I'd love to be able to tell you that the mystery surrounding the mysterious telephone box call had been solved.... Laurie had told me she was sure she knew who the man was, but now she has become rather cagey about it, saying she was wrong, it wasn't anyone I knew. Which sort of indicated to me SHE knew him, so it may not be anyone in the village anyway. Those who thought the Two T's might be involved in some illicit menage a trois, or that he was having an affair, were way off the mark, nothing could be more unlikely. So that one will have to be laid to rest for now, which in a way is a relief. Well, would you want to know that maybe a friend's husband was having an affair with her sister? .
However, I can tell you that Mr Bartholomew and Miss Asquith, aka HUGH and TILLY (and thanks once again have to go to Elsie for overhearing their private conversation and passing on this information about their Christian names!), are getting on famously it seems. He drove her to an art exhibition in one of the neighbouring villages last weekend, and they were seen walking, her arm delicately linked through his, around the village last evening. It's hard not to have an 'Ah Bless' moment when you see them together, it really is. But they do look as if they fit together, and it gives hope to all the getting-on-in-years bachelors and spinsters of this parish.. well, except for Elsie, who has said she has no room in her life or her house for men, 'cluttering up the place as they do, with their smelly ways and lazy habits.' Probably sighs of relief amongst the eligible men of these parts then!
There has been consternation though, amongst the inhabitants of one of the nearby villages, as there have been rumours of a large black, puma-like cat on the loose, living in woodlands on the edge of the village. Recent rumours of a bear living in woods in another part of fhe county proved to be false and were down to some group or other.. 'acting rather irresponsibly as these sorts of people are wont to do', according to Major Hutton... who else? But the cat is another matter. Described as being as big as a large sheepdog, black all over, though some say it has white markings on its body, with a long body, long tail, small head. One person claimed to have seen it pounce on a rabbit in the fields, but most people who have seen it, though that amounts to less than half a dozen, claim it roams along the edge of the trees. Of course, tales of these wild black cats abound all over the country, one wonders if there is actually some truth to them, or just folk jumping on the bandwagon for their fifteen minutes of fame in front of a microphone or reporters notebook.
This was one of the subjects we talked about after the reading group meeting. The group was very recently set up and met for the first time only this week, and among its members are several people already known to readers of this blog. There's me, along with Phoebe-the-eccentric, Lizzie-the-writer who goes in for mini marathons for charity, and long rambles with local walking groups, and Esme, part owner of the village store with her sister Daisy (Esme always being thought of as the tall pointy one, and Daisy the small round one!) and by far the more serious of the two, happy as a spinster whereas Daisy longs to be kissed.
Then there's two other people you haven't met yet... first, my very best friend Maggie. She and I have known each other over fifty years, and for almost all her life she lived in the same town we grew up in. I moved around a lot, she stayed put, only ever coming to Norfolk on holidays to stay with some rich relative, an Uncle. After looking after her parents when they became ill and subsequently died prematurely really, one from cancer the other of a broken heart, she decided it was time for a big change. Never married, never wanted to be, happy, independent, with a wide circle of friends who she wasn't too sorry to be leaving behind as she was looking forward to the adventure of making new ones, she came to live in Cargrave Manor. Her rich uncle had died and left her his rather small fortune, and so she was able to buy an apartment in this lovely old country house, recently renovated and turned into four good sized apartments. Hers is the whole of the left hand side (as you look at the house full on) on the first floor, with bay windows, a wonderful balcony built over the old garden room below on the ground floor, two bedrooms, large study, wonderful views of woodland and sea (just). She earns her living as an alternative therapist, working out of a practice with several others, and leads the life of Riley, according to her.
The other member is another of my closest friends, Ian. An architect, 50 and single, and my neighbour. He's prone to moments of madness... like coming home from his office in the middle of the afternoon on a fine sunny day and whisking me off in the BMW for an ice cream on the sea front at Hunstanton. Working for himself has it's perks, he says. And it's attractions for women too. He was married once, but she upped and left one day, no word of warning, just went leaving him a 'Dear John' and since then, he has vowed never to let any woman get too close. There have been lots of long term relationships since we've known him, mostly with much younger women, all legs and blonde hair they used to be, though there was one exception to the rule I remember, but I think she was a bit too feisty and political for his liking, especially as she was of a different political persuasion! There was one relationship we thought was going to be the one to break his own rules about not getting too close. They were together over ten years until quite recently... she wanted more than just living with him, but according to him when he told me she had packed her bags and left, she was a lovely woman, but 'that spark wasn't there, you know?' and he looked at me, rather too meaningfully some would say. Elsie for example, who never lets a nuance pass her by! Anyway, he is quite happy living on his own now it seems, and decided he would like to join the reading group when I told him about it. This is good, because it means we won't just pick female fiction, but will be forced to look at other genres too.. it is so easy to just stay in your comfort zone, when it comes to reading and most other things.
So the six of us have agreed we will meet once a month, at Maggie's... she has the space, there is no problem with car parking, no interruptions from spouses, children or animals, and we can sit on her balcony once the warmer weather and longer evenings arrive. For now, with a chill in the air, we sit around her log fire and the first book we discussed was 'STILL ALICE' by Lisa Genova. Probably not for the faint-hearted, this is about a Harvard Professor, Alice, aged fifty, who begins to forget little things. She puts it down to the menopause, even though there are no other real symptoms of it, but when out running one day, she suddenly finds herself not knowing which way to go to get home, on a circuit she has done every day for years. Then she knows it is something more serious, instinct tells her what it is, and when it is confirmed as EOAD, Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease, how she deals with it will be the key. The book is sad at times, heartwarming at times, positive at times, bleak too, and the author has really seemed to get inside the head of someone 'losing their yesterdays', as it's put. After we had done the bookish bit, we then sat and chatted about what was going on in the village, and the area generally, and left several hours later, full of home made lemon drizzle cake and excellent coffee. What a lovely way to spend an evening!