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Have a Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)

Ooh, you caught me red-handed with my nose in a book. Now where have I put my handkerchief? It’s that sad, really. Makes me cry every time. Are you a fan of hers too? You know I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Adrift at Sea—it’s my favourite. I still get choked up when I come to the part where the life raft floats by empty. You know she just should have gone with him, but she never could give it all up. Still, I never did understand all the to-do about Taxi. Well, well, give me a minute. Silly old fool to be crying over a book at my age. Got plenty of my own troubles to be teary-eyed about. Maybe that’s why I turned to Miss O’Rall. You know they found the books in an old safe in Mr. Basil’s room. Been sitting in a hole in the wall all these years, gathering dust. Funny, really. I don’t remember any of the Halls having much patience for that sort of thing. Don’t know why they were in there.

Now the locked box they found—what do you suppose is in there? Nothing good, you can be sure. Best left alone, these old secrets. Can’t find a locksmith, but I reckon they’ll find one soon enough. Maybe when they do, the box will be lost again…Not that I’m not a good housekeeper, but sometimes I get forgetful as to where I put things when I’m tidying up. It happens to us all as we get older, doesn’t it?

Speaking of secrets, you’ve probably heard by now that that weasel-ly girl Emma has gone digging up dirt again—worse than the rats in Martin’s rubbish tip. She got Jerry to tell John that he’s his dad. Nothing I could do to stop it, though to be honest I thought I had, going down to Vera’s like I did. In the end it came to nought—she brought him to the jail, she did. Imagine meeting your dad when he’s behind bars. It isn’t right, is it? As if that wasn’t bad enough, John walks in to this very kitchen and asks me, his Nan, if Montgomery Hall was his granddad. Didn’t even have the grace to blush. After all these years, all that Martin and I have done for the lad! I told him I wouldn’t dignify that question with an answer.

It’s her I really blame though. She should watch her step. Always getting into other people’s business, when by all accounts she’s got plenty of her own dirty laundry hiding just beneath the lid of the hamper. I intend to give it some airing, I do. See how she likes it. Just like Ernestine in Adrift. She showed them all …Never mind. Fancy a cup of tea?

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