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Series Two So Far
In this episode:
Cuppa with Shirley
Fanny's Letters to James Rawlins
Mary Churchill to Frank Churchill
Series Two So Far...
Stoney Grove owners Ann Simmons and Simon Tinsley split. Ann returns to the Caribbean and rents a house on Nevis from Doug Wood, an American ex-pat. She begins to explore the "other" Stoney Grove, a ruined eighteenth-century plantation house. She also spends several months transcribing an autobiographical account of the life of Stoney Grove's first lady, Fanny Rawlins Blake. Part is on Nevis; the rest is in a locked box in England that Emma discovers and opens. Simon makes an unexpected visit to deliver the manuscript to Ann. Under a moonlit Caribbean sky, he and Ann reconcile.
Back in England, Simon decides to channel his energies into making the house an important tourist destination. He's set up a series of regular meetings with the staff and other assorted residents of the property, and is working through a plan. The plan includes guided tours through the house and an agreement to let Segovia TV film an upcoming miniseries on the property.
Simon's longtime friend Phil leaves his wife Caroline to live the life of leisure with Simon. After several weeks of separation, he realizes that hes made a terrible mistake. Caroline takes him back, grudgingly. His former employers do not.
Emma Knytleigh, project historian, discovers that housekeeper Shirley Johnsons grandson John is the son of Jerry Anderson, a local antiques-dealer turned thief. She also learns that Frank Churchill, the resident hermit, is the illegitimate son of Ellen Hall. Shirley, infuriated with Emma's meddling in family business, discovers drugs in Emma's rooms and turns her over to the police. John admits that some of the drugs are his. The rest come from Ann, who sent them to England for analysis, suspecting that they are connected historically with the murder of Fannys husband. Emma leaves Stoney Grove as a result of the drug bust, preferring to live with Reverend Nigel Banks. Ann would like to come home, but must wait for her solicitor to have drug charges against her dismissed.
Martin Johnson reveals to Emma and Shirley that he's always known he couldn't be John's grandfather, and Shirley admits that Monty Hall was her lover before she married Martin. The two go off to do some soul searching about their marriage in the relative privacy of Lyme Regis.
Simon's involvement with the Puckering Gazette hits a low point as the Editor, learning of his imminent dismissal, publishes a final issue filled with accusations and innuendo. Simon is left picking up the pieces of his publishing empire and his relationship with Ann...
Cuppa with Shirley (or John)Well, hello! Good to see you. Sorry to say my Gran and Granddad are out, but youre welcome to share a pint with me. What do you fancygot one of those new cans of Boddys or a bottle of Old Peculiar. Wont be a minute.
There you go. Nothing like a good pint on a hot day. It was pissing down last night, but todays been lovely, dont you think? I've been out in the garden planting some new beds down near the terraces. Put some snapdragons in near the hollyhocks. I always liked snapdragons; theyre cheerful flowers, you know.
So, I guess youve heard about me. Blew me over, really. I mean Im a grown man and just finding out who my Granddad is! Bloody hell. I dont really believe it, and anyway, Martin will always be my real Granddad if you know what I mean. Spent my life with him and all.
Before they left, Gran got all serious and said she needed a word. I thought shed found some more reefer lying around or something. But thats another story. Instead she tells me that when she was young, she and Monty Hall were an item and that she got knocked up by him. Not exactly in those words, you know, but thats what she meant. She thinks that as his grandson, Im due some big inheritance, him being the last Hall.
That would be brilliant! I could own the place and do as I like. And Emma, well, shed have to forgive me if I was her boss, right? Only joking. Weve had a talk too. Its been a week for talks.
I think it was my poem that did it. She caught me up after the last meeting and gave me an earful. Not that she wasnt right. I deserved it. Shes trying to reform, be a model citizen, and I go dropping her in the nick and covering my behind. Well, I didnt mean to, honestly. And Ive gone to court and paid my fine. Cost me a fortune, but maybe thats not such a problem now, you know? So I figure its done. She acted like she was still angry, but I think shes getting over it. I hope so. Have you seen Emma? Well, drop by her office and take a look. She's worth waiting for.
That was a quick one. Hold on, Ill get you another. Old P, right?
Ive had a letter from Emma saying that Frank is Ellen Halls son and shes trying to find details of Ellens will to see what Franks rights are. Wow. Apparently this has been much discussed. Then the email from Chester arrived. See below. The old me would have said, "You bastard!" The cooled-out Caribbean me should say "we need to talk about all this honey, I feel lost." Im actually feeling old today, but Ill give you the benefit of the doubt. So-WHATS GOING ON?
In a message dated 10/6/00 7:17:20 PM GMT,
>I hate to write to you with something terribly shocking, but I felt you
>must know the truth. Please be assured that I knew nothing of this
>earlier, and have spent several sleepless nights worrying about how to tell you.
>Simon has been in contact with his American solicitors trying to
>cut you out and become the sole owner of Stoney Grove. Hes exchanged several
>messages and phone calls with them. Has he asked about how you met
>or about the purchase of the lottery ticket? I do hope that if the answer is yes,
>you havent been persuaded into putting any of this in writing. Heres an excerpt from the
>last issue of the Gazette:
>Her erstwhile lover,
Simon Tinsley, has continued to play the rags-to-riches story in our midst.
>Borrowing a page from the book of the black widow and other unsavoury forms of primitive life,
>he has begun the process of devouring his mate. Not literally, of course, but rather through the
>machinations of the modern legal system. An unnamed source close to the house has revealed
>that for months, Tinsley has conducted a secret correspondence with solicitors whose aim is to
>win him sole ownership of the lottery winnings and the estate that they purchased.
>Of course you must know about Frank and John by now. How are you planning to deal
>with their claims? It goes without saying that I will do whatever I can to represent your
>interests here. I wait only for the go-ahead from you.
>Otherwise, I hope everything is well and you are enjoying your stay in the islands.
I have to say your reply fell a bit short. Perhaps you havent spoken to your lawyers recently, but after Doug made some Stateside inquiries for me, it sure looks like you've had plenty to talk with them about in the past six months. I honestly don't know what to think right now.
Dont bother to reply. Amy and James have split (he wanted to marry her and shes not ready to commit, smart girl) and Im flying out to Antigua in about an hour to meet up with her. I'm not sure how long I'll be gone. I've got a lot of thinking to do.
So sorry to bother you, but the printer is getting a tad awkward over some photographs you wanted included. Best left out I thought, but you're the decision maker. Also I met Sergeant Archer in the village and we had a little chat. Bobby and I go way back, of course, school chums and all that. Might we put in a little something positive about the police force? Doesn't hurt to keep the boys in blue happy, you know.
I'm swamped with some book proofs for my Puckering History volume. One has to be so careful with academic publications. I can't tell you the hours I've spent on the footnotes.
By the way, Chester Vyse is talking about suing the paper. Of course, I'm sure when he realises you own it, all will be well.
Nigel Twicks, Acting Editor, Puckering Gazette
How are you? You've been a bit quiet recently so I figured you were quite busy with things. Shame we haven't been able to go off on an outing for a while. Do you remember the Sherwood Forest jaunt?
I could do with a laugh right now. My old company doesn't want me back, burned my bridges it seems. SO...I was wondering, actually Caroline was wondering, really, knowing how much work you had, if I could be of any help. I mean, of course, you have people for all this stuff right, accountants and solicitors and things and I'm sure you know what you're doing. But if you had a short term need I am a qualified accountant with project management experience.
Well just a thought, dont worry about it. Maybe we could grab a bevvie next time you're around.
Yes, sorry about that newspaper thing. I mean it was ridiculous what the bloke said about everything. I notice that Chester 'Toady' Vyse didn't include the bit about you two having an affair. Honestly the paper is a real headache. Twicks is 'graciously' helping out, but he's concentrating on his book so I have to do all the running around stuff and he gets to offer his opinion. If that wasn't bad enough I have the TV people here preparing for the 'Last Taxi to Kensington' filming ( I told you about that, right?) and the restorers making sure the ceiling doesn't collapse on anyone again. Honestly, it's really busy here. I feel like I never get a minute to myself.
I don't want to get rid of you. I'd like you to come back and help me run the place. Anyway I haven't spoken to the American lawyers for weeks.
Love and stuff Simon.
Yes, I have a job for you. There's a project I have in mind that I need some help on and you may be just the man. Bet you don't hear that too often. Anyway keep it to yourself. Don't want tongues wagging so I'll meet you in Brighton to talk about it - presumably you have some time free right now. I'll call you when I have the date set with my solicitor.
Speak to you soon.
Sorry, sorry, sorry. Hope you get this in time. I'd send flowers, but it seems a bit redundant sending flowers to the Caribbean.
The thing is the lawyers did ask me whether I wanted to buy you out. But that was ages ago, when we weren't talking and you were mad at me. Before I came out to see you. They might have asked me something about when we met, but I never replied, I mean things have been really busy! It was great writing to you, and talking to you about us.
I dont know what's happening with Frank and Emma. I think Emma feels guilty about dumping the poor loony so she is trying to make it up by getting him the house! I don' think he has any interest. He just want to sit in his hermitage thinking weird thoughts and communing with the past. Actually I went and sat with him for a few hours last week, he was chattering on to me and the world. Nice bloke really.
Now John I have no idea about, he's Monty's grandson it seems but no evidence he was provided for. Of course Shirley might have something to say about that. I'm thinking of getting a taster in case she poisons my food but I'd have to pay someone a fortune to put up with her cooking!
Stoney Grove does seem a lot to manage sometimes. We started on this together and I want us to continue to do it together, but it is hard with you in the Caribbean and me here. Maybe we do need to come to some resolution on this.
It was a bit of a cheap shot getting Doug Wood involved, but I'll forgive you.
Emma's OfficeDear Emma,
Whats this about Frank and his inheritance? Hes Ellens son? How is that possible? How is it possible that Ive only just been told? Whats going on?
I dont want you to think Im blaming you about this, but please send me a note and let me know what youve found out. I dont care if its appropriate or notspill the beans! If you found anything at the archive, send that along as well.
Heres a little poem I wrote.
Roses are red,
I will be yours,
Well I know Im not much with words, but come on Em, give me a chance.
I have had a brilliant trip to the Archive! Enclosed are transcriptions of two letters from Fanny that I found in the James Rawlins papers. They seem to pick up where the manuscript left off. I havent finished looking through everything there yet and should really make time to get back there soon.
Franks birth certificate was in the box. I thought you knew. He was born in 1948 to Ellen Hall and Kurt Frank, a German ex-war prisoner. His dad left before he was born (without marrying Ellen, of course) and he was adopted by some relatives of the family. Frank just gave me a copy of this letter, which he received on the day of his mothers funeral in 1971, so in the interest of openness, Im passing it along to you.
Hes asked me not to look into the matter of Ellens will. Im quite sure that there was some provision for him in it, but he insists that he is satisfied and doesnt want to stir up the past. Thats just like him though, not wanting to be a bother to anyone. Im sure hes really quite interested. And then Im feeling a bit guilty, to be honest. If I can find out more about this maybe I can mend some fences. In any case, Im searching for Ellens will. No luck yet.
Johns claims look a bit more dubious to me. After all, Monty never recognized his Mum and sent her away years ago, so it doesnt seem to me that he has a legal foot to stand on. You never know though, do you?
Ill be in touch shortly.
January 15, 1805
My dearest Brother,
I write to assure you that I did not perish at Stoney Grove, but live and am now reunited with my dearest son Ned on the island of my birth. I beg you to believe that I strove to deceive others, but never you, with the staging of my recent "demise." Here then, is my tale.
I received a letter from Ned in early November, declaring that he had discovered my search for him and was anxious to meet the mother from whose breast he had so cruelly been torn. In my joy, I confided to Mary the story of her brothers birth, my betrayal, his kidnapping, and my revenge upon his father. She could not accept the truths that I shared with her, and chose to deny the existence of her brother and the circumstances of my birth so that her own blood could thereby remain untainted. I pleaded with her for acceptance and forgiveness.
In her anger and confusion, she confided the story to Mr. Morcombe, a young man who had until that time exhibited every sign of love and matrimonial intent toward her. Without the slightest consideration for her affections, he swore to expose my ancient crime and bring her family name into disrepute. When his nature was thus unmasked, she repented of her anger and told me of his intentions. Together, we planned my "death," knowing that, once drowned, there could be no proving of his tale and no glory to be gained in the telling of it. I packed a few belongings and fled the house on foot, meeting a stage for London in Lower Puckering. I was delivered to the dock and purchased a passage to the West Indies on the merchantman Marguerite. Mary, I fear, will bear too great a burden for my sins. She has, in one week, lost mother, suitor, and worst of all, self-knowledge.
I beg you to attend to her, when possible, and bear with you the greetings of her loving mother. I have enclosed herein a history that I wrote whilst aboard ship, to expand on the hasty explanation of my actions that I imparted to her in England. Please see that it is delivered into her hands.
I pray for your health and happiness.
Your loving sister,
Fanny Rawlins Blake
June 30, 1814
My dearest Brother,
I am comfortably situated at Stoney Grove, thanks to your kindness and generosity. I write to you whilst sitting on the veranda that I once shared in the evening with our dear father and my brother Ned.
I am, again, a grandmother. My sons wife was delivered of a daughter twelve days ago. She is a fine child, and has much the look of her great-great grandmother Fanny, for whom she is named. I have ridden over to Newcastle twice to see the family since her birth, but am fatigued today and do not believe I shall stir beyond the shade of the silk tree.
I dream at night of the garden in Sussex, and wonder if, when my time comes, I shall fly across the sea to be there once more. I fear that I cannot fly, being too much an Englishwoman, and will instead find my peace here in this place. I do not regret this--only that I will never see Mary again, or have the chance to visit, one last time, the grave of my dear friend William Heath.
I am thankful to you for giving me a home when my son could not, and being a true and loving brother.
Fanny Rawlins Blake
11th meeting of the Steering Committee for Stoney Grove
Attendees: Simon Tinsley, Frank Churchill, Evelyn Prosser, Mr. Tinsley Sr., Emma Knytleigh and John White.
Simon: Let's get started, shall we? Apologies received from the weasel formally known as Chester Vyse. Afraid to show his face around here is my guess. I reckon Shirley and Martin have a few things to discuss in Lyme Regis. Still, glad you could make it John. They weren't tempted to lock you up and throw away the key?
John: One of the old biddies spent ten minutes rabbiting on about drugs in Buckingham Palace. By the time she finished I thought I was going to be accused of that too. Still, I ended up with a fine and a suspended sentence. So I've got to keep my hands clean.
Simon: Just what I want in my new gardener!
John: Could I have an advance on my wages? I went into debt to pay the fine.
Simon: Sure, though cash is a little tight right now. Honestly it would be much cheaper to knock the place down and re-build it than to do this restoration. I've got the carpentry crew and I've got a newspaper that I now find costs a fortune to own. A newspaper, I should add, that has libeled half the village and printed an article that has Ann spitting mad at me.
Emma: That's because you never tell her anything.
Simon: It seems like everyone else has been happy to fulfill that role. Ann tells me you're advocating for Frank in your spare time. Tell me Frank, do you want to own Stoney Grove?
Frank: Oh no, I couldn't live here. All the noise and the voices. No, I don't think I'd like that at all.
Emma: I'm just looking after his rights. Frank deserves a share of this.
Frank: But I don't want it. I just want to be in my little house. Why are you living in the village, Emma? You can come back here.
John: Yes Em, I haven't seen you in ages. Can't we talk?
Emma: I need to be on my own right now to sort things out, Frank. John, give it a rest, will you?
Frank: Sometimes when I see things youre not there, and it makes me very sad.
Simon: Sorry Frank, but sometimes I rather think you're not there--or actually here--which is a problem given the number of tourists we've had wandering around recently.
Tinsley Snr: I put a tin out for donations for the restoration. We didn't get much. Everyone's so tight these days. No appreciation of what it takes to run a place like this.
Simon: Let's hope the taxman missed that one. What did you collect?
Tinsley Snr: Only a couple of quid after expenses. I had to buy the tin you know, and it's not like I get paid.
Simon: I'll alert the Treasury. Anyway I gave a sterling interview on the telly this week. I got up at four in the morning. I was in make-up for 45 minutes. I was prepped with questions and when they finally came to me they had to stop for the weather before moving to a breaking story on Zimbabwe. By the time they got back to me I just managed "we're jolly excited!" before they cut me off. Jolly excited! Who the hell says that! I sounded like a right dork. If I'd wanted a pompous upper-class sounding idiot to rattle off inanities I could have got Chester to do it.
Evelyn: Did you have a chance to talk further with the people from Segovia, then?
Simon: Yeah, they're sending me a list of proposed changes and we're negotiating a filming schedule. Seems we have to dig up all the red flowers and plant yellow ones, grass over the drive and get a herd of cattle for starters. Anyone know where I can get fifty milk cows?
John: Where are we going to put fifty cows? They're not treading on my new turf, I'll tell you that right off.
Simon: Nice to see you taking an interest in your work already John.
Frank: I've always liked red flowers, especially the burnt red of autumn chrysanthemums. Yellow is pretty too, of course, but it seems unkind to move the others. Perhaps we could have a word with them?
Evelyn: And if we grass the drive, how are we going to get in and out? I've got a crew starting in September too, you know, and it would be very inconvenient to tell them they have to come on foot.
Simon: People, people! We're never going to get anywhere if you panic over the details! Leave it to me, we'll sort it all out. Let's take a break and meet up again next week, shall we?
John: Wait, Em. Can we talk?
Emma: Not now, John. I'm late.
John: Come on, we've got to talk sometime. Couldn't it be now? I mean I've been waiting for...
Emma: Oh, let's hear it, shall we? I've kept you waiting. Let's see...As long as I sat in gaol? Have you been waiting that long, John? It was twenty one hours, alone, in a cell, accused of a crime I didn't commit, with my name plastered all over the newspaper and my employers thinking they'd hired a member of a bloody Colombian cartel...
John: Um, well, no actually, not really long at all. I wasn't complaining about the length of it, no, no, I really wasn't. It's just that I don't think this is productive.
Emma: Productive? How productive are you when you're so stoned you can't walk across the room? Or can't remember where you've left things? How productive do you think you are now that you're broke because you've been convicted of a drug offence?
John: Well, not terribly productive. No, you're right. It's just that, if we could talk about this, I think you might feel a bit better.
Emma: Yeah, you're right. I'm feeling better already. Thanks, you've been a great help.