Author Topic: Families Matter  (Read 4785 times)

Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2011, 12:11:31 AM »
The next few days were busy with arranging the holiday and deciding how best to turn Ben's flat into holiday accommodation. Teri managed to book time off and she and Ron were happy with the prospect  of a week away together. Anna proved very useful in helping with the flat and things progressed so well that they were able to put an advert in The Yorkshire Post and received an enquiry almost immediately. The day before Steve and Dora left for their holiday Hazel sought Steve out.
'Can I ask you something?'
'Sure-fire away.' He listened closely then blew out his cheeks.
'I dunno whether I can get Dora to agree to that- but I'll try.' He walked back home trying to work out what he was going to say to get Dora on side. Gip was now proficient on his bike and had ridden over after school to see Raz. Steve helped him into the saddle and he trotted off round the field where Mrs Oldcastle had kept her horse.
'I've just had a final look round the flat. The Townley's arrive in two weeks and everything's looking perfect. That new cooker's great don't you think?'
'Mmmn'
'You okay love- you sound a bit pre-occupied?'
'There's such a lot to think about before we go away- and Jeff's a bit off colour.'
Steve really should have known better than to talk about Hazel's suggestion but he launched into it headlong.' Hazel says we should think about replacing the old cooking range at the farmhouse.'
'I've thought about it- and the answer's no!'
'But Dora- it'd be such a help to Hazel with her catering- her oven is not suitable.'
'She can come here. It's near the barn where the functions are.'
'Yeah but sometimes she just caters and people come and pick their food up.'
'Well they can pick it up from here or she can take it back to the farm.'
'Come on Dora- be reasonable.'
'I'm being perfectly reasonable. Slugger's managed with that old stove for years. He wouldn't like to see it go.'
'He wouldn't mind I'm sure. After all Hazel does all the cooking now- he doesn't even make the tea since the kettle boiled over and gave him a nasty scald.'
'Slugger doesn't like things to change.'
'Rubbish- you don't like things to change but you've been so much more open to changes recently. What's gone wrong girl?'
'Oh leave me alone Steve. I've got a really bad headache. Milly's not too well either. I'm all behind with the housework and I don't think we'll be able to go away tomorrow unless Jeff and Milly are better. '
'Go and lie down and leave the housework to me.'
'I don't want to lie down. I want to go for a ride.'
'Okay- off you go- take Gip with you.'
'I'm not in the mood to play nursemaid to someone else- I've had enough of that for one day.'
'Please yourself'
'Don't worry- I will!'
Steve went indoors- Jeff was dozing on the sofa and Milly was in the armchair looking very pale. 'I'm so sorry Steve- we've not got anything ready for supper. I haven't felt like it and Dora's been nursing Jeff. Poor little chap's only just dropped off. I don't think Dora's too well either.'
'Hell- I shouldn't have let her go off on Copper.'
Steve phoned Ron and felt relieved after speaking to him. Teri had actually booked two week's leave as they wanted to re-decorate the farmhouse so it was arranged that they should have the first week's holiday. He spoke to Hazel who said not to worry about supper as she would cook for them all. He then set about the housework and it was an hour later before he remembered Gip. 'Blazes- it's going to be dark soon. I bet he's forgotten the time.'
The phone rang- it was Ron. 'In case you're worried Gip has taken care of Raz and cycled off home. By the way Ben's just got home from the village and evidently there's a 24 hour bug going about- so prepare to go down with it! I'll do the horses before we go tomorrow-see you mate!' Another hour passed and there was still no sign of Dora. Ben drove over with a chicken casserole and apple pie. 'Don't come in mate- I could be cooking up the bug. Do us a favour mate and have a drive round to see if you can find Dora.'
Ben nodded and opened the door just as Copper trotted up with Dora slumped forward in the saddle. Steve hurried to lift her down assisted by Ben as she was in no fit state to co-operate. When she was safely indoors Steve told Ben to go as he would manage. He took off her jacket and rubbed her cold hands in his. When she stirred he fetched a blanket,
removed her riding boots and tucked her up snugly. She opened her eyes. 'Tea?' asked Steve.'No- I just want to sleep!' Steve shrugged. He ate some of the casserole. Milly managed some too but Jeff shook his head when Steve tried to feed him so he put the remains of the casserole in the fridge, put Jeff to bed and helped Milly to her room. Dora grouched when he tried to move her so he left her where she was leaving a glass of orange juice and a couple of tablets on the nearby table. He transferred the washing from the dryer to the airing cupboard, cleared the dishes away and headed for the shower. In the morning when he woke he expected to feel unwell but he felt fine. Dora was still where he had left her. It was only 6.30am and Ron was doing the early shift. Jeff was asleep, Steve had had to get up to him twice in the night. He made tea and sat in the armchair facing his wife willing her to wake feeling better asnd in a good mood.She had drunk the juice and taken the tablets. Steve opened the curtains and the morning sun streamed in through the windows. He opened the door and breathed in the fresh air. Ron would only have dealt with the Follyfoot horses. He would need to deal with Copper, Alex and the others. He took another look at Jeff and hurried outside. When he got back Milly was in the kitchen looking better. Dora was awake but still seemed at odds with him. 'You can forget the hoilday Steve. I'm not well!' He sat down and explained about Ron and Teri swapping with them and re-assuring her that the bug was unlikely to last. He phoned Hazel and arranged for her and Ben to take care of the horses for the rest of the day. Jeff and Milly slowly recovered and although Dora said she felt better her mood was still black and Steve could do nothing right in her eyes. When she turned on him for the umpteenth time Milly could take no more. 'You should just be thankful you've a good man to love and look after you. I've not had that since my Brian died.'Milly brushed away a tear- the illness had left her a bit depressed. Steve looked up from the book he was reading to Jeff. 'I can look after all of you.' He said but by bedtime his own head was thumping and he knew it was his turn to be ill.'You'd best sleep on the sofa' said Dora. 'I need my sleep if I'm to do your work tomorrow.'
'Okay- I give in. We'll leave the bl***y stove as it is.Are you satisfied now?'
'Oh - that- I'd forgotten all about it! That's not the problem.'
'Well what is?'
'The Townley woman!'
'What about her?'
'She says she's sooo looking forward to meeting you. Said you sounded so charming on the phone and asked me whether you are as handsome as your voice is lovely. So what exactly have you been saying to her dahling?

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Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2011, 11:28:03 PM »
'I don't know what you're on about. I've only spoken to the woman twice-just passed the time of day-nothing more'
'Of course-you would say that. Well, we'll just have to see when she gets here. Now I'm going to bed.'
'Don't I even get a goodnight kiss?' Dora didn't answer but flounced off into the bedroom.
Steve followed her to fetch pain relief tablets. He looked longingly at the bed but one look at Dora's angry face as she vigorously brushed her hair convinced him that he would be spending the night in the single bed in Jeff's room.
The alarm woke Dora and out of habit she turned to kiss Steve but of course he was not there. She realised she had been unreasonable and put it down to the after effects of the bug. Milly was already up and making porridge which smelled delicious. Dora eyed the couch, it didn't look like Steve had slept there and she was relieved. She opened Jeff's bedroom door. He was lying on his back playing with his feet and Steve was asleep in the spare bed. Dora bent to lift Jeff out of his cot and the little boy began to call out to his daddy.'Ssshh darling-daddy's not well. Let's not wake him up yet.'
'Too late. I am awake and feeling lousy.'
'Milly's making porridge. I'll bring you some in.'
Later, after seeing to their horses and making sure Tony had arrived at Follyfoot she found that Steve had gone bed in their room. She softly whispered 'Are you awake?'
'Yes worse luck.'
'I just wanted to say I'm sorry.'
'Oh I just bet you are. What brought this on-get a lecture from Milly did you?'
'The bug left me in a bad mood, now you're in a bad mood.We'll talk later.'
'Yeah- now let me sleep.'
Dora had an exhausting day doing work with the horses and housework while Milly minded Jeff, Steve stayed in bed not eating much but drinking juice and swallowing tablets. Dora took Jeff in to say goodnight. 'Leave him with me for a bit I'm feeling a bit better so I'll tell him a story' Jeff snuggled into bed beside him and when Dora went in later they were both sound asleep. She took Jeff into his own room settled him back down, ran herself a bath then slipped into bed beside Steve careful not to wake him. She lay hunched up in a miserable little ball bereft of the warm loving arms that normally enfolded her. What had she done? She knew deep down that Steve would not encourage advances from another woman. Curses on this stupid bug she thought and gave her pillow a thump as inevitably the tears began to fall -silently at first. Try as she might she could not stop them becoming sobs. She took a hanky from her bedside drawer to stem the flow. Steve was now awake and hesitated only briefly. He could not bear hearing her cry like that and gathered her into his arms 'Come on girl- it's okay. Don't cry anymore. I think the bug's just about burned out and I'm in a better frame of mind.' He kissed her hair. 'I'll keep well out of the way while the Townley's are here.'
'No- that will make it seem like I don't trust you' she turned in his arms to face him and stroke his face .'I am really sorry darling. I do trust you and I love you.'
'Me too-now we can look forward to that holiday.'
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Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2011, 11:16:17 PM »
Bridlington in early October would not seem an obvious choice for a holiday as most of the holiday attractions were closed. Ron and Teri were not bothered about this and were delighted with the 3 bedroomed cottage in Sewerby only a short distance from the town. Most mornings they would not get up until late, drive to the seafront and breakfast in a cafe which was open all year round and served good food at reasonable prices. Afterwards they would stroll hand in hand along the promenade or round the town sometimes driving further round the coast and spend time looking at the waves as they kissed the shore, sometimes skimming stones and watching them bounce. As the sun went down they would run back to the car and drive off in search of a country pub where they could eat an early dinner. They returned to the cottage relaxed, tired and happy and snuggled down in the cosy double bed in the master bedroom. They did not contact Follyfoot or Teri's family in Liverpool concentrating instead on each other and enoying being in love. On Friday they left the heating on low when they headed for home so as the others would be assured of a warm welcome. As a thankyou to Dora and Steve Teri put a vase of flowers, a bottle of white wine and a box of chocolate biscuits on the coffee table. They also put milk in the fridge and left the remains of the tea and coffee they had been using.
Fully recovered Milly had baked sausage rolls and scones to take with them and they left after the morning chores had been done on Saturday.
The week passed quickly. As well as exploring Sewerby Hall and grounds and Bridlington itself they visited Scarborough, Whitby and York where they enjoyed exploring the shops and gardens. On Thursday evening there was a bingo session in the village hall. Steve walked Milly there and arranged to meet her later on. She had been to the Sunday morning service at the church and renewed her acquaintance with several of the ladies. Dora was watching television when Steve got back. He sat down beside her on the sofa and drew her legs across his lap gently massaging her feet which he knew she liked. When the programme finished she said she was going to bed as she felt tired. 'It's a bit early love.'
'It's all the fresh sea air I expect.'
'Okay love- you'll hear Jeff if he wakes won't you because I might call in the pub for a pint before I pick Milly up' said Steve. Dora rose and left him with just a brief brush of his lips. Steve watched her go and bit his lip. He hoped he was imagining things but she seemed a little cool. The pub was only a short distance from the bungalow. Steve asked whether they had a local brew they recommended. The pint he was sold was very strong and he was glad to be out in the fresh air again. Milly had enjoyed her evening but had not won any prizes. Steve said they had monthly Bingo sessions at their local village hall and he would take her if she wanted to go.
The bedroom was in darkness when he went in so he undressed without switching on the light. He put his arm round Dora and was soon asleep. When he woke next morning Dora was not in bed. He waited for several minutes then got dressed and went in search of her. She was in the garden. The morning air was chill and she had no coat on. 'Anything wrong girl?'
'No- I just couldn't get back to sleep-you were snoring.'
'Sorry- must have been the beer. I only had a pint but boy was it strong!' He went over to her and put his hands on her shoulders.'It's not the Townley business again is it?'
'No- well yes- um not exactly!'
'Come inside. It's far too early to be out here. Don't want you catching a chill' She followed him indoors. He chafed her cold hands. 'Come on- what's the problem?'
'It's the thought of having strangers staying in the flat for so many weeks of the year.'
'It's a bit late for that love. You seemed to be all for it.'
'Yes-but it's happening tomorrow.'
'It'll be okay- people will be out most of the time. Let's give it a try eh- and if you really don't like it we'll have to see about getting a long term payingtenant.
They arrived back at Follyfoot early on Friday afternoon and after settling Jeff and Milly indoors Steve and Dora went to inspect the re-decoration that had been done in the farmhouse. They were pleased with how much brighter everywhere looked. They then went to inspect Ben's old flat to make sure it was ready for occupancy the next day. Satisfied they were on the point of returning to their bungalow when the telephone rang. Hazel answered it. 'Steve- it's for you- Eleanor Townley'
'Oh mate what does she want?'  Steve said

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Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2011, 12:28:02 AM »
He held the phone so Dora could listen. 'I've got a problem getting there tomorrow. My husband's in Manchester on business and he needs to stay overnight. It's pointless him coming all the way back down here to Bath to pick me up so I'm coming on the train. Could you be a sweetie and pick me up in Leeds if Michael isn't there by the time my train gets in?'
'I'll see what I can arrange'
'Thankyou dahling- I'll make sure you get a nice reward. TTFN.'
'You're not going to meet her alone- I'll come' said Dora.
'Actually I was thinking of asking Ron. I dunno why she doesn't just call a taxi- they're obviously not short of a bob or two.' Just then Teri's car pulled up and she got out looking dreadful. The bug had arrived at Follyfoot! Next day both she and Ron were ill. Dora left Jeff with Milly and helped Steve and Tony with the mucking out. By mid afternoon there was still no sign of Michael. The phone call from Eleanor came as Steve sat drinking afternoon tea with Slugger.
When Jeff saw both his parents getting ready to go out he became excited shouting 'Car' repeatedly. Dora shook her head.' No Jeff-you're staying with auntie. The usually good natured Jeff began to protest loudly. 'Okay JR-you can come' said Steve adding in a low tone to Dora 'United family front'
It was Dora who went to find Eleanor who had said she would be wearing faux fur leopard
print coat with matching hat and luggage-easy enough to spot even in the crowded station.
'Hi Mrs. Townley. I'm Dora Ross from Follyfoot.'
'Oh- I was expecting Steve.' she said obviously disappointed.
'He's outside in the car with our son.' Dora picked up the two heaviest pieces of luggage and headed for the exit with Eleanor carrying just the smallest case and her handbag trailing in her wake.
When Steve spotted them he drove over and got out to open the front passenger door for Eleanor.'Fasten my seatbelt dahling- I always have such trouble. ' Steve did as she asked then made a great show of helping Dora into the back seat. After he'd stowed away the luggage Eleanor said 'I hope Michael hasn't met a problem. I'd hate it if he can't get here till later in the week. I don't fancy being stuck in the country with no transport.'
'Plenty of horses.' said Steve. Dora stifled a giggle privately thinking this woman would scarcely know one end of a horse from the other!'
A sleek black Daimler stood in front of the farmhouse when they got back.
'Michael, dahling- you made it!'
'Hi Elliebell' he said but looked straight past her to where Dora stood. 'Who's the lovely lady?'
'Oh that's just Dora- she's married to Steve. They're the owners. He's a bit of a looker  I'd say.'
Michael sauntered over, took hold of Dora's hand,raised it to his lips and kissed it.
'Hello Dora-very nice to meet you.'
'Er you too-but if you'll excuse me I have to get Jeff home. Hazel will show you to the flat.'
Hazel and Ben were admiring the Daimler. 'Could someone help with the luggage?' asked Eleanor. Steve had got it out of the boot and left it losing no time in getting back into the car and ignoring Eleanor's request. Hazel and Ben took the luggage between them.
'She's a pretty girl Mikey'
'Mmnn- a bit young for me but Dora now- I could go for her in a big way. I wonder if they'd be up for a bit of fun. They had been walking behind Ben who overheard the remark and later passed it on to Steve and Dora.
'I thought he was giving you the glad eye!'
'Yuk-his hand was all wet and clammy and he reeked of Aramis. Give me good honest Lifebuoy soap- and a touch of Brut doesn't go amiss.' She reached up and kissed him.
'Mmn Camay and L'aimant if I'm not mistaken.' he said.'What would I want with Channel No.5?'
It was hard dodging the advances of the Townley's. Ron didn't help. When he was on his feet again he would extol the virtues of Steve and Dora to them.
'Don't you feel threatened Ron?' asked Steve.
'Nah- I'm not her type' Reckon it's me Barnet that's me saving grace. You wanna go ginger mate!'
Steve and Dora were schooling a couple of horses that afternoon. Jeff was watching from his buggy. Michael and Eleanor paused on their way out.
'Would you two like to join us for dinner in Leeds tonight. We've found a lovely restaurant-
Antonio's it's called. Steve whistled-they'd never been there but had heard it was very expensive. 'Our treat of course' said Eleanor. 'I did promise you a reward for picking me up on Saturday. Gourmet meal and a bit of socialising afterwards. What could be better eh?'
'No sorry. Auntie's not too well. We wouldn't like to go out and leave her with Jeff to look after.' said Steve.
'I'm sure that nice Mrs Stryker would help out.'
'She's on call' put in Dora.
'Well maybe another night- a drink or two in the flat if you prefer.'
'We're not great drinkers.'
'Come on- we've only got a few days of our holiday left. Don't spoil it for us. We just want to show you a little fun. 'Eleanor put out a tentative hand to stroke Lulu but the horse sensed her unease and backed away.
'Look- Mrs. Townley' began Steve.
'Oh do stop being so formal-call her Ellie and I'm Mike to my friends.'
'Mr and Mrs. Townley I'm sorry if you think we want to spoil your holiday- we don't. We've  been married a couple of years and they've been the happiest of my life. I wouldn't want anything or anyone to spoil our lives so please just enjoy the scenery and each other's company and leave us to go on in the way we choose.
'I didn't take you for a bore dahling!'
'I'm not at all bored thankyou' said Dora.
'Come on Elliebell- we're wasting our time.'
Eleanor shook her head and turned away. 'Such a pity.'
'Phew' said Steve- 'Let's hope we've sorted that one out!'
'I think it's time Jeff went in, it's getting chilly.' They both dismounted and went their separate ways Dora to the bungalow and Steve to attend to the horses. Jeff waved to his dad.' See you soon mate!'
Ron called from the farmhouse door 'I think Slugger's gone down with the bug now.'
Steve went to see him and was worried. Whereas the rest of them were able to fight the symptoms Slugger was different. He knew Dora would insist on calling the doctor Slugger got any worse and in the morning it was clear this was the case. Eleanor Townley stood at the flat window in a skimpy negligee watching as Steve talked to the doctor. Michael came outside. 'I'm afraid Eleanor is not too well.....



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Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2011, 12:07:09 AM »
The doctor was the colonel's old friend Hugh. 'I think that Slugger will be okay but I'll call again in the morning to check on him. Plenty of fluids and make him stay in bed. Now as I'm here I'll take a look at your guest'  Privately Steve thought Eleanor might be trying it on in order to stay longer. He knew Michael would have to leave on Saturday because of business committments and Eleanor knew that the flat was let again at the weekend. If she had to stay they would have to put her up somewhere else. Hugh was of the opinion that Eleanor's problem was probably gynaecological and she should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible. Michael said they had private medical insurance and he would drive her home the next day provided she was up to it. 'We'd love to come back again when Ellie's better Steve' said Michael. 'We'll be recommending you to our friends.'
'Er thanks' said Steve wondering if they could repeat the experience of the last few days.
Next day Slugger had improved and Eleanor and Michael left. Dora felt obliged to come and see them off. Eleanor wound her arms round Steve's neck. 'I hope we'll meet again dahling'
she said and made as if to kiss him on the lips.He managed to divert it to his cheek and out of the corner of his eye saw Michael take both Dora's hands in his 'Arriverderci bella Dora. '
he said kissing both hands and both cheeks. When they'd gone Dora and Steve let out sighs of relief. 'Any prospective bookings from the Bath area we'll have to consider very carefully!' said Steve.
The next week was school half term and the Fletchers who were teachers from Leicester came to stay. They were a lovely couple and booked again for the February half term. One further booking was confirmed for November but had decided that they would keep December clear in case the weather turned icy.
Anna Holmes had been dating Ralph Walker, a local farmer for the past year. She took him up to see Dora and Steve just after bonfire night to tell them that they were getting married on Valentine's day and as Anna had enjoyed Ron and Teri's reception in the barn asked if they could hire it. Also they wanted to ask if Hazel would do the catering. A phone call to Hazel brought her to the bungalow to discuss numbers and she agreed she could manage. Milly said she would love to help. 'Tony's done a good job restoring the carriage
and has trained Candytuft and Juniper to pull it. Perhaps you would like to try it out Anna?'
suggested Hazel. Steve looked anxiously at Dora who smiled and said 'That's a lovely idea- what do you say?' Ralph and Anna agreed readily.When they had gone Steve said 'You know we could cater for the occasional small wedding-say a limit of 60 guests. We could buy tables and chairs so we don't have to keep hiring them. We did say we'd like to make more use of your catering skills Hazel. There'd be extra money in it for you of course. What do you reckon Dora-too much of a change for us?'
'So long as it's only occasional and you don't expect me to be a waitress!'
'I dunno I reckon you'd look good in a little black number with a frilly white apron and cap!'
smiled Steve. 'No seriously we could give some part time work to a couple of village girls- but I have to know you're completely on side Dora.'
'I really would need proper kitchen facilities though' said Hazel.
'Okay- I agree we'll give it a try. Use our kitchen for the time being and if everything works out we can convert one of the out-buildings here. Just to make it clear though Steve-our priority is care of the horses. Hazel, Ben and Tony will be the mainstays of this new venture.'
'Agreed love.' Hazel went off excited to talk things over with Ben who had a sound business head on his young shoulders and his training made him the ideal person to help with budgeting and profit margins. He had a week's study leave due and had decided to go home
to his parents because he wanted to spend Christmas with Hazel. His parents didn't mind as their daughter had just had a baby and they were going to spend Christmas with the young family to help out.
The O'Sullivan's wanted Ron and Teri to spend Christmas with the family again but Teri had to work on Christmas Eve and was on call from 6pm on Boxing Day so it was not practical.
Elizabeth and Shaun asked if Dora and Steve would make an exception in their case and allow them to have the holiday flat for the first week in December. Teri said she would not be able to spend much time with them as she had now used up all her holiday entitlement but they were adamant that they still wanted to come and it was agreed that they could.
Bert phoned to say that he had sold the cafe and found a new flat for Kathy. She had agreed to work for the new owners till they got to know the ropes and they were very busy in the weeks that followed. Bert was at a loose end and Steve asked if he would like to spend Christmas with them. Bert no longer drove his car but said he would get to Leeds by train and they would pick him up.
The O'Sullivan's duly arrived with  Christmas gifts for Teri and Jeff. Shaun was obviously a bit embarrassed that Elizabeth had bought nothing for Ron and privately asked Teri what they could buy him then went off by himself to get the gift.
'Sure and when will you be putting up your Christmas decorations?' asked Elizabeth.
'We haven't bought any yet mum. There's some small firs in the wood- Ron's going to dig one up in a few days then we'll decorate some pine cones with glitter and buy a few baubles and fairy lights.Then I'll make some paper chains and streamers from crepe paper ' Elizabeth pulled a face but said nothing. On the last day of their stay Ron was busy working when Elizabeth asked if she could borrow his key as she wanted to cook a meal for when Teri got home. There was a delicious smell coming from the kitchen when Ron went indoors. Also ,standing in their lounge ,was a six foot high Norwegian spruce adorned with twinkling fairy lights, a gleaming silver star on the top and a profusion of brightly coloured baubles and tinsel hanging from the branches. 'Blimey!' he exclaimed wondering how long it would take for their new carpet to be covered in pine needles and how the ten week old kitten he was hiding in the stables and house training ready to present to Teri on Christmas day would react to this strange looking object. 'Isn't it magnificent?' said Elizabeth.
It's b...big!' exclaimed Ron managing to stop himself from saying anything he would later regret.Teri came in with a Poinsettia plant- a gift from a grateful patient. Seeing the tree her mouth fell open in amazement and the plant fell out of her hands smashing its earthenware pot and spilling soil on the carpet. Teri burst into tears and ran upstairs.


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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2011, 11:42:09 PM »
Liz soon cleared up the mess and Ron took the plant outside to find a pot and replant it.
'Do go and hurry Teri up Ronald. Dinner will spoil if we don't eat soon.'
Ron ran  upstairs 'Hey- it's okay- all sorted down there now and your mum's fussing about dinner.''
I don't want any!'
'Come on luv- she's gone to a lot of trouble and it smells delicious.'
'One of our mums to be, six months gone was run over by a car after she left her appointment today. They got her to hospital in minutes but there was nothing anyone could do-they both died.Twenty one years old and everything to live for. Her husband saw it happen. He was parked across the road and she just didn't look because she was anxious to get to him.'
'Oh luv!' said Ron holding her close. 'I know it's rotten for you but let's not say anything to Liz or you know what it will lead to.' Teri gritted her teeth, washed her face and told her mother she thought she was coming down with a cold.
The next day Milly moved into her self-contained unit. Dora tied a pink ribbon across the door and Milly ceremoniously cut it. There was a Christmas Fair on in the village that evening and everyone except Slugger went. Shops were  open late and offering free drinks and nibbles, the church choir sang carols around the Christmas tree on the green and there were stalls and competions in the village hall. Santa was the judge of the children's fancy dress competition.Milly's clever fingers had created a Christmas Robin outfit for Jeff and he won first prize. Steve and Ron tried their hand at hoopla without success but Ron won a teddy bear on the tombola which he smilingly presented to Teri. Milly won the 'Guess the weight of the Christmas cake competition much to the amusement of Hazel who had spent hours creating one of hers for the celebrations. Outside was a hot chestnut seller. Steve bought a bag to share. The warmth welcome in the frosty December air. After sampling the mulled wine and admiring the decorations in the shops Dora and Steve decided to go and call in on Slugger on the way home. Ron and Teri left too but Hazel and Ben stayed to help clear the hall ready for the disco.
'Hi Slugs- we've had a great time' said Dora. He nodded and smiled and said 'Thas good.'
Steve offered him a chestnut which were now quite cool but he shook his head. Dora held Jeff down to Slugger so he could kiss him goodnight. 'Slugger smiled and got up stiffly.
'Bed now' he said holding onto his chair to steady himself. 'Let me help you mate.' said Steve but Slugger said angrily 'N-not a b-baby.' Teri eyed him anxiously as he moved slowly and carefully towards the stairs almost losing his footing. 'You do need help Slugs- you're not well. I think we should call the doctor.'
'N-no doc!' he said firmly.
'We'll see.' said Ron taking Slugger's arm and propelling him gently forwards.Dora looked on helplessly and Steve put a hand on her shoulder. 'Come on girl- we need to get Jeff to bed.'
'Don't worry too much' said Teri. 'I don't start work till two tomorrow so I'll pop in first thing to see how he is.' She went to the door with them and spoke softly. 'His speech seems a bit slurred, he could have had a slight stroke.Dora's hand flew to her mouth as Steve led her to the car. 'Ee come on lass,don't tek on. We'll go and have a nice cup of tea.'
said Milly.When Steve saw her to her unit later she said 'Poor old Slugger doesn't look well.
You're all so good with him. Your dad were good with my dad when he were ill- Kathy now she were no help at all. I do wish she'd come and stay with me. Fancy Bert coming up here without her. Steve took her key and unlocked her door for her. 'Thankyou love. Best days work I ever did coming here to live with you.
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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2011, 11:26:41 PM »
Dora found it hard to sleep. Part of her wished she could be back at Follyfoot- near enough to be able to help if Slugger needed it. She wondered if he was alright on his own. She found out the next day that he had not been on his own. when Hazel and Ben returned from the disco they were surprised that the lights were  still on in the farmhouse. Slugger must still be up so they went in to say goodnight and found Ron and Teri drinking coffee and announcing their intention to stay the night. Ben said that as the college term had now finished he didn't mind helping with Slugger and said he and Hazel would stay in the farmhouse as long as necessary.
The patient was much brighter the next day. Ben helped him downstairs but other than that he managed pretty well. Everyone came to see him and he told them all he was fine. Steve got the box of Christmas decorations down and Dora decorated the tree which Ron had put in position earlier in the week. She chatted to Slugger all the while she was doing it.
Teri insisted on calling the doctor who shared her opinion that Slugger had suffered a mild stroke but was over the worst. He refused to go to hospital. Ron and Steve offered to put a bed in the study for him but he would have none of it.
Later that day a hamper arrived from Fortnum and Mason's courtesy of Pru and Arthur. As well as food and drind there were gift wrapped parcels for everyone. After Jeff was in bed that night Dora and Steve decorated their own Christmas tree. They had both bought new decorations to add to their collection. When they had finished they walked down to Follyfoot to say goodnight to Slugger who was looking much better. It was a still, frosty night and the trees looked beautiful in the moonlight. Dora and Steve strolled hand in hand
stopping at the lake to admire it's fairytale frozen world.Dora was wearing a fake fur bonnet with fur pom poms on the end of the fasteners. 'My snow princess' said Steve as he kissed her.'But with a lovely warm heart. ' A few tears ran down her face, Steve wiped them away with his gloved hand and hugged her to him. 'Let's get back so I can see Milly safely back to her place.' he said.
A sprig of mistletoe hung over the door which was a perfect excuse for kissing each time they passed. Milly got a kiss too as she went out to go home.
Next day, Callie who had broken up for the holidays turned up to help with the chores. First of all she went to see Slugger.'How are you doing Fred?' she asked and he laughed and gave her the thumbs up. Gip arrived on his bike and when he had finished looking after Raz played with Jeff. In the late aftyernoon it became very cold and Steve said he would drop Gip off on his way to pick up Bert. Milly had prepared a chicken casserole, Ellen gave Steve the apple pie she had promised to make. Although everyone now knew about Bert's illness they were taken by surprise at how ill he looked. He ate very little and went to bed tired out. As they sat side by side on the big sofa Steve sighed deeply a few times then sat saying nothing but staring straight ahead.
'What's wrong darling- is it Bert?' asked Kathy.
No- well- sort of. It's my mother Dora. How she can treat him the way she does when he's done so much for her I don't know.'
'Tell me.'
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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2011, 11:49:58 PM »
'Let's wait till the morning. I don't want to talk about it tonight.'
Milly normally came in for breakfast and so she heard when Steve told Dora about Kathy.
'Bert asked mum if she would go shopping for him once a week. She managed it once but then rang Bert's neighbour to get her to do it when she got his pension. That's been the arrangement ever since. Mum's only been to see him a couple of times in the last six weeks and only stayed about ten minutes. Bert makes excuses for her but I know he's upset about it. I wouldn't blame him if he stopped paying her rent and bills and cut her out of his will but he says he'd never do that because he thinks too much of her. I've a good mind to ring up and give her a piece of my mind.'
'No'said Milly.' Let me. It's time I did the big sister act.'
She waited until the house was empty except for her and Jeff. Dora and Steve were both working and had taken Bert in the car to Follyfoot because he wanted to see the horses.
Before the cafe opened Milly telephoned and asked to speak to Kathy.
'Katherine Ross you should be ashamed of yourself for not being as good a friend to Bert as he's been to you. Our parents would be ashamed of you. Steve is ashamed of you and so am I- to think that my sister...'What's the old goat been saying?' interrupted Kathy.
'Just the truth about you not visiting him much and getting his neighbour to do the shopping he asked you to do.'
'Well I don't like seeing him the way he is and his neighbour doesn't mind. I only get one day off a week you know!'
'Come off it Kathy- things could be arranged if you wanted them to be. You don't deserve someone like Bert who pays your rent and bills and will continue to provide for you after his death. You're a selfish woman and that's a fact!!'
'If you've quite finished Milly Robinson....'
'About Bert yes- but how could you not send your grandson a Christmas present?'
'His mother's parents can afford to give him all he wants from grandparents.I sent everyone a card.'
'Woolworth's best. Come on Kathy-you earn a good wage, pay no bills, live within walking distance of your work-you must spend every penny of your wages on yourself!'
'So what if I do you miserable old co-woman. I earn it slaving away over a hot stove.'
'Oh Kathy, words fail me!.'
'Good!' the phone was slammed down and Milly was left staring at the receiver.
Meanwhile Bert was pouring his heart out to a very old ex-dray horse called  Lofty.
'They tell me boy that like me your days are numbered. Well at least you'll spend your last days being looked after by people who love you.There won't be a day when you don't see a friendly face and if you need something that will finally take away all the pain you'll get it.
I believe if they know a horse is dying someone will sit up with it all night-more than one if necessary. I'm not so fortunate. I'm going back to my lonely flat where if I'm lucky I see someone once a week. The person I care about most doesn't give two monkeys about me and when it gets so I can no longer manage I'll have to go somewhere among strangers to end my days. They'll give me stuff to dull the pain and doubtless some vicar or other will come and say a prayer for me. I'd gladly change places with you if I had a mane and tail!'
Steve was in the stall next door with Kalinka who was now totally blind. Normally he would talk to her as he worked but Bert had been talking loudly and he'd stopped what he was doing and listened. Later he told Dora what he'd overheard. 'Oh Steve- I can't bear to think of poor Bert going through this on his own. Can't we do something to help?'
'I dunno girl- we'll have to put our thinking caps on.'
They talked things over with Milly as she gave them a hand that night with last minute present wrapping. The next day would be Christmas Eve and there was lots to be done.
'Maybe there is a way to help. Let me think things over tonight and we'll talk again in the morning' said Milly.
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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2011, 11:35:28 PM »
'What I was wondering' said Milly when she joined them for breakfast the next day 'is whether you think it would be okay if I asked Bert to stay with me until he needs more care than I can give, what would people round here think?'
'Oh Milly-that's a lovely idea-and people can think what they like-he could be a relative.' said Dora.
'We might have a problem persuading Bert though.' Steve said.
'Persuading Bert what?' he said as he sat down and poured himself a coffee.
Milly explained. 'I'd like nothing better than to stay here amongst you all but I don't want to impose.'
'You wouldn't be. We generally have our meals together and one extra mouth is neither here nor there. I'm sure there's some little jobs you can do too- oh nothing strenuous-peel a few vegetables, make cups of tea, read to Jeff.'
'Oh you've twisted my arm! But I'll need to go back to Liverpool and put the flat in the hands of an estate agent and bring my bits and pieces.'
It was provisionally arranged that Steve would run Bert home to take care of things at the end of January.Whether it was because he was now easier in his mind or just having a good day Bert didn't know but he felt better than he had done for weeks. 'Come and I'll show you my place.' said Milly.
'I want to pay you know!'
'You'll do no such thing- save your money for when you need professional care.'
Later when Steve and Dora were visiting Slugger at the farmhouse a horsebox was driven in and a man led out a beautiful black and white pony. 'I bought this for my son's birthday but we can't do anything with him.' Steve eyed the pony.
'Where did you get him?'
'A dealer the other side of Leeds-bit of a run down place but I was recommended by a friend. The one he bought is no problem. Will you take him? I'm black and blue from being kicked and a parent at the school told me the lady at Follyfoot is very good with difficult animals.' Dora was already making friends with the pony. Steve nodded in her direction.
'Yes-she's brilliant! But can we be clear on one thing- do you just want us to get this fella manageable then you want him back or is it permanent?'
'Oh it's permanent alright- the sight of him scares my son rigid and I doubt whether he'll want to go near a horse again. I'll even pay you to take him.'
'That won't be necessary-now what's his name?'
'Dynamite!'
'Well- all we need from you is a letter officially transferring ownership to us. Have you got the original sale document Mr.?'
'John Heynham.' he said producing a very scruffy piece of paper. 'Well I don't suppose it's worth the paper it's written on but we'll hang onto it. If you'd just come inside and write me the transfer.' They went inside and Dora led Dynamite to a vacant stall hardly able to conceal her excitement. She was so grateful to Steve for the way he'd handled things to make sure there was no repeat of the Barney situation where it looked like Mr. Buckley was going to claim him back. When the horsebox had been driven away Steve found her.
'Is this a Dartmoor pony like the ones Lockwood had?' she asked.
'Yup- no brand see and he doesn't seem to have been broken in properly. Still I reckon you're up to it eh?'
'Of course and it will make a lovely first mount for Jeff when he's old enough.'
Over tea Milly said she would love to go to the midnight service in the village church. 'I feel I was a bit hard on Kathy and I hope the service will make me feel better about it.'
Surprisingly Bert said he wanted to go too. 'Okay-we'll sort something out' said Steve.
They decided that Dora would drive them and Steve would be on Jeff duty. Dora however was not to happy that Steve wasn't going too. 'Come on girl-you know I'm not religious and we're going to the family service tomorrow anyway.' Later Dora went to check on Dynamite. Ron was just emerging from the flat. 'Wotcha girl- you okay?' he asked thinking she looked a little crestfallen. When she told him about the service he said not to worry as he would willingly go down to the bungalow while they all went. Slugger asked that they say a special prayer for him. At half past eleven they set off on the short drive to the church. It was lit by red candles flickering in the draught that happened when the door was left open. The crib scene had pride of place at the front of the church where a decorated tree also stood. It was warm and welcoming and Dora felt peace sweep over her. She reached for Steve's hand and he squeezed hers gently. When they sang While shepherds watched to the tune of on Ilkley Moor bah tat it reminded Dora of the year before when Slugger had danced around the kitchen singing it with an umbrella as a dancing partner. Dora and Milly had been confirmed and were able to receive Communion, Bert and Steve looked on. 'Eee I feel much better now' said Milly as they drove home and Bert said he agreed. Ron wished everyone a Happy Christmas before returning home. 'How do you feel now, love?'asked Steve.
'Not too bad at all.I'm a bit tired though and I need to ask you something. '
'Yes'
'When I've finished this pack of contraceptives can I stop taking them- I think it would be good for us to have another baby while Jeff is still young- and we've got Milly to help.'
'If it's really what you want then okay sweetheart.'
'I'm so lucky to be married to you. I just want you to know that you're my rock now. When I got a bit over-emotional in the church I knew you understood how I was feeling.'
'You still miss your uncle don't you?'
'It's funny Steve- even though uncle never spent any time here I feel his presence here as much as I do at the farm.'
'Well it's a nice feeling to have girl. It's Christmas day now- and our family gathering this year will be a large one. Who knows what the next 12 months will bring.'
Dora snuggled down in his arms 'lots and lots of love!' she said lifting her face for his kiss.

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2011, 11:52:09 PM »
Christmas morning was a still clear day and the village church bells rang out to summon early risers to morning prayers. Steve, Dora, Milly and Jeff went to the later family service.Ben drove Slugger over to the bungalow to keep Bert company while he helped Hazel in the kitchen.
'I hear you're going to be staying here for a while, Bert.' said Slugger.
'Yes- that's right,with Milly.'
'She's a lovely lady is Milly. If things were different I should have liked to spend more time getting to know her.'
'You know there's nothing between us Slugger. Milly's just being a good friend. Kathy is the only woman for me but she doesn't share my feelings unfortunately and now the big C has caught up with me I know I'm not long for the world.'
'Seems like Follyfoot's now a place for old human crumblies as well as horses. I don't reckon I've got much time left either only I keep quiet in front of the young uns. They don't realise how bad I feel some days or they'd get the bloomin' doctor out to me again. All he'd do is to fill me full of drugs or send me to the 'orspital to be poked and prodded. I can't be doing with all that palaver!'
'Don't be daft Slugger! There's nothing more that can be done for me, doctors may be able to help you but you have to trust them and don't hide the way you're feeling.'
Slugger said nothing but when Milly was drinking a cup of tea later he looked at her and smiled appreciatively. 'You look really smashing in that dress Milly!'
'You old flatterer Slugger Jones!'
'I'm right aren't I Bert?'
'Yes Milly- you do look nice.' Ron and Teri had just arrived.
'Watch it Bert mate' said Ron. 'Old Slugs here is an ex boxing champ!'
Ben and Ron helped Steve move furniture to get everyone round the dinner table. Jeff had been allowed a couple of presents as he had been looking with interest at the pile under the tree. Soon he was playing with paper, ribbon and boxes-the chatterphone and the toy train they contained had been put aside. When Ron had finished helping the others he sat down on the floor to show Jeff how to play with the presents. The telephone rang and it was Dora's parents ringing from Buenos Aires where they had just finished a late breakfast. Jeff was persuaded to say hello and Dora explained that thy had not yet opened their presents but had already enjoyed some of the food in the hamper.
Lunch was a happy noisy meal at which they all had a glass of white wine except Teri who said she only felt like orange juice. Afterwards they began to open presents but had not finished when in passing her a present Dora noticed Hazel's hand. 'Is that what I think it is?'she asked. Ben took Hazel's hand and lifted it to his lips. 'Yes' he said 'Hazel and I are engaged. We won't be getting married for ages as I have a lot of studying still to do.'
'Well- this calls for a toast.' said Steve but as he went to fetch some glasses Slugger slumped forward in his chair.Teri was quickly at his side and assessed his condition.
'He needs to go to hospital quickly.'
'I'll call an ambulance' said Ron.
'It'll be quicker if we take him.'
'We'll take the estate car' said Steve. 'I only had a small glass of wine with my lunch.'
'I'm coming too' said Dora.
'I'll sit with Slugger in the back' said Teri. Ron hesitated. 'Go on Ron- we'll stay and clear up.' said Ben. Jeff had now fallen asleep on the sofa and Bert went to sit beside him.
'I do hope Slugger will be okay.' said Milly and began absent-mindedly putting dirty plates in the cupboard. Ben gently sat her down and put the plates in the sink. Hazel made her and Bert a strong cup of tea. Bert patted her hand. 'I'm afraid there's nothing we can do but wait love.' he said.
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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #25 on: December 26, 2011, 11:53:02 PM »
Mercifully the roads were clear of ice and traffic and they got to the hospital quickly. The wait seemed endless. Teri, used to dealing with patient's histories supplied all Slugger's details with prompting from the others as necessary. Ron paced about and fetched them endless cups of scalding coffee from the vending machine. Dora sat staring into space her head on Steve's shoulder his arm round her. For all three of them it brought back memories of when the colonel was in the same hospital all those months ago. They all prayed for a different outcome for Slugger. Teri asked every staff member who passed if they had any news but it was gone 7 o'clock before a young doctor came to confirm that Slugger had had a stroke and would soon be on his way to intensive care. They could see him for a few minutes before he went but then no more until the next day-and they were to telephone first.
Slugger was unconscious, an oxygen mask over his face. Dora and Steve stood one side of the couch, Teri and Ron on the other. They pressed his hands and spoke words of encouragement. Dora fought back her tears, kissed his forehead and lingered when they were told it was time to leave. 'Come on girl- let the staff do their work' said Steve but in the doorway he turned for a long look at the man who for the last few years had been like  a father to him. 'We'd best drive round and tell his sister' he said.
'She's not there mate-gone to her son's in Bradford for Christmas. The numbers in the contacts book at Follyfoot. I'll find it when we get back.' said Ron. When they arrived at Follyfoot Hazel and Ben had done the evening chores there between them. 'There's just your horses at Copper's rest to see to' said Hazel. Ben played with Jeff for ages when he woke up so hopefully he'll be ready for bed now.'
'Thanks you two- oh and by the way- congratulations!'
'Any news of Slugger?' asked Ben.
'He's had a stroke and he's in intensive care.' said Steve.
'We'll know more tomorrow' said Teri. Ron emerged from the study to say he'd contacted Slugger's sister and her son was bringing her and her husband back next day.
'He's in good hands' said Teri. Dora bit her lip. Back at the bungalow Jeff was just beginning to get grumpy. 'I've given him his tea' said Milly.' If you don't mind I'll be off indoors now- I'm a bit tired.'
'That goes for me too' said Bert as he headed for his room.
'Steve- will you get Jeff ready for bed and I'll see to the horses.' Steve nodded knowing that she wanted to pour her heart out to Copper. He took Jeff into their bedroom. Prudence and Arthur had sent Jeff a toy yacht and there was plenty of room to try it out. The time spent paying with his son was balm to Steve's battered emotions and he could feel the tension drain away with the water. Before he put Jeff in his cot he sat down with him on his lap and cuddled him close explaining that 'uccle sugs' was not very well and he and mummy would need to go and see him in hospital. Aunnie Milly and uccle Bert would be there to look after him. Dora came in as he had just settled down to read Jeff a story about a magic robin. As she often did she sat on the floor at Steve's feet her head pillowed on his legs. His hand caressed the back of her neck and when Jeff's eyes closed she whispered 'I wish we had a magic robin. 'I think we could do with an early night but how about a bubble bath first?' Dora nodded and they were soon enjoying the relaxing warmth of the bath together.
Next morning Teri phoned early as she had been chosen to get an update on Slugger's condition because of her training she would understand any jargon. Still she only received the stock answer that Mr. Jones had a restful night and could have visitors at any time but for short periods only.Steve saw to their horses while Dora got Jeff up and dressed. Milly came in and cooked porridge.
'I said a little prayer for Slugger last night' she said. When they had eaten Dora said 'There's still presents under the tree-  you haven't opened mine yet. Steve had already had a gold wishing well charm fixed to her bracelet so she was surprised when from under the tree he ptoduced another small box. Inside was a pair of gold earrings . A tiny diamond was set in an otherwise solid gold heart, each one was engraved with the entwined initials S and D. 'Oh Steve-they're beautiful!' She had bought him a new watch to wear for best as his old one though perfectly functioning was not really fit to wear in the restaurants they liked to frequent. Milly loved the soft  cornflower blue cashmere sweater which was their gift to her and Bert was delighted with his book on God's Wonderful Railway. At lunchtime there was a phone call from Meg, Slugger's sister to say they had visited him but he hadn't really woken up. Teri was working that day so Ron accompanied Steve and Dora and they took turns spending a few minutes with Slugger who opened his eyes a couple of times and looked at them. Next day he was fully awake and spoke brokenly. 'Sorry- s s poiled C cchristmas.'
'Dont be daft Slugs- you couldn't help it.' said Steve.
'Want- home!' he said.
'Soon mate- when you're a bit better.' Steve left Dora with him while he found the sister.
'Look- I know I'm not a relative but that man's been like a father to me and my wife is really close to him too- so please tell me what his chances are?'
'Well-this stroke is possibly not his first and his age does not go in his favour. However his speech is coming back-it's his mobility which is causing the greatest concern. The right side is affected. He will need a lot of support if he's to live back at the farmhouse.' Dora had come out of Slugger's room and overheard. She cried all the way home.  Mrs Porter had given Jeff a floor puzzle of two donkeys for Christmas and Milly hads been showing him how to do it. He loved Bubble and Squeak and looked hopefully at Steve. 'Jeff see donkeys?'
'Not tonight mate- they'll be all snuggled up warm in their pen-tomorrow I promise.'
Jeff looked at Dora. 'Mummy sad?'
'Yes darling, I am but if you give me a cuddle I'll feel much better.'
'Uccle Sugs better?'
'Not yet Jeff.' Steve went outside into the cold night air and walked down to the lake hands thrust deeply into the pockets of the long leather coat which had replaced his old jacket.
Steve had shed a few tears over the years but particularly in front of Dora tried not to show sadness too much- after all he was her rock now-the one who comforted her when she needed it. Now as snowflakes began to fall on his face he did what he hadn't done since that night when he'd realised his mother was not going to fetch him from the children's home Steve Ross cried like a baby.



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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2011, 11:12:55 PM »
Steve had been gone for ages. Jeff had had his bath and was ready for his bedtime story. Dora read to him her mind not really on what she was doing. 'Daddy come?' asked Jeff.
'Er I think he's gone for a walk darling- it was rather hot in the hospital. If you're still awake when he comes in he'll come to say goodnight- now snuggle down-that's a good boy.' Dora kissed him. For a few minutes she stood watching as he tried and failed to keep his eyes open then as there was still no sign of Steve she put on her outdoor clothes and went outside asking Milly to keep an ear open for Jeff.
The cold and fast falling snow had driven Steve to take shelter in the bungalow stables. Try as he might he could not stop weeping. 'Pull yourself together- you're a grown man not a child' he chided himself. He went into Alex's stall. The horse nuzzled his hand and Steve found a treat in his pocket. There was something else there- Slugger's old woolly hat. They'd put it on him to keep him warm on the way to hospital and the nursing staff had given it to Steve to bring home. Steve clutched it to his chest. 'Oh Slugs!' he said and the floodgates opened once again. Emerging from the warmth of the bungalow Dora saw a light in the stables and hoped there was nothing wrong with any of the horses. She made her way there and that was when she heard the unmistakeable sound of sobbing. It could only be Steve. Would he want her to go to him or should she go back indoors and allow him to get over it by himself. She thought of the number of times she had wept in his arms and could not bear the thought of the man she loved so deeply weeping alone. She went straight to him and drew him into her arms caressing his wet face and, finding a damp tissue in her pocket, tried to dry his eyes. 'I'm sorry girl. I just had to let go of this sadness which has been bubbling up inside me since I talked to Teri earlier. She said that if there has not been an improvement in mobility within 48 hours of the stroke then there's not much likelihood there will be. I just can't bear to think of Slugger being unable to walk properly.'
'Steve- we have to stay positive in front of Slugger. Keep on telling him he will get better.'
'I know girl- and I will but tonight I just couldn't stop myself. You must think I'm a right
wimp!'
'I do not Steve Ross. You love Slugger. I've cried my tears earlier on so why shouldn't you? Just because you're a bloke it doesn't mean you can't do the same.'
'I'm okay now- don't say anything to the others.'
'Of course not. Now you need to go and kiss our son goodnight. He probably won't wake up but still...'
'Yeah- you're right.' Steve bent low over the cot and gently kissed Jeff's forehead. 'Sweet dreams JR.' Jeff smiled in his sleep but didn't wake up.'
'I'll be off to bed now' said Milly. 'I'll say a prayer for Slugger again tonight.'
Later Dora said 'Do you think we should start saying prayers with Jeff?
'Oh don't' said Steve. 'It reminds me of the orphanage where we had to say thankyou prayers  for the grotty food and ask forgiveness for the slightest wrongdoing. We still got the slipper though!'
'I'm sorry darling- nanny used to hear my prayers every night.'
'Did you ask that God would make you a good little girl?'
'Yes!'
'Well it worked!'
'I thought I was a spoiled brat!'
'No- you're my lovely girl who understands me !'
Dora said 'I remember once Slugger said to Ron if he understood you he was the only one that did.'
'Ah- one of Slugger's pearls of wisdom- may there be many more!'
'Amen to that!' said Dora and Steve laughed a gentle laugh and chased her into the bedroom.
Slugger's speech improved over the course of the next few days and he seemed brighter.His mobility had shown no significant improvement.He was adamant that he wanted to be discharged but the doctors said he needed daily physiotherapy. Dora and Steve talked things over with Bert and Milly and it was agreed that Bert would move in next door so Slugger could stay at the bungalow when he was released. Ron agreed with Steve that the time had come to turn the study at Follyfoot into a bedroom for Slugger to use when he returned to the farm. 'Present him with a feet accompany!' said Ron. 'Course what we really need is a couple to move in to the farmhouse to help with his needs.' said Dora.
'Don't look at Teri and me or Hazel and Ben though!'
'Of course not.'
'Look sunshine' said Slugger to his consultant. 'I aint gettin' no better in 'ere. I wanna discharge meself.'
'Mr. Jones- that would be most unwise!'
'Well I don't claim to be Solomon!'
When Steve heard from the sister what Slugger had said he asked to see the doctor and said that someone would drive Slugger in for a physio session every day and that arrangements had been made for him to stay with them at the bungalow. Somewhat against their better judgement the hospital agreed and Slugger was released into Steve and Dora's care.

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2011, 12:04:23 AM »

It was New Years Eve when Slugger went home. Everyone gathered for a welcome home dinner prepared by Milly and Dora. Earlier when Slugger had been given a cup of tea he had let it go almost cold before he attempted to drink it for fear of spilling hot liquid on himself. When Teri heard she got him two lidded drinking cups with spouts. I aint a blinkin' baby' he said.
'Come on Slugs- give it a go, it's better than cold tea or wet trousers.' said Ron.
When they drank an early New Year toast Slugger did consent to use it. 'Reckon this'll be my last New Year's Eve.' he said and under his breath Bert added 'mine too!'
'Don't talk like that Slugs' said Dora.
'Face it girl- my days are numbered. Three strikes and out so they say and I reckon I've had two alrady! Each day I can spend with my adopted family is a bonus.'
Ron helped Slugger to bed ' I'm just a flamin' liability. If I was an 'orse yer'd 'ave me shot!'
'Waste of a good bullet. There's plenty of life left in you yet.'
Milly and Bert had gone to her annexe. The girls washed up and the boys put thingss away and readied glasses and drinks for the new year toast proper.
'I bumped into Lady Carne today' said Steve. A friend of hers has just died. There's a couple in their sixties who've been living in as cook/housekeeper and chauffeur/ odd job person, Vi and George Lawson. They're now out of a job and homeless. The old lady has some distant relatives who've been left the house but her money's all going to charity-left the Lawson's the princely sum of £200 each for their services! I've asked her to tell them to contact us. If Slugger's going back to Follyfoot he'll need live in help!'
'Sounds ideal' said Ron.
The next few days saw Slugger get used to waiting for Steve to help him get up and dressed. He had been given a walking frame which meant he was able to get to the loo and back.
It was a strange quartet that was usually to be found in the lounge after breakfast. Milly and Bert, who was still feeling reasonably well, Slugger and Jeff who seemed to enjoy their company.Later Steve or one of the others would drive Slugger to the hospital for physiotherapy. Everyone knew what exercises he had been given to do at home and they would beg, bully or cajole him into doing them. In the afternoon the three senior citizens would usually have a rest while Dora or Steve took charge of Jeff.
One day when Slugger returned from hospital with Ron the Lawsons were having tea with Dora and Steve. Slugger had been told about them and about having his bedroom transferred to the study and he knew if he wanted to go back he would have to accept changes. He and Vi and George got on very well-George had been in the army so they had that in common.
'I do have one concern dear' said Vi to Dora.
'What is it?'
'The cooking range. I can manage with either gas or electric but that scares me!'
Dora looked at Steve who raised his eyebrows quizzically.'It's ok- we were thinking of changing it- that's made the decision for us!' she said.
Over the next two weeks the necessary modifications were made at the farmhouse and the Lawsons moved in. when they were settled Slugger went too. Steve drove Bert back to Liverpool to collect what belongings he wanted to keep and put the flat into the hands of an estate agent. They had lunch at Bert's old cafe where he said goodbye to Kathy and drove back the same day.
Ron would often spend evenings with Slugger when Teri was on duty and she would call in on her way home if it was not too late. There was a cold snap at the end of January and Slugger was quite grumpy as the cold affected his bones. One particular night Ron set up the draughts board. 'Your turn to start Slugger.' As he went to make his move Slugger displaced several pieces. Impatiently he dashed all the rest to the floor.
'Dear, dear, dear- temper, temper.' said Ron. 'Would you prefer dominoes?'
'I'd prefer to be left alone.' Slugger snapped back just as Teri walked in.
'Okay you miserable old git- wallow in self pity and see if I care!' said Ron turning his face away so Slugger wouldn't see his pained expression.
Teri put her arms round Slugger.' Well now- would you like to hear some good news?'
'You'll be the first person we've told' said Ron. ' We're going to have a baby!'
'It's abaht blinkin time!' said Slugger. 'I don't reckon I'll be around when it's born though.'
THis played on Ron's mind as he and Teri went back to their flat and put a damper on what should have been one of the happiest nights of his life.












linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2011, 12:10:47 AM »
Elizabeth O'Sullivan was over the moon.Although she now had 26 grandchildren this was the news she had been waiting for. She and Shaun booked a week's holiday in Ben's old flat which for the purposes of letting was now called 'The stable nook.' The car was loaded with baby equipment surpus to the requirements of Teri's siblings and it all needed to be stored in one of the garages. Elizabeth and Shaun hugged Teri and Ron got the surprise of his life when Elizabeth hugged him too. She was however horrified wnen she saw the tabby kitten Tiggs asleep in its basket in the kitchen.'Cats and babies in the same household-not a good idea!'
'Don't worry mum- she'll spend most of her time outside or in the barn when she's a bit older.'
Anna's wedding day was only three weeks away. The big functions barn now had it's own supply of stackable furniture enough to seat 70 people. Dora and Hazel went shopping for tablecloths and all the other things needed to make the tables look special. Tony and Ron polished the carriage till it gleamed. Vi had proved to be an excellent cook and both she and Milly were to lend a hand with the food preparation. Hazel loved the new electric cooker in the farmhouse. The old range had not been taken out- this was more than Dora could bear but although there was usually a fire there nobody used it for cooking. Slugger would sit gazing into the flames remembering the good times when the colonel would stand with his back to it tapping his pipe against his hand and often throwing his spent matches into the fire. Also in the early days of their relationship Dora and Steve would sit companionably on the floor before it  sharing its warmth before going to bed. Later, when they were engaged and after they married they would draw the comfy old armchair close to it and Dora would sit on his lap and listen to the radio. Slugger would be the other side in his chair dozing and snoring gently as he often did now. Dora brought Jeff down to visit most afternoons usually staying for afternoon tea with Vi's home made cakes. Steve would walk thenm home and settle their horses. At the beginning of February there was a spell of really wet weather- February Filldyke stated Milly. Dora arrived at Follyfoot one afternoon looking like a drowned rat. She had left Jeff with Milly.
'What the devil are you doing coming out in this weather?' said Steve who had been looking out of the window and opened the door to let her in.
'I wanted to see Slugs. I haven't been out for the last three days and I'm fed up with not being able to do anything.'
'You could have brought the car.'
'Rain's not going to hurt me Steve.' She took off her wet outdoor gear and sat down in front of the fire. Vi handed her a steaming mug of tea and two scones liberally buttered and spread with Dora's favourite blackcurrant jam. She ate every crumb.'
'Goodness girl- I dunno where you put it all. You're putting on a bit of weight!' said Steve
giving her a playful poke. She smacked his hand. 'Are you saying I'm fat? '
'Of course not!'
'Blessed rain- bad for me 'ealth!' grumbled Slugger. Dora gave him a hug.' Anything you want from town Slugs? I thought I'd go in this afternoon.' Slugger shook his head.
'In this weather?' said Steve. 'You'll get soaked again!'
'Oh Steve for heaven's sake! I just want to get away by myself for an hour or so. It's okay for you- you're always out and about. I'd go for a ride but Copper wouldn't like being out in this.'
'Better buy yourself some chocolate-sweeten you up a bit!' Steve was teasing but Dora chose not to take it that way. 'Huh- first you imply I'm getting fat then you tell me to buy chocolate. I'm out of here. See you tomorrow Slugs.' She flung on her still wet clothes and flounced out banging the door.
'Proper little ray of sunshine-not!' said Steve.'Well as I can't get on I'll go and play with Jeff for an hour.' As he passed Vi Steve saw she was smiling to herself.'
'Thought them two had got over their silly bickering!' said Slugger.
'No need to worry. They'll be okay.' said Vi.
When Dora got back she sniffed appreciatively 'Something smells good Milly. I'm ravenous!'
'Steak and kidney pie love.'
'Yum- I've got blackcurrant cheesecake for dessert.' She looked at Steve as if daring him to make a comment but he didn't rise to the bait instead he picked Jeff up and carried him over to her. 'Give mummy a kiss Jeff.' The little boy did so and Dora smiled. 'Kiss daddy' he said. Dora pecked Steve's cheek briefly. 'Mummy needs to change out of her wet clothes darling!'
Milly and Bert chattered away through the meal although Bert could actually only eat a small helping. When all was finished and the washing up was done Dora said 'Will you see to Jeff Steve-I'm so tired.'
When he took Jeff in to say goodnight she was sound asleep. Later he went to see if she wanted a hot drink but she still  did not stir. In the morning she woke him with a kiss. 'Lord. where have you been- you're freezing.'
 'In the bathroom'
'You okay?' he asked wrapping his arms round her.
'I'm pregnant! I've just done the test.'
'Wow- so that's why you've had such a healthy appetite lately! That's great darling!'
'Let's keep it to ourselves for a while-let Teri enjoy all the attention a while longer. It is her first after all. Sorry I was moody yesterday. My body was telling me I was pregnant and when you were teasing me about how much I was eating I wanted to blurt out my news but I knew I needed to get it confirmed before I told you.'
'When will it be?'
'September I think- about 6 weeks after Teri.'
'Are you sure I can't tell Slugs- he'll be tickled pink!'
'No Steve- not yet. His birthday's at the end of March-we'll tell him then!'



linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: Families Matter
« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2012, 09:13:43 PM »
Anna's wedding was exactly a week away. Dora had bought a new outfit in the January sales. Suspecting then that she might be pregnant she had bought skirt, dress and jacket in a size bigger than she normally wore. Now when she tried everything on the skirt was much too tight to be comfortable. She flung it at the bed in disgust, it landed on Steve who was getting undressed. He stood up and held it in front of his bare legs.'Er-I don't think it's quite me girl!'
'Idiot! I'm going to have to go into town and get something bigger.'
'You've still got the outfits you took on honeymoon- you looked lovely in them, wear one of those.'
Oh Steve! First of all I'm not that big yet and secondly if I wear one of those everyone's going to put two and two together and make 'baby'
'Well go ahead and treat yourself love! I have to say to me you look positively blooming and gorgeous. I reckon some people might guess anyway. It surely can't hurt to tell Slugs now!' Dora sighed heavily.
'Look Steve-at the moment Slugger's got Anna's wedding and his 70th birthday to look forward to, then of course there's Ron and Teri's baby. If we tell him and everyone else at his birthday that'll give him something extra to focus on and it won't steal Teri's thunder because everyone will be used to her being pregnant then.'
Steve didn't quite see the logic but he shrugged and nodded. 'Okay girl. We've got your doctor's appointment on Monday, we'll tell everyone we're going shopping-and we will after the appointment.
Since Milly had settled in her new accommodation she had started to attend the early morning service at St. Barnabas church. Steve took her in and as it was hardly worth driving back for such a short time he usually went to the pub. Half a pint of lager was his limit. Nothing and no-one would persuade him to have any more as the memory of the night his drink had been spiked was still clear. This morning he was surprised to see Wendy and her father in the bar. 'Steve- hi, how are you and the family?'
'We're all okay-well except Slugger who's definitely feeling his age. I hear congratulations are in order.'
Wendy gave a little laugh. 'I expect you are talking about my engagement. Your information is out of date-Chip and I were married on Christmas day on a beach in Florida. We're only just back from our honeymoon.' Steve gave her a brotherly hug and peck on the cheek. 'Where is the lucky man?'
'Seeing someone on business. We're meeting him here for lunch. Mummy's not too well so she's at home. It's good bumping into you like this. We're having a celebration in the Assembly Rooms for people who were not at the wedding. It's on March 4th. There'll be an invitation in the post for my friends at Follyfoot-keep the date free if you can. Will you have a drink with us?'
'No thanks- I have to go pick Milly up from St Barnabas's- left the car parked down there.
Give my regards to Chip.' He shook hands with them both and left.
When Milly came out she was happy and excited. She had recently joined the Monday afternoon WI and they were organising a trip to London to see 'The Mousetrap' staying overnight. 'Mrs. Plum told me about it this morning, she's collecting names and I've put mine down. That's okay isn't it? April 1st it is!'
'Sure-it'll be good for you to get away from us for a day or so.'
Back at the bungalow Bert said 'You did remember to put in a good word for me this morning didn't you Milly? I've got my first appointment with my new oncologist in Leeds on Wednesday.'
'Of course. I always say a prayer for you all every day.'
Dora was surprised to hear about Chip and Wendy. 'They've not been engaged very long have they?'
September 1st, Wendy's birthday.'
'Oh trust you to remember that. I wonder if she's pregnant too.'
'I dunno- we'll probably find out at this do on March 4th. It's easy to remember Wendy's birthday because it's the day after Jeff's. I bet you remember Chip's!'
Dora shook her head ' Um no.' Her look said otherwise and she looked down at her tummy hidden beneath a baggy jumper. 'Liar- Delilah! laughed Steve. 'It's okay, you're not showing in that get up! No morning sickness either. Reckon we'll be able to keep our secret for a while. He pushed her gently down on the bed and kissed her. Milly knocked on the door to tell them that lunch was ready.
Bert's appointment was on Wednesday morning. He was scheduled to be there several hours as he would be undergoing some tests. Ron had to go to Leeds so he dropped him off. He arrived back by taxi late in the afternoon and sank wearily into a chair in Milly's lounge. She handed him a cup of tea. 'Was it bad love?'
Well it was tiring and some of the tests aren't very pleasant- but, Milly, I don't know what you said to the bloke upstairs but something worked. Seems like the cancer's on hold-still there but not doing much. The consultant reckons my test results have actually improved since I was last seen in Liverpool and they might be able to give me some treatment- must be the good air here!
'Eee Bert- I'm that pleased for you.'
'I can't thank you enough for the care you take of me lass!'
'Nonsense- it's the least I can do after what you've done for our Kathy.'
Bert stood up and pulled Milly to her feet enfolding her in a bear hug. Dora had seen the taxi and come to see how Bert got on. 'Er sorry- did I interrupt something?'
'Don't worry- it was just a 'thank you hug'
'And a celebration' said Milly as Steve came in carrying Jeff.
'Well?' he asked.
'Go on Bert-tell them your news.' said Milly.
That night the lounge at Coppers Rest was filled with happy laughter as Ron, Teri, Hazel and Ben joined the celebration toasting Bert's health.
At Follyfoot Slugger had been told the news. 'Half his luck!' he said.
Thursday dawned bright and clear and the forecast for the wedding was good.
A noise made Steve look up-the magpies were back. First there were two, then three.
'Two for joy, Three for a girl he said whistling as he went to start work.

In view of the festive season I thought it was good to end this part of the story on a positive note and allow people to catch up and perhaps continue with other stories. I will carry on with this saga in a new story 'The rough and the Smooth in a few weeks time.
THE END
linda-norfolk dumpling