Author Topic: A troubled Advent.  (Read 1072 times)

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2022, 04:23:56 PM »
We're going to let her sleep off the alcohol before putting a cast on her wrist. A nurse is cleaning up the cut and then it will be stitched. We'll keep her in overnight so if I were you  I'd go home  and telephone after 10am tomorrow. she'll probably be in the admissions ward but I'll give you the number to call which is for general enquiries and  they will be able to confirm where she is.(More later family duties!!!)
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2022, 07:18:39 PM »
cont'd. 'Can I see her?'
'She's very drowsy so I wouldn't advise it.'
'I believe she has in her possession a very valuable pearl necklace which she was going to take to a jeweller to be valued properly for insurance purposes. It should be in her handbag. I'd like to take it home for safekeeping.'
'I'll get someone to check for you and then you will have to sign to say you have taken it.'
'Of course, I understand.'
When the necklace was in his possession Steve telephoned Dora to tell her what was happening.
'Thank goodness you got it back Steve
'Yes and it's going in the safe now with anything else that might be valuable. I may as well go to the jewellers with your charms and the St. Christopher then I'll be straight home. Is everything alright there?'
'Er yes.' Steve couldn't quite understand why Dora had hesitated and hoped nothing was wrong, The mystery was solved when he entered the lounge  and saw the uncovered birdcage  with the parrot holding court to the two children.
'They thought he might be lonely' explained Dora.
'He's so clever dad. I'm sure he says some things in a voice that sounds like Cathy's . Then there's a different voice that could belong to a man.'
said Jeff. 'Probably his owner. I hope he hasn't been saying anything too rude. I don't think he should be in here permanently. you can get a nasty disease from parrots. Have you done your homework?
'We're not getting much because it's nearly the end of term.' said Pru.
'I think Perry looks a bit tired so let's cover him up' said Steve and went to Cathy's room to fetch the cover.
'Merry Christmas and a boozy New Year' The boozier the better! chanted Perry before he was silenced by Steve covering him up.
'At least I don't have to cook two meals tonight' said Dora.
'Let's go and put these pearls away' said Steve once Pru and Jeff were engrossed in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Next morning after doing the school run and taking Benny for a walk Steve went back to Copper's Rest. 'If you're going to Follyfoot love wrap up warm. It's really cold out there.' 'I hope we don't get a lot of snow like we did last year' said Dora. As Steve was about to ring the hospital there was a loud knock on the door. Usually their friends would knock and come in but no-one entered so he went to answer it. On the doorstep stood a well dressed man who looked to be in his 60s and there was a gleaming silver Jaguar parked outside.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2022, 11:12:19 AM »
'Good morning. you must be Steve. I'm looking for the fair Katherine Ross. I went to the flat. I have a key but there was no-one there and a neighbour said she might be staying with you. I know all about you from Katherine of course. My name is Paul Graham. You've probably heard of my firm 'Graham Associates' Steve hadn't but said 'Please come in.' Steve made the introductions and the first thing Paul saw when he went into the lounge was Peregrine's covered up cage. 'Oh dear, has Peregrine been misbehaving himself?'
'Well we have two children and some of the things he comes out with are not the sort of things they should hear! Normally he stays in Katherine's room.'said Dora.'Where is Katherine?'
'I'm afraid she had an accident yesterday and is in Leeds general.' said Steve.
'Had one too many did she?' Steve looked askance. 'It's okay. I know what Katherine is like. We have no secrets from one another. I try to help her stay within reasonable limits when she's with me but I expect she lapsed because she was missing me.'
Steve then told him why Cathy had been staying with them in the first place. 'I was just about to phone the hospital to see if she can be discharged.'
'Please do that and if she's ready to be picked up I'll go and fetch her, bring her back to fetch her things than we can go back to the flat.'
'She has a broken wrist so won't be able to do much with her right hand.' said Steve
'That's okay. I can take care of her.'
'The police have this address recorded as her temporary residence.'
'I'll sort that. The chief constable is a friend of mine.'
Steve went to use the office telephone. 'Would you like a tea or coffee Mr. Graham?' asked Dora
'Oh please, call me Paul after all we are soon to be related. I expect Katherine told you we are to be married.'
'Yes, she did say something about getting engaged but didn't mention you by name.'
When Steve came back he looked concerned. 'Mum won't be discharged today. When they took her blood pressure this morning it was really high. She has a headache which could be due to a hangover but they are going to do a few tests and then probably prescribe some medication to control it.'
'Do you know where she is and what time the visiting hours are?' Steve passed on the information.
'I'll go and see her this afternoon and  go back to the flat to make sure everything is ok for when she comes home. 'I'll take Peregrine with me.'
'Katherine has not got very much stuff here and it's all in her bedroom. I can pack it all up for you to take if you can wait half an hour or so' said Dora. 'That's not a problem. I'd quite like to see around 'Follyfoot' if you have time to show me Steve. Katherine has not said that much about what you do.'
'I'm afraid mum doesn't like horses' said Steve.  Paul drained his coffee cup 'Right then, let's go. I'll see you later Dora.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2022, 10:47:45 AM »
It did not take Dora long to pack Cathy's things away. She found several empty whisky bottles under the bed and a half full one in the bedside cabinet along with the cheap perfume she used to try and disguise the smell of alcohol. Everything was ready when Paul returned with Steve.
'I'm impressed with what you're doing with the old horses and everything else. It must keep you really busy.' he said.
'It does but our staff are all friends and mainly live on site. They all do a wonderful job. We also have Hazel who lives in Leeds who's in charge of the refreshments team a lot of whom come in from the village when we have functions on.' said Steve.
'Well I won't be asking you to cater for the wedding. I have somewhere in mind for that but of course you and the children will be invited.'
'When do you think it will be because we get very busy in the summer when the touring site is heavily booked' said Steve.
'I hope it will be soon after Christmas and certainly before Easter.'
'You know Cathy has this charge hanging over her head?'
'I'll get her a good lawyer and hopefully the worst that will happen is she'll be fined and that's no problem. I'll take my leave now. I expect Katherine will be in touch  about giving you something for her keep while she was here  and of course to bring presents.'
After he'd gone Steve and Dora looked at each other in astonishment. 'So the 'boyfriend' is real' exclaimed Dora.
'Yes and loaded apparently. He deals in real estate and is going to get rid of Cathy's flat,sell his place, a big house on the outskirts of Leeds and buy them a bungalow as near to the city centre as he can so everything's near and handy for Cathy.'
She seems to have really fallen on her feet this time.'
'I just don't understand. He seems like a really nice man.' said Dora.
'Well at least we should have a good Christmas now' said Steve.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2022, 10:47:35 AM »
The children had been to see the Pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk in Leeds and were really happy when they got home.
'Did Nana Cath have to stay in hospital?' asked Jeff.
'Yes she did, but go and get changed and we'll tell you all about Peregrine's owner who came to visit us today looking for her.' said Steve.
When they had heard all about the visit Pru said 'If nana's getting married will I be a bridesmaid?'
'I shouldn't think so' said Dora. 'It will probably be a quiet wedding.'
'Are you both coming to the concert tomorrow?'
'Of course, we wouldn't miss that. What are you two doing?'
'It's a secret, wait and see.' said Pru.
When she came out of her room the next day she had a carrier bag which looked quite bulky but she was obviously trying to hide the contents so Dora and Steve avoided asking any questions. 'It's sad Nana will miss the grandparents concert' said Jeff.
'Well next year you might have a grandad to perform to because apparently the wedding will happen quite soon. I think you'll like Paul Graham, we both did.' said Steve. Next day the school hall was packed and many of the dads including Steve and Ron stood at the back. Part of the performance was a short Christmas play, not the Nativity story but a fantasy about toys coming to life on Christmas Eve which had been written by one of the teachers. Jeff had one of the main parts as the narrator and spoke up really well. After a bell had sounded off stage  the 12 strokes for midnight Pru danced onto the stage leading a group of girls . The were all dressed as fairies. Pru had on her white ballet tutu with a circle of tinsel on her head and a wand topped with a star. Music sounded and the girls performed a short dance then Pru waved her wand and a group of 6 boys dressed as soldiers marched on followed by children  in various animal masks. They began to have a party till the off stage bell struck 6. Pru waved her wand again, the toys took their places  and went to sleep, Jeff brought the play to an end. Rikki stepped forward and sang 'Little donkey' and Ron felt very proud. At the end all the performers stood on stage and sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas.'
The costumes were left for the grandparents performance the next day and Dora, Steve and Ron told their children how well they had done.
Only tomorrow and two days next week left of the term.' said Steve. Unusually the term was finishing on the Tuesday before Christmas Eve which was on a Saturday. This was hopefully to avoid having to travel in the bad weather which often started January.That night, while the Advent candle was still burning the telephone rang and Steve went to the office to answer it.
'Hello, it's Paul here. I have to tell you that Katherine will be in hospital over the weekend. Her blood pressure is still up and they have put her on medication to try and control it which hopefully they will do soon. In the meantime will you let me come over and meet your children? I'd like to get to know my future family.' He asked their names and ages and arranged to visit on Saturday afternoon. 'If Katherine is out of hospital I'll bring her.' I'll try and visit in the evening' said Steve.

norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2022, 04:44:47 PM »
Have you bought mum a Christmas present Dora?' asked Steve on Saturday morning. 'You know I always do even thought she doesn't buy anything for the family. I've bought her a lovely purple blouse and cardigan. I think she looks nice in that colour.' replied Dora.
'We ought to get something for Paul as I'm sure he's going to turn up with presents for the children at least.' said Steve
'Let's go look in the shop at the Ponderossa. I know they got some special  stock in for Christmas.' 'Dora said.
They took the children with them and Benny on his lead. 'Those big boxes of chocolates look good' said Dora.
'Yes and how about something with our logo on, a tankard and a pen, not the cheap ones but the good ones in boxes.We'll have a Christmas cactus too. That should make  a nice present.' said Steve.
'You go and take charge of Benny and I'll let the children have a look round. It might be nice to get Paul a present from them. I've already bought your mum a brooch. Jeff and Pru decided on a photograph album again with the logo on and a framed picture of the Follyfoot lake in winter when the trees were covered in frost and snow lay on the ground. 'Good choice, well done. Now you can both choose something for yourselves.
Pru chose a riding habit for her Barbie doll and Jeff an airfix model of a helicopter. Dora added a tube of glue as the set had paints but no glue and paid for the purchases. 'Don't forget the staff discount' she told the assistant.'Would you like any of these gift wrapped Mrs. Ross, there's no charge. Dora showed her which items to wrap and looked around at other things for sale while she waited. She had sent the children outside to play with Benny and soon joined them. 'I'm going to go on ahead and make some hot chocolate.' she told Steve. 'We'll let Benny have a bit of a run and be there in a few minutes. It's too cold to hang around!' Dora wrote gift tags for the presents and fetched those she had already wrapped for Cathy so everything was together when Paul arrived. Soon the family were enjoying hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits. Hazel had sent some sausage rolls and mince pies so there was something other than biscuits to offer Paul. He arrived at 3pm with several parcels, a large box of fruit and vegetables and a beautiful expensive looking bouquet which he handed to Dora. 'Katherine is improving and should be able to be discharged on Monday. she says not to worry about visiting her tonight Steve as she and I have a lot to discuss so that all being well,on Monday I can start making arrangements for the wedding. It will be at the register office as neither of us is religious. It doesn't hold that many but there will be a lot more people as I have lots of business associates I want to invite. Does Katherine have any family other than you?'
'Not living, no. Her sister Milly died last year.'
'Yes so she told me. Now put these presents under the tree.'
'Thanks.' said Dora. There's some here for you and Katherine. ill just go and put these beautiful flowers in water and tell Jeff and Pru to come in. Coffee, tea or something stronger Paul? We have a good selection of wines and spirits as my parents send us a hamper from Harrods every year. We drink very little so there's always plenty.'
'Coffee will be fine thankyou. i don't like to drink at all when i'm driving. By the way i need to tell you before the children come in that Katherine has been advised that she must cut down on her alcohol consumption as it's starting to affect her liver.'
'We have told her time and time again to be careful but I think that being on her own makes it difficult.' said Steve.
'Well she won't be on her own much now.' said Paul. Pru and Jeff had been outside with Benny and all three came hurrying in the children with rosy cheeks and Benny ready to greet the newcomer enthusiastically. ' He's a lovely dog.' said Paul.
'I'm afraid mum doesn't like him much. He's a bit too lively for her.' said Steve.
'Well I'd really like a dog when we're settled. Walking them is good exercise isn't it?' Everyone nodded in agreement. Jeff and Pru went to take off their outdoor clothes . 'Come and say 'Hello' to Mr. Graham.' said Steve.
'Oh let's not be too formal. I think probably Uncle Paul for now, later maybe I can become an extra grandad and we'll decide what you want to call me.'
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

Offline norfolkdumpling

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2022, 10:33:38 AM »
'How is Nanna Cath?' sir asked Jeff. 'Getting better thank you'
'How's Peregrine the Parrot?' asked Pru. 'He's in fine fettle. glad to see me back.'
Having discussed things beforehand with Dora Steve said. 'I expect you'll be taking mum to a hotel for Christmas but you're very welcome to come and have a meal with us any time. We have large gatherings in Colonel G's for Christmas Eve  and Christmas day lunch and New Years Eve supper.
We even have accommodation we can offer you. We don't drink much, certainly not enough to get drunk. Lots of us have children so after the meal we load everything into the industrial dishwashers and go home to spend time with our families.'
'Fortunately I had booked for us to go to the 'Grand' from 5pm on Christmas Eve before I left on my last trip so we'll be there till the day after Boxing Day but Christmas Eve lunch would be good. I've always done hotel Christmases since my first wife died. I'd like to get to know some of the people you work with.'
'Lovely,' said Steve.'It will be something quite simple. Games for the children will start about noon to work off some energy then we eat around 1.30pm.'
'How many children? I'd like to bring some party bags.'
'There should be 10 including Rikki Stryker whose dad works for us part time. He and his wife Terri are among our best friends, but really you don't need to do that.'
'No but I want to.'
'Dad, I need some help with my Airfix kit. Can I go and get it?' said Jeff.
'Maybe later, Jeff' said Steve.
'Oh I'm a dab hand with those things, Jeff. Go and fetch it. I've had coffee and a lovely mince pie and now it's time for some fun!' said Paul.
'I wanted to play 'Happy Families' said Pru with the hint of a pout.
'Mum and I will play with you, pumpkin then maybe Uncle Paul and Jeff can join in a bit later while we clear up.' said Steve ever the diplomat.
Looking at him with love in her eyes Dora thought about the old Steve and his short temper. How having a family had changed him! He could still show passion when something really annoyed him and react accordingly but normally he would turn away before the red mist descended.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2022, 04:01:13 PM »
All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon. Paul joined in with Happy Families after he had helped Jeff make a start on his model and said he would not stay for tea as he wanted to be at the hospital as soon as he was allowed. 'Katherine told me you offered her the annex next door but she's a city person and it would not have worked.' said Paul.
'I think the short time she spent here with us made that pretty obvious' said Steve.'
'I'll see you all on Christmas Eve and hopefully I'll have Katherine with me' he said picking up the parcels Dora had put out for him. When he had gone Pru said 'I like uncle Paul, he's fun.' Jeff agreed. After they had gone back to their rooms Steve said 'It will be very interesting to see Paul and mum together. I'm glad we bought him those presents. He seems to have got something for us all even though he's already given us the fruit and flowers. I can't see mum joining in adult musical chairs or pin the tail on the donkey but I bet Paul will.' said Steve.
The next few days were spent wrapping presents, visiting friends, shopping and hanging up the many Christmas cards that had arrived since the beginning of December. Hazel brought her cards over on the Monday after Paul's visit and Dora asked her what she thought would be a good light meal for Christmas Eve lunch given that Paul and Cathy would be spending the rest of Christmas at 'The Grand'
'How about a selection of quiches and salad with Fruit crumble for dessert given that you have a lot of fruit.'
'Sounds lovely with perhaps a few sausages on sticks for the children who aren't keen on quiches.
'I'll see what I can do' promised Hazel. The next day was the last day of term and the children did not have to go in uniform and could take in a game to play if they wanted to. Jeff decided to take draughts as he had become quite good at it and was hoping to join the school chess club to learn the game in the new term and Pru chose 'Downfall' She would have preferred 'Mousetrap' but was told she would probably lose pieces. They were looking forward to cold turkey and chips for lunch followed by jelly and ice cream. A full Christmas dinner had been served the day before courtesy of local farmers who provided the turkeys and vegetables.. They came home happy and excited and now it felt like Christmas had begun.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2022, 02:46:53 PM »
Dora, I've been thinking, Milly's pearl necklace would make a nice gift to give to mum to wear on her wedding day. It can be her 'something old'. She won't need to visit any pawn shop now that's for sure!' said Steve.
'That's a lovely thought, darling. I would never wear it and giving it to Cathy would keep it in the family. I'm just going down to visit Fred. He's much better now thank goodness.
That evening, while the Advent candle was still burning Jeff asked Steve to tell them something about his life in the orphanage as he had done many times before. They had watched serialisations of some Dickens books on  television and had found them very interesting. 'I've still got a few presents to wrap so I'll get on' said Dora. 'Not your presents!' she said as Pru looked interested. 'They went to Santa weeks ago so you'd better not have changed your mind about what you want.' Steve sat on the sofa with Pru on his lap and Jeff close beside him. Dora felt very emotional at the sight of them all sitting so close together and was glad to escape to the office where she listened to some Christmas music whilst wrapping parcels. 'I'll tell you about one very special Christmas, the only one that stands out as being different. 'Said Steve.
Each year one of the local churches chose a charity to support and this particular year they decided on the orphanage and arranged to hold a Christmas party for all the children living there. A few days beforehand a lady drove up in her car with bags of clothing which they had been donated. We were allowed to choose clothes to wear for the party in place of our orphanage uniforms. There were party dresses for the girls and coloured shirts and matching ties with smart trousers for the boys. The matron called us all together. 'Make sure that you don't eat so much food that you make yourselves sick. If your clothes get stained they will stay that way for Christmas day when you will be allowed to wear them again.' One of the maids was nicer than the others and we begged her to give us the bags the sliced bread came in so we could bring home some leftovers. On the great day we put on our smart clothes and marched in crocodile to the church hall. Several of the boys had the bags we'd been given in their pockets. We played games and received small gifts as prizes. Tea was cress and egg and cheese and pickle sandwiches, sausage rolls and iced buns with wonder of wonders Cherryade to wash it all down with. The wise ladies restricted it to two small glasses each. The party ended with a visit from Santa Claus. Everyone received a gift and a small slice of iced fruit cake wrapped in a serviette. The ladies smiled indulgently as the bags were produced and duly filled with sausage rolls and buns, the sandwiches had all been eaten. We hid the bags under our coats and managed to smuggle them in without being caught, We were allowed to eat the cake with our bedtime drink and we shared out the rest of the food between the dormitories. In the presents were cheap cars for the boys and home made peg dolls for the girls. Each parcel also had aa bar of chocolate which we saved for another day. After that Christmas day was a bit of an anti-climax but for one last time we were allowed to wear our smart clothes before they were laundered and returned to be donated to another worthy cause.'
'Why weren't you allowed to keep them dad? You could have worn them on Sundays.' said Jeff. 'Because we all had to be dressed alike. We were not treated as individuals unless we did something wrong and even then all of us were punished on occasions.' replied Steve. Pru gave Steve a loving hug. 'I'm so glad we're part of a normal loving family.' she said. 'Me too.' said Jeff.
'And I wouldn't be without you two and mum for all the money in the world.' said Steve. 'Sit tight a minute, I've something to show you.' He put the light on and blew out the candle before going to the bedroom and returning with a very old cardboard box. He opened it and there inside wrapped in a navy blue tie was a very old looking car the worse for wear but still with 4 wheels intact and several chocolate bar wrappers.
'Is that the carasked Jeff. '' The very same and the tie I managed to keep from going back with the other clothes. I've kept them all this time to remind me of those awful days. Looking at them makes me feel so grateful for the things I have.
'We have so much we should be doing something for children less well off than we are.' said Jeff. Steve nodded but didn't mention the donation he and Dora made every year to a miner's charity or to 'Riding for the disabled' in memory of their friend Ginny from Tuckwood Farm who had died in her early twenties. 'Well you can each take a toy to the church crib service on Christmas Eve. It has to be something nice, not anything broken or with pieces missing. '
'We'll find something, won't we Pru?' said Jeff.
'Yes. I'll start looking tomorrow.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2022, 10:43:25 PM »
The next morning Paul rang to say that Cathy had only been discharged from hospital that morning but he had already booked the register office for Saturday 14th February and the reception and honeymoon at 'Fiveways' the most expensive hotel in the area which was on the outskirts of Leeds. Steve told him that they would be going to the crib service on Christmas Eve and would have to leave in plenty of time to be sure of getting seats. 'Let me know what charity they're supporting and I'll give you a donation on the quiet. I don't want to undermine what the children are doing.' 'It's the Church of England Children's Society. It's always the same.' said Steve. Pru came out of her room with a solitaire set with plastic pegs which had not been used as they liked the version they had with marbles. She also had a teddy bear still in it's box which had been sitting on her bedroom shelf. 'Are these alright Dad?, she asked. 'Perfect darling.' Jeff had founnd an Action man which had never been out of it's box and an unopened Compendium of Games. 'Can Pru and I go and see if any of the other children are coming to the service and if they have toys to take?' he said. 'Yes of course. I'll come with you.' said Steve. None of the Shaw children were going as they were going to visit the fair which Eddie used to run and still maintained a small share in. Tony and Ellie said they would take their two children and make sure they had presents to take. Jacob and Sandra wanted to go but had no suitable toys. 'I have another Teddy on the shelf Sandra can take 'said Pru. 'I have a new jigsaw for Jacob.' said Jeff. 'We'll take 2 cars so you can all come.' Steve told Mrs. Willetts.
After lunch Pru and Jeff were invited t go and help Jodie with some baking. The food hamper from Dora's parents had arrived and Dora started to put things away while Steve sat down to look at the paper. 'you know Dora, I'm really very proud of our two children. They have really taken helping less fortunate children to their hearts.'
'Well Milly was always knitting things for underprivileged families as well as for ours and with your orphanage experiences it is very real to them.'
Suddenly Steve gave a low whistle and said 'Oh no! the local Crisis at Christmas depot has had a break in and food they were going to give out at their Christmas meal has been stolen as well as the money to buy the lunch ingredients.' Dora looked at the food she had been packing. 'What's true for our children should also be true for us.' she said beginning to pack some tins into carrier bags. Steve nodded and said 'I'm going to ring mum's and see  if I can speak to Paul. I'm sure he'd help too. When he got off the telephone he was smiling. 'He heard it on the radio and has already pledged his support. I'll take this lot over. we won't miss it, we have quite enough.' He drove off and Dora began to sing Carols with the radio. 'Nowfeel like Christmas.' she said to herself.
When Steve got back he said that the Crisis at Christmas team had had lots of offers of help and were confident that they could serve the meal and distribute extra food as usual. 'The circus has arrived in the village and I've got tickets for tomorrow night ' said Steve, There's a fair too so we can go in the afternoon and sample the rides before going to the show. 'It's ages since I went to a circus and the children have never been' said Dora. After lunch the next day they drove into the village and parked in Ron's driveway as it was only a short walk from there to where the circus was situated. The sight of the Carousel brought back memories to Dora of when she, the colonel and Slugger had ridden a similar ride while they were waiting for Steve and Ron to take part in their jousting match. Some of the contestants had been injured but for Steve and Ron only their pride was hurt. They enjoyed several more rides and sideshows before returning to Ron's to leave the prizes they'd won and then get fish and chips for tea from the van on the village green. 'Do you remember Noreen?' asked Dora. 'How could I forget the trouble she almost landed Callie and the rest of us in!' said Steve. 'It was lucky she agreed to sell Moonstone to the colonel. As they walked to find their seats they told Moonstone's story to Pru and Jeff then waited in anticipation for the performance to start.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #25 on: December 23, 2022, 04:53:25 PM »
The band played 'The entry of the Gladiators and all the performers paraded round the ring before the first act, trapeze artists took to the air. Pru hid her face in Steve's shoulder worried that one of them might fall even though there was a safety net but all went well. The clowns ran on squirting the audience with water and doing other silly things before the next act, a bare backed rider rode into the ring on a beautiful white horse.
'It can't be!' exclaimed Dora. 'It is!' said Steve. 'I thought she would have retired years ago.' However there she was, Noreen her figure still trim her blonde hair a wig and the horse very young and spirited. All was going well until Noreen lost her footing and crashed to the ground. She lay motionless. The clowns rushed to catch the horse and when all was clear a couple of St. John's ambulance personnel entered the ring to tend to her. She was carried out on a stretcher and later the wailing of an ambulance siren could be heard. In true show business tradition the show went on but the audience was rather subdued. At the interval it was announced that Noreen was being cared for in Leeds hospital. That night when Dora mentioned the Carousel ride she had with the colonel and Slugger the story of the jousting match was told and the children laughed when they heard about Steve and Ron trying to walk in chain mail. Later Jeff said 'You know dad, you and mum should write all your Follyfoot memories down, then we would always have them to keep. ' 'Actually Dora, that's not a bad idea. We'll have to give it some thought.' said Steve privately thinking that there were some Follyfoot memories he did not care to share but those could be left out.
The next day he said he would go to the circus to see how Noreen was and when he got back he shook his head sadly. 'She didn't make it unfortunately. They think she may had a heart attack which caused her to fall. I saw her partner and he said he had been trying to persuade her to give up for years but she had sawdust in her blood  and it was all to no avail.'
'Are the rest of the performances still going ahead?' asked Dora.
'Yes, he said Noreen wouldn't want it any other way. They will have a 2 minutes silence before the next performance and arrange to have the funeral when they are between venues after New Year. I gave him a donation in her memory to be used as he wishes and the circus is going to use all money raised to fund training for a young performer. Shall I take the children and Benny outside to work off some steam before lunch?'
'Yes please there's some things I need to do.' As Steve was about to go outside the telephone rang and he picked it up.
'It's your mother, Dora. She sounds in a bit of a state.' She held the receiver so Steve could hear. 'Mummy what's wrong?'
'It's your father, Dora. We had a blazing row in the early hours of this morning. He packed a bag and stormed out of the house. I'm so worried that the state he's in he could have an accident. He's probably heading for your place so let me know when he arrives.'
'Oh dear, more trouble' said Steve.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #26 on: December 24, 2022, 11:31:09 AM »
Later that day a sleek black car drew up outside 'Copper's Rest.' Dora knew exactly who the visitor was. Steve had taken Pru and Jeff to Follyfoot where they were happily playing with Ellie's children while he got on with some work. Dora hastily finished filling the two stockings ready to exchange for the identical empty ones which would be hung up in the lounge on Christmas Eve. She hid  them in the master bedroom then went to open the door to her father greeting him with a hug. 'Oh daddy, you look terrible!'
'I feel terrible. your mother and I...' 'Yes I know, she phoned and told me. I have to let her know you've arrived here safely.'
'Let her stew a bit longer. Can you get me a black coffee please?'
'You've not had any alcohol have you?'
'No but the journey was harrowing, so many road closures and accidents. I don't think I was driving particularly well either, a good hot strong black coffee will soon set me to rights.'
'Have you eaten?'
'Yes I stopped at a motorway service station for breakfast.' Dora made the drink and put a couple of Hazel's sausage rolls in front of him. 'Here have this and then we'll talk about what needs to be done.' Steve and the children came in then and Steve went to shake hands with his father-in-law taking in how strained he looked. He had primed the children not to ask where Nonna was so they just said 'Hi Gandy' and went to their rooms. 'I would like to stay here with you for a while- I mean in your accommodation not actually with you of course. Your mother has gone too far this time, Dora. She always has been a bit difficult about staff you know but our live in housekeepers, the Hastings, had asked to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day off this year for the first time since we've been back home. Their youngest daughter and family are over from New Zealand for a few weeks so they wanted to stay at their other daughter's in Chelmsford so they could all spend some time together. I booked us into a hotel weeks ago but last night your mother said she didn't want to go and wanted to stay at home so the staff needed to stay too. Unbeknown to me she had already cancelled our booking. I said we would have to manage by ourselves as I had no intention of going back on my word. Mrs. Hastings said there was a good supply of ready cooked meals in the freezer and all we had to do was heat them up. She gave me full instructions. I told them that whatever Prudence said they were to take their holiday as arranged. Your mother was livid and that's how the row developed. It's the first time I remember standing up to her.'
'You were right daddy, but we do need to let her know you're safe.'
'I suppose so but I'm not going back till after Christmas. She will have to fend for herself!'
Dora dialled her parent's number.
'Prudence Maddox!'
'Mummy, it's Dora, Daddy's arrived safely here.'
'Right. I'm on the next train to Leeds. I'll let you know my ETA. I'll need picking up from Leeds station.'
The phone was slammed back into it's cradle. Steve raised his eyebrows and Arthur put his head in his hands.'
'Arthur why don't you stay in our spare room? My mum has been here recently and now it's your turn for some TLC. We'll put Nonna in one of the flats, they are always kept ready.'
'Steve's right, daddy. Come and put your things in the spare room.

(I will post the final episode later today. )
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #27 on: December 24, 2022, 04:35:31 PM »
When Jodie heard about the imminent arrival of Dora's mother she went into the flat to make sure all was in order even though it was not really part of her job. She replaced the tea and coffee, added a packet of Shortbread biscuits and some UHT milk then went to the gift shop. There were still a few Christmas Cacti left so she bought one of them and a box of liqueurs which Dora reimbursed her for.
Well Dora, I think it's  going to be an interesting few days especially tomorrow lunch when we'll have your parents, my mother and her fiance all sitting round the same table.' said Steve as they sat waiting for Prudence's train to arrive. Pru and Jeff were wrapping presents under Jodie's watchful eye. The train pulled in and Prudence alighted signalling to a porter to deal with her luggage. 'Good heavens, how long does she intend to stay?' exclaimed Dora eyeing the loaded trolley. 'I'm glad we brought the Estate car. I can't see your mother getting into the Land rover in that outfit!' said Steve. 'Yes the skirt is a bit short!' said Dora. she went forward to greet her mother who waved aside the welcoming hug.
'Where's the taxi?' 'It's our Estate Car, mummy. 'Oh very well, show this fellow where to go and give him a tip. I don't have any change!'
While Steve looked after the porter and the luggage Dora ushered her mother to the car sitting her in the front. 'She's a feisty one.' said the porter accepting a generous tip from Steve. 'I packed a few extra things for your father. i'm sure he didn't bring enough to last him through our stay.' when the car drew up outside the flat Prudence said 'Is your father here already?'
'No mummy he's staying with us at the moment to give you both time to calm down. 'I'm perfectly calm thank you!, No!
 not that bag Stephen, that's Arthur's. you can take it to him.' Prudence breezed into the flat and looked down her nose at the coffee. 'I've brought my own. you'll need to bring me some fresh milk Dora. i don't drink that stuff! you're going to have to help me unpack. I can't possibly manage this lot by myself.'
'I'll go and fetch the children and bring you some milk' said Steve.
'There's no need for them to come and see me today. I'll see them tomorrow.'
Arthur was in no hurry o be reunited with his wife. 'Come and tell me how you've been getting on at school.' he told the children.
Jeff went and got his Maths book to show him as they had some problems to solve during the holidays and  Pru showed him the spellings she had to learn. Steve was glad to see him taking an interest. When Dora got back she flopped down into the easy chair. Jodie had given Steve some spare milk and Dora had made her mother a coffee after helping or rather doing all the stowing clothes away. she had then asked what she would like for the evening meal. when told they were having steak and kidney pie she said 'Oh that's much too heavy a meal for me in the evening. I'll have steak and salad. Dora was glad that she always kept some steaks in the freezer. she said to Steve later that despite their different backgrounds their mothers both had the same lack of manners. 'will you eat with us though?'
'Of course i'm not going to cook it myself am I?'  continued
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin

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Re: A troubled Advent.
« Reply #28 on: December 24, 2022, 05:06:47 PM »
The meal was very uncomfortable with Prudence and Arthur glaring at each other and answering in monotones when either Steve or Dora spoke to them. Jeff and Pru had eaten their chicken and ham pies earlier as neither of them liked steak and kidney. The advent candle was lit after all the meals and clearing away had been finished. 'Drive me back, Dora' said  Prudence. 'What do you want to do about breakfast mummy?'
'I'll make do with coffee.' Well I've brought you a couple of croissants and jam in case you change your mind. Lunch is sharp at one at Colonel G's . Steve and I have to leave with the children at about 1.45am as we're going to the crib service at the church but you caan take your time. Get to know Cathy's fiance, Paul Graham. He's in real estate.'
After breakfast the next day, Christmas Eve Arthur put on his outdoor clothes and said he was going for a walk. 'Be back by 1pm for lunch at colonel G's.' said Dora. Paul and Cathy arrived just after noon. Steve realised once again how attractive his mother could look when she made the effort. she was dressed in a navy blue skirt with a pale blue cotton blouse adjusted to accommodate her wrist cast a lovely short navy lace cape completing the outfit. 'Paul brought me several in different colours to go with my outfits' she explained. 'I've bought some non alcoholic wine to go with lunch for anyone who's driving like me.' said Paul producing a case from the boot of his car, 'Here are the party bags I promised and also some crackers. The gold ones are for the adults and the red for the children. I hope there's enough to go round.'
'We'll go over to colonel G's  now as people will be arriving soon. I'd best go and fetch my mother. she won't walk over that's for sure!'
The games were very noisy and some required physical effort. Paul joined in the adults games. Cathy sat with a fixed smile on her face which turned genuine every time Paul looked at her. Prudence looked pained and did her best to hide behind a pot plant. Arthur arrived a few minutes before one obviously freshly showered, shaved and changed and bearing for Cathy and Prudence a corsage which he presented with a bow and a kiss on the hand. Dora had the same feeling as Steve as she looked at her parents  who both looked attractive, Arthur had charm but Prudence really didn't. 'Get them all together for a photograph' whispered Steve just before they left for the church. when this had been done Ron said 'Now you two and the children join the group and I'll take another. This will definitely be one for the family album!'
That night after the  filled stockings had been put in place, the presents put under the tree  and Arthur had gone to join  Prudence, their differences forgiven and forgotten  Dora said 'And then there were just two extra guests to deal with.'
'They'll be fine  with good food and wine inside them and I've got all I want for Christmas under our own roof' said Steve.
'Me too. Happy Christmas, stable boy.'
'Happy Christmas Boss lady!'
The end.

I will be going right back to the beginning of Cathy's story after Christmas linking up with Steve's journey to  the squire's and Follyfoot.
norfolk dumpling aka loopylin