Monday, 31 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 10 – The Busy Season

In the week following he saw very little of Kayleigh but he didn’t have time to miss her as his feet barely touched the floor.
He was spurred on by his mother’s words to him when he was a boy, which reverberated in his head, like a mantra.
“You should give more of yourself, if everyone gave one hour a week, what a change that would make to the world”
Which was something he couldn’t argue with back then and could argue with it now even less which was why he threw himself into it totally and agreed to do everything he was asked without question.

His busy week started on the morning of the third Sunday of advent where he was involved as a greeter, Katie Watson wasn’t well enough for the service but she did put in an appearance for the carol singing at St Lucy’s that evening looking pale and wan.
She was under strict instructions from Dr Anderson not to attend any of the usual clutch of seasonal outdoor events, which although she was most unhappy about it she thankfully did as she was told as winter had arrived in Turnoak with a vengeance.

On Monday it was his turn to man the Soup Kitchen in Purplemere on a bitter cold night, it was his first time there, and what an eye opener it was.
He was absolutely staggered firstly by the number and variety of homeless people in a relatively small town and secondly by how human beings could survive living at the mercy of the elements.
Some of them, the lucky ones, they were able to place in hostels or shelters but for the rest all they could do was give them hot food and a blanket.
He had clearly found a deserving recipient for some of the money his Uncle Daniel had left him.

He slept in until lunch time the following day and reflected on how lucky he was to have a comfortable home and a roof over his head.
On Tuesday night he was again out on the streets of Purplemere this time with the Christmas Charity Wagon.
It was an old brewer’s dray pulled by two white shire horses.
The whole thing was bedecked with tinsel and lights and carried on the back a multidenominational choir while the rest of the volunteers went from door to door, as the wagon drove around the town, collecting donations in plastic buckets and handing out sweets to the children, there were a number of faces he recognized amongst there number, Gemma Frost, Sarah Peters, and Elise Riley to name but three.

On Wednesday afternoon it was The Santa Express, which was a renovated steam engine and coaches, which ran from Sharping St Mary station to a secret location where Santa was waiting in his grotto.
It picked up the local children and their parents late afternoon so that they arrived at the grotto in darkness, in order to make the most of the spectacular lights.
It was Jack’s responsibility to deliver the family’s to Sharping St Mary on the coach, ensuring firstly that everyone was accounted for before departure and more importantly that he had the same number of people on the return journey.
The kids were going crazy with excitement and Jack had to confess he found it quite exciting himself.
But his job on the trip was to make sure none of the over excited little darlings fell off the train.
Karen Clarke, among others from the committee were also present and at one point she managed to trap Jack between the carriages armed with a bunch of mistletoe and only when she had satisfied herself at the pagan ritual she let him go, he was mightily relieved that she didn’t have a mouth full of pins like the last time he had seen her, when she was altering costumes in the Church Hall.
Also helping on the trip were Reverend Massey and to his surprise Martina Wingrove, Paul and Martina seemed to have become inseparable in the short time since he introduced them, or more accurately reintroduced them, although he didn’t know that at the time.
Jack had never believed in love at first sight or in soul mates, he thought them rather fanciful notions the stuff of romantic fiction and sentimental movies.
That was until he first lay eyes on Kayleigh, and when he introduced Martina and Paul and they were instantly smitten, but he had come to the conclusion much earlier that anything can happen in Turnoak.
Afterwards when he saw them together, they were like two halves of a different whole, each of them was the missing piece in the others puzzle.
Of course he was not privy to the fact that they were old flames so it wasn’t love at first sight, but it was unmistakably love.
As he watched them together he remembered a long ago conversation he once had with her when she said
“I’m not looking for a life partner”
Well Jack thought she had found one whether she was looking or not.

Now if the kids were excited on the way to the grotto then judging by the decibel level they were even more so on the way back but by the time they got on the coach they were a spent force and the coach ride back to the village was very peaceful.

On Thursday he had nothing planned other than to treat it as his day off.
But it was also the nativity play at St Lucy’s School that evening and shortly after breakfast he took a phone call asking if he could help out because they were shorthanded due to illness.
He really could have done with a restful day but he was needed, and he liked being needed so he did a machine full of laundry and made lunch for himself and Kayleigh and they finally had an engaging conversation about his inheritance and what to do with it.

Shortly after lunch Reverend Paul Massey had to go and visit a parishioner, it sounded like it was going to be a waste of his time, however he knew as he was the new man at St Lucy’s he had to earn the trust of his flock even if he had been asked to pop round because an octogenarian couldn’t get the web cam to work on her laptop.
Paul knew it probably meant that she had disabled it by accident but he had to go out in the cold just to tick a box.
The temperature hadn’t got above freezing all day and his car was covered in frost and ice so he decided to walk on the basis that he should be able to walk there and back in the time it would take to sufficiently defrost the car.

As he suspected Mrs. Nelson had accidentally disabled the web cam so he worked his magic and went back out into the cold afternoon air and by the time he got down the path it had started snowing and by the time he reached the main road it was coming down hard and fast.
It was coming down so rapidly that visibility was instantly reduced to zero.
It was so disorienting that he couldn’t have found his way back to Mrs Nelson’s house despite being no more than 50 yards away.
So he inched his way along the footpath tucking up close to hedges, picket fences and garden walls so he didn’t wander off course.
When he reached the end of a row of houses he had to take a leap of faith, as he couldn’t see the other side of the road.
As he trudged onward he realized he had gone off course because he hadn’t reached the other side.
Paul had no idea how far he had gone, he had no point of reference, so he decided the best course of action was to veer left to try and find the footpath again.
Unfortunately he had no idea how far left to go or for that matter how far left he had already gone.
He wasn’t that familiar with Turnoak in crystal clear visibility let alone in a blizzard and Paul was just beginning to panic when he tripped on a curb stone and crashed into another lost soul and they fell to the floor in an untidy heap.

Martina Wingrove was working alone at St Lucy’s installing a new control desk and was totally oblivious to the weather until she stepped outside, and it was snowing.
She didn’t particularly want to go out in it but she really wanted a sandwich and a drink and Stephenson’s Corner shop was only about a hundred yard away.
So she zipped up her coat and pulled up her collar and set off down the road but she only got halfway to the shop before the snow fell thick and fast and had trouble seeing her way and a couple of minutes later she crashed into someone and they fell unceremoniously to the floor.

When Paul got to his feet he found he was outside Stephenson’s
“I’m saved,” he thought as he envisaged taking refuge in the shop until the snow abated, but first he had to help the other poor traveller he had left prostrate on the snowy ground.
“I’m so sorry” he said as he grabbed a handful of coat and pulled the stricken body to its feet.
The individual muttered incoherently under their breath as they brushed themselves off and Paul got the impression his apology was not accepted and when they began to turn in his direction he was bracing himself for a volley of unchristian language but to his great surprise he found the previously stricken figure to be Martina Wingrove and the muttering scowling indignant face instantly changed to a beaming toothy smile when she recognized the face of her assailant.
“Paul” she said excitedly and then cautiously gave a long look in the direction of the shop doorway then in a quieter voice she continued
“I didn’t know it was you Vicar”
“Are you ok?” he asked
“I am now” she replied and was still looking anxiously towards the shop so he steered her around the side of the building and kissed Martina in the snow, which she reciprocated eagerly.
“Is this appropriate behaviour Vicar?” she asked “Taking advantage of a defenceless woman, what will your parishioner’s think?”
“My parishioners can’t see us” he said
“Well in that case” she said and spun him around and kissed him.
The kiss continued until the snow began to lighten and there was a risk of discovery.
“We’ll I’d better let you go” she said but kissed him once more quickly
“Regrettably yes” Paul said and they both started walking towards the shop door a respectable distance apart.
“I only came out because I was peckish” she said and giggled
“But now I’m ravenous”
“I have to admit that I’m quite hungry myself now” Paul said

At the precise moment that Paul and Martina were kissing in the snow
Jack and Kayleigh were cuddling on the sofa in White Rose Cottage when she said
“Sarah, Hannah and Elise are going for a meal in Purplemere tomorrow night and they’ve asked if I want to go with them”
“I was hoping we could go out for an intimate dinner at the Runcible Spoon” Jack said but she was a little apprehensive about them being seen
“If People see us they might think we’re on a date” she said
“We would be on a date” he pointed out
“That’s not the point” Kayleigh retorted and giggled
“Well I don’t mind if you want to go” he said “Where are you eating anyway?”
“La Florenza”
“You’re passing up on an intimate dinner for two at one of the poshest restaurants in the county, to eat at a cheesy pizza place”
He said
“Well if you just happened to be in town tonight, and just happened to be in the vicinity of La Florenza you could join us” she said seductively and nibbled his ear
“Ah is that because you’ll miss me?” he cooed
“No it’s so you can pay “money bags”” Kayleigh said and laughed

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 09 – Helping one of the Angels

The next morning after a couple of lengthy phone calls to the club to catch up with the business side of his life Jack went out the door and took a walk in the direction of the church and discovered Gary had been true to his word, as one of the two vans parked outside the Church bore the livery of Sound in Spiers, he was tempted to go in and see how they were getting on but in truth he wouldn’t have been able to tell how they were progressing.
So he decided to go for an extended walk around the village as the previous days boozy lunch had left him feeling a bit brain fogged and he had just reached Stephenson’s Corner Shop when someone grabbed his arm, and he turned around to see it was Katie Watson.
“Hello Jack” she said
“Hello Vicar, you surprised me,” he responded then she surprised him again by giving him a bear hug which almost crushed his ribcage and then she kissed his cheek several times.
“You’ve saved my life Jack Morehouse” Katie said and hurried off towards the church and then over her shoulder she shouted
“You are my Christmas star”

When Jack walked past the church on Wednesday on his way to the Church committee meeting there was only the one van parked outside and there were a lot of strange noises emanating from inside and by Thursday lunchtime everything was set for St Lucy’s Day.

It all began once the darkness had fully descended with a celebration service and then after the church service a parade of school children from St Lucy’s school processed through the village carrying their Lucy lights and then threw them onto the bonfire to light the Lucy fire on the village green.
It’s all very pagan and a Swedish tradition originally, a mixture of the Christian and the pagan really, something that Elise Riley’s grandfather introduced to the village more than fifty years earlier.
It was believed that St Lucy’s light can lengthen the winter days.
The St Lucy’s day festival was always well attended as it’s such a unique event.
Christians from churches far and wide attended the service and a healthy crowd both church and secular turned out for the parade, even the odd humanist had been known to turn up, but to Jacks mind most humanists were odd.
Katie gave thanks to God, for all those involved and Gary Spiers in particular, for making St Lucy’s day such a great success.

For Reverend Katie Watson the second weekend of advent was a test of endurance but with the success of St Lucy’s day under her belt she approached the first leg of the marathon with renewed vigour.
The Carol Concert on Saturday night was an all ticket occasion and as always it was performed to a packed house.
The sound system was excellent and the new visual displays really came into their own.
But as successful as the concert was there was no time for Katie to rest on her laurels because the next morning brought the Sunday Service and the lighting of the second candle of advent.

After another success, with the morning service going off without a hitch, there was just time for a light lunch before she was off again for Christingle.

The Christingle Service has become ingrained in Anglican worship though its origins were in Eastern Europe.
It is a service of candle lights where very many years ago people gathered in the street, sang carols and collected gifts to help the less fortunate in the community.
It is a beautiful candle lit service of hymns, carols, recitations and bible readings, but Christingle goes beyond a candle light service and it tells a story.
A story is told with the symbolic use of the following items:
An orange, representing the world.
A red ribbon tied around the orange, to symbolize the blood of Jesus shed for his people.
Toothpicks, decorated with dried fruits and sweets are placed at the four corners of the orange, representing all the people of the world.
And a lighted candle in the centre of the orange, represents the gift of the light of Christ to the world.
It all begins in the morning at Sunday school where the children make the Christingle lights, and then they carry them proudly in procession into the church where they are lit for the service.

By Sunday evening it was over, Katie had got through it, the miracle marathon had been completed and she looked visibly relieved and hugged Kayleigh and Sarah who had been on hand at every stage of the proceedings, watching, supporting and worshipping.
It certainly had been a funny old week, a week in which Gary Spiers had saved the day, and Katie Watson’s sanity, and Katie had survived the miracle marathon and Hannah Peters had been drawn back to the church again and as a result there had been a spark of love lit in her heart as well as the flickering flame of her faith.

The following week by comparison was a quiet one but he still saw very little of Kayleigh partly because on Monday and Tuesday he chose to put in an extended appearance at the club just to make sure everything was on track, because it was the first Christmas in which he was not going to be directly involved and it would be the last time until the New Year.

As he walked in to the village on Wednesday for the Church committee meeting he saw Dr Anderson leave the vicarage and get into her car, he wasn’t sure if she saw him but she didn’t stop and as she drove away he wondered what the Doctor was doing there, after all making house calls was not in vogue and he had heard that Katie had been at the surgery only the week before.
When he got to the Church Hall he was almost the last to arrive and he found the assembled group in sombre mood.
Also in the room was a stranger who was introduced to him as the Reverend Paul Massey, a tall good-looking man a year or two younger than him.
It seemed that the stresses and strains of the previous week had taken their toll on Katie.
But by all accounts she would appear to be no more than thoroughly run down and had been advised to take a complete rest.
That was obviously the reason why Dr Anderson was leaving the vicarage.
Full bed rest for the week would hopefully put her right and she would be strong enough to participate on Sunday was the expectation.
Reverend Massey would be standing in for her wherever and whenever necessary until then.
After all there was still a busy program to get through, two more advent Sundays, midnight mass and Christmas morning itself.
The meeting moved on at a pace once they got started and they covered a good deal of ground.
One of the things covered was Jacks position on the committee, his Uncle Daniel, whose position he had been substituting, being deceased would not be returning to the committee, and as he had given a good account of himself, it was decided that it was an appropriate time for him to be made a permanent member.

For the last quarter of the meeting the committee planned to discuss the technical issues with the church audio and visual system and with this in mind, Gary Spiers was summoned to the meeting, however due to a family crisis he was unable to attend so his second in command
Martina Wingrove attended in his stead.
This was a quite acceptable substitution as it was Martina who supervised the initial work.
She was a tall striking looking young woman with an abundance of curly straw coloured hair, pale blue eyes and a curvaceous figure and when Jack introduced Martina to the Reverend Massey there was an almost instant mutual attraction and to be quite honest he and the other committee members might just as well have been absent.
And when she began her dissertation on the Church system she aimed it directly at the new reverend and it was apparent to all that her eye had clearly settled on the replacement Vicar and not only was her attentiveness not discouraged it was clearly being reciprocated .

However despite what they may have thought they were not witnessing a case of love at first sight because although none of the assembled group were aware of it the smitten couple were not strangers, far from it.
They had once been engaged to be married but that had been when they were University students, but it all went wrong, probably because they were too young, and also they both thought there was more to life than marrying the first person you fell in love with and so they parted company.
They had their adventures in the world and independently they did indeed discover that there was more to life than they realized when they were together, Paul discovered God and Martina found music.
It was ironic really because when they were together Martina was the Christian and he was a guitar strumming doubter.
Although their lives alone took very different paths one thing in those lives was a constant and that was a regret at letting the love of their life slip through their fingers.
But by the time they realized their mistakes it was too late and they had no way of knowing where the other could be found although in truth they had never lived more than 3 miles apart and if the fates had allowed they could have run into each other at any given time.
But although they were clearly still attracted to each other that was only a starting place.

After the meeting Jack reflected on how love had an uncanny knack of finding its way into people’s lives even when you weren’t looking for it.
He also reflected that he had never been so busy since he made the decision to take a back seat at the club and having thought prior to the meeting that he only had one firm commitment until the turn of the year, he now found his diary suddenly full as a result of it.
December had always traditionally been a busy one for him but this year was turning out to be an exceptionally busy one.
Then he stopped suddenly because he had remembered something his mum had once said to him.
“You should give more of yourself, if everyone gave one hour a week, what a change that would make to the world”
“I can’t argue with that mum” he said
After the meeting he went home and made himself a sandwich and sat down in front of the TV and started watching “The Bishops Wife”, which was one of his favourite Christmas movies, but he lasted no more than 10 minutes before the long blinks set in so he spent the afternoon sleeping on the couch in a fitful dreamy sleep.
And it was just when he had woken from that long afternoons snoozing and surfaced from a strange dreamland that he heard the sound of the doorbell.
The bell continued to ring as he made his way up the hall and when he opened the front door he found one of his neighbours Gemma Frost standing there soaking wet.
“Ah Jack” she said, “I am a damsel in distress”
“How can I help?” he asked
“I’m locked out” she said “and the boys won’t be back for at least an hour, could I take refuge here until they get home?”
“Yes of course” he said just being neighbourly “Come on in”
“Thanks Jack” she said as she stepped inside.
“Take your coat off,” he suggested “And I’ll put the kettle on”

When he returned she was sitting on the bottom stair taking her boots off, then she stood up and straightened her uniform.
Gemma Frost was a forty six years old divorcee and worked up at Plaxton Park as a Matron.
“Come in the kitchen” he said “You look done in”
“Yes I am rather” she admitted as she sat at the kitchen table
“Two of the nurses didn’t show up so I had to pull another double shift”
“Does that happen a lot?” he asked
“More often than I’d like” she said “And I’ll be working all Christmas if I can get some reliable cover”
“I’m afraid so” she said
“Well Christmas might have come early for you then” he said
“Do you want another cup?” he asked and Gemma checked her watch before replying
“Yes please, but I must have a pee first”
“Ok, I’ll take it through to the lounge” he said
He was sitting on the sofa when she returned, she was a short rotund woman with a heart as big as her bust size and she was definitely one of the angels.
He knew that as a Matron up at Plaxton Park she didn’t have to stay and cover for a no show nurse but she could never compromise on the care for her patients.

Over a second cup of coffee Jack explained about the Verger’s sister, Hannah, Gemma knew Sarah Peters obviously from church and the Doctors Surgery, where she was the receptionist, but she didn’t know her sister although she had seen them together from time to time.
“If she can do a shift or two over Christmas or New Year we can assess her and she can assess us and then we can take it from there” she said “Do you think she might be happy to give it a go?”
“Well there’s only one way to find out” he said and picked up his phone and after selecting a number he waited for them to answer after several rings it went through to the answer phone.
“Hi Hannah, Jack Morehouse here” he said, “If you were serious about wanting to live in the village then you may be in luck.
There is a vacancy up at the Plaxton Park and if you can do a couple of trial shifts you’re in with a chance, if you’re interested”
“I’m interested! I’m interested!” Hannah squealed as she picked up the phone.
“Ok I’ll put you onto Gemma and you can talk details” he said and handed over the phone.
“Hi Hannah” she said

While Gemma and Hannah discussed the details he cleared away the dirty cups to the kitchen and when he looked through the window he could see lights on at Gemma’s across the road.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 08 – A Test of Faith

When Jack awoke on Sunday morning, alone, he was pleased that
Kayleigh seemed to be back to normal.
But Carl’s condition was still causing concern so she spent the night up at Plaxton Park.
So he left home and walked down to the church alone and he was surprised to see Kayleigh outside the church engaged in conversation with Katie Watson, the Vicar, Sarah Peters, the Verger and a young woman that Jack didn’t know.
“It’s just one thing after another” Katie was saying
“It’s St Lucy’s day on Thursday and next weekend we have the carol concert and Christingle”
“What’s the matter? Is life testing you’re patience Vicar?” he asked cheerfully
“No it’s testing my faith,” she said without humour and went inside.
“Now look what you’ve done” Kayleigh said and followed in the Vicar footsteps.
Sarah just looked at him and raised her eyebrows
“What’s the problem anyway?” Jack asked
“The sound system and the visual displays have packed up” Sarah replied
“Damn” he said
There was a bit of an awkward silence and then he said
“I’ve rather put my foot in it haven’t I?”
“Just a little bit” she said and then almost as an after thought
“Oh by the way this is my sister Hannah”
Hannah was as different from Sarah as it was possible to get.
She was the shapely to her thin, the short to her tall, and the busty to her flat.
But in one obvious way there was no difference at all as she also had the friendly open face.
Sarah had just turned 30 and was two years younger than her sister but looked older by the same distance.
Jack shook her hand warmly
“Ah you coming in?” Sarah asked
“I’ll be in shortly I need to make a phone call” he replied

He was just finishing his call when Sarah and Hannah reappeared 90 minutes later and as they exited the church Hannah said
“I rather enjoyed that”
“You’re not a regular then?” Jack asked
“That’s right, not for years, I don’t know why I lapsed” she replied,

After a few minutes the conversation turned back to the Vicar.
“I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea, it was very out of character,” Sarah said in Katie’s defence
“It’s just such a busy time for her”
“Don’t worry” Hannah said, “I rather like Katie”
“Good” Jack said, “It’s not like her to snap like that, I think there’s something else bothering her”
“I thought the same thing” Sarah said
“Anyway I’ve been talking to a mate” Jack said
“What about?” Sarah asked
“The sound system” she said “that’s his area of expertise”
“And what conclusion did you reach?” she asked
“Well he’s agreed to come and have a look and if it’s not a complicated system, which I doubt it is, he thinks he can easily patch it up in the short term, and after Christmas he would look at a more permanent solution maybe even replace the whole thing”
“We don’t have much money,” Sarah added
“Not an issue” he said, “I know people who know people and the people I know, owe me”
“But I thought you were a night club owner” Sarah said
“I am” he replied proudly “but there is more to me than meets the eye”
“Are you sure he can do it?” she asked him and he nodded.
Well Sarah knew he had been feeling rather guilty about his earlier flippancy with the Vicar so she suggested
“Well let’s go and make the Vicars day then”

Katie Watson burst into tears when Jack put his suggestion to her.
“Its divine providence” Katie sobbed “I prayed for a solution and here you are” then she collapsed into Sarah’s long gangly arms.
Jake made a tactical withdrawal and Sarah and Kayleigh stayed with Katie for a while afterwards while Jack and Hannah took a walk round the village green and got to know each other.
She was from Purplemere and her marriage had just ended and she just wanted to off load the house and draw a line under an unhappy episode in his life.
“I wouldn’t mind living here” she said “first impressions and all that”
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else now” he admitted

When Kayleigh finally emerged it was clear that she had been crying as well and she was a little quiet for the rest of the afternoon and when he eventually went home he reflected that it had been a bit of an eventful day for a Sunday.
And if Sunday had been an eventful day then it merely heralded the beginning of an even more eventful week to come.

On Monday morning Jack was working in his study and most of that work involved talking on the phone to his club manager, Jacey Linton, who was the ex-brother in law of Gary Spiers, the sound engineer Jack hoped would solve St Lucy’s predicament and they agreed to meet at lunchtime.

Jack wandered down the road to St Lucy’s just after midday and found no sign of life so he went and knocked on the door of the Vicarage and finding no one home there either he ambled aimlessly around the village until he found himself walking past Stephenson’s Corner Shop.

Stephenson’s had supermarkets and convenience stores all over Downshire and the one in Turnoak was owned and run by Len and Anita Compson and when he walked into the shop he found the Verger, Sarah Peters, talking with her sister Hannah.
When she wasn’t being the Verger at St Lucy’s Sarah was the receptionist at the doctors Surgery.
Hannah didn’t live in the Village but was staying with Sarah for a few days.
“Hello” Jack said brightly
“Hello Jack” she said
“Have you seen the Vicar?” he asked hopefully
“She’s at the surgery” Sarah replied
“Was it something important?”
“Well I’ve got a guy coming to look at the sound system” he said
“One o’clock” he replied
“Well I can show him around” Sarah said
“Could you?” he said “That would be brilliant”
“Ok, I’ll meet you there at one o’clock”

After leaving Stephenson’s he decided rather that going back to the cottage and coming out again he would go and have a pint at the Hen and Chicks.

When Jack left the pub after a pint and a sandwich he noticed a van parked outside the church so he took a walk in that direction and discovered that the van bore the livery of “Sound in Spiers” and he smiled.
He walked into the church and found Gary engaged in conversation with Sarah and Hannah and the latter was giggling and flicking at her hair.
“Jack!” Gary said as he saw him approach “Good to see you again”
“Hi Gary” he retorted with a smile, he liked Gary, he had a way about him, which Hannah had clearly noticed.

They chatted briefly and then Sarah led him away to show him what the problem was, not that she knew what the problem was other than the fact it didn’t work, leaving Hannah and Jack standing in the nave.
“So what do you think of our Gary then?” he asked
“Oh erm… I um… he seems quite nice” she replied disinterestedly and Jack just smiled but thought it would be cruel to toy with her so instead he changed the subject to find out more about her.

Hannah Peters was a nurse at the Royal Downshire Hospital in Purplemere where she was living with her fiancé, but after ten years together, cohabiting for eight of those, he decide he wasn’t ready to settle down, but he didn’t tell her to her face, he emailed her from his brother’s place.
It came completely out of the blue and Hannah was heartbroken and the reason she was spending a long weekend with her sister was that the man she had loved for ten years was removing every trace of himself from their flat, which was now her flat, fortunately they were only renting so there were no financial complications.
But she didn’t think she would be able to remain there long term as it was a big flat to run on a nurses salary.
“I didn’t want to be there while he packed up his stuff as I may have been tempted to slap his emotionally stunted face” she said and laughed and so did Jack and he was still laughing when Sarah and Gary re-joined them.
“So what’s the verdict?” he asked still chuckling
“Yes it’s a simple enough system” he replied “It’s just a question of how quick you need it”
“It needs to be up and running by Thursday midday” Jack said
“No pressure then” Gary said “Well it’s doable but it’s going to cost more”
“That’s ok moneys no object” he retorted and Sarah looked horrified
“Oh no tha…” she began
“Send the bill to me” Jack said “Now let’s go and discuss it in the pub, are you girls going to join us?”
“I have to get back to work” Sarah said
“I don’t” Hannah said and blushed
“Just the three of us then” he said “If you see Katie tell her I’ll speak to her later”

Gary Spiers was 34 years old and he had known Jack for about ten years when he was working at the Waterside sorting out a fault in the paging system, he was working for someone else at the time but Jack and his Uncle Daniel recognized his true worth and employed him directly to install a new system, which was the start of him setting up on his own and after being recommended to other entertainment venues his business really took off.
He had never forgotten that it was the Morehouse’s who had set him on the road which was why when he got a call from Jack he dropped everything to help.
The only downside to having a successful business in a niche market place was it was full on and you couldn’t afford to take your eye off the ball.
He had a good team of people working for him and an even bigger pool of preferred contractors but it had been all consuming and he had had to make sacrifices so he didn’t really have anything outside of work, he had friends of course but he didn’t have anyone special that he could go home to and tell about his day.
He really envied Jack who was able to take a back seat at the club and spend more time enjoying what he had worked for.
But he was very pleased that Jack had invited Hannah to have lunch with them, he would never have had the courage himself, and he was rather taken with her.

“Well it’s not a complicated system” Gary said “I have enough used equipment back at the warehouse, amps, monitors and even a control desk, that we can easily use to patch us the system in the short term, we can jury rig it to get them through December and then after Christmas we can look at a more permanent solution maybe even replace the whole thing”
“Well that sounds like it’s just what they need” Jack said “And remember, moneys no object”
“I’ll make some calls and we’ll get cracking first thing tomorrow”
“That’s great Gary Katie will be pleased” Jack said
“Katie?” he asked
“Katie Watson, the Vicar” he clarified “Now enough shop talk Hannah here is also from Purplemere, so chat among yourselves while I get us another drink”
“So you don’t live in the village?” Gary asked
“Not yet” she said
“Well my sister has suggested I move in with her, but I’m a nurse at the Royal Downshire” she said
“Well that’s not too far to travel” he said
“I know but I don’t drive, and the bus times don’t fit in with my shifts” Hannah sighed
“I see” Gary said “What department are you in at the Downshire?”
“Geriatrics” she replied
“Well why don’t you try Plaxton Park” he suggested
“What’s that, is it a hospital?”
“It’s a more of a hospice and perpetual care facility” he replied
“It’s in Hawthorne”
Hawthorne was a small hamlet in the hills about two miles from Turnoak.
“It will be shift work but you could walk there” he said
“I’ve never heard of it” she admitted
“Well I only know of it myself because my Nan is up there”
He said
“Well it’s worth looking into, thanks” she said just as Jack returned with the drinks

When they left the pub Jack felt a bit of a gooseberry because there was definitely some mutual attraction going on between Gary and Hannah and after goodbyes were said there was an awkward shuffling of feet followed by a rather untidy embrace then they all went their separate ways.
As Jack was the only one of the three drinking alcohol he was the only one that was in need of an afternoon nap which he did as soon as he got home.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Love and Admiration # 1


Right from the start
He lost his heart
When the gigolo met
His lovely gigolette
And Philandered no more
Now he had his paramour


Never be sorrowed
By love’s compromise
Don’t settle for second best,
You deserve better
So search for the one
Look into their heart
And when they look back
You will know it’s safe
To fall into their loving arms


Hair of Amber
Falls in curls
Over golden skin
In perfect complement
Like ripened corn
In a summer field


If I am the first of us to go
I will wait for you in the place
Where the crowns of Angels glow

If I go first because I lost the fight
I will be waiting with the Father
Where souls emerge into the light

If I am the first of us to go there
I will await you in lush meadows
Where sweet perfume fills the air

If I go first and leave your company
We will meet again in paradise
And be together for all eternity

If I am the first to go, allay your fears
I will be waiting in the place
Where God has banished tears

If I go before you and we must part
I will wait for you in heaven
Where sweet music soothes the heart

If I am first to go, we will meet again
In a far better place than this
Where God has banished pain

If I go first through the eternal door
You will find me with the angels
Where suffering is no more

If I am first to go by days or years
You will find me waiting there
Far beyond this vale of tears


Oh to feel loves exquisite ache
To feel that desperate longing
Experiencing that naked want
Of being with them again, and
Feeling so alive in the torment
While craving the next fix
Of that heady foaming brew
Which will satisfy the longing
And quench the thirst of desire.
And when that significant soul
Who holds my captive heart,
Is but a kiss and caress away
I am dragged from sorrows
Unfathomable despairing depths
And bitter anguish evaporates
Like dew under the morning sun
Until euphoria fills every pore
And in that perfect ecstasy
That blissful state of love
I remain until I am once again
Alone with my desperate longing

The news came,
As bad news does,
Out of the blue
At break neck speed
And hit me like a train
With deaths hateful sting
Numbing me to the core
Leaving me speechless
And too arid even to cry
Until the pain burst through
Bringing forth the bitter tears
As despair washed over me
Until I was drowning in sadness.
I sank in its frigid waters
To the depths of my soul
So bitter was the news
The loss so acute
I was broken in two
Lying beaten on the ground
I could feel no worse
I could sink no lower
Then like kicking an injured dog
I was struck by remorse
Like a tidal wave
A tsunami of regret
Knocking me off my feet
Why didn’t I tell her?
Why didn’t I say?
“I love you too”

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 07 – Saving Santa’s Grotto

When Jack finally got the Cottage to himself again and he got to spend some quality time with Kayleigh for the first time in days he was a little surprised to find her somewhat standoffish and not her normal warm flirty self.
It was the first time they had been alone for over a week so he was hoping for a little more of the lovely Kayleigh.
He tried conversation but she was completely unresponsive and when she spoke it was flat and emotionless and when she smiled it was clearly forced, he assumed she must have been worried about Carl, so he settled for a hug.
And he took the opportunity to finally tell her about the letter he had received from the Solicitors and the obscene size of the inheritance, but she didn’t really engage, her mind was clearly elsewhere, so he decided to leave till another time.
So as they were sitting on the sofa and Kayleigh leant forward to pick up her cup he said
“I need to see the Vicar in the morning”
This statement alarmed her rather to the point that she almost dropped her cup.
“Are you ok” he asked with concern
“Yes” she replied flatly “I’m just tired”
But Jack was unconvinced
“Are you sure you’re ok?”
“Yes, yes” she said impatiently and forced another smile.

The next morning after a restless night he awoke with a thumping headache and he knew he wouldn’t get rid of it if he stayed at home so he decided to go out for a walk to clear his head and after an extended walk he remembered he had to go to the church hall and see the vicar.
It was a hive of activity as the preparations for St Lucy’s School Christmas Bazaar and the Nativity were in full swing, the Vicar and a small team of ladies were on hand affecting alterations to costumes, well the team of ladies obviously did the work and Katie looked on with a worried frown as the worked.
“Wow this is a hive of industry” he said as he looked on as they worked
“So who is the Elf suit for?”
“Kayleigh Robinson” Karen Clarke replied
“Really? Kayleigh didn’t mention it when I saw her last night” Jack said and his comment was accompanied by a crash behind him and when he looked around he saw Katie Watson had dropped the box of toys she was sorting through for the bazaar, he thought no more about it at the time as his mind had wondered to imagining Kayleigh dressed as an elf.
His train of thought was only broken when Katie’s phone rang, and she took it into the other room to answer it and he remained where he was and smiled to himself as he watched the ladies taking measurements and muttering to one another with their mouths full of pins, then all of a sudden the door flew open and the Vicar emerged.
“It’s a disaster” she blurted out
“Why? What?” Jack asked
“Carl Collins just called” she replied “Santa’s Grotto is ruined”
“Oh no” he said “How?”
“The roof leaked on the lock up where it’s stored” The vicar replied
“Everything is water damaged, the throne, the sleigh, the reindeer, and everything else to boot”
“Oh” Jack said
“We’ll have to cancel” she said despondently
“Well let’s not be hasty” Jack said
“It’s hopeless, we can’t possibly get them repaired on time and even less chance of replacing them, we have no option but to cancel”
Katie said indignantly
“Oh ye of little faith” Jack said and took out his mobile phone and got up his contacts list, scrolled down and hit dial
“Billy? How are you at miracles?” he asked as the Vicar paced up and down like an expectant father while he spoke.
Billy O’Neil was a prop supplier, and had his own company, SceneSetters, which was close to the Purplemere Film Studios, and his company supplied the Studio’s, Theatre’s and TV sets with props and sets.
He wandered outside and the conversation lasted about ten minutes and when he had finished and put the phone in his pocket and Katie just stood and stared at him.
“Well?” She asked, eventually losing her patience
“Sorted” he replied
“Thank you God” she said looking to the heavens and crossing herself “And thank you Jack” she added and Katie kissed his cheek

The week that followed saw him split his time equally between the club, Santa’s Grotto, and Kayleigh.
On Saturday morning he rose early and treated himself to an extra close shave, and as a result when he applied the aftershave it stung like hell.
So he arrived at St Lucy’s school sweet smelling and red-faced at about 11.00am to find the Vicar fussing around like a mother hen, uncharacteristically wanting things just so and he wasn’t sure why, it was after all just a village school bazaar and when Jack told her to slow down Katie snapped
“We’re making Christmas memories and it’s my last chance…”
Just then Kayleigh came through the door behind him
“Hi Jack” she said brightly and kissed his cheek and then blushed after the show of affection
“Come on Kayleigh, the costume is through here” said Katie and she lead her away to one of the classrooms.

Jacks task was to apply the finishing touches to the Grotto which was in another one of the classrooms, the walls were hidden behind red velvet drapes, decorated with tinsel and coloured lights.
There was a huge throne in one corner surrounded by Christmas parcels and leading to the throne was a snow covered path and on one side of it was a festive tableau of snowmen and reindeer and on the other side Santa’s sleigh was parked, which was also loaded with parcels.
Jack was just admiring everyone’s handiwork when Kayleigh appeared, and she was dressed rather fetchingly as an Elf in a green fitted tunic with large buttons and a broad belt, thick green tights and pixie boots with turned up toes.
Kayleigh’s hair was tied up and hidden under a matching hat and when he looked her up and down he had very unchristian thoughts so he steered her discretely into an empty classroom and kissed her.
It could only be a quick kiss because the Grotto opened at 1 pm and she would be kept pretty busy right through until 4 o’clock while Jack was busy on the tombola.

When Kayleigh was finished at the Grotto and the last of the excited children had sat on Santa’s lap she put on her long winter coat over the top of her costume and went in search of Jack.
She would have liked to have helped Jack on the Tombola but she had already been volunteered to help out in Santa’s Grotto and she couldn’t wriggle out of it without giving the game away that they were more than just companionable friends and neighbours.

When she reached the hall almost everything had been packed away and it only took about ten minutes before they were ready to walk the short distance up the road to his cottage where they were having supper and as they walked along the corridor he said
“I have to say I’m a little disappointed you got changed out of your costume”
“Shhh someone will hear” she said as she looked around making sure they were alone and then she undid her coat to reveal her costume beneath,
“Well I do believe that you’re on the naughty list” he said.
“No I’m on the nice and naughty list” Kayleigh said and giggled, suffice is to say that they had a late supper.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 06 – The White Rose Cottage Hospital

In the wee small hours of Sunday morning Jack returned to his Cottage in order that he could emerge as normal and call for Kayleigh so they could walk to St Lucy’s as usual.

Well it was a bright sunny morning outside St Lucy’s church where the villagers were thronging around the war memorial, as the Remembrance Day parade, representatives of all the services, a proud bunch of Old soldiers, all arms of the scouting fraternity, local dignitaries et al, all came to a halt.

Jack thought it was nice to see the Vicar had returned, looking a little pale and drawn, but nonetheless back in harness.
“A family crisis” was the reason, circulating the village, for her absence the week before.
He felt there was more to it than that but it was good to see her back regardless.
It was a good service, vintage Katie, and then the village duly paid its tribute to the fallen in the time-honoured fashion.
Jack always felt a little humbled afterwards, honouring those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, and if they had known the outcome, their actions would not have differed.
Jack often wondered if the modern generation would be so resolute faced with the same challenges, he thought it doubtful.
Afterwards Jack and Kayleigh preferred to spend the rest of the day in each other’s company so declined the invitation for lunch at the pub and headed to the cottage and an afternoon of canoodling.

Although they had made a significant breakthrough in their relationship the following two weeks did not go at all smoothly.
Firstly he received a letter from Curtis, Mitchel and Lovegood, the Morehouse family solicitors.
It wasn’t of any significance to receive a letter from them after all there had been a steady stream of correspondence following his Uncles death so he suspected it would be more of the same, so when he opened it he was entirely unprepared for its contents.
The first part was fairly straight forward and was in the form of a request to go to the office to sign some papers but as he read on it detailed the new worth of the his Uncles estate and when he read the number he thought it must be a typo so he phoned Curtis, Mitchel and Lovegood and made an appointment for that morning.
When he got there he was shown straight in to see his Solicitor Christine Prunot who was five foot two and on the skinny side of slim with dark flowing hair, brown eyes, olive skin and a beautiful smile.
She had a full day of appointments but when you had a client as rich as Jack Morehouse now was, she felt she had to make space for him.
Although Jack would have been horrified if he had known he had caused such a kerfuffle.
After he had been settled in her office with a coffee she said nervously
“So how can I help?”
“I received this letter this morning” he said and lay it on the desk from where Christine picked it up and read it and when she had finished she nodded, and said
“Yes, that’s all in order”
“But the amount” he said “That has to be a typo, either there are too many numbers or the decimal point is in the wrong place”
Christine looked at the number again and then opened his account on her laptop and then declared
“No that’s definitely correct” she assured him
“But, it’s so much”
“It is” she agreed and opened a folder on her desk and added
“I have a few documents requiring your signature while you’re here”
“Sure” he said
“And of course we will need you to instruct us what you want to do with the legacy” she said “Any thoughts?”
“Not a one” Jack said “I have absolutely no idea what to do with it”

After he left the Solicitors he returned to his car and sat behind the wheel in a daze, he couldn’t get his head around the fact that he was now worth that amount of money, he had no idea that his Uncle had amassed such a fortune.
Since his Uncles death his life had changed and with the cottage in Turnoak and his income from the club he was able to live very comfortably in his semi-retirement, but he had just found out his Uncle was seriously rich and now by extension so was he, obscenely so.
“I need to talk to Kayleigh, I need to do something with this money, something worthy” he said and then his phone rang.

Jack was called in to the Club because James Lynch, the Entertainments Manager, woke up on Monday morning and his right knee couldn’t bear his weight.
It was the knee he had surgery on the previous year and Jack guessed that he had over done it over the previous few days.

James had had to retrieve his old walking stick from the back of the wardrobe to assist him on the walk from his flat to the car park.
But he really struggled with the drive to the club, and he struggled even more once he got to work so Jack made an appointment for him to see Dr Anderson at the surgery in the village but he couldn’t get him in until Monday evening.
It was the first appointment and there was only one other patient waiting and when James went into Dr Anderson’s office Jack remained in the waiting room.

After examining the knee the Doctor said
“I will have to give you a cortisone injection and you will need to rest it,” she instructed, “so stay off your feet and definitely no work for a couple of days”
After she had administered the injection, which hurt like hell, he put his trousers back on and limped back to the waiting room.

“What’s the verdict?” Jack asked
“Cortisone injection and a few days off my feet” James replied
“That’s ok I can cover you while you’re out of commission” Jack said
“No its fine I can do all the bookings from home”
“And how are you going to get to your 6th floor flat when the lifts are out of order?” jack asked
“Slowly?” he replied
“That’s not going to work” Jack said “you’ll have to stay with me until you’re properly mobile”
“But nothing” he said so they stopped at the pharmacy and picked up his painkillers and his knee hurt as much on the walk to White Rose Cottage as it did on the way to the surgery, but something happened on the way to the cottage that distracted him from the pain, they met Elise Riley coming the other way.
“Hi Elise” Jack said and she almost jumped out of her skin
“Oh hello” she said blushing as she tried to catch her breath.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said
“It’s ok, I was miles away” Elise said
“This is my friend James” he said “James this is Elise”
“Oh hello” she sighed and shook his hand “Pleased to meet you”
“Likewise” he said
“What have you been up to?” she asked looking at his stick
“It’s just my knee” he replied
“He’s been grounded so he’s going to be staying at mine for a few days” Jack said and that news seemed to put a smile on her pale lips.

So not only did Jack have to go to the Club for the best part of a week when he wasn’t expecting to but he also had a house guest and his house guest had an admirer.

Elise Riley was an IT security analyst and it was her job to test the IT security for vulnerabilities in a business or even an individual, she worked two days a week at the company’s offices in Purplemere and the rest of the time she worked from home, which was why she was in the village and was introduced to James.
It was also beneficial for her to work from home as she could see James again while he was incapacitated.

James on the other hand wasn’t sure about her at first, he thought she seemed nice enough but he didn’t think she was really his type, not that he had a type.
She was pretty enough, a smiley cheerful person in the right age group, mid-thirties, so he didn’t see why she couldn’t be his type.

He was very definitely her type, blue eyes, sandy hair, tall and slim and a year or two older than her, so she liked what she saw, she thought he was perfect, and she just hoped he saw her the same way and didn’t mind the fact that she was a bit heavier than she would have liked and that he would look beyond that.

While Jack was working at the club and James was laid up in the Cottage, Kayleigh also had to spend extended periods up at Plaxton Park because her husband had had a series of medical crises.
But James was aided in his recovery by regular visits from Elise who had fallen hook line and sinker for him.

On Tuesday morning after a painfully restless night he awoke to find there had been some improvement.
Elise had had to do some work in the morning but she made him some lunch and took it round and then sat with him all afternoon.
He really enjoyed her visit but he wasn’t sure if that was just because she alleviated the boredom or that he was attracted to her.
On Wednesday morning his knee was well on the mend, but he pretended that he still needed the stick though so that he could spend the afternoon with her again, but on Thursday he knew he could delay it no longer so he stayed to have lunch with her but then he had to leave.
During his brief stay at White Rose Cottage Elise had fallen for James completely and the regular visits were so she could be close to him and by the time he was ready to go back to his own flat in Purplemere he felt the same way about her, but that was as far as it went, for the time being.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 05 – Lovebird

After she had taken full advantage of her hug buddy she kissed his cheek and they headed towards the Church and when they stepped out into the lane she thanked him again for his chivalry.
“You don’t have to thank me” he said “and you can do better than me anyway”
“I doubt that” she replied and slipped her arm through his as they crossed the road and then a voice called to them
“Wait for me”
They stopped on the safety of the footpath and looked back to see Elise Riley hurrying after them, she lived further along the lane with her Uncle Ian.
She was a smiley cheerful person in her mid-thirties who was born and bred in the village but spent five years living in Purplemere and moved back to the village after her divorce.
“Hello you two” she said, “are you going to Lucy’s?”
Elise always refereed to the church as Lucy’s rather than St Lucy’s; she had done it ever since she was a small child.
“Yes” they said in unison which was when she noticed Kayleigh’s arm through his and gave Jack an enquiring look.
“I have a spare arm,” he offered
“Well that’s ok then” she said and quickly took his arm and as they cordially strolled, arm in arm towards the church they did elicit the occasional sideways glance
“You do know that you two will be the talk of the village?” he said and they both looked at him a little old fashioned
“You’ll be the two jezebels hanging off the arms of the night club owner”
Jack said and they all laughed and they were still laughing as they reached the door of the church and the Reverend Watson was at the door as they approached, doing the meet and greet.
“Aren’t you worried about your reputation?” she called
“No I have broad shoulders Vicar” he replied
“Not you, you are tarnished beyond all hope”, she said smiling
“I was speaking to your companions”
“That’s most unfair Vicar and only goes to show how misunderstood I am,” Jack said feigning injury
“I have merely made it my mission in life to save fallen women, and I’m saving these two for later”
The Vicar laughed, Kayleigh punched him on the arm and Elise blushed and then they went inside.
It was a good service, short on sermonizing and long on rejoicing, and as usual the mix of hymns was a balance of the old and traditional with a sprinkling of the modern and the happy clappy.
Katie Watson always kept the sermon short and sweet and never ever over egged the pudding as a result the congregants always left St Lucy’s feeling invigorated and refreshed, that day was no exception.

There was always a coffee and mingle at the end, where those who wanted to, could chat and catch up with members of the congregation. Jack was still with Elise and Kayleigh and did the rounds amidst the congregants and then they said their goodbyes, however if the truth be told Jack could have gone around again as he was in the mood to socialize.
So as Kayleigh, Elise and Jack were leaving he said
“Do you two need to rush off?”
“I don’t have any plans” Elise replied
“No nor me” said Kayleigh
“How about lunch then? At the Hen and Chicks?” he suggested “my treat”
“I’m on” chirped Elise
“Me too” Kay said brightly just at the moment when they arrived at the door, where the Vicar was seeing the faithful out the door
“What's he up to now?” she said to his companions
“Lunch” said Elise
“Why don’t you join us?” he added “At the Hen and Chicks”
she looked blank for a moment as she processed the invitation almost as if she had been asked a question in English but had to translate it into German before she could answer.
“You know what? I would love too,” she said beaming
“I will have to meet you there though”
“No problem” Jack said and the three of them made their way through the village to the pub.
They had a very pleasant lunch and the Vicar was an absolute delight, very down to earth and very witty and was on very good form, reminiscent of the University days she and Jack shared.
To the casual observer you would probably have pencilled the Vicar in as a sherry drinker and they would have been shocked to the core to see Reverend Watson drinking pints of Guinness.
Elise was shocked because she had never been to the pub with Katie before and when Katie noticed the look on Elise’s face she said
“They don’t do it in half’s”
Elise nodded understandingly in response, and then the penny dropped and she laughed out loud.
In fact it was a lunchtime full of laughter and at one point she looked across at Kayleigh laughing so hard that tears were running down her cheeks and she whispered in Jacks ear
“You got her to thaw then”
“Very much so” he replied but Katie didn’t know the half of it.
At the end of an excellent lunch Katie reluctantly declined a third pint of the black stuff stating that she had to prepare for the evening service.
Elise also took her leave as she had a prior commitment that afternoon so Kayleigh and Jack stayed for one more and walked out into the pleasant afternoon sunshine of an October Sunday.

Jack had very much enjoyed their lunch and was in no hurry for it to end so he suggested
“Oh yes please” she replied because she too was reluctant to lose his company.
So they had coffee sat on the sofa and began watching an old movie on BBC2, but about half an hour into it she yawned and rested her head on his shoulder and half an hour later she was still sleeping and ten minutes after that, courtesy of the late night and a boozy lunch Jack fell asleep in front of the TV as well only waking when Kayleigh kissed his cheek.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to wake you”
“That’s ok, it’s a lovely way to be woken up” he said and she blushed
“I have to go and see Carl” she explained
“See you later?” he asked hopefully
“Only if you can put up with me again” she said “And you’re not getting fed up of me”
“Never” Jack said and she smiled “I’ll make us some supper”

Over the following week they saw each other every day, even if it was only for an hour or two, in between her visits to Plaxton Park and his time at the Waterside club.
But he was up early on Sunday morning because he was eager to spend as much of the day with Kayleigh as possible, so after calling for her they walked down to the church and met up with Elise outside St Lucy’s and was surprised to find that once inside the Reverend Watson was conspicuous by her absence.
A replacement Priest, in the form of a middle aged bespectacled buffoon by the name of Laurence Blake, who was a locum Vicar from Purplemere, who sermonized at length and the dullness of which was only made worse only by its lack of brevity.
After the service, rumour’s abounded about the Vicars absence, Jack was at a loss to explain it as he had seen her only two days before and everything seemed fine.
Some spoke of an accident, but no details were forthcoming although hospital was mentioned a lot.
A death in the family was a popular candidate, as was a parishioner with cancer, a sick child, a crisis of faith.
The truth was in there somewhere but if anyone really knew they kept it well hidden.

After they thanked the Vicar “for a marvellous sermon” and said all their goodbyes Jack and Kayleigh walked the short distance to the Hen and Chicks and had one of Carol Pitts marvellous Sunday lunches, where further rumours circulated, the general tone of which was sympathetic to the Vicar rather than derogatory, that couldn’t be a good sign Jack thought.
Afterwards he settled the bill and they both agreed that they were so stuffed full that a constitutional was necessary to walk it off.
It was a pleasant enough afternoon for it, very sunny but with a chill wind, so they opted for the Ryden’s Forest which would give them the benefit of the sun but shield them from the wind.

They walked the woodland for over an hour and when they reached a cross roads, they looked at each other and agreed they had had enough exercise and they took the route that led back to his Cottage where there was a warm room with a comfy sofa in it.

After spending another Sunday together they didn’t see very much of each other at all for the next two weeks because he was having to spend almost all of his time at the club, partly because of Halloween and in part because Jacey was on holiday for a week to attend his Brother’s wedding in New Zealand.
But on his return to Turnoak on the Friday night his first port of call was next door to Kayleigh’s House.
When the door opened in response to his knock he looked at her lovely face and she smiled him a beaming smile and then she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him.
“I’ve missed you so much” she said
“And I’ve missed you too” he admitted and then she released her grip on him and pulled him across the threshold and closed the door behind him.
“I’ve been thinking about us a lot while you’ve been away” she said
“So have I” he concurred
“And I have thought long and hard in the cold light of day about it and as I’m stone cold sober and you’re here and I’ve missed you and you’ve missed me I want to do this again” she said and kissed him
It was a long, slow, passionate kiss which, had they not already have been on fire for each other, would definitely have lit their boilers.

A line was crossed that night, a line they had been hesitant to cross and one which they had not traversed lightly, but it was one they had wanted to cross for some time.
They made love that night for the first time and spent much of the following day in much the same vein and once the genie was out of the bottle neither of them were of the mind to put it back.
But for the sake of propriety they had decided that they would keep the true nature of their affair to themselves and continue to present the platonic relationship of friendship to the wider world and conduct their intimate affair in secret.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 04 – Plus Ones and Hug Buddies

So over the following four or five weeks he and Kayleigh went on a number of events, she accompanied him to an anniversary dinner at the Worsted Viper Hotel in Purplemere and he went with her to a Christening in Finchbottom followed by a birthday party in Clarence and they were very happy with the arrangement.
And by the middle of October Jack was contemplating a fourth engagement for dinner with Jacey and James from the club and partners.
He was running through his mind their last outing and was really looking forward to going out with her again and then his train of thought was broken by the telephone ringing and cursed under his breath for the interruption before he answered it.
“Hello” he said flatly
“Hello Jack, it’s Katie” said the vicar
“Katie Watson”
“Hello Katie, Katie Watson” he said in a lighter frame of mind and after a brief chuckle she continued
“The reason for the call, I’m having an informal dinner party at the vicarage, well when I say dinner party I mean a takeaway curry, I can’t cook to save my life” she paused briefly “so if you’re free tonight, it’s just beer, curry and board games and you know most of the others”
He wasn’t sure it was his kind of thing and was about to refuse until she mentioned
“Kayleigh has already confirmed”
“Love to Katie” he said, “Should I bring anything?”
“Only if you can drink it,” she replied, “come about eight, bye”
He put the phone down and tried to pick up the thread of his recollections when there was a knock on the door.
“What now?” he snapped and went to the door and when he opened it all his anger melted away when he found Kayleigh standing there.
“Hi” he said “Come in”
“I can’t stop I’m afraid I’m off to see Carl” she replied “I just wanted to check if Katie had phoned you at all”
“About tonight?” he asked
“Yes” she said visibly relieved then she added “Are you going?”
“I am”
“Oh good perhaps we could walk down together” She suggested coyly
“I’d like that” Jack replied with a smile

He was ready and eagerly awaiting her arrival when she knocked lightly on the door at 7.45 and they ambled their way to the Vicarage chatting and laughing all the way and arrived at the Vicarage, bang on 8 o’clock and was surprised to be told that was the time, because they had manged to make a five minute walk last for 15.
“Come in” the Vicar said and handed them menus “we’ve all chosen”
“Really? You’re keen” he said feeling positively tardy.
Katie had said that he knew almost everyone and she was not wrong.
Sarah Peters her trusted verger, Kate Rawson and Toni Patrick from the church committee, David Pitt the Landlord of the Hen and Chickens and his wife Carol, Church warden Tony Vassell, organist Ian Riley and his Niece Elise, Len and Anita Compson from the corner shop and his companion the lovely Kayleigh Robinson.
It was a mixed bunch of the Godly and the heathen the old and the young, the sublime and the ridiculous.
They had an excellent curry and a liberal quantity of beer and wine was consumed, apart from Toni Patrick who was on call should her sister go into labour and as the evening wore on the monopoly board appeared to universal acclaim.
Sadly after about an hour Toni had to leave to attend on her sister and she took her friend with her.
Then just after midnight the Publican’s called it a night as did the Riley’s.
The next time Jack looked at the clock he saw it was 2 o’clock.
“Have you seen the time Vicar?” he said “don’t you have work in the morning?”
“Ah yes” she slurred and took a drink most of which went down her chin
“Bugger” she added wiping her mouth on her sleeve “and we haven’t finished the game”
“Home time” Kayleigh said so they all said goodnight to the vicar and the other guests and took Kayleigh’s arm and guided her homeward.
They had both had a reasonable amount to drink but Kayleigh more so and she was very chatty and very giggly in equal measure.
So raucous laughter accompanied them as they shuffled along and when they reached White Rose Cottage Kayleigh announced
“This is you, you’re home”
She only lived next door but the code of chivalry dictated what he must do.
“I will see you to your door dear lady” he said attempting a bow
“You are too kind Sir Knight” she responded trying to curtsy.
So he walked Kayleigh rather unsteadily to her front door and once she had managed to finally get her key in the lock and open the door she announced.
“Nightcap” and before he had chance to decline Kayleigh dragged him into the house where after some intense negotiations it was decided that coffee was the order of the day.
The house was very nice, very tastefully decorated, and much more contemporary than his own.

Kayleigh had kicked of her shoes and was sitting on the sofa with her legs up and he was facing her, also shoeless, sat on a large round footstool that he had pulled out from against the wall.
So they sat there in her sitting room drinking copious amounts of coffee and chatting, and during the course of the conversation she elaborated a little further about her husband’s condition and how she had to deal with his perpetual care.
She gave him details about the seriousness of the car crash and the severity of his physical and mental injuries.
She tried to tell him more but tears started to well up in her eyes and then they ran down her cheeks as she sobbed.
So Mr. Chivalry stepped into action again and knelt on the floor beside her and offered himself up to comfort her with arms open wide “I’m sorry” she said gratefully accepting his open embrace and burying her tearstained face in his neck.
Jack made encouraging noises and stroked her back but being a shoulder to cry on was really the full extent of his expertise and they held that position for some time until Kayleigh’s sobs began to get shallower and shallower and eventually abated altogether.
But she still held on to him tightly and began to nuzzle his neck and he could feel her breath on his skin, and then Kayleigh’s nuzzles turned to kisses.
Jack’s mind was in turmoil, he desperately liked her and he had often imagined holding her passionately in his arms, but he was sober enough to remember that she was married, and that she would not be doing what she was doing if she wasn’t more than a little drunk but before he could push her away her mouth was on his and her lips were so soft he instantly reciprocated.
It was only when Kayleigh’s hands began to claw at his shirt, dragging it free of his waistband with great urgency that his chivalry resurfaced and he called a halt.
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea”
“I do” she said and tried to reengage
“Yes but you’ll feel differently in the morning” he said
“I don’t understand I thought you liked me” she said
“I do like you, and I want to keep kissing you too” he said “but you have to want to do it in the cold light of day”
“Then you had better go” she snapped and looked away until he had gone.

When he got home he sat in the dark musing on whether or not he had done the right thing, well he knew it was the right thing, but had he handled it correctly, that was what was playing on his mind.
It was exceptionally late when he got to his bed, but he had a fitful sleep, however after a shower, two mugs of coffee and some toast he felt a lot better.
Over the weeks that they had been each other’s “plus one” they had fallen into the habit of walking down to St Lucy’s Church together for the Sunday service but that Sunday he wasn’t at all sure he would be welcome to accompany her after what happened the previous evening. But he resolved that he should at least try even if his attempt was to fail, so he left the house at about 9.30 as he didn’t have to walk far, as he was only going next door to Kayleigh’s and then he took a deep breath and rang the doorbell and after a few moments the door slowly opened.
“Hi Kay” he said “are you ready?
“Yes Jack” she replied “but I need to talk to you first”
Kayleigh stepped backwards and Jack stepped in and as soon as the door closed she hugged him so tightly
“I’m so sorry” she said “You were right”
“That’s ok”
“I feel so ashamed” she added “and if you hadn’t been such a gentleman…”
“Well don’t make me out to be a martyr” Jack said “I still wanted to”
“But you were strong and I was weak” she went on “it’s just been so long since I felt the touch of a man”
“How long?”
“A lot of years” she replied
“What ever since Carl’s accident?” Jack asked
“Well I am always available for a hug” he said “Anytime you need one, I can be your “Hug Buddy”“
“That’s good to know” she said squeezing him tightly “You give great hugs”

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 03 – Introduction to a Songbird

As he approached the village hall he saw Katie and her verger Sarah Peters walking through the gate from the church and Katie waved and then spoke to another member of the committee who had followed Jack down the road.
Sarah went straight inside and Katie waited by the door.
“Hello you two” she called which was the first time Jack realized he wasn’t alone
“Jack this is Kayleigh Robinson, she’s also on the committee and she’s your next door neighbour” she said “Kayleigh this is Jack Morehouse”
Jack turned to look at the woman he had been introduced to and he couldn’t believe his eyes
She was tall and slim with jet black hair and was very striking to look at but it wasn’t her looks that shocked him
“It’s Kayleigh Parkes” he said
“Shhh!” she exclaimed “Nobody knows me here by that name”
With that said she went straight inside
Kayleigh Parkes was a beautiful young singer from the early 1990’s who had a massive hit with a song called “Twilights love” and a platinum selling album of the same name and everyone expected her to follow it up with more of the same but a second album never materialized, No one knew why and it appeared that she had put that part of her life behind her.

The Church committee meeting lasted just over an hour; it was really just to introduce him to everyone followed by a reallocation of responsibilities.
But for Jack, by far the most interesting thing about the meeting was seeing Kayleigh Parkes.
“Twilights love” was one of his all-time favourite albums, he had it on Vinyl, CD and as an MP3, he even had it on cassette at one time but he wore it out because he played it so much.
But apart from the fact that he loved her voice and her one and only album he also thought she was absolutely lovely, and she lived next door to him.

However, despite the fact they were neighbours and they sat on the same committee and both attended St Lucy's he didn’t see her to talk to for about three weeks and was sure that she was avoiding him because he knew her secret.
He decided he wouldn’t force the issue and wait for her to thaw, and get used to him being there.
That thaw transpired after Jack had spoken to Katie about her, although in truth it was Katie who initiated the conversation because she thought they would be good together, the only fly in the ointment was the fact that she was married.
The thawing came about as a result of Katie walking up to White Rose Cottage one afternoon and knocking on the door.
“Hello” she said when the door opened “I’ve come for coffee”
“Well you’d better come in then” he retorted assuming he had forgotten a prior arrangement, not that it mattered he was always pleased to see her.

They sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee when she asked,
“So how are you finding the committee?”
“Yes its good, although I think I rather put my foot in it with Kayleigh” he replied “And I don’t know quite how to rectify it”
“She doesn’t like being reminded of that time” Katie said
“But why?”
“Because of what happened to her husband” she said and went on to explain that Kayleigh Parkes married her childhood sweetheart Carl Robinson when she was young and everything in her world was perfect.
He was her musical direct, producer and agent at the time and her music career was really taking off, she had a number one single “Twilights love”, a platinum album of the same name was followed by a huge sell out British and European tour.
In her private life she was very happy and loved her husband very much.
But that happiness was all too brief and evaporated away when her husband Carl was involved in a devastating car accident that left him severely, physically and mentally disabled and in need of perpetual care.
It happened 12 weeks after the European Tour ended after which they went to Monserrat for an extended holiday where Kayleigh could work on the new songs for her second album which they had just finished recording at the famous AIR Montserrat studios when the accident happened.
Carl had spent the day in Plymouth, the islands capital, and he was driving back to their villa that night when the jeep he was driving left the road and hit a tree.
Kayleigh had stayed at the villa all day relaxing and had just finished dinner when the police knocked on the door.
His injuries were very severe but he was taken to St John’s Hospital where he was treated and stabilized before being medevac’d back to the UK on an RAF Hercules.
The accident went largely unreported as the first Gulf War had begun the day before and that was all that anyone seemed interested in, which suited Kayleigh, she was distressed enough by the bottom falling out of her world without having to do it in the full glare of the media so she quietly slipped out of the public eye.
“So where is he now?” he asked
“Plaxton Park” she replied “in Hawthorne, that’s why she moved to Turnoak, so she could be close by”
Hawthorne was a small hamlet in the hills about two miles from Turnoak.
“Is it a hospital?” he asked
“Yes and no, it’s really a Hospice and perpetual care facility” Katie replied
“Oh great so I put my size 11 right in it” he said “picking the scab off the wound”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it” Katie said “it’s what she needs, she needs to talk about it”
“But it must be torment for her” Jack said
“Nonetheless she needs to do it” Katie said firmly and then gave him a look
“Oh no, I can’t do it” he said “And besides she’s not even talking to me”
“You’ll find a way” Katie said and drained her cup
“But…” he protested but Katie disarmed him by kissing his forehead
“Oh and I need a favour” she said
“What another one?”
“Don’t be lippy” she said and punched his arm playfully
“Ok what do you need?”
“Colin Bates has dislocated his shoulder and can’t pick up the parish magazines from the printer this week” she said “The Printed Word in Purplemere”
“Ok no problem I know where they are” Jack said “And what do you want me to do with them when I have them?”
“Just bring them back here and I’ll let everyone know and they can pick them up from you”
“Thank you, you are a life saver” Katie said and handed him a folded sheet of A4 paper “This is a list of who has what”
As soon as she handed him the list she made a dash for the front door and Jack unfolded the page and at the top of the list of names was Kayleigh Robinson.
“You sneak” he shouted after her and Katie laughed loudly and said
“Bye Jack” Just before she closed the door.

On the following Friday morning Jack was having breakfast when the phone rang and it was the Vicar to remind him that the parish magazines were ready for collection
“No I hadn’t forgotten Katie” he replied “I was just on my way out the door”
“Oh that’s great Jack” she said with real relief in her voice “ok I’ll talk to you later then”

When he had collected the magazines and had unloaded them into the house he phoned Katie to let her know and then as per Katie’s list he sorted them into piles on the kitchen table and for the rest of the day he had a constant stream of people knocking at his door until there was only one pile left and they were for Kayleigh and there was a two hour lapse before she knocked lightly on his door.
“Oh hello” he said
“Katie said you have the parish magazines” she said quietly
“I do indeed” he said “Come in”
“Listen I’m sorry for the Kayleigh Parkes thing” he said not wanting the awkwardness of avoiding the elephant in the room “I didn’t know you were incognito”
“It isn’t quite like that” she remarked
“I know Katie told me” he said “So your secret is safe with me”
“That’s great” she exclaimed like she had just shed a great weight from her shoulders “now please call me Kay, I try to ignore the aging popstar thing”
And she laughed a rather delightful laugh and seeing her visibly relax he asked
“Would you like a drink I’ve just opened a bottle?”
“That would be lovely” she replied and sat down at the table which was when he noticed she still wore her wedding ring, he wouldn’t under normal circumstances entertain a married woman in his home, he had a strict rule about that kind of thing but he thought there was nothing wrong with having a drink with a beautiful woman and indulging in some polite conversation especially as he was under orders from the Vicarage.
So over a drink or three he explained how he ended up living in White Rose Cottage and she told him about her life in the village.
He also discovered that she didn’t get out and socialize much due to her husband’s illness, and the fact that she was on her own and felt a little awkward going to things on her own.
“Katie says you own a night club” Kayleigh stated.
“The Waterside in Purplemere”
“Really? I pictured something altogether seedier” she said and laughed
“Charming” Jack said and laughed along with her.
“Listen I have an idea, I am in the same boat as you in a way, I’m on my own and I keep getting invited to things, but I end up not going unless I can find a plus one because believe it or not I don’t feel comfortable being on my own and I don’t find it easy to talk to strangers”
“I know exactly what you mean” she said “So what’s your idea?”
“Plus ones” he said
“Aren’t they golfing trousers” she asked and giggled
“Wrong number” he said and raised his eyebrows “we could be the others plus one”
“Ok, deal” Kayleigh said and then looked at her watch “oh goodness I need to go”

Jack was very pleased to have settled things with Kay and especially with the fact that he was going to be seeing more of her and immediately phoned the Vicarage to update Katie.
“Am I good or am I good” she said
“You are devious is what you are Reverend” he retorted

Friday, 21 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 02 – Fortifying an Angel

By August, Jack had settled into the routine of working at the Club for three days a week and working in the house for four.
But he had also had to have some tasks performed by professionals i.e. a Plumber.
And while he was in the house installing a new boiler Jack decided to escape bedlam and step out in the warm summer sun and clear his head but he hadn’t gone more than two hundred yards when, despite the met office predictions, it started to rain so he was had a choice to make, return to bedlam or go to the pub.
So after at least 30 seconds of deliberation he headed into the village and the Hen and Chickens instead where he chanced upon Reverend Watson on route.
Despite the fact that his willowy ex-girlfriend was nearly forty
Jack thought that Katie was still an attractive woman by any measure, with the same warm open manner she had always possessed, intelligent green laughing eyes, shoulder length brunette hair and a broad toothy smile which gave her an altogether pleasant demeanour.
“Good afternoon Katie” he said
“Hello Jack” she replied “What’s brought you out into the rain”
“I’m avoiding the plumber,” he said and Katie gave an understanding nod
“And you?”
“The Miss Barlow’s” she replied “it’s their day to clean the church”
“They’re so bossy” she added and bowed her head with shame.
“I think we need to be fortified,” Jack said
“Hen and Chicks?” she suggested
“Yes, if you can spare the time” he said “We can do the catch up we talked about”
“I am actually completely up to date, Sundays sermon is written and I only have one meeting before then and that’s with a prospective bride and groom” she explained “so I’m all yours”

When they got into the pub they found it virtually empty, the lunch timers had obviously gone back to work and the unexpected rain had kept the afternooner’s in their homes.
So they got their drinks and sat at the table by the window where they could watch the world go by as they caught up.

The catch up began with him detailing his constant lack of peace and quiet in the house while he was having tradesmen in, while she talked about certain sections of the congregation who had still not really accepted her despite her being the Vicar of St Lucy of Syracuse for almost two years.

They then moved on to the sixteen years that had elapsed since they left University.
People they both knew, holidays and travel, marital status, professional and vocational history.
And the conclusion they reached was that they were both contentedly single and happy in their work.

The fact that Katie struggled to comprehend from their conversation was Jacks depth of faith and his leading a pastorate group at St John’s in Purplemere.
Because despite the fact he was raised as a Christian by practising Christian parents who were and indeed still were active in their church right up until their deaths, he had never been a particularly spiritual person when he first went to University.
He did however believe in a power greater than himself and he was not uncomfortable calling that power God
The church however had always been a different matter and he had always been dismissive about those interfering Christian do-gooders, doing good works and muttering on about their relationship with God.
He had never had a relationship with God other than the fact that he knew God existed and God knew that he existed and he had been content to leave it at that.
Jack had not been a regular visitor to his house since he was sixteen when he was given the option to follow his own path; his parents thought optimistically he would choose to continue on the path they had led him along all his life but they were disappointed.
So his interactions with the church were restricted to hatches matches and dispatches and the odd Christmas carol service, that was of course until he went to University and he met Katie.
It was his love of Katie which prompted him to attend St Hilda’s Church in Abbottsford during his first semester and that first visit reawakened something in him and every Sunday he would find himself standing next to Katie at St Hilda’s yodelling out “how great thou art” and even after they broke up he continued attending.

After the third drink Katie became a little indiscrete and revealed some unsavoury gossip about some of her parishioners and he was able to relate a few choice nuggets that she didn’t know, courtesy of his plumber.
Katie then proceeded to reveal more and more about herself and the community with every drink, but the more she drank the more she tended to ramble, she spoke a lot about time and the sand running through her fingers and choices and not knowing.
Jack couldn’t really follow her train of thought but the drink wasn’t helping either of them and as neither of them had eaten since breakfast the beer took its toll very quickly and after two hours of catching up they were fortified as newts and he had to steer her through the pouring rain to the vicarage, which thankfully was just across the road.

Once they reached her front door he had to wedge her up against the wall while he opened the door, unfortunately as the door swung open she fell through it into the hall.
Jack instinctively reached out and grabbed her in an effort to prevent her from hurting herself.
Unfortunately in trying to avoid grabbing anything intimate he only succeeded in falling to the floor a second before she did, Jack landed on his back and Katie landed on top of him.
“You know it’s been great seeing my old boyfriend again” she slurred before planting an almost Labrador like kiss on his mouth.
“But let’s remember something” he said after extricating himself from her embrace “You’re the Vicar, and you’re not my girlfriend anymore”
Then he struggled to his feet and helped Katie to do the same before steering her through the hall and into her sitting room.
“You always were a gentleman” she said as he plopped her into an armchair “That was when you loved me of course”
Then she grabbed him by the lapels and planted another kiss on his mouth, much more controlled and unhurried this time and when he began to reciprocate he broke away from her embrace again.
“I still love you” he admitted “but like a sister”
“Oh God I just snogged my brother” she said and put her head in her hands
“I love you Vicar” he said and kissed her on the forehead and left.

It wasn’t easy for him to walk away, the Reverend ticked a lot of boxes for him it had to be said, she always had done, but he knew that romantic love between them was never going to transpire, they knew that when they were still students, but he was very pleased to have found her again.

The next day when he was pottering about the house the phone rang so he stopped what he was doing and answered it
“Jack?” asked a woman’s voice
“Yes that’s me” he replied
“It’s Katie” she said “Katie Watson”
“Hello Vicar” he said, preferring to think of her as the Vicar rather than as a woman with whom he had a drunken snog
“I’m sorry” she said
“What for?”
“Me” she replied “getting drunk and kissing you”
“There’s nothing to forgive you for” he said
“Good, in that case I don’t feel guilty for asking a favour” she said with a chuckle
“What can I do for you?” he asked suspiciously
“I know that you’re still involved with St Johns, but you live here now, in my parish and so you’re one of ours so I know its short notice but...” she hesitated
“I can’t answer if you don’t ask”
“Would you mind taking your Uncle Daniels place on the church committee,” She asked, “we are fast approaching the harvest festival and well…”
“Of course, when do you need me?”
“Ten minutes” she said hopefully
“Oh ok” he said, “I’ll leave now”
So he grabbed his keys and headed out the door.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 01 – Reacquainting of an Angel

In the small but thriving English county of Downshire people go about the tasks of their everyday existence in ways that range from the mundane to the extraordinary as their forebears had done for centuries before, in the varied and diverse landscape, from the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, to the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and the short but beautiful coastline to the east.
But our story is set in and around Turnoak-Under-Hawthorne, a large rambling village, originally settled in the 12th century on the sparsely wooded slopes on the Northern fringe of the Finchbottom Vale about 5 miles from Purplemere, and it was everything you would expect from a Downshire Village.

Jack Morehouse moved to the village in the January of 2012 although in truth at that point he really only moved some of his stuff in, he didn’t start living there until much later.
Jack was 39 years old, pleasant looking, unmarried and was in reasonable physical shape and considered himself to be quite happy with his life, until that is, he moved to Turnoak.

After he graduated from Abbottsford University he started working for his Uncle Daniel who owned the Waterside Country Club on the banks of Purple Mere.
In fact the club was the brainchild of Daniel Morehouse and Jack’s father John.
But Jack’s father died while his son was at University so it was perfectly natural for him to take his father’s place in the business after graduation as he had been left his half.
The Waterside had become a popular entertainment venue and was one of the few remaining clubs where you could see top variety acts performing as well as offering dinner, cabaret and dinner dances.
For 18 years Jack worked under Daniels tutelage and then out of the blue Daniel had a massive heart attack and died, leaving Jack his half of the Club and his cottage in Turnoak along with the remainder of his estate after all the bequests, which was still quite substantial, although he didn’t know the half of it.
Uncle Daniel always referred to his Turnoak home as his cottage but in reality it was a row of 3 Victorian Cottages which had been converted into a 5 bedroom house.
He thought the house was too large for him really but he decided to defer any decision on what to do with it until the dust had settled.
His first priority was the club and to ensure that Uncle Daniels death didn’t impact on the smooth running of the business.
So that is why he didn’t take up residence in the village until much later.

But after the funeral he made an important decision, because his father and his Uncle had both died “in harness” so to speak, he resolved that he wasn’t going to go the same way.
Although he was only 39 he thought it best if he adopted an overseeing role.
So to that end he brought in two new people to fill his shoes, James Lynch and Jacey Linton.
They were both of a similar age to Jack and he had known them both from his University days when they all worked together putting on shows at the Students Union.
James had worked at Maplin’s Holiday Resort in Sharpinghead since he graduated and had been the Entertainments Director for ten years and Jack thought he was going to have a real battle on his hands to lure him away.
After all he had security with Maplin’s, and a bigger salary than he could offer, but James almost snatched his hand off.
“Not that I’m not pleased” He said “But that was very easy”
“I was bored” James replied

Jacey on the other hand he thought would jump at the offer because he was working for a man who treated him like dirt, but over an eight year period he had eroded all of his self-confidence, belittled him at every turn and wiped away every ounce of his self-worth, so when Jack offered him a job he turned it down immediately stating it was beyond his capabilities.
It took him and James a month to finally convince him that he was capable enough for the job and wholly suitable to be manager of his Club.

So eventually he got his team, James was manager of all things entertainment and Jacey was responsible for the rest, staff, facilities, stock and over the two of them was Jack, who as he saw the other two take everything in hand, reduced his time at the club exponentially.
Which then allowed him to think about the house in Turnoak,

But having inherited the house in January it was July before he moved in and began sorting it out and it needed a lot of sorting.
So for the first three weeks he never stopped, however by the afternoon of his third Sunday he was getting a bit stir crazy so despite some inclement weather he set off for a walk around the village and after about twenty minutes there was a break in the weather and the sun actually put in an appearance so he decided to take a longer stroll around the village.
He felt the sun on his face for the first time in days and he thought it would be nice to see another human being as he walked briskly down the path before turning left and as he carried on down the road he met the odd fellow traveller and exchanged good afternoons or nods.
Around the next corner he passed the corner shop where a young woman was serving a customer with fruit and veg, she smiled and he smiled back and he pressed on past the shop and picked up the walking pace as the skies darkened, so he rushed homeward walking headlong round a corner and met someone else coming the other way and they both ended up on their backsides.
“I’m so sorry” he said getting quickly to his feet and proffering a hand to the prostrate figure of a woman, which she took.
“Nonsense” she replied, “I wasn’t looking where I was going my mind was elsewhere”.
“Mine too” he said “are you ok? Are you hurt?”
“Only my pride” she replied as they dusted themselves off and then they looked at each other for the first time and he realized he had poleaxed a vicar and then he studied the face.
“Katie?” he said “Katie Watson?”
And there was a brief moment of puzzlement on the Vicars face and then recognition spread across her face.
“Jack Morehouse” Katie exclaimed “As I live and breathe”
And they hugged for the first time in 16 years.
They had dated briefly during their first year at University but they soon knew in their heart of heart that they were not destined to be a couple, their destiny was as very good friends and no more.
And they remained friends right up until graduation when she went to theological college and then they lost touch.
“What are you doing here?” she asked
“I’ve just moved here” he replied
“White Rose Cottage” Jack said
“Daniels House?” she asked
“Yes he was my Uncle” he replied
“I knew he was a Morehouse but the thought never occurred to me that he was related to you” Katie said “There’s no resemblance”
“No there isn’t” he agreed “We were very close though, and he left me the house”
“That’s brilliant” Katie said “We’ll have to catch up soon, but I have to get going, duties to perform”
“Are you the Vicar in Turnoak?”
“Yes” she replied “and I need to get ready for evensong”
“Well pop round anytime” he said “I’m only working in the house”
“Ok” she said and they parted company with a kiss and a hug.

Before he got home the rain came again and he was relieved to reach his front door and after a change of clothes and a hot drink he returned to his chores.
The unseasonal weather continued over the following few days but by Friday it had finally cleared up and according to the met office and their Super Computer the Vale were in for a prolonged spell of warm, dry days right through to September, a proper Indian summer.
Not that Jack was holding his breath, he had little faith that they could manage to predict the weather for 6 weeks hence when they struggle to forecast with any certainty what will happen that afternoon.