This page contains most of the content from the main 'story line' characters. It is designed to allow an easy way of keeping up with the story on slow connections (or for reading later). It is, of course, no substitute for the real thing!
Cuppa with Shirley
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)
Hello there! Martin tells me you stopped in awhile back. Beyond 'is growl he's really quite a considerate man, isn't he? Always keeping track of the comings and goings for me whilst I'm away. You know it's been a long time that the two of us have been together. Sometimes it seems like yesterday...
Never mind. I am sorry to have missed you. I was down to Vera's for a few days. Cornwall's lovely this time of year, quite peaceful really. None of the holidaymakers about stopping up the roads and snogging on the beaches. And it's always nice to be with family, you know. We had a lovely visit. It's a pity that John was in and out. He's such a nice boy. Well, young man, really. They grow up so quickly these days, don't they? He popped out shortly after I got there. I suspected he had got a girl on the side, what with the way he was preening himself before he left. If so, she wasn't having any of him--he ended up here with Martin and the lot. Poor lad. My grandson deserves nothing but the best. He's had a bit of a hard time of it in the past, but things have a way of working themselves out, I always say.
So, what's new down in the village? Haven't been out much since I came home, though I suppose I ought to pop 'round to see Minnie Smalls and collect the mail. No hurry, it's never anything more than bills and sweepstakes and the like. Still, I'd like to pick up my copy of the Daily Mail before it's too late. Alway some good bit of gossip in there.
You haven't bumped into Tinsley and that friend of his, have you? He's gone and left his wife. I blame his lordship, he probably filled the poor man's head with all sorts of nonsense, and the daft bloke listened. These young people have no idea of what's right these days, do they? First Tinsley and Miss Simmons spend all that time living together, whilst he's chasing everyone in a skirt, then Frank goes and shacks up with that Emma (not that he hadn't been lonely, poor lad, but still...) then the two come from the Caribbean, one black, one white, neither of 'em with enough sense to get married before they bring a child into the world. In my day it didn't happen that way, I'll tell you that. Well, well, enough said. I think I hear the kettle. Can you stay for a cuppa?
From: S&L Easy Productions
Recall on the millionaire thing. Damn Americans. You just can't trust people these days.
Don't suppose you're interested in spending a month on a desert island
with your total opposite, are you? It's a kind of "If you were the last person on
earth" sort of thing.
Let me know.
S&L Easy Productions
"If it's not on television, how do you know it's real?"
thanks for putting me up. got home and realised i'd nicked your shaving cream.bit ironic, isn't it/ i mean with jerry being my dad and all. did emma tell you? she's great isnt' she? she's the only one who wanted me to know the truth. i respect that a lot. i'm coming up again in a few weks time. can i use the room again?
I left Caroline this morning and this email will be the last one I will ever write in this office. You have inspired me to act and I am taking charge of my destiny. After I hit send I am going to walk into my bosss office and tell him I quit. I'm going to tell him that he is a petty-minded little tyrant. I will tell him that my greatest consolation in leaving will be that I don't have to go to dinner with him and his stuck-up wife any more and that, despite nouvelle cuisine, he is still fat and uninteresting!
I left Caroline a note. I said I needed some space, that I wanted to follow my desert destiny and see where the sands lead me. Actually Im a bit worried about what shell think.
Can I come and stay with you for a while?
Since we've been conversing, so to speak, I thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Ann's neighbor and landlord. Sounds feudal--it's not :). She's a great lady by the way. I'm glad she's here with me. She tells me you've got a Harley. I used to do some riding myself before I came down here. Born to be Wild, eh! Lots of fun.
Anyway, just thought I'd say howdy since we see a lot of each other ;)
Just got back from Amy's and found your message. Sorry! I'd like to talk. Why don't we meet for an on-line chat next week?
From SimonGo for it Phil. You're the man, brother.
I think it's very important to do what you really want. We only have one life and I think we need to live it. You should think about what you aspire to achieve. I mean, I wasn't happy when Ann went off after the party, but maybe it was for the best. She seems to be enjoying herself in the Caribbean, which is good because she has trouble having fun. Seems like she is too busy to even email now! Me, I feel re-energized, focused. I've realised that this house is my mission, and I'm spending all my time and energy making it a great place. I've been reading the Economist and Forbes and let me tell you I've been quite shrewd with my technology stocks. Money makes money is what I decided.
Winning the lottery was luck, but I aim to make the most of it. You decide what you want to do and I'll support you all the way!
Nothing else to say?
I guess you have moved on and maybe I should too.
Just found your old email. Is this still an option? What would I have to do?
|>>||Greetings from the firm of McBeal, Cage and Thomas.|
|>>||Everything's fine on the lottery thing, but I was thinking.|
|>>||How are things with you? In love? In Debt? Eyes wandering?|
|>>||If all's well, great. But if you need help getting out from under an|
|>>||emasculating partner we're here for you.|
|>>||Really. Just don't move out. The agreement you have is probably full|
|>>||of holes. I'm sure we can get you the house.|
|>>||Just a thought. Let me know.|
Are you nuts?!
I mean, think about this Phil. I'm not denying you your camel, or anything, but I always thought you had a good job. I mean, I knew you didn't do the most exciting work in the world, but who does? And you left Caroline?! Phil, you love Caroline. I know I haven't always said the nicest things about her, but I mean she's all right, isn't she. Ive always kind of envied you Caroline. Not that I fancied her or anything, but you two seemed right together. I'm not sure you should be 'out there', Phil. I was thinking that I could be 'out there' for both of us!
Anyway, I hope you get this in time. Don't do anything rash. I'll drive over and see you tonight and we can talk about it over a pint.
Hope all is well at Stoney Grove. Amy and baby Mande are fine--she's quite a beautiful little one, and has actually slept most of the time I've been here. James came in shortly after I did. So all in all, it's been a good visit, but time to head home and give them some space to all get used to each other.
I look forward to hearing all the latest news, and will write more shortly. I've sent the latest transcription separately.
Before I forget, Frank wants you to tell me about anything 'unusual' that you heard when you lived here. He's been hearing women's voices for a week or more, and when I told him he needed to see a doctor, he said that you'd heard them too, and would tell me if I asked. So, is he the nutter I've alway suspected he is, or is there safety in numbers?
The meeting with Jerry Anderson went well. John now knows that Jerrys his dad. He didnt seem particularly surprised by the news. Apparently he'd heard that Elizabeth was a free spirit, and wasnt sure she even knew who his dad was. He did ask Jerry if he loved her, and if she had wanted to get married, and was satisfied with Jerrys answers (yes and no).
In my opinion, its about time that it was all out in the open. Jerry seems tremendously relieved. He thanked me for bringing John, and as my reward, told me that there is a safe in the house where I can probably find the missing parts of the Blake manuscript. Did you know anything about this? Ive found it behind a mirror in Basils bedroom, but havent cracked the code yet. Jerry himself never managed to suss it out, and he isnt really sure whats in there.
Does the phrase "it can be opened by the grace of a gentleman who played here" mean anything to you? Thats what Monty told him when he asked how to open it. Jerrys not the brightest of men, and he could never work it out. There must be a simple solutionthere are only 7 letters or numbers to be lined up.
I suppose I could ask Frank to help. He and Monty were close and maybe he knows something about it. He probably wont say though-- Frank doesnt think this should be any of my business, and is unhappy that I got in the middle of it all and have been spending time with John. So far, at least, Shirley doesnt know.
Ill write again if I manage to find out anything more. If you have any inspiration, please let me know.
Fanny's HistoryFanny Blake Manuscript, Part 3 During the summer of my eighth year, Nevis was visited by a series of dreadful storms. I had already learned to associate such events with death, as the only other hurricane in my brief existence had closely followed the loss of my mother. The word conjured up dim memories of screaming wind, of darkness, and of the infant-howls of Ned.
The storms of 1772, I can recall, even now, with crystal clarity. The first was presaged by a clear, bright, cloudless day. Waves, ever increasing in size, began to beat against the beach, and sailors reported seeing schools of fish darting just beneath the surface of the sea. The wind that began as a gentle breeze grew to a steady gust. By nightfall it had begun to carry the shingles off of rooftops and palm fronds across the yard. As darkness fell, the rain set in, pattering, then drumming, then beating down in great stinging sheets that blinded and choked us when we ventured outside to rescue a toy, forgotten in the stillness of the afternoon. Soon the wind began to shriek like the wails of the undead, and the air was filled with sounds like gunshots as tree limbs broke beneath the strain.
Though our house had weathered eleven such onslaughts since its cornerstone was laid, we feared for our lives, and took refuge in the wine cellar, with Miss Craighill, Mr. Grindle and his wife and children, Sawney and the remainder of the domestic staff. My fathers slaves were left to seek refuge from the storm in the windmill tower, the boiling house, the distillery or the ruins of the lime kiln. A few lingered in their quarters, rude huts made of woven sticks and palm thatch. Not one of these withstood the elements, and when the morning light dawned, the wretched inhabitants were left homeless, exhausted, and without a shred of dry clothing or a morsel of food. All had been consumed by the wind.
We had barely begun to address the wrongs that this storm had inflicted when, just three days later, a second hurricane, nearly as fierce as the first, vented its fury upon us. No lives were lost at Stoney Grove, but the roof was ripped from its mooring, the garden was flattened, and the misery of the slaves was, at last, shared by us all. Indeed, such misery engulfed the island, for scarcely a house was left standing, nor a ship left afloat in the harbour. Those that had not run aground, pushed relentlessly against the shore by the pounding waves and violent wind, sank at their moorings under the sheer volume of water amassed from the rain.
When later that season a third storm struck, we despaired. Our rude repairs could not hold the wind, the sea, and the sky at bay. Mercifully, the last storm did not equal the strength of her sisters, and we survived once more.
In the wake of the second storm, the antique custom of fasting on Sundays was reintroduced. As there was little food in its aftermath, the Sunday fast extended, without the sanction of the Church, to the rest of the week as well. The livestock had all perished in the hurricane, and though hundreds of fish lay washed up on the shore, the hot sun of late summer quickly rotted their flesh, and the stench could be smelled for miles. Our fruits littered the ground, battered and smashed, and the cane lay flattened in a dense mat across the fields. We lived on sailors fare: salt cod, biscuits, Madiera and rum, sharing with our neighbors when their stores ran out. During this time, my grandmother ceased to visit, needing the time to forage for food and begin to rebuild her home and replant her garden. Finally, by early November, the season ended, and ships began to return to the harbour, laden with supplies.
We were to experience three more hurricanes that decade, each bringing their share of misery to the island. The first two, in 1775 and 1776, left minimal damage to our estate in their wake. By then I had begun to leave the irrational fears of childhood behind, and was able to provide some solace to my brother and to Mr. Grindle's children who gathered around us as we took shelter in the cellar. In the aftermath of each, I helped my father to organize the clean-up and repair of the estate and the distribution of new provisions to the labourers who had lost their homes. In this way, and many others under less trying circumstances, I began to exercise the skills of domestic management requisite in a West Indian housewife.
Though far graver in its impact, the last great storm of the decade was providential, for in coming as it did on the 4th of September, 1779, it freed us from the grip of the French. Great Britain, our protector, being at war with the rebellious colonies to our north, had removed her fleet to northern waters, leaving Nevis and her neighbors vulnerable to attack from enemy nations. Seizing this opportunity, the French, under the leadership of Admiral Count d'Estaing, gathered a fleet of warships and laid seige. The hurricane broke the blockade, smashing her ships and sinking them without a trace. While we suffered greatly in the wake of the storm, our suffering was eased by our knowledge that our enemies had suffered more.
In that year I was a young woman, two months shy of my sixteenth birthday. My childhood had ended, and the storm clouds of adulthood gathered around me.
4th meeting of the Steering Committee for Stoney Grove
Present: Simon Tinsley, Frank Churchill, Shirley Johnson, Mr. Tinsley Sr., Chester Vyse, and Emma Knytleigh.Simon: Well, Segovia T.V. has asked if they can film some awful mini-series here. Its about missing the bus to London or something like that.
Emma: What do they want to do?
Simon: I dont have the details yet. But it would put us on the map, bring in lots of money. If Stoney Grove is going to become a major site we need publicity. Look at Castle Howard. Brideshead did wonders for that place.
Chester: Is this the best way to go about getting publicity? Why dont we just do some marketing?
Frank: I dont think they want a film crew poking around their house.
Emma: Oh, God. Hes hearing his voices again.
Frank: Theyre not MY voices. Theyre William Blakes and Mary Beadles and Hope Halls and, well, even Monty is against it.
Shirley: You heard Monty?
Frank: Yes. He doesnt like the thought of filming going on here. Too much noise and disruption. And he doesnt think Eleanor would like it either.
Simon: Great. So the dead veto it. Suppose they feel theyve already missed the bus, so whats the point?
Frank: Taxi. Its not a bus, its a taxi. Last Taxi to Kensington.
Simon: Whatever. Other thoughts? Weve had an increase in visitors this week. Did we get any response from the story in the Gazette asking for volunteer guides?
Emma: No. I think they were all rather off put by the Red Covers letter and your abuse.
Tinsley Snr: I could give tours.
Simon: What do you know about this place?
Tinsley Snr: Well, I live here, don't I? Just what am I supposed to be doing here? I thought maybe I could sit in one of the rooms and talk to the visitors. Play old games or something. I like games.
Simon: It's an idea. But no gambling. I'm not having you fleecing the tourists.
Emma: Simon, I think we should concentrate on the history here. Did you know we just found a safe in Basils room? We havent opened it yet but Jerry said the basil told him it could be "opened by the grace of a gentleman who played here". Of course Jerry had no clue what that meant.
Shirley. What, have you been talking to Jerry again? I dont want him mentioned. This may be all history to you my girl, but its some of our lives.
Emma: I know that, but history's always someones life. John's part of this too, isn't he?
Shirley: Well I dont want you muckraking and I dont want you talking to John. Hes a nice boy, he is.
Simon: OK, enough. Ill get with the TV crowd, although frankly I think the mediums on its last legs. Dad, well add you to the tour rotation. Lets get that safe open. We bought the existing contents with the house you know, so if its money its mine!
Emma: And Anns.
Simon: Oh, right. Well, til next time.
Chester: If I could just mention... perhaps I could be of assistance. I understand the engineering of these old locks, you know. I'll be doing some work in Basil's room anyway, so it won't be an inconvenience.
Simon: Fine. Just get the damn thing open. Cheerio.