bit of it.
Anyway I spent three days with Jackie, after you left me. It was actually not a good time and following that I took the bike to Europe and drove around a bit, thinking about what I want.
Call me or something.
My strategy is complete. I gave them the options and faced with ludicrous alternatives the one I wanted carried the day. Donald Trump eat my shorts! I am the master! Evelyn voted with me and is actually being quite supportive right now.
What I'm aiming for is a complete experience for the tourist. With each room rigged with super-computers projecting virtual "housescapes" on panels, the visitor, who will be wearing stereoscopic glasses, will see a seamless visualisation of the room which we can then effortlessly change. You could see the room move through time whilst you are standing in it! Of course it's just on the drawing board right now, though we are starting to have visitors. Frank and Emma are doing ad hoc guided tours of the rooms and we've had quite an international crowd!
I have other ideas too. Ann talked about showing people the process, and even though she evidently doesn't care too much right now, as she's living the high life in the Caribbean, I thought I'd make some effort to accommodate her. She has been writing to Emma about something to do with the people who lived here, but I've not been paying much attention to be honest, though Emma delights in telling me what a good time Ann is having. You know I was angry at her, but I'm passed all that now, I'm just glad she's doing what she wants.
Emma's OfficeDear Emma,
I just got word from Amy-she's had her baby a few weeks early and asked if I could come out and stay with her for awhile. Everything is fine--she had a little girl, and both are doing well. I'm flying out this afternoon, and should be away for at least a week-- maybe more. James is in the States on business, so he's heading back shortly as well, but I can certainly get there more quickly than he can.
What news of the Stoney Grove manuscript do you have to share? Have you found it yet? I've continued transcribing, and am dying to read the rest.
I've invited a few folks in Puckering out to visit--nothing formal--but an open invitation to Chester and the Rev. Banks. Can you let them know that I'm away for awhile so that if they try to get in touch with me they'll know why I haven't answered?
I'm hoping once you find the manuscript you can come out with it. Maybe you could coordinate a trip with them. My house isn't that big, but there's room for a few people, and Doug's offered his house for visitors as well. He's anxious to meet all of you--I've filled his head with gossip about Puckering for the past few months and he's curious to meet some actual residents.
If you need anything, Doug can probably get word to me. Amy doesn't have email (or a phone), but everyone knows who she is and if you call the police station or one of the hotels they can get word out to me.
I'm looking forward to hearing the latest...
P.S. Sorry if this is all over the place. We went to a jump-up last night and I'm not
sure I'm sober yet. It was a blast!
Your letter just arrived. I hope you enjoyed your visit with Amy. I don't know where the missing manuscript is yet, but I think I know who does.
Last fall, in the course of my research, I discovered that Jerry Anderson is John White's father, and that he was stealing things from the house to sell because he wanted to help John financially. I never had a chance to tell you all of this because it all came to light right around the time that you and Simon split.
John doesn't know any of this yet either. Jerry wrote to me a few weeks
ago and he was planning to write a letter to John and tell him the truth. For reasons that
I won't go into now, Shirley doesn't want him to do it. She found out his intentions (by
snooping through my mail, I suspect) and somehow intercepted the letter...probably had
Vera snag it before John received it.
After you sent me the first transcription of the Blake manuscript, I contacted Jerry and asked him if he could tell me anything about its whereabouts. He told me that he "might be able to help me," but that the only way he'd talk was if I brought John to Brixton for a meeting.
I've contacted John and asked him to come up to Stoney Grove for a few days. Obviously I haven't told him why yet--it's up to Jerry to do that once we get to Brixton. Anyway, if all goes well, I might be able to retrieve the missing manuscript. If not, I'm sure to upset Shirley, and Frank, who thinks I should mind my own business.
I'll let you know what happens.
P.S. I passed your message along to Chester and Nigel Banks. They aren't sure when they can get away, but both seem quite pleased at the prospect of a trip to Nevis.
Fanny's HistoryFanny Blake Manuscript, Part 2 When I was a girl of seven, my father came to stay at Stoney Grove. Though I did not remember him, for I had been an infant when last he had seen me, I heard of his coming, and solemnly prepared to meet him. The overseer, Mr. Grindle, took me and Ned to the harbour to greet his ship, and we rode back home together in a wagon piled high with goods from England.
Upon surveying us, he cautioned Ned that he must work hard in life so that he should not be a source of disgrace to his brothers, and then laughing, lifted him into the air and perched him on his shoulder. He told me that I was to grow up to be an English lady, and that I must learn to read and write, to dance and play the harpsichord. I told him I could read and write, and penned my name for him. With this he was well pleased.
He engaged a tutor for Ned and me, a young Glaswegian lady from Wilkertons estate by the name of Stewart. She instructed us for many years, and I came to master French, Latin and Greek, history, literature, mathematics and the domestic arts. When I grew older, the dance master, Mr. Pierson, visited weekly, and taught Ned and I the steps fashionable in London.
At my fathers return, we were introduced to the Anglican faith. I had not known the English God before, as Miss Craighill was an indifferent church-goer, and Sawney and my grandmother kept their own ways. Each Sunday Ned and I would ride with my father to Fig Tree Church and pass the day within its walls. The first time we entered the church, I was afraid, as I had never witnessed such a congregation of pale countenances. It seemed as though all the jumbies on the island had gathered together, but as I looked more closely, I recognized Mr. Watkins, Mr. Barrows, and some other acquaintances of my fathers who had come to call at Stoney Grove. They greeted me courteously, and I soon grew accustomed to this new society.
My father wished us to be instructed in the ways of the church, and added theology to our school-room regimen. As a child I did not understand how the English God could promise everlasting life, and take my mother, or preach goodness to our fellow man, and countenance the cruelty of the sugar works on Nevis.
Sundays being Church days precluded the accustomed visits of my grandmother, who, like others of her station, spent the day on the streets of Charlestown with her countrymen. As it was customary for slaves to conclude their labour each week at Saturday noon, she asked my father if she might be permitted to visit Ned and me on Saturday evenings. He agreed, and ever after we passed the appointed time in each others company.
At my father's return, the solitude of my childhood lessened, and I began to take the first of many small steps into society. In earnest he set about reviving the acquaintances of his youth, adding to them the business associates he had contracted during his years in trade, so that most evenings our little circle welcomed a new member. After a brief courtesy I withdrew to my small chair in the corner of the veranda, and sat exploring the unknown territory of some new face as he engaged the visitor in lively conversation and shared a glass or two of rum.
For the most part, these evenings were masculine affairs, for, in lacking a wife, and the inclination to procure a new one, my father lacked that which society required of him to draw the company of ladies to our estate. He and his guests never tired of remarking on the latest price of sugar, the growing unrest between the colonies and Britain, and the state of the island's defenses.
On the occasions when our visitors had lately arrived from England, I was welcomed into their circle, for my father admonished that I would soon enough be a lady living in that country, and I must become familiar with its customs and fashions.
One evening, when I was a girl of ten, I asked him if I should live at Hundley Hall with my English brothers. "I think not," he answered. "Will I live with Ned in England?" I pressed, to which I received the same response. I urged him to tell me how I should be a lady if I had no home, but he would not, or could not, give me an answer. My tutor chanced to overhear the conversation, and later that night told me to pay no heed to my father's words. "I'm afraid you'll never be a lady, whether 'tis here or in England," she sighed. As she had not only contradicted my father, but urged that I should be disloyal to him, I resolved that I would prove her wrong.
3rd meeting of the Steering Committee for Stoney Grove
Present: Simon Tinsley, Frank Churchill, Shirley and Martin Johnson, Mr. Tinsley Sr., Evelyn Prosser, Chester Vyse, and Emma Knytleigh.
Simon: Well, we meet again. Any thoughts on my last ideas list?
Emma: That youre crazy
Chester: Ive been in contact with some of my professional colleagues and I was actually able to discuss some of these matters with Ann. Miss Simmons that is. I think she might have sent you an email with her thoughts
Simon: Yes, Chester, she did. Thanks.
Chester: I think its very important that we maintain the fabric of the house. It seems modern thinking suggests that the landscape also not be materially affected by change.
Evelyn: Professionally I cant agree to any changes that would affect the landscape without a lot of archaeology being done. Youll destroy the evidence that is out there.
Emma: Basically, your list was rubbish, Simon.
Chester: Why do we want to put in an amusement park, or a game reserve, or an Imax theater here? They could go anywhere really. What makes people want to come here is to experience this place. Its a microcosm of England. You can get the whole sweep of history over the past two hundred odd years here on a manageable scale. Thats what people want, not elephants or fair ground rides.
Emma: Were just starting to learn about the people that lived here. Were starting to uncover some very interesting stories about both William and Fanny Blake. I think that its not just the place, but a collective history of the people that lived here that is most important. We should focus on that.
Frank: The voices have been very agitated recently. I think the people that lived here want to be heard. And the tours were quite a success though people seemed a little reluctant to ask questions.
Emma: Yes we've had visitors from around the world including the USA, Germany and Argentina. They've been looking around the house and were quite positive.
Frank: From some of my early tours, I can assure you that big game is not a popular subject.
Shirley: See, I told you. Im not having elephants. I said that at the first meeting and Im sticking to it.
Martin: though they would help my manure problem.
Simon: Well what Im thinking about is the other idea, virtual tours with computer generated interpreters. When the visitor comes to Stoney Grove I want them to believe its real, I want them to be totally submerged in the history, house and landscape.
Chester: But I wonder what you mean by "real"? One might muse on the cognitive model and wonder at the nature of reality in a dynamic universe, but surely it is real now.
Emma: Do you want Georgian real, or Victorian real or Edwardian real? The house has changed and the people have changed. How do we decide what to represent?
Simon: I dont know the details yet, and we need to do much more research, but technology is the key. We want people to be able to come to the house on their own terms and react with it directly. They should be able to set the time period that they are looking at, and the house should respond to their questions and interact with them.
Evelyn: This sounds very impressive. Quite protective of the resource. How do you know about all this Simon?
Simon: Well, you know, I did work in computers for many years.
Mr. Tinsley: Still, not much demand for Y2K programmers these days, is there?
Emma: And this is your idea of real? Come to a genuine house covered in wires and computers to see someones ideas about the past broadcast on a badly-generated virtual screen? Why cant people look at the real walls and look out the real windows? Why do they need us to make some hi-tech fantasyland out of it all?
Chester: And how are you going to get all this stuff into the house without ripping it to shreds? Where are your wires going to go? Do we pull up the original floors to run cable through? If its all going to be virtual, why do it in the house at all? Do we even need a real house? You haven't thought this through, have you?
Simon: Emma, youre the one whos so big on telling everyones story. How can we do that in real time? We cant. Let people choose for themselves what stories they want to hear. Let them pick their version of reality. We give them choices, they make a selections. Seems democratic to me. And Chester, I dont know the specifics of how it will be done yet, but I promise we wont ruin the house to do it. Actually, your point about not needing the real house is valid. Maybe we do it in a visitor facility instead. Hmm. Well, lots of details to figure out. Lets meet again and we can start to prototype these ideas and develop a working project.
Chester: I thought we were going to vote?
Simon: Okay, we had five ideas on the table from the last meeting. Votes for number one, the elephants? Okay Shirley, you can stop glaring. No votes. Two, motor bikes? No votes either. Three, amusement park? One vote from my Dad. Four, Imax theatre? Dad youve already voted once. Five, virtual experience as Ive started to detail? Thanks, Evelyn and with me thats two. Six, tourists as skivvies? Thats one from Shirley. Everyone else abstaining? Seems we move on.