Good Afternoon my dear, it’s lovely to see you here again. I want to tell you a little story – one that started 365 days ago, before I moved here to Lavinia Court. I was me, but a much different person than I am now. My life changed, almost in a blink of an eye. Certainly in less than five minutes. I’m not going into the event that changed my world – many of you already know, but if you don’t, it matters not. What does matter is the here and now.
As my circumstances had altered dramatically, I needed to find a new home – somewhere more manageable. I was extremely fortunate and found my wee flat in Lavinia Court. Shortly after moving in, Mrs. M came into my life. I’m not exactly sure how that happened – I think it began with a telephone conversation which morphed into the neighbour and friend who lives at the other side of the building in the posh part where the residents refer to their homes as apartments, rather than the flats that occupy the majority of the establishment.
I didn’t know anyone when I moved here, but very shortly thereafter I noticed that various people seemed to behave strangely. Now, my dear, I wasn’t sure whether it was my imagination, or not. Perhaps it was normal for a building manager to receive large brown envelopes and look at the contents in a furtive manner! I didn’t know, but to this fairly old woman something felt wrong. Over the next few weeks I told you what was happening and you agreed with me that this wasn’t normal behaviour. There were several other instances of “men behaving badly” which culminated in the untimely death of poor Patricia, a lovely woman, who would help other residents with little bits of shopping etc.
I’m sure you remember that she was knocked down on the crossing just outside our complex. At this time no-one has been charged with her murder, even though it was very quickly established that it wasn’t an accident. At around that time I introduced you to a couple of my dear friends, Teddy, whose name you really can’t say without adding “and Harry”. Harry is Teddy’s beautiful Bichon Frise – he is a really intelligent boy and accompanies Teddy to her work more often than not. Teddy is a CSI for our divisional police service. She dyes her hair in different colours on a regular basis – sometimes two or three stripes in different colours. She also has a penchant for Dr. Marten boots and I haven’t seen her in the same pair twice so she must have a fairly extensive collection.
Yes, my dear, I know I mentioned two friends a few sentences ago, but you really mustn’t get too impatient with me. I’m relying on my memory which at the moment isn’t in the best of health. The second of my long-standing friends I told you about is Giselle – or G as most folk call her. G is an absolutely delightful girl who races round at top speed trying to do too many things at once. However she does manage to get things done, and always has a huge smile on her face. She is an inveterate gossip; occasionally with less accuracy than I need, but nevertheless terrifically good value for money. Whichever story she is telling it always makes you laugh. That’s a wonderful talent, my dear, being able to make folk happy. I think that is why she sometimes embellishes her tales, because they’ll get a bigger laugh when it comes to the punchline! She is also wonderful at giving massages and can often be seen with her folding table calling on various residents who have requested a foot, back or head massage. However that isn’t her greatest talent – far from it! She is a brilliant baker and is kept extremely busy by the residents here, who know that she only charges a little more than the cost of the ingredients and her electricity.
Fairly recently a coffee shop called The Roasted Bean opened just across the road from here. It was very popular from day one and the two young owners were very quickly overwhelmed by the amount of business generated by their warm welcome on each and every visit. They had heard about Giselle and her fabulous baking. Within a couple of days G was providing a good percentage of the pastries for their customers, which has also increased business at the already busy coffee shop. I’m delighted that G is making money from her baking but am still a little concerned that she is trying to do too much. I think she would tell me if she found that it was getting too much for her, so I’m just hoping that she’s OK with everything.
I’ve just remembered that Mrs. M and Mr. S – a charming gentleman who also lives in the complex seemed to be having conversations which I couldn’t fully understand. This was a few months ago. However, that was resolved when I had a phone call and subsequent visit from an intelligence officer at the Security Services which is based at Thames House in London. He was very helpful, without actually telling me very much! Oh well, I suppose that was to be expected, but at least I realised that it wasn’t my imagination that things seemed to be out of kilter in this small village and in particular, this retirement complex.
We also had another incident around that time when Philip Jones, a resident who lived just a couple of doors away from me, was kidnapped by a couple of men. I called the police immediately and a very nice officer came to see me. This also involved the Security Services and there was a meeting arranged in my very small flat. Present on that day was a police officer, Mrs. M and Mr. S, the chap from London and me. By the time everyone had refreshments and a second drink I was exhausted.
We didn’t hear anything more about Philip Jones for some weeks, although we were advised by the various officials not to worry about it. Apparently they knew where Philip was being held and we were told that everything would be OK. A few weeks ago I had a message from Teddy to say that Philip had been seen visiting the police station in Barnsley on several occasions. A short time before that a removal firm had emptied Philip’s flat and the flat was made ready for a new resident.
However, well before that we had two new residents move into apartments at the other end of the building, very close to Mrs. M. One was a former senior police officer – I’m sure you all remember Gordon, and the other guy had been a solicitor before he retired. I really didn’t know anything about Peter, the solicitor, until the other day when he and his sister who was staying with him for a few days were found dead in Gordon’s apartment, along with Gordon. Gordon had been away for a few weeks down in a cottage on the Norfolk Broads recuperating after a health scare.
The other person I must mention is my best friend from school, Georgie Red – called that because of her flame red hair. I do think that it now has some help from a bottle! Georgie moved to a flat just across the corridor earlier this year. We have always been close and recently her gentleman friend, Billy, who is a very lovely chap, asked if she would marry him. The wedding will be taking place early next year and I have been “volunteered” to oversee all the arrangements. I will be making some progress on that front sometime later this week.
There are obviously many other folk who live here, but there are quite a few that I haven’t introduced you to – yet. There are a couple whose names you know and I’ve spoken about them fairly briefly. You will hear much more about them, and other folk who live in and around the complex over the coming weeks.
I updated you the other day about the Knit and Natter group at the library, and I’ll regularly let you know how things are progressing there. I just want everything to remain calm and happy which will make my life easier.
Head Office has said they will install security cameras in all the corridors of this building. I think there are many of us living here who are anxiously waiting for the day they are to be fitted. I wouldn’t have expected the very strange events which have happened here, but I am fairly sure that there will be many more ahead!
I started this post by saying that many things have happened during the past 365 days. It’s not unreasonable to say that my life has changed out of all recognition. I love my little flat, although I do wish that it was larger. I now have some wonderful friends who I think will remain in touch with me for the rest of my life. There have been some sad times, particularly during the first three months, and happy memories of my previous life which was significantly different from this one.
Things change, and I have accepted that, and now I embrace life as much as possible. I won’t ever be able to look after myself without some assistance, but things could have been so much worse. Life goes on in Lavinia Court and I will be here to tell you all about them for as long as you want me to continue.
I really need to make another drink and think about having something to eat. As Always –
With Love – Jan xx