QuaranTime to Read. . . Chapter Four


QuaranTime to Read

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Four

Saturday passed in a blur of children’s activities – buying plimsolls, helping with homework, tidying up. It had rained during the night, and Christopher was delighted to find the trenches had become temporary home to several frogs. Abigail refused to set foot outside the back door.

Sunday morning dawned cold and bright, and Peter decided he would escort Jane to church. She was surprised but pleased. Usually she took Christopher and a fairly reluctant Abigail on her own, and she was always pleased when he joined them.

The church they attended was the local Baptist chapel and Jane had chosen it for the people, not the décor. It was not dissimilar to a draughty cowshed, complete with damp smell and dust particles dancing in the sunlight that streamed through the square windows. It had a high ceiling and was cold, whatever the weather outside. Taking a cardigan to church was more important than carrying a Bible.

They sat at the back, sliding into the light oak pew, shuffling slightly to alleviate the hardness. There were cushions, embroidered in a bygone age and never washed, which were gathered possessively by the older members when they arrived and firmly sat upon. Several people turned and smiled in greeting, and Abigail left them to sit with her friend Samantha. Mrs. Whorl, in matching turquoise coat and hat, ceased her subdued playing on the organ and the minister stepped forwards to the pulpit. He announced the first song, and everyone stood.

Pastor Rob was tall and dark, with a large smile and even larger teeth. Tired eyes twinkled above a large nose as he stretched out his hands and welcomed the congregation. Jane guessed him to be aged about thirty-five, with a younger wife and two extremely naughty boys. One was crawling under the pew as they all sang, while his brother surreptitiously tore pieces from the page of a hymn book, turning it into a holy serviette. His mother stood beside him, eyes closed in concentration, trying to lose herself in the song. Jane wondered if she was succeeding.

Jane watched Mrs. Whorl as she played. Her head nodded up and down, keeping strict time as she forced the ancient tune out of the organ. Jane felt the original composer had probably not envisioned such a strident rendition. Beside her, Christopher stood on the pew leaning against his father’s arm. Peter held the hymn book so they could both see and was laboriously moving a finger beneath each word. Christopher watched the finger.

The hymn abruptly ended and they all sat. Pastor Rob led the people in prayers and a Bible reading. Then there was a modern praise song, which Mrs. Whorl played, exuding disapproval, as quickly as possible. Pastor Rob smiled at his rebellious musician and suggested a repeat.

As they sat, Peter leaned towards Jane, pointing at the lady sitting in front of them. “Do you think she got her knitting patterns in a muddle?” he whispered.

Jane looked. The elderly lady had pinned a neat circle of crochet work to the top of her head. It strongly resembled a table mat and Jane shook with silent giggles while gesturing to Peter to listen to the sermon.

The pastor was describing God’s love for the world. He held a twenty-pound note above his head and asked who would like it. Jane could tell from the back of Abigail’s head that she was suddenly attentive. Several people were smiling, anticipating what would be said, others were using the children’s talk as an excuse to check their phones. A young girl, nudged into a response by her mother, agreed that she would like the money.

Pastor Rob crumpled the note into a ball, threw it on the floor, and stepped on it. He lifted it high, showing it to be wrinkled and dirty, asking, “Does anyone want it now that it’s been spoilt?”

The child was still keen to receive it and when questioned, responded, “Because it’s still worth something.”

The pastor allowed a moment of silence, before agreeing, “Yes, it’s still worth something…” He then went on to explain that people too can be spoilt and broken by experiences but they are still of value to God.

“God doesn’t just like you a bit,” he reminded the congregation. “He loves you enough to die for you.”

Jane looked at her family. Abigail was passing a note to her friend, Christopher was running a toy car up and down his leg, Peter seemed lost in thought. Were they even listening? Did they understand?

“I want to be worth something,” she thought, “I want to be worth more than just the person who wipes up marmalade and finds lost socks.” She felt strangely emotional, and began to search through her bag, looking for a distraction. People would think she was odd if she cried at a talk aimed at kids. The children were leaving now, shuffling towards the door ready for their own groups. Jane watched them, saw the resignation in their body language, knew that very few actually looked forward to being there.

Rob opened his Bible, and launched into his sermon. The words washed over Jane. She liked being in church, but not for too long. Church was something she ‘did’, but it was best afterwards, when the duty had been ticked off for the day and she could get on with all the other things she wanted to do. Attendance was a habit—a  good habit, she reminded herself—but she often found herself distracted during the sermons, waiting for them to end.

The final two hymns were announced, the children sidled back into church and people began to shuffle as they retrieved their hymn books and searched for the correct pages. Something caught Jane’s eye and she looked at the front pew. Rob’s wife was holding onto one boy who was trying to escape, while the other was pulling plaintively at her cardigan. He was hopping from leg to leg and obviously needed to use the toilet.

The congregation stood to sing and the pastor, noticing the problem from the pulpit, went to rescue his wife. He deftly lifted his desperate son over the pew and carried him through the front door to the toilets. He walked very tall, he liked being the one who solved problems, was a capable multi-tasker. His wife relaxed momentarily with relief; and then froze in horror.

Pastor Rob had forgotten to turn off his radio microphone. The sounds of the washroom door, opening and closing, were clearly audible over the speaker system. So were Rob’s words.

“The Lord is my light,” sang the congregation.

“Is it a poo or a wee?” came from the speakers.

“Then why should I fear?” sang the people, one or two looking around with puzzled expressions.

“Sit there until you’ve finished,” echoed from the speakers.

“By day and by night,” sang a rather hesitant congregation while straining to hear the next announcement.

“Bend over and I’ll give you a wipe, then you can pull the flush and wash your hands.”

“His presence is near,” sang three deaf old ladies.

The rest of the church shook with barely restrained laughter while Mrs. Whorl played valiantly to the end of the hymn.

Jane’s sides ached with laughter and she dare not look at Peter.

“Mummy, what’s funny?” asked Christopher, but she could only shake her head mutely. The unsuspecting minister then returned to the pulpit for the closing prayer and the service ended.

People seemed reluctant to leave the church. Jane often felt she gained as much from the post service chat as she did from the service. People sat or stood in small groups, some talking earnestly in hushed voices, others laughing. Pastor Rob stood by the door, shaking hands as people made their exit. Someone had explained to him about the microphone and Jane heard him bellow with laughter. Rob loved people, and accepted them as they were, faults included; and he tended to assume he was loved in return. Jane guessed it would be his wife Esther who carried the wounds of criticism on his behalf. At present she was removing a child from a large arrangement of lilies and explaining that he could not take one home.

“Shall we go?” suggested Peter. He was always uncomfortable at informal church gatherings, anxious that someone might speak to him. He found the whole open friendly chatter difficult—he had little in common with these people, so why would he want to spend time talking to them? There were better things to spend time on, and you never knew if someone particularly odd might corner you, forcing you into an embarrassing conversation you couldn’t escape from. He definitely preferred the anonymity of an Anglican service, where it was possible to arrive and leave without ever having to speak to another individual.

Jane beckoned to Abigail and followed Peter to the door. Pastor Rob was engrossed in conversation with an elderly man and they slipped out unseen.

“Well,” remarked Peter, “That was certainly entertaining!”

He lifted Christopher onto his shoulders as they walked to the car.

“I wanted that twenty pounds,” said Abigail. “Do you think Pastor Rob gave it to that girl? And what’s for dinner?”

“Roast lamb,” said Jane, “assuming the automatic oven came on. And peas. And potato.”

“Yukky peas!” wailed Christopher, “I hate peas!”

“Me too,” said Abigail.

“Can’t say I’m too keen,” added Peter as he stooped to unlock the car, swinging Christopher back down to the ground.

“Then perhaps one of you would like to cook dinner next week,” muttered Jane as she climbed into the car. Any peaceful feelings generated by the service had evaporated and she felt cross and resentful. Ahead of her loomed another culinary Everest with a dry and tasteless meal at the pinnacle. She felt suddenly tired and leaned back into the seat.

Peter reached across and squeezed her leg.

“You all right, my little twenty-quid girl?” he asked, then started the car and drove home.

***

Jane felt somewhat happier when the daily ordeal of providing a meal was over. The lamb had closely resembled leather and the potatoes had disintegrated when cooking, leaving only hard cores that proved resistant to mashing. Only the peas had emerged pleasantly edible and no one liked them anyway. As the supermarket-manufactured fruit pie and ice cream were all that anyone ate, Jane wondered why she continued with the ritual sacrifice of raw ingredients.

The afternoon was fine and bright and Peter decided that they should all go for a walk. Christopher was delighted and quickly collected his boots and the dog lead. The dog staggered towards him, swaying in time to his wagging tail. In a few short years he had changed from an energetic Tigger to an arthritic hippo, but his enthusiasm never wavered. He surveyed Christopher with adoring eyes as the child struggled to attach the clip to the collar. Jane reached to help him and called Abigail.

“Abi, are you ready?”

“Do I have to come?” queried the girl, who had hoped to watch television all afternoon. “I’ve got loads of homework and I’ll never get everything done if I have to walk.”

“Well…” began Jane.

“Yes!” interjected Peter. “It’s a lovely day and we’re all going for a walk. Hurry up and put some wellies on.”

***

They set off, and were soon squelching across an abandoned field adjacent to a building site. Max paused for long sniffing detours, whilst Christopher wound his way through every available puddle. Abigail lagged behind, reluctantly enjoying the fresh air and wistfully watching her younger brother.

“You’ll fall over,” she said, as Christopher slid through a particularly deep puddle.

“I’ve lost a boot! I’ve lost a boot!” called Christopher gleefully. He balanced precariously on one leg, waving a besocked foot.

Peter hoisted him free while Jane removed the other boot. She watched her son stretch his arms around his father’s neck, secure in his vantage point on Peter’s shoulders. He rested his cheek on top of Peter’s head, then giggled as a sock came free and floated down to the mud. Jane retrieved it and carried it with the two dirty boots. She watched the tangible love between father and son as they crossed the field. Their fair hair was so similar she could not discern where one head began and the other ended. Both exuded happiness, as did Abigail who was now describing to her the plans for a school outing. Jane nodded and smiled, not really listening. Inside, she was restless, wanting something more than this. It was lovely, very cosy, everyone contented.

But inside, something uncertain had woken, something that removed her from the scene and set her apart. It wasn’t enough anymore…

To be continued on Tuesday

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QuaranTime to Read . . . Chapter Three


‘QuaranTime to Read’

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Three

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

 

Amazon link here

 

Thanks for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

I recommend a visit. . . don’t wear heels


I was supposed to be in Jersey, exploring the island while Husband worked. But Kia had her emergency operation, and Coronavirus seemed to be rampaging, so we cancelled. Shame—I have never been to Jersey. Maybe later in the year.

Instead, we went to Rye. Probably not quite as exciting, but it’s one of those places I pass every time I go to Camber Sands, and yet I have never explored the ancient winding streets, or peered through the leaded-light windows of the sweetshop, and the day was sunny, so off we set.

As you enter Rye from the north, there are car parks, right on the edge of town. Leave your car there, otherwise you will have to navigate narrow streets and steep hills, bumping over cobbles, and very few streets are wide enough to park on any way. If they are full, there’s more parking near the train station. Really, you have to explore Rye on foot.

Rye is built on a rock, a huge lump of sandstone that rises up from otherwise completely flat land. In Medieval times, it was almost completely surrounded by sea, but now is two miles from the coast. It has a river, with a lock, at the bottom of the rock and some terraced cottages elbowing for room next to a road that is too fast and busy, especially in the summer. We found a bench next to the river (and a dead rat, actually, but we’ll skip over that detail) and ate our sandwiches listening to seagulls and staring at the narrow river flowing through thick banks of mud. When the tide is in, the river swells, and big boats use it to reach the sea; they were all stranded on the mud when we were there.

You leave the river, and walk up roads named things like Mermaid Street, pebbled cobblestones underfoot, ancient houses on either side. The houses have wonderful names too, like The House With Two Doors (a house, with two front doors, right next to each other) and The House With The Seat (you can guess that one). Some have plaques with the date. Although some of the cellars date as far back as 1156, the houses all seem to have been rebuilt in 1421. I am guessing this is due to the French, who burned the town to the ground on June 22nd, 1377. (We should probably have forgiven them by now, but I’m not so sure myself.)

In the 1700s, Rye was a thriving port, and the infamous Hawkhurst Gang ran a smuggling ring, using the cellars of local houses and pubs to escape the authorities. We drove through Hawkhurst on the way to Rye, and it’s now a pretty village of middle-class cottages, so maybe the smugglers all moved away or were hanged. If you visit the Mermaid Inn in Rye, you can walk the dark corridors, under the heavy beams, and imagine that they are still there, discussing evil deeds next to the fireplace.

Not everyone in Rye was bad, and there are two churches, right next to each other (which feels somewhat confrontational). The older, Anglican Church, is worth a peek inside. Hanging from the ceiling is a huge pendulum, ticking backwards and forwards. You can climb the clock tower to see the view, but I managed to avoid that. There was piped choir music, which created a nice atmosphere. The church is old, but with signs of modern activity: a collection for a food bank, and a prayer board for Zimbabwe, and a library of second-hand books. I expect it’s a nice church to belong to.

Outside is the old vicarage, and a memorial to the last town crier (though you can almost see him walking though the streets). There is also the curved brick wall of a water tower, with pump attached, for the townsfolk to collect water.

We popped to the Ypres Tower (where there’s a museum, but it’s shut until April). The tower was part of the Cinque Ports—Edward the Confessor built five ports and two forts. There are more benches at the tower, and it would probably be a better spot for a picnic than our dead-rat bench, as there are lovely views.

When you pass Rye (as we have many times) you notice the old stone gate, built in 1329 and home to many pigeons and doves—though I’m assuming that wasn’t the original purpose.

We spent a happy two hours wandering round, then returned to the car and drove home. We could have spent longer there, especially in the summer when more would be open, or after the Coronavirus scare when we may have felt more inclined to eat in a cafe. I recommend a visit, don’t wear heels.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

PS. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes, Kia continues to improve and is regaining her bounce.

Thanks for reading.
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Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

UK link Here

QuaranTime to Read — Chapter Two


What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Chapter Two

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

 

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

Amazon link here

 

Thanks for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

QuaranTime to Read


QuaranTime to Read

In this weird time of Coronavirus worry, we all need to help where necessary. Our medics are doing a fantastic job, preparing for possible chaos. Our supermarkets are working to keep the supply chain going. We can all check the old and vulnerable near us, ensuring they have the physical supplies and social interaction (albeit at a distance) that they need. What can you do to help?

I am an author; I make up stories. As people have more time at home, they will have more time to read, and it’s good to read something other than the latest scary statistics. So, I am sharing with you one of my stories. I wrote it years ago, scribbled on the back of old receipts and scraps of paper;  when I decided to try writing full-time, after I realised I would not return to teaching, it is the first book that I sent to publishers. I think it has a certain charm, and it is a gentle tale, one for you to enjoy with a nice cup of tea. I will post a section twice a week. Enjoy.

 

 

Invisible Jane Edited March 2020

What if…a happily married woman falls in love with someone else?

Invisible Jane

by Anne E. Thompson

Chapter One

 

Due to the KDP rules on Amazon, I am not allowed to upload a whole book anywhere other than on the KDP site. I can therefore share chapters with you, but must remove them when read.

 

If you would like to read the whole story, or perhaps buy a copy for a friend, it is available from an Amazon near you. The link to my author page is below:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-E-Thompson/e/B07CL8HV95?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1584963604&sr=8-1

 

 

To be continued 

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A Completely Horrible Night


We all have bad days, I think last Sunday was one of my worst, though it might have been even worse. It began just fine, Bea was here for the weekend, and we’d all had dinner and watched a film, and I was preparing to go to bed. I’d fed Kia and put her out for a last wee, but I had forgotten to sort out the heating for the night, so popped back downstairs. Bea and Jay met me in the kitchen, and said something was wrong with Kia.

Kia was pacing, looking uncomfortable, and stretching her neck as if about to vomit. I had earlier dropped an egg in the garden, and I wondered if she’d eaten it, especially as when moments later she was sick, the result was what looked like uncooked meringue. Maybe she was allergic to egg? But then my mind began to process what was happening, and that she had been fed an hour earlier, and yet none of that food had come back up. Plus, Kia was now panting, stretching out her neck as if she couldn’t catch her breath, and when I felt her stomach it was as hard as a rock. I had read about symptoms like these on one of the German Shepherd Facebook groups I belong to—Kia was showing all the signs of a twisted stomach. And that is often fatal.

I woke Husband and said I thought we needed to go to the vet. We are very fortunate—in a nearby town is a 24 hour veterinary hospital, and they have an out-of-hours casualty department for emergencies. This was an emergency. At least, I thought it was. But when I put on my old dog-walking coat, and collected the lead, Kia seemed suddenly fine. She started to wag her tail, and trot around excitedly, ready for a walk.

“Could Kia simply have had a bad reaction to something she ate? Was I overreacting by rushing her to hospital?”

Possibly, but the facts were that if she had a twisted stomach, she needed to be operated on as soon as possible or she would die. If she had simply eaten something bad, the vet would tell us the visit was unnecessary, we would apologise and return home. The risk of not rushing to the vet was too great. We rushed.

Kia was okay on the journey, obviously uncomfortable, but not in agony. We arrived, I explained the problem, and the vet agreed it sounded suspiciously like a twisted stomach, which is quickly diagnosed with an X-ray. I signed the consent form, Kia was led away, we waited.

Within a few minutes the vet returned. Kia had a twisted stomach, the vet could operate, but Kia is an old dog (12 years old, which is old for a GSD) and the operation was a major one. Did we want to take the risk and spend the (considerable) money? It was all too quick.

Pause for a minute with me, and try to imagine the situation. An hour ago, Kia had been fine, all was peaceful at home. Suddenly, everything had changed, and my completely healthy, very fit dog (lets face it, one of my best friends) was now about to die. What to do? Was I committing her to months of pain, to never properly recovering, because I didn’t want to let her go? Or should I give her a chance, should I decide that she is remarkably healthy for a dog that age, she had every chance of a full recovery and a few more years of active life, and I should not deny her that. What was the right choice? As is often the case, I have no idea. There was no time to take a moment, to pray for wisdom, to test how I felt. The decision had to be now.

I chose to operate.

I then went to sit in the car, leaving Husband to listen to the potential risks and to sign the release forms, because all the sensibleness had deserted me, and a hot fountain of tears was about to escape and I wanted to be somewhere private. I sat in the car, aware of how much I love that opinionated, determined, faithful animal, and how much I was losing if she died; and I cried.

Husband returned, and we drove home. The vet said that if, during surgery, there was too much internal damage, then they would phone and ask permission to put her to sleep. (We were unable to give consent prior to surgery; I don’t know why.)

At 4 am, the vet phoned. The surgery had gone well, Kia was in recovery, but the next 72 hours would be critical.

At 7.30am, the vet phoned to say Kia was awake, and seemed remarkably well. By the evening she was able to walk outside to toilet, and was drinking, though she still had not eaten.

Monday morning, the vet told us that Kia still had not eaten. This didn’t overly surprise me. She has always been a picky eater, and at home she will only eat when I eat. If I put her food down in the morning, it will sit there, untouched, until she sees me eat my evening meal—then she will eat. The vet suggested that if I was comfortable giving all the medication, Kia would be better at home, as she needed to eat. We collected her (and a suitcase of pills).

As I write this, Kia continues to improve. She is still very weak, and is eating lots of little snacks rather than a proper big meal. But gradually her strength is returning, and she is relaxed at home, as long as she can see me, she is happy. The drugs make her drowsy, and her shaved tummy needs to be kept warm, but I think she is going to be all right.

I am so grateful to the dog owners who described the symptoms of a twisted stomach so that I recognised them. I am grateful to the vet, who reacted so professionally. And I am grateful to God, who allowed me to keep Kia for a little longer, even though we never know how long that will be.

Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and non-fiction books. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.
Why not sign up to follow her blog today?
anneethompson.com

 

You can read more about Kia in my travel book (though she was only invited on the English holidays!) You can read it free if you have a kindle. Also available in paperback–a lovely Mother’s Day gift.

Now is an excellent time to read my travel book. Happy adventures from around the world.
Available from Amazon.

UK link Here

Lazy Days on the Isle of Man


Wednesday was gloomy, a thin veil of rain spoiling the view, so we decided to go for a drive. We drove to the little village of Strang, then headed north on the B22. The road (excellent, because all roads on the Isle of Man are excellent) took us along the top of a mountain, looking down into steep valleys. There were lots of random sheep, patches of snow, plantations of pine trees. We passed reservoirs, crossed cattle grids and narrow stone bridges. Tried to find an ancient stone cairn, but failed.

Drove to the Motor Museum in Jurby. It is shut on Wednesdays.

We then had to decide: pop to look at a nearby prison, or drive to a car park near the sea at Sartfield. We chose the car park near the coast (at least, Husband did, which is the same as us both deciding. I voted for the prison.) Turns out that Sartfield is where the septic tank lorries empty the poop into vats, and a long pipe carries it the length of the footpath, to the sea. I have visited better smelling beaches. Wasn’t tempted to swim.

Drove along the A10, through the northern edge of the island. It was very flat, with fields of cattle and trees twisted by the cold north wind. It has echoes of Dungeness, where weird houses face the the elements in the shadow of a power station.

Drove to the village of Bride, passed an open tea-room and as it was 2.30 and we hadn’t eaten lunch, we stopped. It was perfect. I had red wine and goulash, and Husband had a cup of tea and a burger. People at other tables seemed to be ordering food that wasn’t on the menu (I definitely saw a lasagna!) but I was happy with my choice.

The guide book said there was a Celtic cross in the Parish church, so we went to look. We wandered among the graves, but no Celtic cross. I decided to look inside the church, and there it was! The black stone, engraved in the year 900 was still ornate, though it exuded old age, somehow the black stone managed to look ancient. The son who created it over the grave of his mother would never have guessed that we, in our modern clothes, with cars and houses, would one day trace the markings with our finger, and think about those long-ago people.

We drove home via Ramsey, simply so that Husband could drive the A18, which is the TT course across Snaefell. I am so glad we didn’t hire anything faster than a Corsa!

On Thursday, we went to Castletown. In the town square is the ‘Candlestick’ which is the plynth intended to hold the statue of Governor Cornelius Smelt (1805-1832). But the town people refused—and still refuse—to pay for the actual statue, so the column stands there, empty, looking like a giant candlestick!

I had read that Castletown had the plug to an old volcano, and I was interested to see it (to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what a ‘plug’ was, but I like volcanoes). We set off for the visitor centre. It was shut (everything is shut in March) but there was a helpful sign on the wall, which explained the geology of the beach. Now, I do not usually have any interest in geology, but this was rather amazing. There were slabs of limestone, which had been mined, and the remains of the lime kilns. Right next to the lime was a ‘storm beach’—fat pebbles washed up during a storm; and behind it all was the volcano plug, which was a hill of rocky volcanic larva from about a million years ago. It was, surprisingly, very interesting.

We finished our trip to Castletown with tea and cake. There is of course, a castle in the town, but I felt the teashop would be more fun.

I hope you make some good choices today.
Take care.
Love, Anne x