Saturday Short Story – Hambourne Noir

You may like to read the first tale about Charlotte in this blog.

ttps://tidalscribe.com/2022/08/18/thursday-tiny-tale-2053/

Charlotte found inspiration for her new novel much quicker than she expected, but not in a way she welcomed. News spread fast in Hambourne, but while Charlotte enjoyed listening to local gossip she rarely took it seriously. As a newcomer she had no idea who they were talking about most of the time.

But today, sitting in the Hambourne Abbey Refectory, her favourite coffee stop, she heard shocked whispers at the next table then felt the gaze of the three women fall upon her. One of them she thought she recognised as the timid ‘mouse woman’ from the Hambourne Happy Creatives. She pretended to be absorbed in her phone, though she had no messages.

‘Charlotte isn’t it, you were at the group last week.’

Mouse Woman was addressing her.

‘Yes, yes, er I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.’

‘That’s okay, not many people do and when you’re new it’s hard isn’t it.’

Charlotte was happy to meet her again, she had been friendly and unintimidating at last week’s meeting.

‘Come and join us’ said one of the other women, who did look intimidating.

Charlotte imagined that mouse woman would not have issued the invitation herself, now she looked pleased to have official approval of her new friend. Like being the new girl at school, Charlotte felt pathetically grateful to be admitted to the inner circle.

‘I’m afraid we have heard some dreadful news Charlotte’ said the intimidating lady. ‘I gather you were a friend of the gentleman in question.’

Charlotte thought this unlikely as she didn’t have any friends in Hambourne yet and certainly not of the gentleman variety.

‘Oh I don’t think …’

Mouse Woman could not contain her excitement ‘Robert Falstaff, murdered.’

‘Oh no, are you sure, I mean perhaps it was natural causes, heart attack, not a suicide…’

‘Definitely murder’ said the intimidating woman.

‘Are you sure Erica?’ said Mouse Woman.

‘Yes Mini, he could hardly have stuffed his screwed up manuscripts in his mouth and cut his own hands off.’

There was a collective gasp and Charlotte felt quite sick. Hambourne Noir, what sort of place had she chosen to live? Mini the Mouse, for a moment she stifled a giggle at her appropriate name, Mini now had colour in her cheeks and it was the liveliest Charlotte had seen her. She looked around the café, a few other tables were occupied.

‘It wasn’t on the local news this morning and nobody else appears to be talking about it.’

Erica looked affronted at her doubt. ‘I happen to live a few doors away from Robert. I stepped outside to see what on earth all the commotion was this morning and there was Trudy his cleaning lady sitting on the steps of the ambulance, aluminium blanket round her, just like a TV drama.’

‘Lucky to get an ambulance,’ interrupted Mini ‘with all these strikes and hold ups at A&E, old Mr Reeves had to wait fourteen hours with his hip…’

Erica frowned ‘…so to cut a long story short I went over to see if Trudy was alright and insisted the police officers let her come inside my house and get warm, have a proper cup of tea and be interviewed away from prying eyes.’

‘You’re not supposed to give hot tea for shock’ said Mini.

‘That was hot sweet tea when my mother was with St. John’s, I didn’t put sugar in.’

‘But what did she say?’ The others were all agog.

“The blood will never come out of that Persian rug, Mr. Falstaff would be horrified at the mess.” She kept saying that over and over.’

Charlotte was wondering how long Erica was going to drag out the drama and indignant that this dislikeable woman should be privy to all the action when it was Charlotte who was the writer.

‘So how did you find out what actually happened Erica?’

‘Large drop of brandy in the tea and luckily the WPC, not that they call them that these days, had a call on her radio and went out into the hall to answer so we couldn’t hear. Managed to get the words out of Trudy before the police woman ushered me out of my own sitting room…’ she paused for effect then enacted the cleaning lady’s words. “Blue, his face all blue… and purple, bloated, then I noticed his hands were missing, well not missing, just not attached to his arms, placed neatly on his writing desk can you believe it… trail of blood all over the Persian rug, family heirloom it was, not that he had anyone to pass it on to…”

‘So she said quite a lot then’ said Mini.

‘Oh she was in a state.’

‘But who would have done such a dreadful thing’ said Charlotte. ‘Where is it you live Erica?’ she added, wondering if she could walk home that way and catch a glimpse of the drama scene, not the body obviously, but take in the atmosphere.

‘Well shall we say he wasn’t loved by everyone in Hambourne.’

‘Indeed, he was very nasty to Charlotte at the creative group’ said Mini.

Charlotte felt three pairs of eyes piercing into her soul, surely she wouldn’t be one of the suspects, just because Robert Falstaff had been scathing about her novel languishing on Amazon Kindle and her blog.

Read what happens next in the new blog…

Read tales from the Hambourne Chronicles in this collection.

Thursday Tiny Tale – Pastoral Care

‘You’re listening to BBC Radio 4 and on ‘Sunday’ this morning we talk to one of the Church of England’s exorcists, the Reverend Nick De’Vilno. Rev, many people will be surprised to hear the church today still has exorcists.’

‘Actually we call it our deliverance ministry.’

‘Does the Church of England really believe people can be possessed?’

‘We believe some people genuinely believe they are possessed, “deliverance” is part of pastoral care: it is the ministry of liberating, freeing or delivering a person from a burden which they carry.’

‘But do you believe a person could really be possessed by demons or even The Devil himself?’

‘Our Lord talked about casting out demons, but that was the language his listeners would have understood.

‘So you don’t believe Jesus cast out demons into a herd of swine.’

‘I believe the poor man would have seen his troubled mind eased in a way he could understand.’

‘I understand the Archbishop has given permission for the makers of the popular podcast ‘It Really Happened’ to follow your ministry.’

‘Yes indeed, but if listeners are hoping for sensationalism or to be terrified, they will be sorely disappointed. They will hear about our working together with mental health practitioners to help those in need.’

‘Welcome to this week’s special podcast with me Robbie Danson. I am waiting outside a very ordinary suburban house with the Reverend Nick De’Vilno, an exorcist with the Church of England, or as he prefers, a member of the church’s deliverance ministry. Inside the house is the owner, who we shall call David, as that is his name and with him is a mental health specialist who works in close collaboration with the deliverance ministry. When she comes out she will tell us if it is appropriate for Nick to chat to David.’

‘Just chat at this stage Nick?’

‘Of course, this is essentially a pastoral visit.’

‘Ah, the front door is opening now, a young woman is stepping, no running…

‘Oh God help us, run Robbie, I’m not going back in there again, run, let’s get out of here Vicar… I h..hope you really have ggot God on your side…’

‘Wait, wait calm down dear.’

‘Don’t you****ing tell me to calm down, that poor mmman, it’s going to get him…’

‘Okay, okay, I’ll just pop in and talk to him, see, there he is at the door.’

This is Robbie Danson still here, things are really kicking off, the mental health worker has fled and Nick has gone to talk to David… let’s move closer so we can hear.’

‘It’s okay David, what is it you are afraid of…’

‘The television, it was IN the television, like it has been for weeks, nobody believed me, horrible, horrible…’

‘We believe you, are you sure it wasn’t a horror movie, you accidentally knocked the remote control onto another channel. Let’s go inside and check.’

‘I can’t, I can’t get away, but I wwon’t go back in there.’

‘It will be okay, if it’s in the television set it can’t hurt you, look. I’ll go in first…’

‘NOOO you mustn’t … it, it came OUT of the television…’

‘This is the BBC News at Six O’clock, here are the headlines.  A well know podcast has been widely criticised and The Archbishop of Canterbury is to make a statement shortly, after a member of the clergy and a parishioner he was trying to help, were both killed in an horrific unexplained accident.’

The Henchman

Benny ‘Biceps’ Bison, was it really him? Yes it had to be, even bigger than when he was in sixth form, but if there was any doubt in Julian’s mind that he had spotted Benny on his first visit to this new gym, it was dispelled when Benny extricated himself from some weird contraption and came striding over.

‘Hey Julie Ringlets, what brings you here? No need to ask what you are doing these days, you’re never off the news.’

Julian Ringlington, MP, new Minister for Levelling Down, forced a tight smile, perhaps it was not that great seeing Benny again.

‘Long time no see Benjamin, how are you these days?’

‘Never better, but what Are you doing here.’

‘Oh erm, looking round, thinking of changing gyms, is it good here, are you a regular?’

Julian had already decided this was one gym to avoid.

‘You could say that, I own it.’

After a comprehensive tour of the gym with Benny introducing every incomprehensible piece of computer controlled equipment, Julian found himself upstairs in the designer health bar sipping a green smoothie.

‘So Jules, how many ministries have you had this year? Wonder you could get out your front door with all those climate protesters when you were minister for the Environment, now every mob seems to be attacking you. Do you actually enjoy being a politician?

‘I would if I got a chance to make a difference and put all my ideas into action. Between press and protesters I feel I can hardly breathe, let alone speak.’

Julian wondered what was in the green smoothie that had loosened his tongue to confide in Ben, but then Benjamin Bison had been his best friend at school, or the closest thing he had to a friend at school.

Look Jules, I have had an amazing idea, we were always a good team at school, remember that time they were going to flush your head down the lav?’

Julian was hardly likely to forget, one of the many times Benny had rescued him.

‘What you need is a henchman; in my case a sort of cross between a personal trainer and a bodyguard, with a few more tricks up my sleeve than your security chaps are allowed.’

 Julian Ringlington was unsure exactly what the Portfolio for Minister for Levelling Down covered, but with a new found confidence he ploughed his own path and was soon in great demand on high and low brow radio and television.

‘…so that is why we are giving everyone living alone on a tight budget a dog. A dog on the sofa and the foot of your bed keeps you far warmer than an electric blanket or the gas fired central heating.’

‘And where will you get all the dogs from?’

‘Rescue centres are overfull, all the puppies people bought during lockdown and got fed up with. The dogs will be happy and it will also be good for the mental health of their new owners, keep them out of the doctors’ surgeries. It’s all win win.’

‘…so we intend to close down all schools for the winter and return to on line teaching, saving on staff costs and heating bills for school buildings.’

‘But then families will need to keep their heating on longer if the children are at home and they will miss out on school lunches.

‘No problem, the whole family can go to the free warm hubs and enjoy community meals.’

‘Can you guarantee enough of these hubs?’

‘Of course, we will be using all the empty school buildings…’

As more and more press and public gathered wherever Julian went, his new private secretary Benjamin Bison was at his side, parting the crowds like Moses and the Red Sea, ‘accidentally’ treading on toes or knocking large news  camera lens askew. Among press and politicians alike there was covert concern as to who this Benjamin Bison was, but everyone was too scared to enquire.

Monday Monologue – Fabian’s Fantoms

Fabian? It’s your mother. I know it comes up on your screen, but you do have to be careful who you’re talking to in your job. Yes, dead or alive and I am very much alive. Sorry I missed your Sunday night slot, but I was watching something good on television. But the good news is I have got the hang of BBC Sounds on my iPad and I managed to listen just now. Yes of course, I tell all my friends to listen in to Fabian’s Fantoms at midnight. Marcia wants to know if they’re all true, I told her you never fake the stories. Last night was true wasn’t it? I can’t believe they let you in to number ten…. Number Ten Downing Street… But you were, I listened to it.

Waterworks Cottage in Cumbria? My hearing’s not that bad, it was definitely you talking from Downing Street, nobody else could imitate your voice and I am hardly likely to forget you and the new Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room talking to all those dead Prime Ministers, Chancellors and Home Secretaries…. No not Richie Sunak, the one after that… hmm I was surprised we had yet another new PM, transgender too, or was it non-binary, what was their name, they had just changed it.

I am not playing a Halloween joke, the state of the planet is not a joke, no wonder those past great statesmen decided to manifest themselves and knock some sense into our leaders. Okay, if you don’t believe me look up BBC Sounds for yourself. I shall too, now I am beginning to wonder if I am going mad.

Here it is; episode 666 of Fabian’s Fantoms. Fabian joins the new Prime Minister to investigate their claims that 10 Downing Street is haunted by previous incumbents, broadcast live on Sunday night. Fabian, are you there, are you alright, you sound strange. Read further?

..Sunday night 29th October 2023, but that doesn’t make sense, just a mistake… Broadcast again on Tuesday midnight, 31st October 2023 as a tribute to Fabian Falstaff who died suddenly on Monday morning 30th October 2023.

Shocktober Tales – A Perfect Job

It sounded perfect, John’s dream job and a move to the countryside. Polly did not want to go, though she cheered up a little when we explained she didn’t have to leave her toys behind.

I’m not sure what I expected, I should have realised a secret research station would have a fence round it, a strong fence, an ugly fence that jarred with the surrounding landscape. When John said we would be living in the old lighthouse he forgot to mention it was inside the fence.

We had moved in such a hurry, John was caught up in the excitement of being head hunted and my head was in such a whirl I had not queried why they wanted him so urgently. My penniless sister was delighted to leave home and move into our house with her boyfriend and look after the cat.

The turning on to the private gravel road was not easy to find, but that added to the excitement of our journey. Bye Bye West London suburb, hello West Country. We weren’t even sure if we were in Devon, Cornwall or Somerset, but I didn’t care as autumn trees gave way to beautiful rugged moorland. The gravel road soon gave way to a bumpy track, but we knew we were going the right way as there were signs with large red writing at frequent intervals. 

PRIVATE LAND

THIS AREA IS COVERED BY CCTV

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CLEARANCE TURN AROUND NOW

IF YOU ARE LOST PHONE THIS NUMBER IMMEDIATELY AND AWAIT INSTRUCTIONS

SECURITY PASSES NEEDED IN 100 YARDS

Perhaps I should have asked John what they actually did at the research station and what he was going to do. I fumbled in my bag for my phone, I wanted to send pictures of the signs and impress everyone back home. When John realised what I was doing he nearly ran the car off the track.

‘I told you we had to leave phones at home.’

‘We wouldn’t have found our way here without my smart phone.’

‘I thought you were following the map I gave you.

‘Map, how am I supposed to read that paper map.’

‘You’ll have to surrender your phone at the gate.’

You are joking, how am I supposed to live without it and how can Polly play her games?’

‘I thought you were looking forward to getting away from it all?’

‘That’s beside the point; what do they actually do here that is so secret?’

‘The whole point of secret research is that it is secret and the last people you tell are wives and little daughters.’

At last we reached a double set of huge gates with actual sentry boxes, it was rather exciting and I sneaked out my phone hoping I could get one quick shot of the guard, but a uniformed arm suddenly shot through the open window and grabbed my phone. Luckily Polly was asleep and missed this scary moment.

The decommissioned lighthouse was not as romantic as I had imagined, though inside it was quite homely. We could just about glimpse the sea from the tiny top window, no wonder it had not been a success as a lighthouse.

‘Unicorn doesn’t like this place Mummy.’

‘He’ll get used to it Polly, unicorns are very brave.’

‘Mummy’s right, tomorrow we can all go exploring.’

There was an inner fence around the research buildings and more security gates, there was enough land for a good walk, but I wanted to see the sea, take Polly down to the beach. John was as flummoxed as me. First thing to do was find some of John’s colleagues, discover who else lived here and where the shops were.

All my questions were met with loud guffaws from a chap who looked more like a trawlerman than a research scientist.

‘Shops… you did bring plenty of supplies? Beach… don’t you let your little one anywhere near the cliff edge. Nursery, pre school… well there are a couple of other kiddies around, but you best be asking Maggie.’

The soothing distant sounds of the sea on our first night were replaced by howling winds on the second. I didn’t know how John could sleep so soundly. I tip toed out to check on Polly. For a moment my blood ran cold, yes that saying is true. Polly was not in her bed, nor was Unicorn. With relief I saw her at the round window, face pressed against the glass, Unicorn had his horn squashed against the window.

‘Polly, you’ll get cold, come back to bed.

‘Mummy, Mummy, Unicorn likes it here now, he’s got a new friend, come and look, please.’

 I could see nothing but total darkness outside, the wind was even louder.

‘Oh, he’s gone, I hope he hasn’t flown away. Unicorn wants us to go outside and find him.’

‘No Polly we can’t go outside, it’s night time.’

‘Unicorn says he only comes out at night.’

‘Did you see an owl?’

‘No Mummy, don’t be silly, come outside and you will get a big surprise.’

We were supposed to be having adventures and on such a well guarded sight there could be no dangers lurking. Out we crept; Polly was not at all scared of the dark, even though she couldn’t sleep without a night light at home. I saw the glow first and assumed it was security coming round with torches and hoped we wouldn’t get told off.

‘Mummy, there he is.’

 Her hand gripped mine, but she was shaking with excitement not fear and pulling me towards the impossible sight.

‘I want to ride him, Unicorn wants a ride, can I go flying… come on Mummy, pleeese…’

Her hand slipped out of mine as she clung onto her cuddly Unicorn and darted towards the creature glowing in the dark. Its horn glowed pink, his flowing mane was rainbow colours… I almost laughed to see a racehorse size version of Polly’s cuddly unicorn, but unlike Polly’s toy this was a replica of the dream figure she wanted for Christmas, a winged unicorn. Finer than any plastic figure, he was magnificent, but what was I thinking, this wasn’t real, I must be dreaming. As I shook my head and tried to wake up I saw Polly was seated on his back, still clutching her cuddly toy.

Look Mummy we’re flying, bye bye Mummy…’

Gracefully the creature soared into the sky and was soon a tiny dot. I rushed back inside, I must have been sleep walking. Once I saw Polly safely asleep in bed then I would know it was a dream and how Polly and John would laugh in the morning when I told them my dream.

Polly’s bed was empty and cuddly Unicorn was gone.

Forty Four Days – Digital Dialogue – 315

Well… what did she say?

Darling, you know that is confidential.

Yes, but you can tell your wife.

You know I can’t tell anyone, how many times have we had this conversation?

But these are strange times and you need someone to talk to, like Me. I bet Mama used to tell Papa a few snippets of her weekly audience.

No of course she did not, you know my Darling Mama took her holy vows and traditions seriously.

But you wouldn’t know would you, if she had told him he would never have let her down by giving the game away. So couldn’t you just tell me what you said to her? Just a little bit…

I said ‘Dear Oh Dear.’

That’s what they overheard you saying the other day.

It’s pretty much what I have said every time I have met the wretched woman. I did say more, but I’m sorry my Darling Cam Cams, you are never going to know. However, you can help me with my speech, I think it’s time I addressed the country again.

Yes, yes, you must… such a pity you can’t …well you would make a better job than the lot of them running the country.

I agree and perhaps… no no, I don’t want to be beheaded.

But that was only the first Charles, the second one they were jolly glad to have back again and so they will support you.

But he was only thirty, much younger even than Wills; I’m getting too old for all this business and I certainly didn’t think I would have to break in another Prime Minister so soon… unless I don’t have to because I abolish the office, just temporarily… oh damn it, why not go the whole hog and dismiss Parliament. Come on, let’s get that speech written; have you got your mobile handy? Call the BBC.

Tuesday Tiny Tale -565 – Uncle Brian

It didn’t help that Uncle Brian was six foot four and an ex rugby player. The fact that he had a glorious bass voice that sent ladies aflutter was a distinct disadvantage. Perhaps if it had not been the annual family Halloween party we would have taken Brian more seriously. Uncle Brian had always been a joker, so we were used to his larger than life pranks.

When we were young we always went to Uncle Brian and Aunty May’s summer barbeques, but when he and his rugby mates had had a good few bevvies and the ribald jokes started we were quickly rounded up for home time. Once, when we had Granny squashed in the back seat as well, I said ‘Mum, is Uncle Brian very rich?’

Dad laughed. ‘You must be joking.’

‘So why do his friends say he’s well endowed?’

Granny let out a sort of choking sound and Mum shushed me.

The Halloween party was one social occasion my husband did not try to avoid, he said you never knew what was going to happen when my family got together. He certainly wasn’t disappointed this year.

It wasn’t actually Halloween yet, but any time in October was good enough and it was my cousin’s turn to have it at their place. Just about everyone had turned up except Uncle Brian and Aunty May. The children ran around dressed as pumpkins and skeletons and the adults caught up with the gossip. We were just murmuring that Brian and May were a bit late when the door bell rang and we heard Brian’s loud voice in the hall. When he walked into the sitting room, strangely the first thing I noticed, he had shaved his beard off. The second thing I noticed, he was dressed as a woman; completely, from his high heels to his coiffured hair and perfect make up.

He stood poised elegantly as the room fell silent, we waited for him to laugh, then the children started giggling, but Brian wasn’t laughing. My cousin grinned. ‘Daad it’s not fancy dress, that was last year.’

‘It’s not fancy dress, from now on I’m Bryony.’

Ha ha,’ said his brother ‘next thing you’ll be telling us you’re gay.’

‘Not gay, just in the wrong body, always have been, now the real me has come out.’

‘You mean this isn’t one of your jokes…’ said his daughter tremulously.

‘Nope, no joke, but I’m still your Dad, nothing’s changed.’

I risked a glance at my husband who was relishing every moment and opened his mouth to speak.

‘Have you had it chop…’

I dug him in the ribs and jumped up before he could say any more. I had heard all the programmes, read the magazine articles, I was well up on the LGBTQ scene, I knew what to say. I clasped Uncle Brian’s hand.

Well done, if this is what you want, we can go shopping for clothes together and we’ll support you all the way.’

I paused waiting for him to let out a loud guffaw and say ‘I really fooled you all this time’ but he didn’t.

Then someone else piped up.

‘So where’s Aunty May, just realised she isn’t here.’

‘Ah, erm, well she wasn’t feeling at all well and sends her apologies… Anyway isn’t it time for some food and I must sit down, my feet are killing me.’

Thursday Tiny Tale 444 – In The Dark

You could cut the darkness with a knife, feel it’s heaviness. Once the land rover had driven out of sight there was no light. This was the night my ancestors knew; when the last embers had died and the lard lamp guttered. There was no moon and no starlight penetrated the forest canopy.

I knew I was only yards from the track we had just driven along, but my sense of direction had deserted me, though I had not turned or moved a step. I reached in my pocket for my phone, though I knew it was not there. A warm coat and a bottle of water the only concessions to basic needs. Minutes ago, what lay ahead seemed so easy; use my other senses, feel my tread, listen to the sounds of nature and walk in a straight line the way I had been sent… keep going until the first glimpse of dawn or the village lights, whichever came first.

But if I set off in the wrong direction I would not find anywhere or anyone and they would not find me.

I should have timed how long it took to reach this spot from the edge of the track, but I had no means of telling the time, I had not even a sense of how many minutes I had stood on this spot. Should I start walking, then after an indeterminate interval stop if I did not feel the soft autumn carpet change to the gravel track?

Was my heart really beating so loudly I could hear it? I reached out my hands and felt solid tree trunk. Perhaps I should curl up in its roots and wait till sunrise, but then they would find me if they returned. I needed to find the village we had passed. A bleakness descended on me that I had never known before, a loneliness that was complete. I had no god to call on and I could not reach out to the seething mass of humanity that I so often wanted to get away from. My soul was stripped bare and I was found wanting, I was not capable of existing as an individual.

Foolishly I started running in sheer panic and found myself flung to the ground by The Green Man. Spitting leaves out of my mouth a glimmer of sense returned; it was not the spirit of the woods, merely a tree root that had tripped me. Relief was replaced by pain then despair at my own foolishness; why had I been talked into joining a boot camp that promised to clear my brain and cure my addiction to screen time?

For more dark tales dip into one of my collections, only 99pence on Amazon or available in paperback.

Silly Saturday Short Story – 515 – Upside Down

‘CLOSED – Closed due to illness… the one evening we finally get to try the trendy micro brewery and it’s closed.’

‘Shall we settle for The George?’

No way, they’re showing the football said Lucy. ‘Can’t we go back to yours Sal, grab a bottle of wine and order a takeaway.’

‘No, Alan’s got his mates round for a few beers to watch the match, that’s why I wanted to come out in the first place. Shall we go round yours Tam?’

‘Sorry, Milly’s invited her new boyfriend, promised we would be out till at least ten.’

‘Okay Lucy, let’s go to yours, Ed’s away, no problem.’

‘No, No… you can’t possibly come round mine, everything’s totally upside down.’

‘Ha ha, I find that hard to believe, your immaculate house always puts me and Tam to shame.’

‘It can’t possibly be as bad as the state I left mine in this morning’ said Tam. ‘Come on, we can pick up a couple of bottles at the Co Op on the way and ring up for a pizza.’

‘Okay, if you don’t believe me, you are going to be in for a shock.’

‘Yay, it is Shocktober, we’re ready for anything as long as we have wine, one white, one pink, one red.’

The closer we got to Lucy’s corner the more worried she looked, there seemed to be a lot of traffic around and as we got nearer to her little road there were lots of people walking in the same direction.  I was about to say Oh, I hope there’s nothing wrong… when we turned the corner and got a shock Tam and I certainly weren’t expecting.

Lucy’s immaculate house, with its new blue cladding, was upside down, literally. A crowd was gathering, staring in awe at the house balancing on its roof. From the crowd a woman was emerging with a microphone.  

Lucy grabbed both of us, there was a horrible clanking as the wine bottles hit the pavement.

‘Quick, park, hole in fence, before neighbours recognise me’ mumbled Lucy.

Stumbling through a hedge, slipping on wet grass, this was not the girls’ night out we had hoped for.

‘Lucy, this isn’t your road, can’t be, it’s a film set, no other explanation’ I hissed.

‘If only it was a film set, I was hoping I had imagined the whole thing this morning’ gasped Lucy. ‘I lost the key to Ed’s mother’s house; I’m meant to be feeding the cats every evening while she’s away, locking them in safely for the night. I was in a right panic this morning, she’ll kill me if anything happens to her precious cats.’

‘Cats are the least of your problems’ said Tam.

‘I know that now, but this morning I said to myself, or perhaps I said it out loud

“I’m going to turn this place upside down till I find that wretched key.”

I went out the front to make sure I hadn’t dropped it on the driveway last night and when I turned to go back inside, the house was upside down.’

Monday Monologue 475 – Right Move

Don’t tell anyone Terry, but next door are moving… I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  Purple Bricks, I saw the board up. Of course I wouldn’t say anything to anyone, but I had my appointment at the hairdressers and I was so shocked I told Deb and she said her step daughter was looking to move. Yes you did know she had a step daughter, her husband’s much older. Anyway, when I got home the board had disappeared. Ah ha but it is still for sale, I know that because Deb looked it up on line and the house was there, with the price and pictures and everything, did you know you could do that?  Oh I suppose you’re au fait with all that modern stuff. Do you think they know their house is there for everyone to see?

Hello Terry, no they didn’t say anything when I was watering the front garden, but guess what, Pat the other side of them said Tony and Tim the other side of her got a message from a friend who thought their house was up for sale; he had seen it on Purple Bricks, so it must be true. Oh you looked it up as well, can you show me how to look it up on my iPad when you come round. No they haven’t been there long and they had all that work done and blinds and a new patio. Testing the market… perhaps, but who would dare to move at the moment.

Come in Terry, the iPad’s warming up… no I think they’re keeping a low profile, but Pete across the road said he saw it on Right Move…    Isn’t that amazing, you’re so good with computers . Good heavens, who would buy a house with that wallpaper and at that price, surely they can’t be asking that much, Monopoly money. I feel nosey though, looking round their house in secret. No I haven’t been inside, we had lockdown soon after they moved in, they did keep saying you must come round for a cup of coffee when things are normal, but they’re always so busy, nice couple though and their son just started school. Will they know I’ve been looking… oh thank goodness…  What? Anyone in the whole country, or the world could look into their house, how awful, can’t they stop it?  So if you want to sell your house you put it on line and you want lots of people to look? Oh quick Terry, go and look out the window, is that a couple coming to look at their house? No, no I think those are their friends, I recognise the dog and the red car. Come away from the window Terry, we don’t want them to think we’re being nosey.