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Two So Far
In this episode:
Cuppa with Shirley
Series Two So Far...
Stoney Grove owners Ann Simmons and Simon Tinsley split, and Ann returns to the Caribbean with friends Amy and James. After a short visit, she decides to find a place to live on Nevis and explore the "other" Stoney Grove, a ruined eighteenth century plantation house. Doug Wood, an American ex-pat, befriends her, renting her a house, providing her with e-mail service, and giving her lessons in sailing, dancing and, well, who knows what else...Ann's more serious hours have been spent transcribing a document that she found at Nevis. It's an autobiographical account of the life of Stoney Grove's first lady, Fanny Rawlins Blake. Only part of the manuscript is on the island, and Ann suspects the rest may be tucked away at Stoney Grove in England.
Simon has decided 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. After presenting a number of options, most of them unpopular, he's decided to pursue a policy of creating a "virtual house" that will allow visitors to see each room's history at whatever period strikes their fancy. While he's ironing out a few minor technical glitches, Emma has organized a group of volunteers to lead old-fashioned tours. Simon is also in negotiations with a production studio who want to film an upcoming mini-series on the grounds of the estate.
Simon's longtime friend Phil is suffering a bit of a mid-life crisis. He's quit his job, left his wife, and come to stay at Stoney Grove until he decides what to do next. Simon, never known for his strong personal skills, is attempting both to sort him out and to re-establish contact with Ann. They've exchanged a few emails and are beginning to "talk" again.
Emma, when not giving tours, is prying into the more recent history, determined to uncover the story of John White's origins. John, housekeeper Shirley Johnson's grandson, has just learned that Jerry Anderson, a village antiques-dealer serving time in prison for theft, is his father. Jerry and Emma suspect that John's grandfather may not be Shirley's husband Martin, but rather Montgomery Hall, a former owner of the estate. In searching for answers, Emma has recently located a hidden safe in the house, but has not been able to open it.
Cuppa with Shirley (or Martin)Ooh, you caught me red-handed with my nose in a book. Now where have I put my handkerchief? Its that sad, really. Makes me cry every time. Are you a fan of hers too? You know I cant tell you how many times Ive read Adrift at Seaits 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 thats why I turned to Miss ORall. You know they found the books in an old safe in Mr. Basils room. Been sitting in a hole in the wall all these years, gathering dust. Funny, really. I dont remember any of the Halls having much patience for that sort of thing. Dont know why they were in there.
Now the locked box they foundwhat do you suppose is in there? Nothing good, you can be sure. Best left alone, these old secrets. Cant find a locksmith, but I reckon theyll find one soon enough. Maybe when they do, the box will be lost again Not that Im not a good housekeeper, but sometimes I get forgetful as to where I put things when Im tidying up. It happens to us all as we get older, doesnt it?
Speaking of secrets, youve probably heard by now that that weasel-ly girl Emma has gone digging up dirt againworse than the rats in Martins rubbish tip. She got Jerry to tell John that hes his dad. Nothing I could do to stop it, though to be honest I thought I had, going down to Veras like I did. In the end it came to noughtshe brought him to the jail, she did. Imagine meeting your dad when hes behind bars. It isnt right, is it? As if that wasnt bad enough, John walks in to this very kitchen and asks me, his Nan, if Montgomery Hall was his granddad. Didnt even have the grace to blush. After all these years, all that Martin and I have done for the lad! I told him I wouldnt dignify that question with an answer.
Its her I really blame though. She should watch her step. Always getting into other peoples business, when by all accounts shes 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?
I've never done this chat session stuff before, but I think we need to have pseudonyms ("handles"--or is that only in bad trucker movies? ). I'll be poorClare. Who should I look for? What time? Maybe a phone call would be easier. You decide.
Whats important right now is the house. Dont let Ann move back. Its probably best if the house value falls, can you do that? If we contest the lottery win, we have to say that it would be an unacceptable solution that you should have to sell your home. You may have to give up some money but hey, you'll have to pay us too.
Remember faint heart never screwed fair lady.
Leave the moral posturing to us this is the time to think about you.
Were with you.
Cage, McBeal and Thomas
Hello there, its been a while. Im in London this week on business. Fancy hooking up.
Yeah, you're right.
I did this once or twice when I was in the States (before I met you).
I could use Harleyman! I'll look for you in the Yahoo chat room - try Romance 20-30?
'Speak' to you soon
Simon ChatHarleyman enters the room.
Great work! I cant wait to see what youve found. I do read Frenchmostly medieval manuscripts in the past, but this will be fun. I suppose if I cant twist your arm I can live with Chester coming. Its kind of awkward though. Hes so earnest, and never really believed me when I told him I wasnt interested in him romantically. I worry that with warm sea air, a few drinks and a full moon, things could get embarrassing again. Maybe Ill throw a party. Or maybe you could send Reverend Banks along with him. Theres safety in numbers, right?
I hate to be nosy, but whats so interesting at Stoney Grove these days that youd pass up a free trip to a warm (and sunny!) climate? Anything I should know about you and Frank??
Seriously, hope alls well. If not, let me know if I can help.
Got it! We puzzled over the password to the safe and then I remembered the cricket game that was played here in 1882. Basil Hall was an avid cricketer at University, and obviously idolised the man who saved the day at the Stoney Grove match. WGGRACE was the password. Anyway, inside the safe was a locked box, TWO manuscripts written by Fanny Blake, and a set of old books. In a bizarre coincidence, three of them were written by Helena ORallyou know, Miss ORall of the wretched miniseries that Simons so keen on filming here.
Anyway, back to the manuscripts. One looks like the missing part of the one youre already working on. I glanced through it but wont spoil the surprise by telling you what I saw. The other one, also in Fannys handwriting, is in French. My foreign language skills are appallinghope yours are better.
Ive tried to get the locked box open. They key is long gone, and unfortunately the village locksmith is on holiday in Barcelona for a month. I phoned the locksmith in West Bean and he is in hospital. Apparently in Imbiben they just break and enter at will, so there isnt enough work to keep a locksmith in town.
So, for now the box is a mystery. What next? Im not really keen to fly out to the Caribbean. A few things have come up around here that Id like to be able to keep an eye on. What about asking Chester to bring it out to you? Im sure hed fancy the trip.
I await your advice.
No new transcription
Note to Emma
Fancy a walk to the village this afternoon? I told Nan I'd pick up a newspaper for her,
and haven't got a car.
Anyway, it would be much more fun if you'd come with me. I'm out in the garden hiding from old Tinsley,
who I now owe 6 quid (he taught me how to play cribbage).
5th meeting of the Steering Committee for Stoney Grove
Present: Phil Porkridge, Frank Churchill, Shirley Johnson, Martin Johnson, Mr. Tinsley Sr., John White and Emma Knytleigh.
Phil: Um, hello everybody. Simon isnt going to be here today; in fact hes gone on a trip so he asked me to chair the meeting. I dont know much about houses, but then neither does Simon! Anyway, Im an accountant. So lets do this properly. Who has the minutes from the last meeting?
Emma: We record each session and I,ve been making transcripts.
Phil: Were making a recording? Testing, testing, one two three! Sorry. Just my little joke. Well, never mind. Any outstanding business?
Emma: Yes, we opened the safe.
Phil: Oh, well done!
Mr. Tinsley Sr.: How'd you manage it?
Emma: It was easy really, once I figured it out. The clue was "it can be opened by the grace of a gentleman who played here." WGGRACE of course. He played against the Australians at Stoney Grove in the 1880s.
Phil: Any goodies?
Shirley: You shouldnt be messing about with peoples private things.
Emma: We got a bird book by Eleanor Hall, and some bad romance novels. Fanny's manuscripts were in there too, which were much more interesting. Ann wants me to send them to her. There's also a locked box, which is presenting a bit of a challenge.
Shirley: Well, I think you should leave it alone. You're just stirring things up, poking your nose in where its got no business being. And as to the novels being bad, how'd you know? Have you read them?
John: Now, now Nan. Emmas just trying to find things out. Im glad shes been looking into things.
Shirley:When youre older youll realise some things are best left just as they are. What about you, Frank? Happy with Emmas snooping around with John, are you?
Frank: Everyones very agitated right now. I just cant see how this is all going to work out. Let's try not to get angry.
Emma: Oh calm down, Shirley. It's all old news. I just want a quick peek!
Shirley: All right, dearie. Just be aware that secrets have a way of coming back to haunt you!
Phil: Any other business?
Mr. Tinsley Snr: Wheres that archaeologist lady? I like her, how come shes not around any more? And that architect fellow, wheres he? Seems like the rats are deserting the ship.
Emma: Evelyn is taking some vacation time. Chester sent his apologies; hes on a trip too.
Mr Tinsley Snr: Well, I was supposed to get my room set up. To show people eighteenth-century gambling.
Phil: Well, let me help you with that Mr. Tinsley. We can have you in costume. Oh, and by the way, the television people are going to give us the word about filming in another few weeks, so we should think about how well best accommodate them. Just think, perhaps we can all be extras.
Martin: I was on television once, for me vegetables.
Phil: Really. Well. How nice. Until next time then.