Friday, 30 September 2011
In the Bleak Midwinter by Carol Rivers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have read all of Carol Rivers books and loved every one. I cannot recommend them highly enough and "In The Bleak Mid Winter" is no exception. As usual I couldn't wait for the paperback so bought the hardback. I think I am a Carol Rivers junkie, as I can never get enough of her novels. After a lot of searching I found out Rivers has been published since 1986 and eleven years ago Simon & Schuster snapped her up, and that is something they don't do very often.
Rivers books are all about the Isle of Dogs in the East End, and she spins a great story of family loyalties, the underworld and romance. Put these together and you can't put the book down. Carol Rivers is the only lady to keep me up until four o'clock in the morning!
If you only read one book this year read "In The Bleak Midwinter" and lose yourself to a roller-coaster of a read.
Winter 1919. Two months after the Armistice that ended the Great War, and life in London's East End is slowly returning to normal. But for 25-year-old Birdie Connor the battle is only just beginning. Frank, Birdie's older brother, has been sent to prison for deserting his army post whilst fighting in Belgium, and the shame heaped on the Connor family by their neighbours is unrelenting. Wilfred, Birdie's widowed father, has disowned Frank and vows that he will never set eyes on his son again, but Birdie cannot believe that her brother is guilty So when Frank escapes from prison and comes to find Birdie in secret, she promises to help him and is determined to prove his innocence. But little does she realise that she is exposing herself to danger as Frank gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble with the so-called friends he met in prison. Helped by the Connors' lodger, the handsome Harry Chambers, will Birdie be able to find the proof that Frank needs in time to reconcile him to their frail father before it is too late? And can she build a future to keep herself and her younger brother, Patrick, safe?
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Wednesday, 28 September 2011
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Canterville Ghost is an unusual ghost story. It begins in an old English country house, Canterville Chase, which is said to be haunted. When Mr Otis a wealthy American moves into the house with his wife and children, Lord Canterville warns them about Sir Simon, the house's resident ghost. But they ignore him, as the Otis family aren't afraid of phantoms or things that go bump in the night, no matter how hard the ghost tries.
I would describe this novel by Oscar Wilde as a humorous, Gothic ghost story, set in a typical English haunted manor. Which works very well with the practical American family who have an unusual way of behaving every time Sir Simon makes an appearance.
I liked the way some of the story is told from Sir Simons perspective, so that we bond with him rather than the Otis family. I enjoyed this book! It made me laugh, and what more can you ask from a novel. It was an easy read, so suitable for younger readers as well as adults, or as I like to say. The young at heart.
This classic ghost story tells of a malevolent ghost, who discovers there is no peace for the wicked when a rumbustious American family moves into his ancestral home. This is one of the "Walker Treasures" series - a collection of classic works of literature for children.
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Monday, 26 September 2011
Onions In The Stew by Betty MacDonald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found this book when I was on holiday at my aunties in the fifties. It was a hot summer, and I would lay on the bed with the window open, lace curtains blowing, and read Onions In The Stew by Betty MacDonald, for hours at a time. I was only eleven years old, but loved the book. As the years progressed I read other Betty MacDonald novels and they are also full of humour, which reminds me of those far off summers when I was a young boy.
Of all her books, Onions In The Stew is my favourite, because of the carefree simple life she describes, which is so alluring. She makes you want to go and live in a beach house by the sea, eating fish and searching for firewood on the shore. Her writing about her teenage girls is very apt in today's world when parents have to deal with this difficult stage. I can't recommend this book enough. once you own it you'll want to read it again and again. A big thank you to the publisher for re-issuing these books.
Betty MacDonald is a talented writer
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Sunday, 25 September 2011
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I always feel good when I read a P. G. Wodehouse. It reminds me of cucumber sandwiches and cold lemon and barley, on a hot summers day in England. AHHH
'The feeling I had when Aunt Agatha trapped me in my lair that morning and spilled the bad news was that my luck had broken at last ...' When Bertie sets his heart upon some jolly purple socks, relations with Jeeves become distinctly cold and unchummy. Things become a good deal worse when Aunt Agatha demands that he abandon his life of frivolity in favour of a peal of wedding bells. But the inimitable Jeeves has the matter in hand right from the start ...and as for the socks, read on about the startling dressiness of a lift attendant.
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The Pink Panther by Max Allan Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was not quite what I expected. I have seen all Peter Sellers' films where he plays the bumbling Inspector Cluso and loved them all. But Steve Martin as Cluso? No,no,no! Don't get me wrong, I think Steve Martin is a great comedian, but not as Cluso.
I know this is a book review, but I wanted to get that off my chest, and it's only my view.
This book wasn't my cup of tea, perhaps because it feels like it was done in a hurry in order to jump on the band-wagon. No soul! But who am I to say? One man's meat is another man's poison.
Collins is one of publishing industry's leading authors of movie tie-in novels, including the international bestsellers in the Line of Fire (Jove, 1993), Maverick (Signet, 1994), Waterworld (Boulevard, 1995), Daylight (Boulevard, 1996), Air Force One (Ballantine, 1997), and Saving Private Ryan (Signet, 1998). He has written two original NYPD BLUE novels for Stephen Boccho and Signet Books, Blue Beginning (1995) and Blue Blood (1997).
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Wilt by Tom Sharpe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book many years ago and I can still remember it, which is a good sign, as I never remember anything. I still laugh aloud when I think of Wilt with the blow up doll...not what you think.
Henry Wilt is an innocent in this world, and is swept along by events he is unable to control. A bit like all our lives.
There was a film made of Wilt which was very funny, but I believe it fell short of the book and my imagination.
I am always concerned when I review a novel not to give the plot away, so all I'm going to say is, Henry Wilt digs himself deeper into the ***t as the story progresses.(Very eloquent!)
One of my favorite books. As it introduced me to Tom Sharpe's other novel's.
I know books are personal things, so I hope you laugh as much as I did. I think you will.
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Monday, 12 September 2011
East End Angel by Carol Rivers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a great read. I found this book to be more of a thriller than a saga. Couldn't put it down. Here is the blurb from the author Carol Rivers. I found out more about Carol Rivers at: www.carolrivers.com
June 1941, Isle of Dogs, London. In the dark days following the Blitz, happiness visits young Pearl Jenkins as she celebrates her marriage to Jim Nesbitt. But what should be a joyful occasion is marred when a fight breaks out between Jim and Ricky Winters, an unwelcome visitor from Pearl's past. And to Pearl's horror, the new beau of her wayward younger sister Ruby. Increasingly uneasy at staying at home when other men are off fighting for their country, Jim enlists, leaving Pearl at home - alone, pregnant, and at Ricky's mercy...Together, Pearl and Ruby must bring up baby Cynthia while struggling to make ends meet and dodge the doodlebugs. And all the time, Pearl must hide the dark secret she harbours, one which would tear the two sisters apart as well as her marriage. Then tragedy strikes both on the home front and in the trenches and Pearl is forced to fight like never before to keep her family safe.
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Sunday, 11 September 2011
blue fire burning by Hobb Whittons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a great read, with characters you believe in, and a great roller-coaster of a story that will keep you gripped. All I can say is well done Hobb Whittons you have a success on your hands.
In the dead of night, a covered wagon driven by a hooded, faceless being is careering through the forest at breakneck speed. Inside the wagon, sit two jittery Goblin men: Grot and Mouldy. Suddenly, the contents of the sack they are staring at begin to glow...
Consumed by the desire for revenge, the Goblins' wicked Dark Mistress sets diminutive winged telepaths, the Pahleen, a riddle they must work out if they are to get back what they have lost and save the world known as Wadjamaat.
Desperately, King Kilron searches high and low but fi nds no clue.Then, something unexpected happens in Haggles Cove and therace is on again...but there is a sting in the tail. To have a chance of succeeding, Kilron must now face the prospect of doing something always forbidden to his ancient race.
Meanwhile, unaware of the planet's 'ticking clock', the cosmopolitan human population of the walled naval port of Bellana are busy getting their wondrous Mermaid Stadium ready for the grand Argia Final. With canine companion Wolf in tow, country girl Hahmi Merkin gets a hostile reception when she enters the city. She heads for the sanctuary of blacksmith friend, Aristide Brindle's house where she leaves her horse and cart. Entrusted with his son's 'paddywhack', she sets off for the stadium. What happens after that is beyond even her wildest imagining...
Throughout this magical and marauding tale, love, trust and a craving to belong do battle against prejudice, religious fanaticism and the lust for power - and the stakes could not be higher.
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Thursday, 8 September 2011
This excerpt is the first three chapters of my novel Carry On Quack, which will be on Amazon as an eBook in the next few weeks. I would be very grateful for your comments. My main objective with this novel is to make you laugh, and I hope I succeed. Please enjoy. Or as I say on Twitter, Quack Quack.
Doctor Edward N. Quack GP MB BS, came to a shuddering halt in his tornado red Golf Sport. It was something the car often did of its own accord, since regularly the driver left the controls before stopping. The car was sturdy, however, and liked to do things on its mechanical initiative.
The private car park outside the surgery was deserted. Beads of perspiration sprang from the doctor’s forehead. His darting black eyes scanned the area for patients. Minutes crawled by. The griping pains in the pit of his stomach screamed at him. This morning, unusually, there were no public vehicles parked in spaces reserved for medical staff.
Edward tried to dismiss the irritable bowel. What would Elizabeth, his wife, suggest? Deep, relaxing breaths? Yes. That was it. Deep lung-filled breaths. Steady in, slowly out. And a vision of a tranquil sea. Must not forget the tranquil sea ...
Pains filled his stomach. Edward saw the stern end of a scuppered ship and a mountainous wave sucking up the wreck as the pains engulfed him.
Meditation, Elizabeth had recommended; let everything go and concentrate on your breathing. See your tranquil ocean or your green meadow, find your point of light and rise to a higher consciousness. He was trying, but where was the damned light? It was pitch black when you closed your eyes. Didn’t everyone know that?
Pains destroyed him again. In his opinion, two five-milligram valium and a double whisky were not transcendental, but they worked.
Edward relaxed in his seat and thought about a whisky again. It was then he saw his reflection in the mirror. Not bad, he thought, for early forties and a crushing workload. The eyes were still intense, the mouth firm and mature, cheeks high and distinguished.
He arched his eyebrows and gave himself a twisted grin. The type of smile he reserved for the most challenging of his patients. Yes, he still possessed a bedside charm, despite the tiny lines crowding the corners of his eyes. Fifteen years of general practice had etched them close to his temples, where, once in his twenties, a shock of dark hair had fallen.
He found himself longing for the cool blue lavatory situated on the top floor of the surgery. A cool blue oasis in a medical desert, reserved for his own use. The only place in the world where he could pass as much wind as he liked, without the risk of someone hearing him. At home, in the en suite, a banner strung across the door reminded him that the very loo roll he was about to use was responsible for half of the planet’s deforestation. Whilst the ancient plumbing system upon which he sat, chemically endangered human kind’s most diverse eco system. But in his third-floor surgery loo, he could sit in the blue room for as long as he liked and dream of buttered toast and cholesterol-eggs and Kentucky fried chicken, light years away from the reality in which he now found himself.
Seventeen years on from his marriage to Elizabeth and he was sliding down the slippery slope of yet another high-fibred week. A can of unadulterated apple juice lurked in his pocket and half a kilo of nuts and raisins had been Sellotaped to his stethoscope.
Had he changed that much? Had he allowed himself to become a pawn of this alternative society? Was he now a vegetable-eating wimp of a man, who did not have enough backbone to refuse his wife’s soya and, instead, demand steak? How much longer could he go on being something he wasn’t? By God, even camels didn’t eat as many dates as he did.
Suddenly the silence of his private grievance was broken by church bells. He registered them vaguely as the awful rush of last night’s nut roast gurgled under his rib cage.
Edward opened his car door and imagined the little blue room. He lurched forward, vowing not to stop for anyone. Not even Mrs Willoughby’s outstretched hand bearing the day’s unsigned prescriptions. Nor would he acknowledge the rows of pasty-faced patients, staring owl-like towards his consulting room. He would aim for the stairs and the promised relief at the top of them.
“Morning, Dr Quack!”
He recognised the voice as Mrs Argyle’s, an ancient surgery hypochondriac, who appeared in front of him. A squashed animal of some kind, pulled low over her eyes, was wrapped around her head.
Edward considered bolting, but in view of his circumstances, reconsidered.
“I said,” came the greeting once more, “good morning, Dr. Quack.”
“I heard you the first time, you old bat,” muttered Edward, under his breath. “I said, up with the lark, are you, Mrs Argyle?” He could see the venomous eyes under the fur, freezing him to the spot.
“Depends,” squawked the red lips, “larks stopped singing hours ago. That’s church bells you can hear - eleven o’clock service!”
Mrs Argyle wondered why the man staring at her with a crazed expression, had not been struck off the medical register long ago. He was still running around loose, mad as a March hare, unaware that his trouser zip was undone. He was, however, good for some of her needs - other than diagnosis of illness, something she could do well enough herself on Google. It was the writing of the prescriptions she couldn’t do. But a concentrated ten minutes in the idiot’s consulting room, soon resolved this problem. Rarely had she left the surgery without the medication of her choice.
“Mustn’t keep you,” she muttered.
Edward threw himself at the surgery door. He twisted the knob, pulled it viciously and tried to keep calm. He attacked the door again, but to no avail.
At last he turned limply toward the smiling gorgon. “Must be stuck,” he said flatly.
“Or locked?” she offered waspishly.
Edward frowned. “Why should it be locked?”
“I should have thought that was obvious.”
Edward looked around him suspiciously.
Mrs Argyle heaved up her bosom and narrowed her eyes. “Take it from me that I’ve never known that door to open of a Sunday, and God knows I’ve tried. On the point of death I’ve been and cried like a baby for attention. But does that door open? Not likely. Not on a Sunday, it won’t.”
“Sunday?” Suddenly it all made sense to him. Ovens oozing slow-cooking roast beef. Bells pealing. A deserted surgery. And a locked practice.
He stood immobile.
“A spare pair of keys would come in handy,” advised Mrs Argyle as she turned away and, like a festering wound, the temptation exploded within Edward to grind the obnoxious woman into the earth. Her great, swaggering bulk seemed to broadcast her triumph over him.
He limped dejectedly back to the car. There was no rush now. The accident had happened!
He opened the car door and folded a copy of the Telegraph over the seat. Sitting down was hell, but he persevered and opened the window. He would soon be home.
He started the car and comforted himself with plans for the future. He would not allow this to happen again. His irritable bowel would be re-educated. Elizabeth wouldn’t like it, but he would insist on the food he preferred. Fries, eggs and bacon, steak pie, pancakes and buttered crumpets.
Distractedly, he swung the Golf out into the road. Peanut butter sandwiches and treacle tart, he visualized longingly, as the car hurtled toward the Avenue.
“I shall insist on full-cream milk and a whisky before my dinner,” he muttered, staring sightlessly ahead.
The driver of a yellow Mazda swerved to avoid the Golf coming towards him on the wrong side of the road. But in no time at all, Jack Andrews, resident of thirty-six Mayfly Road, found himself looking dazedly through his shattered windscreen, at the moron who had just driven into him.
Normally a peaceful, law-abiding soul, a killer’s instinct now leaped within Jack. Why had he not finished off his damned menace of a neighbour, when he had the chance last week? Accidents happen on pedestrian crossings.
He just hadn’t had the nerve. And now he regretted it bitterly.
Mrs Argyle was not unduly worried about being late for church. At last she had beaten the system. True, Quack was the weakest part of the system, but nevertheless, still the system. She’d shown the National Health up for their true colours; exposed their inefficiencies.
She stepped heavily into the gutter to get a better look at the accident down the road. It was his car, the red Golf. He had done it again, carved up some poor soul and it looked a bad one too. People like Quack always escaped with their lives. It was the other blighter who suffered. Mrs Argyle stepped back on the pavement and arranged her fur hat neatly. A deep satisfaction spread inside her. She gazed up at the clear November sky and pulled back her shoulders. She was feeling much better. Cutting around this way to church had done her a power of good.
The diversion had really paid off.
Elizabeth Edward drew the heavy drapes and let in the sunlight. She sipped dandelion tea from a Staffordshire breakfast cup. The garden reflected her mood. Trees dripped steadily in the weak morning sunlight and the gutters on the outhouses sagged with soggy fallen pine needles. This confusion reminded her of Edward last night, trying to eat his meal in a wet overcoat. She had watched him steaming like a kettle, oblivious to the world around him, eating his meal.
Wouldn’t it have been an idea to take off the wet coat, she had asked?
No. That would have meant untying the string around his wrists securing the cuffs which would otherwise have let in the wet. But wasn’t it a good idea to have dinner comfortably?
No. He did not want to untie the string nor take off his coat, since he had not finished hacking the bush in the garden. At all costs, it had to be hacked more before nightfall.
The bush, a smooth, glossy-leaved laurel, had grown harmlessly into the cabbage patch for years and had supported the outer wall of the shed. But its time had come, when Edward had fallen over a protruding root. The bush was dangerous and had to be felled.
Elizabeth had thought the only dangerous thing in the garden was her husband. But argument was useless. Edward did not need a reason, he had found an extreme. Soon that part of the garden would be flattened and the surrounding muddle would be left to grow moss and weeds.
Moving across the room, Elizabeth stretched out lazily on the sofa. Edward would not be away long. She could, of course, have reminded him it was Sunday, but instead, she had pretended to be asleep, whilst listening to the bathroom noises and rushing steps downstairs. Edward had gone – mistakenly – to work.
Elizabeth smiled at the memory. She began breathing deeply. Closing her eyes she felt the tips of her fingers tingle. Her body relaxed.
The years had treated her kindly she began to reflect, despite living with Edward. Only yesterday Guy had told her she was an attractive woman. Thirty-eight was not the end of the world; she was well-preserved he had told her when she’d admitted to feeling a little jaded.
Elizabeth was well aware she could have affairs. But this, of course, she did not say to a colleague. Though lately she found confiding in Guy was of great help. But the children had swallowed up the early years and now there was a vacuum. Jessica was independent, a young woman of seventeen. At fourteen, Neville was a victim of modern technology, his room a no-go-zone.
Elizabeth sighed. These few precious moments she would use for herself, then she would phone her good friend, Kate.
Deep breath in, deep breath out. Look for the point of light, forget everything and just be. Find the quiet place. The place called Elizabeth. Soon she would be in a windswept field of corn, enchanted by the smell of ripened earth. The sky would be cloudless and blue and from somewhere close, the song of a thrush.
“E-liz-a-beth!” Her name jarred through the house like stones in a tin can. Her heart raced. The field faded, the birds fled. “Liz! For God’s sake, let me in!”
God no longer lived here, she thought bitterly. God had moved out long ago with something called sanity.
“Please?” His voice was soft and pleading. “Elizabeth, we may have our differences and occasionally I might be to blame for some of them. But it’s inhuman to keep me out here on the porch.”
Rising slowly to her feet, she went to the hall. Three long fingers poked through the letterbox trying to catch the key tied to the string. The fingers lunged, missed and scraped painfully on the sharp edge of the letterbox.
“Ouch!” her husband roared.
Elizabeth smiled. Edward did not like the sight of blood, curious for a doctor.
“Damn it all, Liz, let me in!” His voice broke pitifully.
Elizabeth slid off her robe and entered the downstairs shower. A few minutes later she emerged, wet and wrapped in towels.
“Christ, Elizabeth, what took you so long?” he demanded as she opened the door.
“I was showering.”
“Why the devil didn’t you stop me this morning?”
“I was asleep.”
He stormed inside. “It’s bloody Sunday.”
“Well, I didn’t.”
She watched her husband disappear upstairs, together with a copy of the Telegraph. When he came down for breakfast, she would tell him.
“It’s Sunday,” Edward protested as he sat in the kitchen eating his breakfast. “You can’t go out! Sunday is the one day we have together.”
“How kind of you to remember.”
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”
Elizabeth turned from the sink, her hair wet from the shower. Edward found this slightly disturbing, since he was attempting to persuade her not to go out.
“Stay home,’ he tried smoothly.
“Because I – the children – we are a family, for heaven’s sake.”
“We’ve been a family for the past fifteen years but you haven’t noticed.”
“This is nonsense,” he decided, wondering if the Savlon was working under his bath robe. The warmth of the Aga was beginning to make him uncomfortable.
“I’m going out to see Kate and I may stay over,” his wife informed him. “Meanwhile perhaps you could play host to your children. I’ve left lunch in the fridge but you probably won’t even have to serve it. No doubt they have schedules of their own.”
“Are you serious?” he spluttered, dropping his spoonful of Shreddies.
She turned to look at him. “I’ve never been more serious in my life. I’m not asking for your permission, Edward. I don’t need it. This is the twenty-first century, though, of course, you may not have noticed.”
Feeling at a disadvantage, he stood up. “You know they’ve brainwashed you, don’t you?”
He pointed his finger at the bookshelf. “Just because she’s written a bloody book on saving the whales.”
She gazed at him with pity. “It isn’t brainwashing. And it isn’t just the whales. It’s a million things you seem to have no conception of. The rainforests, the greenhouse gases, the endangered species, the rape of our countryside - the unconscionable practice of factory farming.”
Edward glared at his wife. “Shall we stick with something closer to home? Such as this damned irritable bowel, a result of all the rubbish you feed me. From now on, I want something decent to eat; real food, like eggs and bacon and fried bread.” He pushed his bowl resolutely across the table.
It was then that he noticed the dog. Its massive black bulk was stretched by the Aga. Two large, reddish eyes opened. A long tongue slithered from its jowl. Edward shuddered in fear.
“The last time you ate fried bread you had a heart attack,” Elizabeth reminded him.
“That was five years ago. I haven’t seen an egg since.”
“But you’re alive – just - aren’t you?”
Edward bridled. “My heart is not the subject here. It’s your nefarious dealings with cranks.”
“Cranks?” Elizabeth stared at him. “No need to worry about cranks, Edward. I’m fully qualified on the subject of cranks. One in particular!”
Edward began to feel threatened. “No need to raise your voice,” he faltered, “you don’t seem quite yourself.”
“I am more myself than I have ever been.”
“Let’s discuss this later. When you’ve calmed down.” The doctor studied his wife’s eyes and moved toward the pantry since the dog stood blocking his escape.
“Sit!” he tried forcefully. “Elizabeth, you are upsetting Lucifer. Make him sit ... please.”
“He doesn’t like you shouting, Edward.”
“But you are shouting at me.”
“And I have reason to. You’ve blamed me for everything. For not stopping you going to work on a Sunday, for poisoning you, for having friends of my own - ”
“Now don’t exaggerate, darling,” he backtracked. “I was merely pointing out the pitfalls of – ”
“You have control issues, Edward. They are ruining our marriage.’
He stared at her. “Me? Control issues?”
“And behavioural problems.’
He gasped. “I’m a grown man! You can’t say that!”
“And a closed mind.”
“Is there anything else you’d like to get off your chest?” he demanded incredulously. “I mean, don’t feel you have to hold back.” He watched his wife’s face harden and knew it was the sort of remark he should have made when the dog was not present.
“Yes, there is,” she said decisively. “My life has changed in so many ways since the children have got older. I’ve had time to consider myself. To find out who I am. And to meet new people, like Kate.”
“You mean she of the, ‘curing-cancer-by-sticking-pins-into-the-jugular’, variety of new people?”
Elizabeth sighed. “Reflexology and acupuncture are alternative treatments. They complement traditional medicine. There are no miracle cures. It’s not black magic.”
“So you would have me believe.”
“Even you, Edward, cannot be that prejudiced.”
He was about to respond when the animal began to growl.
“Elizabeth, please do something with the dog.”
“So am I.”
“Animals sense fear. You’ve never made an attempt to befriend him. Like everything else in life, you refuse to consider another’s point of view.”
“Dogs don’t have points of view.” He retreated towards the pantry. The dog followed stealthily. “Certainly not this dog. For God’s sake, the animal is ferocious.”
“He was mis-treated. His trust needs to be won.”
Edward frantically searched his mind for a reply, but the snarling distracted him. He was no expert on rabies, but ever since Elizabeth had rescued the beast, its jaws appeared to have grown frothier. “Oh bugger,” he cursed, reversing into the pantry and closing the door.
He could hear it panting outside. “Elizabeth, you will have to get rid of that animal. It’s either him or me!”
In the kitchen, Elizabeth motioned the dog to follow her. Quietly going upstairs, she changed into jeans and a sweater. Then she went outside to her car.
“Quickly, Lucy,” she called affectionately. With a powerful leap, the dog seated itself in the rear of the blue Volvo hatchback. One ear was perked to the human sounds still coming from inside the house.
Neville looked around the kitchen and saw little activity. Usually, there were saucepans on the Aga and the smell of fresh herbs wafting through the house. But, to his dismay, this morning, the kitchen was empty. The fourteen-year-old scanned the table, the dirty pots and the sink; there was no sign of life or food. Eating was Neville’s main preoccupation in life. There was one place he could always find something. Neville hurried to the pantry and pulled at the latch. He heard a click on the inside. The door swung open to reveal his father.
The boy pushed his glasses to the bridge of his nose. He had never found his father in a cupboard before. It was an interesting situation and Neville wondered how best to exploit it.
“Hi, Dad!” Neville decided to play for time.
The doctor looked at his son. “Where is the dog?”
“Lucy? Dunno. Why?”
Edward peered at the space under the kitchen table. “Where’s your mother?”
“Don’t keep asking questions. Was her car in the drive?”
“Don’t think so. Why?”
“Because, because - why aren’t you at school?”
“No one goes on Sunday.” Neville decided the mention of school was a danger signal. “Why are you in the pantry?”
“For heaven’s sake, Neville,” gasped the doctor, stepping quickly into the kitchen, “what does it look like?”
Neville scratched a newly formed scab on the side of his face. “Hiding?”
“It looked like you were hiding.”
Edward turned on his son with a look of exasperation. “I was simply looking for the marmalade. Why should I be hiding? Go and do something constructive. If you want a job, I’ve got plenty for you to do.”
Neville moved quickly. He didn’t care for his father’s jobs; unpleasant and unpaid. “See you later,” he called, hurrying off. “And Dad, the marmalade’s on the table.”
Edward found himself alone.
Jessica was still away and Elizabeth must have gone to Kate, a beetle-eyed, nosy woman, with revolutionary leanings. This talk of opening a new Foundation had driven him mad, especially since his wife refused to see his point of view. He believed alternative therapies were fundamentally flawed. Treatment of the human body and mind required the assistance of drug regimes. But she had been blind and deaf to his argument since she had taken up with that set. Words like homoeopathy, aromatherapy and iridology had been bouncing around the house for weeks until even Neville had managed to get his tongue around them.
He shuffled around the kitchen and made himself a cup of tea, trying to distract himself from the pain of his throbbing haemorrhoids. Wearily he climbed the stairs to the bedroom.
It was only when he saw the pair of tights that the idea occurred to him. It was a crazy idea, but might it work? He was alone and desperate...
Elizabeth would never know...