Author Topic: The rough and the smooth.  (Read 11167 times)

Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #30 on: June 16, 2012, 12:17:15 AM »
He raised his hand and tried to smile but instead the tears that he'd been holding back began to fall as he saw the worried look on his wife's face. She cradled him against her rocking backwards and forwards her tears mingling with his own. Then holding him away she noticed his hands which he'd been careful to hold away from his body. 'Steve what happened? Your poor hands!'
'Just surface burns Dora. I got off lightly!'
A young policeman arrived.
'Mr. Ross. Your car has been brought to the hospital- not that you'll be able to drive it for a while but here's your keys. We'll need to take a statement from you later.'
'So the car wasn't badly damaged.' said Ron.
'It wasn't damaged at all. I wasn't involved in the accident.'
'Then how---' enquired Dora.
'I don't want to talk about it- okay? Can you find a nurse or someone. I want to go home. They said I could go soon.'
'I'll go' offered Ron.
A harassed looking young doctor appeared a few minutes later.
 'As far as we're concerned you're free to go' he said. 'But I have to warn you the press are lurking out there. They want to speak to you. Call at the desk for some painkillers on your way out.'
Dora looked puzzled. Appearing once more Ron put his hand on his friend's shoulder.
'Seems like our Steve's a bit of a hero'
'Leave it Ron. I'm saying nothing to the press. Do you think you'll be okay to drive the car Dora, if not we'll have to leave it here and get someone to fetch it later. You did come in your car and not the Tiger, Ron?'
'Yes we did.' said Dora. 'But now I know you're not too badly hurt I'll be able to drive.'
Steve got to his feet and walked out of the cubicle to the admissions desk where Dora was handed some instructions about dealing with his injury as well as the painkillers. Before he could avoid them several flash guns went off and he was approached by some determined looking reporters. The young policeman appeared at his side.
'My superintendent say we can come and see you at home tomorrow for your statement, sir. Now if you people would move aside I'll see Mr. and Mrs Ross to their car.'
'Please, Mr. Ross, just a few words for 'The Examiner' - you know me Diana James. I've been to Follyfoot some years ago for riding lessons.'
Dora smiled kindly at Diana.
'I remember you- but I'm sorry, Steve just wants to go home. '
'Too right!' said Steve. 'I have no comments for any newspapers.'
'I'll follow you home' said Ron.
'It's okay- we know the way- and actually I could do with some fish and chips. I'm really hungry. I'm afraid that you're going to have to feed me girl.'
'I will if you promise to tell me what happened this afternoon.'
'Later girl, later- all I'll say for now is- it started with a puncture!'
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2012, 10:56:59 PM »
Steve stood looking tenderly down at his sleeping son stretching out his hand to gently touch Jeff's face relaxed in sleep.He stood for long minutes watching until at last Dora called to say that his fish and chips were ready. Milly and Bert who had been babysitting said to be sure and let them know at any time if they were needed. Steve had a couple of uninjured fingers on both hands and actually managed to eat his meal quite well. He surprised himself for although he was very hungry he wondered whether his stomach would actually tolerate the food given the things he had witnessed that afternoon. He saw the questioning look in Dora's eyes and knew that he could not face telling her about the accident tonight. He picked up the leather jacket the police had returned to him at the hospital and held it up so Dora could see the damage.
'Can't wear this anymore-it's ruined!'
'Never mind darling,it had seen better days. We'll get you a new one.'
Some things aren't so easily replaced' he said throwing it down again wincing as the zip chafed his hand.
continued.
He headed for the bathroom and Dora heard him call her. 'Come and help me undo my blasted jeans!'
Then he went to the fridge and looked inside. There were a couple of cans of lager in there but he shook his head and said. 'I'm going to the pub!'
'Do you want some company?'
'No- I'd rather be on my own and anyway we don't want Milly to have to turn out again tonight!'
Seeing the crestfallen look on Dora's face he dropped his voice. 'Sorry girl-don't wait up. I'll be late back!'
Dora knew that he would have to walk across the fields in the dark. 'Be careful how you go!'
He brushed her cheek briefly with his lips and managed to put his suede coat on with difficulty. Dora had to fasten it for him. She took care of the small amount of washing up, checked on Jeff then sat down in front of the television not caring what she watched but glad of the company.
It was an hours walk to the nearest pub and all the way Steve was haunted by disturbing memories. He began to wonder whether this had been such a good idea. He knew that the next day making his statement to the police would force him to face up to things but tonight he intended to seek the oblivion that he hoped he would find at the bottom of a glass .His face felt damp but it wasn't raining. He tasted the salt of his tears which now were flowing freely. As well as burns he had some cuts on his hands and as he clumsily swatted at his face the tears washed them. He stopped as the lights of the pub came into view and composed himself. He didn't normally use this pub and hoped that he wouldn't meet anyone he knew. The last thing he wanted was conversation, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
Dora gave up trying to concentrate on the programme about otters which normally she would have found fascinating. She worried about Steve- would he manage to hold a glass and what if he needed the loo again? She'd close her eyes for a few minutes, mentally exhausted she drifted into an uneasy sleep punctuated by dreams. Steve was confined in a cage which didn't seem to have a door. She was frantically looking for a way to get him out while he simply sat in a corner. The he was down a deep dry well. She let down a rope but he made no attempt to climb out. She would have to get someone to go down and bring him out. The opening music of the local 10.15 news jolted her awake. Pictures from the aftermath of the crash flashed on the screen. The tangled wreck of the police car and the ford zephyr it was chasing. The coach with a massive dent in the side. On the grass a child's teddy bear, very much the worse for wear sat forlornly waiting in vain to be picked up and loved again. The camera zoomed in and stayed on the shot for several seconds as details of what happened were told.
The driver and the front seat passenger of the zephyr, both young men in their twenties were  catapulted through the windscreen and killed instantly. A young woman had been lying on the back seat with a sleeping child in her arms. The car had caught fire and they were trapped. A young man who had been first on the scene had pulled them out . He was not named but Dora knew who it was because it was said that he beat at the flames with his leather jacket. The woman and child had survived but were badly injured as were the two young policemen in the chasing car. They were rescued by  officers in a second police car which had been on its way to join the chase.The coach driver had managed to steer away from crashing head on but the vehicle had been hit in the side. The shock had brought on a heart attack and the driver had died at the wheel. Several of the coach passengers had been thrown from their seats and injured. One little boy had been kneeling on his seat and looking out of the window. He had not survived.
This then was what Steve had been caight up in- small wonder that he was reluctant to talk about it to her.
As the news finished the phone rang sending a chill down Dora's spine.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2012, 12:05:48 AM »
'Ello girl- it's me- just ringing to make sure everything's okay. We've just been watching the news.'
Me too!. Oh Ron- Steve went out a couple of hours ago- said he was going to the pub. He couldn't drive of course. He told me not to wait up because he'd be back late- but I just can't face going to bed yet!'
'I would have gone with him if he'd asked.'
'He said he wanted to be alone. I'm worried about him Ron.'
'I'll go out on the Tiger and see if I can find him. Reckon he'll head for the nearest boozer. Don't you worry- he'll be okay.'
Milly and Bert had also seen the news and had decided to check on Steve too. They knocked on the door and called softly. Dora, her senses heightened and alert for the slighest sound let them in and fell into Milly's arms sobbing out her worries about Steve's state of mind. Milly told Bert to put the kettle on.
'Come on love, don't take on. He's a grown man and he'll take care of himself.'
'Ron's gone out on the Tiger to look for him.'
'Good- ee I think I can hear young Jeff- you stay there I'll see if I can settle him.' She often babysat at short notice if Dora and Steve both had to go out so he was not surprised to see her and a few gentle words soon sent him back to sleep.
Ron picked the right pub first time. Steve was propping up the bar. Ron hid a grin as he noticed Steve's empty glass had a straw in it. He went to the telephone booth and phoned first Dora and then Follyfoot.
Steve felt a slap on his back.
'Wotcher mate-drowning your sorrows?' Steve raised his empty brandy glass to Ron:
'Want one?'
'Na mate, I'm driving. Bit of luck you aint! How many have you had?'
'Only three.' Steve signalled to the landlord that he wanted another one . Ron shook his head.
'I don't think so mate. Give him a black coffee Jack please'
'Leave me alone Ron!'
'Sorry mate- no can do. Dora's upset enough as it is. We need to sober you up a bit.'
'I told you. I'm not drunk. I've only had time for three. Having to drink through a shhtraw because of my hand has con- concen- made the alcohol sshtronger that's all!'
'It's more the fact that the brandies were doubles' said the landlord setting the coffee down before Steve.
'Get that down you and we'll go get some fresh air. George is coming to pick you up. Can't trust you on the back of the Tiger.'
'I need the little boysh room Ron. You're gonna have to help me undo me drawers.'
'Blimey- needing a nursemaid at your age!'
A few minutes later when they were outside Steve said 'Gissus a fag Ron!'
'Cor you must be feeling bad!' Ron took out a packet of Players and put one in Steve's mouth flicking his lighter and making the cigarette glow into life. Steve inhaled deeply and began coughing violently.
'If you're gonna be sick go do it in the lav!'
'No- I'm ok.' To Ron's surprise Steve smoked all of it. 'Bit stronger than the ones we used to roll ourselves in reform school that's all!'
'Dear, dear, dear, you're going home reeking of booze and fags- hope for your sake you don't have lipstick on your collar or your name'll really be mud! Want another ciggie? These aren't my normal brand. Mate of mine's been abroad and brought back some duty free. Don't smoke much himself so he's been giving them away. '
'No more, thanks mate.' Steve was feeling a bit more himself and was wondering what sort of welcome he would get from Dora. George pulled up driving Steve's estate car.
'Right lad- let's get you home. I've brought a bucket just in case.'
Ron roared off on the Tiger to tell Dora Steve would soon be back. Knowing he wouldn't want an audience Milly and Bert went home.
'Want me to stay and give you a hand with him?' asked Ron.
'No thanks. I'll manage.' Dora undressed and put on her dressing gown. Steve walked in unaided looking sheepish. She took him by the hand into their bedroom helped him undress and got him into the bath, wrapping polythene round his hands she turned the shower full on to cold letting it run for several minutes before shedding her dressing gown, altering the temperature and stepping in with him.
Taking the soap on a rope and making a lather with her hands she began spreading it over his body. Steve gave a long shuddering sigh. 'That feels so good girl.' She finished her ministrations, attended to her own washing then took a large towel and wrapped them both in it. Meticulously she dried every inch of both their bodies-it was almost clinical but when finally they sank into bed she became the loving wife soothing him with words, caresses and kisses until he fell asleep cradled in her arms.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2012, 12:16:24 AM »
Dora woke next morning to the sound of the vacuum cleaner. It was 7 o'clock and she must have slept through the alarm-clearly Steve hadn't. A few minutes later Jeff was deposited on the bed.'Bekfust mummy' he said smothering her face with kisses.
'Come on mate-let mummy get dressed!'
'Should you be using your hands so much Steve?'
Don't fuss- i'm okay!'
As they ate,  the washing machine chunnered away. 'You have been busy darling!'
'Yep- I've done our horses too. I expect the police will be here this morning and I wanted to get ahead. As he picked up the plates he winced slightly. Dora took his hands and looked at them.
'No more heavy work today!' Steve grunted.
'I'm off to Follyfoot- ring when the police arrive and I'll see them here in the office.'
It was actually just after lunch when they arrived and Steve was with them for over an hour. Jeff went down for a nap. After Dora had done the washing up she couldn't settle to anything, her heart and mind were very much with Steve. When he emerged from the study he looked upset. Dora made coffee and Steve went to get Jeff who had just woken up. He cuddled him close. 'Daddy play?'
'Daddy has to work'
'Steve-no!' He downed his coffee and was out of the door before she could stop him. She put Jeff in the buggy. 'Let's go see the donkeys.' she said.
'Where's Steve?' she asked Ron.
'Cleaning tack'
'Take Jeff to see the donkeys please Ron. Steve needs to stop at once!'
She was pleased to see that Steve had at least protected his hands with disposeable gloves.
'Let me do that!'
'I need to occupy myself Dora- can't you see that?'
'You take Jeff home and read to him.'
'Later- I'm going for a ride when I've finished this!'
'Shall I get Milly or Vi to babysit and come with you?'
'No-  won't be long then I'll look after him while you go get a Chinese. I don't think I'd better drive yet.'
The next few days Steve was like a whirlwind finding jobs that didn't really need doing, tackling the household chores anything to keep him active. At night he would go to sleep on the sofa after Jeff was in bed and often during the night he would wake bathed in sweat and go into his son's room to make sure he was okay. Dora grew more and more worried. If only Slugger was still alive. He had always been able to get through to Steve when she couldn't. Kathy phoned to ask him to visit as people wanted to meet her hero son. He refused point blank. Then a letter arrived from the chief constable inviting him and all his family to a reception and award ceremony to be held for people who had been involved in rescue work after the accident. 'I'm not going' said Steve who had not attended the victims' funerals and would gladly miss the inquests if he could. He did not go into the village or Tockwith sending Ron or George to do the errands and if they had a takeaway Dora had to get it. When it was time for Kathy to be taken back to Liverpool  Steve had still hardly driven since the accident. 'Let me come with you and share the driving' Dora said.
'No you stay here with Jeff.'
'We could take him with us.'
'No girl- if anything happned to either of you I'd never forgive myself. '
Dora shared her worries with Milly. 'Ee lass I wish I could drive. How about asking Ron or George to go with Steve?'
'He's already said no to that. It's as if he believes something is going to happen. He's still having nightmares. He used to scoff when I had bad dreams but now...'
'Don't you worry love. I know what to do' said Bert. He rang a friend in Liverpool who had a taxi firm and arranged for Kathy to be picked up by one of his drivers. Bert had been a good friend helping out with free meals when his friend's business was struggling so he would make no charge. Steve was presented with a fait accompli- Dora waited for the strom of protest but none came. She was still hoping to persuade him to go to the presentation. It was three weeks away.  At first Steve made his hands the excuse for not driving  but now they were much better. He seemed to have lost his confidence. Then one day when the family were at Milly's enjoying one of her delicious roast dinners, the telephone rang and the caller asked to speak to Bert.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #34 on: July 09, 2012, 12:07:01 AM »
Bert picked up the telephone and listened for several minutes before saying 'Well Mr. Harper- I can't see a lot of point in coming to see you but if you think it best I suppose I could. Wednesday at 10.30am- yes I'll be there and my wife.'
'Isn't Mr. Harper your hospital consultant?' asked Milly.
'Yes-er look Milly I need to talk to you-would you mind Dora,Steve?'
Picking up Jeff Steve nodded. 'Let's go down to the lake.' he said.
'I wonder what that was all about' said Dora.
'I think I know.' He went on to explain how Bert had destroyed the hospital's letter telling him to make another appointment to discuss his test results as he seemed to have received incorrect information.'
'Why didn't you tell me? We should have made him go!'
'I tried-but he was adamant. Didn't want to worry Milly or you. Well I'm afraid she will be worried now.'
'You'll need to drive them to Leeds.'
'I can't Dora-you know I can't.' Dora had been really supportive over his reluctance to drive. She had taken Milly to her W.I. meetings and Sunday morning church services. She knew she could drive to Leeds but felt that enough was enough. She took Jeff into the farmhouse and asked Vi to mind him.
'Come on Steve. We're going for a drive.'
'Where to?'
'Anywhere you like-you're driving-not me!'
'What did I just say? I damn well won't drive anywhere!'
'Stop being so selfish. Your aunt and Bert need you to be strong for them.'
'I'll get George to drive and I'll go along too.'
'Steve-do you want to spend the rest of your life being a passenger? You need to snap out of it. Once you've got behind the wheel again it'll start to get better. We won't go far today. We've got six days. We'll go a bit further tomorrow. It'll be okay!'
'It'll be dangerous, Dora. A car is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.'
'Steve- you're a good driver. You didn't cause the accident. Now are you going to get into that car or am I going to tell everyone what a silly idiot you're being?' They were standing by the estate car now, Dora dangling the keys in her hand. Reluctantly he opened the passenger door for her and started to walk round to the driver's seat. Dora took both his hands in hers. 'I believe in you. I know you can do this.' Steve looked at her all manner of thoughts buzzing round in his head. 'I can do this.' he said and started the engine. At first he drove slowly just from the bungalow to Follyfoot and back. 'How was it?'
'Okay. I'll try going to the village.' There was not much traffic on the road and Steve drove at 30mph. A couple of other cars passed him. In the village he stopped and turned to Dora. 'Well I can't say it was the most enjoyable experience I've had but I managed didn't I? How about a cream cake to celebrate Miss Bossyboots?'
'Good idea but we'll take them back with us. We'll get everyone a cake-they've all been affected by you not driving but you're going to do it every day now- and you're going to drive Bert to Leeds.' The cakes purchased they headed back home. Steve parked the car and leaned over to kiss Dora.
'Thanks for being patient with me love. I think I'm on the road to recovery.'
'You know what would probably take you a bit further?' He looked at her quizzically 'What?'
' We should go to the presentation. Talking about it with other people who were there will probably help.'
'Too late- I had to reply to the invitation by the weekend and I didn't!'
'No- but I did- and as I'm going to need a new outfit Ill get Teri to mind Jeff and come with you to Leeds.'
'Minx!' he said tapping her on the bottom as she got out of the car.
By the day of Bert's appointment Steve was back to driving whenever he needed to. He dropped Dora in the city centre and she took the spare set of keys. She wasn't a great lover of shopping and thought she would probably be at the car before they were knowing how long the wait normally was at the hospital.
Mr. Harper had no objection to Steve sitting in on the consultation but first he and Milly had to wait outside while he examined Bert. It seemed like an eternity before they were ushered in to Mr. Harper's office.Bert took hold of Milly's hand saying 'Bear up Mil-it's not good news.'







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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2012, 10:43:19 PM »
The rest of the consultation passed in a blur. Frederick Harper had formed a good relationship with Bert during the short time he'd been his consultant. He stood to bid them all farewell with a firm handshake. He held Milly's hand in his for several seconds. 'I'm sorry Mrs. Lane, I really am.I'll see you in a couple of weeks in the pain clinic Bert.'
'I think I'll just rely on taking the stronger painkillers you've prescribed when I need them. Thanks for your time.' Bert strode out followed by Milly. Steve lingered.
'Is there really nothing else you can offer?'
'Palliative treatment is the best I can do Mr. Ross.' Steve made a gesture with his hands that suggested how helpless he felt. 'Let's go get a cup of tea.' he suggested.
Dora was not really a fan of shopping. She liked to have a good idea what she wanted and buy it as quickly as possible. She had favourite shops in Leeds which were only a short bus ride from the hospital. Today she was in luck and in a relatively short time had completed her purchases. She wondered whether to stop for coffee and a cream bun but decided against it. Almost two hours had passed since Steve had dropped her off and she stood looking around for the car. She spotted Steve first standing outside the main entrance hands in the pocket of his jeans, his head down kicking at a discarded drink can in a desultory manner. 'Steve!' He looked up as she called his face a picture of utter dejection.
'What happened- and where are Milly and Bert?' she asked as Steve took her bags and put them in the car.
'I've left them in the cafe. I thought they might appreciate some time to themselves to get to grips with things. Bert's cancer has come back and the only treatment they can give him now is pain relief. There's a pain clinic here and he's got some stronger tablets but he insists he's not in much pain most of the time although he looked pretty rough after the examination.'
'And Milly-how's she?'
'At first she went to pieces but when I left them about ten minutes ago she had calmed down. Says she's going to get her church friends to pray for Bert-as if that'll do any good.'
'At least it's something she can do love-and you never know..' Steve shrugged. 'Do you think we can go in now? I can do with a coffee-strong and black!' she said.
Milly and Bert sat holding hands across the table their tea only half drunk and cooling.
'I'm sorry Mil- I never would have asked you to marry me if I'd thought this was going t'appen so soon.'
'But then we wouldn't have had these few wonderful weeks together.I don't regret them and I'm sure you don't!'
'Of course not- and I think we should go away for another holiday. It's getting quite warm now-the south coast would be good, Southsea maybe. I went there with my parents as a kid. If you had a passport I'd take you abroad.'
'Oh no- we'd best not go too far. What if something happened?' It was at this point that Steve and Dora arrived. When Bert repeated his idea Steve said-
'Go on auntie- we'll only be at the end of the telephone.' Dora added her voice in assent.
'Okay then-why not?'
'And when we get back I'll have to see about that nursing home.'
'You'll do no such thing Bert Lane. I'm looking after you and that's final!' She took a mouthful of tea.
'Ee that's stone cold! Fetch us another cup Steve.'
'And a plate of cream cakes too lad. I know Dora's partial to a cream doughnut.' He reached in his pocket and extracted £1 from his wallet. I'll come with you. I want a quiet word.'
Later Dora told Teri what had happened.
'How sad. Bert's such a sweetie and Milly deserves better. Still hopefully they'll have a good bit longer together.' she said.
'How are you anyway?' asked Dora.'
'Feeling like a beached whale. Now I know how you felt carrying through that hot summer. Six more weeks of this!'
'It might come on my birthday then! August is a busy month for birthdays!.' Jeff was outside with Ron and Steve was telling his friend about Bert in a low voice.
'It don't seem fair mate!' said Ron.
'Life seldom is. Come on Jeff- time we went home.'

contnued next page
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Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #36 on: July 14, 2012, 12:02:47 AM »
continued from earlier tonight.

Next day Bert got on the telephone and booked 'The Tinings' hotel in Southsea for a month starting Monday.
'Well you're coming to church with me on Sunday!' Milly insisted. Bert felt embarrased as after the service she began telling the vicar and her friends about Bert's illness.
'Do come back inside the church for a moment and we'll have a prayer right now.' said Rev. Carmichael.
His wife went too and they sat in the front of the church. The prayer was very simple and asked for strength for both Milly and Bert. Rev. Carmichael placed both hands on Bert's shoulders as he finished his prayers.' The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and grant you His peace.' Milly and Mrs. Carmichael joined in with the 'Amen' and a moment later Bert said it too. He told Milly afterwards that he had felt a strangely comforting warmth as the prayers were said.
Dora and Jeff went with Steve when he drove his aunt and Bert to the station.
'Now remember-call us if you need us!'
Jeff waved his hand enthusiastically enthralled by the sight of the trains,
 the uniformed porters, the sound of the whistle and waving of the flag but most of all he was fascinated by the loudspeaker making announcements. They stood near it and Jeff was looking to see where the person was. On the way out Steve showed him the ticket office and just beyond the clerks  he could see the announcer with his microphone as he began 'The train now standing at platform 4 is the 10am for Liverpool.....' Jeff clapped his hands 'More trains?'
'Not today, but you can come with me when we pick auntie and uncle up.'
As a special treat they had a brunch in Leeds.' We'll be back here in a couple of days for the presentation'
said Dora. 'Oh don't remind me!'
'Come on Steve. It'll do us good. We don't get out that much as a family and the meal looks as though it should be fantastic.'
'You'll have to remind me which cutlery to use- and I'll try and remember not to blow on my soup!'
The afternoon of  the presentation a friend from the playgroup brought her son over to play with Jeff while she did Dora's hair for her. Steve was happy to entertain the two little boys as it kept his mind off the evening to come. They had had a couple of phone calls from Milly telling them all about the wonders of Southsea, She had loved the model village and walking through the castle gardens after dark when the fountain was illuminated. Their hosts were very friendly, the husband had been in the navy and had been wounded still having shrapnel in his leg. Later in the week there was to be a bowls tournament and he was representing Hampshire with his brother in law. Bert was feeling very well and had not resorted to taking the extra strong painkillers. The sea air seemed to suit him.
When Janice and Tom had gone home Jeff rubbed his eyes so Steve read him a story and he went to sleep allowing Steve to shower and change into his silver grey suit. He found that Dora had laid out a new shirt  for him in a shade of deep purple with a matching tie. When Jeff woke she dressed him in a new outfit too-grey trousers and a white shirt. She had wanted to buy a small cravat to complete the look but had a feeling Steve would think it daft and Jeff would find it uncomfortable. Her own outfit was the same shade as Steve's shirt. It was a cotton kaftan and Steve eyed the front zip fastening. 'Don't let Jeff get hold of that ring girl or you'll end up embarrassed! Actually- now I come to think of it I shouldn't really call you girl now. You are now a beautiful young woman, my lovely wife!'
Steve- I've got something for you.'
'Oh yes' he said taking her into his arms for a kiss.
'Behave!' she said disentangling herself and looking at Jeff. She went to her wardrobe and took out a bag which she handed to him. It contained a full length double breasted leather coat which she had bought as a replacement for his ruined jacket.
'It's beautiful sweetheart. I shan't need it tonight though-it's too hot.' He kissed her again.
'Me?' said Jeff.
'Family hug!' Whether or not Jeff had heard his dad's earlier comment they didn't know but as Steve held him his fingers found the ring at the top of the kaftan zip and he pulled.
'No mate- don't do that or mummy will lose her dress! Come on- time we were off.'
The meal was indeed delicious the main course being lobster thermidor. The children were given filleted plaice which Jeff ate with relish as fish was one of his favourite foods.Dessert was black forest gateau with ice cream for the children. Afterwards came the speeches and the awards which were small plaques and gift tokens. Later as everyone mingled a young woman with a little girl in her arms approached Steve and his family.
'Hello' she said. 'I'm Eleanor Danvers and this is my little girl Sharon. I came to thank you because you saved our lives.'
During their conversation Steve learned that Eleanor's husband was serving with the army in Northern Ireland. The car driver was her brother. She had no idea when she got in the car that it was stolen. He had told her it belonged to the friend who had died with him in the crash. When the police cars started to chase them she had begged Gary to slow down but he had just laughed and gone faster.
'I never have liked that Paul Barker but Gary would keep seeing him. I don't know which of them had the idea of stealing the car but it cost them both their lives. My parents have taken it hard. That's my father talking to the chief of police- mother wouldn't come said it would open up wounds but dad came to support me as Andrew couldn't get any more leave. He came over for a week while we were in hospital. '
Later as he and Dora had a drink with Eleanor's father and they learned a little of the injuries that Sharon had received, once more Steve's eyes travelled to Jeff and he drew him onto his knee. On the way home he said to Dora that now he felt completely over his traumatic experience and was ready to help Milly and Bert as they faced their uncertain future.




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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2012, 08:54:34 PM »
Rain was lashing down. Dora looked gloomily out of the window. She had hoped to leave Jeff with Vi for the morning while she helped Steve with schooling. Since Milly had gone away she had not spent as much time with the horses as she would have liked. Steve was towelling his wet hair before sitting down to breakfast. It was getting long again just the way Dora liked it. 'Do you know what day it is?' she asked.
'Friday.'
'Yes-and it's St. Swithin's day-you know what that means!'
'Superstitious nonsense!'
'Is it?' Steve shrugged knowing that she was remembering the time a few years back when it had rained solidly for days on end and he'd almost had to leave. He took her in his arms and gave her a hug. She couldn't resist the urge to push the damp tendrils of hair from his face and kiss him.
'Cheer up love- Milly and Bert will be back soon and we've got Teri's birthday to look forward to.' He picked Jeff up to join in the hug.
'Ron's not looking forward to the weekend. Liz and Shaun are coming to stay' said Dora putting out cereal bowls and adding bread to the toaster.
'Well at least they're staying in a hotel this time and not our Follyflat.'
'Shall we go and see if we can cheer uncle Ron up Jeff? Auntie Vi might be baking gingerbread men and perhaps she'll let you help!'
Jeff nodded happily. 'Uccle Won likes gingerbread!'
'And so does Jeff unless I'm very much mistaken' said Steve laughing. Dora was so pleased that he was back to the Steve she loved and had emerged from the black tunnel he'd walked since the accident.
Later when they were at the farmhouse enjoying sampling Vi's baking a white van pulled up outside. George went to see who it was and came back grinning. 'Special delivery for Mrs Stryker- bought her a special birthday present have you Ron?'
'Not that big!' He opened the door and came face to face with Teri's brother Daniel.
'Hello there Ron. My mate Trev. has driven me here with some things for the baby courtesy of the whole family and assembled by my mother.'
When the van door was opened and he looked inside Ron gasped:
'What the blazes am I supposed to do with that lot?'
Hearing Ron's raised voice Teri,who had been resting, came outside.
'Er-mum said there'd be some equipment for us.' she said.
Daniel and Trev had already begun unloading the van, Steve came outside.
'You can put it behind the carriage, there should be enough room there' he said going to help while Ron stood open mouthed. Cot, pram, buggy, carrycot, high chair, playpen, babywalker and boxes of toys were stowed away. Mercifully the rain had stopped because there were still cot sheets, blankets and bags of clothes to come.
'Bring them into the farmhouse, they can go in the boxroom for now' said Vi.
Teri saw the look on Ron's face and said
'When you've finished Dan bring your friend into the flat for a cuppa. Ron's had his already.'
Vi gave her a plate of scones. After they'd all gone back indoors Ron stood leaning against the lightning tree smoking a cigarette until the rain started again and forced him to take shelter in the farmhouse.
'That'll save you a pretty penny, Ron' said George.
'Yeah!'
'What is it Ron?' asked Dora.
'Why must Liz interfere so much?. We hadn't got round to doing anything about buying stuff because Teri said it was unlucky. I was looking forward to choosing the cot and pram together. Now what am I left with- a potty and nappies! Also I now have to put up with Liz and Shaun for nearly two weeks buying goodness knows what else and making me feel totally inadequate as usual!'
The black rain clouds seemed to have settled over the usually good natured Ron and Dora felt she needed to offer some words of advice.

(To be continued later this evening hopefully.)

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2012, 11:03:42 PM »
'Ron- what you've got to realise is that Liz and Shaun are totally family orientated. All the others live within a few minutes drive of them. They pass equipment round as the babies continue to arrive and when something wears out it's replaced. They all see each other regularly but Teri elected to move away. Liz in particular feels that the family circle is incomplete without her and her baby-and you of course!'
'Huh- well she's not made that very clear!'
'Now come on- you know she's warmed to you since hearing about the baby.'
'I suppose- well Shaun certainly has been more friendly.'
You'll have Teri and the new baby for the whole of it's lifetime-let Liz and Shaun enjoy the few weeks a year that they'll share. They really are very kind you know.'
'The money you've saved really will come in handy- babies aren't cheap' added Vi.
'You'll be able to afford a washing machine so you don't have to use the one in the farmhouse' added Steve. 'You can choose that together.'
Jeff chose this moment to go over to the chair where Ron was sitting and give him his most engaging smile.
'Cuggle uccle Won pease!' Ron obliged scooping him up and tossing him in the air before holding him close.
'Thanks everyone. I feel a whole lot better now. I guess if you don't mind I'd best go say hello to my brother in law. I do like Dan- and the others are okay too! See you later champ!' he said setting Jeff down on the floor again. Steve went to the door with him and rested is hand on his friend's shoulder for a moment.
'Soon have your own little one now mate!' Ron rubbed his hands gleefully and laughed the typical laugh that he was known for. 'Can't wait.'
'Sun's come out Dora-let's go do an hour's work before lunch' said Steve.
St. Swithins day did not live up to it's threat and Saturday was fine and sunny. Ron decided to take Teri shopping in the morning for the washing machine and in the evening Dora and Steve were joining them in a country hotel for an early birthday meal while Vi babysat. It was warm enough to dine Al Fresco on the hotel terrace and enjoy the fresh air and peace and quiet. Dora had received a letter from her parents that morning saying that her father was considering early retirement as the job was becoming more and more stressful and his blood pressure was raised. Prudence said she didn't want him to go the same way as his brother Geoffrey.The letter said they would arrive home in early December and stay at least six weeks possibly more. 'Your turn for the in-laws Steve ' teased Ron.
'I dunno, I reckon they'll be in London most of the while.' he replied.
Teri and Ron left soon after coffee as she was tired and her parents were arriving for her birthday the next day.Steve checked that it was okay to leave their car in the hotel car park for a while then they set off for a walk through the nearby village. They were delighted to find a small stream running through it with two small stone bridges a few hundred yards apart spanning it. They crossed the first one then walked along to the second to cross back. The village church was nearby and the scent from it's rosebushes was glorious. Choir practice was in progress and they stopped to listen.
'Milly would like this. I wonder if they'll be back this week' mused Steve.
When they got home Vi told them that Milly had phoned and would call again in the morning.
'I can't quite put my finger on anything-but Milly sounded a little strange.' she said.
'Oh mate-now what?' Steve wondered aloud.
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #39 on: August 03, 2012, 12:12:13 AM »
Ron was surprised when Elizabeth O'Sullivan greeted him with a hug and Shaun shook him warmly by the hand. 'Theresa looks well- you've obviously been looking after her Ronald.'
'I do my best Mrs O'
'Now we musn't stand on ceremony-call me mum-or Liz if you prefer-now you won't forget you're bringing Theresa to our hotel for lunch will you?'
'Er no- of course not Mrs-er mum.'
Steve was playing cars with Jeff on the floor while Dora set out salad for lunch. Mr. Plum had delivered fresh crusty rolls earlier and the smell of them was making her mouth water. The telephone rang and Steve answered it. He said very little but Dora gathered that Milly was on the other end. Steve looked thoughtful as he put down the receiver. 'What did Milly say?'
Steve looked down at Jeff and shook his head.'I'm picking them up tomorrow teatime. She'll ring with the time tomorrow-I'll tell you more later.'
After lunch they took Jeff down to see the donkeys. Teri and Ron had just got back from lunch and while she went to rest Ron took Jeff off for a ride on Bubble so Steve and Dora could talk. Down by the lake there were two wooden benches each with a plaque attached-one in memory of the colonel and one for Slugger. Nearby was the grove of fruit tree saplings. When they grew to maturity they would provide shelter and be covered with blossoms, ripening fruit or leaves but now they just held promises.
'Well?' asked Dora. 'Is everything alright with Milly and Bert?'
'Yes and no. They went to some kind of religious meeting at the end of the first week. Bert went forward for healing and now says a miracle has happened and he's cured.'
'That's good!'
'Mmnn but Milly says he's changed.'
'How?'
'Milly wouldn't say but she's not happy.'
'Why don't Jeff and I come with you when you go to pick them up? We could have tea in Leeds.Hopefully having Jeff there will make Milly feel better.'
'Good idea- Bert loves Jeff after all.'
Sunday morning and it was raining hard in Southsea. Milly looked out of the window at the deserted sea front- there would be no bowls match this afternoon unless it cleared up soon which was a pity as she would have liked to spend part of her last day watching the two Georges play for Hampshire. The owner of the The Mimosa Hotel George Masters and his brother-in-law George Lang were finishing breakfast at a nearby table. Bert was in their room and Milly had lingered hoping that the rain would stop but she knew she had to phone Steve again so she picked up her raincoat. She could have told Steve the train time yesterday but she needed an excuse to be away from Bert for a while. Margaret, the landlady said 'You're surely not going out in this weather.'
'I need to phone my nephew-and get a breath of fresh air.'
'Come into our sitting room and use our phone. We can have a nice chat when I've finished in here. The weather should start to clear in an hour or so and you'll be able to go out after lunch.'
When Milly had made her short call Margaret studied her white face and asked her if she was okay.
'Yes. but I didn't get much sleep.'
'Mr. Lane not so well?'
'Oh he's fine so he says but he's being a bit difficult'
Milly dabbed at her eyes with her hanky.
'I'll make you a nice cup of tea and we'll have a natter eh?'
Milly however rose to her feet 'I'm sorry I can't stop Albert will be wondering where I am.'
Back in their room she found Bert staring out of the window.
'You took your time! Where have you been I've been looking out for you- your coats not even wet and it's been pouring.'
'Mrs. Masters let me use their phone- I had to wait till she'd finished in the dining room.
'Bit of rain won't hurt you'
'I know but I didn't like to refuse- it would not be very friendly'
'No point in making friends now- we're off home tomorrow and we'll not be back!'
'Oh but you said you liked it here  andf if you felt like it we'd come back later this year'
'Aye- well that were before- this is now. We've better things to spend our money on Millicent- and things to do!'
'Oh I'm really looking forward to seeing how my plants are doing and working in the greenhouse.'
Bert grunted. 'Now I'm feeling well I have plans for us so you'll not have much time to waste and you'll not be doing as much cooking and babysitting for the Rosses either.Now Millicent- come and look at this article I've been reading while you've been idling your time away.'
Milly looked at her watch- another three hours to go before lunch. Spending time with the man she'd married had always been a pleasure but now... she sighed - may as well do as he said it would help pass the time and stop him grumbling.i]

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #40 on: August 07, 2012, 12:03:09 AM »
Milly sank down into a pew at the back of the church she'd visited a couple of times during her holiday. Evensong had just begun and the familiar words and music was balm to her soul. She let her mind drift over the last few hours. Bert had wanted her to go with him to Portsmouth that afternoon but she had refused saying she had promised to watch the bowls match which was going ahead as the weather had cleared up.
'Waste of time. Make sure you're ready at 5.30pm so we can have tea in the cafe before it closes.'
'Oh but we've been invited to have tea at the hotel after the match-it's free and we can meet the bowls teams.'
'No thankyou- we'll go to 'The Sands' as usual. The cafe was cheap and the food not very appetising but the usually generous Bert was now not spending unless he had to so it was odd that he was passing up a free high tea.When he'd come to the greens the last match involving the two Georges had only just begun and it was the decider. 'You go- I'm staying here!'
'You promised to obey me-now come on!'
Bert had raised his voice and the other spectators glared at him angrily. The scorer went and asked him to please be quiet and Bert with a last thunderous look at Milly stormed off. Margaret patted Milly's hand reassuringly. 'Don't worry- he'll calm down once he's eaten .' Milly said nothing but was unconvinced.
It was gone six when Hampshire finally won and Milly wanted to get to the 6.30pm service.
'I'll save you some tea love-you go off.' promised Margaret. As Milly walked the short distance to the church she spotted Bert just emerging from the cafe and ducked into a souvenir shop which was on the point of closing. She picked up a box of fudge with a picture postcard of Southsea promenade on the lid and looked out to make sure Bert was on his way back to the hotel while the assistant put it in a bag and took the money. Now as the service was coming to an end she began to worry about what sort of reception she would get from Bert on her return. He had obviously been sitting waiting for her by the window as he came down the stairs with all guns blazing. 'Get upstairs now and do the packing!'
'Margaret has saved me some tea and I'm hungry.'
'You'll come now.'
'If you think you can send me to bed without any supper like a naughty child then you can think on Albert Lane!'
George was saying goodbye to the opposing team captain and when he went back to the sitting room told Margaret Milly was back and that her husband was on the warpath. She came out with a tray of tea. 'Go into the dining room love and I'll bring you sandwiches and cakes. Would you like some Mr. Lane? There's plenty left and it's a shame to let it go to waste. I'll pack you a lunch to take with you tomorrow- no extra charge.
'May as well have a bite I suppose!'
The tea was wonderful. A selection of sandwiches, sausage rolls and fancy cakes but Milly thought she might just as well have been eating sawdust because of the dour expression on Bert's face and the comments about her staying out till all hours when she should have been getting ready to go home the next day.
'It's only just gone eight o'clock. I'll just have another cup of tea then I'll do my packing. Have you done yours?'
'Nay- that's woman's work. He took the last piece of sponge cake. When Margaret came to collect the tray Milly thanked her profusely. Bert merely grunted and stomped upstairs.
'EE I'm that sorry Margaret love. I don't know what's got into him these past three weeks. I'm just hoping we can sort him out when we get back to Yorkshire.'
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #41 on: August 09, 2012, 11:50:10 PM »
Milly's spirits lightened when she saw Steve and the family waiting on the platform. The journey had seemed interminable.When they'd changed trains Bert had gone on ahead leaving her struggling with her luggage till a friendly porter saw her plight and helped her to find the correct train and Bert- although she would quite happily have settled in a different compartment. When the train pulled in Steve came to find them and helped her out then went back for her luggage. Bert stood in the doorway waiting for him to take his case too then watching as Dora and Jeff hugged Milly. The little boy beamed as Bert drew level with them.
Uccle Bert!'
he called lifting his arms expecting to be swung in the air as Bert normally did. Instead he merely patted his head and said stiffly:
'Hello young man'
He nodded to Dora and as Steve came along with the final case he said
'Thankyou Steven.'but made no attempt to carry anything. Steve took charge of the two large cases and Dora picked up Milly's case and holdall telling Jeff to hold auntie's hand. As they walked off Milly dropped back to walk with Steve.
'Remember he wants us to call him Albert.'
Steve shrugged and smiled wrily at what Jeff's version of that would be.
'Did you enjoy any of your holiday?'
'The hotel was really good, so was the food and the staff were ever so friendly.'
As they neared the car Steve said 'We've decided to have a meal in 'The Railway Inn'
Milly stopped and whispered 'Don't expect him to pay.'
'No problem-our treat.'
When the luggage had been stowed away and Bert told of their plan he strode off in the direction of the Inn.Steve now held tightly onto Jeff's hand.
'Come along Millicent- don't dawdle. I'm rather hungry.'
Dora gave a puzzled frown and Jeff struggled with the name - 'Mill'ent' he experimented.
'Auntie Millicent if you please Jeffery. We should all be called by our full Christian names- I'm uncle Albert'
'He was christened Jeff- not Jeffery' said Dora pointedly. 'And I was christened Dora.'
It was not a happy meal. Before they started Bert stood up and said a lengthy grace. He frowned when Jeff left some of his chicken and muttered to himself when the little boy was allowed ice cream for dessert. When the adults were having coffee Jeff, aware of the cool atmosphere climbed onto Steve's lap and began whispering loudly to him saying he wanted to go home now so he could play before bathtime.
'It's rude to whisper and children should be seen and not heard!'
'He's not yet two Albert and I think it's lovely that he talks so well.' said Milly.
Steve took Jeff to the toilet and then  stopped off to pay the bill.
'Why is uccle Abbut so cwoss?' he asked.
'I expect he's a bit tired JR.'  The cashier made went to give Jeff a lolly. Steve took it instead and said
'Best if we save this for later eh mate.'
'Can I have some money for the doggy? he asked patting the figure of a labrador which stood inside the door with a slot in its collar for donations for 'Guide dogs for the blind'
Steve fished in his pocket for change and Milly went to her handbag to give him some too.
'That's enough'
Bert said as she gave Jeff 10 pence and went to give him more.Dora bit her lip. Normally Bert would have insisted on paying for the meal and put a pound coin into the box but today his wallet remained in his pocket.
'EE Bert they do such wonderful work.We should  help all we can.'
'We'll be helping to support other good works now. Our money wont be used for silly things. Now let's be off please Steven!'
When the luggage had been taken into the annex Steve gave Milly a hug. 'Night Auntie M- there's no way I'm calling you Millicent. We'll see you in the morning. Why not come for breakfast then you can tell us all about your holiday.'
'Right you are luv. I'll cook for us all if you like.'
Steve smiled- his porridge was okay but not nearly  as good as Milly's.'
'We'll be having our breakfast early tomorrow so don't rely on Millicent- and don't think that she'll be cooking for you or babysitting so much in the future. There's going to be some changes round here I can tell you. Millicent's first duty is to her God and the second to her husband.'
Steve repeated this to Dora.
 'Oh Steve-poor Milly. We'll have to do something. She loves what she does and she'll be so miserable if she can't do what she wants!
'You know me- I don't like interfering with other people's lives but we have to find out what happened on that holiday to make Bert change so much then we'll see what can be done.'
'Abbut, daddy' exclaimed Jeff looking up from where he sat playing with his cars.
'Somebody's got big ears- and it's time he was in the bath' said Steve grateful that the little boy could so quickly lighten his mood. He scooped him up, tickled him and carried him squealing to the bathroom leaving Dora to pick up the toys thinking as she as she did so about what might be happening next door.




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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #42 on: August 14, 2012, 11:38:19 PM »
NOTE- I do not want to cause offence to any particular denomination so I have invented 'The Orbitan Church' (I hope!)


When Steve returned from his early morning shift at Follyfoot Milly was in the greenhouse and Steve went to join her. 'I'm just going in for breakfast-can you come and talk?'
'Bert's on the telephone so I escaped. Best hurry up or he'll be on my trail.' She had breakfasted already but made porridge for them talking as she worked.
The first week was wonderful. We visited the Victory, had a bus trip to the New Forest and wandered along the sea front enjoying the castle gardens and the Model Village. On Saturday we went shopping in Portsmouth and I saw an advertisement for a tent crusade on Southsea Common with the evangelist Don Draper supported by the United Choir from Portsmouth Churches. You know how I love choirs so I left Bert at home and went by myself by taxi. The singing was amazing- there were hymns for us all to join in as well as the choir items. There was a poster advertising a healing service for the next night and as Bert seemed to be helped when Rev. Carmichael prayed for him I persuaded him to come with me and he went forward  to receive the laying on of hands. When he came back his face was shining and he said 'I'm healed Mil! I felt the cancer leaving me. I'm so happy.' He practically danced along to the taxi rank and kept chuckling to himself. I was pleased for him too. The next day he was telling everyone at the hotel that there'd been a miracle. We went out on a boat trip for a couple of hours. When he put his hand in his pocket for his hanky Bert found the handout he'd been given for the last night of the crusade and he wanted to go back to say thanks and that's what we did. The choir still sounded fantastic but the songs were different and the smiles they had displayed on the other nights had been replaced by serious expressions. There was a different speaker. In my teens I attended a small chapel where the preaching was all about Gods love but this chap preached hellfire and damnation and it sent cold shivers down my back when he delivered his challenge to repent. He began to pray -on and on it went all the time asking those who wanted salvation to go forward. I did feel guilty but I renewed my committment in private and said a silent thankyou for my faith and for Bert's healing. When at last the prayer ended I opened my eyes to find Bert's seat, which was on the end of the row was empty. He had gone forward. I felt glad that now he would be able to come to church with me on Sundays and perhaps join me in the choir. He's got a lovely voice Bert has. In contrast to the night before Bert was very quiet and came back to me clutching a copy of St. John's gospel and a booklet entitled 'The sinner repents- how to begin a life of dedication by the speaker for the evening an American called Harvey Moorfield. Bert insisted we catch a bus back to the hotel and stayed up late reading. He told me that there were follow up meetings for the next ten days at the Orbitan Church so he went along leaving me to my own devices.''
The door opened and Bert entered.
'Albert, we're so glad to hear about your healing' said Dora.
'You'll need to see your consultant as soon as possible to make sure you're really okay' added Steve.
'I need to do no such thing. I have faith even if you don't.'  He looked Dora up and down. 'Young women should dress in a seemly fashion. Jeans are not ladylike.'
'Now look' said Steve. 'It's none of your business how anyone else dresses.'
'Millicent- you're to come back with me out of this den of iniquity. We will go and pray for their deliverance!' Milly shrugged her shoulders and followed him out with a shake of the head.
'I'm out of my depth here' said Steve. 'But you'd be hard pressed to find a better Christian than Milly. The O'Sullivan's are coming to the farm this morning. I think I'll have a quiet word with Shaun.'
When he consulted the older man Shaun said
'Sure and it sounds as if the poor fellow's been delivered of one affliction and got another-religious mania unless I'm mistaken. Why don't you get your aunt to have a word with the Roman Catholic priest?'
'I think she'd be happier with Rev. Carmichael but thanks anyway.'
Bert walked to the village and caught a bus to Tockwith that afternoon. There was an Orbitan church there and he had been given a letter of introduction. There was no-one there but a prayer meeting was advertised for that evening so he phoned to tell Milly he would not be home till after 9pm.
'That's okay. It's choir practice night.'
Bert managed to get a lift and got home before Milly. 'Have you been gossiping Millicent?'
'Well everyone wanted to hear about the holiday.'
'I'll put a stop to you going there! You can come to my church with me in future!'
Steve had come in with Milly and looked amazed when she said
'I'll do no such thing Bert Lane and if you carry on like this I'll be moving back in next door.'
'Wives obey your husbands!' railed Bert.
'The devil quotes scripture for his own purposes' Milly answered back.
'Okay- that's enough both of you' said Steve. 'Are you coming next door auntie?'
'Yes- and there's no good thinking you can stop me Bert!'
She collected a few things and went with Steve without giving a backward glance to her husband who could only stare after her open mouthed.
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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2012, 12:10:34 AM »
Once inside the bungalow Milly sank onto the nearest armchair and the floodgates opened. Her tears had been building up into this storm for days and only now in the safety of Copper's Rest did she let go.
'What Have I done?-- I've been a bad wife. --I love Bert, I shouldn't have walked out--I should try and understand him and help.'
Steve pulled up a chair, sat on it and took both her hands in his.
'You're at the end of your tether. You need some space-but you're right-he needs help. All this is so out of character.'
Dora had been in Jeff's bedroom as he had had a bad dream and seeing Milly's distress made her a cup of strong sweet tea.
'You're not in this by yourself. We'll be with you and help you through-both of you.' said Steve and Milly managed a watery smile.
The next day Rev. John Carmichael received a telephone call which went some way to relieving his anxiety about the situation that Milly Lane had confided in him about after choir practice the night before. He in turn telephoned Steve and asked if he would take Milly to the vicarage at around two o'clock in the afternoon as there was someone she should meet. Bill Chadwick had arranged to come and see him and Dora but she said she was sure she could manage on her own if Vi would look after Jeff. At Milly's request Steve went to check on Bert but the annexe was locked and when he used his spare key found it was empty. Milly sat in her comfy dressing gown toying with a bowl of cereal while Jeff chattered away to her about the donkeys. When Dora took him to their stables to see Tony working with the horses she told Steve she was very worried about where Bert could have got to.
'I'll go look for him in a bit when the washing ups done.'
'Please go now love-I can manage that.'
Dora came in and said that Tony had seen Bert heading for the village as he'd left his father's farm on Bianca earlier  so Steve took the landrover and drove away meeting Bert near the post office.
'Auntie was worried about you-would you like a lift back?'
Bert merely grunted and got in.
'Had to come in and get some stamps if you must know.'
The rest of the journey was made in silence and he got out without a word of thanks. Steve let Milly know Bert was safely back then went off to the farm to catch up with his work.
Promptly at two he and Milly were shown into the vicar's study. Steve had been there a couple of times before when making arrangements for the wedding and Jeff's christening.John Carmichael asked them to sit down and then introduced David Charlesworth, the minister of Tockwith Orbitan Church. Milly gave a startled  gasp but as he shook hands with her she saw that his eyes were smiling and kind.
'John and I are very good friends' he said.
David explained that he had only recently got back from holiday and had not attended the meeting at his church last night but that his assistant had come round afterwards very worried about someone who had turned up out of the blue having attended a meeting in Southsea led by Harvey Moorfield and follow up meetings at their church in Portsmouth. 'I have to tell you my dear that Harvey is not typical of our  preachers and the Portsmouth church is nothing like ours.It has the reputation of being very strict and fundamental, we are much more traditional in our ways-indeed we sometimes have joint services with the other denominations in Tockwith. What I intend to do is to call on your husband later and have a serious talk with him about what he's been told about the faith and ask him why he's been behaving the way he has. '
'A friend of ours says he might have religious mania' said Steve.
'It's not common but I suppose he could. I understand that he claims he's been healed from cancer.'
'That's right- but it weren't that man Moorfield it were the other speaker-he were nice -a Rev. Milton  I think.'
'I've heard of him-he's a Baptist minister I think' said John Carmichael.
'Anyway I have spoken to a member of my congregation who's a doctor. I didn't go into detail or give names just asked his advice. He said that your husband should see his doctor to see what he thinks. Miracles do happen of course. '
Steve sensed that there was something else and John Carmichael stood up and asked Milly if she would like to look around the garden.'
'Mr.Charlesworth er or should that be Reverend'
'David will do, Steve-you have a question?'
'Is there something you've not told Milly?'
'Well- this is only the very smallest possibility you understand. John has told me that Mr. Lane was recently told there was no further treatment he could have. ' Steve nodded.
'Instead of healing it could be that his condition has worsened- there's no easy way to say this and only his consultant would be able to arrange tests- the cancer could have spread to the brain!'
The study had French doors that were slightly ajar and John and Milly both heard as they were just outside.
Milly, her face showing deep distress entered the room with John close behind.
'Take me home, Steve!'

linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: The rough and the smooth.
« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2012, 12:10:37 AM »
David followed them out to the car. 'I'm so sorry. I didn't want you to hear it like that. I was going to ask Steve to break it to you gently. May I still come and see Albert this afternoon?'
'I'd like that but please don't mention anything about what you just said.'
'Of course not!'
Back at Copper's rest Milly went to lie down while Stev brought Dora up to date.
'What did Bill want?'
'Tell you later. I'm going to fetch Jeff as Vi wants to do some baking for the WI fete tomorrow.'
'I'll wait for David to arrive then do an hour or so here with our horses. I expect he'll want to talk to Milly again and I want to be around.'
When Dora got back she had even more to tell Steve but decided it must all wait until after Jeff was in bed.
David Charlesworth was with Bert for nearly two hours by which time Milly was up and outside with her plants as she had promised some for the fete and needed to choose them. Steve went to find her.
'David's back auntie-come and have a cup of tea.'
'I'm not at all happy with Albert's situation. He is determined to throw himself completely into doing good works but unfortunately his motives are not sound and his manner would put anyone off. He wants to make a large donation to the church. I know I should be grateful but the reason he gave for wanting to do it is so that his wicked sister-in-law Katherine won't get her hands on his money after he's gone. He says he's written to tell her some home truths and that he's going to alter his will. He wants to see a solicitor to set the wheels in motion. We do have a solicitor in our congregation. I've persuaded Albert that he should wait and get to know us all a bit better before making any hasty decisions and I'll have a word with Anthony Marshall in the meantime in strict confidence.You see he would have to be in a sound state of mind before his will could be altered and I'm not at all sure that he is. I have managed to persuade him to contact Mr. Harper for an appointment as if he wants to make his healing widely known people will expect it to be verified. I have assured him that he's welcome to attend our church but that as Milly is quite happy to be in John Carmichael's flock then he should not try and force her to change. I'll leave you this card with my number on. You can contact me at any time if you think I can help. Now I really must be off or my wife will wonder where I am.'
'Thanks David- you've been really great' said Steve.
'Could you just hang on a minute' asked Milly and went outside. She came back with a beautiful red geranium plant.
'For you, as a thankyou. I know you didn't mean to upset me and I know we need to face facts.'
'It might not be what you fear Milly.' He shook hands with Milly and Steve. Dora had taken Jeff to his room to play. Steve went with David to the car.
'I'll be honest with you David. I'm not really very religious though I do believe ther's a God but my aunt is a real Christian. She really lives out her faith. Will you pray for her as well as Bert?'
'I'll pray for you all and I know John will too.'
'I think I'd better go back next door. Bert shouldn't be left alone' said Milly. 'But I'm determined that tomorrow morning I'm getting up early to bake some cakes and tomorrow afternoon I'm going to the fete with Vi to help out and Bert Lane won't stop me!'
'I'll get us all Fish and Chips for tea' said Steve.
When Jeff was safely tucked up in bed asleep Steve took Dora onto his lap.
'Now what have you got to tell me? I hope it's good news.'
'Bill Chadwick wants to sell up and he's given us first refusal. Evidently he's had some health problems.Ben's not going back to University next term- he's got a job with 'The New Yorkshire Insurance Company' as a trainee accountant.'
'You wouldn't want us to buy Chadwicks would you- anyway we couldn't afford it!'
'If we don't buy it we could get another Lockwood there or someone worse!'
'Are you serious about this Dora?'
'Yes- and we can have the stables for what Bill paid for them. It's too good an opportunity to miss Steve-and I've got some ideas already.'
'Okay-I'm all ears!'
linda-norfolk dumpling