Author Topic: The rough and the smooth.  (Read 5362 times)

Offline loopylin

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The rough and the smooth.
« on: February 13, 2012, 10:35:50 PM »
continues more or less where Families Matter ended.

The early morning sun streamed in the windows of Anna Holmes cottage and woke her with darting kisses from its rays. Her wedding day-the last day she would spend here. After the weekend away which was all Ralph could spare from his farm the rambling old farmhouse ten miles away would be where she would live. Anna Walker- she smiled as she thought of the teasing remarks of her friends about the similarity to the landlady of Coronation Street's Rovers Return. Most of her furniture had gone ahead of her as had Callie's horse, Magic. The house was already on the market and there would be a good bit of money left from the sale after the mortgage was repaid. A good thing too as Callie would be starting college in September-the first step in pursuit of her ambition to be a vet. Anna looked at the clock and jumped out of bed. So much to do before Tony picked her up to take her to the register office for the 2pm ceremony. She had been warned they worked to a very tight schedule on Valentine's day and being late was not an option. There was a knock on the door and Callie entered with a breakfast tray set for two.
A few miles away Steve woke Dora with a kiss. 'Happy Valentine's day, darling.'
'Mmmnn- you too What time is it?'
'Just gone six and I'm just going to sort out our horses. Listen out for Jeff- he shouldn't wake up just yet. '
'I'm so tired I might just go back to sleep for a while but I'll hear Jeff if he starts his morning routine. Jeff was used to his parents greeting each horse by name when entering their stalls so each morning when he woke he would say good morning to all his toys. A large Paddington bear stood by the bedroom door and Jeff would shout to him 'Morning Paddyton' quite loudly to make sure he was heard as his hat covered the bears ears. 'If he doesn't wake stay there and I'll bring you breakfast in bed.'
'I ought to get up really. I want to make sure Juniper and Candytuft are okay before they're got ready for their big day.'
'Darling- Tony is quite capable of doing that and I bet he's here already.'
'I know- it's just that it's their first time and I want to make sure everything goes smoothly.'
'Don't worry-it will!' Steve had been getting dressed while he spoke. 'See you later girl.' Dora snuggled down in the bed and was soon in the arms of Morpheus.
By the time Steve had breakfast ready Jeff was awake. Milly had eaten and left Bert's breakfast for him. She came in calling a cheery 'Good Morning and offered to feed Jeff while Steve had his breakfast with Dora. 'Come and say hello to mummy JR and remember not to jump on her.' Jeff and Dora enjoyed a cuddle then Steve took him to his high chair and left him with Milly. Dora sat up sleepily and the bed covers slipped down. Steve eyed her appreciatively. 'You're particularly beautiful when you're pregnant' he said handing her the delicate pink bedjacket he'd bought her. She stared blankly at her coffee cup and toyed with the muesli. 'What's up?' asked Steve.
'I had a dream while you were gone. I rode to uncle's big house on Copper. Uncle was standing at the top of the stairs with Slugger. I started up the stairs to greet them but uncle put his hand on Slugger's shoulder, they both sketched a wave, smiled at me, then turned and walked away together. I searched the house calling their names but I couldn't find them anywhere. When I woke up I felt shivery and disturbed.'
'It was only a dream love.'
'It was one of those dreams Steve. I'm sure it meant something. What if something's going to happen to Slugger?'

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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2012, 12:32:19 AM »
'Come on girl- think happy thoughts. We've got a wedding to go to. '
Dora tried to put the dream to the back of her mind. Steve was still very much down to earth and matter of fact whereas she believed that dreams could tell you about the future. Steve went over to the dressing table and picked up the box containing her charm bracelet. 'Here- I've had another charm added for you.'
'A wishing well! Thankyou darling it's beautiful.' She fingered the charm lovingly marvelling at the tiny little bucket in which sat a black cat with green sparkling eyes. Enclosing the charm in her hand she closed her eyes tightly. 'I hope my wish will come true' she whispered softly. Later, when she went into the lounge she found a vase of red and white roses on the table with a little heart shaped card which said 'All my love-Steve.' There were lots of kisses and she put her arms round his neck to claim some for real. She then produced a parcel wrapped in shiny red paper and handed it to him. It was a book of love poems beautifully bound in a red moroccan leather cover. He turned the pages reverently and came upon Robert Burns famous poem 'My love is like a red red rose that's newly sprung in June' he read. 'Our rose bush will be in bloom soon so the next bouquet I give you for our wedding anniversary will be from our very own bush. Dora's eyes misted over and her thoughts went back to their wedding day when Steve had first given her a rose from their bush. She had pressed it and now it was in an album opposite the photo of them cutting the cake. Later, as she waited for her hair to dry she sat with the album on her lap leafing through and finding other pressed flowers opposite photographs of the occasions for which they had been given. The last photo was of her and Slugger. Steve had bought her freesias on Christmas Eve and they stood on the table on Christmas day.The photograph was taken not long before Slugger was taken ill. Looking at it now Dora was sure she could see the suggestion of the pain which was soon to overtake him. Jeff had been sitting on the floor at her feet and now pulled himself up to stand leaning against the sofa. 'Uccle Sugger' he said.
'Clever boy' said Steve who had been in the functions barn checking everything was in order.' Come on girl if you want to see the horses.' Jeff looked up at him 'Jeff come?'
Steve picked him up then held out his hand to Dora.
Tony had recently started dating Ellie Thorn. They had been at school together but she had gone away to college. Her parents owned a neighbouring farm and Ellie was now back home teaching. Tony had met her again at the young Farmer's Autumn ball. She had her own car and had driven him over very early with his newly acquired coachman's outfit laid carefully in the back. She loved horses and was happy to lend a hand with them. Hazel wore her engagement ring on a chain round her neck when she was working and it became visible when she leaned forward. Ellie admired it and secretly hoped that she would own one like it in the not too distant future. After they had finished with the horses Hazel asked if she would like to give her a hand with the final touches to the food after they had both showered and Ellie agreed saying it would give her the perfect excuse to stay and see what Tony looked like in his uniform.
After Dora was satisfied that all was well with Firefly and Candytuft she and Steve went to check on Slugger who greeted them by saying 'I don't fink I'll be able ter go ter this shindig'
Why not?' asked Steve. We'll drive you right to the door and there's no stairs. If you can't manage with your frame Ron and I will get one each side of you and help you along.'
'Well I don't want the bother of getting meself all spruced up! You and Ron have got enough to do wivout bovering abaht me.'
'I'll help you like I always do Slugger' said George. 'And Vi can help with the finishing touches like tying your tie so no more excuses.'
'Thanks George' said Dora.
'Anna would be upset if you didn't show up' said Steve.
'Alright, alright you win. Now you two go and get yourself out of those jeans and into your wedding gear or I'll be showing you up! Before you do I wanna hug from Jeff!'
Jeff giggled when Slugger pretended to steal his nose and the three of them left Slugger in a much happier frame of mind.
The wedding went off without a hitch. Anna was in a coat and dress of powder blue and Callie wore a trouser suit in a matching shade. Ralph looked uncomfortable in his hired dark navy suit with powder blue shirt and navy tie. Ellie caught her breath at the sight of Tony. The photograph that was to join the others in Dora's special album was of all the Follyfoot friends. Hazel in a navy suit, Teri in a floral dress looking in the picture of health and Dora in shimmering silver grey Jersey which disguised her fuller figure beautifully. Ben in slate grey with a pristine white shirt, Tony in his scarlet and gold uniform, Ron- unconventional as ever in a teddy boy style blue jacket with black revere collar and black trousers. Slugger was resplendant once again in the outfit he'd worn for the two previous weddings proudly sporting his regimental badge. Steve looked devastatingly handsome in his silver grey suit with a pale lilac shirt and tie but it was little Jeff who stole the show in his blue corduroy trousers and waistcoat with a white shirt and blue bow tie. Everyone wore white carnation buttonholes and Dora pressed hers and Steve's under  his complete works of Shakespeare once again.
Everyone praised Hazel's catering. Millie, Vi and Ellie did not go to the wedding but helped to serve the food. George and Bert took charge of the drinks. In spite of his earlier protests Slugger enjoyed himself immensely surrounded by all those he loved. He should not have drunk as much wine  as he did but no-one had the heart to stop him and he finally fell asleep in the armchair they had put in place especially for him. As she left to spend the weekend with a friend Callie kissed his cheek and said softly 'Goodnight Fred!'
Steve had parked the estate car as near as he could to the barn entrance and between them he and Ron managed to get him into the back seat for the short drive home.
'S'been a good day' he said and made no protest when they undressed him and got him into bed.
Back home Dora said that as Slugger had enjoyed the day so much they should plan a big celebration for his birthday in a few weeks time.Steve echoed Sluggers words 'It's been a good day- Valentine's day.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 10:54:39 PM »
Soon after the wedding Anna went to visit Dora and Steve to show them the wedding photographs. 'This one of the horses and carriage with Tony standing at the side is really good' said Dora.
'It's given me an idea' said Steve.' We could see if the local paper would run a feature on our new venture here- catering for weddings.'
'That's a good idea' said Anna. Dora took some persuading but in the end agreed.
The editor was very interested and sent along a reporter and photographer. Within days of the feature being published the phone at Follyfoot began to receive enquiries. Vi was constantly taking messages. Ben undertook to phone the people who enquired and a large diary had to be purchased to record all the bookings. Some were for the whole package, others wanted just the horses and carriage and others wedding cakes or buffets to be delivered to marquees or public halls. 'We need extra help Steve' said Ben. 'Vi doesn't like telling people that someone will get back to them-says it's unprofessional and we should be able to provide details as they ask.'
'I'll draft a staff wanted  advertisement.' said Steve. A few days later while he was working in the yard a familiar car pulled up and a smartly dressed woman got out with her hand outstretched. Steve hastily rubbed his hands down his jeans to remove the worst of the dirt and shook hands with her.  'Hello- do you remember me? I'm Annabelle Seaton- Carew. My uncle brought you the carriage you're now using for weddings.' Steve hoped she hadn't come to ask for the carriage back but she said
'I saw your advertisement for staff. I've come to apply for a job.'
'Come inside and I'll phone my wife to come over.' Vi made tea and Slugger who had been dozing in his favourite chair opened one eye. 'Hello' said Annabelle. 'Nice to meet you again. How are you?'
'No perishing good to anyone'
'Oh I'm sure that's not true!' Ron had come in just as she spoke to Slugger.
'Yeah- he's right though.' he said.'Proper liability he is. Don't do nothing but eat, sleep, and use the loo. Just like some of our old crumblies out there.'
'Watch it young Ron!' said Slugger.
Over morning tea Annabelle explained that she and her husband Mark used to train racehorses but owing to a bad riding accident he had had to give up his licence and she was finding it hard being under his feet all day. 'I've got the necessary qualifications to help with administration and taking bookings. I can drive the carriage if you need me to. I can help with mucking out and other chores,cook, garden and arrange flowers. I do of course have references.'
'Er- that all sounds wonderful' said Dora. 'But we can't afford to pay you very much.'
'Don't worry- we're quite comfortably off. The wages mentioned in the advertisement will do quite nicely.' Steve raised an eyebrow and looked questionably at Dora who gave a slight nod. 'Welcome aboard then Annabelle. Can you start tomorrow?' he said.
'I don't see why not.'
'Well let's say 9 o'clock. If you come down to our bungalow we'll sort out what hours you can give us. Then later we'll introduce you to Ben and he can familiarise you with our charges. He's at university today but he doesn't have lectures on Fridays. By the way I take it that working weekends won't be a problem if we need you?'
'Not at all- and would it be alright if I brought my uncle along to see the horses sometimes?'
'Of course' said Dora. Just then the telephone rang.
'Can one of you take this call?' asked Vi. 'It's Mr. Buckley. He wants to know whether he can hire the barn for a birthday party for Angela.'
'What do you reckon Hazel?' asked Steve.
'Sure- let's go for it, Could open a few more doors for us.'
Slugger opened an eye again. 'That's all we need. Place full of bloomin' kids.
Steve took the receiver 'Yes Mr. Buckley- I'm sure we can help. A disco you say? Well we've not done one before but there's always a first time.'
'DJ Ron at you service!' said Ron as Steve stroked his chin. Dora walked with Annabelle to the car and seeing the concern on the younger ladys face Annabelle asked her what was wrong. 'Change, change and more change' said Dora. Annabelle patted her shoulder. 'See you tomorrow.' The telephone rang again and Dora covered her ears, ran down to the lake and stood by the tree that had been planted in memory of her uncle. Gradually an inner peace crept into her and after kissing the palm of her hand and resting it on the bark of the young tree she made her way slowly back to the bungalow where Milly was minding Jeff.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 12:38:58 AM »
Dora sat in front of the dressing table mirror and flung her hairbrush down moodily. It was March 4th and she and Steve were getting ready to go to the party that Wendy and Chip were holding to celebrate their wedding which had been held abroad. ' Come on love- we're supposed to be there in ten minutes.' said Steve. 'It's alright for you. Your suit still fits you perfectly- look at me!'
'You look lovely. If you'd just tell people you're pregnant you wouldn't have to work so hard to disguise it.'
'I told you. I don't want to steal Teri's thunder and I want it to be a nice surprise for Slugger. Everyone will know after his birthday.'
'That's nearly 4 weeks away Dora.'
'I don't feel very well Steve- you'd better go without me!' Steve took her hands, drew her to her feet and into his arms. 'Come on girl. How often do we get the chance to go out together eh?. Auntie's all comfy in the lounge with her knitting and Jeff's sound asleep. We needn't stay late.'
'Promise?'
'Cross my heart and hope to--'
'No Steve- don't say it!' Twenty minute later they pulled up in the car park of 'The Whispering Willows Country Club.' Steve parked the estate car next to an E type Jaguar.'Whew' he said looking around 'There's a lot of expensive motors here.' Then he spotted a familiar Hillman.' Ron and Teri are here already.'
Inside Wendy and Chip were greeting their guests. Sam Lockwood had his arm draped around a pretty brunette who looked half his age. Wendy's father and mother stood nearby. Dora wrinkled up her nose in disgust Fiona Bendiger was wearing a fox fur stole. The female guests dripped expensive jewellery. Wendy looked stunning in a figure hugging low cut black dress slit up above the knee one side a diamond choker round her neck and long dangling diamond earrings. Dora fingered her gold charm bracelet and her hand crept into Steve's. 'Steve, darling, Dora- lovely to see you both!' said Wendy but her eyes stayed on Steve. 'Hi' he said and Dora mumbled something that sounded like hello.Chip kissed her on both cheeks. 'You're looking well Dora.'
'Um you too' Steve had spotted Ron and Teri and steered Dora over to where they sat drinking orange juice. He sat Dora down and took juice from a passing waiter. Ron shifted his neck in his starched collar. 'Blimey this is really uncomfortable' he said loosening his tie and fiddling with the top button. 'Stop it Ron!' snapped Dora.
'Sorry I'm sure your ladyship.'
'Dora's right Ron- you're making a show of yourself ' said Teri. A three piece band began playing and couples took to the floor. 'Come on Mrs Stryker- time for a smooch.'
'Teri looks lovely' remarked Dora smiling as Ron and Teri danced by. Steve and Dora had learned a little social dancing but neither of them liked it much so didn't join Ron and Teri. However it wasn't long before Wendy came over and ushered Steve onto the floor. Dora looked on biting her lip as Wendys arms circled his neck and her cheek brushed against his.
'You won't refuse me a dance this time will you?' asked Chip. She felt reall uncomfortable dancing with him. She couldn't take her eyes off the dark head and the blonde one now pressed close together. Chip leaned closer. 'You are happy aren't you Dora?' he asked seeing the frown that creased her forehead.'Yes of course- I've got a headache. I really didn't feel like coming but Steve insisted. What about you?'
'Who wouldn't be with a looker like Wendy!' he replied. The music ended Wendy made no attempt to move out of Steve's arms. 'I'd like to sit down please Chip!' said Dora.
'Of course- look I'll get you some food from the buffet and see if I can rustle you up a cup of tea. Perhaps that will make your headache better.' Teri and Ron came back to the table.
'You okay girl?' he asked seeing her white face and the way she was scanning the dancefloor looking for Steve.' Just a headache'
'Scuse me luv' he said to Teri. 'I think I'll see if our hostess wants to dance.' He made his way over to where Wendy and Steve were. Her head was now on his shoulder.'Excuse me- may I have the pleasure of the next dance ' he said as the music stopped once more. Then to Steve 'I think Dora would like to speak to you.' Chip had gien Dora food and a cup of tea and approached Steve as he left Wendy. 'When dora's eaten if she doesn't feel any better I think you should take her home. You really shouldn't have made her come as she's obviously not feeling well.' Steve bit back a barbed remark and merely said 'Yeah-right!'
The plate of food was untouched. Dora was sipping tea and pulling a face.'I can't stand 'Earl Grey!'
'I'll just get something to eat then we can go if you like.'
'You can have this- I don't want it!'
'Can't have Chip seeing me eat your food' he said and stalked off to the buffet in a huff. Dora got up and fled to the cloakroom biting back angry tears. Teri watched her friend go and when Ron came back told him what had happened. 'You go to her. I'll see to his lordship.' said Ron demolishing a salmon vol au vent from Dora's plate in one mouthful.
When Steve got back he rounded on him 'What the deuce do you think you're doing? dora's gone off to the cloakroom. Teri's gone after her- saud she was near to tears.'
'Oh mate!' said Steve. 'First flamin' Chip- now you!' He began to eat the food he had collected.' Aren't you going after her?'
'All in good time!' Ron clenched his fists and looked at him menacingly. Teri came back.
'Dora's putting her coat on and threatening to ask them to get her a taxi!'
'The devil she is!' said Steve 'Make our excuses to Chip and Wendy. I'll go sort madam out!'
Teri and Ron looked at each other and grinned. ' Wendy and Chip strike again!' said Ron




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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2012, 11:29:41 PM »
Steve looked anxiously round the reception area of the country club but there was no sign of Dora so he enquired at the desk if a young lady had ordered a taxi.
'No sir- a lady was enquiring but the a gentleman who was leaving himself offered her a lift and she went with him. I'm afraid he looked a little inebriated.' 'Blazes' exclaimed Steve and hurried to retrieve his overcoat from the cloakroom and ran outside just in time to see the tail lights of a car disappear round the bend of the road leading from the car park. He started the car and set off to follow the other vehicle hoping it was heading for Follyfoot as it had disappeared from view. He had not gone very far when his headlights picked out a figure standing beside the road-Dora. He stopped the car, opened the door and she got in. Neither of them spoke but casting a sideways glance at her Steve saw she was crying >76<. As soon as he stopped the car outside the bungalow she ran in and went straight to their bedroom. Milly looked on in  amazement.'What's up love?' she asked Steve as he dumped the car keys on the coffee table. 'Dora's not feeling too well. She said she wasn't earlier but I thought an evening out would do her good.' He walked Milly back to her annex then put some milk on to make hot chocolate. The local weekly paper was on the table. He had not read it and skimmed through as he waited for the milk to boil. In the centre was a double page spread 'Big changes at Follyfoot'- the feature article that he'd arranged with the editor. He just stopped the milk from boiling over and made two cups of chocolate. Tucking the paper under his arm he carried the drinks to the bedroom-the door was locked.'I've brought you a hot drink Dora.'
'I don't want it!'
'Come on girl- it'll help you sleep.'
'Leave it outside the door and go away.'
'I suppose you've read the newspaper article- is that what really upset you before we went out. If it was why didn't you say something then?'
'What good would that have done? You knew what they were going to print.'
'Well not exactly. I'm going to read it through now but it should be a really good advertisement, bring the customers rolling in!'
'Well whoopee do. You'll be nice and busy then won't you? No time for Jeff and me. Well at least it'll keep you out of the charming Mrs. Lockwood's way!'
'Dora-be reasonable- open the door so we can talk properly. '
'I'm going to bed! We'll talk in the morning!' Steve took his drink back to the lounge and sat down to read the article. Dora opened the door and picked up her hot chocolate. Steve heard the lock click shut again and sighed deeply.
The article had gone a bit over the top embellishing what he and the others had told the reporter but essentially it was the truth. The word change appeared many times and was obviously what had got Dora worked up. He began to worry about her blood pressure. It had been troublesome  during her first pregnancy. He wished now that they had not gone to the party. He supposed he'd better sleep in the spare single bed in Jeff's room tonight. He'd read a bit first. Kicking off his shoes and removing his tie and jacket he picked up his book and settled back on the sofa.

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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 11:47:43 PM »
Dora awoke with a start- she'd had the dream again about Slugger and the colonel. She unlocked the bedroom door and went to warm some milk in the hope it would help her get back to sleep. Steve had dozed off on the sofa his book had fallen to the floor. The central heating had gone off, she warmed enough milk for two then shook Steve gently.'Wake up and come to bed Steve. It's cold in here. I've made us another hot drink.'
'You look worried Dora. What's wrong? Is it what went on tonight or the newspaper article?'
'No- I had the dream again. I need you to hold me Steve. I'm sorry I locked you out.'
Once comfortably settled in Steve's arms Dora felt safe and soon drifted into a dreamless sleep. In the morning she asked 'Why did the paper do another article about us Steve?'
Well when they featured Anna's wedding and the write up about the horse and carriage and the barn it was only half a page because the editor said it was all the space he could spare. The photographer had taken lots of pictures and the editor said he'd do a bigger spread when they had enough space. I thought the idea had been shelved but obviously it hadn't.'
'What I don't like is it seems to suggest our priorities have changed and that care of horses in need is no longer our priority.'
'Well we know different.'
'Do we Steve. Can you honestly say that?'
'I can and I'll prove it to you later.'
After breakfast he took her into the bungalow stables. 'We've got five horses in here at the moment- all fit and well. All our horses are back from Bill Chadwick's and in the blocks down at Follyfoot every stall is full. Twenty-four horses in all. The new block which the colonel left funds for is now finished and as we agreed this will be used to take up to eight horses that we are training for Major Lewis and Mr. Carlton-thank heaven we managed to get him back on side!'
'You got him back on side! Why are you telling me all this Steve- I know it already?'
'Because we have capacity here at the bungalow to put in more stalls- at least another six I'd say. Now Jeff''s pony Dynamite, Gip's Raz, Dancer, Barney, Hopscotch and Archie are quite fit and can come here which means we will be able to have more needy cases if we have to. We need income to look after them all and to pay the staff. It 's not just you and me now Dora. We've got Jeff, a new baby on the way, Slugger, Milly and Bert all needing help in some way.'
'It all sounds cut and dried Steve and you know I want the best for all our horses the fit ones as well as the needy but how are we going to look after them and cope with all the extra work the new ventures will make?'
'When Teri's had the baby she won't be working and you know how she loves kids and has had loads of experience looking after her nieces and nephews. She says she'll be happy to look after the new baby for us and Vi will give her a hand and look after Jeff so you'll be free to do what you love doing for at least some of every day. Milly is happy to take care of lunch and give Hazel a hand when she needs it. Bert says he'll go and keep Slugger company so George can help with the horses and he'll be an extra pair of eyes when Vi needs them- and I've saved the best news till last. Tony is happy to work for us full time now- his father is downsizing the farm. Now these changes aren't too drastic are they?'
'I suppose not. We're still all going to be really busy!'
'Well it will keep us all out of mischief.' Steve winked and Dora blushed. 'I don't know what I was thinking about last night making such a fuss over Wendy. I know you wouldn't cheat on me.'
'It's your pregnancy love, you're  more susceptible to mood changes- I do understand you know. Now when's your next check up? I'm worried about your blood pressure.'
'Not for another month- I had one last week if you remember and it was only slightly up and they said I'd be fine if I get plenty of rest.'
'I'd better make sure you do then. How about if I walk you and Jeff down to Follyfoot this morning.He can stay with me the fresh air will do him good. You can visit Teri and compare notes. Then you can look in on  Slugger and this afternoon you and Jeff can rest while I make a start on those new stalls. Ron can give me a hand.'
'Yes now he's about to become a father he's grown up a lot and works harder.'
'Yet another change- and this one's definitely for the better.'
'Just so long as he doesn't change too much in other ways. I wouldn't like to lose his banter and teasing.'
'Funnily enough-nor would I.'
 
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 11:54:02 PM »
Dora did not really want to spend time with Teri-not that she didn't enjoy her friend's company, she did.As they chatted about Teri's forthcoming happy event it would be difficult for Dora to keep her news to herself. Anyway Teri's job as a midwife meant that she was used to seeing women at all stages of pregnancy. Dora's baggy jumpers were not quite so baggy now and she did want to give Slugger a lovely birthday surprise by telling him first.
'I um think I'd rather rest this morning and be out with you and Jeff in the fresh air this afternoon. I think last night really drained me!' Steve gave her a puzzled look.'Okay but one thing I forgot to ask you. Who was the bloke who offered you a lift and why were you standing in the road when I came by?'
'It was Ryan Mortimer- you know he works for Wendy's father. I didn't realise till he nearly ran the car off the road that he was very drunk so I told him to stop. I was going to walk back to the club and find you but you found me first.'
'He didn't try anything did he?' Dora shook her head and at that moment the telephone rang and Steve answered it. 'Hello Steve-it's Wendy- something terrible's happened. Ryan Mortimer had an accident in his car last night. He ran off the road into a tree. H-he was k-killed instantly. I'm just ringing to let you know that the police want to interview Dora.We know she left the party about the same time as he did and the girls at the club say he gave a girl a lift and the description they gave fits Dora. There was no-one else in the car wh- when they found him.' Steve told Wendy what had happened saying that Dora had accepted a lift because she didn't feel well and thought he wanted to stay at the party.
'The police will be there this morning Steve.'
'Ok Wendy- I'll tell Dora.' He rang off and asked Dora if she had heard what Wendy said.
'I think I got most of it. Ryan's dead isn't he and the police are coming to interview me. '
Shock hit her as she realised that the accident could have happened in the short time she was in the car. She began to tremble and sat heavily down on the nearest chair. Steve could hear Jeff calling from his bedroom. 'I'll be back in a minute love.' he said hurrying to
make sure the little boy was alright. Milly's annex had a phone and Steve took Jeff into the master bedroom and called to ask her to come in. By now Dora was pacing up and down sobbing and twisting her sodden handkerchief round. 'Why whatever's wrong luv?' asked the motherly soul putting her arms round the sobbing girl. Steve had quickly got Jeff dressed. 'Can you take him next door and give him his breakfast please auntie. I'll come and explain later.' She nodded and did as he asked. He made mugs of sweet tea and made Dora sit beside him on the sofa to drink.When she'd calmed down a little she said 'If I'd realised how drunk he was I would have taken his keys from him Steve. I certainly wouldn't have got in the car with him.'
'I must admit I was relieved when I found you at the side of the road. The girls told me they thought he was very drunk. You were too upset to notice and just wanted to get away from that party as fast as you could.'
'What on earth am I going to say to the police?'
'Just tell them everything.'
'I can't tell them I was in a temper because I was jealous!'
'You can love.'
'Will you stay with me?'
'I expect they'll want to talk to you alone- but I'll be in the other room so they can talk to me if they want to-after all I did see the way he took that first bend.' She shuddered and he
held her close. 'You'll be fine. Now drink your tea and wash your face.' He kissed her wet cheeks. A few minutes later there was a ring on the doorbell. Steve went to answer it but before he opened the door he turned to her and winked.




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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2012, 09:49:13 PM »
The interview wasn't as bad as Dora thought but she still felt sad when she thought of the waste of a young life with a bright future ahead of him. She rang Wendy to offer condolences and also to say she was sorry for leaving the party in a huff. 'You know I'll always have a soft spot for Steve' said Wendy. 'But I didn't ever stand a chance with him-it was always going to be you. Anyway I'm really in love with Chip. I want us all to be friends,we have a lot in common.' 'Okay-great. We'll um see you soon!'
A week later Dora was once again trying on outfits as she and Steve were going out with Ron and Teri to celebrate Teri's birthday which was exactly 10 days before Slugger's.
'Does this look okay?' she asked as she pulled a face at the blue jersey dress she'd worn in the early stages of her last pregnancy. 'Do you think they'll remember I was pregnant the last time I wore this?'
'Course not. That colour really suits you.' They dined at 'La Dolce Vita' and all chose pasta dishes. Their present to Teri was a 'Pamper Voucher' from a beauty salon in Leeds. 'You don't need to be made beautiful of course' said Dora but I know you'll love it being pampered.'
'Can we talk about how we're gonna celebrate Slug's special day?' said Steve.
'He reckons he don't want no fuss' Ron replied.
'Well he'll love it if we get in touch with some of his old pals from the regiment. Then there's his sister and brother in law and other relatives. Hazel said she'd cater but I thought we'd just ask her to make a cake- where to hold it is the problem-I don't think the Wheatsheaf or the Clap Gate will do' said Steve.
Dora had an idea. 'You remember Katherine Hooper who used to attend Slugger's Saturday riding circus? Well her family have opened a restaurant in Thirsk. You can hire it for private functions. Why don't we go and see them and get an idea of menu, prices and the number they can cater for. Evidently the decor is horse themed.'
'Sounds ideal' said Teri and at the weekend she and Dora went to investigate. On the strength of what they saw they booked 'Tattenham Corner' for Saturday 31st March and set about issuing invitations giving the bungalow as the address for replies and also using it's telephone number as contact. Slugger suspected nothing right up to the morning of his birthday.
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 10:38:32 PM »
The Saturday before there was another surprise. Ron and Steve had contacted as many of Slugger's old riding class as they could and invited them to bring their horses to Follyfoot where they would be given instructions. George woke Slugger up early 'Ere- wotcha playing at- can't yer let a bloke have a decent kip on a Saturday? '
'Sorry mate- orders is orders. Now let's get you smartened up and breakfasted before the others arrive.'
'What others-whatya on abaht?'
'You'll see.'
Slugger cheered up when Dora, Steve and Jeff closely followed by Ron arrived. Before he knew what was happening he'd been taken outside, sat on a blanket covered garden chair with more blankets tucked round him and told to enjoy himself. The others all stood or sat nearby. Steve gave a long blast on his whistle. A long procession of young riders came out of the top field martialled by Callie at the front on Magic and Tony on Bianca at the rear. The line slowly filed past Slugger and the others each rider saluting with their whip and removing their hats. When all had passed Ron called 'Three cheers for Slugger' and they all joined in enthusiastically waving their hats in the air before replacing them on their heads.' Slugger brushed away a tear. Later, dismounted they formed a guard of honour outside the barn as he was wheeled past in the hated wheelchair. Many of them had to remind him of their names but he spoke to them all. Sandwiches, sausage rolls and cakes washed down with lemonade followed. 'Speech' yelled Ron. 'Geddoutofit!' said Slugger but he smiled and said 'Thanks to you all for coming.' The youngest member of the group then handed Slugger a framed watercolour of the farm which had been painted by a local artist. Later he asked why this celebration had happened. 'We thought you'd like to see them all again before they move on to new schools-some even to college and of course there's the new class starting.' said Ron.
'What new class?'
'Steve and Dora's riding for beginners. You'll be able to watch from the window- from outside once it gets warmer.'
'Nah- I don't fink so some'ow son. I shan't see the spring.'
'Don't start that again!' said Ron.
'I've had a good life Ron- seen you younguns happily married, young Jeff born and your littlun on the way. Reckon that was a good idea you had abaht terday. Gave me a chance to say tara proper like.'
'I want you here when the baby's born mate. I need you to help wet it's head!'
'Tell yer what Ron- we'll do it in advance-on me birfday. Now I've had a tiring day so let the old fella sleep eh?'
Ron helped Slugger to bed then turned quickly away scrubbing at his eyes.
'See you in the morning Slugs!'
Slugger gave an answering snore!
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2012, 10:37:38 PM »
The childrens Ride Past had been mainly organised by Ron and Steve but the restaurant meal was planned by Dora who spent ages on the phone tracking down people from all parts of Slugger's past. She was excited and apprehensive at the same time. Steve asked Millie to babysit Jeff so he could take Dora out to unwind.
'But I need an early night Steve' she protested as he helped her on with her smart blue coat.
'We won't be long.' He drove to 'The Wayfarer, their favourite hotel and restaurant. The manager greeted them 'Steve, Dora-you're not booked in are you? It's alright we're not busy tonight.'
'Sorry Sam we're just here for a drink.'
Take it through to the lounge, there's a lovely fire in there and Paul's playing the piano.They settled down on the burgundy leather settee and Dora visibly relaxed. 'This was just what I needed' she said sipping pineapple juice and chewing nuts.
'Tomorrow we can finally tell Slugger our good news-then everyone else.' said Steve.
'I want to wait until after the party though-no big announcement'
'Okay.' After he'd drunk his half of lager Steve asked if she was ready to go home and Dora said perhaps they could have a hot chocolate which they drank with slow enjoyment, and then her eyelids began to droop.
When they got back Steve suggested a short while down by the lake. They both loved it in the moonlight it was peaceful and still and calmed Dora. That night however the dream
about Slugger and the colonel came back and she awoke sweating and frightened. 'It's all those nuts' said Steve trying to make light of the situation. 'Let's have a soak in the bubble bath. We don't have to do chores today- Tony's bringing his girlfriend over to help him with our horses and Ron, Hazel, Ben and George are sorting Follyfoot. I'm going to get
 Slugger up and dressed so you have a lazy morning. I'll get Jeff up and make breakfast.
The post brought lots of cards. Slugger had said he didn't want presents but they clubbed together and bought him a whiskey decanter and glasses and a bottle of Bells.A new shirt and tie was also produced and he was not allowed to wear his old hat. His hair shone like silver. 'Blimey you've done me up like a dogs dinner. Where'we off to anyway?'
'You'll see' said Steve as he and Ron helped him into the car-the wheelchair was in the back.
'Do we have ter take that fing?'
'Well if you think me and Steve are going to give ourselves hernias carting you about think again.' said Ron.
The first person Slugger saw when they entered the restaurant was Sergeant Thomas Delaney who was standing underneath a painting of Red Rum.
'Tommy-by all that's wonderful where did you come from? I heard you was dead!'
'I heard the same about you- can't believe all you hear Slugger.'
'Hello Uncle Slugger' said a soft voice in his ear.
'Kaitlin-is it you?'
'Aye- over from the Emerald Isle to share your 70th with you. Mum and dad are sorry they can't come but they've both not been well. They're going to phone you at the farm tonight-but look who I have brought. My husband Seamus and our little Bridie.' She placed a little blonde blue eyed moppet on Slugger's lap.
'Kaitlin's dad Finbar was my best man when I married Tiny' Slugger smiled down at Bridie. Jeff struggled in Dora's arms holding his hands out to Slugger.
'Let's go meet some other people' said Steve pushing Slugger through into the bar area. Soon he was surrounded by his sister and her husband, a niece and nephew with their families, old soldiers and business acquaintances. Then an elderly lady, also in a wheelchair was pushed to his side. 'Remember me old friend?' she asked.
'Ah Rosa- how could I forget you. Night after night I stood there watching while Fearless Francis threw those knives at you. I was so scared but I couldn't look away.'
'Then it was my turn to watch you fight in the ring. How many times did I patch you up after some lucky punter landed a punch on you.'
'I want Rosa ter sit next ter me please. We have a lot to catch up on.'
Steve wheeled him to his place while Ron took charge of Rosa's chair. Dora sat on Slugger's other side. 'No stew today!' she whispered.
'Stew's good-int that right Rosa me darlin?'
'Not yours so I hear' said Rosa giggling like a schoolgirl.
Minestrone soup was followed by roast lamb with mint sauce, garden peas, yorkshire pudding, carrots and roast and creamed potatoes. Dessert was black forest gateau. Afterwards they drank champagne with the birthday cake. 'Are you going to propose a toast?' Dora asked Steve.
'I think you should do it love!' So Dora rose to her feet amidst loud applause.
'Slugger means so much to all of us here. It's a fitting tribute that so many of you said 'yes' to the invitation. To Steve and Ron and I he's been like a dad sometimes a favourite uncle at others but always our best friend. Please raise your glasses and wish Slugger Jones a very Happy Birthday. ' Slugger smiled a little smile to himself and winked at Ron who banged on the table with a spoon 'Pray silence ladies, gents and anyone else for the Birthday Boy.'Once again Slugger grinned to himself.
'I just wanna say fanks to you all for coming- and thanks to my adopted family for organising this 'ere fantastic shindig.'  There was a spontaneous round of applause. 'As you know Tiny and I lost our little Christopher and we weren't blessed with any more children but along came Ron, Dora and Steve to brighten up my life. Now there's Hazel, Ben, Callie. Teri, Tony and little Jeff then there's George and Vi, Milly and Bert and my own family too. I really am richly blest and as Tiny Tim was wont to say 'God Bless us every one!' More applause followed and then the party began to go their separate ways. Dora had a headache and Jeff was almost asleep so George and Vi took Slugger home in their car.
Later in the day Steve asked Dora if she wanted to go and say goodnight to Slugger but she said she felt very tied and would see him in the morning. Steve arrived at Follyfoot to find Ron and Slugger having a nightcap. 'Well Slugs have you had a good birthday?'
Slugger began to laugh out loud. 'Ah well you see today's not me real birthday- I suppose you might say it's an unofficial one. My birthday is actually not March 31st but April 1st! See you know what blokes in the forces is like. I didn't want to go through the army being called an April Fool so I lied about the date. Even when I got married Tiny and me carried on the game. I can just imagine the shennanikins you lot would have got up to if you'd known. But you asked about my day- it was fantastic-the best unofficial or official birthday I've ever had and I'll treasure it for as long as I live-however long or short the rest of my life is. Now come on Steve-have a nightcap with us. We're wetting young Stryker junior's head a bit early-just in case.
When Steve got home Dora was sound asleep so he told her about Slugger's official birthday the next day. 'So you can still tell him our news on his birthday. Dora was looking out of the window and suddenly cried out. 'Look Steve- a magpie one magpie it's happening again! Steve anxiously scanned the sky. It's okay I saw another one!' he lied,

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2012, 11:10:32 PM »
After breakfast Steve walked down to Follyfoot. To his surprise Slugger wasn't in his normal chair by the fire.' Slugger says yeaterday wore him out and he doesn't want to get up yet.'
Steve walked through to Slugger's bedroom and was pleased to see him awake and looking at him 'Okay Slugs?'
'Just having a bit of a lie in. I'm glad you're here son. I need to tell you something. All my papers are in a tin box under my bed. You'll find instructions for my funeral there. I don't want to be cremated. I want to be buried with my Tiny and Christopher.'
'When the time comes we'll do exactly as you want Slugs but you don't want to be worrying about that yet. Dora will be down to see you this afternoon. There's still some cake left. Do you want me to come back before I go home for lunch and help George get you up?'
'Ta Steve. That'd be good.'
'See you later then.' Steve went to find Ron. 'Do you think Teri could pop in and take a look at Slugger Ron. He's never had a lie in before even when he'd just got out of hospital but today he just doesn't seem to want to get up.'
'Okay mate-but probably yesterday took it out of him.'
'That's what he said- oh I dunno Ron I'm just not happy about him.'
When Teri went in Slugger was asleep and he was still sleeping when Steve and George went to get him up.' Come on Slugs, let's be having you, Vi's made your favourite steak and kidney pie for lunch.'
'I'm not hungry thanks. I'll just have a cup of tea with a small tot of whiskey in it- bit of a pick me up then perhaps I'll feel like getting up.'
No amount of encouragement from Steve or George would budge Slugger and Steve went home to Dora with a heavy heart. 'Slugger's a bit under the weather today love, he's not up yet so leave it a while before you come down this afternoon. I've got to school Jacaranda- you can bring Jeff down and take him to see Slugger for a little while then when I've finished I'll come in for tea and cake.'
When Dora and Jeff arrived Slugger was sitting in his chair with his eyes closed.
'Hello uccle sugger' Said Jeff and his eyes opened. He looked at Dora and a puzzled frown crossed his face.' Tiny?' he said. 'Is Christopher okay?'
'Slugs-it's me, Dora, and my little boy, Jeff. '
'Is the colonel coming over today. Ron'll be in trouble if he does. He's been skiving again. I saw him asleep in the barn when I went outside earlier on.' Dora bit her lip and carried Jeff over to where Vi was making pastry. 'Will you keep an eye on him please Vi- I need to see Steve.'
' Do you want to make a dough man Jeff?' asked Vi and the little boy nodded. 'Let's wash your hands then.'
Her eyes misted over with tears Dora ran outside and the first person she saw was Ron.
'What's up girl?'
'It's Slugger-he's not making any sense.'
'I'll get Teri- he was asleep when she went in earlier.' Steve was just rubbing down Jacaranda when he saw Dora coming towards him. 'Oh Steve- come and see Slugger I'm really scared for him!'
Teri was kneeling on the floor holding Slugger's hand. 'You know who I am don't you?'
'Course I do mother. You're looking well. Is that dad with you?'
Dora's hand flew to her mouth and she buried her face in Steve's shirt.'
'I think perhaps we'll send for the doctor.' said Teri.
'Oh- is someone not well. I'm parched Tiny, can you make me a cup of tea?'
George put the kettle on and made strong tea for everyone. 'Piece of cake Slugs?' asked Ron. 'Don't mind if I do Ron.' Dora held Slugger's cup out to him and he took a great swallow 'Blimey that's hot!' Dora smiled as Slugger seemed to be coming back to himself , Steve brought him cake. 'Thanks colonel sir. Where's Christopher? Come on son- have a piece of your birthday cake. The others all looked at him and Teri went to the hall to the telephone. The cake plate clattered to the floor. Slugger's eyes were closed again and he seemed to have dropped off. 'I think perhaps we should take Jeff home now' said Steve. 'Ron and I will get Slugger back to bed.' said George. Milly and Bert had gone out for a walk so there was no-one to look after Jeff. 'I'll go wait for the doctor' said Steve and when he's been I'll come back and you can pop back and see him.' By the time Steve got back Milly and Bert had arrived home so they took charge of Jeff while Dora and Steve went to the farm togther. 'The doctor thinks Slugger's picked up an infection. He's taken some blood and given him an injection. Ron and Teri were in the kitchen. Steve and Dora went into Slugger's bedroom where he lay in bed muttering to himself. 'Slugs- I've got some news for you' said Dora. 'I'm going to have another baby.' 'That's good news luv' he said opening his eyes and looking straight at her. 'It's good that Christopher won't be an only child.' 'I can't bear this Steve! He doesn't know who we are!'
'It's the infection darling- when the drugs take effect he'll be better. Go home now and come back in he morning. I'll sit with him for a while. ' He asked Ron to walk her back then returned to Slugger's bedside. An hour or so later Slugger opened his eyes and smiled at Steve. 'Get us another cuppa Steve' he said. Pleased that recognition seemed to have dawned Steve did as he had been asked and when he managed to drink it his hopes were raised. 'Just got to go back to the bungalow and see to our horses Slugs then I'll be back to say Goodnight. Slugger seemed to be asleep already.' Dora was glad to hear that Slugger had recognised Steve before going back to sleep.  'Say goodnight to him for me Steve.' As he walked back through the woods Steve heard the noise of an ambulance very close and it arrived at the farm just as he did. He ran to the door. Vi stood in the kitchen her apron held up to her eyes. Ron sat in Slugger's chair head in hands with Teri's hand on his shoulder. Ben and Hazel stood with their arms around each other staring out of the kitchen window. George came out of the bedroom shaking his head sadly. When the lifeless body of Slugger Jones was taken to the ambulance his face was covered with a blanket. Steve turned it back as the stretcher passed him. 'Dora said to say 'Goodnight' he said running his hand over the weathered cheek.' As he turned to go home he saw her coming towards him. She had been feeding Jeff when she'd heard the ambulance and carried on with what she was doing so that the little boy would not have his routine upset. Milly had been in the bungalow peparing tyheir evening meal and was now looking after Jeff.' No--o 'she cried as she saw the ambulance crew loading the still form into the ambulance.' 'I'm sorry love- even I was too late to see him alive but I did say goodnight to him for you.' Dora wanted to say her own goodbye so she climbed into the ambulance and kissed Slugger's cold cheek. Steve helped her down and together with all the others they stood and watched as Slugger Jones was driven away from them.
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2012, 11:32:36 PM »
Many of the same people who had attended Slugger's birthday party also attended the funeral service held in the church where he had proudly stood and watched Dora and Steve
exchange their wedding vows. His wish was to be buried in his regimental blazer. It didn't seem right for him to wear his old bobble hat but it was placed in the coffin with him along with one of Copper's old horseshoes and a pair of boxing gloves which had hung on the wall in his room. Kaitlin, his niece with her husband and daughter, Thomas Delaney and Rosa had come to pay their last respects. Elizabeth and Sean O'Sullivan, Cleo, Mr. Plum, Clegg the builder and The Willen family rubbed shoulders with Chip and Wendy Lockwood, the latter insisting she had always had a soft spot for Slugger. The brass plate on the coffin bore the name Samuel Armisted Jones. Steve, Ron, Ben and Tony helped to carry the coffin in and out of the church where Rev. Carmichael presided. Dora, Hazel, Callie, Anna, Millie, Bert and Slugger's family followed the coffin in. Teri was already seated in the pew with Jeff beside her. Throughout the service he sat between his parents fortunately not understanding what was going on. There were those who had shaken their heads and said it was no place for a child but all of those closest to him wanted to attend the service and having him to care for helped in some small way. The eulogy was brief because other people wanted to pay tribute to Slugger. Ron, who had not told any jokes since Slugger died managed to quip that he hoped that Slugger would enjoy properly cooked eggs and bacon in heaven and definitely no stew. Dora holding tightly to Steve's hand spoke of the way she had leant on Slugger during her early days at Follyfoot and how he had always been ready to listen and give advice which she admitted she did not always take. Steve said he had come to love Slugger like a favourite uncle and how he had provided a steadying hand on his life. Sluggers real nephew, Raymond who had followed his uncle into the forces and came in his uniform spoke for his mother saying how happy Slugger had been when Colonel Maddocks had offered him a job after he left the forces and of the respect he always had for his former commanding officer. When the procession left the church a recording of the regimental slow march was played. Most of those attending did not go the extra 20 miles to the cemetery where Slugger was being buried but went their separate ways with close friends returning to the bungalow where Vi and Hazel acted as hostesses. Ben and Tony took charge of Jeff to allow Dora and Steve to grieve at the graveside without upsetting the little boy. They were glad when the day was over but their troubles were not yet at an end. Dora had an appointment with her midwife two days later. She wanted to cancel but Steve persuaded her to keep it. 'I'm sorry Dora, Steve but I think you need to go to the hospital. I'm not happy about a couple of things'
It could have been shock that brought about the tragic loss of the 13 week old foetus that no-one else except Milly and Bert knew about. Dora felt empty and numb. She had cried all her tears for Slugger now she spent her days sitting staring at Jeff's shawl which she had carefully washed and wrapped in tissue after his christening and which she had been looking forward to using for her new little one. Steve wanted to tell other people but she insisted they already had too much grief to bear. Three days after the loss of the baby she calmly said to Steve 'I need to go away from here. I can't cope with Jeff. I can't bear to se Milly so unhappy and I can't go to Follyfoot. It's all getting on top of me.'
'We'll go together. Vi will look after Jeff.'
'No Steve. I want to be on my own.'
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2012, 11:00:52 PM »
'But where will you go?'
I've rung Anna. She and Ralph have plenty of room in the farmhouse. They're going to start doing bed and breakfast in the summer.'
'When do you want to go?'
'Later today- I'm going to go and pack a few things now.'
Jeff was down at Follyfoot with Vi. Steve felt in desperate need of someone to talk to but Milly was very upset herself. Steve walked outside hands thrust into the pockets of his jeans and met Bert who'd been to buy a newspaper.' Hello son-you feeling okay?'
'Not really Bert- it's Dora- she says she wants to go and spend some time away from us all. She's already rung Anna. I dunno if it's the right thing to do Bert but I don't want to upset her any more by having a row.'
'Steve- I know about you losing the baby.Milly needed to talk to someone and she knows I wouldn't tell another soul. I know it's hard for you but women feel these things deeper than we do. We have to be strong. '
'I am trying to be Bert-maybe I'm not doing a very good job and that's why she feels the need to grieve by herself. I've failed her.'
'No Steve-you mustn't think that. You've been looking after young Jeff and trying to make things as normal as possible for him as well as doing some of the chores.'
'It's not enough obviously Bert. I love her so much. I don't want us to be apart.'
I know how much you care Steve and because you do-let her go. I don't reckon she'll stay away long.' Steve nodded sadly. 'Okay.'
He persuaded her to stay until Jeff was safely in bed. They had explained to him that mummy was really sad about uncle Slugger dying and was going to stay with auntie Anna for a while. 'Jeff sad too.'
'I know mate. We all are but uncle Slugger would want us to carry on as if he was still here. Mummy needs a bit of a rest before she can do that and if you want to see her I'll take you. That's okay isn't it love?' Dora nodded,tears beginning to form. Bert had said he would babysit and when he arrived Steve loaded Dora's bag into the car and they drove to Ralph and Anna's.
'This is good of you Anna- we're quite willing to pay the going B and B rate.' said Steve.
'You certainly will not. I don't charge my friends! You two haven't had a row have you?'
'No.' said Dora. 'I just need a break and Steve's being very understanding.' He picked up her bag and Anna told him which room was to be Dora's. In the privacy of the bedroom Steve took her in his arms and held her close kissing the top of her head and then her lips.
'Don't stay away too long darling. Do you realise this is the first time we've spent the night apart since the day I moved into your room. You do know how much I love you don't you?'
'Of course- and I love you too. I've got a lot more tears to shed Steve and I don't want to upset other people. Anna and Ralph will be busy outside on the farm. I can be on my own.'
'Call me if you need me-any time even if it's the middle of the night.' He sketched a final salute and hurriedly turned away so she would not see the distress in his face. He sat outside in the car for quite some time composing himself.' Should I go out to him?' asked Ralph. 'No-leave him. Steve is in some ways still a very private person.'
Later Anna tapped on Dora's door and said she'd brought her some Ovaltine. 'I've not had this since I was little!' she said.' Nanny used to make it for me.'
'Shall I bring you some breakfast tomorrow? We're usually up at around 6.'
'No thanks. I've not been sleeping properly. The doctor gave me some tablets but I've not been taking them. Tonight I will and with the hot drink too I'll probably sleep like a log.'
This however was far from the truth. She tossed and turned and thumped the pillow missing the feel of two strong arms holding her and soothing her when the bad dreams came. She heard Ralph and Anna downstairs and looked at the clock as she'd done so many times during the night. She went to the bathroon for a glass of water and downed two more tablets. Finally she slept and only woke when Anna knocked to say it was lunchtime. She went downstairs in her dressing gown and ate some of the delicious home made soup Anna set before her. The bread was homemade too. Anna and Ralph went back to work. Dora picked up a piece of the crusty bread and remembered when Ron had sat and toasted doorstops of the bread made by Mr Plum. Slugger always cut thick slices and she and Steve would spread them with butter and marmalade. It was then that the storm broke and the tears flowed freely. 'Oh Slugs-I miss you so much.' She reached in her pocket for a handkerchief and her fingers closed round a small fluffy yellow chick that Milly had knitted for Jeff. She was going to ask her to knit one for the new baby. She clasped her stomach and rocked backwards and forwards sobbing and sobbing until she felt she had no tears left. Then she went to the upstairs bathroom and splashed cold water on her face. She had a dreadful headache and took more tablets. She curled up on the bed in the foetal position and slept undisturbed until the next morning.
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2012, 11:35:08 PM »
Steve was not happy. He had spent a very restless night when he'd dropped Dora off and felt out of sorts the next morning. Jeff was very unsettled and Milly did not feel like playing with him. Steve took him out with him in his buggy when he went to feed the horses but unusually for him he grizzled and said 'cold daddy'.  Steve snapped at him and was instantly sorry lifting him into his arms and cuddling him close. 'Daddy's sorry Jeff. I'm missing mummy.'
'I miss mummy' said Jeff screwing up his little face and beginning to sob loudly. Bert came out of Milly's annex. 'What's all the noise about young man?'
'He's missing Dora-we both are.'
'I reckon she's missing you too. How about uncle Bert plays with your cars with you while daddy finishes here?'
'Thanks Bert.We should be going through this together Dora and I.' Bert patted him on the shoulder. Hang on in there son!'
That night Jeff would not settle and in the end Steve, who was extremely tired took him into bed with him and fell asleep cuddling him.
Once again Anna had to rouse Dora and tell her lunch was ready. Ralph and I have had ours. I've left you some ham rolls in the fridge. Dora reached out for her tablets swallowing two with some juice. Anna looked at the bottle. 'How many of those have you taken?'
'Oh it's okay. The doctor said I could take a couple when I needed to. '
Anna took the bottle. 'But Dora- this says take two at night. Don't have any more till bedtime. I have to go now. We're going into market later on- anything you want or perhaps you'd like to come.'
'No thanks. I'll maybe go for a walk later.'
She lay there for some time before going downstairs to drink black coffee and eat one of the rolls Anna had left. She sat staring out of the window and when Anna came in to say they were just off she said she was ready to go for a walk and took her coat from the peg.
Anna took it from her gently. 'Best get dressed first eh love' Ralph found he had a puncture so they were still in the yard when Dora emerged.
'Where are you off to Dora?'
'The cemetery.'
'Slugger's not buried there.'
'I know.' Anna went into the house and phoned Follyfoot. Steve was not there so she phoned the bungalow. She had left some carrots and potatoes out ready for peeling and Dora must have tried to help by starting the job. Anna picked up a potato- there was not much left she had peeled it very thickly. 'I really ought to have gone with her ' she said to Ralph.'She'll be okay.'
'I hope so. She's had too many tablets if you ask me !'
'Steve'll find her.'
Dora didn't hear him approach. She was sobbing uncontrollably standing by the headstone that bore the inscription 'Sacred to the memory of Sarah Maddocks with the date of her death then there was the colonel's name. He wasn't buried there, his ashes were under his tree at Follyfoot. 'Dora-darling are you okay?' She turned into his arms.
'How did you find me?'
'Anna rang- she was worried about you. Said you'd been taking more tablets than you should. '
'I'm okay-the fresh air has woken me up. I just want to go into the church for a minute or two. ' She took a couple of steps away from Steve but suddenly felt dizzy and put her hand on the gravestone to steady herself. Steve took her arm and led her into the church which was usually kept open during daylight hours. They sat down and Dora bowed her head. After a few minutes she raised it and stared ahead. 'I'll take you back to Anna's when you're ready.'
'N-no'
'Well if you really want me to I'll leave you alone but not until I'm sure you're ok.'
'I don't want you to go Steve-but I don't want to go back to Anna's either. I want to come home. I need to be with you.' Steve breathed a sigh of relief and kissed her wet face. 'Thank heavens. Jeff and I have missed you so badly these last two nights.'
'I've cried and cried, given myself a headache, taken tablets and Anna was right. I've had too many. I've been in a daze on the way here. There's a fresh grave there near uncles and seeing that with it's covering of wreaths brought back Slugger's funeral all over again and that's why I was crying. Now I've given myself a fresh headache.'
'No more tablets girl!'
'No Steve.'
They left the church hand in hand and Steve helped her into the estate car. Anna had decided not to go with Ralph in case Dora came back and she waved away Dora's apology at the way she'd been over the two days she'd spent at the farm. 'You're doing the right thing. Just remember I'm here if you want to talk. Dora thanked her and they hugged. Steve gave Anna a brotherly kiss. 'Thanks for everything.' Dora nodded off on the short drive back to the bungalow. Steve stopped off at Follyfoot to tell everyone Dora was back and Vi said she'd send George over with steak and kidney pie for supper. Bert said Jeff had cried himself to sleep and had been in a very cross mood. Dora went and kissed him
'Wake up sleepyhead-mummy's home.'
Two little arms crept round her neck and Steve enveloped both of them in his.
'It won't be easy girl but we'll get through this together.'
As they sat eating their evening meal with Bert and a very quiet Milly Bert said I don't know if this is the right time but I have something I want to ask you.



linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2012, 10:42:34 PM »
(Sorry Marie!)

'You know how I love being here and it's been great to share Milly's annex but somehow I don't feel quite right about it. I was wondering whether it would be ok if I moved down to the farmhouse.' Steve held his breath and waited for an explosion from Dora. Instead she said 'Let's give it a few more days then we'll sit down with Vi and George and see what's best for everyone.'
'You're not offended are you Milly?' asked Bert.
'No of course not. I'm just glad I have been able to offer you a home.'
When they were alone later Dora said ' You don't think Milly wanted to have a closer relationship with Bert do you?'
'No-she knows Kathy was the one he wanted and he won't settle with anyone
else . Personally I think he's mistaken. Milly would make him a lovely wife.'
'She's taken Slugger's death very hard. She was very fond of him you know.'
'Mmmn but her Brian was the only man she wanted.'
'Perhaps we should refuse to let Bert move to Follyfoot.'
'Don't interfere Dora. What will be will be. I'm so glad you didn't make a fuss when Bert suggested the move.'
'It won't do any harm to talk about it.'
'You know I reckon Bert wants the security of another man about the place. He and George get on well.' Dora tried hard to stifle a yawn without success. 'I reckon I'm still feeling the effects of all those pills.'
'Why don't you go to bed?' said Steve kissing the back of her neck.
'It's not nine o'clock yet.'
'I know-but if you're tired you should go. I won't be long.'
'Steve- I c-cant---'
'I know. I only want to hold you close so we can comfort each other.' Dora went to look in on Jeff. Earlier  realising the importance of making Jeff feel secure they'd shared his bedtime routine which now involved sailing the boat his grandparents had sent him in their spacious bath. He was smiling in his sleep cuddling his favourite bear, Eddy. Dora gently kissed his cheek and went off to bed where she was soon sleeping without the aid of tablets. Steve soon joined her lying close to her back . He felt the tension that had been inside him drain away as he listened to the sound of her regular breathing and soon he was asleep too. He woke early next morning to the sound of Dora sobbing. She'd done this before she'd gone to Anna's. He knew she would continue to grieve for both Slugger and the baby for quite some time but he was worried that she woud give herself another headache and resort to pills again.He held her close whispering soothing words to her punctuated with butterfly kisses. 'I'm s -sorry S- Steve. Early mornings seem to be my worst t-time.'
'It's okay. Why don't I run us a relaxing bath?'
In the warmth of the water Dora relaxed as Steve gently massaged her shoulders. Later as she lay drowsily in his arms she said 'Steve-I want to give our baby a name so we don't have to keep saying 'it' when we're talking together.'
'That's a lovely idea but we don't know whether we were having a boy or a girl.'
'I thought about Laurie-that can be either.'
'When we plant a tree for Slugger we'll plant one for Laurie too.'
'Can we go and choose one on Sunday then we can plant it on Easter Day.'
'Sure. Now do you think you can manage to look after Jeff today so I can get on with some work. I've really been relying on the others a lot lately.'
'I'd love to work with you so can I bring Jeff to the farm?'
'That's a good idea. 'm sure everyone will want to see him He'll cheer them up.'
                             
linda-norfolk dumpling