My "To Do" List

I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I seem to have a list which never decreases.  No matter how well I feel that things are going, and regardless how many ticks I put in the little boxes on the right side of the page, the number increases!  At the end of every day I check my special notebook which shows a point by point column of headings written in pencil which I gleefully pore over.  I’m just looking for the tiniest excuse to be able to justify a tick.  I don’t mind if it’s just a weeny little tick – I’m not greedy – well, I possibly am, but that is a whole different story and not for today!

No, my dear, going back to what I was saying when I rudely interrupted myself, I start each day on a fresh page with the date at the top.  First I check back to yesterday, and write down everything from yesterday’s list which didn’t manage to have that elusive tick.  I refuse to mark an “x” when I haven’t managed to achieve something – it’s such a negative sign, and I’m not going there!

I am a positive person – I tell myself that on a regular basis, and it usually works quite well for me.  However, at the moment I am being tormented by THE LIST.  It’s all very well, suggesting that I just close the notebook so I don’t see the numbers which are steadily increasing.  No, I couldn’t do that – it’s still there in my head.  I go over to the little book and tell myself not to be silly; it’s only a list suggesting things which I may like to do at some point!  Who am I trying to kid? That little list is the one I depend on to keep me from forgetting the mundane things in life which often get overlooked. 

To be perfectly honest that comprehensive list has saved me on many occasions.  The number of times that things would be left undone, if it were not for my trusty notes reminding me you really wouldn’t believe.

The problem is that I’ve made a rod for my own back.  I write the list with a number to the left of it.  I don’t continue the numbers from yesterday – no, I start afresh at number one.  Could you imagine the chaos otherwise, my dear – I would be starting each day with a four digit number – you must agree that would depress anyone!

So every day we start at number one and continue till I can’t think of anything more to add.  As the day goes on I refer to my list and take great pleasure in putting a tick next to an item which has been done.  Oh yes, I do lightly score through that item in pencil – not heavily, I sometimes need to confirm what I had written!

However, as I said at the beginning, this list never gets any shorter.  I can feel quite pleased with myself, but as I add to the list during the day when I suddenly think of something – I can end the day with the list being longer than when I started – which is when I can become rather deflated!  Actually being deflated would rather assist with the comment I made earlier about being greedy!   Now I’ve digressed again.  However, I’m really sorry my dear, that this post is beginning to sound rather tiresome – and if I think so, I’m sure you will be getting very irritated with it.

Onwards and upwards is a phrase which is used regularly here – well perhaps, not written down, but certainly in my head!  Oh yes, I have just remembered that I said I’d update you regarding our Knit and Natter group at the library.  Well the good news is that the group has now, more or less, successfully split into two separate entities.  We do have a slight overlap – a couple of the women seem to want to be in both of the groups, swapping and changing on a weekly basis!  Well it couldn’t be completely straightforward – that would have been too much to ask!  However, we now have two groups – neither of them which do much more than nattering, but I’m not going to complain about that – well, not yet.  There are about twelve women in each group, although that obviously varies when folk are jumping from one to another!  Anyway, everyone seems to be happy, which is all that I really want.  Anything for a quiet life!  How often have I said that since I moved here? 

So that brings you up-to-date with the knitting groups, although some bright spark has asked about me opening another one in the new village hall.  To be fair, that is a legitimate suggestion, and after the end of March when we have passed the Wedding of the Year I may well take that on board.  The location is very good – it’s quite central and for those folk with mobility problems there is plenty of parking.  The site is flat and ideal for mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

I also promised that I would let you know the current situation regarding the development around the corner.  I’m delighted to know that all the workmen should have finished at the site – if not by the end of March – certainly during the first half of April.  There always are the snagging issues which take time to do – sometimes longer than the original job!  Alex has been checking things over for me and he is very pleased with the situation, and I know how pernickety he is!

The main items on my to-do list now relate to the wedding.  The majority of the big things have been done – it’s the myriad of small items, and each one needs a few minutes spending on it – and then either the morning or afternoon has disappeared.   I have started to look at outfits for Georgie and myself and in fact, have even ordered a couple of pieces which may be suitable.  At least they’ll give us a good idea of whether the colours work, and how warm or otherwise they will be – I rather like having several layers which can be adjusted according to the vagaries of our English weather.

Anyway my dear, I feel a good deal happier now I’ve spoken to you about them.  I’ve probably sent you to sleep, or bored you rigid, but unfortunately these things happen, and this time I’m afraid you’re going to need to deal with it.  I’m sorry I began in such a negative way, but sometimes you feel better for actually saying what the problem is, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside.   Anyway, if you are still with me now, thank you, I do appreciate it.  It really is lovely to have your company.

Just talking about company, I’m going to be rather busy on Tuesday, when I understand that Mrs. M is coming for coffee in the morning – she invited herself!  I’m also expecting a visit in the afternoon from another old friend, which will be lovely.  I’ll tell you all about it later in the week.  Now I really must get on with starting today’s list as I don’t think I can put a tick next to anything just yet.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

A Murder is Announced…

That sounds like a good title for a book – and in fact I’m sure that the many readers of Agatha Christie’s wonderful stories will recognise this title.  However, in this case, my dear, the title is somewhat retrospective and should have been “A Murder Wasn’t Announced” as at the time of the event in question we didn’t realise that there had been a premeditated attempt to kill someone.  In fact, immediately after the event, we were all certain it was a tragic accident. 

However, within a very short period of time it became apparent that “poor Patricia” as she is now invariably referred as, was mown down by one or more persons unknown.  Over the past few months no-one has, to my knowledge, been charged with any offence to do with her death and I would have expected that someone would have been charged with manslaughter after all this time.  It couldn’t be called “death by dangerous driving” as it was done in order to cause the death of an innocent woman and certainly wasn’t an accident.

Fortunately Patricia wasn’t aware of anything as she died immediately at the scene – which was at the zebra crossing on the road directly in front of my flat.  I believe that the sports car used as the lethal weapon hasn’t ever been seen since.  There wasn’t any legitimate  reason why Patricia had to die. 

Apparently the person behind many of the local crimes thought that she had seen a couple of people talking together; people that you wouldn’t have expected to see chatting!!   He then thought that if she was questioned about some of the strange events going on here, she may have mentioned seeing them together.   To my mind, that is a very tenuous thought, and one that most innocent people wouldn’t consider. 

Now from what I have learned, Patricia wouldn’t have connected any of the dots together.  She was happy in her life – helping folk who couldn’t manage to visit the shops and being in charge of the flower arranging at the church in the village.  She was an elderly woman who loved nothing more than sorting out raffle prizes and coffee mornings etc.  She also loved talking to anyone who had a spare five minutes to chat with her.  Her latest interest was flower arranging and she had been to a couple of workshops at the library.

It has only recently become clear that our original building manager, Mr. Roach who is serving quite a long sentence at  Belmarsh prison – unless he has been transferred elsewhere by now – was quite heavily involved with our resident gentlemen criminals, Gordon and Peter.  I had nearly forgotten that they moved here while he was still in charge!!

Now you may remember that Mr. R was another person who seemed to have brown envelopes of cash about his person on regular occasions.  I don’t have any details about the whys and wherefores, but I understand that Patricia’s death was likely to have been undertaken by a professional killer under what is known as a “contract”.   Why anyone would feel threatened by an elderly woman who wouldn’t say “boo to a goose” I don’t know, but it appears to be connected and is part of the same ring of criminals.  The driver would have been given several photos of Patricia, together with details of her day to day movements around the village.  It was well-known that she always popped round to various residents to ask if they needed anything from the shops or pharmacy, or even the library on occasion.  She had her own little routine and went out at about the same time every day, and would chat to folk as she meandered around the village.  Of course, she sometimes deviated from her route, depending on what she was bringing back with her.  She had a very large shopping trolley into which she piled her goodies.  She usually only collected a couple of items for each person, but she wouldn’t have been able to carry everything in bags.  The trolley was invaluable and it had a waterproof cover so nothing got wet.

I understand that someone had followed her from a distance for a couple of days, to make sure that they knew her route.    She would normally wear the same coat too.  We know that the criminal elements in Albert’s family were responsible for the three deaths in this building, and I understand that they have held their hands up to some involvement in the death of Patricia.  I think one gang member followed Patricia on foot and another was in touch by phone so that they were sure that everything was going in accordance with their heinous plans.  When I have further details I’ll obviously pass them on to you, but I feel happier to know that perhaps, as things are being tidied up, life is becoming more straightforward.

Changing the subject completely, the work here is still moving along very slowly – in fact, I would venture to suggest that it has ground to a halt which isn’t very helpful.  It’s been rather windy the past couple of days and it’s starting to rattle in the roof space again which is rather annoying. 

I had a visit from Mrs. M today who reports that her arm is now feeling a little better, and that she has found that she can stop the itching by using a knitting needle inside her plastered arm.  Unfortunately, the first time she tried, the silly woman didn’t think it through properly!!  She used a dpns from one of her sets – well actually if I think about it, I think it was one of mine – and then let go of it when it slipped inside her plaster!!  That necessitated a trip to the hospital for them to change her plaster as it got completely stuck inside.  Fortunately the nurse saw the funny side of it and they soon cut the old plaster off and replaced it, with strict instructions not to do it again.  At least she didn’t lose the needle!

I’ve seen Georgie this week as well.  We both are quite busy at the moment so have to make specific arrangements to see each other, or else we just end up talking in the corridor, which isn’t very satisfactory.  We are getting ready to send the invitations out at the weekend.  We do now have a guest list, which I’ve been told is definitely IT.  No more changes – we are now up to just under 100 folk on the approved list.  I’ve spoken to the hotel where anyone who isn’t local will stay, and they have very generously said that they will reserve all the motel rooms for our visitors.  It isn’t huge place, and it will be good to have everyone in one hotel.  They are very reasonably priced, so we decided to pay a deposit for the rooms to show willing.  It does make a difference when local businesses know you.  It is easier to discuss things with them and they are able to contact us if they want to query anything.

I understand that Giselle and Jane have completely agreed on a menu, and as we had a slight problem with deciding on a wedding cake – Georgie and Billy don’t like them – we have decided to have a display of cupcakes which both Jane and Giselle enjoy baking, and the bride and groom enjoy eating!!  That’s got to be a good result for everyone.  Hazel will be looking after the younger members at the party and I’ve left her to decide what she needs, and told her to let me know when she wants to buy things, or order them online and I’ll send her some cash.

I’ve started to look at some websites which seem to have some lovely outfits suitable for both Georgie and myself.  I would be very surprised if we couldn’t find something suitable in the next couple of days.  I’m sure that we will probably have to send some things back, once we have chosen them.  They always look so much better on the models – you know the ones who are usually about 5ft 9ins tall and a size eight!!  Oh well, nothing we can do about them.  We are the sizes we are, and neither of us have any intentions of going on crash diets for the next two months.

Well the day is running away with me again so I better get a wiggle on if I want to actually do something useful.  Oh yes, please remind me to update you about the building site and the Knit and Natter group at the library.  If I start talking about them now, then another half hour will have vanished and I may as well forget having any sort of evening meal at all. 

I’m expecting several visitors tomorrow which will keep me busy.   Right I’m off to investigate my fridge and freezer to give me an idea of what to eat later.   Now then, have you any ideas? As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

Mrs. M is Home Again…

Well hello my dear and how are you today.  Yes, I know I haven’t kept in touch quite as regularly as usual, but with one thing and another, the days have been fairly running away from me.  I’ve picked up my phone to ring you on several occasions, only to remember something I was going to do.  In those situations I try to do them straightaway before I forget again!!   How are you this morning?  And the family – are they well?  Good, good I’m glad to hear it as there are all these nasty viruses which seem to be prevalent just at the moment.

Yes, Mrs. M is home and it was lovely to see her the other day.  I must admit that I’ve missed her, although of course I wouldn’t say anything to her specifically.   She does seem to be much more fragile than when we went on our Scottish trip.  I know she had her fall, but it does seem to have knocked the stuffing out of her.  That and her unexpected trip down to London while the police officers took over her flat.

I asked her about the time she spent at the safe house.  She said it was actually a flat – in a lovely, residential street with many similar Georgian properties.  There was a concierge at a smart reception desk so anyone coming to visit any of the flats had to sign themselves in and then reception contacted the residents to tell them that they had visitors.  Any parcels that arrived were signed for by reception and then brought up to the flat, which was very convenient.

It all sounded very good and Mrs. M was comfortable there.  Whether anyone was aware it was a safe house or not, she wasn’t sure.  There was a panic button in each room, but she obviously didn’t need it, and she was advised that it was only to be used in an emergency.  No-one actually specified what kind of emergency – but Mrs. M said everything was fine.  Apparently she had a visit each day just to check that she was OK, and she was given a couple of phone numbers to call if she was concerned about anything.

When she had been there a couple of days, the local police officer who was popping in on her and whom she became quite friendly with, asked if there was any close relative she would like who could come to stay with her for a little while.  Mrs. M rang Bertie, her brother, and he immediately said that he’d be happy to join her for a few days, and he would do a little Christmas shopping while he was there.

He came down by train the next day and the police arranged for someone to collect him at the station and drove him to the flat and introduced him to the concierge.  Bertie then signed the visitor’s book and the police officer took a couple of copies of his signature too – why I haven’t a clue, but they obviously needed them on file.  No, don’t be silly dear, of course I haven’t any photos of the interior – it’s meant to be a safe house!!

As Mrs. M had discovered the joys of daytime television, Bertie took himself off to a couple of museums – I think she said the Natural History and the V & A, both of which he really enjoyed.  He also did a little Christmas shopping for himself and for Mrs. M, who was still a little wobbly on her legs.  After being there for quite some days, and not hearing anything further, Bertie had a chat with a Detective Inspector to try to find out how long they needed to stay there.    A few days’ later they were told they could go, but they didn’t really want Mrs. M coming back here, just at that time, as things were happening!!

Mrs. M and Bertie discussed the situation and decided they would go back to Bertie’s home in Edinburgh and Mrs. M would stay there until after the Christmas and New Year festivities had passed.  Mrs. M then had a cold, so stayed there a few extra days.

Bertie brought her home last weekend and I arranged for her to have some fresh items in her fridge – enough to get by with for a few days.  Additionally, I knew I had plenty in if she needed anything.  A short time after arriving here she texted me to let me know she was back, so I invited her round for a cup of tea.  She was delighted and wandered down a few minutes later.  It was then I noticed how much she appeared to have changed.  I think that, although she said she was fine, all the events of the past few months have caught up with her.

I persuaded her to go to the pharmacy at the early part of last week.  They took one look at her wrist and said they didn’t think it was “right”, which is what I thought.  A taxi picked her up from the pharmacy and took her the short drive to the hospital, where they did some x-rays – and as I suspected, it was broken, but in an awkward place which didn’t show up on all of the films.  However, they managed to get a clear enough image eventually, so now she is sporting a lightweight cast on her arm in a fetching shade of pink!

Mrs M was pleased to know the reason why it had felt uncomfortable, but has been told that as it was left for rather a long time, it may not completely revert to normal, and she might not get the full range of movement that she had before.  However, for an ‘old bird’ she’s not doing too badly.  She still looks much thinner than before everything which has gone on over the past few weeks and of course, she’s not been able to potter around the same in in Edinburgh as she normally does here.

However, she’s back home again, and I think she was pleased to see me again.  We had a lovely cup of tea and some shortbread biscuits and have repeated it a couple more times during the week.  Oh yes – she may be a little more dotty, but she never misses a trick!  In her words “it’s such a shame that I can’t knit just now!  I’d really like to have a waistcoat just like the one you’re knitting!”  Conned again – and of course I walked straight into it by leaving my needles, pattern, together with the yarn on one of my coffee tables when she arrived a few minutes early.  Oh well, it has been a very quick knit, so I suppose it couldn’t do any harm to knit another one…

I think that’s brought you up-to-date about Mrs. M and her current situation.  I have put some of her shopping on my order, and Giselle had said that she’ll take a few bits around in a couple of days.  Talking about G, she’s also got the “Wedding of the Year” well in hand and has talked with Jane on several occasions, which is wonderful.  The only thing remaining on my “to-do” list is clothes shopping with Georgie but neither of us are very enthusiastic just at the moment.  We don’t know why – it may be the time of the year, and may also be that we don’t fancy getting changed several times while we try things on.  I’ve suggested that we look in a couple of catalogues and online to see if there’s anything which may fit the bill.  It’s got to be worth a try – nothing venture, etc.

Right now, Alex this conversation has been rather longer than I planned, but I’m sure you understand that I wanted to bring you up to date with everything.  Please give my love to Chrisssie and the girls.  I know I’ll be seeing you all again soon, but until then.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

The Murderers are Revealed…

Good Morning my dear, and yes I do apologise for keeping you waiting for the piece of news I’m about to divulge, but as usually happens, life gets in the way.  Having said that death can sometimes get in the way too!!

No, I’m sorry but I’m not going to be rushed.  Alex, you’re usually so polite, but this morning you’re like a bull in a china shop.  There’s no need to start wittering on that I’m deliberately keeping you in suspense.  You don’t actually know any of the people involved in this long and convoluted saga.  Fortunately for me, I only know one of the relatives of the main criminals involved and that is only a passing acquaintanceship.

The standard of residents moving into these retirement apartments has been going steadily downhill – and I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that the management of this complex leaves an awful lot to be desired.  I think that Head Office may have contributed to some of the dreadful events which have happened over the past year by their lackadaisical approach to the residents here, particularly with regards to security.

Of course, as mere tenants we don’t have any say about the calibre of new applicants for the flats.  At one time not so long ago it was nearly impossible to be approved for a long-term tenancy and now they are being handed out to all and sundry!!  We know that “health and safety” isn’t up to the required standard and I’m sure that many other legal requirements are either at the minimum level or only just above it.  It will be so good when this complex gets some competition.  That will make it “buck its socks up”  or at the very least, put a rocket behind the work which is currently outstanding.

Yes, I sound a little negative today, and I really must apologise for that.  I must admit that I’m worried about Mrs. M who only arrived home at the weekend.  That is one of the reasons I haven’t managed to speak with you till today.  I think the various goings-on, both here and in Scotland have finally started to affect her.  I knew she had hurt her wrist in the accident when we were at Loch Lomond, but it was just a sprain.  Yes, it was a nasty one and they can take as long to heal as a break, but it’s still causing her some considerable pain.  I think I’m going to suggest that she contacts the surgery tomorrow and arranges to see the practice nurse, or alternatively she could go to the pharmacy where the staff members are very helpful indeed.  They will know whether she needs further hospital treatment or if it’s likely to settle down on its own accord.  It has stopped her knitting – which I’m sorry to say – I’m quite happy about, as her efforts were getting worse not better.  I’m sure it’s because she gets distracted far too easily!

Now look what you’ve made me do – talking about Mrs. M getting distracted and I’m doing exactly the same thing.  Incidentally, and thank you for asking, we have had our first knit and Natter of the year yesterday.  It was very successful and the group has expanded again, with a total of twenty-two women enjoying themselves through nearly two hours of chatting and laughter.  It was lovely to hear – although it did seem to me that very little knitting actually went on.  I suppose that doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that the café at the library was over half-full on a Monday morning, and it was obvious to anyone passing that everyone was having a good time.  It was fantastic to see the café staff joining in when they had a moment, and they kept bringing the teapot round and also asked when anyone was ready for another coffee or hot chocolate to wave their arms in the air and their mugs would be replenished.  I have had a little word with the staff as I was concerned that they were likely to be out of pocket, but they said that after everyone in the group had left, the café was full for the rest of the day, with customers commenting that it was nice to see the place busy on a Monday.

I understand that nearly everyone ordered a snack – mainly toasted teacake and butter – in addition to having their drinks so the profit levels were higher than I feared!  However, the staff and I agreed that the group really needs to have two sessions now, as it is obviously proving popular, so in addition to the Monday morning 10 am to 11.30 am slot we will be starting a Friday afternoon group from 2 pm to 3.30 pm.  I think that the few young mums will need to keep to the morning group as the afternoon session won’t finish till 3.30 and the primary school children complete their lessons earlier than that time.  I’m sure that the mums won’t want to be clock-watching all the time they are here.  The other point though is that many of the older members are rather slow to get their day started, and will be happy to enjoy an afternoon out – particularly as they can then change  their library books while they are there.

My goodness, why didn’t you stop me from rambling on?  Yes, OK I understand that I’m a little tetchy today, and may well have muttered at you.  What you really want to know is who killed Gordon, Peter and his sister.  In all fairness I think the whole episode got out of hand and shouldn’t have ended up with the resulting deaths of three people.   

As you were aware, Gordon and Peter were mixed up with some criminal activity.  We had already come to that conclusion because of the amount of cash found in the safe in both Peter and Gordon’s apartments.   There were also a number of burner phones in Gordon’s apartment, and another burner phone which seemed to be used exclusively for communications between Peter and Gordon.  As they were next door neighbours why they didn’t just pop round to see each other I really don’t understand.

Now bear in mind that I haven’t had the official story as yet, but Teddy was kind enough to give me edited highlights, as she know I was still very concerned by these events.

Previously Gordon held a fairly senior position within the police service.  He was the Commander over the major crimes department which covered the whole region.  Gordon had started life in the police as a trainee, and then went to Hendon for training, as is the normal route into a full-time role within the service.  He met a good number of people over the following years, some professionally and others on a social basis.  At the same time Peter, after leaving University came into contact with Gordon when he started working as a junior Solicitor many years ago.  They kept in touch at the golf course and at various social events which they were both invited to and then a few years ago, Peter moved much nearer to where Gordon was now working.

By this time, Gordon had something of a reputation within the criminal fraternity for oiling the wheels when little bits of evidence miraculously disappeared without warning.  Of course, recently this became much more difficult, because of CCTV and computers and spy cameras everywhere.

Gordon was exceptionally clever at providing disinformation, so no-one actually realised that it was him who managed to misappropriate little bags of heroin or pieces of jewellery etc.  He was adept at being in the same room when evidence disappeared but as there were several other officers of senior ranks also there the dots weren’t ever connected, until one day early last year when his sleight of hand wasn’t quite as good as it should have been – and when some pieces of evidence were missing, several officers were tasked to look over hours and hours of CCTV footage.

It eventually became evident that it was Gordon who had secreted the items into the pocket of an overcoat he was carrying – apparently he was on the way out of the building at the time – his reason for carrying the coat over his arm, when he was in the property deposit.

One event of misbehaviour wasn’t deemed sufficient for the powers that be, so these same officers had to trawl back through six months of camera footage in the property room.  They checked the recordings for every time that Gordon had signed himself in and out and then it was discovered that on a few days there hadn’t been a duty officer present outside the store.  This was when there had been a lot of illness and many officers were away over about a six week period.  Of course, the items in the property store aren’t checked regularly – obviously when a suspect is questioned and charged, and again at any court case – but then items can be archived and not looked at again, for years or sometimes not ever again.

However, the police at this particular regional headquarters didn’t transfer property into the regional depository which normally happens when a case is closed.   This can be for several reasons – the simplest one it that everything in the box has to be logged in, tagged with a reference number, and then signed and countersigned and it’s a terribly time-consuming business.  On some occasions items are mislaid on their way back from a court hearing, or left ready to be documented and filed the following day, and then they can be completely forgotten.

It eventually became apparent that the firm of solicitors acting for the defendant(s) in cases where evidence disappeared was always where Peter worked and funnily enough he became the duty solicitor who always arrived when a solicitor was requested by a suspect in a case that Gordon had had some involvement.  I’m sure you can see where all this is going…

Eventually Peter and Gordon, when presented with overwhelming evidence did the only thing possible and pled guilty, on the basis – certainly for Gordon, that he would take early retirement, lose his pension, but not serve a prison sentence, as he certainly wouldn’t be safe in any jail.  I believe that something similar was agreed with Peter, who also took an early retirement.

Now you are wondering how this ended up with them both being murdered.  The clients they did most of their “criminal activities” for were none other than the very close relations of Albert who moved into a flat on the first floor after his wife died last year.  Although Albert had managed to keep his immediate family members away from anything criminal – his brother and their side of the family weren’t as squeaky-clean.  It would appear that a younger family member saw both Gordon and Peter when they were chatting in the corridor one day. 

I believe they were very concerned that two and two would add up to four and they didn’t want to keep looking over their shoulders wondering if Gordon was going to “tell tales” about them.  As it transpired, the police were only too well aware of the situation and were putting together a solid case against several members of the family.

In the meantime these “criminal masterminds” decided that Gordon and Peter needed to be put quietly out of business on a permanent basis.

I know, you’re dying to ask me loads of questions, to which I don’t have the answers.  There are lots of pieces of the jigsaw which need putting in place and as soon as I have seen the officer from the Intelligence Services, who hasn’t as yet been to see me because he has been struck down with flu!!

I’m still not terribly sure how I fit into the plot, but it has been suggested that at the time Peter and Gordon were seen discussing something or other, I was searching out Gordon to press him about something or another – probably to do with the Talent Contest.  If you remember I was quite annoyed with him, and wouldn’t have noticed if anyone had been watching and listening to us.  However, Teddy seems to think that one or more of the senior members of the criminal fraternity had thought that I may be connected to Gordon and possibly involved with his criminal plans.

I would have expected that Gordon had completely ceased being involved in that little side venture of his, but owing to the amount of money found in his safe and the burner phones the police now believe he had continued, but wasn’t expecting to see any of his “former clients” here.  I believe he was rather well-paid for his efforts over quite a long period of time, although the loss of his pension must have hit him rather hard financially.

Photo by Anthony on

Anyway Alex, I really must get on now.  This conversation has been far too long, but we’ll have a catch-up again in a couple of days when I hope to have more of the details for you, although one never knows!!   Please give my love to Chrissie and the girls and let them know I’m really looking forward to seeing them again soon.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx  

Whether the Weather be Fine – or Not…

Well, my dear, it’s lovely to be speaking with you again, but the weather has been absolutely dreadful.  It’s been cold, wet and very windy these past few days and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it yet.

It was lovely to see you and Teddy on Saturday.  I agree with you that the break did her good.  Teddy had been looking tired for a couple of months, but as she said, “the work continues all the time, and if I’m off it just piles up till I’m back.”  It’s very difficult when someone else can’t just take over your case-load when you’re away from the office, but because the staff numbers have been pared down so drastically, then unfortunately there’s no-one left to pick up the slack.

I had forgotten that you and Teddy didn’t really know each other very well.  Yes, you played together when you were both small children.  That was when you came round with your mum. She brought you round to visit me a couple of times a month, rather than you living really on our doorstep.

It was interesting how quickly you both seemed to pick up the pieces as if it were only yesterday since you had last been running round and playing chase.  You were both very comfortable in each other’s company.  I’m sure that Chrissie would like Teddy.  I know we decided it was better that she stay at home with the girls while we had our chat, but hopefully you’ll all be here again soon, and I’ll make a point of inviting Teddy at the same time.  The girls will love Harry and he’s so gentle with children that they’re bound to have a great time together.

Teddy had a good deal of news for us – well, particularly for me – but I was glad you were there, as I do sometimes trip over myself when trying to remember things.  If you don’t mind I’d like to go through a few things which we discussed, so I can check that I’ve got things right in my mind.

The first piece of information she gave us related to the deaths of Gordon, Peter and his sister.  Apparently – and this is still very much hush, hush – there are a couple of arrests imminent.  That will be a great relief not only to me, but also to Mrs. M who arrives home tomorrow.  Teddy says that I will be aware of the people involved, even though I don’t know them personally.  She can’t give me the names as yet, just because everything is being prepared – search warrants etc, but I do understand that the police have enough information to be able to charge the suspects.  That is very exciting and folk here will be pleased that they will be able to relax again.

I also have more news about Georgie and Billy’s wedding reception.  My good friend Hazel, from Another Place has volunteered to act as children’s entertainer on the Saturday afternoon and evening.  Isn’t that kind of her?  I have booked her into the motel just down the road for the Saturday night and she’ll be able to join us at the buffet and have a couple of drinks.  Jane will also be here, and staying the night, as she and Giselle are arranging the food.  Jane messaged me earlier in the week to say that G had already been in touch with her regarding the menu and how they were going to divide the various items between them.  I’m sure they’ll have it very well planned and organised in no time at all. 

I hope that I will be able to have a catch-up chat with Hazel and Jane on the Sunday before they set off home. In fact, I may suggest that we have a bite of lunch out to round the weekend off. That will be splendid.

Thank you my dear, for bringing the papers for me to sign.  I know you went through them with me when you were here, but unfortunately I have been a tad under the weather and I’m not sure I remember all the various ramifications.  I’m sure that everything will be fine but would like a further chat with you first, just before I sign my life away!!

I think I’m going to leave things with you like that, just for a couple of days, if you don’t mind.  Perhaps we can have another conversation, this time, just the two of us, so I can clarify everything.  Incidentally, did you check on the building site around the corner, and enquire when the works are due to be completed.  Oh, that’s good – early March doesn’t seem very far away.  We’ll discuss the other things over this coming weekend if that’s ok with you.  Right my dear, I’ll love you and leave you.  Much love to the family and please give them all a very big hug from me.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx

Not Quite the Bare Necessities…

No, that’s not the greatest and most uplifting title I’ve come up with, but at the moment it’s the best I can think of, so you’re stuck with it.  Sorry my dear, and it’s probably not the most charming greeting I’ve given you, my Godson recently, but I’m sure you know me well enough to take my comments at face value.

Shall I try again, with a slightly less sarcastic tone in my voice than previously?  “Good morning, Alex and how are you, your wonderful wife and gorgeous daughters?  No, I haven’t got a plum in my mouth – it’s my normal way of speaking!  I don’t know why one or two folk have suggested that my usually sunny disposition has faltered slightly.”  Perhaps I’ve had rather a lot going on, and my brain has been stretched a little more than usual!

Anyway my dear, shall we move on, otherwise at the end of this conversation we won’t have actually said anything.  No, I know, I appreciate that I’m quite good at talking – or wittering, as you call it – without ever saying very much.  I really don’t like to overwhelm folk by bombarding them with loads of information at one time, particularly when much of it is quite unnecessary so I intersperse information with general chit-chat.

I actually wanted to ask you whether you have established when the builders will be finished at the site around the corner.  I agree that it isn’t essential to know within a few days, it’s just that there has been quite a lot of noise each day and which, at the current time, seems to be louder than ever.  I know you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, but do you know when they will be starting on the internal fit-out?

Oh yes, something which I know I haven’t mentioned recently is Georgie’s idea that she would like a marquee for the wedding reception.  Now to my mind, the end of March isn’t the ideal time for a gathering of pensioners to be shivering in an oversized tent, even a heated one, in the evening!  You may remember that we decided that the wedding itself will be held on Friday 27th March 2020 with the reception taking place on Saturday 28th March. 

The wedding itself will be a very small, quiet affair which is what both the bride and groom had requested.  I had originally been advised that there would likely be around thirty guests invited for the Saturday evening reception.  Yes, well – I should have known better!  That number has increased exponentially and now we have the likelihood of about eighty invitees. 

In order to accommodate that number of guests we have increased the time frame for the reception.  Although we expect there to be around forty people who aren’t in the first flush of youth, there will be a similar number of relatives/close friends in the thirty plus age bracket.  There will also be a small number of children, which is something we just hadn’t considered!  Yes, we probably should have thought about it, but the younger contingent is all on Billy’s side, and we didn’t really know about them.

However, this situation has now appeared, and so we have had to arrange things accordingly.  This is the reason why Georgie now thinks that a marquee would be suitable.  I think she likes the idea of it, rather than understanding the logistics.  It causes difficulties with heating food, unless we arrange for a catering kitchen – which is another large expense.  Of course, the weather is likely to be particularly unreliable at that time of the year, and there could be snow, rain, very cold weather, or even an early heatwave.

Although originally I had thought that having the reception here would be a good idea, as time has elapsed, and with the various problems in the building, I decided that we needed to find another location.  I suggested this to Georgie and she and Billy agreed with my thoughts and said they’d leave it to me to find an appropriate venue.

I have now decided to utilise our lovely new village hall.  There is a local motel where guests who want to stay overnight can be accommodated and it’s less than a five minute walk away.  The village hall is surrounded by lovely gardens and a playing field.   Yes there is room for a marquee, but it really isn’t a good idea and I will make sure to dissuade them – well, Georgie – from that idea.   The village hall has a wonderful catering kitchen – it’s not huge, but very well equipped and I’ve manage to book the whole premises from the Friday evening, which is when I will arrive back from the wedding itself, through to the Sunday afternoon.  Georgie and Billy will return late on Saturday morning, so everything can be set up in readiness for the “wedding of the year”.

The building itself is ideal, there is one room which we can set up for children, with some suitable entertainment and they can eat in there too.  There’s even a small room next to it where youngsters can have a nap.  The main room for the reception will be perfect, as it can be divided into several smaller spaces.  One even has a bar and I have arranged for staff.  There is another area where tables will be set up with a huge buffet with both hot and cold food.  Giselle and Jane will be managing the food between themselves and G has managed to find a few staff for clearing plates and filling the dishwasher etc.

You’re probably wondering why I hadn’t mentioned the village hall before as it’s so perfect for this occasion.  Well, my dear, as you know we had the old community centre which doubled up as the civic centre depending on what event was happening.  However that was a drab old building close to the library and it needed a major facelift.  In the meantime, as the population of the village has grown, plans were submitted for a new village hall, the building of which was only completed a few weeks ago.  This means that it hasn’t been fully booked up yet – although I’m sure it will be in the future when everyone realises what a wonderful asset it is sure to become.

So I really do feel that everything is fairly well under control.  Of course there are bound to be bits and pieces that need to be dealt with during the next few weeks.  The next thing which I need to do is send out the invitations because if I leave them to Georgie, she’ll delay writing them for a couple of weeks and I think they need to be sent out by the end of next week, Saturday 18th January and I’ll ask for responses by Saturday, 8th February, knowing that it will probably be another week after that before we’ve had the majority of replies.  That will then leave six weeks before the wedding to finalise things and smooth out any possible glitches.

So that’s the current situation.  I’m hoping to see Teddy and you tomorrow so that we can discuss a couple of things.  Is that still convenient for you – oh good, I’m so pleased about that and I’ll contact Teddy this afternoon to confirm with her.

I’m going to get on with some bits and pieces today while I have the chance.  Please give my love to the family and I’ll see you tomorrow.  As Always –

With Love – Jan  xx 

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