Arnold Matson’s first taste of village ‘excitement’ provided warmth, comfort and a lovely sense of bewilderment as he took his late constitutional that evening. The street lamps seemed to wink and say ‘Good evening, Arnold, you’re settling in nicely’ as he sauntered on the back of a memorable day. While time hadn’t exactly stopped since his arrival in the village, it had certainly slammed the brakes on; and as he collected a stamped-out beer can from the pavement and deposited it into a waste bin, he reminded himself that this is the life he had chosen and these are the cards that have been dealt him.
‘Will you ever be satisfied, Arnold?’ There was that voice again.
He pulled up his collar and headed for home.
The mental images from a day of fun and tomfoolery were once more making way for reality. He may have only been a landlord for a few months in the sleepy back-end of nowhere but even this early in the proceedings, his takings needed a drastic improvement and shake-up.
His bank manager’s letter on the mat this very morning had told him as much. He strolls thoughtfully past the old people’s nursing home; Cedars, thanks his lucky stars and ponders the dreams of its helpless and harmless inhabitants…
Cast adrift in the seas of her own amusement, Violet Bleach fingers sepia photographs on the devoted eiderdown, sighs and ponders. How was it that she had come to marry Stan? Grudging of gullet and sideboard of stomach, each evening her husband had left Violet to her three night curlers and sewing to worship the double blanks and backslapping crudity at the crumbling legion.
With her teeth in varnish and mind in transit, Violet remembered with wistful tears the time she had first come to Blinkington-on-the-Treacle with her father, a widowed osteopath. Though not the most delicate of maidens, Mr. Protheroe’s only daughter was still considered a prize catch in the village, but no longer by Archie Mohair, who left to become a window dresser at Doggett’s Pie Shop following a brief flirtation. It was summertime when Stan, the local pram welder, popped the question and pledged his breath to Violet. The congregation of St. Disinfectant’s fairly steamed with well-wishers who had all contributed to the organ player’s gymnastics and the lifeboat that stood garlanded in the vestry.
A bronchial lapse nudges her reminiscence back into the shoebox under the bed. Tomorrow reaches out a helping hand…and takes it back again