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)

No, I haven't seen her...

Hello? Who is it? Oh, its you then.  Well, come in and sit yourself down. Oh my goodness but it’s been a week! No rest for the weary, is there? Go on, sit down, I said—I won’t be a minute. Just fixing myself a cuppa… Well, can you believe what’s happened to Jerry Anderson? I came back from Vera’s to find that they’d arrested him! They think he’s been pinching valuables from half of Puckering and flogging them to the other half. I never thought he was up to any harm, rummaging around in the attic like he was. He’s a nice bloke, I always said. Just goes to show you can be wrong about most things. Well, since they threw him in the nick we’ve been on the hot seat. Old Archer said to the Gazette that folks with suspicious goods should come forward, and forward they’ve all come. The police didn’t know what to do with all the toot that was turned in, so they’ve "returned" it to us.

Nothing in the lot worth a damn. Mr. Tinsley nearly did himself a harm when the fifth van full of saggin’ sofas and crooked chairs pulled up. I can’t imagine what they’ll do with it all. Still with what they say it's worth I thought I'd do a little selling myself. Mr Tinsley tried to ask me if the stuff was mine, bloody nerve!

Well, I must confess, I said something to Miss Simmons that I expect I shouldn’t have. Not that I'm one for interfering but still, I thought she ought to hear it. Her being away and all. What did I say? Nothing more than that she ought to mind what’s hers or she might lose it. While she was gone, that Emma Knytleigh was running the place, and Mr. Tinsley wasn’t putting up much of a fuss. Eyeing her like Martin eyes a ripe tomato, if you take my meaning. Anyway, Miss Simmons went off in a huff and hasn’t said two words to me, or him, since. Then, to make things worse, Miss Knytleigh has gone missing. I mean it. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of her for the past two days. And as if that isn’t enough, SHE has been making her presence known. The usual ways—doors swinging open, floors creaking when no one’s about, and yesterday a picture fell off the wall. I don’t know what she wants, but she’s definitely come back to stay. Oh dear, there’s the kettle. Now where do you suppose Martin’s gone and put the milk? Back in minute…

Ann's Letters

To Ann:

Just a quick note as I’m on my way to Barbados for a few days to visit James’ family. Hope you enjoyed the Tuscan trip. Graduate school is pretty much hell from beginning to end, isn’t it? People are always telling me that I have such a cushy life working in the Caribbean but really, what could be worse than having to write a literature review when the sun is shining and there’s a rum and coke with my name on it that I can’t have for another two hours? I’m writing, drivel mostly, but something to satisfy the powers that be.

I asked a friend on St. Kitts to revisit the Stoney Grove question and she called yesterday to say that she’s found some info. Basically, SG was a sugar plantation, started in the late 17th century by an Englishman named Rawlins. His heirs owned it until the 1840s, when they sold it and moved back to your side of the Atlantic. Apparently it was one of those dynastic things-lots of sons and son’s sons lined up across the years to exploit the place. The house is long since gone—just a name and the ruins of a mill at the edge of town. She’s sending me some stuff in writing about it. Hope it helps.

Well, the plane, and James, await. Don’t forget to fill me in on the hermit.

Love ya,


Dear Amy,

Did you get my postcard from Tuscany? I should have stayed there. Since I’ve come back to Britain, the weather has been more gloomy, and the food more bland (if that is even possible).  Even the accent has lost  its charm.  How novel can it be when there are 56 million people talking the same way?   It's nearly summer, but our house feels like the inside of a refrigerator. In my absence, the locals have decided to inundate us with ugly furniture and horrible rugs that they claim came from this place. I’m for burning the whole lot to keep warm, but nobody ever listens to my opinion around here.

You wanted to know about our hermit? Well, his name is Frank Churchill.  I never imaged that I would actually meet a hermit in my life, and certainly felt let down when the one I did meet was named Frank. He’s very strange—quiet and vague on the surface, but quite aggressive underneath. He literally leapt out of the bushes at me and I’m sure he enjoyed the fact that he scared me to death. As far as looks go, he has a surprising lack of hair given his vocation, and a bit too many teeth for my taste. I guess if you go for the "disheveled British professor gone earthy" look, he’s your man.

Men. I loathe the thought of them right now. Simon is an absolute pig, and refuses to acknowledge it. I phoned from the airport in Rome asking if he would meet me at Gatwick. He never showed and to this day claims he never got the message, although I’ve checked the damn machine and it is working just fine. Then Shirley pulled me aside to "hint" that he’s been making moves on Emma. I spent the whole time I was away mooning over him, and he was probably here chasing her around my house. I didn’t want to believe it, but twice I’ve gone upstairs to our bedroom and heard a woman's voice there. Both times she’d disappeared by the time I got the door open, but he’s been in there--the second time, half naked. He told me I was hearing things. You’d think he could be a little more imaginative than that. 

The house is a disaster as well, and our accountants in Philadelphia are telling us not to spend any money. Something’s up with the lottery proceeds, and they’re busy covering their tracks. It looks like we might need to hire an attorney to sort out what is going on, and what our rights are. Not that we can afford one if the money dries up. And while I was away, Simon put up a f**king satellite dish! The thing’s enormous, and they had to cut down a huge old tree to put it in. It's come down now.  I could kill him. Where does he think he’s living? Las Vegas? I don’t know what to do…

The Stoney Grove information you sent is interesting, and I’ll pass it on to Emma if and when I ever see her again. I really wasn’t mad at her—it’s not her fault that Simon’s an ass, but now she’s disappeared. No one has seen her for days. That looks suspicious to me, even without Shirley’s winkings and invitations for a cup of tea. What a mess.

Sorry to rant. I’ll end now before I get ugly.


P.S. I must say I’m disappointed in your lack of inventiveness on the olive front. Surely you can find some useful way of consuming them. If not, toss them into the sea.  And who the hell is James?

Other Letters:

Dear Miss Simmons,

You see, I know your name now.  I read about you and Mr. Tinsley in the paper.  I haven't got your cheque yet.  When can I expect it?  You really should hurry.

Roderick Dinnell

Dear Miss Simmons,

Thank you for attending our recent lecture, "Restoring with Faith."   On behalf of the Friends of UPPC, I would like to extend an invitation to you and Mr. Tinsley to attend master mason Mr. Godfrey Clayburne's lecture, "Laying a Foundation of Excellence, Building a Wall of Trust."  The program will be held in the church hall on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. 

Kindly RSVP to the church office by Friday, June 18th.

Reverend L. Nigel Banks

We do hope you can attend!

Dear Mr. Tinsley

Enclosed please find a bill for 375 pounds for the removal of the large oak tree undertaken on 21/5/99.  As I mentioned previously, we will be pleased to discuss our "five tree discount" with you at your convenience.  Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to serve you.

Puckering Tree Service--"A Cut Above"

Dear Ann,
Just wanted to let you know that I received your abstract and feel that we have an exciting session scheduled for the SOMEH conference next fall.  I also wanted to remind you that papers are due to the discussant by September 1. 


P.S.  How do you like England?  I hear rumors of a plum job opening up here next fall...Guess as a member of the landed gentry you can't be tempted?

Dear Miss Simmons,
     I really must protest the installation of the Minerva satellite system at Stoney Grove.  I believe I made the rules concerning intrusive features on the house facade quite clear to Mr. Tinsley, but it seems they have been disregarded.   Before taking the matter further, I wondered if you and I might meet in "neutral" territory, say in the village, over a cup of tea, and work through this?  If you are agreeable, kindly suggest a day and time.  I await your reply.

Respectfully yours,

Chester Vyse

Simon's e-mail

To Simon

Thank you for purchasing the Magic Wood. We are sure you will see the benefits to your golf game immediately and we wish you success.

Golf On-line, It's not just a game anymore!

Thank you so much for your recent order!

You are well on your way to owning a First Growths wonderful wine cellar, something that can bring you pleasure now and be a legacy for your heirs. We at Wine Online are committed to finding you the very best wines available to enrich your investment and engage your palate.

Please note we had to sub-contract your beer order since we do not stock fine ales. Your order for Sam Smiths, Ruddles, Theakstone's Old Peculiar and Marston's Pedigree will be sent under separate cover. Unfortunately at this time we have not been able to find any Double Diamond.

I thought I should apprise you of the latest developments concerning your lottery winnings. Sly Jackson, the ex-Commissioner for the lottery was arrested in Vegas last week. He was actually caught on a public indecency charge but things quickly started to unravel.  It seems he still had access to the state annuity fund from which the periodic payments to winners are made. That fund has been ‘compromised’.

At this point we feel confident that the state is legally and ethically bound to complete its financial commitment to you. However,  the scale of the fraud is not yet known and the account may be frozen. The unusual shared agreement between you and Miss Simmons also complicates matters.  You will both have to be treated as individual litigants.

If you need any help in financial planning, please don't forget to call your friends at

Krasman and Werthnow, Philadelphia

The best in financial planning--today, tomorrow and the day after.

Tots tracking notes that you have found
Jackie Collins!!!

Congratulation and we hope that next time that important person in your life goes missing, you’ll remember your friends at TOTS.

Please give us a day to come. Caroline is asking me if we have a firm invitation (I think she expects something embossed). She doesn’t want to impose. If your father's arrival complicates things let us know.  Perhaps we can come after he has settled in. I met him in the High Street last week and he said he was looking forward to it. Actually he said he thought it was 'bloody stupid you moved into a decrepit old house but that someone may as well fill the rooms.'  I’m sure he’s proud of you.

So how’s that young student of yours?

I'm sure you have seen the news, but I thought you might like a heads-up about what's happening. Nothing to worry about, but I advise you to be careful about spending money right now. Things could get tied up in litigation for a while, but as always we will be sure to represent your interests.

If you need any help in financial planning please don't forget to call your friends at
Krasman and Werthnow, Philidelphia

The best in financial planning--today, tomorrow and the day after

From Simon:

To Phil:

You are formally invited, but I better check with Ann on the date. I’m in the dog house here and I haven’t done anything! Our student has apparently done a runner and they all seem to think I was the cause. Then I was ‘encouraged’ to send the satellite dish back (which is OK because England are out of the World Cup and were pretty crap anyway). Unfortunately when they put in they took out an oak tree. I was appalled too, but it was done before I realized – they said they were going to get someone to trim it! Shirley is  tutting at me every time I go past and Ann can’t even manage that. She’s started hearing things, voices in the bedroom. It’s bloody cold here right now.

I think you must be mistaken about Dad. I spoke to him yesterday and he didn’t say anything. Actually he said a lot but it was all about the inadequacy of British sportsmen and how Manchester United were nothing compared to the Spurs side of the early 60’s.

Maybe I could come and stay with you?

To Krasman and Werthnow:

What do you mean 'funds may be tied up in litigation'?! I have a mortgage up to my ears and it seems my workmen buy their tools from the US military, considering what they are charging me. This is not a good time for the flow of funds to be interrupted and if you cannot represent my interests today then I may look for someone else to tomorrow!

Puckering Gazette

Animal Rights Activists Release Mink near Puckering

Animal Rights activists released several thousand mink from a farm near Lower Puckering on Thursday. Whilst the action was decried by some, an anonymous spokesman for the group said that a few of the animals would survive and the rest would have had at least a taste of freedom. Locals were outraged by the release.  There have been reports of the animals, which are not native to England, causing havoc amoung local wildlife and even pets.

The Government recently failed to pass a bill that would ban fur farms in England.--Nigel Twicks

Puckering Profiles:  In General, Locals Love Small

Minnie Smalls has run the Upper Puckering Post Office and General Store for twenty three years. Though looking towards retirement, Minnie still loves her job and the people she helps. "We don't have any of that self-service nonsense in here," she said in a recent interview. "You tell me what you need and I'll get it for you." Times have changed though and Minnie relies on selling wines, spirits, cold drinks and sweets to supplement her less lucrative goods. "People drive to the Superstore now for their provisions," she notes. "But what about my pensioners? They can't get there so easily. It's nine miles away."

Minnie also acts as the unofficial tourist agency for the village. "We've had quite an increase in visitation recently," she observed, "including some nice Japanese people. Some people don't stay long.  It's not always what they expected."

The job requires long hours and Minnie has not had a holiday in seven years. "I went to Ramsgate with my sister and her family in 1992," she noted. "It rained." Minnie has no current plans for her retirement years.-Nigel Twicks

Dog Drives with Hat On

Harry Bowles was stopped by police last week for driving without due care and attention. Harry is legally blind, but explained to police that his Jack Russell, Trixie, guides him when he needs to get down to the High Street. "She barks once for left, twice for right and gets quite excited when I need to stop," he said. "The car is an automatic." The terrier was wearing a hat. The police have taken away Harry's license, pending charges. As for Trixie, "I never trust a driver wearing a hat," noted Sergeant Geoffrey Archer.--Lumpy Gaites